Sunday, February 26, 2012

Beauty Blogosphere 2.24.12

Apologies for the late roundup; I was having technical difficulties with Blogger on Friday and then was on vacation with no Internet access. Enjoy!

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

From Head... 
Mad women: Pillbox hats off to The Gloss for not going gaga over the Estee Lauder Mad Men collection. I love the show and am writing this sporting a smock and a beehive, so I'm not opposed to aping the style. But as Jamie Peck points out, "I’m wary of mindless nostalgia for an era that was actually pretty terrible for women in a lot of ways, ways Mad Men examines with unflinching honesty.... I worry some women might be taking the utterly wrong message from the show if thinking about Mad Men gets them in a  happy, makeup-buying mood and not a gutted, 'this shit’s not fair, why won’t they let Joan fulfill her intellectual potential?' mood."

...To Toe... 
Shaq attack: I'm over male celebrities getting pedicures. But I'll always have room for male celebrities giving pedicures, especially when it's Shaq.

...And Everything In Between: 
Hungry eyes: Perhaps capitalizing on the PR boost about the whole Hunger Games nail polish saga, one arm of the movie's publicity is a spoof campaign for men's cosmetics. "Official Eyeliner of the 74th Hunger Games" reads the tagline for a golden eyeliner sported by one of the characters. The "ads" are spooky because of the story of the Hunger Games—but they're also effective in showing how language used in actual ads (geared toward women, not men in a dystopian future) is a little spooky in its own right. "The Secret Weapon Used by Professionals" makes sense in the Hunger Games context, but given that "secret weapon" is used in plenty of beauty marketing copy, it gets downright weird.

Cruelty workaround: Estee Lauder, Avon, and Mary Kay are considered cruelty-free by PETA, after making commitments way in the 1980s to end animal testing. But according to the animal rights organization, Avon and Estee Lauder have quietly complied with Chinese laws that mandate animal testing before products can be sold in China. (Mary Kay has been more proactive in resisting efforts; it's unclear how much they're allowing animal testing.) I'm no fan of animal testing, but I'm really no fan of corporate workarounds.

Organic chic: Bobbi Brown seems like a cool chick and all, but what kills me is the lede of this Times profile of her that posits her as some sort of freewheeling bohemian compared with Estee Lauder. "When I interviewed Estée Lauder in 1985, we lunched on grilled flounder at Le Cirque surrounded by excited socialites. ... She was often at the Reagan White House, tight with Nancy and Ronnie. When I interviewed Bobbi Brown, we ate organic vegetables in her kitchen in Montclair, N.J., while her nephew noodled on a laptop nearby. She wore J. Crew pants, a Uniqlo sweater, sneakers and her hair was in a ponytail." Do they really think their readers don't see that organic vegetables in Montclair are the new flounder at Le Cirque?

The house that beauty built: If you have a spare $3.3 million lying around, you can buy Mary Kay's mansion in Dallas, which hit the market last week.

Show dog: You haven't gotten your canine fix from me this week, have you? Check out Show Dog by Josh Dean, a colleague of mine who (unbeknownst to me until this week) spent two years going behind the scenes of dog shows for the book—which, naturally, is being billed as a literary answer to Best in Show. (Did you know that poodles take a good four to five hours of grooming to get ready for show day? "And you thought women had it bad!")

Museum muse: Anyone near South Bend, Indiana, who enjoys this blog may well enjoy this exhibit: "Gizmos, Corsets & Concoctions: Our Obsession with Health & Beauty." Elixirs, advertisements, and a "permanent wave machine" are on display.

I really, really, really, really, really hope this trend dies, like, now: Teenagers posting YouTube videos of themselves asking commenters whether they're pretty or not. The curation of the self through social media is one thing. Asking others to curate for you is heartbreaking.

Working girl: After Cindy Crawford's 10-year-old kid modeled for Young Versace, Crawford put the kibosh on her daughter's career, saying she was just too young. Which is nice, and almost makes up for the fact that there is a Young Versace.

Paging Downton Abbey fans: Aaron Bady on the masculine crisis and faux aristocracy of Earl of Grantham. "His wife didn’t want a real aristocrat; she wanted a modern simulacrum." And if you wanna know how Lady Grantham might have smelled, check out this Mimi Froufrou post on historical scents of the era—and which perfume the actresses actually wear to get into character.

Modesty: The nonsense surrounding a man who handed a (very reasonably dressed) female college student a note about how her outfit was inciting lust is terrifically upsetting. But I love that it's prompting young Christian women to speak up about the role of women's clothing in desire, as Lauren Nicole does here. "Dear men: If you believe my neckline is causing to stumble, you have bought into the lie that women are the problem, NOT YOUR LUST. Dear women: If you believe you are responsible for your fellow man's sins, you have bought into the lie that YOU are the problem, NOT SIN." (via Hugo)

Video star: Franchesca Ramsey, the mind that brought you Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls, takes us through a new apocryphal tween video game that's scarily on-point.

