What’s going on in beauty this week, from head to toe and everything in between.
Steal my fantastic idea, svp: Nonplused by this Clos du Bois set that includes a nice pedicure shade, but am in mild shock that as far as I can tell, nobody has created a Beaujolais Nouveau pedicure. You’ve got three weeks, people! Go!
…And Everything In Between:
Bad gamble: Rajat Gupta, former Procter & Gamble board member, was sentenced to two years in prison (and $5 million in fines) for insider trading.
Cheek swab: A London salon is offering DNA tests designed to help users find a cosmetics regime that’s compatible with their genetic makeup. Finally, a way to tell what makeup looks best on your skin!
The house that soap built: An Ohio court rules in favor of a developer who wants to tear down the 1830s mansion of James Gamble, son of the Gamble in Proctor &, and the inventor of Ivory Soap. The city of Cincinnati had tried to stop its demolition due to the house’s historic significance. And in happier historic preservation news, the synagogue Josephine Esther Mentzer—better known as Estee Lauder—attended as a teenager has gotten a loving restoration; ribbon cutting was this week.
Model citizens: Two lawsuits involving models, including a class-action suit suing major agencies for using models’ images long after the workers’ contracts had expired. Lead plaintiff Louisa Raske is charging that in a similar suit in 2007, the agencies intimidated the models into dropping their claims—something that we’re hoping won’t happen this time,
Quick exit: The CFO of Ulta, who had been on the job for nearly six weeks, has resigned “effective immediately” and by “mutual agreement,” which doesn’t even qualify as code for “fired,” does it?
Pinkwashed: Don’t forget that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. And don’t forget that one of the major sponsors of the month’s pinkification sells products that have been linked to cancers of all forms, mmmkay?
Hairy situation: Students of body-hair history (raise your hands! I know you’re out there!) will recall the engineering of “ew, hairy pits!” that took place after sleeveless dresses became the fashion in the 1920s. Something similar is happening now in China, and—what’s that you say? Genetically speaking, Chinese women tend not to be terrifically hairy in the first place? Just shush, you! (Thanks to Willa for the link!)
The wild east: If you’re at all interested in Estee Lauder’s new line in Asia, Osiao—the first major cosmetics line from a western company developed specifically for Asian consumers—read this piece from the Wharton school analyzing the cultural and business factors that will likely play into Osiao’s success (or lack thereof).
Little, late: In the wake of a series of women dying of septic shock as a result of “beauty treatments,” China is going to make stricter divisions between beauty procedures (like, say, microdermabrasion) and medical procedures (like, say, anything that would leave someone dead of septic shock).
What the doctor ordered: Of a different sort of beauty/medical concern elsewhere in Asia is the news that obstetricians in Vietnam have been accepting kickbacks to “prescribe” cosmetics for postnatal patients.
Spot-on Iman: This Q&A with Iman at Beautycism is revealing, not just of Iman’s sharp business sense but of how the beauty industry works. “I’ve been told by retailers that black women don’t shop online. They said, ‘We can’t put your whole line on the website.’ I said, ‘Just test it.’ It became the #2 brand on walgreens.com—they were clueless. So while all these companies rush to Asia, we’re trying to grow right here at home.”
Talk it out: What does “The Hottest Professor in America” have to say about beauty privilege? Interesting to have a male perspective on this; men are definitely rewarded for being good-looking (and, I’d add, tall), though I’d argue the penalties for being not-great-looking are fewer. But either way, beauty privilege remains incredibly difficult to talk about, and the only way to change it is to, well, talk about it. Which is something Rachel Hills does here on thin privilege. “The price of looking like Alexa Chung…is that you can’t talk about what it’s like to look like Alexa Chung.”
Go Babs!: I love that a group of natural hair enthusiasts is taking dark-skinned Barbie dolls and giving them textured hair (and better yet, then donating them to girls living in Columbus public housing), but I have to ask why Mattel hasn’t done this first. I mean, Afro Barbie would just look cool, c’mon.
