Friday, February 1, 2013

Beauty Blogosphere 2.1.13

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

From Head...

Hat head: I don't enjoy wearing things on my head—scarves, hats, fascinators. I like the look of them, but they always slide around and leave me with a headache. So I was particularly intrigued by this account from a Jewish woman who wanted to cover her hair after marriage to fit in better with her community, but who found it a pain, quite literally—and the response of Maya Resnikoff (who does cover) is equally interesting.

...To Toe...
Babies underfoot: Can getting a pedicure induce labor? (Spoiler: No.)

...And Everything In Between:

Under cover: Fascinating Q&A with the designer of Stealth Wear, a counter-surveillance collection of clothes and accessories that subvert thermal-imaging technologies used in citizen surveillance. "I see a future where individuals are more in control of their privacy. And I see fashion as a vehicle for getting there. Conformity is what surveillance wants and fashion is anti-conformist. And I think the decision to conform or not happens on a personal level. The projects I’ve been working on act upon surveillance in a way that exploits a vulnerability and makes this vulnerability accessible through using something ordinary (hair, makeup, or fashion) in a non-conformist and legal way." (Big thanks to Nancy for the link.)

Work it: Not beauty-related directly, but some good solid career advice from the global chief marketing officer of Revlon.

Body lines: What is it like to be in art school when you're not allowed to draw or sculpt nudes, as has been the case for art students in Egypt since 1979?

On comfort: Always cold in your office during the summer? Blame The Man. 

Powder puffed: The Lingerie Football League—excuse me, the Legends Football League—has listened to its critics. With one tin ear. (Also from Fit and Feminist, which, if you're, well, a feminist interested in fitness, you should absolutely be reading: a fitness discussion group, and a Goodreads book club "covering everything from athlete memoirs to historical books to cultural criticism to fiction.")

On bravery: Ekaterina Sedia on something that can't be said often enough about eating disorders: It's not the same thing as wanting to be thin, and by framing it as a "battle" or "fight" in which one must be "brave," we equate illness with choice.

SWF seeking giant: Even adjusting for the general height difference between men and women, people still like to pair off in taller-man-shorter-lady combos. What gives? (Busted. I've never dated a man under 5'10"—something I just wrote off as "my type" until a friend pointed out that wasn't so far from "no fat chicks" dudes saying that was just "their type." The realization didn't change who I was attracted to, but it did make me question where my preference came from.)

What's that smell?: Maxim magazine is partnering with Omni Scents to create a new fragrance, featuring notes of leather, vetiver, and douchebag.

Me, in my head, upon donning a slip

Slipped my mind: If you, like me, are a lover of the slip, read this interview with lingerie blogger A Slip of a Girl now, and then put her blog on your radar. Many interesting bits from the interview, but this stood out to me because it made me think of a part of Rosie Molinary's book Beautiful You in which she encourages readers to use the item you've been saving for a special occasion (you know the one): "The reason we have so many of those lovely pieces left is because they were truly special-occasion items to be worn with a specific dress or when the lady of the house felt she deserved to wear it. We find many of them still wrapped in the original boxes and tissue paper because a bride might get a beautiful chemise or slip and then maybe put it away for a special day. And she never felt she was worthy of it. It breaks my heart, but that’s the perfect-condition stuff we have today."

Welcome to the dollhouse: Poignant, solemn portraits of adult women with their childhood dolls. (via Final Fashion)

Life is plastic: Human Barbie and Human Ken don't play Dream House well together, it turns out. (This story has to be a joke, right? Please?)

One color fits all: Brittany Julious rewinds her elegant prose to her junior year of high school—the first time she was handed a package of "skin tone" tights for dance team.

Pride and prejudice: How can we express pride in our bodies when we're on high alert for women who think they're "all that"?

Real men: There's been some talk on the blogosphere about the term "real" when applied to women's (imperfect) bodies—talk that made me rethink my own use of the term. (In ladymag lingo, "real" is used to describe any woman pictured in the magazine who isn't a model, no matter how "perfect" she looks, so I picked it up from there. It's problematic nonetheless.) But I hadn't thought about what it means when applied to men; luckily, Hugo has.

Phoenix rising: What does it take for a product or brand to have a community form around it? Cassandra at The Reluctant Femme looks at the question through the lens of perfume company Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. (Which, by the way, is totally awesome.)


  1. As always love your links.

    About dating taller men. I'm 5'10, and I've almost exclusively dated guys shorter than me. Not on purpose, mind you, but I always felt it was ridiculous not to date a guy just because he was shorter than me. But being completely honest, there have also been many times when I have wished them just a little bit taller.

  2. Like you, I love slips, especially vintage ones which have greater variety and decoration than modern examples. (Liz looks great in her photo.) I never realized the psychology behind women's use of them; that's a nice point to learn.

    The taller men issue brings up something I (and science) have been wrestling with for a decade: the extent to which our "choices" aren't really choices but hardwired preferences beyond conscious awareness. More and more studies are demonstrating this, particularly in reference to perceptions of beauty.

    1. I constantly wrestle with evo-psych type of stuff--and really, it's a neverending tournament, because who, at day's end, is to say why we ever do what we do?!

