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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 3.23.12

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

From Head…
Un/covered:
Spellbinding discussion among three Muslim women who have varying interpretations of what the Koran’s dictate of modesty means, from a woman who wears the niqab (face veil) to the hijab (head scarf) to no head covering at all. (via Sally)

“These vagabond shoes…”

 

…To Toe…
Exposed:
It’s sandal weather! I’m probably the least germophobic person on the planet (somebody’s got to save all you germ freaks from the superbugs—you’re welcome). But after day 1 of sandal weather and coming home with my feet looking like this, I’m about to admit defeat. I was wearing a maxidress, which apparently makes your feet hideously dirty by tracking in every bit of grit on New York sidewalks. Anyone else dealt with this? Thoughts, advice, help?

…And Everything In Between:
“Political hygiene”:
Russian opposition leaders are calling for a boycott of Proctor & Gamble products. The company advertises with the second most-watched network in Russia, NTV, which has a history of minimizing Putin’s detractors, accusing protestors of showing up at rallies for “free cookies” instead of showing up to make a statement about election fraud.

Story hour: Ads have always told us stories, but apparently we’re on the cusp of a literal storytelling ad trend (this piece actually cites “Stop Kony” as an example), with Revlon taking the lead in an upcoming storytelling campaign.

Brazilian blowup: The Brazilian blowout company has settled, as Virginia Sole-Smith reports at The Nation Institute. But as she appends at her own blog, this really, really shouldn’t be a story anymore.

Nutty trends: Four beauty industry trends worth noting, including beauty kiosks and incubators like Sephora and Duane Reade boutiques. Plus, “Nut Oil Optimism”!

Avon calling: What is the future of the Avon lady? With the availability of online purchasing, the company’s iconic sales force is suffering. As the company searches for a CEO to replace Andrea Jung, the question is whether the new chief will hark back to the days of Avon’s direct-sales glory or throw it overboard altogether.

 

Viva Glam: MAC, o MAC! You do things right and I get suspicious, and then you appear to do more things right and I’m left sort of admitting that you’re awesome. I knew about MAC’s Viva Glam lipstick campaign, which gives 100% of its proceeds to AIDS/HIV work. What I didn’t realize was that it also strongarms its retail partners into donating their cut, and that it’s specifically ramped up efforts in developing nations, which need funding the most. This video with the senior vice president breaks it down.


Mao, Andy Warhol, screenprint, 1972


Empire: Nars Cosmetics takes a cue from MAC and releases a collection based on an art icon: Andy Warhol. 



Lone gunmen: Aaaaand speaking of art-inspired makeup collections, there’s always Estee Lauder’s Mad Men collection, which, like, ugh. I’m a huge fan—of the show, not the collection; I’m inclined to agree with The Gloss about the questionable message that packaging an era that wasn’t so hot for women into a product designed for men. Anyway, Amanda Marcotte’s theory about the lawnmower incident being a metaphor for the Kennedy assassination is put to video here—absolutely worth a viewing, though it might make you jones even more for the show’s return on Sunday.

Model citizens: Israel becomes the first country to pass a law regulating the body mass index of modelsand requiring visible notices of photo retouching when the effect makes the model look thinner. Other countries have passed resolutions about this but no laws as of yet; am eager to see how/if this effects bodily satisfaction of Israeli women and men.

Girly men: Saudi Arabia is suspending visas for foreign salesmen in lingerie shops in order to force businesses to comply with the recent edict that only women could hold these positions.

 

Hear, hear!: Want to give the FDA a piece of your mind about cosmetics regulation? The government body is having a public meeting May 15to discuss regulation, particularly international consistency.

