Friday, September 16, 2011

Beauty Blogosphere 9.16.11

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

From Head...
Earth face!: If body typing is appealing on the level of being an ersatz personality test, physiognomy like this new face-reading book being touted in The Daily Mail is even more oddly appealing, even though I think it's utter bullshit. Always fun to play, though!

 ...To Toe... 
If the shoe doesn't fit: Decoding Dress on why capitalism made her hunt for a month for black pumps. With her size 11 fitting, "There aren’t enough women like me to make it commercially worthwhile for manufacturers to cater to us." (Solutions, or at least ways to ameliorate the problem, here.) The shoe size question is interesting to me, as when applied to clothes we can't help but integrate the discussion with body image (as Already Pretty did this week by reminding us that "Clothes should fit you, you needn’t fit them," and as an oldie but goodie at Inkdot does with this post on tailoring). Shoes have less of an impact on our body image than clothes, so looking at the lack of diverse size options in footwear is a nice way to examine the sizing problem from a numbers-based perspective—and, yep, the man ain't giving Decoding Dress a new pair of shoes easily anytime soon. 

...And Everything In Between:
Ask a Dude: Hairpin's Dude answers two questions this week about appearance: How to accept a compliment when you're all hot and heavy with someone, and what to do when you find out your gross boyfriend has been making gross comparisons between your body and another woman's. Gross!

I'll have what he's having: We're more likely to consider someone beautiful if we think our friends think the person is beautiful. Science sez!

Fashion weak: Ashley Mears, sociologist, model, and author of Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model, on modeling as precarious labor, with few rights for the people wearing the clothes that make Fashion Week so damned glamorous.

Southern belles: A look inside the world of Venezuelan beauty pageants, and what it means for all Venezuelan women. (Banks there give loans for plastic surgery with slogans like "Have your plastic on our plastic"?!) Venezuelan models tend to be in high demand in the U.S.--very young women who can earn far more from their families while living abroad than they can from working at home--so I'm wondering about the economic implications of the beauty imperative there.

"If you could change one of your physical characteristics, which one would it be and why?":
This was asked at the Miss Universe pageant, which is, as a reminder, a pageant in which contestants are selected for their physical beauty—but, of course, still need to be prodded to put down their appearance. Aiaiai! (Thanks to Caitlin at Fit and Feminist for the link.)

Vote for "The Illusionists": Filmmaker Elena Rossini (you've met her here before) is up for a nice publicity boost from IndieWire; won't you take a second and vote for "The Illusionists," a promising documentary about the exploitation of women's bodies for profit? UPDATE: "The Illusionists" won! (And had won before I posted this roundup, which I hadn't realized.) Nice work, all!

She's a winner!:
Guinness world record holder for world's longest fingernails tops in with a combined 19.2 feet in length. Vacuuming, of all things, is what she claims is the hardest thing to do. (Clearly she does not wear contact lenses.)

Survivor: Cosmetics salesman is lone survivor of plane crash in Bolivia. No word as to whether skin cream played a role in his survival in the Amazon jungle.

Fly this: I've seen plenty of "travel-friendly" beauty products but had never thought about what it meant for the industry: Sales of products under three ounces have grown 10% a year since liquid restrictions were placed on U.S. flights.

Mirror Abuse Resistance Education: A high school in the UK has not only banned makeup, but has removed mirrors from the bathrooms. I think this is pretty awesome--I hear the idea that makeup allows you to express your individuality, but if the idea is to focus on learning (à la school uniforms), this certainly removes a distraction. Attention, Shelley College students: I had a great month with no mirrors, and Kjerstin Gruys is having a great year without 'em--you'll thrive during your on-school hours if you let yourselves, okay? 

Everybody loves Tavi: Nice piece in Slate about the advantages Tavi Gevinson's Rookie has over traditional teen mags (plus an acknowledgement that feminists in teen magazines aren't unicorns! we exist!). 

Smart eye for the racist guy: Remember that Crystal Renn shoot in which her eyes were taped back but of course the idea wasn't at all to look Asian? Minh-ha T. Pham at Threadbared takes it on: "Renn’s explanation is an example of a post-racial narrative in which race is simultaneously articulated through and disavowed by discourses of class, culture, patriotism, national security, talent, and, in the case of fashion, creative license."

It's called "lift and separate," Captain.

Cartoon boobs: Hourglassy on breasts in comics. Hint for aspiring comics artists: "When fabric is stretched across boobs, no matter how tight the spandex, it does not suction cup itself to each individual breast."

The Evolution of Ape-Face Johnson: Speaking of comics, cartoonist Carolita Johnson has a stunning piece in The Hairpin about her journey from supposedly funny-looking child, to high fashion model, to supposedly funny-looking model.

Army of two:
Fantastic talk between Cristen Conger at Bitch and Hugo Schwyzer on the male beauty myth. "It’s self-centered in terms of meeting your own ideal, becoming the man you want to be. This all started with the Army...when they went with the most brilliant advertising slogan ever: 'Be All You Can Be.' ...They decided to stop selling patriotism because that was old school and start selling personal transformation, and that was absolute genius." (Or take it from the horse's mouth: Men's cosmetics marketers on their thoughts on the difference between marketing to men and women.)

"As much as I love feminism, I don’t believe it’s the only concept you will ever need": Nothing to do with beauty! But everything to do with feminism, and this Sady Doyle piece is one of the best I've read recently.

