Friday, January 27, 2012

Beauty Blogosphere 1.27.12

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

From Head...
Also, Gorilla Snot: The five weirdest things we put in our hair. Beer, yeah, yeah, tried it. But Monistat?

Pointy, round, or square?

...To Toe...
En pointe: Danielle at Final Fashion (which you should be reading if you aren't already, both for her insightful, informative prose and her beautiful illustrations) gives a rundown of classic toe shapes throughout history. I prefer almond, myself. (Actually, my favorite is open-toed; I'm in the "my feet need to breathe" camp, which is apparently very divisive?)

...And Everything In Between:
Breast man: Founder of faulty breast implant company PIP is arrested on charges of manslaughter and involuntary injuries. No specific defendant has been named, but as many as 3,000 complaints about him worldwide have been considered. Listen, whatever you may think about either breast implants or the usefulness of feminism looking at cosmetic issues, I think it's safe to say that without feminism this wouldn't be news, or he wouldn't be arrested, or we'd be seeing bias in news reports suggesting that somehow women were asking for it. I haven't seen a peep of that. We've got a ways to go, but this is one example of what the world looks like when we act as if women matter: Women who did something questionable and risky unknowingly entered a situation that was downright negligent, and the bad guy is being punished. It's horrible that women were put at risk because of this, but I'm just hoping justice is served.

Fraught intimacies: The wonderful Minh-Ha T. Pham of Threadbared gives what may as well be a manifesto for many of us feminists who are consciously looking at beauty and fashion. If you're reading this blog, chances are you already recognize that analyzing these issues needn't be mere fluff, but her piece is still a must-read. "If feminists ignore fashion, we are ceding our power to influence it. Fortunately, history has shown that feminists can, instead, harness fashion and use it for our own political purposes."

"Beauty" "pageant": Wince-inducing tale of a Canadian pageant operator who scammed entrants out of good sums of money. "After the Star contacted Cadieux, the glitzy pageant website was stripped to a single page with a statement accusing past winners of slander, defamation and demanding their winnings 'to fulfill their own pursuits, without undertaking philanthropic tasks which they have agreed to do and have wrecked havoc, ensuing in the bankruptcy of Miss Kohinoor International.'" O RLY?

Sichuan skin: Buried in this story about skin-care needs among women in different Asian countries is this tidbit: "Another skin study by L'Oreal on 2,000 Chinese women showed that 36 percent had sensitive skin, while in Sichuan Province, where residents favor spicy food, the figure was as high as 56 percent." Whaa? 

Is Estee Lauder's heir the Rupert Murdoch of Israel?: I don't quite understand the whole story, but last week Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli government to save Channel 10, one of just two independent TV stations in Israel. Channel 10 is co-owned by Ronald Lauder—heir to Estee, one of the richest men in the world, and someone unafraid to employ every tax evasion law in the books—and after Lauder forced the channel's executives to publicly apologize to a businessman for an unflattering profile, his role there is being looked at askance; he may stop funding the channel. If Netanyahu's efforts fail, Israelis will be deprived of crucial independent media like the Hebrew-language incarnations of Beauty and the Geek, Survivor, and The Real Housewives.

Cannot applaud this enough: "The Talmud tells the religious man, in effect: If you have a problem, you deal with it. It is the male gaze—the way men look at women—that needs to be desexualized, not women in public. The power to make sure men don’t see women as objects of sexual gratification lies within men’s—and only men’s—control." 

Little bit of service for you: People apply more sunscreen (i.e. closer to the correct amount) when using a pump dispenser instead of a squeeze bottle or roll-on. Don't say I never gave you anything.

D-cups are so 2009: Could small breasts make a comeback? asks Slate. Could we stop treating women's bodies like skirt hemlines? asks me.

Six theories on pinkification:
"Pink is both the sign of soft, emotionally intelligent masculinity as much as it is aggressive femininity."

Stiletto boots currently under consideration by the IABA, as is mandated use of Love's Baby Soft.

Right jab: There's been plenty of good ink about the International Amateur Boxing Association suggesting its lady boxers wear skirts, but none has hit the issue as spot-on as Caitlin at Fit and Feminist: "I know that when I’m wearing a skirt, I become more aware of how I sit—if my legs are crossed, and if they aren’t, how far apart they are. It’s almost as if the skirt demands it. ...Athleticism requires the suspension of self-consciousness, requires almost a transcendence that supersedes mere categories of body and mind. Once self-consciousness seeps its way back inside your mind, the beautiful performance you have constructed of sweat and desire and focus comes crashing to the ground." Yes and yes.

