Friday, October 7, 2011

Beauty Blogosphere 10.7.11

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


From Head...
Beauty shy: If you're among the women (or men) who feel intimidated by makeup but are curious to try it, keep an eye on BeautyShy, a new site from Courtney of Those Graces. I'm eager to see how this develops—Courtney was one of the first feminist beauty bloggers I found when I started The Beheld, and while BeautyShy isn't explicitly feminist, the idea of makeup as a democratic form of beauty is. And when I think back to my makeover with makeup artist Eden DiBianco—and how it made me think about the power of dictating one's own image through cosmetics—it's clear that makeup itself can be a tool to examine beauty through a distinctly feminist lens.


...To Toe...
"Surely corns are the least of your problems": Interesting to see when our culture turns the tables on men and shames them for their moments of vanity/relaxation. Much like the great haircut debate of "Breck Girl" John Edwards (remember when that was the most inflammatory thing about him?), Michael Jackson doctor Conrad Murray makes headlines simply by getting a pedicure. Not sure how we'd handle this if the doctor were a woman.


...And Everything In Between
Makeup medium:
Financial Times looks at artists using cosmetics as their medium, making me want to see the work of Karla Black, who sculpts with Lush bath bombs. 

Airborne: Charles Revson (founder of Revlon) was on the PanAm board of directors back in the day? No wonder flight attendants had to wear Revlon's Persian Melon lipstick as a part of their dress code, as some former stewardesses recall here.

Are women driving the luxury economy? This Motley Fool entry on thriving high-end markets makes me wonder: Lululemon, Estee Lauder, and Whole Foods are outvaluing their mid-market buddies (Nike, Revlon, Safeway). And don't even try to tell me that Whole Foods isn't squarely aimed at women.

Clean green fraud machine: The natural cosmetics market in Asia is plagued by fraudulent labeling, as it lacks even the private standards of North American and European markets. Not that we Americans are drowning in open information on what's in our cosmetics, as No More Dirty Looks' insight on the "Safe Cosmetics Alliance" shows.

A Map of the Open Country of a Woman's Heart, at American Antiquarian

Antique beauty: Investigate the history of women and appearance in America with this thoroughly fascinating online exhibit of women in 19th-century prints. Whether it's looking at the ways America's first women were depicted, examining how images formed early ideas of "erotic capital," proffering evidence of how women's bodies have pretty much always been used in advertising (sheet music!), or showing "A Map of the Open Country of a Woman's Heart," the collection is worth your time.

Tool kit: So it's official, per an evolutionary psychologist and a major cosmetics producer: Makeup makes you seem more likeable. I'm certain I'll have more to say on this study soon (thank you to everyone who sent it my way! I love it when people see something and think, That's Beheld material...) but for now I'll just point you to nice commentary on it over at The Gloss and The Look.

Pulchronomics: Harvard sociologist Hilary Levey Friedman reviews Beauty Pays by Daniel Hamermesh. In looking at the body of work surrounding academic study of beauty, I've found Hamermesh's work to be more solid than most—but I'm a writer, not an academic. To have Levey Friedman point out how dated the research Hamermesh is drawing on—and why that matters when talking about beauty in the labor market—illustrates the difficulty of "proving" the role of beauty. (Also, new word! Pulchronomics, from Latin pulcher, meaning beauty, and economics: the economics of beauty.)

Kooky but true: Why you shouldn't wear nail polish before surgery.

In scientia veritas: A take on a Burt's Bees ad that calls the scientific name of ingredients "ugly": "[The applied chemistry] system has a complex-sounding name for just about every component of milk and honey, too. But it’s impossible for anyone to know that without having a certain background in the naming system. Take glucose, one of the pieces of ordinary table sugar and something that can be found in both milk and honey. Its IUPAC name is something like (2R,3R,4S,5R,6R) -6- (hydroxymethyl)tetrahydro-2H-pyran-2,3,4,5-tetraol."

Eating disorders in Indian country: American Indian women report higher incidences of binge eating than white women but are no more likely to have ever been diagnosed with an eating disorder. But the real story is that eating disorders are virtually unmentioned in either tribal health care or urban Indian clinics. I'm saddened that eating disorders in Indian country have flown under the radar—but proud to play my small role in starting the conversation. Please read my piece in Indian Country Today about Native American women and eating disorders.

From Every Playboy Centerfold, the Decades (normalized), Jason Salavon, Digital C-prints

Heffed up: Composite images of Playboy centerfolds, by decade. Ladies got blonder!

Je ne sais quoi: I can deconstruct the French-girl mystique all I want—fact remains I'm still going to keep looking at them with les étoiles in my eyes, and Dead Fleurette does a nice job here of talking with les françaises on style and showing us exactly why that is. 

