Friday, December 9, 2011

Beauty Blogosphere 12.9.11

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

Yes, that is Alyson Hannigan. We've all gotta make a living.

From Head...
Sometimes the press release headline speaks for itself: Head & Shoulders Empowers Women to Be a Good Girlfriend. Actually, no, it doesn't speak for itself; let's turn to the press release tag line from dandruff shampoo Head & Shoulders for that: "Good Girlfriend Guide Helps Put an End to Head-Scratching Behavior." GET IT?!

...To Toe...

Tis the season: Did you know there is an entire website devoted to elf shoes? There is. But on it you can click through to instructions on how to fold a dollar bill into an elf shoe. You never know what you'll find if you stick around on the elf shoe site!

...And Everything In Between:

Sweat it: Swallow a pill, sweat out perfume. People, I do not judge. But: ew!

I get so emotional: The Korean National Human Rights Commission's study on "emotional workers" indicates that nearly 33% of cosmetics salespeople suffer from depression, compared with a national average of 24% among professionals. I'm thrilled to see this taken seriously by a nation that recognizes the toll of emotional labor, and it's interesting that cosmetics salespeople were singled out to the point where the union of L'Oreal Korea is planning to request sales workers have guaranteed "paid emotional leave."

"I just think of myself as a girl who works and who likes to go out": You know, last week when my friends at The New Inquiry were mocked by Gawker for their appearance in the New York Times Style section, I was all indignant (even if editor-in-chief Rachel Rosenfelt wasn't), like, Why make fun of people for just doing their thing? And then I read this piece about New York socialites breaking their way into the beauty business. So.

The beauty of Ginger White: Officially could not care less about political sex scandals, but am glad I read Irin Carmon's piece on Herman Cain mistress Ginger White that touches upon the peculiarity of her profession of gym owner/fitness instructor. "She claimed she wanted to start a fitness business because men wouldn’t look at her and she could make other women feel beautiful at the same time. She seemed unsure if she wanted to cast herself as a victim or a gamer of a system in which female beauty is a blessing and a curse. She was probably both."

Wilde thing: One thing I care about even less than political sex scandals is celebrity fluff pieces. That said, I found it interesting that Olivia Wilde fears looking like "a tranny" with her makeup application. It says more about our ideas of transsexuals and gender roles than it does about Ms. Wilde—that as much as transsexuals may try to look feminine, there's a new bar that we have in place to prevent anyone but a select few from getting there. (Note: I've edited this blurb; thank you to the anonymous reader who pointed out that my original language, which implied transsexuals "masquerade," wasn't understanding of transsexualism. I don't always get things right, but I do try.) I also agree with her point about us gravitating toward looks that suit our faces well. There's a reason this full-cheeked, dark-eyed lass likes the 1920s look so much!

The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci, 15th century, tempera and Bath & Body Works Cucumber Bliss on gesso

Passover: Makeup and skin creams are ruining The Last Supper. Judas, it seems, is off the hook.

American beauty: Really wish this HuffPo piece thought to question Estee Lauder's declaration that European women are "more pragmatic" about aging and thus need different skin care items than Americans do. I suppose this theory could be part of the je ne sais quoi of les fran├žaises, but is it really true that American women are just naturally more freaked-out about our crow's feet and that Estee Lauder is just following our lead?

Honor crime: Potential laws in Saudi Arabia would fine and "publicly shame" street harassers. But wait, I thought women were harassed because of our short skirts, yet Saudi women wear hijab! Something must be amiss.

"Get More, Pay Less": The British Advertising Standards Agency has banned a flippant ad for breast augmentation, claiming that it trivializes cosmetic surgery. I don't normally get too up in arms about any one particular ad or image, but when I saw this my mind was sort of blown. Who thought this was okay?

Real value: This report on a Girl Scouts study about the effect of reality TV on girls does its damndest to not be bleak, but it still is: 38% of girls who watched reality TV were reported that a girl's value lies in her looks, compared with 28% of girls who didn't watch reality TV.

Wearing your heart in your pits: Some personality traits can be somewhat reliably detected through body odor, according to a study in which participants slept in T-shirts that were then evaluated by other participants for extroversion, neuroticism, and dominance. The sniffers predicted each shirt-wearer's personality about as reliably as those who, in another study, evaluated people based on videos of their behaviors. (How will this intersect with the swallowable perfume?!)

Pantone makeup line!: !!!

How young is too young for a bikini wax?: I'd say, oh, eleven. (Thanks to reader Madeline for the tip!)

The Perfect Irish Man: Somehow it's a little easier for me to see the "male beauty myth" more clearly when it's being applied to Irish men, a more homogenous population than we have in the States. Cosmetic procedures have sharply increased among Irishmen, belying their image as rugged fisherman, and a new documentary, The Perfect Irish Man, is set out to explore that.

