Friday, May 11, 2012

Beauty Blogosphere 5.11.12

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


Vidal Sassoon, 1928–2012

From Head...
"If you don't look good, we don't look good": Legendary hairstylist Vidal Sassoon died on Wednesday of natural causes. Famous for pioneering the "wash and wear" look of the London mod scene, Sassoon's style allowed women to look fashionable but not spend as much time on their hair as the hot-rollers-and-hairspray look of years past. By using his keen eye and industry clout to quietly emphasize that hair needn't detract from women's lives—and by developing a line of low-cost hair care products—Sassoon, in his way, played a role in helping women navigate shifting social roles of the '60s and '70s. (Also, the best haircut of my life was given to me by a student at the Vidal Sassoon school in London, so there's a personal debt here too.) In honoring him, Bim Adewunmi discusses the politics of hair—contextualized not only by Sassoon's death but by his life, which was explicitly political—at The Guardian.

...To Toe...
Spring in your step:
It's stinky shoe season!

...And Everything In Between:
Bioré?:
Top 10 global beauty brands, ranked by "projected revenues, customer loyalty and willingness to pay a price premium, royalty rates and current market value." The biggest surprise for me: Bioré at #9?

Margaritaville*: Now Warren Buffet's getting in on Coty's bid to buy Avon.

Say goodbye to Cincinnati: The head of Procter & Gamble's beauty business is retiring, and the whole operation is packing up and hiking over to Singapore. I mean, they're not actually hiking! They will probably fly, or take a boat. In any case, they will be leaving Cincinnati.

Celtic pride: A thoughtful three-part investigation into what the secularization of Ireland has meant for Irish girls and women. I sometimes make the American mistake of thinking of the British Isles as one unit, not recognizing that the history of Irish-English relations—particularly in regards to religion—means that the morality play that is women's bodies may well have a different tenor when applied to Irish women.

"Lots of water": Zimbabwean beauty queen Vanessa Sibanda is denying reports that she uses skin lightening cream, claiming that foreign travel that took her out of the sun—and, of course, healthy eating and "lots of water"—have made her more pale. I have no idea what the truth is, but the debate reminds me of starlets who claim they don't diet; they just have a "really fast metabolism," which then becomes such an embedded truth of Hollywood that it's seen as subversive when a performer acknowledges that you're "hungry all the time."

"Models vs. Militants": Fascinating juxtaposition of India's beauty pageants with radical Hindu camps where girls are armed in case of "enemy" attack ("enemies" being people from other religions) and encouraged to marry as teens. It's particularly interesting if you've been following discourse on modesty fashion blogging in the west, highlighting that it's a privilege to be able to think of modesty as a choice.

1932 Carnival Queen, Her Majesty Queen Emma

Carnivale: An early version of Filipino beauty pageants: Carnival Queens.

Past the headband: The question of Hillary Clinton's fashion and beauty choices has been hashed over since I was in high school (and chickadees, that's been a while), and by all rights I should well be exhausted by it by now. But now that she's supposedly in the twilight years of her political career, can we glean something from her little-makeup-loose-hair appearance last week? Suzi Parker frames the question in a way that manages not to piss me off. (Thanks to Caitlin for the link.)

Comedienne: Anna Breslaw on female comics: "The only funny women who are free to cross over to mainstream audiences are the ones who are free from the beauty hang-ups that limit their jokes to female audiences." 

Pore-zapping ray gun, for real: On a different sort of female comics, the first "beauty-inspired" comic book hero will come to life soon, courtesy a diabolical collaboration between Marvel and Benefit Cosmetics. She's called SpyGal, she's "wise-cracking, pore-zapping," and her superpower is copywriting shit even the crankiest beauty bloggers couldn't possibly make up. 

Topsy turban: How the 1920s turban trend began. Surprise! Cultural appropriation.

Old Ironsides: Oliver Cromwell would give your Lush collection a run for the money, a recent chemical test of some of his belongings indicates. But today it's actually Scottish men who are making up the UK's biggest increase in men's salon services. In the name o' the wee man, what's going on up north?

"Man boobs": Performance artist Matt Cornell has a riveting piece about growing up with "man boobs": "The only breasts The Huffington Post approves of are those of thin, white female celebrities."

Lost: Ragen Chastain raises a reasonable question on something inherently unreasonable: Why the fresh hell is Michelle Obama appearing on The Biggest Loser, which does things like put participants n 1,000-calorie-a-day diets, dehydrated them to the point of urinating blood, and having them work out eight hours a day? 



Native couture: Beyond Buckskin gives a much-needed antidote to all that Urban Outfitters Navajo nonsense with her striking new boutique, which showcases the work of Native designers. (I wear next to no jewelry and own exactly two pairs of earrings, but I still couldn't resist this gorgeous pair.) There's some recognizably traditional stuff in there, but what's most exciting here is seeing the ways that Native designers are showing that Indians are living, breathing people with fashion-forward vision, not stuck in the past with a tear trailing down one cheek. (Speaking of successful blending of Native traditions with modenity, Adrienne at Native Appropriations points us toward this new Nelly video that features hoop dancing. For more on the background of hoop dancing, go here.)