What exactly constitutes street harassment? Well, I'm not sure, and neither is Decoding Dress, but this searching post explores the duality of dressing to be looked at, the various consequences that can have, and why one comment can feel like a compliment and another like an attack. Tavi at Rookie touches on unwanted comments this week too, particularly interesting given that as a teenager, she's in the early stages of getting that sort of unasked-for attention. Of course, it's not so early after all: "I want these guys to know that they’re able to be so cavalier because they don’t hear unsolicited opinions on their bodies and alleged sex lives all the time."

I'll have what she's having: Elissa at Dress With Courage looks at a new study about how low body image might make us less likely to buy an outfit we see looking good on someone else. Particularly interesting in light of her post from the previous week about the intimacy of shopping—are we sometimes shooting ourselves in the foot by shopping with particularly attractive friends? I'd hate to think so!

He'll be her mirror: Congrats to Mirror Mirror Off the Wall's Kjerstin Gruys, who got married last weekend and had what seems like an incredible wedding. Click through to find out if she looked in the mirror on her wedding day!

Beardcake: Thanks to Rebekah at Jaunty Dame for pointing me toward the work of Rion Sabean, who does "men-ups" of men in traditional cheesecake poses. I'm digging 'em, aided along by what he has to say over at Jezebel. (Edited to add: Feministe pairs Sabean's work with that of Yolanda Dominguez, who has women re-create poses in public from fashion shoots.)

"Diversity isn’t just that one gorgeous silver-haired model": Why is the fashion industry not getting that the demand really is growing to see true diversity? I used to think it was a feminist thing, but I see complaints about this everywhere—and I'm pretty sure that fashion bloggers are showing the industry that "aspirational" isn't the only route to powerful imagery. Is that wishful thinking on my part? Maybe, but I'm with Sally that the industry is due for a strategic revamp.

"It wasn't a contradiction for me": Rachel Hills on being a feminist and writing for women's magazines. I haven't touched this question publicly yet but much of what she says here resonates with me as well (I think I have more inner conflict about it than she writes about here, as exemplified by the night I crumpled into the backseat of a cab and cried all the way home because I had to communicate to the art department that an editor wanted an actress who had been public with her anorexia battle slimmed, but let's not dwell!).

5 comments:

  1. That link at Decoding Dress has hit on something I've been pondering w/r/t street harassment. I've felt complimented by things strangers have said to me about my appearance, and I've also been horribly creeped out by others. I'm trying to figure out where the line lies, because on one hand I don't want to be all "don't talk to anyone you don't know, ever," because I talk to strangers all the time and I would be sad if we all walked around in hermetic bubbles, but at the same time, a lot of women (plus gender variant people, gay men, etc.) are legitimately threatened by interactions with strangers and also very much put off by the notion of their bodies and selves as receptacles of public commentary. So. My point is that it's a complicated topic, and I like that DD addresses it as such.

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  2. Makeup comes in so many vibrant, gorgeous colors--- who hasn't painted with it? Lush bath bombs are a pretty expensive medium, though.

    Men would seem so much more professional and likeable if they wore more makeup.

    "But in a health-care system tasked with urgent needs and limited resources, nuances can fall by the wayside."

    Well said. ~heavy sigh~


    Love the idea of BeautyShy, can't help hating the tagline. I get that she means "building your confidence IN BUYING AND USING COSMETICS one product at a time," but it still rubs me wrong.

    As always, thanks for the fame!

    "(I think I have more inner conflict about it than she writes about here, as exemplified by the night I crumpled into the backseat of a cab and cried all the way home because I had to communicate to the art department that an editor wanted an actress who had been public with her anorexia battle slimmed, but let's not dwell!)."

    Ohhhhhhhhh. What a slimy situation.

    I'm with Caitlin on the DD post. I've never figured out how to feel about "street attention," if we can call it that. It never comes from people I find attractive, which is surely a factor. =)

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  3. Caitlin and Rebekah, that's exactly what I like about Decoding Dress's writings on "street attention." It's far more complicated than much discourse on it allows for--harassment is never welcome, of course, and there are some forms of harassment that are blatant. But unlike sexual assault I think there is a gray area with street attention. I remember a reporter friend of mine telling me about stopping to chat with a fellow who said he liked her dress; they had a nice conversation and she felt complimented and attractive. Later that day she was reading the police register and saw that a woman had called the cops on that man for harassing her (it was a small town), and she was upset by wondering if her barometer was off--that what she considered kindly conversation, another woman considered harassment. I'm certain I've felt complimented by things someone else might take offense to, and vice versa, and outside of a few sharp guidelines it can be difficult to suss out what's what.

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