Friday, November 18, 2011

Beauty Blogosphere 11.18.11

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

From Head...
The haircut of the future: QR code haircuts on British football players' heads being used as ad space. Basically, we are all going to be cyborgs.

...To Toe...
Oh, bother. Absolutely nothing of note happened below the ankle this week, and I've already used up the pedicure video game I had stashed away for this emergency. But would you take a moment to help a boot-challenged lass and let me know your boot recommendations? I need a pair that can handle the snow and rain but that won't look ridic. Thoughts?

...And Everything In Between:
Belleza!: "3 mujeres, 2 languages, 1 blog" is the kicker for new culture and beauty blog Spanglish Beauty, co-run by the editor of's Spanish-language beauty channel (and friend of The Beheld), Soe Kabbabe.

Rinse it good: The cleanse/tone/moisturize routine embraced by Americans 40 years ago is so over. Now it takes 14 steps! (Where's a college course in this when you need one?)

Ashtanga Shrugged: Why is it not at all surprising that Lululemon is run by a bunch of Randians? "Our bags are visual reminders for ourselves to live a life we love and conquer the epidemic of mediocrity."

...And to All a Good Night: Ohio man high on bath salts breaks into strangers' home and puts up Christmas decorations. (Since when are bath salts a "designer drug"? I thought designer drugs were for 1980s stockbrokers, not something you could buy at Bath & Body Works.)

Prosumed: The rise of the "pro-sumer"—consumers whose engagement with beauty products makes them want professional-grade wares—is allowing various professional beauty companies to launch lines designed specifically for the educated amateur. The threat of the educated amateur is partially responsible for the clinicizing of beautyspeak, as demonstrated in From the Kitchen to the Parlor, a book about salons catering to African American women. Hairstyling students were encouraged to use vaguely medical-sounding terms to encourage customers to rely on professional care instead of the DIY approach that had become popular in some areas. (Also, clinicizing is not a word, but don't you think it should be?)

This marks the one and only time you will see a LOLcat on this blog. Because you, Reader, are worth it.

"Because you're worth it": L'Oréal's tag line has turned 40, and Jezebel asks if we really need a makeup company to remind us of this anymore. I read this as now being an affirmation of our worthiness, not a decided act to convince us as such. It's still manipulative (as ads are wont to be) but more than anything I think it just paved the way for the "real beauty" ads like the Dove campaign and Bare Escentuals recent one ("pretty is what you are, beauty is what you do with it," whaaaa?!). Now that everything the ladies do is très empowered, I think the slogan is actually more relevant than ever, in marketingland.

Developing news: Procter & Gamble to start manufacturing goods sold in India. Most imported products in India are targeted toward the elite, as cheaply made local products are widely available, so honestly I was surprised to read that this hadn't happened ages ago. In related news, the French beauty industry is targeting emerging markets like India, banking on its reputation as a maker of luxury to drive growth.

Worldly: Last week's Miss World pageant prompts two interesting pieces: Feminist academic Mary Beard thoughtfully examines her own lack of rage about Miss World, and beauty pageants in general. "This isn't, in other words, the licensed child abuse...that we watch on Britain's Got Talent.... A hundred, apparently robust, grown-ups in bikinis don't seem quite as offensive as that." And then Indian writer Kalpana Sharma asks, after an 11-year dry streak of Indian women not being crowned, "Are we not pretty anymore?"

Regulate, mediate: Malaysia may up its regulation of the beauty industry. "We can only regulate doctors who perform beauty procedures under the Medical Act 1971," said health minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai. "But if a beautician performs them, the ministry cannot take action against them under this act, as he or she is not a medical doctor, unless there is a complaint." Coupled with Abu Dhabi's public warning about cosmetics ingredients, it seems as though the uptick in awareness of the risks people take for beauty is global, going far beyond our Safe Cosmetics Act here in the States.

Lipstick defense: Young Israel of Hewlett, New York, is hosting a care package sendoff for female Israeli soldiers featuring notes of gratitude handwritten by Girl Scouts—and beauty products. Sweet and all, but this got me wondering about whether femininity is more tolerated in countries where women are conscripted and therefore not seen as anomalies in the military. Is there more room for lipstick in the Israeli Defense Forces than in the U.S. Army?

Gentlemanly preferences: Naturally raven-haired Chandler Levack bleached her hair, qualifying her to definitively answer in this essay: No, blondes do not have more fun.

Case study: Beth Teitell road-tests that whole "makeup makes you look more competent" study we learned about last month by getting a "natural" makeover and taking it for a spin. (My favorite part: “But don’t I look like the kind of mom who would make delicious food?")

You can thank me when nurdle is on your SAT.

The war of the nurdles: An otherwise boring trademark infringement lawsuit between Colgate and Aquafresh toothpastes is made etymologically fascinating by the fact that it's about the nurdle, the wave-shaped blob of toothpaste both companies use to represent their product.

