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How to Be a Renaissance Woman: The Untold History of Beauty & Female Creativity

How to Be a Renaissance Woman: The Untold History of Beauty & Female Creativity

ISBN: 9781639365906
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An alternative history of the Renaissance--as seen through the emerging literature of beauty tips--focusing on the actresses, authors, and courtesans who rebelled against the misogyny of their era.

Beauty, make-up, art, power: How to Be a Renaissance Woman presents an alternative history of this fascinating period as told by the women behind the paintings, providing a window into their often overlooked or silenced lives.

Can the pressures women feel to look good be traced back to the sixteenth century?

As the Renaissance visual world became populated by female nudes from the likes of Michelangelo and Titian, a vibrant literary scene of beauty tips emerged, fueling debates about cosmetics and adornment. Telling the stories of courtesans, artists, actresses, and writers rebelling against the strictures of their time, when burgeoning colonialism gave rise to increasingly sinister evaluations of bodies and skin color, this book puts beauty culture into the frame.

How to Be a Renaissance Woman will take readers from bustling Italian market squares, the places where the poorest women and immigrant communities influenced cosmetic products and practices, to the highest echelons of Renaissance society, where beauty could be a powerful weapon in securing strategic marriages and family alliances. It will investigate how skin-whitening practices shifted in step with the emerging sub-Saharan African slave trade, how fads for fattening and thinning diets came and went, and how hairstyles and fashion could be a tool for dissent and rebellion--then as now. This surprising and illuminating narrative will make you question your ideas about your own body, and ask: Why are women often so critical of their appearance? What do we stand to lose, but also to gain, from beauty culture? What is the relationship between looks and power?
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