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Before and after: the makeover in film and culture
Dancey, Angela Clair

2005, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, English.
If the popularity of current “reality” television programs such as Extreme Makeover is any indication, our culture is obsessed with the ritualized physical transformation known as the makeover. My dissertation project examines this obsession as it appears in popular Hollywood cinema. Films such as Pretty Woman, Now, Voyager and Working Girl reveal, with particular clarity, the psychological and cultural assumptions that both create and sustain the makeover. My study of these films is guided by the following research questions: How and why is the makeover a source of pleasure for the viewer? Why are certain film actresses associated with the makeover? Why are makeovers almost always performed on white women? How is the makeover in film related to the makeover found in other cultural forms, such as magazines and television? The answers to these questions, I argue, carry far-reaching implications for our understanding of the social construction of identity, visual representation and consumerism. The introductory chapter of my dissertation establishes my theoretical position within current film studies, and discusses the diverse origins of the modern makeover – ranging from fairy tales to 20th century beauty advertising. In chapter 2, I look at three actresses – Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn and Julia Roberts – whose star identities seem inextricably linked with the theme of physical transformation. In chapter 3, I discuss the makeover in terms of the re-engineering of the human body through technology. In order to do this, I provide close readings of two films, G.I. Jane and Miss Congeniality, both of which contain makeovers performed by a larger patriarchal system on a female protagonist. Chapter 4 explores the makeover in film in relation to the woman’s film, a Hollywood genre first popularized during the 1930s and 1940s and recurring in various forms through the present. In chapter 5, I discuss the makeover as an apparatus of whiteness that defines and supports whiteness as a category of social identity. In my concluding chapter, I offer some possible explanations for the makeover’s overwhelming preference for female bodies, and point toward further research in this area.
Linda Mizejewski (Advisor)
255 p.

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Dancey, A. (2005). Before and after: the makeover in film and culture. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from

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Dancey, Angela. "Before and after: the makeover in film and culture." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2005. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 14 Nov 2018.

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Dancey, Angela "Before and after: the makeover in film and culture." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2005.


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