Friday, May 31, 2013

Beauty Blogosphere 5.31.13

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

From Head...

Dry heat: Among the many delightful morsels in Meli's history of the hair dryer: "That annoying cut-off switch on your modern blow dryer? It keeps electrocutions from hair dryers to about four a year, down from the hundreds before safety switches were invented and required." Still annoyed by it. But thankful!

...To Toe...
Happy June!: In honor of the inaugural blisters ushered in by flip-flop weather, some tips on avoiding blisters, including the one time socks with sandals is a good idea.

...And Everything In Between:
Rinse and repeat:
Meet the new Procter & Gamble CEO, A.G. Lafley! His résumé includes a nine-year stint as...Procter & Gamble CEO. 

Holy waters: Using religion as a cosmetics selling point: kosher or not-kosher?

Urban style: There's plenty to be said about the state mandating that women cover themselves, but one thing that can't be said about it is that it keeps Iranian women from kicking ass at parkour.

Wax on, wax off: "[P]ubic hair removal injuries increased fivefold between 2002 and 2010." This begs the question of what those injuries might be, you say? Why, there's a list. (Thanks for the link, Nancy!)

"You are less beautiful than you think": Scientific American offers another counterpoint to that damn Dove ad—one I'm pleased to read, though I think the holistic truth of the whole "do women like the way they look?" question is far more complicated.

Beauty myths: After 10 years in ladymags, it's hard to show me a "beauty myth"—as in beauty product myth—that I haven't read already. But this piece has a couple of things I haven't heard before, like how some "oil-free" products actually contain oils.

Whiter shade of pale: Pale skin is in! For, like, a minute. I really don't think that tans will ever truly go out of fashion, though the importance of the tan (and the degree it's "acceptable" to darken) waxes and wanes over time. It's nice enough to read that Downton Abbey and Mad Men are helping (white) folks embrace a porcelain pallor, but trust me: Next year, if not sooner, you'll see copy about how a "healthy glow" is in.

"I am not the target market": When personal fitness coach Rachel Cosgrove—who stresses strength training for women, not lots of reps with stupid little weights—released her most recent book, Drop Two Sizes, plenty of her fans were dismayed by what they saw as catering to the thin imperative. But as so often happens with women's media—I saw this all.the.time at ladymags—it's not that the idea is lost, it's that it gets buried in the attempt to hook readers by leveraging what you think they think they want. Cosgrove's explanation to her readers is intriguing, and leads to the moral: You've got to go to where the audience is. (via Caitlin)

Trolled: "Don't feed the trolls" is an oft-heard admonition (one I usually follow myself) 'round the internets—particularly when it comes to trolls who bait women by arguing that ladies should all look like Barbie. Skepchick offers a solid argument in favor of feeding that variety of misogynist troll a fact-biscuit in the form of, "No, that's not always true."

Earthly concerns: This is what it's like to shave. In space.

Still from Making Soap, Orestes de la Paz, 2013

Fight Club: Yes, artist Orestes de la Paz made soap out of his own fat. It's gimmicky enough to be a thing for that alone; taken in totality it's a dark look at the beauty industry (the video, not for the faint of heart, shows de la Paz's liposuction surgery as well as his rendering process).

En pointe: The long history of connection between ballet and fashion. Fact: Coco Chanel was the first designer to come up with costumes for the ballet, 1924's Le Train Bleu.

Sticky fingers: Not specifically about beauty, but given that cosmetics are consistently among the top targets for shoplifting, this piece about the association between women and shoplifting is relevant—and fascinating.

Lady of the ring: Cassie gives a history—and her history—of ring-wearing, spurred not by a ring with significance, but rather by the first non-emotionally-significant ring she's ever worn, despite never having been married: "The matrimonial ideal of rings as a symbol of commitment was so deeply engrained I still acted like these rings were more or less engagement rings."

Nature's child: Kate skewers the idea of "natural beauty," and a particularly sharp part of her analysis here is her latching it to failure—for what could feel like a greater "failure" than the failure to magically possess something that's supposed to be natural?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Beauty Blogosphere 5.24.13

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

From Head...
Lashing out: Finally, the beauty industry has listened to what the common woman has been saying for ages: Why are we forced to use those hulking mascara wands made for our upper lashes on our delicate, Thumbelina-like bottom lashes? Never fear! Bottom lash mascara wands are here! (Thanks for the link/absurdity, Lindsay.)

...To Toe...
You ask, Yahoo answers:
"Could I ask her to make the pedicure tickle as much as possible?"

...And Everything In Between:

As of press time, P&G was up .666 percent on the NYSE.

The devil wears Pantene: Procter & Gamble renews its allegiance to Beezlebub. New board members include Lucifer, Angel of Light, King of Babylon, Son of Perdition, Satan, Great Dragon, Author of All Sin, Enemy of Righteousness, and some dude named Rick.

Wait wait wait: Ted Nugent's brother was former CEO of Revlon?

Congressional makeovers: The Professional Beauty Association had its annual lobbying day on Capitol Hill, in part to advocate for an act that would give salon owners a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on taxes they pay on employee tips, which the restaurant industry has enjoyed for years.

Beauty schooled: Transitioning into a new career can be difficult for anyone—especially for sex workers, and especially for sex workers who were working against their will. Enter this partnership between an activist and a hairdresser to provide job training for workers exiting the sex trade. (Throat-lump moment for when some of the students threw a "wedding" for the hairdresser and his husband upon learning that, at the time, the pair was unable to legally wed in their home state.)

Seeing red: The "lipstick index" holds true—sorta—during this period of the sluggish Chinese economy. (The "sorta" is unsurprising, given that the damn thing doesn't really exist.)

Factor this: Some brilliant bits of cosmetics history were recently discovered in a California garage, of all places. When the daughter of a facilities manager of Max Factor's former studio asked a friend for help in clearing out her garage, she had no idea they'd find boxes filled with relics of 1920s Hollywood, including a piece of Factor's infamous "Beauty Calibrator." (via Makeup Museum)

No, you're so pretty: One of the greatest things about the growing number of professionally funny ladies out there is that "girl stuff" gets its due in the comic eye, but without the nasty "can't you take a joke?" edge that's just become tiresome by this point. Case in point: Amy Schumer's sketch on how women take compliments. (It's backed up by science, folks!) Thanks to Lacy of ModernSauce and my agent, Brandi Bowles, for the link.

