Friday, January 11, 2013

Beauty Blogosphere 1.11.13

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

From Head...
Brow-raiser: Eyebrow transplants? I know we're not supposed to say this anymore, but...really?

...To Toe...
Foot fault:
Tennis player Victoria Azarenka forced to pull out of the Brisbane International semifinals after a pedicure gone wrong caused an infection, prompting emergency surgery.

...And Everything In Between:

Which is more shocking: The accusation that someone might be poisoning the makeup of a former government official, or that a country ranking well below the U.S. in women's well-being has appointed a female leader before we've managed to elect one? (Nevermind that "abuse of office" charge...)

Shady accusations: The former (and currently imprisoned) Ukrainian prime minister suspects that her cosmetics were poisoned. Experts examined her products and found no traces of poisons, including toxins like mercury and lead. We save lead for our makeup stateside, thankyouverymuch!

Looks like Estee Lauder's Osiao line and deep research pockets geared toward China are paying off, as they were named by a think tank as the strongest digital brand in the country.

Mediate, regulate: Motley Fool, of all places, gives a nice rundown of major retailers' scores from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, along with a summation of the market effects of consumers' growing awareness of the utter lack of regulation over cosmetics ingredients. (Macy's is apparently the lousiest of the lot; who knew?)

Worldview: Enough about Asia and the Middle East as the boom spots for the beauty industry—now it's Africa, with its "exceptional" rate of consumer growth, according to the CEO of Procter & Gamble.

The you machine: More beauty companies are offering "prescriptions" for makeup and skin care. The purpose here is twofold: First, it takes a consumer experience and makes it feel clinical, giving the customer a feeling that they're on a health endeavor, not merely a makeup spree. But that's been employed for a while by various companies (Clinique, most notably). What's new here is companies aiming to make the experience individual, playing into a larger trend of personal branding and customization. The more we feel like our "authentic self" is being expressed, the more we're likely to buy, buy, buy.

Outrageous: Yes, Virginia, it's totally fucking legal to fire an employee because you find her so attractive you're afraid your penis might slip into her and therefore piss off your wife.

Green machine: Organic and sustainable ingredients have seen a rise in consumer demand in recent years, but the environmental impact of processes used in cosmetics production hasn't seen a lot of ink, which is why this article on biocatalytic processing is worth a once-over.

Body paint: A research team studying funerary samples found in Mexico dating from between 200 and 500 AD has concluded that the Teotihuacan people used cosmetics to honor their luminaries. While cosmetics have long been found in excavations in other parts of the world, it's rare for them to be in tombs in the Americas. This particular finding indicates the existence of trade, since the pigments in the cosmetics contain minerals not found in the region.

Mrs. M. Stevens Wagner, 1907

Tattoo you: Meli Pennington looks at the relationship between tattoos, taboos, and women willing to break the rules—and the unexpected way that plays out even now that tattoos are far more acceptable than they used to be. (Etymology bonus: The word stigma comes from the ancient Greek word for tattoo, stig.)

Creeping: I'm not sure what to think of this "diary of a creep" by noted journalist Rend Smith, who has a number of medical conditions (most notably seborrheic dermatitis, which causes skin to peel) that add up to him looking, as people around him have put it, creepy. "While the word freak heaps sin on its user, the word creep has the advantage of allowing its wielder to blame the victim. ... [B]y labeling the creep a creep, you’re victimizing the creep before the creep can victimize you." There's been a lot of thoughtful ink about the word creep—see here, and here, and here—and it's something I'm hesitant to try to wrap up succinctly. I've seen a man I love feel deeply hurt by being called "creepy," and I've seen it defended by, well, creeps who don't like the fact that women aren't actually obliged to sleep with every man who doesn't, like, spit in their eye. What I do know is that when we're talking about appearance-based labels, we need to listen to the people being discussed, and that's what's happening here.

Point blank: As a rather femmey lady (though I admit to missing the lumberjack shirts of the '90s, those were comfortable), I'm always intrigued by people whose gender display falls outside of convention—particularly when they get right to the heart of the matter, as trans blogger Shybiker does here: "Why do women work so hard at their appearance?"

Rocky Mountain high: Along with legalization of cannabis in the Mile-High State comes a new Colorado-based skin care line containing not hemp seed, as has long been popular, but cannabis seed. As puts it, "Who knew that weed could be good for more than just watching The Wizard of Oz to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon?" (Um.)

Slow violence: We're finally having necessary conversations about our culture of violence. Minh-Ha T. Pham asks us to look at the gendered "slow violence" we do to women with the thin imperative.

If you build it: Karen Gregory turns a critical eye onto the philosophyTM of the "manifestation manifesto" of the new strain of The Secret-type works—including the "rich, happy, hot" worldview of one of Oprah's new favorites.

Bodily harm: Nahida perfectly fingers what my hesitation was about embracing Ukrainian feminist group FEMEN's radically nude protests: "Because while it may be inevitable to coincide sexuality and nudity, what FEMEN has done is conflate sexuality with sexiness."

Whatever happened to: What would you do if your aging mother started wearing Baby Jane-style makeup? Dear Prudence answers. (Confidential to Mom: I've focused on how your lifelong lack of interest served me as a kid, but now I'm seeing how well it might serve me in 20 years.)

On working it: Lily Burana has a glorious Salon essay on the power of "the glitter high": "There is a spirituality to every kind of theater, and what, I ask you, is more theatrical than a woman doing her best to work it?"

The wolf-whistle diet: Need a new weight-loss strategy? Try the hottest trend in sexist occupation of public space: street harassment!

Lip service: How much does the pseudo-debate over makeup use and self-esteem reveal about the cultural jitters we have about women explicitly trying to appeal to men?


  1. Thanks for the link, Autumn! I hope it sends readers to the comments of the post because they are the most fascinating part. Those responses display the diversity and often-unexpected reactions among women to this interesting topic.

    And thanks for the other links as well. You've given me reading material for the morning!

  2. Autumn wrote: (Confidential to Mom: I've focused on how your lifelong lack of interest served me as a kid, but now I'm seeing how well it might serve me in 20 years.)

    Good to know. There has never been a desire on my part to look young, so the over-application of makeup doesn't call to me. In my dotage, however, i find my eyes get lost in my face and that has me resorting to more makeup than i've worn in the last 30 years. Oddly, i have come to realize what the problem is, now that i must wear eyeglasses seeing myself without them makes my face look washed out. And this is true even with "frameless" glasses.

    So, re. the article. Tell mom to use a magnifying mirror! As we age, our eyesight goes. She may not realize how far from her lower lid her eyeliner is. I've stunned myself when looking at myself (usually hours later) to realize i've added much more mascara than needed. I just couldn't "see" it, so assumed the makeup was not as strong.

  3. Thank you for including me, Autumn!

    Yulia Tymoshenko isn't the first Ukrainian leader to suspect poisoning, though there doesn't seem to be much of an effect - Victor Yushchenko was disfigured when poisoned with dioxin in 2005, and has apparently recovered:

  4. Thanks for the link love! Also, I am bugging out over that piece from Threadbared. OMG. It's one of those moments where I'm like "I CANNOT BELIEVE I NEVER MADE THAT CONNECTION BEFORE." But it's true - when you think about a lot of the shit women and girls put themselves through because of their bodies/appearances, it's hard not to think of that as violence. In fact, I'd say violence is the perfect word to describe it.

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