Friday, August 3, 2012

Beauty Blogosphere 8.3.12

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

From Head...
Saving the day:
Introducing the world's first natural-hair comic strip, Kinky & Carl E. Stranz.

...To Toe...
Pachyderm pedi: Elephant pedicure video. (Why doesn't someone feed me apples when I get a pedicure?)

...And Everything In Between:
Digital ladies: L'Oréal is launching a program that sounds promising: the L'Oréal Women in Digital Program, which rewards female tech innovators in the beauty industry. Not that I want female tech innovators to be siphoned off by L'Oréal instead of developing programs for broader application, but I definitely don't want techie beauty gadgets developed by people who have never worn the products in question either, you know? (That's probably how we came up with these so-bad-they're-great digital makeovers, after all.)

Avon falling: Avon is at an all-time low, with a 9% revenue fall from last quarter. The new CEO is hinting that major restructuring lies ahead; the question is whether that "restructuring" includes a doubling back on Coty's buyout offer from earlier this year.

Color me impressed: Gorgeous Crayola makeup product design. If half of what we're paying for with cosmetics is marketing, can we at least make them all look this good?

See the pyramids: Virginia Sole-Smith continues to shed light on the world of Mary Kay, this week with a look at the direct sales business as a whole. Are you surprised that it's not a pretty picture?

The ventures: How small east Asian brands are rising thanks to more global attention on major Asian lines like Shiseido. Certainly I'm a sucker for those "beauty goodies from around the world" features that crop up in ladymags every so often; seems I'm not alone. Similarly, India's beauty industry is catching investors' eyes, and for good reason: With low overhead and a steadily growing middle class, startup Indian beauty companies are thriving.

Veggie tales: Women diagnosed with an eating disorder are four times likelier than non-disordered women to be vegetarian. I've stayed away from this on my blog for the most part, because I know there are plenty of positive motivations for being a vegetarian or vegan, and going down this path is sure to invite healthy vegetarians to defend themselves when I have no interest in attacking anyone's actual motivation for being a vegetarian. What I will say is that most—not all, but literally most—women I know who are vegetarians have also had some troubling food patterns, if not a full-blown eating disorder. (Conversely, one of the women whom I perceive as having a wholly healthy relationship with food is a vegan, so.) Vegetarianism is a way of controlling food; eating disorders are all about controlling food. I don't want to delegitimize vegetarianism, but people, we need to be able to talk about this, because as-is vegetarianism is often seen as a way of being "good." Do any of us want to reinforce to people with eating disorders that their patterns are good?

Portlandia: The best and worst American cities for your skin. #1 is Portland, Oregon, which shouldn't add to its superiority complex or anything. (Via Makeup Museum)

Tip of the season: You can't rely on SPF cosmetics to protect you from the sun. 

Also, diaper cream: Roundup of embarrassing beauty products people keep in their bags. If only I'd made a bet about not being the only person alive who carries around lip gloss from the '90s!

Darling gal: Big congratulations to Gala Darling—whose take on "radical self-love" somehow manages to be soaring, sincere, grounded, and whimsical all at once—for being named beauty and style editor at I'm pleased to hear this because I'm a big fan of Gala's, but I've had my problems with xoJane, specifically what looked like exploitation of an addict in the supposed name of "honesty." That said, "honesty" of the page-view variety at the site has always been matched at least point for point by emotionally ambivalent pieces that I truly appreciate, often in the form of searing personal essays. I quietly vowed not to link to them because I was saddened by the Cat Marnell situation (and often horrified by Marnell's advice), but every time I'd see a particularly strong piece I'd question my decision. With Gala's announcement, I'm ready to give xoJane another chance. I trust her implicitly and know she'll bring a host of interesting content to the site. More to the point, if she's working for them, they're doing something right, and that something can overcome my initial misgivings. Make us all proud, Ms. Darling!

Heavy lifting: Olympic weightlifter Zoe Smith gives a spot-on retort to the people who raise eyebrows at the changes weightlifting causes in a woman's body: "We don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive?" (via Feminist Philosophers)

Special delivery: California beauty boutique robbed via mail slot. (If only Scully and Mulder were on the case...)

Eau de Narcissus: Meet the Hu-Mannequin, a device that funnels your personal scent into a clothing mannequin in order to...get you to buy more clothes? Or something. To be honest, I don't really get it. What I do know is this: 1) I would be very, very curious to know how a synthesized version of my personal scent would smell, and 2) The company is counting on this exact mix of curiosity and narcissism to pull a profit.

Eco-beauty: Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? Refillable makeup cartridges, at Sephora, created by a student of industrial design.

Vadge of honor: Congratulations to Miss Atlas, owner of the world's most beautiful vagina

Stet: Kim Kardashian says her fantasy job—because the occupation of being Kim Kardashian is so, you know, banal—is makeup artist. Meanwhile, Emma Stone, face of Revlon, cites her fantasy job as copy editor. (Girl knows how to par-tay!)

Marilyn's mark: This is basically a press release, but an interesting one: the enduring legacy of Marilyn Monroe's beauty mark. Related: Why doesn't whoever spun "mole" into "beauty mark" take a look at cellulite next? "Dimples of Venus," anyone? 

Gamine gaze: In her typically clear-eyed manner, Phoebe asks why we're sometimes eager to conflate body type with personal style. "A woman with an hourglass physique, whatever her bedroom activities or lack thereof, is thought to dress to please men, whereas the more straight-up-and-down have the option of dressing for other women/for themselves." (Should this sound outdated, may I point you toward Debralee Lorenzana, who was fired from Citibank in 2009 for wearing "distracting" clothing—you know, like fitted business suits.)


