Beauty Blogosphere 4.13.12

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

From Head...

National arch: Benefit, the company that dubbed itself "the brow authority," proclaims April 16-22 National Brow Week, during which all participants are encouraged to grow eyebrows, think about eyebrows, groom eyebrows, promote eyebrows nationwide and globally, encourage safe eyebrow play, host cross-eyebrow communications, heighten eyebrow visibility, facilitate eyebrow sustainability and stewardship, and foster the fundamental rights of all eyebrows.

...To Toe...

Man-icured: Yes, Media, Tim Tebow got a pedicure (as have Charles Barkley, a defensive lineman with the Detroit Lions, the governor of Indiana, and Michael Jackson's doctor). But just in case you thought these dudely-dudes were being (ew!) girly, never fear: These are sports pedicures, and MSNBC is here to assure us there's nothing girly about them.

...And Everything In Between:

Also, it's not common use so I can't put it here but I love this pic of her in her "This is what a feminist looks like" T-shirt, which she sported for both Glamour and Ms.

This is what a feminist looks like: Can we all agree that Ashley Judd is freakin' amazing after reading her forceful rebuttal to "news" outlets that discuss her looks? "That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly." Want bonus points? Try reading this as though you're reading a response to the Samantha Brick nonsense, and suddenly the brouhaha goes from being ridiculous to being oppressive.

Blush direct: The direct sales approach seems to thrive in Latin American nations, though the clock may be ticking as citizens of developing economies tend to foster a higher emotional satisfaction from buying from a "real" store. We see this through Tupperware--Tupperware!--and its branching out into cosmetics (illustrated with a bizarre analogy by its CEO: "There used to be a bank robber called Willie Sutton, who when asked why he robbed banks would answer, 'That's where the money is. That's why we did beauty down there"). It's also a reason that Avon is appealing to Coty in the latter company's wooing for acquisition.

The real McCoy: Johnson & Johnson exec Sherilyn McCoy to head Avon, replacing Andrea Jung as CEO.

New face on the block: Dolly Parton starting her own cosmetics line! I'm not even her biggest fan but I respect what she stands for: an unembarrassed, unabashed acceptance of one's desire for taking things over the top. Very curious to see how/if this will manifest itself in a line, or if it'll just be a slap-on branding.

Birched off: Birchbox, the subscription service that sends users a box of curated samples of beauty products once a month, now has a service for men. Men's skin care, yes, but the men's boxes also include "lifestyle" items like watches, which my lifestyle certainly doesn't include, as I go by CMT (Central Menstrual Time). Really, people, "lifestyle" isn't code for "men," nor is "general interest"--not that (industry tangent ahead!) the American Society of Magazine Editors knows that, nominating GQ for excellence in the "General Interest" category while the ladies get their own special ladycategory. This wouldn't irk me so much if onceuponatime ASME hadn't offered excellence awards in categories based on circulation, not theme, meaning that Glamour competed alongside (and beat out at times) other large-circ magazines like Time and National Geographic. But now there are ladyawards and then "General Interest" awards, which is bullshit. /rant  Anyway, dudes! Enjoy Birchbox! (For more on ASME and gender, read Lucy Madison's piece at The Awl.)

"Avonski calling": Why, despite responding well to door-to-door sales, has Avon foundered in Russia?

Say big cheese: "Smile and the world smiles with you" might be true, but that doesn't make it accurate, as per this study about how having high status makes people think others are smiling at them more. How this relates to beauty: When I feel pretty, I tend to think other people are smiling at me more, doing nicer little favors for me, etc. I suppose prettiness is the closest route I have to feeling "high-status": I'm self-employed and don't have a social scene that involves me trying to work my way into some pecking order.

Plastic hassle: Barbie has thrown her hat into the presidential race, in some sort of bizarro Mattel bid for (legitimacy? or just profit?). It's easy to get frowny about this (especially when the press release headline actually reads "Turn the White House Pink," and I'm a pink lady myself), but as Sady Doyle points out, "As far as female presidents go, Barbie is about the most realistic candidate we’ve got."