Laugh/riot: Speacking of women in comedy, which is worse: the whole "male comics deal with female hecklers by wishing rape upon them" scenario, or this infuriating "female comic ignore male hecklers chanting 'Show us your tits' and is fired as a result" scenario? Can we call a draw?

$aving tip: You heard it from Suze Orman: Quit with the manicures and beef up the 401(k). My verdict: Just paint 'em yourself, darling! (Okay, fine, so I'm linking to this primarily so I have an excuse to link to her amazing It Gets Better video.)

Screened: In New York, at least, summer weather has arrived! So as Kelley Hoffman puts it at the Sephora blog, "I'm as devoted to wearing sunscreen as I am to brushing my teeth." Which, we hope, is pretty damn devoted.

Tall tale: An old post, but a good one: Why one woman born with achondroplasia dwarfism chose to undergo limb-lengthening surgeries.

And here is where I half-assedly defend Kim Kardashian: Nikki Sixx, arbiter of crisis etiquette, snarled at Kim Kardashian for promoting her bronzing product during the height of the catastrophes in Oklahoma. (Am I the only one who feels really callow saying in my public capacity how horrible tragedy X is when it has nothing to do with that public capacity? Of course I feel for Oklahomans; isn't that how humans work? We feel empathy for one another? I just feel like making some statement about it does exactly squat unless I feel like I can illuminate some aspect of it because of my perspective. Certainly I'm not about to take my cues on collective grief from Kim Kardashian, you know? I get why other bloggers feel otherwise, but I'm not about to think less of Kim Kardashian for not tweeting her sorrow. Ugh. Pointing fingers from your activist armchair? Please.)

Charmed, I'm sure: Fairly certain the writer of this piece on why men don't have charm anymore has never met a person who actually has charm, which he describes as something only the self-aware can have. In fact, I've found that it's often people who don't quite get that they're charming who have the most of the stuff, but maybe I just don't know charm from my elbow.

Glamour shot: Just preordered Virginia Postrel's The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion at Amazon, which I'm tremendously excited for—an examination of how glamour is actually conjured. It's not out until November 5, but won't it be a lovely surprise when it arrives?

Occupy Barbie: Yes, the Barbie Dream House exists in real life, and yes, you can go visit it. Will you get excited about the cool interactive features and virtual makeup-sampling booths, or will you join the East German (!) communists and protest the thing?

All made up: Cristen Conger takes that whole "But ladies, you don't need to wear makeup!" idea and pokes enough holes in it that I'm now using it as a watering can.

Black is the new black: My transcriptionist pointed out the other day how bizarre it is that the classic "sexy" dress is the same color as funeralwear—and the next day, Worn Through collates a collection of articles on the social role of black clothing. Is it in the air?

Common scents: I'm a fan of Demeter fragrances, but admit I winced a little at their fundraising scent for the Boston First Responders Fund. It's fantastic that 75% of the sale is donated to the fund, but even though Demeter takes pains to say that the notes of smoke and rubber in the fragrance are meant to honor the daily work of firefighters, not as a reminder of the bombing, it still strikes me as...tone-deaf, I suppose? Especially given that this is a company that really understands the connection between scent and experience. One of the most unsettling things about living in New York after 9/11 was the lingering scent in the city air from the disaster, which was terrible in the deepest sense of the word. Am I being oversensitive about this? (I might be.)

I, androgyne: Zoe Saldana's use of the word androgynous in her cover-story interview with Allure makes it spike in lookups at 

Sabbath Sharpie: Perhaps inspired by the recent case of an Orthodox Jewish woman suing Lancôme over the failure of its "24-hour" foundation to last 24 hours (applying makeup is considered "creative work," which is forbidden on the Sabbath), the Daily Mail takes a look at tricks women have been using to stay made up for the duration of the Sabbath without bending guidelines. I'll cop to being half-tempted to try Sharpie as eyeliner (but only half, I swear), and also to being intrigued by this peculiar clash of modern life and ancient law, but there's also this sort of "check out the weird Jewish freaks!" angle going on here. Or am I just imagining that because the Daily Mail has such a long, proud history of trolling all of us?

"The espresso commercial that is your life": Read this piece, if for no other reason than item #1 (though all seven are spot-on): How men who think catcalls are compliments think the story goes, vs. how it actually goes. As they say, it's funny 'cause it's true.

I've made a huge mistake: If you, like me, are currently strategizing how best to binge-watch new Arrested Development episodes on Netflix this weekend, check out The Closet Feminist's fashion lessons to be learned from the show. #1 involves Never-Nudes, natch.

Sweating modesty: As someone who wears close-fitting clothes to the gym—quite a change from when I first started working out and wore baggy clothes, in part because that's what I had and in part because I didn't want anyone to see what my body actually looked like—I was intrigued by this consideration on modesty from a gymgoer who tends to wear "little more than underwear."

Click: With everyone walking around with a camera on them at all times, the relationship between photography and body image begs more exploring than ever.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Do Lipstick Feminists Actually Exist?


I’ve written five beginnings to what I intended to be a mini treatise on “lipstick feminism,” but I keep running into the same problem: It doesn't seem to actually exist. Sure, there’s a handful of Twitter accounts with “lipstick feminist” in the handle or description (some of which seem fab); there’s the odd blog with the same, or the stray essay about Why Lipstick Feminism Is Fine. But we’re talking about single-digit numbers in each medium here, folks. And as for offline lipstick feminists? I have yet to meet a single one. 

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’ve met plenty of feminists who wear lipstick. (It will probably not shock you to learn that this blogger indeed is one of them, both literally—lipstick corollary, yo!—and figuratively, as in, duh, look at this blog.) In fact, when I took a quick Twitter survey the other day, that was the number-one response I got: I’m a feminist, and I wear lipstick, but I’m not a lipstick feminist—followed by, I’m not exactly sure what that is.

Lipstick feminism, as I’ve seen it used (in accord with that highly reliable source of all wisdom, Wikipedia), is the idea that conventionally feminine hallmarks—lipstick and other cosmetics, heels, perhaps suggestive dress—can be a source of power for women, not simply a sign of one’s obedience to patriarchal requests. It’s somewhat related to the idea of “erotic capital” in that it seeks to render traditional signals of female sexuality as legitimate routes to authority—but feminism or some semblance of it, not money and other forms of capital, is the goal.

