What's going on in beauty this week, from head to toe and everything in between.
Photo by Rémi Thériault
Hijab hijinx: Sara Hagi at Worn Fashion Journal on what happens when strangers assume she wears the hijab because she's oppressed, not because she believes her hair and body are her business: "The poor woman was putting herself through mental gymnastics trying to liberate a free woman, while I was just trying to find a polite way to excuse myself from the conversation so I could go home and watch Arrested Development." Love.
On your heels: No, really, what IS with the shoe thing? Ekaterina Sedia (whose blog you should add immediately to your feed if you like creative fashion analysis) lays it out.
Fishy situation: The owner of an Arizona salon that was ordered by the state's Board of Cosmetology to stop offering fish pedicures is fighting back; the civil trial began Monday.
...And Everything In Between:
Paper chase: A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Estee Lauder, producer of a Clinique line that the plaintiff claims was bolstered by false marketing claims. The reasoning used in the suit here is particularly interesting: It essentially charges that the very basis of much of beauty marketing—like short product cycles and airbrushing—betrays the consumer. I'm used to seeing this in a more political context, so to see it in a legal context shows why everyone—not just feminists—should be approaching beauty with critical skills.
Khroma khaos: Further developments on the Kardashian trademark infringement case (two separate companies have sent cease-and-desist letters to the Kardashians over their Khroma makeup line), with the owner of Kroma cosmetics charging that two years ago, the company was in talks with the Kardashians about licensing the Kroma brand.
Disaster-Upon-Avon: "It would be hard to find another large American company as bad off as Avon Products."
On "thick": For Harriet has a poignant post on black women, beauty, and "butt shots"—sadly prompted by the deaths of women who have died after receiving injections intended to fill out the rear end. (Thanks to Parisian Feline for the link.)
Say cheese: Not sure what to think of this (admittedly amusing) Photoshop slideshow of what celebrities would look like if they were, as Fast Company Design puts it, "ugly regular people." It seems that "ugly" and "regular" are code for "heavy" and "low-income," with classic low-socioeconomic-status indicators (outdated clothes, frizzy hair, loud makeup, tacky backgrounds on professional family-photo shots) galore. But on the flipside, not only is it entertaining, it's illuminating of how, say, Gwyneth Paltrow might actually look if she weren't privy to as many skin-care prorducts and personal training sessions as she can handle. What we conceive of as beauty is inextricably tied to class, and in highlighting class (albeit not in the hardee-har-har way I'm pretty sure this slideshow was intended) in this context, that becomes clear.
The littlest scent: Dolce & Gabbana is launching a baby perfume. Thank heavens someone finally found a way to make newborns smell good!
Brown-eyed girl: People with brown eyes are perceived as being more trustworthy than blue-eyed folk, although surprisingly, it's not the color that causes this perception but the facial features of brown-eyed people that makes them seem this way. (via Shines Like Gold)
Marketing 101: Seventy-five percent of people who have a gene mutation that prevents them from having odiferous underarms use deodorant anyway.
Breaking news: The Onion investigates "appalling conditions" in the Cosmopolitan Male Pleasure Laboratory. The exploited parties claim that the magazine researchers forced them to simulate 50 crazy-hot sex moves, among other indignities. A must-watch. (Thanks to Lindsay for the link.)
Beard burned: Procter & Gamble is blaming the "decline of kissing" (is this related to the totally nonexistent "end of courtship" the Times thinks exists?) on not enough men being smooth-shaven, presumably smooth-shaven using Procter & Gamble-produced razors. Apparently one out of three women has avoided kissing a man because he had facial hair, which I'm fairly sure is Procter-ese for "Didn't wanna kiss him anyway, yo."
Cross-examined: Two men in Cameroon who were jailed for homosexuality had their convictions overturned by an appeals court, the defense being that since the biggest evidence against them was that they'd both been seen cross-dressing and wearing makeup and not actually having sex with other men, their convictions were faulty. Serious question: Is this progressive in some way? A baby step? A little wormhole that might symbolize a hint of tolerance? (via Shines Like Gold)
Score one for diversity: Lists of "hottest women" or "sexiest men" utterly baffle/upset/annoy me, and this year's GQ list of 100 hottest women has the bonus of race tokenism.
Reality check: It was hilarious when The Onion parodied the aspects of fashion worship that defy relevance and reality. It wasn't so hilarious when Vogue used Hurricane Sandy as a fashion shoot. People died, c'mon.
"The color the moon possesses in the thin air of northern winters": The absurd heights (mostly male) magazine writers go to in describing actresses' skin, which, if you are Gretchen Mol, is like a tournament rose dipped in whipped cream. (Also from The Awl, which is after my heart this week apparently, founder Choire Sicha calls bullshit on the way Esquire writes about women.)
Face, fortune, fiction: In sharp contrast with the above items, Joanna Walsh's illustrated essay on five female writers manages to do what is so rarely done well: address women's looks in a way that manages to make it clear that our looks do shape, in part, who we are, without falling into expected clichés on the matter or assuming that women's looks are the most important factor of our lives.
"I love your hair": Of course you wouldn't ever touch someone's hair without permission, but some people do, and this GIF perfectly showcases a moment that makes it crystal-clear why it's a pretty loaded act for black women.
All I have to say about this awesome piece on the tyranny of "natural beauty" by Aminah Mae Safi is: CO-SIGNED. Just read it.
Nailing it: Brittany Julious makes a radio appearance to talk nail art and black culture.
Insect aside: Since bug sex is so 2009, let's turn our attention to bug fashion.
Grin and bear it: Katrina Onstad writes with elegance on the "smile scanner" technology geared to help service workers better perform emotional labor, and why it matters for women: "Perhaps it’s because I’m a woman, worried that those 'Smile, honey!' guys are going to expect us to carry self-scanning tablets in our purses. Studies show that women, often the bearers of the emotional weight of relationships, smile more than men."
Apples to apples: The history of fruit in makeup ads. Seeing these ads en masse is making me think of the connection between fruit and femininity—I mean, there's a reason gay men used to be called "fruits," and you'd be hard-pressed to find fruit notes in most men's fragrances. And now that's making me wonder what exactly was in the scent that marketed itself as "the world's first cologne exclusively for gay men."
Royal mess: I read Meli's headline—"The First Official Portrait of Kate Middleton Is Just Awful"—before I saw the portrait in question, and was all, "Aw, c'mon, it can't be THAT bad," and then I clicked through my feed to see the picture, and, you know, I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong.
Seeing red: Courtney's red lipstick challenge has ended, and what I love the most about her conclusion is that it's about what it inspired (conversations), not what its direct outcome was. Brava!
Beautiful mind: Two fascinating posts that look at appearance and mental health, from different viewpoints. Cassandra Goodwin luminously relates how during times of depression and anxiety, the ritual of makeup came to be a balm of sorts, its centering effect becoming a more important outcome of the process than the actual finished look. And in The Closet Feminist's three-part series looking at the larger meaning assigned to "the quirky girl," we see how the word "quirky" is often code for "crazy," and not in the "wild-and" sort of way. (Parts one and two are worth a read as well.) (On a different note, Cassandra also has a fab four-part series revolving around wearing makeup when you "have" to, like for job interviews, complete with tips and sociological analysis.)
Principessa: The princess question is a tough one for parents—if your daughter is kicking and screaming for princesswear, does denying it to her on feminist grounds do any good? I suspect the answer is a big gray maybe, or perhaps sometimes, and Hugo Schwyzer explores the topic as a parent of a four-year-old girl who—you guessed it—loves the princess thing.