Friday, January 13, 2012

Beauty Blogosphere 1.13.12

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

From Head...
New year's resolution: Could you go a year without buying new makeup? (Actually, I have so much stockpiled I could, easily, even if it means some weird blush colors down the line. I will be mascaraed until the apocalypse, rest assured.) 

...To Toe...
MAC the knife: Illinois high school sophomore suspended for bringing (what he claims is) a pedicure tool to school. Sorry, buddy, looks like a knife to me.

...And Everything In Between:

Why yes, Unilever, every anarchist I've known smells like "sparkling fruity notes with
soft florals at the heart and a light finish of sandalwood, amber, and vanilla"!

The sweet smell of anarchy: Natasha Lennard in Salon looks at the selling of Anarchy. You know, Anarchy, the body spray for women!

Leave it to the ladies: Which cosmetics company posted a whopping 15% increase in sales for 2011? Mary Kay. It even makes up their godawful week—an employee embezzling tens of thousands of dollars, and a thief breaking into a representative's home to loot $2,000 worth of products.

Do brands matter?: According to a new report, 66% of women are brand-aware when they shop for beauty products. I can't decide if the other 34% of us aren't brand-aware or just don't know that we're brand-aware. I mean, it's not like it's a small market—how do you know where to begin unless you're beginning with a product you've heard of?

Bad news boobs: French breast implant manufacturer PIP has been using industrial-grade silicone, not medical-grade silicone, in its products.  

Grinding: Slightly off-topic but I do think it's relevant: Max Fox's piece in The New Inquiry about the implications of cruising app Grindr on the gay community. Raising questions about visibility, activism, affective labor, and the way that technology automates desire and the gaze, this piece is relevant. "Grindr, which relieves you of most of the affective labor of cruising, with its risks and inefficiencies—mastering the elaborate signals, locating potential recipients but not eyeing the wrong guy, walking a body vulnerable to attack or arrest on the street—makes sense only once the old world that labor produced no longer exists. This is well within the familiar neoliberal practice of revolutionizing production processes by externalizing risk onto more precarious workers elsewhere."

Writer, editor, and founder of literary journal TriQuarterly Charles Newman.
Possibly too good-looking for his own good, per Boyers.

"Life is worth living only in the contemplation of beauty": Intriguing, poetic essay from Robert Boyers about the physical beauty of writer Charles Newman, and how that intersected with the morality of Newman and those who surrounded him. "He was not, to be sure, what typically passes for a beautiful character, not if that epithet is intended to identify an exalted moral stature. At times I felt that Charlie’s beauty got in the way of any reasonable estimation I might make of him as a person, and I wondered—only a little—at my own ability to be moved, consoled, by a beauty that could seem, at such moments, mainly skin-deep."

Blast from the past: Why did it take a "retro beauty" slideshow for me to realize that Salon Selectives was a relic of the '90s?

Web of beauty: I'm loving Beautiful in Theory's "Web of Beauty," which ties together philosophy, cosmetics, media, myth, and gender to look at how we construct and appreciate beauty. Eager to read more from Carina, who is writing her dissertation on images of beauty in post-1980s fiction, which I certainly hope includes Sweet Valley High.

"Is that a weave?": Great piece at Clutch for people who question the humor of "Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls." "When a college friend told me that I was 'cute for a black girl,' her statement had weight. It was spoken to a black woman on a campus with a 2 percent black population, in a state where black people were equally scarce, in a country where race bias is still pervasive. She was speaking in a culture where her own white features were prized and considered beautiful and mine were not.... She was speaking in a town where there was not one salon that did African American hair and no drug store that carried beauty products geared toward black women. Had I offered that she was 'cute for a white girl,' it would have been plenty offensive, but would have different context and far less weight. She had racial privilege; I did not." 

"Look at Me": Writer and former party model Amy Rose on the glamour and exploitation of the socialite modeling scene. "I came to suspect that while [the photographer] really did have a way of making women feel special and beautiful, he probably recognized my social discomfort the first night he met me and seized on it. He would often tell me how 'weird' I was before immediately switching gears and saying that I was gorgeous, toying with my insecurity before making me feel valuable again with the click of his camera. It worked." This piece exemplifies what I love so much about Rookie: It points out pitfalls many a girl has fallen into, without ever shaming them or implying that there's some moral plane they should instead be aiming for. Self-respect is at the core of what they do, and it shows. (Thanks to Emily Keeler at the excellent Bookside Table for the link.)

