Friday, June 29, 2012

Beauty Blogosphere 6.29.12

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

From Head...
"And what did you do with the hair?" "I hid it under the radiator": NPR reporter Jeff Cohen interviews his daughters, ages 5 and 3, totally poker-faced, after the elder decided to give her sister a haircut. Investigative reporting at its adorable finest.

...To Toe...
Godfather: Mumbai gangster arrested for conspiring with the owner of a fish pedicure salon chain to threaten a pedicure franchisee who had filed a complaint against the chain's owner.

...And Everything In Between:

Mr. Universe contestants; note that I have no idea if these particular musclemen
"feel that many times women flirt with men just to tease them or hurt them."

Juicebox: Men obsessed with building muscle are more likely to have sexist attitudes (agreeing with such statements as "I feel that many times women flirt with men just to tease them or hurt them") and to find thin women attractive. (I'm wondering if the reverse is true--if women preoccupied with thinness find muscle men more attractive? I suppose bodybuilding is more of a defined activity and subculture than staying thin, a "hobby" no subgroup of women seems to comfortably escape.)

Girl germs: Sales of men's personal care products are growing (as is male enrollment in beauty schools), but heaven forbid you refer to said products as beauty products or—egads!—makeup. Department stores are beginning to take "grooming" products out of the cosmetics area and placing them in "men's furnishings" area (men need different chairs than women, you know). Also, products are packaged to appeal to men, with designers stuffing shave cream into packaging resembling anything from cigar boxes to liquor bottles, because “Men are just more comfortable in their own environment, away from makeup and pink,” says a merchandising manager at Nordstrom, thus explaining the lack of vagina-shaped products.

Business as usual: Products aimed specifically toward ethnic minorities saw markedly increased sales last year—this after a 13% sales increase in 2010—even though minorities in the U.S. were particularly hard-hit by the recession. Market researchers attribute the increase to a greater awareness of natural products (which applies across the board to beauty products but has the potential to create more niche markets when combined with needs of non-white women), an uptick in the number of men buying products, and better-quality products overall.

Agog: Lady Gaga is attempting to have the trademarking of cosmetics brand Gaga Pure Platinum–which has been around for 12 years—revoked, as it prevents her from licensing products under her moniker. Waaah.

Animal kingdom: India to consider a ban on animal testing for cosmetics, at PETA's behest. Meanwhile, women who grumble at being objectified for the "greater good" are considering a ban on PETA.

Eatin' Wheaties: Not all Olympians are rolling in endorsement dough. Weightlifting champ Sarah Robles, despite being one of the most spectacular athletes out there (she beat out men and women to become the world's weightlifting champ last year), lives on $400 a month. Hmmm. Let's think about why this could be.

Death by bacteria: Sephora is going to be the death of us all.

Women of a certain age: I'm glad to see that this story about the prevalence of eating disorders among women over 50 has gotten some press this week. When I think of how underdiagnosed older women have been over the decades I just feel sad; nobody wins when we cling to the idea of eating disorders as being the land of the upper-middle-class white teenager.

For shame: Ragen at Dances With Fat looks at the difference between thin privilege and shaming thin women within the size acceptance community. 

I believe in the children of the future: Megan Dietz, aka the Sane Person in The Hairpin's new advice column, Ask a Sane Person, on how to be less crazy about your body: "Let me ask you this: 40 years from now, when you and I are rad old ladies cruising around the solar system in extravagant glowy caftans, do you want to hear girls asking Does this jetpack make me look fat?" Me, I'm happy to outsource ways to be less crazy about my body, starting with Megan's new book, aptly titled Be Less Crazy About Your Body, as well as Sally McGraw's new book, Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body by Learning to Dress It Well.

Heavyweight: Body Exchange gym in Vancouver, BC, only accepts plus-size women as clientele. Some people think this is discriminatory, and given that gyms are a place that a lot of people feel self-conscious about visiting—not just fat folks—I guess I see that point of view, and certainly the problem is the way our society treats fat people, not that anyone should feel self-conscious in any place of business. But I'm guessing most of the thin people complaining haven't had to endure comments from total strangers about their weight. It's worth noting that Body Exchange is also an adventure travel company for plus-size women; they seem committed to truly encouraging a healthy lifestyle in a variety of ways, free of shame. I applaud that.