  3. Thanks for the link love! Listening with a tin ear - indeed!

    Regarding the man-woman height thingie...that was something I had to unlearn by dint of necessity. I mean, when you hit 6' as a fourteen-year-old girl, it really shrinks your pool of potential dating partners if you are only looking at guys who are taller than you. It took me about three years to start looking critically at this expectation, but once I did I've pretty much always had partners that are either a little shorter than me or just about the same height.

    Over time I've developed some pretty strong feelings on the subject. On one hand, I understand that we've become acclimated to the sight of taller man/shorter woman because of the fact that men on average tend to be taller than the average woman. However, I've also heard women say they want a taller man because they want to feel small and protected, which, okay, but protected from WHO? Why the need to feel vulnerable? Why is this considered sexy? And what about the fact that most women who experience violence do so at the hands of their partners aka the ones who are theoretically supposed to protect them? So yeah, I find it troubling because it's an extension of what I consider to be the fetishization of female weakness, in which physical vulnerability to harm is turned into sexiness, and considering that women are already having to deal with the fact that we live in a culture that has all but declared open season on our bodies, I think anything that encourages us to think of ourselves as weak and vulnerable should be treated with suspicion, not embraced.

    WHEW. I told you I had a lot to say on the subject!

    1. Caitlin, that is a fantastic point about protection and vulnerability. The height standard absolutely encourages that way of thinking. I was thinking of it in a way that was less about protection and more about body stuff--I no longer feel this way, but when I was a teenager I thought I liked tall guys because they made me feel small by comparison, a feeling I never had. But now that I'm writing that out, it's sort of the same thing. Why did I want to feel small? I've usually gone for slender, even skinny, men, so it wasn't just about not wanting to feel "fat" (which, of course, as a teenager I did every minute even though I wasn't overweight). It was about feeling--shrunken, I suppose. And why was THAT important? Why would anyone want to feel smaller? Thanks for prompting me to think this through a little more!

    2. Autumn and Caitlin --- for a lot of women, I think it IS more "feeling small" than "feeling protected," and that feeling small is part of being Right and Proper, that no matter your size and shape, you can become relatively small and dainty-looking when you stand next to a big hulking dude. Remember the post Autumn wrote about going to a party with her boyfriend and being pleased that they were... appearing publicly as the right kind of couple? Damn, I can't look it up with keywords like that...

      In Norah Vincent's "Self-Made Man" (which I enjoyed thoroughly), the author disguised herself as man for a year and a half... she was surprised how many women thought she was a fantastic guy and writer, but wouldn't date her because they wanted someone taller with broad shoulders. And, echoing Autumn's sentiment, is demanding broad shoulders any nobler than demanding a narrow waist or big breasts?

      Strangely, for many years I disliked seeing a woman with darker hair than her husband--- I would think "that redhead looks wrong with her black-haired husband." Isn't that weird? I can only blame Barbie and Ken, or the popularity of bleached hair for women.

    3. You know, it's interesting--over the years I've finally stopped wanting to be smaller as in truly smaller. (I still want to be thinner, which, ugh, but whatever.) The body ideal I now strive for isn't about daintiness; it's about supple muscularity. But I still frankly really like that my boyfriend is a good six inches taller than I am, and in some ways it does go to the idea of us looking good together. (Rebekah, the post you're mentioning is here, in case you wanted it: ) I like that our bodies look like they're from, as a friend of mine put it about her and her husband's fashion styles, "the same page of the catalogue." And the other night I realized I do like the feeling of being enveloped by him--not protected so much as surrounded, which is something I'm unable to do to him because of our size difference. I'd like to think that this would easily be shifted to something else were my fellow to magically shrink--that I'd love the feeling of wrapping him up, or something? And that he, conversely, would love the feeling of being sort of surrounded by me.

      (I'm now trying to think of dark-haired-women-light-haired-men pairings and now Brangelina are forefront in my mind...)

    4. "The body ideal I now strive for isn't about daintiness; it's about supple muscularity."

      Same here. But isn't that the cultural preference now? Did our views just shift as the nation's did?

      "I like that our bodies look like they're from, as a friend of mine put it about her and her husband's fashion styles, 'the same page of the catalogue.'

      Aww! That's sweet, and I know just what you mean. It reminds me of your post about "branding" as a couple. Note that I feel dorky quoting your own work to you, but at least I take your work seriously, eh?

      Being surrounded IS wonderful.

      I've never been bugged by Brangelina's coloring, so maybe Barbie and Ken have loosened their death grip on my aesthetic preferences.

    5. >Same here. But isn't that the cultural preference now? Did our views just shift as the nation's did?<

      Oof! It's funny, I remember having a half-assed argument with an ex about whether or not Britney Spears' muscularity (this was, say, 2002) represented a positive shift for women's body image. And *I* was the one arguing that it might do just that, because muscularity is something one can *do*--through healthy means at that--as opposed to waifishness. But years later, I'm forced to admit that he was right: Any body image standard is going to be unrealistic for most people. (It just so happens that I develop visible muscle easily, so perhaps that was why I uncharacteristically took that tack back then...)