Sociologist Ashley Mears takes us behind the brightly lit runways and glossy advertisements of the fashion industry in this insider’s study of the world of modeling. Mears, who worked as a model in New York and London, draws on observations as well as extensive interviews with male and female models, agents, clients, photographers, stylists, and others, to explore the economics and politics—and the arbitrariness— behind the business of glamour. Exploring a largely hidden arena of cultural production, she shows how the right "look" is discovered, developed, and packaged to become a prized commodity. She examines how models sell themselves, how agents promote them, and how clients decide to hire them. An original contribution to the sociology of work in the new cultural economy, Pricing Beauty offers rich, accessible analysis of the invisible ways in which gender, race, and class shape worth in the marketplace.
Former model and current Boston University sociology professor Mears provides an insider's look at the modeling industry from the perspective of sociology. In addition to utilizing data from interviews with 40 models and 40 clients in London and New York, Mears offers first-hand stories about the humiliation inherent in the industry. She tackles tough and complex subjects, such as the economics of race in modeling (white consumers buy Prada, so advertisements feature white models) and the presence of "institutionalized racism," while also examining male modeling, including the darker "gay for pay" practice. Learning to lie, as Mears shows, is just part of the job. While probably too complex for the average reader, this is a well-researched, well-written, and thorough study of the industry.