Friday, September 2, 2011

Beauty Blogosphere 9.2.11

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

Between Sinéad and Jaunty Dame, it's bald-lady week 'round here! 

From Head...
So you shaved your head, eh?:
To you, today, I make this vow: If a glossy ladymag ever runs a beauty tips piece as awesome as Jaunty Dame's 10 Tips for Coping With an Accidentally Shaven Head, I will copy edit it pro bono.

Hair vs. health: The surgeon general warned attendees of the Bronner Brothers International Hair Show (which is wonderfully chronicled in the Chris Rock documentary Good Hair) to choose exercise over hair, noting that she hears women say that working out will make them sweat too much to properly maintain their hair. And then a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research criticized her for engaging in "smaller issues" like this, because certainly the surgeon fucking general wouldn't know what issues are actually affecting Americans, right? Has nothing to do with him being a white man who doesn't understand issues that might affect black women, I'm sure.

...To Toe...
Pedicure woes: Cassie Murdoch interviewed pedicurists to find out what annoys them, and tells us how not to be That Customer.

...And Everything In Between: 
Makeup 101: New series at the Guardian about the history of various cosmetics companies. First up: Revlon.

Asian men and makeup: Which country ranks #1 in sales of men's cosmetics? Korea. Unsurprising, given Korea's history as being a leader in the Asian beauty market, but still raised my eyebrows. Korea, from what I understand, is reasonably egalitarian in gender roles, with the timeline of feminism roughly echoing that of North America. Are Korean men's cosmetics sales reflective of men's desire to redefine masculinity, or just a part of the market game?

Social expectation and beauty markets: Intriguing industry look at the differences between the Japanese and Chinese beauty markets, which neatly reflects how expectations of women play out in the market. For example, cosmetics are seen as an obligation for Japanese women, making color cosmetics a higher percentage of the beauty market than it is in China, where beauty products are heavily used but still eyed with suspicion, with an emphasis on "natural beauty" being prized.


"Be the change you wish to see in the world": Op-ed piece in the Times about how bumper-sticker wisdom becomes falsely attributed to iconic figures. (This Gandhi was a mangled version of something he said in which he making a point about the importance of community action, not individual action.) What's interesting is the frequency with which these misattributions show up in a particular kind of "you can do anything!" kind of quote that shows up in some western self-help-style works. The piece is a roundabout way of critiquing some of the weaker aspects of the self-help industry, which at its sloppiest takes a Randian approach that initially seems empowering but in the end is really just unhelpful.

Lovely lobby: Interesting that the sponsors of the Small Business Tax Equalization and Compliance Act of 2011 are both women (Senator Olympia Snow, R-ME, and Senator Mary Landrieu, D-LA). Could it have anything to do with the Professional Beauty Association's lobbying efforts?

I'll have what she's having: "The food was remarkably good and inventive, but the impression that I was most left with was now effortless the whole remarkable dining experience had been made to seem," says Deep Glamour on having a good-looking waitstaff.

The Pill: I sometimes use self-tanning cream, aka skin dye, so I'm not one to talk. But taking a pill to change your skin color is creepy, right? We can agree on this?

It must be true, it's in Time!: The Beauty Myth makes it onto Time's 100 best nonfiction books published since the magazine's creation. 

Is that Tallahassee or Bismarck?: Interview with the author of Erotic Capital, who argues that women don't capitalize enough on their "erotic capital"—grace, sex appeal, social presentation, and, of course, beauty—in the workplace. Made with less intelligence this argument would totally fall flat but her interview is thought-provoking. And for a solid counterpoint, check out Hugo Schwyzer's response at The Good Men Project, nicely tying it into his continuing work on the myth of male weakness. 

Another interesting new book on appearance: Beauty Pays by Daniel Hamermesh, which details how conventionally attractive people make more money. Judging by this reader Q&A session it could be an entertaining read; he seems neither righteous nor apologetic for the intricacies of beauty and labor.

From Athlete by Howard Schatz and Beverly Ornstein

But what about mathletic bodies?:
Ragen at Dances With Fat on "athletic" body types, which IMHO is probably the biggest disappointment in the body-typing category, because on one hand it puts a positive spin on a body type that might not be seen as "feminine enough," and on the other hand sort of means nothing. (Magazines have told me I'm "athletic" because I'm thick-waisted, which was true when I couldn't run two minutes nonstop, and is also true now that I'm a regular gymgoer. Baffled!)

Miss Universe: A weird peek behind the scenes of Chinese beauty pageants, which seem bogus even by beauty pageant standards. Hidden within is a link to this truly incredible website, Missosology, which appears to be wholly dedicated to analyzing and tracking beauty pageant contestants worldwide. Its banner includes a countdown clock to Miss Universe 2011.

Teaching with sole: A different take on the impracticality of heels (which I have a long-documented love/hate relationship with) that goes beyond simple comfort. (The update is even better: Tori's sneakers-with-skirt trend is catching on.)

Dress With Courage on body image, celebrities, and the media: The general topic is well-trod ground, but Elissa goes beyond questions of bodily dissatisfaction to examine a more philosophical issue: "We are increasingly disconnected with what our bodies actually look like."