New No More Dirty Looks challenge: Meditation sort of kills me—it's one of those things I know I would really benefit from, but it feels impossible to do. So I'm eagerly jumping on the next No More Dirty Looks challenge: five minutes of meditation every day for sever consecutive days. (There's a prize too, but what prize could be better than EVERLASTING CONTENTMENT?) Guidelines for the challenge here, plus a nice how-to guide that shows you there's no "trick"; you've just got to do it.

Paging Amelie:
A take on what it's like to be the "manic pixie dream girl" trope that plenty of smart feminists have deconstructed, and that this smart feminist has embodied. (I've played MPDG and have experienced a hint of self-loathing for it over the years, and this helped me ease up on that front.)

Apology not accepted: Virginia of Beauty Schooled guest posting at The Daily Glow about why beauty makes us happy. "I noticed that a lot of women tend to apologize for how happy beauty makes them.... Somehow, we’ve gotten the idea that it’s shallow to get too excited about beauty." But no more!

What do women look at first on a man?: Warning: This is sort of creepy and uncomfortable, but interesting as well—a man strapped tiny cameras to his biceps and crotch, then asked women for directions and let the cameras witness what body parts they looked at first. It's also interesting to see how various women respond to being approached; we only really know our own experiences, so it's a nifty insight into how others handle stranger interactions. (Basically, we're really really nice.)

How to be bold:
Ashe at Dramatic Personae on fashion and self-consciousness—and here I thought I was the only one who owned amazing pieces she never wore because she felt self-conscious in them!

"The point of all this" fitness jazz: A group of bystanders to a car/motorcycle crash lifted the burning car to free the motorcyclist underneath, and (naturally!) it's caught on video. That's not what impressed Caitlin of Fit and Feminist, though: "What struck me was the presence of a young woman in the crowd. She didn’t hang back and watch.... Instead, she jumped right in. I’m not a betting woman, but I’d be willing to wager that woman is physically active... Maybe she plays sports or she does a bootcamp or she takes a Pilates class. I don’t know. All I know is that confidence in her body and her physical abilities is tightly woven into the tapestry of her self-image.... She doesn’t recite it as a mantra in hopes of one day actually believing it."


  1. "Shoes have less of an impact on our body image than clothes"? I dunno. I think in some ways for me they're harder; I'm in the same position as Decoding Dress of not being able to walk into a store and buy shoes, and it makes me feel AWFUL, to be honest. Shoes are a continual reminder that the garment industry refuses, in general to acknowledge my body's dimensions as worthy of being accommodated. Clothes I can tailor, or fudge ("no really, this is meant to be a 3/4-length sleeve!") but shoes are unfudgeable.

  2. Oh man! I can't wait to read the post on MPDG's...I had this moment earlier that I was really pushed in to that category in my early 20s by men... thank god I fell in love with the one who realized I wasn't that & loved me more for it.

  3. Thanks again for the shoutout! Now I'm off to read the sixteen tabs I opened in my browser, thanks to this post. :)

  4. Ooh! I practically had my face-reading book memorized as a teen.

    Years ago, a male comic-reader told me that when he FINALLY got to see a real woman's breasts, he was horribly disappointed that they weren't more like the comic version. Naturally, I jumped off a cliff and died. I'm writing you from the afterlife, the food is great.

    As to the Butt/Biceps camera idea, I notice several of the ladies he approached were sitting down, which made his crotch/biceps closer to eye level than his face. Just a thought.

  5. I have to give a different perspective on the no make-up in a UK school thing. I taught for two weeks in a UK school that banned most make-up (basically it was supposed to be invisible). This school was awful and really had discipline problems. In addition to making students behave and learn, I was supposed to get them to wear uniforms properly, leave class to wash off visible make-up, go get nail polish remover if they were using nail polish etc. Maybe eventually the students get used to these rules and stop breaking them but I found enforcing these rules to be a distraction to the hard enough job of enforcing necessary rules like Listen to each other and the teacher and Learn.

  6. Once again I don't fit in any categories (face shape thing) damn it! Now I will never know who I am in this world!!!

    I always look forward to your Friday posts, Autumn.

    Favorite line: "When fabric is stretched across boobs, no matter how tight the spandex, it does not suction cup itself to each individual breast."

    HAHAHA! I just tried on a dress that was a size too small and it made my breasts look like I stuffed my dog in there!

  7. Anonymous, I'm glad to hear you speak up (though not glad you have a problem finding shoes that fit!) because it's a reminder that my experience isn't across the board. I'm a size 9 and while I prefer a slightly wide shoe I don't require it--so of course it doesn't impact my body image, because I'm not getting daily reminders of how I'm outside the norm. I hope you enjoyed DD's post.

    Ashe, I sometimes find myself still playing MPDG to my boyfriend, who has never required that of me and sees right through it--but he also knows that there's a part of me that falls into that role in an effort to combat my own depression (which is what the piece talks about). Yes, if you haven't read it yet, do!

    Caitlin, of course! Thank you for such great content.

    Rebekah, I can only assume that the face-reading book came from the afterlife as well? I got into palm-reading as a teen but ultimately think face reading would've been more of a kick...

    Lyndsay, that sounds like a pain for the teacher (um, you). Do you think it would have been better for the ban to have been lifted? I'm wondering how best to eliminate the distraction, since it seems like there's potential for distraction either way.

    Cameo, you, like me, will never be tethered to a type--we will wander, lost souls, for eternity, our shapeless faces aloft in the night--

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