Gender performance: Two related, but differing, perspectives on gender and the gaze. Shy Biker (a man experimenting with presenting as a woman) takes Simone de Beauvoir's statement about how "one is not born a woman, one becomes one" and applies it to his own experience of adopting femininity: "I am trying to learn a new language, one forbidden to me from birth." And CN Lester, a trans person, writes of how difficult it is to shake feminine beauty standards even when identifying as a man.

The gay beauty myth: Eager for Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?, a book examining the absorption of corporate values in what was once a thriving gay underground. There's much to say about this topic (is it a tradeoff for mainstream acceptance of gay men?) but of note here is the ways in which plenty of gay men have taken on the beauty myth and made it their own.

Bearded America: Wait, 40% of American men have facial hair? That seems high to me, but I'm not complaining about this. (Scruff fan here.)

Race stripped bare: From Tits and Sass, a review of Unequal Desires, a study of race and stripping. Black dancers are often essentially barred from high-end clubs, ghettoizing them into more heavily policed (and more dangerous) clubs. (Side note: I'm eager to read the book for what the reviewer didn't get into: erotic capital of black strippers. I'm guessing it'll be a different take than Catherine Hakim's, eh?)

How much do you weigh?: When time came for Erin Nieto, author of How Much Do You Weigh?—a photo book of women sharing their weight without shame—to share her own weight, she thought nothing of it. That is, until she stepped on the scale and realized she'd gained a few pounds. Here she writes of what it was like to come to terms with a new number after having made peace with the old one.

The big chop: Two hair-cutting pieces this week! Good illustrates the post-breakup haircut, which they get right until the last panel. I know some women regret cutting off their hair, but who regrets the post-breakup haircut?! And The Hairpin's Lindsay Miller writes about the first time she shaved her head. (Attn: Jaunty Dame.) 

"Obesity has come into its own": "Is it possible that the stout woman, poor dear, has at last become stylish?" asked The Atlantic—in 1919. Original article here; prelude, prompted by that bizarre photo shoot of a plus-size and straight-size model in a nude embrace, here.

Here's the scoop: Meet the "Beauty Spoon," a long, narrow shovel-type instrument designed to help you get every last bit out of the "shoulders" and bottom of containers. I have a tendency to keep around multiple bottles of the same product because one bottle is almost out but oh right now I don't have time to stand there and shake and squeeze so just for now I'll use this new bottle. Because during my free time there is nothing I like to do more than stand around and shake near-empty bottles of face serum. Anyway! The Beauty Spoon.

Elephant lipo: Awesome throw pillow from Dan Golden, designer and friend of The Beheld, as a part of his new housewares collection with CB2 (aka Crate & Barrel) that touches on the absurdity of the beauty myth. An elephant looks in the mirror and voices insecurities about its wrinkles and "too big" trunk, reminding us that some of the things we're insecure about aren't just natural but are in our nature. (I also love his humble pie/arrogant tiramisu platter, but now we're just going off-topic, aren't we?)

Running from objectification: I love it when Beauty Redefined looks at self-objectification, and I doubly love it when they offer concrete ways to ameliorate the tendency to self-objectify. In this case: running.

Blind faith: Congratulations to the team at new, insightful, and dynamic fashion site The Blind Hem on its recent launch! I'm happy to see familiar and trusted names like Elissa from Dress With Courage and Terri from Rags Against the Machine as contributors, and am eager to see where the site goes from here. Fiction, poetry, photography, essays, tutorials—it's all here, with an intelligent, feminist drum beat.

Figure flattery: I can't pull off the doesn't-fit-right look, but Angie at You Look Fab asks if there's something fascinating—and almost subversive—about intentionally ill-fitting clothes.

Like heroin chic, but with anhedonia: I laughed at this XOJane piece on "depression beauty" (because showering every day is for neurotypicals!) but truthfully, it's not really a laughing matter. I have bouts of clinical depression, and honestly? It's one of the reasons I'm sort of glad I got STEALTH SHAMPOOED last year, breaking my no-shampoo streak. Hygiene and mental health are connected, and though not shampooing doesn't have to be unhygienic by any means, when you're already inclined to not do much, it's a slippery slope.