Fly me: The flight attendant aesthetic is well and alive, as shown by the beauty tips in Runway, Virgin Atlantic's employee guide.

Who's that girl?: Zooey Deschanel as not the new iteration of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but as a "Logo Girl," thoughtfully laid out at The New Inquiry by Sarah Handelman. "Showing a version of Jess that is anything other than awkwardly cute is out of the question. Yet, being anything other-than-cute is exactly what she needs in order to lift off the page."

Wish the illustration had kept the saw on the ground.

Pinup girls: Fascinating side-by-side comparisons of the photos used for cheesecake pinup illustrations, and the illustrations themselves. There's the obvious stuff (even with all that shapewear and already-lovely figures, the actual models aren't as hourglassy as the illos), but what really strikes me is that there's this eagerness in the actual photos that's entirely missing from the final images. The illustrations always look happy, of course, but they don't have much verve.

Supercomputermodel: For the three people on the Internet who haven't heard it yet, H&M is superimposing models' heads onto the same body. What I can't figure out is why anyone is surprised by this. Every image you ever see in an advertisement is basically computer-generated! This is absolutely no different.

Coded: Decoding Dress on the potentially restrictive nature of informal dress codes. I'm absolutely with her: Informal dress codes can provoke a good deal of anxiety, reminding me of how I used to secretly wish my high school had uniforms so I just wouldn't have to ever think about what to wear. Honestly? Still feel that way sometimes.

All the sad ladies: Emily Ansara Baines on sadness, women, and being seen. "We're expected to perform anyway, so why not make a career out of it? We perform by laughing off comments that might be meant kindly but are often chauvinistic. We perform by being good students and trying to make our teachers and parents proud. We perform by doing our best to look a certain way. We are continually performing." She suggests that this performance is a way to manage the sadness that comes with the recognition that it's damn near impossible to be a woman and just be instead of being looked at, which is interesting because I've always thought that the sadness stemmed from the performance. I'm not one who is known for examining my own sadness, though. Perhaps I should start.

Who do we want to look beautiful for?: Kate Fridkis on realizing that the desire to look good wasn't as correlated to male attention as she'd thought: "An interesting thing happened when I got married. I started feeling like I had to be pretty or I might let [my husband] down." This pained me to read, because I recognized it all too well. As upsetting as it is, it was a relief to read another self-identified feminist in an egalitarian relationship express the sentiment.

Belly up: I normally shy away from galleries of "real women's bodies," because frankly I more often walk away from them feeling worse than I did when I went in. But if anything could convince me otherwise, it's reading Caitlin's piece about the xoJane Real Girl Belly Project. My belly is by far my most despised body part, and though I can't say the gallery cured me of that, because real women's bellies are usually hidden (as opposed to our faces, or even the circumference of our hips) it really was illuminative.

Looking forward: I've been musing a lot recently about the phrase "aging gracefully," and wondering what exactly that means. And then Une Femme d'un Certain Age comes up with this: "Are we dressing, wearing our hair, making choices based on who we are and how we live our lives today, and moving into the future?" This was part of what made me hold onto certain beauty products far past their expiration date (chemically and emotionally), and I like the idea of styling myself while moving into the future. The discussion at No More Dirty Looks was helpful too (side note: I love it when I see commenters at The Beheld commenting on other sites! You're all so insightful).

Context is queen: Thoughtful post from Kjerstin Gruys on learning that she's technically "overweight" even though she's in excellent health, and both she and her physician are totally fine with her weight specifically. It's particularly interesting in light of her eating disorder history, as she questions the usefulness of metrics: "Then she asked me, 'How much weight did you lose in your most successful weight-loss attempt?'... There was no space to specify that 'it was due to anorexia and she could have died.' ... This is troubling: the wording of this question frames any weight loss as good, which we know isn't true." Seeing how she's resisting the temptation to use her BMI "diagnosis" as an excuse to dip into old behaviors is inspirational.


  1. You seem uncritical of the use by Wilde of the term "tranny", and of her fear of looking like a MTF transsexual person. You also seem to think that transsexual people are merely "masquerading". Quite disappointing for a blog that I consider to be of a rather high quality otherwise.

  2. Anonymous, by putting the term in quotes I was hoping to make it clear I didn't endorse the use of the term. (There's a lot on here I let speak for itself! Olivia's use of "tranny" is one of them.) And thank you for bringing up the point about "masquerading." I admit I'm not terribly educated on transsexual issues--in fact, I was thinking she meant men who did masquerade as woman and was using "tranny" in that sense, not as a transsexual who is truly living as a woman. Please see the edit, and thank you for pointing out my short-sightedness.

  3. How to read the whole thing, but you'd think Alyison Hanigan would be making enough off of Buffy royalties! Maybe not.

  4. Courtney, I know, right?! And of all the endorsements, this one?!