Friday, February 3, 2012

Beauty Blogosphere 2.3.12

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

From Head...

Blown: The Brazilian blowout has been officially declared carcinogenic. Now the question is, to its devotees, will that matter?

...To Toe...
 I can't be the only one who has a terrible time finding winter legwear, can I? Actually, I know I'm not, because Sally's guide to winter tights was a reader request. And if, like me, you're not a big boots fan (my legs are my vanity, what can I say?), you may enjoy Corporette's guide to comfortable heels (also via Sally, without whom I'd be naked from knee down).

...And Everything In Between:
Farewell, CFO: Avon fires vice chairman and former CFO in connection with the China bribery scandals; this is the highest-ranking executive to be let go as a result of the corruption charges.

Photo from the International Butler Academy, whose website I visit whenever I think about butling.

Fragrance butlers? Fragrance butlers.

China style:
 Minh-Ha Pham on the Chinese luxury consumer: "In the fashion world, especially, criticizing taste serves as a surrogate for definitions of race and class. The tacky Chinese luxury consumer stereotype is a form of coded racial discourse that links fakeness to race." The ethos of inconspicuous consumption as a stand-in for class is thriving.

Pajama rage: Thanks to reader Aoife, who pointed me toward a place where the pajamas debate I looked at last week is raging strong. Inner-city women and girls in Dublin have been wearing pajamas in public for some time now, and when a social services office posted a sign sort of a quiet rebellion against the social structure that keeps them in poverty, the issue came to a head. "In the booming, crashing world of the flats, it's the boys who make themselves heard. Meanwhile, the pyjama girls express themselves through the visual language of young women - clothes and fashion - in candy pinks, hot purples and brushed cotton: a soft, silent revolution." And now I want to have a viewing party of Pyjama Girls, a film about the phenomenon.

Women's health bust: We don't need to even talk about Komen, do we? All I'll say is that Komen's withdrawal of support for Planned Parenthood doesn't surprise me in the least, given their history of pinkwashing, fostering breast cancer kitsch, and de-politicizing breast cancer. (We may have needed breast cancer depoliticized at one point, but I think that time has gone. It's become a way for companies to say they support women while still making the chemicals that might be causing cancers in the first place.) Good gives five ways to support women's health here. Edit: Komen has reversed the decision, which is sort of incredible and is a testament to the power of activism (and plain old outrage). I still have my reservations about the organization but this news is fantastic, and quite literally life-saving.

The price of beauty: Guess which makeup brand is potentially going to be paying the highest retail rent in the history of New York City?

Million-dollar face: Revlon billionaire Ron Perelman owed a former associate $16 million, and a federal jury made him pay up. Obvs the takeaway here is that if your Colorstay 16-Hour Eyeshadow is bumped up, you can blame Donald Drapkin.

Tweens: An update a year or so after the launch of Wal-Mart's tween makeup line, GeoGirl, on how the 8-to-14-year-old cosmetics consumer is doing.

Nonfat beauty: We can put a man on the moon but we can't come up with a low-calorie face mask? Like, what's up with that? Luckily, Bethenny Frankel, Real Housewife and founder of Skinnygirl drinks, has a new Skinnygirl beauty line out. WHEW.

News for the Tashkent shopper: Last night, in bed, as you were drifting into slumber, you asked yourself, Hey, whatever happened to the daughter of Uzbekistani president Islam Karimov? And here I am, with the answer: She's started a cosmetics line called Guli.

Shrunken government: Indiana bill that would have eliminated cosmetology licensing is withdrawn from consideration, showing the power of collective action. Had the bill gone through, beauty workers and customers alike would have been left at greater risk of harm, because when there's no state licensing process, it's a lot easier for misinformation to work its way into processes. Cosmetologists work with some pretty toxic stuff; why would any state consider deregulating it instead of other forms of hazardous production? Could it be because we're girls?

Making history: Interview with the Procter & Gamble archivist, i.e. the person who has access to originals of all those wonderful old Max Factor ads. "By saving the history of the brands, we’re basically respecting the consumer, I think."