This is an intentionally friendly definition of lipstick feminism—in fact, if this description were what people were actually referring to when they use the term, I might on occasion identify myself by it (even as I’m skeptical of the idea that using one’s sexuality is a legitimate route to authority. It might be effective sometimes, sure, but it’s forever dependent on the mercy of people with actual power). But here’s the thing: Most times I’ve read or heard the words “lipstick feminist,” derision has been the intent. Sometimes it’s feminists explaining why the concept is bollocks; sometimes it’s from people using it to dismiss feminism wholesale. In other words, it’s a word we use to describe other people, not ourselves.

Not that this is restricted to lipstick feminism. Fact is, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard a feminist qualify her feminism with any sort of label, even labels that were established by feminists themselves. Third-wave and second-wave are possible exceptions here, but not “official” schools of thought, even if any individual feminist generally adheres to one. And the reason we don’t tend to sort ourselves out by neat labels is that most of us believe a whole lotta things. I believe that legislative reform can be beneficial to women; I believe that men and women have some essential differences beyond mere biology; I believe gender oppression is linked to capitalism. So am I a liberal feminist, a cultural feminist, or a Marxist feminist—or am I just a feminist with a multifaceted approach to her politics, and indeed her life?

Yet you’ll notice that these various schools of feminist thought—which I’m guessing some women do stick to pretty strictly and would use to define themselves, though again, I can’t think of more than a couple of times that I’ve heard someone identify herself as an “[insert school of thought] feminist”—are named by their organizing approach and systems, not by their specific beliefs. That is, I can’t imagine anyone saying, “I’m a government-subsidized child care feminist” or “I’m a sexual violence feminist,” though both of these things fall under a feminist umbrella.

So enter “lipstick feminism”—hell, enter “pro-sex feminism,” which has always irked me because it implies that there are anti-sex feminists, and you’ve got to get pretty deep into an overly literal interpretation of certain strains of radical feminism before you’re going to find any of those. ("We so horny!") It reduces a concept that in some ways is simple (women = people!) and makes it simplistic, boiling down one of the most influential movements of the 20th century and putting a swivel cap on it. It trivializes feminism—hell, it even trivializes the questions implied by the term itself (can conscious exploitation of one’s own sexuality be a feminist act in some circumstances?). Like “pro-sex feminist,” it implies that there are feminists who are against lipstick, playing into that whole “feminists are ugly hairy-legged lesbians” stereotype that I thought we’d retired eons ago. And speaking of lesbians, isn’t the term “lipstick feminist” linguistically similar to the more established term “lipstick lesbian,” thus sapphically binding the two together in the listener’s mind?

And furthermore! Gah, I went and did what I said I wasn’t going to do: I’ve spent all this energy on what I’m pretty sure is a straw feminist.

But here’s the thing: Above all else, I’ve always believed that feminism—or any kind of social movement—takes all types. We need the Planned Parenthood canvassers I avoid on the street; we need the driven, unswayable voices you might describe as, yes, strident; we need nice-girl feminists who take pride in gently educating others about feminism; we need people whose response to teach me is don’t make me do your work for you. We need men; we need women-only spaces; we need people who reject a gender binary; we need people who use the gender binary to articulate the idea of a female essence and what that might mean. We need the marches and petitions; we need the quiet, life-changing transformations that take place in families over generations. We need the wearers of “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like,” and we need the “I’m not a feminist buts” too.

Which means we just might need lipstick feminists. So here’s what I’m wondering: Do you describe yourself as a lipstick feminist? If so, do you define it similarly to how I’ve defined it here, or do you have a different interpretation of the term? If you don’t call yourself a lipstick feminist: Do you think the term should be reclaimed? Is the label feminist-bait or is it a handy way of making the point that feminism needn’t be incompatible with beauty work?

(Thanks to Chelsea “Dipstick Feminist” Summers, Elisa “Pole Dancing Feminist” Gabbert, Rosalind Jana, Lacy “Eyeliner Feminist” of ModernSauce, Alyssa Harad, Rachel Hills, Nicole “Doc Martens Feminist” Kristal, Lily “Googling How to Get Red Wine Stain Off My Lips Feminist” Benson, Heli Lähteelä-Tabone, Cassandra Goodwin, and “Underwire Feminist” Bubbles for a set of thought-provoking and oft-hilarious answers to my Twitter inquiry on the matter.)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Beauty Blogosphere 5.17.13

Congratulations to commenter #2, Cynthia, winner of last week's giveaway of Kjerstin Gruys' Mirror Mirror Off the Wall: How I Learned to Love My Body by Not Looking at It for a Year! Thanks to all who entered.

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

From Head...
Getting lippy: Love this roundup of lipstick trivia, culled from our race's 5,000 years with the stuff. My personal favorite: Cleopatra followed the "lipstick corollary." (Which, btw, hasn't failed me yet.)

...To Toe...
Strays: The best essay about socks you'll ever read.

...And Everything In Between:
Boxed in: "Beauty box" services like Birchbox are proving to be in it for the long-term in North America and Europe. Is it sustainable in markets with developing internet infrastructure and a lower per capita income?

Oh, the irony: What does the toxicity-conscious makeup consumer in China do? Get products manufactured in the safety-aware United States, as some lipsticks manufactured in China carry above 20 ppm of lead. But joke's on them! 

Well duh: Women don't like women who "fat talk." Ladies! If you're still using this shit as bonding talk, may I suggest you move on to compliments?

Going viral: I've wondered this before, but being a "dirty girl" (going on three years without face-washing!) have decided naaaah, but now I have proof(ish): Yes, it's probably okay to keep using your beauty products after you've gotten sick, but don't share 'em.

Hard data: What did a woman working in the gaming industry do when she tired of her CEO's fondness for a blown-up image of a scantily clad female character? Why, put a dick on it! Meet Bro-sie the Riveter.

Spring cleaning: One in five beauty products on women's shelves are never opened—but are kept anyway, "just in case." That seemed high to me until I went into my own bathroom cabinet and found four unopened products, two of which I've had for more than a year, and indeed have survived the massive clearance I did a year and a half ago. Ahem.

