Race, Ethnicity, and Human Appearance

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Chapter, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-11-27 00:51Z by Steven

Race, Ethnicity, and Human Appearance

Chapter in Encyclopedia of Body Image and Human Appearance
Pages 707–710
DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-384925-0.00111-5

S. McClure
Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

M. Poole
Emery University, Atlanta, Georgia

E.P. Anderson-Fye
Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

This article examines the intersection of race, ethnicity, and the body. Standards of beauty, as they are expressed globally in commodity culture, involve a ‘rhetoric of feminine ugliness’. This rhetoric presents that women’s bodies are always in need of manipulation, alteration, and discipline to attain a beauty ideal. Increasingly, so are men’s. However, racial and, to some extent, ethnic categorizations complicate narratives about the nature of beauty. How do racialized appearance and the rhetoric of ugliness interact in social, economic, and political contexts? Is beauty less a matter of engagement in ‘beauty work’ and more innate and inextricable from race and ethnicity? If beauty is a matter heavily influenced by cultural consensus, are the cultural structures of history and ideology any more mutable with respect to matters of race and ethnicity? This article addresses these questions.


  • Aesthetics The theory of beauty.
  • A priori Derived by reasoning from self-evident propositions; knowing independent of any experience.
  • Culture A complex historical and symbol system, constructed by invention and borrowing, that acts to instill long-lasting orientations, conceptions, motivations, and associated practices.
  • Morphology The form or structure of an organism or any of its parts.
  • Race A social category derived from a folk perception of heredity that corresponds to some degree with genetics, but is not genetically determined.

Read the entire chapter here.

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