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How do we determine what is beautiful? Whose standards are we trying to meet when we spend our hard-earned money on our haircare, skincare and makeup; where do they come from, and how can we learn to undo them?
Upon getting her first tattoo at forty years old, award-winning journalist Afua Hirsch embarked on a journey to reclaim her body from the colonial ideas of purity, adornment and ageing that she–and many of us–absorbed while growing up.
Informed by research from around the world, Hirsch examines how individual and collective notions of what is beautiful are constructed or stripped from us. Through personal anecdotes, interviews from beauty experts, practitioners, and service users, she explores the global history of skin, hair, and body modification rituals and how it has affected how we see ourselves. These insights and discoveries will empower readers to reconnect with their cultures of origin, better understand the link between beauty and politics, and liberate themselves from the mainstream beauty standards that aren’t serving them.