The evolution of sexy: Well-done slideshow of the things that we widely consider sexy in women, and how they have (or, more likely, haven't) changed over time.

Sexuality and eating disorders: Do lesbians experience eating disorders in ways that differ from straight women? A researcher at the University of the West of England–Bristol is trying to find out.

Anorexia as branding: Courtney elucidates the ridiculousness of Jessica Simpson's statement that "The decision not to make myself anorexic was actually really great for branding."

Men, sports, and EDs: Hats off to Australian rugby player David Pocock, who writes openly about battling an eating disorder in his new autobiography. If there's another male public figure who has spoken about his eating disorder, I don't know of it, but it's a growing problem: Men might be "only" one-third as likely as women to develop anorexia or bulimia, and one-half as likely to develop binge eating disorder, but those numbers aren't exactly encouraging any way you look at them. Certainly men face appearance-related pressures, but given that the dogpile of "perfect" images isn't as intense for men, I feel like the more men talk about their eating disorders, the more we'll all come to understand how complex they really are, and how little they actually have to do with the body.

It's vocabulary week at The Beheld! This is a flipper, or the fake teeth used in child beauty pageants. (Thanks to Virginia Sole-Smith for teaching me the word and indelibly imprinting the horror in my memory.)

"I judged a child beauty pageant": Not sure which part of this account is my favorite, but I think it's between "I did not expect to be faced first and foremost with the specific question of how pretty a child's face is. How pretty is any child's face? In a state of constant flux, the child's face might as well be a blur. And no matter how pretty it is, it will change in a year, six months, two months. How does one even start making that kind of a call?" and his account of the contestant who, for the "celebrity" portion of the pageant, dresses as Sofia Coppola and "dances around with an actual slate to a disco version of 'Hooray for Hollywood,' much as I presume Sofia Coppola does on her days off."

3-D nail art?!: This sounds torturous at first, but Fashionista manages to make it sound almost doable.

"Whoever someone else thinks you are, you don’t have to be": Wonderful essay at Guernica about being raised by a mother who was into EST. Of note to The Beheld readers: What the writer learned about self-presentation and manipulation of perception. As her mother said after the daughter complained she had nothing to wear to sixth grade: “ 'How do you want to look?' I stared back at her. 'What do you want people to think?' 'That I look good?' 'Oh, honey. Decide what you want to look like. Not how.' This, I see now, was a lesson in persona."

Let's talk about sex: The Feminist Fashion Blogger roundup this month is on the theme of sexuality. Ooh la la!

Razed: When I first read Nahida's post about marketing of men's and women's razors, I was all, "But! As anyone who has been paid to read Glamour magazine ad nauseam for years on end knows, there IS a difference between men's and women's razors! The blades are angled in reverse, as men hold the blade downward for their faces but women hold it upward for their legs!" Then I actually bothered to compare my razor with that of my gentleman friend. So! Read Nahida's post.

All made up: I'm not the only one who had a hard time participating in Franca's wonderful no-makeup meme, and Decoding Dress articulates her reasons for not joining in: "And so my program of self-liberation will not include posting a photo of my face without makeup today because to me, makeup represents agency: my freedom and power to choose how I present myself to the world. That power extends beyond myself to others; I can control (at least partially) how I am perceived. I am not a slave to genetics or biology, nor am I consigned to wear my failure to care appropriately for my skin in my youth like a scarlet letter for the rest of my life. I do not have to accept my vulnerabilities. I have the power to subjugate them to my will, to make them disappear. That, to me, is liberation."

"First, it's nothing I'm ashamed of": Kjerstin Gruys interviews her mother-in-law about her multiple cosmetic procedures. We often only hear from people who regret the work they've had done, so this is particularly compelling reading.

Britney's beauty labor: Rachel Hills reminds us that despite the rewards that come with beauty, it still takes a lot of work even for those who have all the "right" ingredients—and the price beautiful women pay when they deviate from the script is dear.


  1. Great round up!

    Where to start?

    On products used for facial care (lol): My feeling right now is less as more. My skin has always been problematic, and I started thinking if all the products I'm using on it are helping or hurting. So I've cut down to Dove scentless soap for sensitive skin and a salicylic acid for acne control. And you know what? My skin does seem to be getting better! I cut out sunscreen briefly because it broke me out, however I put a primer on before it now to create a barrier. I really need to figure that one out, though!

    As far as "Do blondes have more fun?": I briefly was a bleach blonde and my tongue-in-cheek response to that question is, "If you consider drunk skeezy men hitting on your more in bars to be fun, then yes, blondes do have more fun." There was a difference in how men (and how many men) treated me, BUT the quality of man didn't increase LOL! Quality over quantity. This was, of course, years before i was married, just FYI LOL

  2. That essay about EST is fascinating. I had a friend who did the Landmark Education stuff a few years back, and I came across EST while researching Landmark (in an attempt to help him understand that he was throwing his money away on some cult-y garbage). It was very...odd? And not just a little bit freaky.

