What gives beauty such fascinating power? Why is beauty so easy to recognize but so hard to define? Across cultures and continents and over the centuries the standards of beauty have changed but the desire to portray beauty, to praise beauty, and to possess beauty has never diminished. Icons of Beauty offers an enthralling overview of the most revered icons of female beauty in world art from pre-history to the present. From images of Eve to Cindy Sherman's self-portraits, from Cleopatra to Madonna, from ancient goddesses to modern celebrities, this interdisciplinary set offers fresh insight as to how we can use perceptions of beauty to learn about world cultures, both past and present. Each chapter looks at an individual work of art to pose a question about the power of beauty. What makes beauty modern? What is the influence of celebrities? How do women portray their own beauty in a different manner than men? In-depth profiles of the icons reveal how specific ideas about beauty were developed and expressed, offering a full analysis of their history, cultural significance, and lasting influence. In addition to renowned works of art, Icons of Beauty also looks at icons in literature, film, politics, and contemporary entertainment. Interdisciplinary and multicultural in its approach, chapters inside this set also feature sidebars on provocative topics and issues, such as foot binding and body adornment; myths and practices; opinions and interpretations; and even related films, songs, and even comic book characters. Generously illustrated, this rich set encompasses history, politics, society, women's studies, and art history, making it an indispensable resource for high school and college students as well as general readers.