Friday, July 15, 2011

Beauty Blogsophere 7.15.11

What's going on in beauty this week, from head to toe and everything in between.

No animals were harmed in the making of this vixen:
Makeup artist Eden DiBianco (above) is giving away a cruelty-free makeover.

From Head...
It's easy being green: The lovely, talented, and insightful makeup artist Eden DiBianco (you can read our interview here—it remains one of my personal favorites) is giving away a cruelty-free makeover (New York area only). To enter, hop over to green beauty site GirlieGirl Army and comment with when you feel the most beautiful and why you or someone close to you deserves this makeover. While you're at it, read the whole post, of Eden's top 10 favorite cruelty-free products.

...To Toe... 
Yes, but how much should I tip?: Announcing the first-ever cute animal video on The Beheld! Monkey gives himself pedicure with self-made pedicure kit. I mean really.

...And Everything In Between:
Male makeup marketing: Let's put aside the clear agenda of this study about masculinity and beauty products (which was conducted by FaceLube, a men's skin care company that "uses no common beauty terms with female characteristics...FaceLube® is catered to the preferences of masculine men" OKAY BUDDY WE GOT IT YOUR PENIS IS ENORMOUS). It actually reveals something that goes to the heart of the question about whether the increase in men's skin care represents a loosening of gender roles (which I don't think it does in the grand scheme of things, but I'm open to arguments to the contrary). My hunch is that more American men would respond to a masculinization of beauty products than a metrosexual marketing. Lucky for me, I have the vigorous research of FaceLube® by my side. 

Rebel rebel: Saudi men may blame high divorce rates on women spending more time on cosmetics than the marital arts. The study was of 50 men, so hardly representative, but it's an interesting point, especially given that a new Saudi labor law mandates that cosmetics stores can only be staffed by women. Are cosmetics a refuge for women in an notoriously un-woman-friendly culture?

L'Oréal vs. eBay: The European Court of Justice ruled that online sellers like eBay must take measures to prevent the sale of counterfeit trademarked products. (Good timing for L'Oréal, whose sales are sluggish in North America and Eastern Europe.)

Body bloggin': One of my favorite bloggers, Virginia Sole-Smith, delves into the question of body-positive blogs. She focuses more on the issue of measurements and numbers than images—something I don't do myself but that I think can be helpful when done right (as she herself did on Beauty Schooled by asking people to post their weight as one of many facts about themselves)—but it's a question worth engaging in on all levels.

Liar liar: I'm a little late on this, but Stephanie Marcus's HuffPo piece on "liar-exia" raises the excellent point that using cutesy terminology like that sweeps a very real eating disorder (ED-NOS, or at least one of its many incarnations) under the rug. The symptoms of "liar-exia"—making a point of eating bountifully in public and restricting in private—mustn't be trivialized, not because it'll kill its sufferers (it probably won't, though ED-NOS sufferers actually have a higher mortality rate than anorexics and bulimics), but because it speaks to the double bind that women who are supposed to somehow "know better" are thrust into. Eating disorder advocates have done a good job of raising awareness of EDs; now we've got to dispel the many myths surrounding them.

Beauty and the brain: Fascinating study published in PLos ONE about how we process beauty. Regions of our brain light up when we experience beauty regardless of its form, pointing toward a scientific way to say that the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The study authors also note "there must be an intimate link in the cortical processing that is linked to value, desire and beauty." I don't argue otherwise, and certainly not in this context, because it invites the question of how we turn the inherent value of beauty into monetary value if we experience beauty in the brain. That is: If we can tune into a way to manipulate mass ideas of beauty, can we create profit? Shall we ask the Magic 8-Ball?

Pink isn't just for girls: It's for "the girls" too! Full pinkwashing disclosure: I own a pink-ribbon KitchenAid, and it is the cutest thing in existence, rivaling the pedicure monkey.

Pinkwashing: This fantastic paper (full download here; Science Daily writeup here) by Amy Lubitow of Portland State University and Mia Davis of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics gets at the heart of one angle of my unease with the pink-ribboning of corporate America. Companies often "pinkwash," or pull out the pink breast cancer flag to prove that they're woman-friendly—including companies that use chemicals that have been linked to cancer. There's a lot here and it's pretty layperson-friendly. It concludes, "We would like to suggest that a critical stance on pinkwashing is the first step in addressing ongoing racial disparities in relation to breast cancer and is a necessary element in the effort [to] reduce cancer incidence and mortality rates."