Hour by hour: Are hair salons failing black women? I'm white, so my understanding of black hair care has always been secondhand, and most of what I've read and heard from black women paints salons as a sort of ersatz community center—i.e. positive—while considering the political angle of black women's hair where things start to get iffy. But after repeatedly spending nearly full days at the salon, Najah Azia casts doubt on the idea of the salon as a haven for black women: "Visiting the salon should be a pleasant, peaceful experience, not an hours-on-end drudgery ... And yet, this is what millions of black women endure to get our hair professionally done. It is a failure of gigantic proportions. It is a failure that is sad because black women are failing black women."

Fitspo no-go: I love it when good people collaborate! Radio show Southern Fried Fitness talks with writer Virginia Sole-Smith and Lexie and Lindsay Kite, the powerhouse team behind Beauty Redefined, on the problem with "fitspo," or fitness inspiration, which usually just winds up being nyah nyah you're not good enough chatter disguised as pro-fitness talk.

Natural beauty: My favorite tip from this homemade beauty remedy piece, from makeup artist and friend of The Beheld Emily Kate Warren: Use beets as a lip stain. It works! I first tried it after reading about it in No More Dirty Looks, and for a while was carrying around a piece of beet in my purse.

...and eating it too: Disney to release a beauty product line inspired by their films' greatest villains. Verrrry curious to see how this will play out among the preschool princess set—will they eat up the Evil Queen lip gloss or reject it because it's not pretty pretty princess? The Beheld is currently commissioning first-person essays from 5-year-old girls on the matter, fee to be paid in fairy wings. [Updated 6.29: Mary in comments points out that a Disney villains collections already exists—by MAC, for adults, at a higher price point. "Curious they feel there's a market for similar products among children. Or maaaybe they're just cleverly remaking the MAC line at a more affordable price point (and throwing in some non-beauty products to make it less obvious." Ding ding ding!] 

Unreal: A leading photo retoucher is challenging the very industry that employs him to start publishing one unretouched photo a month.

Meow: I'm a bit of a xenophile, so I tend to be entranced with beauty products from other countries that I'd just roll my eyes at if they were American. In other words, I ate up Fashionista's slideshow of Asian beauty products, but even I'm skeptical of Hello Kitty collagen marshmallows.

A girl thing: In an effort to dispel notions about women in science, the European Commission put out a music video titled "Science: It's a Girl Thing!", featuring sexy women among beakers and molecules (plus some science-of-cosmetics imagery), which understandably pissed off some lady scientists. I agree that the video is silly and not representative of women in science (and, as physiologist Dr. Isis points out, it's mentoring women in science, not putting them in bedazzled lab coats, that actually creates more female scientists), but I also know that the perception of science and math as being defeminized probably does scare off some girls, sadly. A sexed-up video isn't the answer, but adding a little glamour might actually pique some girls' interest? I don't know. 

Dr. Porcine: Speaking of women in science, thanks to Noelle, my ninth-grade science partner—who went on to become an actual scientist—for sending me this link on what happens when urban homesteader meets the mall. Can you tell which side of her face is primed and moisturized with the rabidly overpriced Perricone M.D. line, and which half is primed and moisturized with pork fat?

"Actress must have no mouth": Spellbinding piece on Marilyn Monroe at London Review of Books. (It's funny, I never cared about Monroe until I started reading what smart, thoughtful people had to say about her, most notably Gloria Steinem's biography of her.) "Why should a woman with such sexual advantages want anything else? ... What thwarted dreams were poured into this woman’s body? You don’t have to be a Freudian to know that such idealisation punishes as much as it sets you free." (via Natalie Smith guest blogging for Jessica Stanley.)

Fashion week: Public bathrobes and latex suits get the treatment over at The New Inquiry.

Star spangled: Brittany Julious, lyrical as ever, gives us an essay about sequins (which I love but don't have enough bravado to pull off well) that dovetails nicely with discussions going on here as of late about women using appearance as a bonding mechanism.

Blood red: Why Nahida wears nail polish when she's menstruating.

Curator's corner: I can't believe I haven't linked here before: The Makeup Museum is a great stop for beauty junkies who want something beyond "product porn" in their beauty blogs, featuring vintage cosmetics and cosmetics art, all with an intelligent, quizzical voice.