We'll be her mirror: Kjerstin Gruys's year-long mirror project has been getting some amazing press recently (Yahoo and HuffPo!), so a congratulations to her--and a great opportunity to look at what it means to package one's appearance-related message through for-profit media, as Sociological Images does here.

Macrofashion: Decoding Dress asks us about our fashion economy, in which we "pay" for entry to a social group via adhering to that group's norms. "Is there...a limited supply of social inclusion?" she asks. "Or do we limit supply artificially, by declaring certain modes of dress to be “inappropriate,” so as to enrich ourselves, to increase our own powereven though our doing so denies a good (and potentially causes harm) to others?"

Work it: I hadn't really thought about it until Sally asked, but I'm with her: My body image at the gym is actually pretty solid. Definitely more solid than it is when I'm roaming free on the streets, and here she breaks down her (and, as it turns out, my) reasons for that.

LGBTQ...A: Rachel Rabbit White asks some great questions about where asexuality should fall on the sex-positivity curve. "[I] argue that sex positivity needs a more psychological approach that is personally crafted—that may ask: what is okay for me? How interested in sex am I really?"

Goddess pose: Virginia looks at Yogawoman, a documentary about yoga's journey from being a male-dominated practice to the American incarnation, which is pretty much all about the ladies, it seems. I'm with her in wishing that the film spent more time looking at some of the not-so-great things about the faddishness of yoga: "Women have reinvented yoga in many important and beneficial ways. But they've also spawned a multi-billion dollar industry devoted to selling you pants that give you a yoga butt."

Nightmare Brunette on the performance of desirability: "'You’re almost intimidatingly good-looking,' one man told me after we shared our first kiss. 'No,' I said, laughing. But I thought about it later and maybe. The trappings matter so much: right hair cut, color, style; right make-up (the lighter the better; it’s less strange in the morning) the right shoes, the right dress, the eye contact. I look in the mirror and I see me, working, which is separate than myself. Their desire makes me a different person. I think it’s not so hard to shape myself that way." (This week Charlotte also gives the best defense of Pretty Woman I've ever read, not that I've read a lot of them, but still!)


  1. Oh my gosh - I am thrilled and honored to be included in your beauty blogosphere links this week. What an incredible achievement! I've been reading your blog for awhile now and it has quickly become my go-to source for intelligent posts regarding beauty standards and body image.

    Thank you so much for mentioning my post. Just one problem - the link isn't working. Is there any chance you can fix it? Here's the correct link:

    Thank you again! You've made my month!

  2. Hi Elissa--But of course! The admiration is mutual! Your work is consistently thought-provoking and I'm glad to have "met" Dress With Courage and am looking forward to more! (And I've also joined the 30+ fashion bloggers group, btw, thank you for that!)

    The link is now fixed--thanks for the heads-up!

  3. Regarding the misquoting- When we had to decorate folders with favorite quotations in a middle school English class, a classmate attributed "Well behaved women seldom make history" to Marilyn Monroe instead of the scholar Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. I was very annoyed.

    Additionally- I always, always wear skirts with sneakers, which my mom completely detests and always says looks ridiculous. I'm glad I'm not the only one! :)

  4. Once again, you are making me feel famous. Thank you!

    OOH, bumper sticker wisdom--- I was going to mention that faux Nelson Mandela bit. Similarly, I knew a girl who posted Camus' "endless summer" on her Facebook page as "author unknown." Unknown to HER maybe, but she was sitting in front of the Internet... sigh!

    If taking a pill would turn me blue like Rama, I wouldn't say no.

    The 'Erotic Capital' interview was better than I expected, but I preferred Schwyzer's response. I spent so, so many years being told how to dress to protect all the poor, struggling men in the world from impure thoughts. I wish I'd heard "male weakness" described as a myth.

  5. I've been longing for years for a pill to change my hair colour. (That is, I like my natural colour. But I would love to be able to change it without damaging, and quickly fading, dye.) Changing skin colour is obviously rather more political, but in theory, I'd rather love it; I'm naturally one of those freckled people who just can't tan, ever, and even expensive fake tan still looks fake on me. While I am mostly fine with my skin tone (it helps that pale is more acceptable in these melanoma-conscious days), I know that a tan makes lumpy/wobbly bits look quite a bit better. So a pill is quite a fantasy for me.

  6. Virginia's post makes me want to see Yogawoman as soon as I can.

  7. Alexa, tell your mother that a fully respectable high school teacher does exactly the same thing! Point her to Tori if need be. Also, that's interesting that the quote was attributed to Marilyn Monroe, of all people, who was hardly known for being not well-behaved. On a similar note, there's a "beauty tips" quote attributed to Audrey Hepburn about how for beautiful lips speak words of kindness, etc., when in fact that wasn't hers at all, though she did like the quote and shared it with others. It's like we want these good sayings to have more weight by attaching them to glamorous women.

    Rebekah, it's such a shame about the Nelson Mandela bit--I think it's such a great quote (despite my misgivings about the me-me-me aspect of it, which I think is just a misinterpretation)--as though the words themselves aren't enough. As for "Erotic Capital," that's interesting that it was a part of your youth--was this through LDS?

    Woollythinker, I would totally take a pill to change my hair color (once--I too like my natural color). As for the skin one, it's on its way, so may not be a fantasy after all!

    Tori, I was thinking of you when I read Virginia's post--looking forward to a review from you!