Key Terms

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Groomed for Power‘s Specialized Vocabulary


A handful of specialized terms appear throughout the pages of Groomed for Power, several of which require special definition. I use the word ‘elites,’ for instance, to refer to white men of wealth and education who had the material resources to make marked changes in their appearance, as well as the cultural resources to publicize the meaning of those choices.  The word ‘grooming,’ refers primarily to shaving and beard-wearing, although coiffure and the use of patent hair products also fall under this heading.  And the phrase ‘patent hair products’ refers to a range of chemical hair products – from tonics, restoratives, and dyes to pomatums, shampoos, and conditioners. Though few of these products were actually patented, the term patent hair products emphasizes their close resemblance – in both their chemical composition and marketing techniques – to patent medicines.

Two terms, however, deserve special attention. The first of these is the term ‘cultural economy.’

The second is the word ‘beard.’