  1. On Gaga's cosmetics line--what a sell out! Money's on she's on the path to become Katy Perry in no time.

    1. I feel like her whole thing has been branding from the beginning, which I don't necessarily mean as a put-down, more that it's just...expected, I guess? Sigh.

  2. Re: girls being scared away from science by it being "defeminized" -- oh I hope they do not manage to "feminize" science. I think I found the one job where my disinterest in fulfilling feminine stereotypes or wearing high heeled shoes is seen as the optimum. Research is a safe haven from all that crap and long may it continue to be so!

    1. Cynthia, that's interesting--I think I had been automatically equating feminization with an interest in things typically considered in the feminine realm, like fashion. I agree that putting a stereotypical "feminine" spin on science (hey girls! you'll look so sexy in a lab coat and stilettos!) isn't going to help; I think it's more about having models (like you) out there who show that an interest in style needn't be incompatible with an interest in fashion—that one needn't fall into either stereotype. But then again, maybe that stereotype is outdated by now? I feel like I want an advisory panel of tween girls I can tap into at all times to see what the current thinking is on this and so many other things I'm probably superimposing my early-80s childhood onto!

    2. I stumbled across this just now--a dollhouse heavy on the electronic features designed to get girls into technology. This seems more appropriate than a fashionista spin on science--dolls allow for a greater interpretation of girlhood/womanhood and aren't as attached to stereotypes of femininity. Hmm...

  3. Re black hair salons:
    When I was a kid my mom used to go to a hair salon, and she would tote my sister and I. It would be an entire day. By the time I was 6 or so, she started doing her hair at home and hasn't been back in about 30 years.

    She did my hair up until about 7 years ago. I went to an independent place, with a coworker working out of her house. Good because she didn't double book. Bad: it was kinda far and basically in her garage.

    Now I go to another place that is about a mile from my house, so it is convenient. The biggest problem is that many black salons double and triple book people, so every station is filled at every moment.

    I don't see this at white salons. Where I am going now, tends to be a little slow. It takes from 2-3 hours end to end. If I go earlier in the day, it is faster. The 5pm appts take forever (until 7:30 or 7:45). There are people scheduled for 5:00, 5:15 and 5:30. You wait until the stylist is done with shampooing or drying or whatever. Before her or she gets back to you.

    A typical white salon seems to have different staff for the shampoo station, so there isn't as much waiting or overlap, or each stylist only works with one person at a time.

    At the black salon, the hair dryer is almost an excuse to multitask. I notice at the white one, the dryer chair isn't generally used, just a hair dryer. The black salon uses the dryer chair for 15-20 minutes, and then finishes with a blow dryer.

    It is a different process. And I really don't want to switch because I know where I am going is pretty good on the scale of "black salons." My appt takes around 2 hours. But people come prepared with dinner, snacks, and homework for their kids. I wish I could just get in and out with individualized attention for my entire appt, and not have to wait around while someone else's hair is getting completed. The stylist I go to wants to open her own "white" spa with other services and more individualized attention -- when she meets Mr. Big or wins the lottery.

    1. Jame, this is so interesting--having only gone to white salons, this is indeed a different experience. I've never sat under a dryer (well, when I had a perm in the '80s...) and unless it's a very small salon there usually is a shampooer and a hairstylist, and one of the few times I splurged and went to a super-nice salon, they had yet another person dry my hair.

      I wonder what this is about--how it started. Was it a once-upon-a-time thing when there would only be one person with the appropriate expertise in the town so everyone knew they'd have a full day at the salon? And was the community aspect of salons an outgrowth of this, or was it the other way around? Hmmm. In any case thank you for reporting your own experiences here!

  4. Disney already created a Villans line with MAC. Curious they feel theres a market for similar products among children as well. Or maaaybe they're just cleverly remaking the MAC line at a more affordable price point(and throwing in some non beauty products to make it less obvious).

    1. Ha! I had no idea. And yep, you nailed it. I can practically see the product roll-out meeting now...

  5. OMG!! Thank you so much for mentioning the Museum!! I'm so incredibly flattered!!!

    1. But of course! I was surprised to realize I hadn't before. Love what you're doing!