  1. Congratulations to patriarchal bargain maker Miss Atlas for reinforcing and profiting from Fascist Beauty Standards™- now coming for your vagina!

    1. I just wonder about the sponsorships...

    2. Also, just throwing this out there -- How in the heck do they even see inside to judge a vagina? It's dark up in there!

      Or -- more likely -- are they judging the aesthetics of vulvae and pretending that words don't mean things?

    3. I think they commissioned an infant to report upon the standard vagina and then just took guesses from there?

  2. I assume you haven't heard about the Gala fiasco currently in progress at XOJane then. I innocently followed a link from Shrinkle's blog to what I thought was a post about Amy (aka Shrinkle)by Gala and got treated to drama instead. :( I would love to hear your thoughts on all of it.


    1. Hi Mary--"treated to drama" indeed! From what I understand, the problem is that years ago Gala wore a "hipster headdress" and then didn't engage in conversation about it, is that what's going on? I had read Gala's response to it prior to writing this roundup, but didn't address is because I thought she did that better than I could. It seems as though there are people there who don't like her in general, which, whatever. I'm willing to take her response at face value--especially given that as an immigrant, she hadn't been exposed to the long tradition of cultural appropriation. (I say this as a woman who identifies as both white and Native American, for what it's worth.) What I'm getting from this is that she made a mistake and took a while to own up to it. Yes, I wish she'd responded better up-front, but from what I know of her work this isn't indicative of a dismissal of indigenous concerns.

      An anecdote: Until fairly recently, I knew next to nothing about trans issues. I didn't think I was transphobic or anything; it just wasn't something that I understood, and with the limited time I have I didn't prioritize educating myself on trans issues. So I really had *no idea* that the word "tranny" was offensive; that's what I'd heard trans people called, and not always with hate or fear, so I genuinely did not know that this had indeed been used as a term of hate and prejudice against trans people. A reader called me out on it and my response was a little defensive--I pointed out that *I* hadn't used the term but was rather quoting someone else's use of it, which was a technicality at best. With time I gave it more thought and saw what the problem was, and educated myself on it. I haven't made a public apology because the occasion hasn't risen; I think it will at some point, but it needn't. The best any of us can do is try.

    2. I didn't know this wasn't a recent incident. I have been to her blog before (again via Shrinkle) and didn't remember much about her but she didn't strike me as the awful person everyone was describing in the comments there...I assumed from all the angry comments that this head dress incident was...yesterday. lol So thanks for enlightening me with what really happened.

      Personally I think even though it wasn't recent maybe she is due for a reiteration of her apology at least. (As annoying as that may be for her.) And honestly I'm surprised and disappointed that XOJane hasn't even tried to really defend her (or even point out this wasn't recent and she has already addressed it)if only so their new readers won't get the wrong idea about how they feel about such issues.


    3. I feel like this whole fiasco is a case in point of what Jill Filipovic at Feministe termed "callout culture":

      Maybe it's because I'm kindly disposed toward Gala, but I'm really just shocked at the level of vitriol that's been thrown her way. I feel like people sometimes just want to be up in arms about...something, anything? Ugh.

  3. Speaking of weight-lifting, I suggest you check out this article:

    Very sobering article about how Sarah Robles, an Olympic weight lifter, is barely scrapping by because she doesn't have the ideal body of an athlete.

    1. Sobering indeed. The good news is that the Internet (you know, "the Internet") responded to this news with encouragement and donations:

      It's lovely to see that this story struck a chord in enough people to make a difference here. Inspiring.

  4. Yay! Boston is #7 best for your skin. I'll take it.

    1. Yeah, I was shocked NYC was on there, but as you put it, I'll take it!

  5. It's important to be clear that a study suggesting most people with eating disorders are/have been vegetarian does not say anything about whether the majority of vegetarians have/have had eating disorders. I am not surprised by the study's findings - identifying to yourself and others as vegetarian gives you a socially recognisable reason for avoiding certain groups of food. For this reason I would be interested to see a similar study with people who avoid gluten or dairy etc, although considering those aren't really identities people can take on I guess it isn't so comparable.
    I know you don't have the intention of attacking/delegitimising veg*anism, but plenty of other people do. I have actually heard it described as an eating disorder in itself. When you say "vegetarianism is a way of controlling food", I think you mean it is one way (some) people control food. Certainly a lot of omnivores regard it as inherently a way of controlling food, which is such a strange idea for me, a long time veg*n, to get my head around. Perhaps this is because I associate meat/dairy/eggs more with the animals they come from rather than as food, but also I just don't think about what I eat in terms of control or restriction.
    Btw this is my first time commenting but I've been enjoying your blog for several months, thanks for all that you do!

    1. Ebhe, you're absolutely correct, and I should have been clear that my own anecdotal observations (about the number of vegetarians/vegans I know who have had troubling eating patterns) was not reflected in the study (which, as you point out, was about people with eating disorders, not vegetarians).

      And I'm glad to hear you articulate that control isn't a factor in your own food choices. I'm intrigued by the idea that if you don't see something as food per se, it ceases to be a control issue--I don't care for doughnuts so never have them, but obviously I'm not "restricting" when there's a plate of doughnuts at the office and I pass them up. Interesting viewpoint! In any case, I'm glad to hear your views on this, and on anything else in the future! Thank you for reading.