    Speaking of freaky, I see you picked up on the Ayn Rand-Lululemon connection, too. Objectivist yogis - now I've seen everything.

  3. Did anyone else notice that in the slideshow on evolution of sexy, they used the Scarlett Johansson movie portrain instead of Vermeer's original painting?

  4. "Bath salts" aren't actual bath salts. (See:, but they do get sold as such to evade the other tagline "This will make you high as BALLS" that they'd be advertised with.

  5. Courtney, I'm totally with you on less-is-more. I mean, maybe in the long run those creams do something, but in the short term absolutely not!

    Caitlin, I had a run-in with Landmark as well and it was absolutely cult garbage. It's odd to me how EST is now pretty widely acknowledged to be a cult but Landmark isn't. Not that people don't look at it with suspicion, but somehow it has a better reputation than EST. (The whole thing seems...Randian, actually!)

    Eternal Voyageur, I did notice that and found it odd--like, the point being applied held true for Vermeer's as well. I guess any excuse to show Scarlett Johanssen?!

    Becca, ha! I didn't know, I thought it was actually bath salts that were somehow cooked to bring about that result. Either way, "high as BALLS" is my new favorite phrase, so now I owe you two!

  6. I was very confused about early "bath salt" reports and have waaay too much time on my hands, so I dug up that link a while back because damn, there's little information about that. And a semi-academic obsession with drugs/drug culture.

    And you're quite welcome. :)

  7. Becca, combine your semi-academic obsession with drug culture and my semi-academic obsession with beauty culture and I think we become Edie Sedgwick.

  8. No-one had any suggestions for boots? I'm going to have a good time reading through some of your links later, but for now:
    ilse jacobsen rain boots
    They are hugely popular in Scandinavia, with women from 15 to at least 70 wearing them. I'm not very good at judging people's age, so that upper end is kind of a wild guess...

    I do not own a pair myself, but several of my friends do. I would say they aren't that fit for real cold, but I guess that's not such a big problem in New York. More of a slush climate, right? Sorry for not bothering to translate to Fahrenheit, but I'd say you could wear them from -5 degrees Celsius and up.

    PS: They're ridiculously expensive, but they do wear very well. So this is kind of an investment.

  9. Martha Joy, thank you! I am a boots dunce and have no idea how to wear them, or what "them" would even be. Looking through Ilse Jacobsen right now! I feel like a good pair of boots is totally worth spending on, because they're durable. (And I will greatly enjoy saying, "Oh, they're very popular in Scandinavia," because I fancy myself to be worldly like that...)

  10. Boots...I just had these bought for me for Christmas, and I have been sneakily wearing them round the house. They are like slippers, and they make my feet look really tiny, and I love them more than I should love a pair of shoes! So maybe something like them?

  11. I have zero complaints about my Hunter boots (going into 3rd season). They are great in rain and snow (simply add the cozy fleece liners) and they are much less spendy than a leather pair or a hard-weather pair. Plus, you're just going to change them when you get to work, right? In my experience there are NO boots that are stylish enough to go with dresses whilst being warm and weatherproof. I've searched for years. Most will make your legs look short and stocky, hence the need to change into pumps once at work. Just sayin.

    Now on to lululemon...I am shocked and disappointed. I love their clothes. But having read a couple different pieces on this "Randianism" I have changed my tune. Granted, I LOVED "The Fountainhead" - it was a great story. But "Atlas Shrugged" has been collecting dust on my bookshelf for many moons. I just can't get through the thick and aggressive Objectivism. What gets me the most is that, on paper, Rand makes sense. But it doesn't apply to real life. The quote from that blog post you reference that really ruffled my feathers:
    "We are able to control our careers, where we live, how much money we make and how we spend our days through the choices we make. Of course, there are situations sometimes where we aren’t able to control what happens to us. Life can be hard, challenging and unfair. What we can control, however, is our reaction. We can choose to rise up and be great."
    Really? So, even though I was born to uneducated parents and raised in poverty I can be GREAT? Really? Have you ever been born into poverty? It's not THAT easy to rise above, Randians. One persons mediocrity is another persons success. Not to mention the fact that YOGA is about COMPASSION and letting go of the ego, while rising above mediocrity requires quite a bit of stepping on others and being full of yourself. For the majority anyway. Ugh. No likey!

  12. Kathryn and Cameo, thanks for the boots recommendation! "Like slippers" sounds like what I want--I'm just tired of having cold wet feet all winter!

    Cameo, that's exactly what bugs me about the overall aesthetic of Lululemon. It takes something that should TRULY be open to all--yoga--and makes it something that only the "great" people who "rise up" can access. It's just so anti-yogic!

  13. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog. A great read.

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