"You should either be thinking about beauty less," said a friend of mine in 2010, "or writing about it more." I chose the latter.
To be clear: I'm not obsessed with my appearance, and in general I could care less about beauty products, even though I use them daily. What I care about is: How does our appearance affect how we move through the world? What is the relationship between our "beauty labor" and our visibility? What can we glean from women's history—from Cleopatra and her kohl to the "lipstick liberation" of the 1920s to Naomi Wolf's groundbreaking 1991 book The Beauty Myth—about the role of appearance, beauty, and cosmetics in our lives? How do we experience being seen, seeing others, and seeing ourselves?
The Beheld is an attempt not necessarily to answer these questions, but to engage with them. With my personal essays, I examine the
actual power of pretty, how not
ever hearing I was pretty as a child affected me as an adult...and how
believing I would win a modeling contest as a terrifically awkward
13-year-old instructs my thoughts on the self-esteem crisis in
girls. Through my interviews with women whose experiences lend them a unique perspective on personal appearance—everyone from bodybuilders to sex workers to butch comics—I share angles of beauty that might otherwise go unarticulated. And with my weekly roundups of beauty news, I let in readers not on the latest nail polish (well, unless it's really good), but on what we can take from the worlds of business, economics, feminism, sociology, media, politics, and globalization to inform our ideas on appearance. And those worlds reflect back to The Beheld: In addition to outlets like Jezebel, The Hairpin, Fashionista, and BellaSugar, my work has appeared in or been linked to by Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal Ideas Market, Andrew Sullivan of The Daily Beast, Sociological Images, Salon, Feministe, and The New Inquiry. I've also appeared on radio shows and college campuses, talking about issues surrounding women and visibility, and was featured on the Today show in 2012.
My background in magazines echoes the arc of The Beheld: I moved to New York as an intern at Ms. magazine, and though I still proudly call myself a feminist, I chose to bring my perspective to mainstream women's and teen magazines. My essays have appeared in Marie Claire, Salon, and Glamour, and my 12-plus years as a freelance copy editor for everywhere from Playboy to Self have shaped my Thoughts on a Word series, in which I examine the etymology and usage of words we use to describe women's appearance.
The goal of this blog is to foster a larger conversation about beauty and what it means. I'd love for you to be a part of that conversation.
the.beheld.blog [at] gmail dotcom