Friday, June 3, 2011

Beauty Blogosphere 6.3.11

What's going on in the latest beauty news, from head to toe and everything in between. 

From Head...
An oldie but a goodie: A fantastic post from fashion blog Dress a day on why you don't always have to be pretty. "Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked 'female.'" Sing it, sister! (Thanks to Rebekah at Jaunty Dame, who also has a fun "this is the picture I took to the stylist, and this is the haircut I got" post here, for the tipoff.)

Counterfeit beauty: Roughly 85% of cosmetics in Nepal are fakes. They might be sold for cheaper than the real brands, sure—but counterfeit Oil of Olay is a helluva lot likelier to give unwitting consumers a skin rash.

Okay, but sometimes you don't want yellow nails, dig?

To Toe...
DIY beauty: Okay, I'll cover a "product", but only because it's homemade and because switching my pedicure polish from crimson to raspberry did indeed leave me with yellowed nails: Abuela's Yellow Nail Stain Remover.  

...And Everything in Between
"Exercise was my mirror": When blogger Cameo Morningstar was diagnosed with glycogen storage disease a few years ago, she was forced to give up—and, later, scrutinize the motivations behind—her intense workout regimen. Verging on Serious focuses on health, particularly mind-body and the struggle to be as healthy as possible without sliding into obsession; this thoughtful post springs off the control issues that came up in my mirror fast, making the link between the control of the mirror and the control over one's body. "If a mirror is a device one uses to assess and manipulate one’s appearance, then exercise was my mirror." 

Is Facebook a mirror too?: Rob Horning at Marginal Utility suggests that our ability to constantly monitor ourselves through our online presence functions in the same way I was indicating mirrors do for me: "Social-media sites seem to me to be self-consciousness machines."

Clothes shopping without mirrors: Kjerstin Gruys of Mirror Mirror Off the Wall gives it a whirl! Kjerstin, if only we lived on the same coast, we could totally take each other clothes shopping. (I still haven't seen myself in the dresses I bought.) 

We all loved Dove's "Evolution." Why are we still referencing it five years later?

Is knowledge enough?: Social work student Valerie Kusler looks at whether knowing that media images are heavily manipulated can change our perception of them. The answer: sorta. This just means we need more of those counter messages (here's looking at you, Beauty Redefined!)

Enough with the "real women": Tea and Feathers on why applauding body-diverse models by calling them "real" is unhelpful to all of us. (Via Mrs. Bossa)

Sartorialist SERVED: Threadbare's fantastic takedown of The Sartorialist's treatment of service workers, alongside the scrutiny from always excellent Of Another Fashion, will make your eyes roll even farther back into your head as far as the Sartorialist is concerned.   

How racist is the beauty industry?: Um, pretty racist sometimes! Great ads slideshow. I'd argue that skin whitening creams aren't necessarily as racist as they may appear; from women I talked to in Vietnam (which, admittedly, is one country among many), the goal was to look like a woman of leisure, not a white woman. (And sure enough, the compliments random people gave me on the whiteness of my skin decreased exponentially the more tanned I became.) They're still toxic and upsetting, to be sure, and we can't completely extricate race from the equation, but I do think it's more complex than it seems. (Via Beauty Schooled) That said... 

Asian skin development: Estee Lauder is opening an "Asian Innovation Center" in Shanghai to develop products specific to the skin of Chinese and other Asian women. Let's hope it goes beyond whitening, shall we?

More global Estée: New Estee Lauder head of global corporate marketing could be interesting to watch: She's planning on focusing on "global travelers" in megacities, directly anticipating desire instead of following the "customer is boss" approach.

Wow, Darren, way to break type with your female lead opposite Vincent Cassel.

Requiem for a Cologne: I sort of hate Darren Aronofsky (though I did like Black Swan), mainly because Requiem for a Dream was one of the most overwrought, ham-fisted pieces of filmmaking I've ever witnessed. Second only to his commercial for YSL's La Nuit de Homme fragrance, that is! But coming in at two minutes instead of two godforsaking hours makes this totally awesome in its ridiculousness. Vincent Cassel at his sleaziest! (Via Scented Salamander)

Nailed It: Fantastic, well-researched history of nail polish at Beautifully Invisible, focusing on classic red but hitting plenty of intervening trends.