Cutie pie: At 40-plus, Barbara Greenberg is damn well tired of being called "cute."

"What's your poison?": Imp Kerr's experimental style both intrigues and lingers, and this entry touching on the gaze, sex work, and feminine performance is a good place to start.

Double dog dare: Australian artist taking legal action against Madonna for using a logo on her Truth or Dare perfume that looks suspiciously like his trademarked signature emblem. (via MimiFroufrou)

Ruff!: Oh dear lord, I haven't heard of this whole young-women-turning-themselves-into-dolls-and-puppies thing, but once you have, you can't go back. Truly am feeling a little ambivalent about posting this link because it's so upsetting, but maybe someone will have a take on this that isn't just depressing? Maybe? As The Gloss put it, no matter how many times some woman tries to do this, it still freaks us out.

Tattoo you: Speaking of being freaked out, permanent makeup usually does that for me, but I hadn't considered its therapeutic benefits for people with a cleft palate

Collision course: Lisa Hickey doesn't purport to have answers, but she's asking the difficult questions. How can we responsibly talk about sensitive topics—race and female beauty among them—in ways that honor their import while still asking the genuine questions we might have, some of which might verge on insensitive?

Erotique: Very excited to see where Ms. Behaved's series on the female gaze goes.

Toeing the line: I am a sucker for junior high slumber party stories, which means I am a sucker for Kate's toe hair story, and the fact that there's an instructive moment in there on how we learn bodily shame is almost beside the point.

Bikini babe: If you're a regular reader here, you're already probably pretty skeptical of the idea of "bikini season," but Caitlin lays out the problems with it so dead-on and succinctly that it's making me even madder. (I'm not a bikini wearer anymore, mostly because, yep, I don't like how I look in them. That said, I felt so bottoms-tuggy, breast-adjusty, and generally self-conscious when I did wear bikinis that the loss isn't great, and it also led me to discover the tankini, i.e. the best swimsuit.)


*I know, wrong Buffet, but I learned of their existence at the same point in my childhood and I still get them confused.

14 comments:

  1. Woo! I am indirectly famous by being in Kate's post which is in yours :D

    Thank you so much for collecting all these links. I just opened 12 new tabs to read all of these stories.

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    Replies
    1. "Indirectly famous"--heh, love it! And thank you for reading my curated little collection.

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  2. I just want to comment on the "Lot's of water" link. As a African American woman living in sunny Florida I often find myself explaining my use of sunblock to both African Americans and non African Americans. The short version is: Darker skinned people do tan and yes we can get sunburns! That is how human skin works. Period. Sure fair skinned people will burn more so than tan (so I have been told) but the rest of us no matter how dark our natural skin tone can and will get darker from sun exposure. *gets off of soapbox* lol Please excuse my rant but I get tired of seeing women of color being accused of skin lightening (by other women of color). A few years ago people were accusing Rihanna of the same thing. If you stay out of the sun then your tan fades. DUH. Seems logical to me but I still see people claiming some random celebrity is using bleaching cream.

    In my opinion the most suspicious thing about this story is that she cites "drinking plenty of water" as a possible reason for what people are interpreting as being fairer skinned. To me this says she is just as misinformed as her accusers which is pretty sad.

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    Replies
    1. Mary, that's a great point that I hadn't considered. Nobody would question why I'd be dead pale in the middle of winter after a tan summer, but I can see how eyebrows might raise about women of color because there's this sort of big question mark for plenty of people about African American skin—the misconceptions you mention about not knowing that black skin indeed tans, and also sort of a mystification.

      Lightening creams are a really loaded thing, and certainly even more so in the States and Europe. (I can't speak for Zimbabwe; I'm imagining it to be something similar to Asia, where pale skin is prized not because of its westernness but because of its class connotations, but I really have no idea.) Calling out a celebrity for using it when really, we have no idea, seems disingenuous at best--thank you for raising the point!

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  3. The way critics said about things like man boobs being taboo and head beauty as the most important part to work on is humorous in a way. It's interesting to read each one of the following bullets they pointed out.

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  4. Yes, I was bored and had time to kill, so I checked out the Kota Koti mentioned in the 'girls turning into dolls' link. The Russian gal looked plastic and scary to me, but I think I should be ashamed of myself that I actually thought Kota was adorable (yes, like a puppy?!). I was actually very impressed by her makeup skills, because I think her 'look' is done primarily with creative makeup techniques.

    I looked on her FB page, which is run by a fan, not she herself. There is a picture that was posted on March 22 by a user, which apparently depicts an Asian woman with natural eyes getting some kind of makeup-and-contact application. Wha? Wikipedia is generally NOT my Trusted News Source, but look under 'circle contact lens' and there are some very interesting reference article links listed. I am very Midwest America, and I guess I didn't realize this was a beauty trend. Really "opened my eyes". (cue knee slap and guffaw)

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    Replies
    1. If we're confessing here, the puppy look was oddly endearing to me too. I mean, frightening! But endearing. The accordion music?!

      The contact lens thing totally freaks me out! It's certainly not a trend here that I know of (maybe on the club circuit? or the, I dunno, freak circuit?). I admit I'm curious to play around with it but I also know at 35 that's veering uncomfortably close to Baby Jane territory--

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