Latina beauty: Insider look at what it means to market cosmetics to Latinas. "From an early age, it’s important to have the right ponytail, makeup etc.," says marketing expert Graciela Eleta. "For us, outer beauty really reflects who we are. I know I’m stereotyping, but it’s all right. For Caucasians, it’s more about fitness and lifestyle. For Hispanics, it’s all about the end, the lipstick and the blusher.” Hell yeah it's stereotyping; that's what marketing does. And I don't want to paint Latino women with a broad brush, but as shown in Rosie Molinary's excellent Hijas Americanas, artifice does play an important role in Latina culture, and marketing reports like this are a first-hand look.

Belly up: Congrats to Davinia Hamilton, whose short film on the transformative power of belly dance, The Beat of Her Own Drum, is garnering some attention.

Our prince has come: Enough parsing of the Disney princesses. What about the princes? (Thanks to Debbie for the link.)

Computer models: Tech writer Glenn Fleishman argues that revealingly-dressed models at gadget shows might have a negative marketing effect--not just because it's a signal that female tech consumers aren't the target audience, but because the men feel weird about it too. At the MacWorld/iWorld show, "There were plenty of booths with good-looking, well-dressed women (and men!) that employed traditional marketing tactics of being appealing and inviting, listening to and answering questions knowledgeably, and behaving in a positive and upbeat manner. I gravitated there.... I can never fully appreciate how women are continuously presented with images of perfection that they are covertly and overtly pressured to emulate. The models at Macworld/iWorld are just another component of that, presenting a contrast to the vendor’s professional staff and possibly driving away the women who attend the show." (Thanks to Tim for the link.)

Narcissist check: I hear the term narcissistic applied far more often to women than men (as has Meg Clark at The Blind Hem), and certainly there are plenty of women who truly are narcissistic. Still, it was refreshing to read Barry Nolan's tongue-in-cheek DSM-IV diagnosis of Bill O'Reilly's narcissistic personality disorder in Boston Magazine.

Sleeping Beauty, directed by Julia Leigh

Debtor dreams: I mentioned this yesterday, but really, Malcolm Harris's piece on Sleeping Beauty, a film about a student-turned-sex worker who enters a troublesome arrangement, is a must-read: "Unlike mortgage or credit-card debt, student debt is premised specifically on the value of the debtor’s body. The exorbitant size of U.S. college debt is justified by the students’ imagined future productivity; if you take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans for school, it’s because the debt will enable you to command enough on the labor market to pay it back. But when lots of workers need jobs, employers need any particular worker much less. In a sick twist, the known size of the general debt keeps wages down and young workers desperate, making their personal debt even harder to pay back, making them even more desperate, and so on until the wage goes literally negative in the form of unpaid internships. Sleeping Beauty dramatizes this debtor relationship: The old men who sleep with her might as well be the banks holding Lucy’s loans, taking payment in time with her flesh."

More on body labor: Writer and model Dana Drori on her unease about accepting working conditions that Americans have long fought to ameliorate: "In most other professions, there are very clear parameters determining right and wrong behavior, but looking at my career as a model, I realize that I’ve become the easy-to-work-with, comfortable-with-her-body ideal, and that I’ve broadened my own parameters of comfort to include moments that should make me feel squeamish, but now don’t." Drori had a column at BlackBook (which I'm now poring over and love), but this piece comes to us from Model Alliance, a nonprofit aiming to organize models to agitate for better working conditions in an industry that's pretty much unregulated.

Gone, glitter, gone: People, for several years I read literally every single page of every single issue of Glamour magazine, ever. If there's a generalized beauty tip, I know it. Except! For how to remove glitter nail polish! (Thanks to Ashe at Dramatis Personae for the link)

The cloak of invisibility: I've heard from a number of middle-aged and older women who have reported that aging out of the prime years of being objectified is a relief, and Alice Bradley articulates that relief beautifully. "Maybe my gray hair pushed me over the edge into a new world, one where I'm considered worthy of respect. Or, more likely, I'm not considered at all. This is just fine by me." Worth reading for the coinage of the term "Penis Fairies" alone. (via Sally)

Intended audience: Fascinating read from Phoebe about fashion, desire, and the male gaze: "Dress to please men, and you're dressing to please men. Dress not to please men, and you're really just distinguishing yourself from the kind of women who require a looks-boost from their artifice, announcing that you're so good-looking that you can get away with pink eyeliner and frizz." (Thanks to Rachel for the link.)

