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The Beheld
By Autumn Whitefield-Madrano
Examining questions surrounding personal appearance: What does it mean to be seen? What is the relationship between "beauty labor" and cultural visibility? And why do two lipstick shades combined always look better than one?
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Beauty Blogosphere 1.4.12

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

This, too, can be yours.

From Head…
In your face: A new sector of the Arab health and beauty market is officially booming: facial hair transplants.

 

…To Toe…
Teeter totter: I tend to raise my eyebrows at evolutionary psychology, but I’m still intrigued the the notion of “supernormal stimulus”—that is, an artifically exaggerated version of a stimulus found in nature—because it seems to apply to both nature and nurture. That is, if you’re conditioned to find something attractive, an exaggerated version of it may well exaggerate that attraction, regardless of its origins. With that in mind: the evo-psych reasoning for why we find high heels sexy. (Thanks to Nancy Friedman for the link.)

…And Everything In Between:
Walk with the animals: An Israeli law against animal testing of cosmetics, originally passed in 2010, went into effect with the new year. And India is right on Israel’s heels, with the Bureau of Indian Standards considering a ban on the practice.

Changing the tune: Is the brand Yes to Carrots attempting to keep its ties to Israel hush-hush?

Scent of home: Interesting, oddly poignant paper that looks at the use of cosmetics, perfumes, and skin care products as ways for refugees to maintain connections to their homeland even when in exile. (Thanks to Eden Beth for the link.)

Face up: The New York Times takes on the question of whether makeup helps or hurts self-esteem. More interesting than most of the mini-essays themselves is the commentary on it (though props to Nancy Etcoff for bringing up the difference between “trait and state” forms of self-esteem). In particular, check out Amanda Marcotte’s point that the whole “natural beauty” tip can be more oppressive than makeup, Phoebe Maltz Bovy’s “Final Word” on the matter, Jenna Sauers’ musings on the mythical woman-unicorn who truly wears makeup “for herself,” and Meli Pennington’s central point of whether the question itself is sexist. My two cents is that while the question is simplistic and a hair tired (at least in my corner of the blogosphere), it’s really a veiled way of asking larger questions—about cultural and liberal feminism, about good-girl syndrome, about the good ol’ double standard. To say that “nobody actually cares about this question” glosses over these questions too easily, I think—and I’d disagree with Marcotte on that point to begin with, using this entire blog and anyone who reads it as Exhibit A.

Flex: I’ve been resistant to MAC Cosmetics’ ever-shifting, ever-unconventional campaigns, even as I’ve also enjoyed them. But with this ad featuring a heavily muscular female—in, as Blisstree points out, a way that’s elegant, beautiful, and without a hint of mockery—I’m ready to throw in the gloves. MAC, you win. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a product targeting women using strength as a hook that actually depicts…you know, strength.

Pointed advice: The Reluctant Femme has manicure tips—butch edition.

“Most PR people don’t have sinister plans to trick editors into loving some horrible product”: I’m late on it, but love this Hairpin interview with a PR manager for a beauty company, in particular because it nicely lays out the gray areas of the relationship between the editorial content of women’s magazines and the advertisers that make them possible.

The Force: Did George Lucas borrow the Star Wars opener from a 1974 Vogue ad?

Face value: The last time I consciously connected prettiness to the ability to land or keep a partner, I was probably 15 or so. But the last time I did it subconsciously was probably, oh, last week (not that I would know because, well, subconscious). So this post from Kate is a good reminder that the two, indeed, are separate.

Plastic fantastic: “I can be sitting there quietly at a dinner party and somebody says, ‘Joan covers plastic surgery.’ And then—bam!—I’m surrounded.” Sparkling video and profile of Joan Kron, a journalist who covers plastic surgery for Allure. (via Deep Glamour)


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