Glitter by Nicole Seymour

Glitter is, well, a book about glitter, part of the Object Lessons series that explores an everyday object through particular lens. In this one, Nicole Seymour explores the uses of and connotations behind glitter, thinking about its environmental impact, its position as a symbol of frivolity, and ways it is seen as hard to get rid of. She also considers how it has been used in products like glitter pizza and beer, has become a symbol of protest, and is important to depictions of gender and sexuality.

This is the second of the Object Lessons series I’ve read, and I really like how these short non-fiction books take different approaches, sometimes exploring the history of an item or its societal impact, sometimes charting personal histories, and sometimes looking to culture or the future of the item. In Glitter, the titular substance is defended against its haters, whilst acknowledging the environmental impacts of plastic glitter, and also considered in what it can stand in for. 

I particularly liked the way that the book concludes by thinking of glitter as more of a colour or an idea, rather than just a physical item, and how this might allow its rehabilitation in the face of ecological crisis. The fact that ‘glitter’ is sometimes a colour (e.g. as a text colour) reinforces this and I found it a very interesting point. I also enjoyed the tensions between ecological and societal elements, and also the connotations involved with different kinds of aesthetics, and these felt like good frames to view glitter through. Both of the Object Lessons books I’ve read now have felt like reading queer history (and future) through an object and I really like this approach, so I’d definitely read more in the series.