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.
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.)
…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!
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.