New York state of mind: Samantha Escobar writes on something I've quietly discussed among fellow New Yorkers but have never seen in print: New York, home of "the beautiful people," can sometimes make you feel anything but beautiful. As was pointed out in Sex and the City, anywhere else in the country except L.A. and maybe Miami, "models" are a generic concept found on magazine pages. Here, they're literally neighbors. My advice? It's a two-parter: 1) Remember that plenty of "the beautiful people" are beautiful because it's their job to be so. Not just models or others in the entertainment industry, but art gallery staffers, saleswomen, chic restaurant hostesses, etc.—the "pretty people jobs" referred to in the most recent season of Girls. As photographer Sophie Elgort put it when I asked her what it was like to be working with models all the time, "Who's paying you the money to be a size 0?" Nobody, right? Then it's not your job. Don't treat it as such. 2) Don't underestimate the polish you pick up in New York. I'll never be beautifully styled or perfectly put-together, but when I look at pictures of myself from before moving to New York, I see that while I might not be any "prettier" now, by being surrounded by stylish New Yorkers, I've picked up a few things here and there that I might not have elsewhere. And if someone as fashion-duh as myself is picking up on this stuff without particularly trying, anyone can.

Photo/manipulation: A UK magazine is swearing off unrealistic photo enhancement for all future covers. Unsurprised that the magazine isn't a strictly consumer magazine but rather a magazine (with editorial content) published by Boots, a beauty retailer, i.e. wading in waters of the advertorial. Ride on the goodwill while you can, Boots! See also: Katie J.M. Baker's "Here's Why 'Real Beauty' Advertising Campaigns Are Garbage."

Weighty matter: Allure's cover line for their feature on Zoe Saldana—"115 Pounds of Grit and Heartache"—has some readers pissed off, and the responses to the magazine's call-out on the matter are worth reading. My two cents: I never like numbers, because I know my own response is to compare them to my own, which, ugh. That said, I like the tone here. It's normalizing the use of weight in a different context; you'd most often hear weight mentioned in this manner about a burly man, and this puts a different spin on it. Would I have preferred they use that tactic for a celebrity who weighs, say, 160 pounds? Sure. But I don't think it's inappropriate here.

Coming out: Two public figures came out this week as having suffered from eating disorders in the past, and each case is interesting in its own way: Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi doesn't get into his diagnosis but reveals that the pressure to be thin in the fashion industry—which he cops to having to contributed to—led him to become unhealthily thin in the past. I'm unsure if the eating disorder part is unspoken or if he's confusing low body weight with EDs; they're not interchangeable. But given how few men are "out" as having EDs, I'm just glad to see Mizrahi putting it out there. The more we understand that men get eating disorders, the more we'll understand the true nature of these illnesses. And NYC mayoral candidate Christine Quinn also "came out," and her take on it makes it clear to me that she's done the hard work. She connects it to family stress, to other addictions (she's been in alcohol recovery for 26 years), and to grief. Perhaps most intriguing is her offhand comment when asked if she made the revelation in order to "soften" her rather hard-nosed image: "I don't know that being a bulimic or an alcoholic makes that image that much softer." I do sometimes worry that the parade of female celebrities being "out" about their EDs glamorizes a terrifically unglamorous disease, and Quinn's acknowledgement that bulimia is, well, violent is refreshing.

Hey baby: Speaking of men and eating disorders, a fascinating new study is showing—for men—a connection between being on the receiving end of sexual harassment and engaging in symptoms of bulimia. As the physics maxim goes: Observation (surely a component of sexual harassment) changes that which is being observed. I just hate that it's taking men's mental health to illustrate this so clearly.

Thinspew: Most of the stuff I've read about "thinspo" comes from bloggers who are against it. That's by choice (I'm against it too and have no interest in surrounding myself with "lose weight" messages), but what that means is that I rarely hear voices that engage in thinspo. Enter this Q&A with a 17-year-old blogger who runs the popular "Reasons to Lose Weight" Tumblr. She's got some interesting stuff to say, but because of (her youth? her mind-set?) she's making a sharp division between losing weight for "healthy" reasons and losing weight for "unhealthy" reasons—when in truth I suspect plenty of people who can spout a lengthy list of healthy reasons for losing weight have simply learned that it's an acceptable way to talk about losing weight.

Earthly Vanity and Divine Salvation, Hans Memling, c. 1485

Moral panic: You don't (usually) see people claiming fashion is the devil's work anymore; instead, you see it being written off as frivolous. Not a surprise, considering that, as Danielle writes, "The adoption of forms of fashion, occasionally to extremes, is a social stepping stone for the disenfranchised."

Stealing candy from a baby: How to steal dozens of items from Sephora and (almost) get away with it? Put 'em in a stroller and hand it off to your teenage daughter.

Beauty myth 2.0: How would The Beauty Myth read differently if it were written today instead of in 1991? Phoebe has a few thoughts on the question sprinkled throughout her two-part notes on her first-time reading of the book. (Word up, yo: That's one of the questions I'll be looking at in my own book, particularly in regards to how the internet has changed the way we take in imagery.)

Amanda Bynes, selfie heroine: "[S]elfies are never just a matter of posing and pointing and clicking. You have to take a series of photos, and examine each one, in order to find the one that represents you. You have to be intimately aware of yourself in order to succeed at selfies." Tangentially related: "The Filter Future," worth a read if you're interested in technology and photography.

Diversified: Q&A with Ying Chu, the new beauty director at Glamour magazine, on the increasing diversity of beauty editors at women's magazines. I haven't worked in women's magazines steadily for a couple of years now, but when I was there I indeed saw a decent number of women of color behind-the-scenes—and a lack of authentic translation of that diversity onto the page. Models of color might be pictured, but I remember questioning why we were using Halle Berry as an example of "dark skin," when in fact she's quite light-skinned, and being told that it was "good enough" as is. Here's to hoping things truly are changing, and that beauty advice for women of color isn't relegated to the "other" column forever.

Office of Pubic Health: Why does Groupon offer Brazilian bikini waxes and cellulite reduction under its "health" category?

Trust her: Yes, you can wear that. Yes, you; yes, that.

Iron-jawed kittens: Not beauty-related in the least. But c'mon, kitten anti-suffrage postcards? (Actually, I'm pretty sure that if we were rallying for women's rights to vote today, some of these would be the pro-suffrage cards, but maybe that's why I'm not in PR.)

Tips tips tips: I can't envision a world in which I'd swab Q-tips with various colors of eyeshadow so I wouldn't have to pack all my shades when going on vacation. But maybe you can! And the other two tips are downright smart. (And oh fine, since I'm passing on beauty tips, check out Po Zimmerman's "one-night stand" beauty tips, gleaned from waking up at apartments of various lady loves.)