The bravery of glamour: The Gloss hilariously responds to xoJane's no-makeup photo meme with a "GLOBS OF MAKEUP" meme. Heh. For the record, I think it can be brave to not wear makeup, and I also think it's brave to wear shitloads of it too. It depends on the person and the roots of her (or his, for that matter) reasons for their makeup default. I felt a helluva lot more self-conscious walking around town after my bombshell makeover with Eden than I do on the rare day when I go bare-faced, and judging from what Siobhan pointed out in our interview, I'm not alone.

New favorite Tumblr: Niqabs and Kitaabs, particularly this l'awesome snapshot.

Playing femme:
 S.E. Smith on moving beyond beauty, and how playing around with what it means to be "femme" helps her do that. "Some people say I don’t do femme right, or that I am not succeeding in going for a feminine look, to which I say 'bollocks,' because there is no 'right' way to be femme, nor am I cultivating a feminine appearance."

Wonder Woman: Seems I'm not the only one this week wondering about fictional characters and beauty. Elissa at Dress With Courage, inspired by this NYTimes piece on cartoon character palettes, wonders if the girlish playfulness comic-strip makeup inspires could potentially be the tonic for the humdrum makeup routine we may fall into as adults.

2-4-6-8, biceps we appreciate: The "Girl Crush Chronicles" at Fit and Feminist are always worth a read, but this one of Anna Watson, America's buffest cheerleader, is particularly swoon-worthy.


  1. Realized today that while I read tons of other blogs with link roundups, yours is the one that actually has me opening a new tab on my browser for literally every link you post. Thanks for taking the time!

    1. Anonymous, thank YOU for taking the time! I know my links roundups are longer and wordier than most and I sometimes wonder if anyone reads them (I can tell from stats that plenty of people click INTO my roundups but I don't know who clicks out). So thank you!

  2. SO MANY LINKS! So little time! I'mma gonna try, though.

    Also I just need to say that I am getting very tired of the word "skinny." Even the way the word sounds bugs me. I've heard Skinnygirl margaritas are pretty tasty but the name really puts me off.

    P.S. Thanks once again for the link love! Anna Watson is a pretty impressive lass, isn't she?

    1. Caitlin, when I was learning how to teach ESL I had a conversation with some fellow students and a teacher, all of whom were either British or learned British English. The word "thin" came up and I was confused because they were all using it to mean sickly-thin, not slender, and there was an interesting back-and-forth about it. But then one of the women bust out with, "We use 'thin' how Americans might use 'skinny,'" which of course made me laugh. It wasn't that long ago that "skinny" wasn't a compliment either.

  3. I'm confused. I've had treatments similar to the Brazilian blowout in Australia and the UK, and they are very, very different.

    In Australia, it takes three hours, is very smelly (that'd be the formaldehyde, I presume), hurts a bit, and it leaves my hair pretty straight for three months.

    In the UK, it takes about 1-2 hours, it doesn't smell, and they warn you beforehand that it won't give you salon-style hair (although as someone with natural "Hermione hair", it does mean I only straighten once or twice a week, as compared to my previous, every goddamn day).

    Does this mean the UK product is formaldehyde-free/isn't carcinogenic? I don't expect you to have the answer, but it's tricky to get my - ahem - head around.

    1. Rachel, I'm not really qualified to answer (I've never had a Brazilian blowout) but I'm guessing that what you had in the UK is one of the formaldehyde-free versions of a keratin treatment. I've seen places specifying that their "Brazilian" uses keratin, not formaldehyde (though all Brazilians use keratin). That is, some salons take the approach of saying "We do a non-toxic Brazilian!" while others say, "We don't do Brazilians, we do keratin treatments!" when really they're doing the same thing.

      In any case the effect of a formaldehyde-free Brazilian/"keratin treatment" is roughly the same as a regular Brazilian, but the former doesn't last as long and is less intense, from what I understand. I'm guessing your UK salon is using the terms interchangeably.

      And now I want to go to a churrascaria for lunch!