Beauty "breaking points": A reminder from Allure that one way spa workers claim power is to shame their clients about their bodies. This is a part of the "upsell" that Virginia wrote about in Marie Claire, and I'm sympathetic to the financial need for the worker to do exactly what she did, even as it makes me cringe. But manalive I was hoping for some commentary from Allure on this, not a cave-in! (Not that waxing your lip is a cave-in, but doing so because you've been shamed into it? Oi!) There are some positive quotes here too, though, so not a total wash.

A "ho" is for gardening: Not exactly beauty-related, but y'all know I'm a sucker for word usage, so this piece at Good on terminology for sex workers caught my eye. Tits and Sass then asks the question: Gee, why don't you ask a sex worker what she'd like to be called? (The Good piece was talking specifically about prostitutes, and I think that having specific terminology is helpful in discussing any line of work—what I do as a writer is quite different from what I do as a copy editor—but it doesn't erase the larger question.)

Sing it, sister: Tavi on beauty privilege: "But even if I have my own reasons for [wearing makeup and contact lenses instead of glasses], I still can't help but feel a little uneasy about playing their game."  (Via Rachel Hills)

Feminist Fashion Bloggers roundup: Great collection of posts on feminism, fashion, and social class. Kate Middleton's perceived class status and how it relates to her as a fashion icon; two takes on the shifting role of class in DIY fashion; the relationship between downscale and upscale fashions, from the mirror-free Kjerstin Gruys, whose pre-academic professional background was fashion; feminism and intellectual property in fashion; the ethics of thrifting; counterfeit fashion; and honoring Betty Ford.

Necessity, luxury, and class: Krystal at PowerFemme (also a part of the FFB roundup; there are other beauty bloggers on FFB but Krystal was the only one who participated in this roundup) on the role of privilege in the beauty industry: "We often recognize that those who have extra money to hop on a plane to Europe, eat at fancy restaurants, and get weekly massages as socially and economically privileged. Yet, we sometimes forget about how privilege impacts our relationship to beauty because our purchases in the beauty industry are often framed as pure necessities, not luxuries." She makes an excellent point about how the concentration of industry power means that those companies have an overwhelming amount of cultural power, because they're dictating the bulk of the images.


  1. " Saudi men may blame high divorce rates on women spending more time on cosmetics than the marital arts"

    I initially misread that as martial arts - shame, it'd have been a much better story..!

  2. Your blog is such a great resource. Posts like this give me links to hours of valuable reading. Thank you for providing that.

    Most American men are still too anxious about their perceived sexual orientation to adopt beauty-products, even in private and even when helpful. Metrosexual approaches don't work; masculinizing does to a small degree. It's almost comical, though, to see how bizarre these marketing efforts play out. What is a "turbo-powered" razor?

  3. JM, Ha! I love the thought of Saudi men wringing their hands--"Why doesn't she just learn judo? Is it too much to ask??"

    Shybiker, thank you! There's been plenty of talk about how the widening market of men's grooming products means that men are exploring gender play more, which frankly I don't think is true on a larger scale. (I agree with you that masculinizing beauty products is going to be a more effective marketing strategy for most men.) Now I'm wondering, though, if the "metrosexual" approach has lifted a bit of the shame aspect of transgendered people--like by supplying "metrosexual" as a sort of gender play, then being transgendered doesn't seem like as much of a leap? I really don't know, though. Would love to hear your thoughts on this if you have any!

  4. I'm with JM; I saw martial arts. This is why I'm not an editor.

    Poor li'l Tavi! I remember standing at the crossroads of "Damn, I scorn the pursuit of conventional beauty and yet I suddenly have the option of succeeding at prettiness, so who the hell AM I?" She seems to be taking it well.

    I don't want to touch anything called FaceLube.

  5. Rebekah, I consistently feel relieved that the Internet wasn't around when I was a teenager, and then when I read stuff like Tavi's I'm all--aw, but she seems to making a good go of it!

  6. I'm late, but thanks for including my link!

  7. Krystal, thank YOU for the awesome content!

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