"But the man ate the apple, didn't he?": Nahida takes a folk tale she heard about an exquisitely beautiful woman and uses it as the underpinning for her argument against the cultural suppression of pro-woman Islamic themes—and some mighty Muslim women too.

Illness and body image: Feminist-minded bloggers struggle with body image too, and one of the nice things about writing on these topics is that you get to explore your own relationship with your body in your work. But what happens when your body actively works against you? Virginia Sole-Smith of Beauty Schooled writes honestly, humbly, and eloquently on what it's like to live with chronic medical conditions in which you feel like your body is attempting to stage mutiny. "Proper migraine management centers on being nice to yourself—you have to get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, be careful around alcohol, and exercise, but not too hard. ... But even when I’m doing everything 'right,' it’s no guarantee that I’ll escape that week’s migraine. ... When you’re sick, 'be nice to your body' takes on a different meaning."


  1. My husband has facial hair and I like it! I hate when mean have beards as an excuse not to shave, however. It just looks bad! Down with Neck Beard!

    I agree with you about the cup size/hemline comment. Unless surgically altered, we can't control the size of our chests. Also, it rubs me the wrong way that one cup size would be in what another would be "out." People, they're body parts, not shoes!

    1. Exactly! I get *fashion* coming in and out that might work well with certain bodily assets, but actual body parts being fashionable? Criminy. "My legs were in in 2006, I swear!"

    2. I know I ranted about this elsewhere, but one thing that especially made me mad was that author's erroneous equation of "big" breasts to "surgically enhanced" breasts. (I mean, some are, yes. But not all.)

      Certainly, I think all people should have the right not to have their body parts treated as hemlines, shoe shapes, or other fashion items. But on top of that, it misses me right off to see someone writing on a topic where he fundamentally misunderstands the subject at hand.

  2. Another action-packed round-up! Whee!

    Lindsay Miller's story was excellent, thanks for alerting me.

    1. Same thing happened with that piece as when I read your "going baldly" series--started to want to shave my head. Not on the to-do list, though...yet.

  3. Rebekah, I agree I loved her article about shaving her head. I have long hair and often feel like I need it to feel pretty. Like Lindsay I hear others talk about how I look with hair. Overall I was really amused and impressed with the article. Thanks Autumn!

    1. Kourtney, that reason--the need to feel pretty--was why I kept my hair long for so many years. I've never shaved my head but I did go super-short and LOVED it. Glad to share!

  4. I love your roundups! How do you have time to read all this stuff? That list would keep me going for about a months, even if i was reading nothing else!

  5. Thank you! I don't necessarily read every word of every piece I link to--if it's an essay I do but if it's a newsy thing I might just get the gist of it. (Also, I took a speed-reading class when I was 7, which was great except it took me years then to un-learn it. I've only learned how to read thoroughly as an adult. But it's great for going through loads of information for this purpose!)

  6. Aaargh, I wish I hadn't use up my hits to the NYTimes. I want to read the piece on the male gaze! Thanks for the mention. I'm impressed with the Blind Hem too.

    1. Hate when that happens! I think you can get around it through a search engine if you Google the name of the article, which is "Lechery, Immodesty and the Talmud." And great to see your name at The Blind Hem!

  7. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for that very last link.

    Among the myriad subjects about which I blog is something we're calling "Lyme" solely because, hey, I tested positive for that. Nothing else has panned out yet. I've spent, no kidding, probably the last four months wearing more fleece than a sheep. I often feel uglier than ugly. What does one do when Real Clothes are too much of an effort, never mind makeup? When one gains much-needed weight during a remission but drops nearly all of it again, rendering one's shiny new wardrobe useless?

    All of my wearable shoes are flats. It's dull as dust.

    Annnnd I should probably do my own darn blog post about it. But still. Thanks for showing me I'm not alone. I just get so jealous of the very fashion bloggers I love.

    1. Cassie, I'm so glad I could point you toward Virginia's piece. It's important to talk about this stuff, especially when so much advice about self-care falls parallel with beauty/style. I'm an advocate of that and I think external self-care can help in those situations--but as you note, it's also an enormous amount of effort. And yes, blog about it! Would love to read it.