Lady indexes: Jenna Sauers looks at the myth of the hemline index—the idea that hemlines mimic the economy, rising with good stock prices and falling with bad—using a piece in Business Insider as a hook. The irony here is that Business Insider reran a piece of mine about how the lipstick index has been debunked. They know better!

The history of women and botany: "Women's botanical activity raised concerns because it removed them from the domestic sphere and because it placed women within a heretofore masculine network of plant fanciers."

The scent of money: Lady Gaga working with a Swiss fragrance company to develop a perfume that would make its wearers smell like an "expensive hooker." Because the nose knows? (via Tits and Sass)

Tuning in: Wait, is Saturday Night Live on a funny phase again? On the advice of Gala Darling I dared to click through to this clip and possibly died laughing: "Bein' Quirky With Zooey Deschanel." Between that, the Lana Del Rey "interview," and the Maya Angelou Prank show, things seem to be picking up.

Out of the box: Can we get all meme-deconstruct here? I'm getting a kick out of the "What People Think I Do" meme. The beauty blogger and fashion writer speak to me, since I'm really neither but am sort of both. In particular, the fashion writer meme shows that we believe ourselves to have a certain amount of Vreeland-esque gravitas, which belies the notion of the fashion writer as, well, Cher from Clueless. It's a sliver of insight into the world actually inhabited by women concerned with fashion and femininity. (Although based on my own experience, certainly the head-on-desk is indeed the most realistic image of all.)

Expiration date: What happens to models when they "age out"? This article looks at how successful models have to work from the near-beginning of their careers to ensure they'll have careers after age 22. Telling quote: "You’d be stupid not to think you have a shelf life,” says Iman, 56, who now runs a $25 million cosmetics company. “I knew I had to become a brand. And that brand was me.”

Miss Navajo Nation: A peek into pageantry that has nothing to do with swimsuit competitions: Miss Navajo Nation. It's interesting to see what's valued in this pageant—Navajo language, traditional skills (contestants must butcher sheep)—alongside beauty, not in an either/or construct.

On elegance: Lauren Cerand, who careful readers will remember from her musings on "glamour" a few weeks ago, writes a splendid essay on elegance. It touches upon class, of course, but Cerand makes the case that elegance is more about sadness, boundary-setting, privacy, and perhaps men who don't wear their own tuxedos.

Blogger space: If you didn't get enough of little old moi from the two interviews I did last week, check out my contribution to "Blogger Space," a rotating feature from writer Pauline Gaines that asks bloggers to share pictures and reflections of their writing space. I get all evangelical (sort of) about my standing desk.

Under pressure: The responses to Sally's question of "Do you feel increased pressure to look chic?" are fascinating.


  1. You laughed at the parts of the Zooey Deschanel skit where "Mary Kate Olsen" describes the effects of anorexia nervosa as her "quirks"? Really? I mean, maybe I'm sensitive because I've had AN, but I don't see anything funny about always being that cold and winding up with brittle bones.

    1. Cassie, I indeed bristled at that part. (I'd also never thought of Mary Kate Olsen as particularly quirky and found it a weird choice.) But I saw the larger point as not being about anorexia at all; I saw it as being about the sort of manufactured oddness that accompanies the personae portrayed by the characters. I mean, an octopus sweater with an extra arm for its dreams and ideas?! That's hilarious. I understand your point, definitely. I just didn't make the connection at all, and I'm rather sensitive to such things myself. That's not to say that you're being hypersensitive, but more to say that I enjoyed the piece so much I'm happy to give it the benefit of the doubt.

    2. I just realized I wasn't being clear. Something felt off about the "break every bone in my body part" and while I didn't connect it to being about anorexia, I do think that's why my spine stiffened. I still like the skit overall, but am glad you pointed out that they were making fun of a serious disease--thank you.

  2. So much to say!

    First, at my old office, I made my desk into a standing desk for a month and then got tired. I no longer stand, but it was fun for awhile.

    Initially I hated the idea of a nail polish line for The Hunger Games. I saw swatches. Now I must have at least one. I hate being the target of marketers.

    On the topic of Downton Abbey: Just finished Season 2 last night. Me and my husband decided that Grantham is actually quite small. All he does is be pushed around, yell at people and (SPOILER ALERT) kiss maids.

    Finally, that trend in hot or not videos has been around for a decade. It was be interesting to see a piece on how it has evolved over time. YouTube, in general, is a semi-tragic place, so I'm not surprised it has come to this.

    1. Ugh typos galore! You get my point I'm sure.

    2. Heh, I hate that too--when marketing totally nails it and I'm all, "Ooh, must have." It usually makes me not want it, but sometimes I give in anyway...

  3. I'm glad you liked my What They Think I Do!

  4. I thought that the Zooey Deschanel SNL was better than most in a while (although Cassie's comment re: the Quirky Girl sketch is much noted). This past week's, with Maya Rudolph hosting, was even better (Amy Poehler came back to do some sketches!)

    1. Was the Maya Rudolph episode where she did the Maya Angelou Prank Show? Brilliance.

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