Feminism and Beauty: A Study on How the Conceptualisation of Beauty by the Contemporary Cosmetics Industry Influence Female Managers in Sri Lankan Corporate Sector


  • Rumali Tennekoon University of Sri Jayewardenepura




Beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder but is it in reality? Society has been setting beauty standards for centuries, depicting what an ideal woman should be like. The cosmetics industry seems to have commercialised on these set standards, formulating their marketing strategies to tap into the weaknesses of women with regard to their physical appearance. Society and the market will leave no stone unturned to transfer the ideal through the media so much so that women’s minds are conditioned to it and the ideal becomes normal. With the rise of social media, women are able to voice concerns and spread awareness in the hopes of banishing these absurd beauty standards and finally being viewed as a woman for her capabilities and not her appearance. In such a context, this research aims to identify the conceptualisation of beauty by the contemporary cosmetics industry and its influence on female managers in Sri Lanka. This research used the qualitative approach by using a series of semi-structured interviews. Six (06) top-level and middle-level female mangers from private banks in Sri Lanka and two (02) beauticians were selected as the main data sources of the study. The fieldwork was focused on first finding the conceptualisation of beauty in the contemporary cosmetics industry as per the two beauticians, then on the marketing done by cosmetics brands and finally by the female managers. While cosmetics can only account for the external beauty of a woman, the majority of beauty lies in her internal beauty i.e., health, hygiene, elegance, poise, conduct and most importantly presenting oneself confidently, connecting all three aspects of a human: body, mind and soul. Social media is bringing changes to the way how people perceive beauty, working with both ways as good and bad. The marketing strategies of cosmetics brands are following social trends and inculcating feminist approaches to beauty. Beauty has its effects in a corporate context where impression formulation, halo effect, aesthetic labour, sexuality in the workplace and credibility are attributed to physical appearance. The ultimate conceptualisation of beauty by female managers will be instrumental in formulating cosmetics marketing strategies.

Keywords: Beauty, Beauty Standards, Cosmetics Industry, Cosmetics Marketing, Fairness