Modesty panel: Fantastic roundup of thoughts on modesty from bra bloggers, who, by nature of their topic, know a thing or two about the subject. All are worth a read, particularly: "We have a great selection of minimizers!" from That Bra Does Not Fit Her; growing up busty in a home-schooling community where "modesty" was among frequent teachings, from Boosaurus; the assumptions people make between cleavage and "self-respect" from Bras and Body Image; the intersection between modesty and breast implants, from By Baby's Rules; and modesty during bra fittings, from Sophisticated Pair.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Invited Post: Mother's Day

What, y'all don't put your mother to work on Mother's Day by asking her for 1,000 words on beauty, stat? Enjoy today's guest post from Deborah Whitefield, my mother.

"When my hair finally turns gray, my first inclination will be
to color it some color unknown to my 16-year-old self."
Or: How my mother will wind up with kelly green hair circa 2023.

Remember those quizzes in magazines which will reveal something about yourself when you tally your answers? Some were about your personality type, some about what type of boys will like you (or vice versa), and so on. I wonder if a quiz couldn’t be created for how we modify our looks. For instance, “What Does Your Head Tell the World?” Questions would ask readers about where they apply makeup (outlining eyes and lips? lips only? foundation?), what they apply to their hair (shampoo? coloring? braids?), extra additions (piercing, tattoo), and the like. The results would indicate how much readers were shouting to the world, “Look at Me!” For, after all, isn’t that basically what alterations to our faces are saying? “Look at Me—I’m your normal woman, who will blend in.” Or, “Hey, Look at Me—I’m not taking any crap from anyone and my chartreuse blush tells you that!” Or, “Yes, I AM a Metalhead!”

At age 16 I began noticing old women with gray hair. As I grew up familiar with both my grandmothers, I knew what naturally gray hair looked like—they were not dyeing their hair gray to maintain the same gray color throughout. Yet in 1966, old women were donning uniformly gray-white hair. And gloriously gray—a certain sheen to it which my grandmother’s hair never had. Salon hair, no doubt. The next year I began seeing that some of those women opted to add a blue rinse to their gray. Odd and ethereal, I thought, but it didn’t look outrageous. Then, one day at a mall, I saw a woman with a pink rinse over her gray hair and I laughed out loud. As I was with a friend, I suspect I made quite a to-do over it. In retrospect I can only hope I wasn’t so loud that the woman heard me. Yet, I “needed" her to know her color selection was inappropriate and that only teenagers had the “right” to express their individuality. I didn’t even want to grant that woman the right to take the “Look at Me” quiz. The End. 

Believe me, as enlightening as the ’60s became, we were sort of unenlightened simultaneously, not initially cushioning our societal critiques with kindness or affirmations. While it wasn’t only teens who were questioning authority, which included fashion and styling standards, we were in the vanguard—we thought. Hearing my mother say, “The kids are right, the war is wrong,” was one thing; changing one’s opinion isn’t necessarily easy, but doing so allowed for subtleties that were risk-free compared to looking like you questioned authority. It was another thing entirely to see a woman of “a certain age” sporting light pink hair. Next thing you knew, old women would be letting their hair grow long and straight! (Plus, the idea that mature women could drive anything countercultural seemed amiss to me—but not necessarily to counterculture icons. Some women began to don rimless eyeglasses around age 50, when their eyesight began to change. We called them “Granny glasses” then. You’d call them “John Lennon glasses” now.)

Between that year and now I’ve seen a proliferation of tattoos and pierced face parts, which have been taken in stride much better than that pink rinse on one old woman. Why? I suspect I came to see the yearning for expression of individuality in the piercings, tattoos, and even the simple choice of color for eyelids. Not a scream of “Look at Me!” but a way to state to others that this person was not your ordinary seeker of perfected beauty. 

To further the idea of quizzes, how about a quiz for those who look at other people and “rate” them, for lack of a better term? After answering questions, readers would learn how judgmental they are. Questions would include how one reacts when s/he sees a clerk with a nose stud, nose ring, runny nose. (Ok, not that last one.) How about a facial tattoo? Do you reject their purchasing advice? Think, “She’d be pretty if she didn’t…”, as I recently heard my 86-year-old mother-in-law say about another diner in the restaurant?

As this blog notes, beauty is as much about the Perceiver as the Perceived. When I see a 63-year-old woman today who has put on colored eye shadow and eyeliner under her eyes, I wonder what she is trying to prove or what is wrong with her life. This is much the way I looked at one of my grandmothers, who powdered her face several times a day. To my teenage eyes, it only increased the depth of her cheek wrinkles, making her look as though she was trying to capture something she’d clearly lost. Yes, I was that awful—but I was young. I took in her beauty rites as a teenager would, not as one of her peers might, and certainly not as she herself did. If a woman doesn’t apply makeup, I presume either allergies or a back-to-nature personality, since that’s part of the reason I never wore much of the stuff. And too much makeup? Hooker! Man wearing makeup? I waffle on this one—“It’s about time!” or “Why would you want to do that when you don’t ‘have’ to?” I saw my first pierced woman-on-the-street when I was in my mid-40s. My reaction was to want one. Were it not for my allergy to metal, I’d have a small, fine gold hoop on my left eyebrow. And I’d get a tongue stud, which I like seeing when someone laughs. 

There are two things I know on this Mother’s Day weekend. The first, is that when my hair finally turns gray, my first inclination will be to color it some color unknown to my 16-year-old self. Maybe a kelly green. And maybe even spikes—which, while of the ’80s, have long been a style of interest to me. I hope I have that kind of nerve.

The second thing I know is that on the day my daughter was born, I looked at her hands and told her about the things she could do with them. Speak sign language, play piano, applaud, write letters, build tables, climb trees, shake hands, give massages, bake, swim, dress herself, dig. One thing I am sure I did not tell her she could do was to apply makeup. Is there a quiz for this?

Mother and daughter, Manhattanhenge 2010.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Beauty Blogosphere 5.8.13

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

Gentlemen didn't always prefer blondes.

From Head...

"Let me live it as a blonde": Loved this podcast looking at the origins of hair-color stereotyping—including a question I've had for some time about why "gingers" are harassed in some regions. 

