For something that seems so simple, the act of adorning one’s face with a smudge of lip color or a flick of eyeliner can mean getting a promotion, getting home safely, and being taken seriously—or not. As journalist Rae Nudson writes in her new book, All Made Up: The Power and Pitfalls of Beauty Culture, from Cleopatra to Kim Kardashian, makeup has, for better or worse, shaped cultural narratives and standards of beauty for centuries. Red lipstick is patriotic—and it’s an act of protest—and it’s a sign of sex appeal—all depending on when you lived, and who and where you are. Nudson joins us on the podcast to talk about the choices we make when we wear makeup, and whether those choices are ever entirely ours to make.
Go beyond the episode:
- Rae Nudson’s All Made Up: The Power and Pitfalls of Beauty Culture, from Cleopatra to Kim Kardashian
- Nudson wrote about the camouflage paint industry and the the makeup mogul crafting the U.S. Army’s exclusive supply
- Read more about Sabella Nitti, whose 1920s makeover saved her from the death penalty
- For decades, women have been inspired by Elizabeth Taylor’s iconic blue eyeshadow from Cleopatra–which she applied herself
- “Everything We Know About Beauty We Learned From Drag Queens,” writes Kristina Rodulfo in Elle
Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
Download the audio here (right click to “save link as …”)
Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!
Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.