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Beauty, however arduous to define, would regroup four big definitions : harmony and proportions, useful and function, moral kindness and finally pleasure. going even more far, one could affiliates beauty to desire more than pleasure, as Georges Vigarello explains in his essay, History of Beauty, The body and the art of embellishment from renaissance to nowadays, publicized in 2004. 

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Something that cannot be denied is the amount of images we are surrounded by thought different medias. Considering this culte added to an industry of objects, desire is oriented in two directions : first,  “beautiful” objects, that is to say a cosmetization of the environment, a quest of prestige, a need of recognition and secondly, objects to be beautiful, which means self-cosmetization although it leads to the same needs. In whatsoever form it is sold, the delivered message consist in a very concise idea of happiness. 

The culte of images through advertisements, as cleverly demonstrated in Mad Men, is a model of consumption that still work and affect our daily lives. We can even draw a parallel between Raymond Loewy and the main characters Bert Cooper and Don Draper, respectively director and artistic director at Sterling Cooper, a fictive prestigious advertisement agency. Both partners in the TV Show, they strangely echoes back Loewy’s life and work. While Cooper (R. Loewy) has built an empire, Draper (who represents the young generation of designers) tries in vain to renew it but the task is very hard, almost impossible. In fact, the world Loewy and his colleagues have created has transcended the whole century, at least until the 70′, with a sort of impossibility to get out of it. Loewy’s selling model, drives consumption attractive, has overwhelmed the market for decays. He is the father of the aesthetization of objects, the system of objects and consecutively, one of the pioneer of the industry of taste (see Rules 1, Article 2).

About cosmetization, Helena Rubinstein’s story proves how internationally big was the beauty products demand and more specifically, how important is the anesthetization and maintain of the body is. She built an empire that now belongs to L’Oréal, whose founder Liliane Betancourt used to be the greatest fortune of France until her death. Her company belongs to the CAC 40 and stands as number one in the cosmetic field. More interesting is that groups like LVMH or Kering, respectively number one and number two of the CAC 40 in the field of Luxury, also maintain their score thanks to the cosmetic industry. In fact, perfumes and cosmetics are the products which reach the most money within each brand and provide most of them the possibility to  continue what they originally are, maisons of Haute Couture or ready to wear. However some of them have disappeared from the field of fashion while they still exist in the cosmetic field, like Cacharel, Nina Riccci (…). This dynamic of beauty products illustrates the high economic and sociologic impact they have on the world, enhancing the idea that everything is seen under an aesthetic modality.
From an historical point of view, Georges Vigarello that artifacts have became more popular from the XIXth century because beauty has became a synonym of desire. We are in the middle of the Romantic period in Europe and passions are tolerated, depicted, sought, leading to a legitimation of cosmetics and an approach of individual embellishment. The way to invent beauty has been transformed : Post-revolution encourages to have a better way of running oneself, where beauty is a choice and a synonym of progress. The historian develops a chapter dedicated to the democratization of beauty and the common direction of cosmetics and liberal ideas at the time. This right to access to beauty wouldn’t be a given anymore but a conquest and this modern beauty would take precedence other the natural and involuntary one. What is noticeable here is how political choices have been transferred on women’s beauty and more accurately on female products, dedicated to the people (although they belongs to the bourgeoisie) instead of being invented by the Power. Women’s free will regarding beauty is still far from the XIXth century however it illustrates how related to each other are beauty and politic and more specifically, that women are the reflection of the society they belong to.  

The increase of cosmetics is seen through the eyes of liberation while they stigmatize and are worsen social differences. To give a quick idea of what worth cosmetics at that time,  a lipstick (pot of red would be the literal translation of how it used to be called) costed between five and eighty-four francs while an average employee earned three francs a day. The right to be beautiful was still kept for the highest social classes until 1851, when Maison Schoelcher starts to sell lowest prices products. 

If the high prices of cosmetics used to be the first factor of social inequalities, beauty products have proved through history until now how they can classify people, depending on their price, accessibility, application (…). There is a term in french, « coquetterie » to describe this wish to appeal, and calls to self-transformation : « We live in great freedom and this state of things have created for all women a responsibility of her own beauty, one doesn’t have excuses anymore… »

Lately we have been told to purchase beauty through healthy products : bio food, proteins drinks, trustable sits and beds, organic and/or vegan cosmetics, conscious clothes, etc. A new generation of desires related to beauty is born. Beauty isn’t only a matter of outside but also of inside : borders between the inside-body and the outside-body but also between home and public spaces have been deeply changed. The duty of beauty is everywhere and consumption needs to be informed, which implies more rules for me desires, and a new social gap that includes consciousness and means.   


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