2020 Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award in Creative Works and Media Production

Isabella Piacentino

The Business of Beauty

Visit Isabella's site

View Isabella's project online

in Temple University Libraries' Digital Collections site

The Business of Beauty is a community site discussing female-geared companies and their portrayals of beauty. The site argues that, in order to empower women, female-geared companies should promote a healthy perspective of beauty by relaying that beauty is not the biggest achievement for women and advocating that everyone is beautiful. The site explores how companies and brands do this in their campaigns, examining photoshoots, websites, campaigns, and commercials of Aerie, Always, and Dove.  

Our purpose in examining these marketing strategies is so that we can deconstruct beauty standards, disconnect looks from worth, emphasize the other powerful parts of what makes women their best selves, and create a healthier perspective of beauty. Because this site is geared towards its viewers’ mental health and body image, The Business of Beauty offers a submission box for questions, suggestions, and art/writing on the topic. 

 What is your major and expected year of graduation?

I am an English major with a concentration in creative writing. My expected graduation date is May 2021. In addition, I am in the Master’s 4+1 program for secondary education from which I am expected to graduate in May 2022. 

What inspired you to pursue your project? 

I was inspired to pursue this project about diversity and inclusion in the beauty industry because it has impacted my life and other girls’ lives so deeply. Growing up as a woman, you always feel self-conscious and insecure about your body because of what’s represented in the media. I wanted to highlight female-geared companies who are seeking to change the landscape of the beauty world and transform women’s body image and confidence.

What does winning this award mean to you? 

Winning this award means this pervasive issue is being questioned and has the potential to change. Aside from the content of the site, I am proud of the web design. I am excited that my creativity found another outlet in the creation of the aesthetics of the website and am grateful for this recognition in this new passion of mine.

How did the Libraries support your research?

All of the scientific articles came from the library’s online databases. Being a commuter, I was grateful for the convenience of the online databases since I was able to find my resources on my own time and at my own pace.

In her multimedia website entitled “The Business of Beauty,” Isabella Piacentino highlights how feminine beauty comes not from categorization (e.g. “She’s a 10!” “She’s morbidly obese,” or “Is that even a woman?”) and mustn’t become the highest standard for measuring self-worth in the lives of all who identify as female. After much research, Bella found that it was the narrative storytelling that women did about their experiences denying or embracing beauty that most powerfully informed the final website’s content. Piacentino decided to represent her discovered anecdotal evidence through multimodal means such as the inclusion of a YouTube video and photographic storytelling that showcased various beautiful women, some with prosthetics for instance, and others of varying body sizes and shapes. Bella incorporated multi-genre elements that told their stories, including a unique piece of artwork she herself created along with a piece of poetry talking back to a commercial highlighting the availability of beauty with just the right razor. Her project speaks to themes of inclusivity and diversity in profound ways, highlighting not only who women are through their stories but what they can do when not restricted by cultural categorization.

—Melissa Toomey, Assistant Professor in English