Optimizing one’s beauty, taking aesthetic control of one’s body: Success and failure in beauty pageants

By Camille Couvry, Marion Braizaz


Certain individuals from all social, gender, and age categories attribute a positive sense of well-being to their aesthetic practices. This article is based on a qualitative survey of the relationship to the body and appearance of women participating in beauty pageants in France, a space in which aesthetic optimization is institutionalized. It aims to explain to what extent beauty care practices constitute exemplary techniques for optimizing well-being, and more broadly self-optimization. After exploring the modalities of aesthetic optimization in beauty pageants, we look at two types of well-being—subjective and interactional—associated with aesthetic self-optimization. Then, we highlight situations in which the management of appearance comes up against certain limitations or fails to be a vector of satisfaction. In many social settings, self-optimization through aesthetics remains a source of social stigma.


  • body
  • aesthetics
  • optimization
  • well-being
  • gender
  • beauty pageant
Go to the article on Cairn-int.info