"It's you, perfected": Have you tried the lastest beauty product? It's Fotoshop, by Adobé, and this cosmetics ad spoof by filmmaker Jesse Rosten nails it. Who said feminist work couldn't be funny?
Gravitas: Tempted to see Gravity (I'm meh on Sandra Bullock but am a sucker for George Clooney*) if for no other reason than nobody is wearing makeup on the set. Seems like a bad idea, given that film does weird things to people's skin tones and features, but we'll see.

Girlcycle: A list of Don'ts for women on bicycles, circa 1895. "Don't cultivate a bicycle face." Is this like mirror face?

Class, aging, and dollar stores: Terri at Rags Against the Machine uses Susan Sontag's essay on aging as a springboard for her own examination of aging and class, prompting her yearlong experiment in retail shopping at various points of price and class connotations. (She's known for her thrifting, so this is a departure.) Eager to see where this goes!

Perfect: In recovery from an eating disorder, even supportive comments can be derailing, and Elissa at Dress With Courage paints a picture of how hearing "It's your perfect weight" two years into recovery can still bring confusion.

Confess: Sally opens up the fashion confessional. Mine: I will wear the same bra for days on end. I call it loyalty.

Real bodies: Miriam takes a critical look at the oft-dispensed advice for poor body image about "just look at the real bodies around you." Sometimes it work—and sometimes that's the last thing you want to do. (And off-topic but definitely worth reading, she also nails it about why "Shit Girls Say" makes me uneasy. Why does everyone like this so much?)

How much do we want body diversity?: The Black Girl's Guide to Weight Loss asks a question that makes me, for one, feel a bit like a hypocrite: We say we want body diversity, but are we supporting places that actually show body diversity? It's not like I'm rushing out to get Brigitte (a German magazine that doesn't use professional models) air-delivered to my door. I've never been a body snarker (which is really more what this piece is about) but I'd like to put my money where my mouth is. Suggestions? (Thanks to Parisian Feline for the link.)

*Yeah, yeah, the George Clooney hype is overblown. Except it's totally not. Exhibit A) He looks like George Clooney. Exhibit B) This telling anecdote (bottom of the page) from Roseanne Barr's amazing piece in New York mag. Read it and then just try to tell me you don't get the George Clooney thing. I dare you.


  1. Thanks! I enjoy reading the collection of posts you put up.

  2. Thank you for linking to my post, Autumn! :)

  3. Thanks for the shout out! As for Grindr, I've begun to notice cruising on Pinterest of all places. Curious.

  4. Thanks, Kourtney, Miriam, and Terri! Terri, I'll pass on that tidbit to the writer--fascinating.

  5. Thanks for this list, I'm going to read a bunch of these as the afternoon progresses! If it helps to hear this from an inhabitant of Germany, in my opinion the no-models campaign by "Brigitte" is the same kind of ethical whitewashing we've seen with Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign: They still pick women who are white and conventionally above-the-norm pretty, and they still print ads with airbrushed models right next to their non-model contributors. They're also still guilty of offering diet tips and "how to look young/flawless" tips over and over again, espousing the idea that youth and skinniness = beauty. I think the most hypocritical article I've seen was first pretending to tell the readers to love their cellulite, then following up with a quasi-commercial section on products that promise to help get rid of - guess what - cellulite! Oh, and of course they're hetero-normative and non-feminist :)
    Rant over.

    1. Poet said it well. I feel the same way about the Dove campaign.

      I just recently discovered this great blog and look forward to following it in the future.

    2. Onely, pleased to meet you! Glad to have found your blog as well.

  6. Poet, fascinating! I hadn't considered that it would be in the same realm as the "Real Beauty" campaign (which I tend to be cynical about) because it seems like such a good idea in theory. I forget one of my own main theses: That corporations have little investment in actually changing the status quo but have a large investment in appearing to do so. Thanks for the insight!