...To Toe...
Fishy business: 
Live in California? No fish pedicures for you!

...And Everything In Between:
"Faded significantly": 
Lancome is being sued for false advertising, given that its "24-hour" foundation doesn't actually last 24 hours. (And talk about what, for me, is a buried lede: Applying makeup is considered "creative work" and therefore forbidden on the Sabbath.)

Avon's Eire: Avon pulled out of Ireland a couple of weeks ago in a cost-cutting measure—much to the surprise of the hundreds of representatives in the country.

P&G rundown: Five things to be learned from Procter & Gamble's annual report, including the head-scratcher that beauty is actually the company's least successful division—and grooming, i.e. manstuff, is its most lucrative. Plus, their advertising isn't as effective as it once was (perhaps that's why they've extended payment deadlines to their ad agencies by 30 days?).

Animal hypocrisy: A number of companies that have previously marketed themselves as animal-friendly (i.e. not testing on animals) have quietly changed their policies in order to sell in China, where animal testing is required. Just companies like Estee Lauder, Avon, and Mary Kay, no big deal.

Y not?: The Grand Narrative, as always, manages to elucidate aspects of American culture while examining contemporary Korean culture. This time: How the "Y-line" branding trend in South Korea (that's Y-line as in your crotch, ladies) pathologizes utterly normal parts of women's bodies, à la the invention of "figure flaws" like being anything other than a slim hourglass.

Tragedy at Rana Plaza: One of the United States' deadliest industrial disasters, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, was instrumental in strengthening garment workers' unions. Could the global community apply the same lesson of workers' rights to the disaster in Bangladesh? And more directly, could American boycotts pressure Bangladesh to clean up the national record on worker freedoms to organize?

On SPF and brown skin: This essay from A. Sandosharaj is, in a word, splendid. In fact, I'll call it a must-read. "Yes, Spike Lee and Angela Davis made me feel valued because I saw myself through a historical lens, one that exposed norms I had understood as universal. But I also felt beautiful because on the conventional scale—one that often privileges Western, patriarchal preferences—my location on the grand gradation had moved. Thinner, no glasses. From this standpoint it was easier to condemn. It’s always easier to denounce a club that will have you as a member, isn’t it?" (via Sally)

Burn: With the summer approaching, it wouldn't hurt to keep in mind that products that don't cause an allergic reaction in the winter might suddenly become irritating in the summer because of sun exposure and heightened perspiration.

No gray ladies: The cure for gray hair is coming. No, really. And ten bucks says we'll soon be seeing a wave of hair-dye ads focusing on the "isn't it fun to dye your hair?!" angle of hair coloring to make up for lost sales.

Updo of the gods: I'm pretty sure I'm missing the point of this awesome New Yorker bit on "My Wedding Hair" when I say this, but I sorta really want the hairstyle described within. "Kind of a homesteader vibe?... But, like, sexy."

5 o'clock shadow: This study confirms what plenty of us straight ladies coulda told you for free: Stubble is sexy. 

One day my log will have something to say about this.

Teevee beauties: Lots going on in TV/beautyland: Downton Abbey is licensing, among other items, beauty products. (Had this news come out during season 1, I'd have been thrilled; after the BS that was season 3, this blogger could care less.) Caitlin Constantine asks why we're asked to accept frail-ish women as action heroines, and celebrates the Game of Thrones character who defies the norm (and what did ever happen to Linda Hamilton arms?). And in other beauty-television news, here's how to "Get the Look: Log Lady." (Who's been to the Twin Peaks Festival? I've been to the Twin Peaks Festival.)

Underwear week 2013: Nancy Friedman—whose journeying queries into brand naming are the perfect mix of hilarity and insight—embarks upon her second triennial Underwear Week, looking at words like cheekini and iffy branding strategies like MILF: Mom I'd Love to Fit.

Sew there: I was super-excited to see Venusian Glow's make-your-own-bra tutorial (excited on a, like, theoretical level, not a practical one, since I'm the one who stills "hems" things with safety pins)—and then it turns out there's a whole new book on the subject, from custom bra fitter Orange Lingerie. (Reviewed here, positively, by Hourglassy.)

Speaking of brassieres: June of Braless in Brasil has been doing some impressive work with the numbers culled from her underbust survey—fill in your measurements here to help her get over 1,000 responses so that the findings will have even more weight backing them up.

The last fashion consultation: Want to end your life—and look fabulous doing it? Hire Attractive Corpse to help you plan a beautiful death. (I'll take my humor pitch-black, thanks.)

Gay old time: I don't normally link to reviews, but when it's a review of Christopher Street—a fragrance inspired by the history and activism of what was once the epicenter of gay culture (and that uses the phrase "shatter traditional notions of gender" in its official statement)—how could I not?

Namaste: Melanie Klein lays out how yoga—a haven from judgment, a practice of being in the now—has attracted another component: the myth of "yoga body." "In the same way there is no such thing as a perfect asana, there’s no such thing as a perfect ass because we’re all individuals. I’d like to preserve the unique face of yoga before she is unrecognizable."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mirror Mirror Challenge—and Giveaway

I'm terrifically excited for Kjerstin Gruys' literary debut, Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall: How I Learned to Love My Body After Not Looking at It for a Year—which, for the record, is fantastic (and which you have a chance to win; scroll down)—so when she did a shoutout for bloggers to follow in her footsteps and go a day without looking in the mirror, of course I wanted to participate. But as longtime readers of this blog may remember, I've already taken a month-long break from mirrors—twice—and honestly, I didn't think I'd get much more out of abstaining from my reflection for a day.

So instead, I took a different route: Instead of refusing my reflection, I'd take it in mindfully. Every time I looked in the mirror on the chosen day, I took note of my first reaction to what I saw, and snapped a photograph, the idea being I could later compare my reaction with the "reality" of the photograph. Stripped of the context of my mood, would I actually see any difference in how I looked? Obviously this is full of flaws as an actual experiment: Each time I approached the mirror, I knew I'd be recording whatever crossed my mind, which naturally colored my reaction. Plus, overlaying my mirror-face with my photo-face means that the static photographs aren't necessarily representative of what I initially witnessed (though to be sure, I still have my mirror face, despite my best efforts to rid myself of it). Still, it was an interesting exercise. The results:

7:24 a.m., wake-up call: So fucking metal. (I don't normally sleep in my earrings but as my "so fucking metal" initial reaction implies, it was quite a night.)