Dr. Awkward: Eager to read more from this Alberta researcher who is studying women in changing rooms (locker rooms, dressing rooms, etc.). (via Imp Kerr)

Also, stethoscopes: Wearing a lab coat may increase your attention span. What I take from this is not so much that we should all wear lab coats all the time (though JustLabCoats.com may persuade you otherwise) but rather that the idea of “dress for success” might have more worth than we realize. (via Rebekah)

No ‘shopping: The Economist‘s cultural arm, Intelligent Life (like the mag, but am I the only one who thinks that title is pretentious as hell?), is featuring Cate Blanchett sans Photoshop on its latest cover. (This isn’t a first; Marie Claire did the same thing with Jessica Simpson in 2010.) I cynically tend to think that airbrushing is the least of our problems, but seeing Blanchett’s face, which is glowing and lovely as-is, makes you wonder why the industry relies on it. Intelligent Life gives their two cents: “Publishers want a recognisable person on the cover, with a real career; but they also want an empty vessel—for clothes and jewellery and make-up, which often seem to be supplied by the advertisers with the most muscle.”
We are all cyborgs: Nokia applies for a patent for magnetic tattoos that would vibrate upon electronic activation. “Examples of… applications may be low battery indication, received message, received call, calendar alert, change of profile, eg based on timing, change of time zone, or any other.” Also, as of next week, this blog will appear strictly in binary code 00101110010011110100101100111111

Expression and self-love: The truly fabulous Gala Darling, who gives workshops on radical self-love in five-inch heels, gives a sort of manifesto on personal expression, beauty standards, self-love, and societal expectations—and manages to do so without a whiff of judgment. “Some women say that if we wear lipstick, we’re only doing it because society has told us to. I would argue that the woman who tries to buck society by NOT wearing lipstick is just as influenced! No one exists in a vacuum, & almost all of our decisions are effected by external sources. …I also don’t believe that policing other womens’ choices moves any of us forward.”

Missing the point: Apparently this story about Jennifer Aniston’s beauty routine, which I linked to last week, was being taken literally by that rigorous arm of research and reporting known as celebrity journalism. Yo, nobody was claiming that Jennifer Aniston literally spends $8,000 a month on beauty, and the idea that this is something she’s supposed to refute is nonsense. The point of the original article was that this is how much her routine would cost in aggregate—many of the items were one-time deals (like the nose job), and let’s not forget that as a celebrity, much of this stuff is foisted upon her whether she wants it or not. The point isn’t that Jennifer Aniston steals money from starving orphans for her skin cream; it’s that the mass of stuff Jennifer Aniston needs in order to look like “Jennifer Aniston” is ridiculous.

Going nude: As I’ve written before, I’m sort of ambivalent about what going without makeup means. But I support projects that seek to untangle the essence of makeup by having regular users of the stuff go bare-faced, so I’ll be keeping an eye on The Naked Face Project—no makeup, no shaving, no primping, for 60 days.

The medium is the message: From Danielle at Final Fashion, why fashion bloggers are more like designers than critics: “Great bloggers are brilliant at expressing themselves through images and words—just like the most successful designers are. Media is not used to translate reality in an informative way, instead it is used to bring their personality to life in the imaginations of an audience. … As a blogger myself I find the entire process to be far more intuitive and artistic than it appears—it comes from inside you.”

Firm investment: What do we really mean when we say something is an “investment piece”? As Sally points out, we wear pajamas every night, but only rarely are they considered an “investment piece”: “It seems that the idea of an “investment piece” is linked to visibility and status as well as quality and use.”

Long tail: Darlene at Hourglassy offers a bit of hope that the “long tail” of niche markets might trickle down to clothing sizes. As it is now, the customer is bearing the risk inherent of new markets (if large-breasted women are considered a “new market”—I suppose the market is actually large-breasted women who want a proper fit finally). Could that change with time?
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One Response to “Beauty Blogosphere 3.23.12”

  1. Ralph Shybiker says:

    Fascinating article about women’s feelings on undressing in public changing rooms. The emotions triggered by this act are completely different than those experienced by men. The difference highlights concerns women have that men don’t: e.g., being judged on the appearance of your body. Thanks for the link.

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