What’s going on in beauty this week, from head to toe and everything in between.
The Blago: What will disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich do about his hair in prison? “According the Federal Bureau of Prisons commissary list, Blago’s choice of hair products will be limited to a choice of shampoo—Pert, Suave, V05 or Head & Shoulders.” Also, blow-dryers are banned in the joint because they can be jimmied to do tattoos.
Brazilian payout: Brazilian blowout manufacturer GIB agrees upon a $4.5 million settlement after the public outcry over the discovery of carcinogenic formaldehyde in its formula. (Hats off to No More Dirty Looks for being the first to break this to a lot of people, yours truly included.) Stylists will receive $75 for each bottle of product purchased; clients who assert they’ve been harmed by the process will receive $35 for each treatment, up to three.
Ask a Plumber: …about installing a home pedicure spa. (As a perennial urban renter, this seems outlandish, but then again, so does having a porch.)
…And Everything In Between:
Fight like a girl: Olympic boxer Mary Spencer on her CoverGirl modeling stint: “I think what’s important is that we put on a good performance and break the stereotype that girls can’t fight.” Not sure how modeling for CoverGirl is going to help that stereotype; seems more like an attempt to show that one can be “girly” while still being fierce, making me wonder how much pressure individual boxers are under to make their sport more of a spectacle, what with the skirt suggestions last year.
Color me curious: Clinique has hired a social media marketing firm. “This is news?” part of me asks, but it could signal a potential shift in color trends: Right now makeup color trends are decided basically by the annual color show in Paris (as my beauty editor interviewee puts it, “I swear to God, I think it’s one person who decides it all”). So if these firms are good at their jobs, we could be seeing more grassroots color trends, going by, I dunno, Tumblr theme colors?
St. Makeup: Cosmetics line founder gives “makeovers” to abandoned religious statues in shuttered churches.
I only have eyes for you: Thoroughly freaked out by “eye-gazing parties,” a speed dating arrangement where instead of chatting, you stare into people’s eyes. There’s no doubt in my mind that eye-gazing prompts a certain level of bonding, but who wants to be bonded to a total stranger? The power of the gaze is strong—particularly for women, I think—and I can’t help but wonder what sort of weird dynamic this sets up. (via Will)
Man mascara: I’d wondered why so many stories about men’s cosmetics were coming out of Korea, and now I know why: Korea accounts for 40 percent of the world’s high-end male cosmetics market.
Babushki: You wouldn’t know it from looking at the U.S. media, but there are female entertainers over the age of 70 who aren’t Betty White. Meet Buranovskiye Babushki, six grandmothers who constitute Russia’s Eurovision entry, with dance tune “Party For Everybody.” This is the group’s second attempt at representing Russia in the annual competition; their 2010 third-place song was “Dlinnaja-Dlinnaja Beresta I Kak Sdelat Iz Nee Aison,” which, in case you don’t read Udmurt, translates to “Very Long Birch Bark and How to Turn It Into a Turban.” (Which, let’s face it, I’d love to know.)
What women want: Boomer women say that skin protection and looking healthy trump looking younger and pretty—but skin care ads still go for image-related messages. The survey authors seem to be saying this means that the skin care market for women over 50 should shift their messaging, but it’s not exactly like that market is lackluster. I’m guessing it’s more that women over 50 miss the effortless look of health that came 30 years prior. (I say this as a 35-year-old woman who doesn’t want to look any age I’m not, but who realized six months after her 30th birthday that the “tired” look that had befallen me wasn’t exhaustion but age.)
What happened when Sally Adee was hooked up to electrodes: “I felt clear-headed and like myself, just sharper. Calmer. Without fear and without doubt. … I can’t tell you how stunning it was to suddenly understand just how much of a drag that inner cacophony is on my ability to navigate life and basic tasks. … Who was I apart from the angry little bitter gnomes that populate my mind and drive me to failure because I’m too scared to try? And where did those voices come from? Some of them are personal history, like the caustically dismissive 7th grade science teacher who advised me to become a waitress. Some of them are societal, like the hateful ladymag voices that bully me every time I look in a mirror. Invisible narrative informs all my waking decisions in ways I can’t even keep track of.”
Fitness at every size: Congratulations to Ragen Chastain of Dances With Fat and Jeanette DePatie of The Fat Chick for the successful launch of Fit Fatties Forum, a discussion board stemming from a Health at Every Size perspective, which—I mean, the last time I went to a fitness class the instructor kept yelling about how many calories we were burning and how “those of you who are happy with the way you look can keep it at the level you’re at now. The rest of you BETTER STEP IT UP,” which I think was supposed to be…motivating? In any case, being able to discuss fitness without the assumption of weight loss as a goal sounds fantastic, and here’s the place to do it.
Makeup, the Musical: War Paint, Lindy Woodhead’s chronicle of the rivalry between Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, has been optioned as a Broadway musical. Ten bucks says one of the songs is called “I Blush to Admit.”
Also, wearing green on Thursdays: About-Face asks why it’s remotely okay to sexualize M&Ms. The Beheld asks if this is what 12-year-olds across the globe were anticipating with the claim of green M&Ms making you horny.
xoWTF?: In my rush to defend ladyblogs, I specifically left out mention of xoJane, which has some good content, and which also horrifies me on a weekly basis. Dude, when you have a piece from someone with a history of an eating disorder being all, “You know, juice fasts are sort of great!”, you are no longer being honest or subversive; you are the problem. (I’d link but don’t want to traffic-feed what the team there knows full well is a problem that needs addressing. Jane Pratt has played her last Jane Pratt card, and I am no longer interested.) Anyway! Maura goes beyond the fairly obvious points I’m making here to get to the crux of the problem.
“Cute shoes”: What’s the difference between fashion taste and sartorial judgment?
Video star: Just because one YouTube “am I pretty or ugly?” video turned out to be a hoax/art project doesn’t mean all of them are, and an expert in this piece on the trend asks whether posting these videos is a modern form of self-mutilation. Virginia questions that, however: “Almost every teenage girl, for as long as we’ve had teenage girls, has asked “am I pretty or ugly?” And honestly, I don’t know where I stand. Obviously these are horrifying, but they’re just a more visible form of a very old problem. But…manalive, they really are visible. I want to trust that 13-year-olds will develop the skills to navigate these questions, but I literally cannot imagine the impact of having people tell me that I was ugly at that age. It just seems to be opening the door so much wider into the symbiotic relationship between bullies and the bullied. I have no idea if this means more girls with shaky self-esteem can get the…what would you call it, negative affirmation?…they’re craving, but it certainly makes it easier.
Tenure track shoes: Hilary Levey Friedman on leaving academia—and frumpy shoes, as advised by her colleagues for interview suitability—behind. “I wanted to wear fabulous high-heel shoes all the time, especially after wearing those boring flat, black boots to the interview, having two professors comment on them, and still not getting the job.”
“I think I’m beautiful”: The number-one link people have sent to me is Lisa Bloom’s article on not praising little girls for their looks. It’s a good piece, but overlooks probably the #1 thing any of us can do to help girls navigate their way through a beauty-obsessed world: being comfortable with yourself. Amanda’s approach gets to the root of it: “I’ve started telling my girls that I think I’m beautiful.”
“Doing it wrong”: From Korean American Annie Koh: “I’m not troubled by doing femininity wrong in America. There’s more variety for one (indie vs. glam, San Francisco pigtails vs. Los Angeles coif). … But I take it personally in Korea.”