8:07 a.m.: When did I get dark circles between my eyes?

11:05 a.m.: Have my eyes gotten closer together? Is that even possible?

11:38 a.m., post-makeup: Much better.

2:40 p.m., with Kjerstin: Happiness! (I actually didn't plan it this way, but my "mirror diary" day happened to be on the same day Kjerstin was in New York for her Good Morning America appearance. Obviously we couldn't resist taking a mirror photo of the two of us together, given our mutual abstinence. As Kjerstin pointed out later, isn't it sort of poetic that the photo is blurry?)

5:18 p.m.: Healthy. Why do sunglasses perched atop one's head make one look both brimming with good health and a tad glamorous?

6:34 p.m.: I look hungry, but I'm actually not. Do I look this way when I really am hungry? Eyes look big.

6:39 p.m., pre-workout: Maybe I just look pale, not hungry. Take your iron pills. 

8:52 p.m., post-workout: Girlish! Not like girly like feminine, just girlish like young.

10:11 p.m.: Tired, look it. Face looks rounder than it did earlier today? Round but pleasant.

11:38 p.m., pre-bedtime: I look like a compassionate librarian.

A few thoughts:

    1) There might be a daily cycle of how I feel about my looks.
    I'm surprised to see that there was an arc to how I felt on this day—beginning in a self-critical mode, then switching to more appreciative, neutral, or merely observant as the day went on. My suspicion had been that every time I looked in the mirror it was actually reflective of my mood—feel bad, "look" bad; feel good, "look" good, even though my face doesn't actually change all that much. But I was actually in a neutral-to-moderate mood all day long, including the morning, when I was particularly critical of my looks.

    2) The things I notice now in these photographs aren't the things I noticed when I was taking the photograph. Again, part of this is just the nature of how being observed—even just by ourselves, or by a camera—changes us. But still: There seems to be zero connection between what I saw then and what I see now. I think I look worse in the nighttime photos than I do in the morning snapshots (and I look older than usual in my "girlish" photo), but my thoughts toward the end of the day weren't nearly as self-critical. I don't actually look any more pale in the pre-workout photo than I do in the others. (I maintain, however, that I indeed looked so fucking metal in the morning.)

    3) My activities, more than my mood, influenced what I saw. I didn't smile in these photos because I don't usually smile at myself in the mirror, and obviously it would have been a little weird if I'd not been smiling in the joint photo of Kjerstin and me. But beyond the smile or lack thereof, it's clear that I'm joyful in Kjerstin's company—a feeling that lasted upon my return home, even though I was groggy and disconnected (I'd fallen asleep on the subway ride home). 

    4) I "appear," even to myself. About a third of my thoughts had something to do with putting on a persona, even though I didn't consciously approach the mirror with play-acting in mind. Metal chick, sunny glamourpuss, youthful girl, compassionate librarian (no idea where that came from, but I share it with you in the name of dutiful reporting): None of these are how I would identify myself, but I saw each of these types in the mirror at various points. 

    At the end of my first mirror fast, I wrote about how I found that I was more aware of my emotional labor in regards to other people because I hadn't had the "warm-up" of appearing—if only to myself—in the mirror. I'd forgotten about that finding of the experiment until I saw how much play-acting I was unconsciously doing in the mirror with this experiment. What's interesting, though, is that I'm seeing that there's a whimsy to it that I hadn't previously seen. I wasn't trying to be any of the momentary personae that I spotted (okay maybe I like to play glamouspuss every so often); they just appeared. There was no comparison to some standard I'd dreamed up, because there was no standard in my mind. Instead I was just having a little moment of fun—which I hadn't recognized until I recorded my thoughts for this exercise.

  • 5) The mirror is more tied to my eating patterns than I'd like to believe. I don't write about this much on here for a variety of reasons, but I have a history of disordered eating. (If you're interested, you can read my ladymag version of it here.) And one of the reasons I don't write about it here is because I'm firm in my belief that we as a culture have overconnected eating disorders to a wish to be thinner or better-looking—and that doing so masks the deeper, murkier reasons some of us develop eating disorders and some of us don't, even though we're all subject to the same cultural pressures surrounding thinness. So when it first became apparent to me during my mirror fast that there was a connection between the mirror and my eating, I was reluctant to admit any connection between the mirror and my eating history. But just as eating disorders don't neatly fit inside the frame of beauty, neither do they neatly exist outside of it.

  • So when I looked in the mirror and thought, I look hungry, even though I wasn't hungry, I knew it signaled something. What, I'm not quite sure. But here is what I notice now: That photo is rather flattering. It was a time of evening when the light becomes honeyed and soft; my hair was loose, the way I prefer it; the slight below-the-eyes puff that springtime allergies give me had receded, making my eyes look larger than they had. And yes, what I see in the photo now may not be what I saw then (see item #2). But I have to wonder how much I still connect looking pretty with being hungry. And if I happen to not be hungry, as was the case when I took the photo? I can still look hungry. Which means, in the mind of a disordered eater, I just might look thin

    Consciously, I know better. I know that hunger does not equal thinness, and that thinness does not equal prettiness, and that therefore hunger cannot equal prettiness, and that absent other physical signs there's really no such thing as "looking hungry." And perhaps I'm overanalyzing this, or misanalyzing it—maybe I was conscious of not wanting to be hungry since I was about to hit the gym and wanted to make sure I was fueled up, or maybe part of my brain had been planning dinner and the messages just got jumbled up in that moment, or maybe it was just as random as the "compassionate librarian" thought that entered my mind at bedtime. (Which, really, random.) But once a part of your brain connects disordered eating to beauty—which mine definitely did, for some time—I'm not sure the two can ever be wholly unharnessed. Unearthed, examined, monitored—yes, of course. Yet for me, in some small way, as much as I consciously reject it, the two remain in tandem.

    *     *     *

    But! The purpose here is to examine how mirrors affect the way we walk through the world, and I'm looking forward to seeing how other bloggers participating in Kjerstin's challenge handle it. (Get a head start with Meli Pennington, whose musings at Wild Beauty World on her weeklong mirror abstinence are consistently intriguing.) If you're interested in the least in exploring our connection with mirrors, Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall is a must-read, and lucky you, I'll be giving away a copy. 

