For the past couple of months, I’ve been working on my Bachelor’s Thesis in Fashion Studies on the topic of food and beauty. This was my second attempt – I first took this course when I was really too ill to cope, and as a result, didn’t do so great. This time around, things went a little more smoothly, though it’s been a journey of ups and downs to say the least. I was very fortunate to be assigned an advisor with whom I found a positive dynamic, and I don’t know if I would have succeeded if not for her. So I owe her a lot.

The topic of my thesis is something I’ve touched on before on this blog – the intersection of food and beauty. I started thinking, and writing, about this phenomenon when I took a summer course in visual and material culture studies, and felt like I had to dig deeper. It’s been a long time coming, to say the least – and I still feel like there’s so much to be said on the topic.

For my thesis, I used visual marketing materials, semiotic methods, and feminist critical theory regarding femininity and diet culture to map the different ways food and beauty overlap. I’ve collected over 700 images, and have organized my analysis according to six themes: Appeals to discipline, indulgence, sensuality, playfulness, asceticism, and extreme reshaping of the body – tying all these to ideas of normative Western femininity.

I feel that this work is still inadequate, as I suppose is the case with any research, but I hope that there’s potential for expansion and multiple perspectives. If you’d care to read it, I would love to hear your thoughts: Click here for a PDF. Extra thanks to Hillary of Makeup Museum, whose blog I discovered while doing research – she has written an excellent post on the topic far earlier than I even began considering the phenomenon.