Body Beautiful: Comparative Meanings of Beauty in Brazil, South Africa and Jamaica

  • Doreen Gordon
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Globalization and Embodiment book series (PSGE)


This chapter examines the meanings and gendered norms of beauty in three different post-colonial contexts. The main hypothesis put forward is that self-stylization and the consumption of beauty products and therapies are particularly significant to non-white elites as they position themselves within unequal society and relate to the world. Drawing on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in Brazil, South Africa, and Jamaica, the article emphasizes the importance of consumption around the body as strategies deployed by non-white elites—particularly women–in dealing with racism and social inequality in their societies. The material presented de-centres common scholarly notions about the dominance of the Euro-American ideal of beauty. Indeed, in countries such as Brazil and Jamaica, alternative discourses on race mixture and the eroticization of brown-ness represent alternative understandings of beauty.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Doreen Gordon
    • 1
  1. 1.University of the West IndiesMonaJamaica

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