    To enter, leave a comment (karma points if you share your thoughts on mirror abstinence—or mirror diaries, but not necessary to enter/win) on this post by 11:59 p.m. EST Sunday, May 12. I'll select a winner via a random number generator (comments assigned number in chronological order, beginning with comments at, followed by comments left at The New Inquiry). Enjoy!

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

    Two More Cents on Dove

    I call retouching on dove.

    I’m fascinated by the continued coverage of the most recent video in the Dove Real Beauty Campaign arsenal. Though much of the coverage has been critical, its very discussion shows how effective the campaign has been—and how ready women are for a new conversation about beauty, one that doesn’t rest on the belief that we don’t like the way we look.

    I’ve heard from several readers who have pointed out that whatever quibblings I might have with the Dove campaign, the fact is that it’s better for women than traditional advertising, specifically the type that relies on sexist tropes. I agree: At the end of the day, if I had to choose between Dove’s “BFF marketing” style and the rest of ’em, I’d choose Dove. (And I’ll readily point out that the sketch artist ad “worked” on me: I totally got teary at the big reveal.) But as Cassie points out, we’re not limited to either/or options here, and as cynical as I might be about advertising, I'd feel more cynical if I just threw up my hands and said, Well, this is the best we can do, so I'll take it.

    More to the point: I’m not so sure that the roots of the Dove campaign are all that different from conventional ads, though the feeling each creates is quite different. The Dove campaign exploits women’s beauty-related self-esteem for its own purposes. In other words, it’s doing exactly the same thing as the ads that tell women they aren’t good enough as-is. The means are different, of course, but the tool of leverage—and, of course, the end goal of selling products—is the same: Without a self-esteem crisis, neither type of ad would work. It’s this bare fact—that without women disliking their looks, Dove would lose its ace in the hole—that should make us suspect of the premise. Do women feel bad about their looks? Yes! Sometimes. Sometimes.

    The feminist argument against beauty advertising often hinges upon a neat equation: Companies need to make women feel bad about the way they look, so that they can then supply the fix—lipstick, hair conditioner, whatever. Contrast this with what people within the beauty industry (like the beauty editor I interviewed here) say: The beauty industry has a stake in making women feel good about themselves, by giving us tools of independent self-care and the ability to enhance our natural gifts. At first glance these two arguments seem pitted against one another, but in fact they exist in symbiosis. The beauty industry has a stake in keeping women in the space between desperate unhappiness with our looks and bulletproof self-esteem. A consumer who simultaneously believes that she is beautiful and not-beautiful makes for a better consumer. And in fact it’s simple for advertisers to leverage our chronic cognitive dissonance because that’s closer to the actual experience of beauty than some neat yes/no box. If there was no part of us that didn’t secretly believe we just might be beautiful, the Dove ad would have no effect. It’s not only the possibility but the permission of the Dove ad that makes it so powerful.

    Yes, there’s an enormous problem with appearance-related self-esteem among women (and men). Yes, we need to continue to address this concern on a sociological level. Yes, it is incredibly painful for any of us in those moments of exquisitely vulnerable self-loathing. Yes to all that. And yet: Yes, most of us have looked in the mirror at some point and liked what we’ve seen. Yes, we look forward to wearing certain outfits because we know we look fantastic in them. Yes, we now snap so many self-portraits that we had to invent the word selfie to describe the phenomenon. Yes to all the natural human joy and pride and immodesty and pleasure we take in our looks. To deny that side of the beauty question is to deny our lived experience. To deny that side of the beauty question is to take shame in those moments of pride, to deny ourselves lest we be seen as thinking we’re “all that.” To deny that side of the beauty question is to publicly deny other women the same right we privately give ourselves. We don’t give ourselves that right all the time, no. But we don’t need to.

    I’d be hesitant to put this thought out there, that maybe we like the way we look at the same time we don’t like the way we look—because really what I’m saying is that this is true for me, and my my, isn’t someone arrogant? But when I look at the numbers—the numbers we don’t hear about all the time in clucking tones—I see that my experience of beauty duality isn’t mine alone. Check out the numbers that writer and sociology PhD candidate Kjerstin Gruys points out: According to another study, 58% of women are satisfied with their appearance. 65% of women consider themselves “above average” in appearance. Or, hell, look at Dove’s own numbers from their 2004 research for the launch of the Real Beauty campaign: While only 4% of the Dove survey respondents copped to considering themselves “beautiful,” 55% of them were satisfied with their body shape and size. One of these numbers works in the narrative Dove is creating with the Real Beauty campaign. And one of them doesn’t.

    Add to that the other structural concerns Virginia Postrel points out about the Dove video: We only see the results of seven women; 20 women participated in the initial experiment. (Did some of those women’s sketches fall out of line with the desired result?) The sketch artist—i.e. the person whose work the entire ad centers around—knew what the experiment while doing his sketches. There was no opportunity for women to correct the sketch as would happen if the goal actually were accuracy; how would someone know whether what she called her “long nose” differed wildly from the artist’s rendering of it?

    And there’s that word beautiful, which, according to Dove research, only 4% of women describe themselves as being. What Dove doesn't tell you is how they came up with that number: They asked survey respondents to choose one word to describe themselves from a list of 10 words. Here’s a list of the words respondents were given to choose from (on page 10): natural, average, attractive, feminine, good-looking, cute, pretty, beautiful, sophisticated, sexy, stunning, and gorgeous. Does me choosing, say, sexy, or pretty, or natural or attractive signal a self-esteem problem? Hell, even choosing average doesn’t mean we're suffering—if you’re approaching the question from a statistical standpoint instead of an interpretive one (and some respondents undoubtedly would), by definition most of us would indeed be average. (Speaking of averages: When respondents were asked to place themselves on a “bell curve” of beauty, 13% of respondents said they thought of themselves as somewhat less or much less beautiful than other women. And 16% of respondents said they thought of themselves as somewhat more or much more beautiful than other women.)

    But back to why I bothered to revisit the campaign in the first place: I think some of us have had enough. Just as Dove created the campaign in response to the fact that women had had enough of traditional advertising that asked us to feel lesser-than, it’s clear from the overwhelming response to the ad that while we’ve still had enough of that type of ad, we’re also becoming wary of the ads that use those feelings as leverage. And frankly, I’m thrilled to see such a variety of responses to the campaign. To me, it signals a desire to shed the therapeutic narrative of beauty. The question is: What narrative will we design in its place?