Nurse Jackee: Silly but fun spoof of Nurse Jackie (btw, major girl crush on Merritt Wever!), starring Jackee as a beauty-products-addicted nurse. "Stop primping, start nursing. We're here to save lives," goes her inner monologue after her false eyelashes fall into a patient's spleen.

It might really be all in your head:
I don't know enough about science to comment, but this news about the role of visual processing in body dysmorphia, and this piece on researchers who play with visual processing by making people think they're giants or dwarves (!), seem potentially related. I sort of want to build a center for people with body dysmorphia to go in and lay next to mannequins sized to their bodies and see what happens.

Digital plastic surgery: Beauty Redefined doing what they do, as excellently as ever. This time they examine how we're "Photoshopping ourselves out of existence."


  1. Thank you so much, Autumn! What an honor to be in a weekly recap post! This just made my day.

  2. But of course! Thank YOU for writing such a reflective (get it?! I kill me!) post. (And I didn't just include it because of your kind words about me, I promise! Though that was awesome to read too!)

  3. Thanks for the street cred, Autumn! I love that post SO much, and STILL catch myself thinking it's my job to be pretty... bleecchhhh.

    "I sort of want to build a center for people with body dysmorphia to go in and lay next to mannequins sized to their bodies and see what happens."

    I once saw an episode of "How Do I Look?" in which a size 16 lady was taken to a fake cafe that was, unbeknownst to her, entirely peopled with other size 16 women. All very contrived, we'll never know what the woman was really thinking... but still interesting.

  4. Rebekah, I'm thinking it'll take a while before we really step out of that mind-set of thinking it's our job to look pretty. I suspect old age will take care of part of that (not that older women can't be beautiful but the relationship one has to beauty likely shifts) and I wonder if, when that happens, I'll look back at my efforts now and be thankful that I tried to give myself a head start on releasing myself from that "responsibility" before it was done for me through the combination of age and society--or if I'll be all, "What were you THINKING?! Why didn't you just lay back and enjoy it!" the way I do sometimes now when I look at pictures of my perfectly pretty high school self and remember thinking I looked godawful.

    And that fake cafe experiment sounds awesome and also potentially unsettling. It's not quite the same thing, but I remember showing up to a party several years ago at which, somehow, roughly 80% of the women there (including me) were wearing black tank tops, studded belts, and jeans, and had short dark hair. It sort of freaked me out--not that that look is so wildly unique, but it was like, "What wormhole did I stumble through?!" Of course body size is a different sort of beast.

  5. Hi! Very interesting blog :) but i'll have to argue that skin whitening products in Asia have *nothing* to do with racism. White skin has been the beauty ideal for centuries, and by white i dont mean "caucasian", but simply paler, lighter skin. It used to be the exact same in the Western world until only a few decades ago! Pale skin is sinonym of nobleness, of not needing to work outside (or working in general :P) and is/was seen as more graceful, feminine, classy, delicate, etc etc. Skin whitening creams in Asia are just the exact equivalent of the disgusting Western spray tans and tanning beds.
    I still agree that they are dangerous and horrible, and that the beauty industry is hopelessly racist in general, but this issue is another thing ;)

  6. Hi Miss D.! Interesting to hear the argument made more firmly than I felt comfortable doing. I feel like I don't really know enough about the Asian experience to say that with certainty (I've only been to one Asian country, and for only seven weeks at that), but I see from your profile that you're a more experienced traveler so I'll sign on! Good point re: tanning beds--it seems like it's the idea of having leisure, yes? Whether that leisure comes in the form of not having to work in the fields...or reclining in tanning beds all day.

  7. Oh my God! So the rumors are true that most cosmetics in Nepal are fake. I have to be more careful in buying beauty products. Thank you for the information.