Heady politics: This video is from June, but I missed it then and it’s fantastic: MSNBC round-table discussion with Melissa Harris-Perry of black women’s hair. “Why tackle such a hairy topic on a political show? Well, there are few follicles more politicized than the ones that grow out of a black woman’s head.”
Philosopher queen: If you read one link I’ve ever suggested here, make it this essay by artist Molly Crabapple on her days as a “professional naked girl.” Crabapple is best known as a painter and illustrator, but she proves here she knows her way around a sentence: “A woman’s beauty is supposed to be her grand project and constant insecurity. We’re meant to shellac our lips with five different glosses, but always think we’re fat. Beauty is Zeno’s paradox. We should endlessly strive for it, but it’s not socially acceptable to admit we’re there. We can’t perceive it in ourselves. It belongs to the guy screaming ‘nice tits.’ Saying ‘I’m beautiful,’ let alone charging for it, breaks the rules.”
“I’ve never heard of a beautiful witch before.” —D. Gale, Kansas
Halloween special: Really hoping Wild Beauty is going to launch a regular series from this “Beauty Archetype” post on witches.
Bargain binned: Onceuponatime I was of the belief that all beauty products were basically the same, regardless of price or brand. Then I started having to pay for my own beauty products (working at ladymags sure spoils you for free stuff) and, lo and behold, there really are some things worth shelling out for. So I loved reading Sally’s thoughts on the same, and will echo her thoughts on haircuts. Long hair = not worth it. Short hair = get the best cut you can afford!
3-D beauty: Digging these digitally printed cosmetics packaging.
On wigs as a superhero costume: “[T]he wig made the guy at my kitchen table uncomfortable. ‘I want to be with the real you,’ he said, rubbing his hands along my thighs. I lit a cigarette. ‘What if this is the real me?’ I asked. We never saw each other again.”
Charmed, I’m sure: What is the intersection of beauty and charm? Charlie Glickman (inspired by moi, I’m pleased to report) looks at the cultivation of each. I’d add to his thoughts that they’re part of a package of femininity: To be beautiful and not charming is to invite scorn, as though you’re not delivering on some aspect of womanhood that’s falsely advertised through your looks. And I’d suspect that people who fall outside the realm of what’s considered reasonably attractive on a physical level get femininity’s itty-bitty perks from charm alone. (Of course, most people are reasonably attractive, so there’s that.)
Hair of a certain age: On the hair of Connie Britton, a luxuriantly tressed fortysomething actress currently starring in Nashville: “The Hair asks us to think about a heavy ponytail at forty. Let’s not dismiss this as a joke, or as the same question as Botox or artificially plumped lips. If Botox is always about youth obsession, Connie Britton’s Hair is not always–or even ever–an attempt to look like Lyla Garrity or Hayden Panettiere. It might actually be about the specific pleasure of forty-ness.”
Lather up: I’m pretttttty sure that blind people have figured out a way to avoid shampooing their hair with body lotion (so ignore the opener of this piece), but I’ll still say that a product line with Braille labels is a neat idea. Wondering what blind women think of this, though; is it perceived as a cheap marketing trick, or a genuinely progressive move, or…? If any visitors here are visually impaired, I’d be very curious to know what you think of this.
Poppy: The Makeup Museum has a thorough rundown on the Andy Warhol NARS collection, sort of the perfect collaboration.
Scent of a woman?: Disney is banking on women—not girls—contracting a serious case of princess syndrome, what with its release of its higher-end “Reigning Beauties” cosmetics collection. If you’re going to spend $175 on Cinderella-branded perfume, let’s hope it at least begins to smell like pumpkin at midnight.
For everyone’s eyes only: Splendid post at Eat the Damn Cake about how the whole beauty thing isn’t for men…yet it’s not really for other women either. As Kate puts it, “It was always about the whole world.”