Leftovers again?: What happens to the lipo after it's been suctioned?

"My beautiful cushy tushy": Naomi Shulman puts her money where her mouth is by sharing how she navigates helping out her daughter's body image by improving her own. "[I]f it’s not enough to stay mum with the self-critique, then I actually have to start to self-praise—and give voice to it regularly in my girls’ presence. Of course, children come equipped with finely tuned lie detectors, so I’m trying to not just mouth the words, but mean them. I tread forth hesitantly. It feels pretty silly—but also a little bit amazing."

Friendly face: The Quaker Oats dude gets a makeover.


Momma don't take my Instagram: This (excellent) essay is about the construction of the aesthetic self through Instagram, social media, and the like, but it's resonant with personal beauty as well in the ways it explores historic notions of "authentic" beauty versus constructed beauty: "What is beautiful to the eye in the ephemeral stream of (mostly) unmediated experience may be different from what is beautiful in its mediated, documented form."
Slimed: Got wrinkles? Put a snail on it! (Yes, I've used this joke before, about frogs and acne. Tell you what: They stop putting critters on our faces, I stop with the rehashed jokes. Deal?)

Bad research of the week: Tulsa is the most beauty-obsessed city in America, says that bastion of controlled research, Foursquare. Listen, I'm a sucker for the whole "people who live in state X are more [insert quality] than people who live in state Y" but really, we can't come up with better methods than Foursquare check-ins? Maybe women in Tulsa are just collectively setting a snare trap for people who use Girls Around Me?

Weightless: Sarah Hepola on how nobody said the word "weight" to her when she lost 40 pounds. It's a variation on what I discovered when I lost a significant amount of weight: That by being in the normal-but-veering-toward-heavy zone, I escaped comments about my figure; when I lost weight, suddenly my body became a free-for-all. (And now that I'm exactly in the middle, nobody says a word again. Hmm.) The point is, women's bodies are open season in a variety of ways, and it's disconcerting to find that out when you've been loosely protected from it.

Hold onto your hats, folks: Research has proven that music videos objectify women. Shocker, I know. But what's interesting here is how different genres of music do it: "While pop videos were more likely to contain sexual objectification related to movement, such as dance and the gaze that is likely to result from dance performance, hip hop/R&B videos were more likely to contain sexual objectification related to styling and dress," says the study's lead author.

Resistance isn't futile: In the first moments of this "Shit Men Say to Men Who Say Shit to Women on the Street" I was all, "As if men would ever say this to other men." But then I watched the whole thing, and recognized that the things I have heard men say or do over the years--"that's embarrassing," "has that ever worked for you?" "You're giving men a bad name"in response to a holler just may be resistance. I don't want men to be my white knight on street harassment, but the fact is, men who are likely to harass women are probably also going to be more likely to hear an admonishment from their bros as what it is. Nice work here.

Attention economy: And for another solid take on street harassment, the Blind Hem looks at how some women might absorb it because we've been taught that attention from men is the only "real" attention out there.

Razor's edge: How do companies shill razor blades seen as durable but not durable enough that you don't need to keep buying blades?

Meet Chandy.

Interior landscape: Long-time readers may remember my interview with artist Annika Connor, whose thoughts on mirrors, self-portraiture, and fascination continue to resonate in what I do here. Something we didn't address directly in the interview was her painting series of "decadent interiors"—which have now been turned into a line of special edition wallpaper and textiles (the gorgeous chandelier wallpaper is my personal favorite).

Brick house: The ever-excellent Sarah Nicole Prickett on the Samantha Brick brouhaha: "Let the delusional older woman think she’s beautiful, christ. It’s not nearly as sad, or as damaging to the sex as a whole, as the other delusional older woman’s idea that she has lost her erotic power (and that 20-year-old girls, who, I’m sorry, barely even know how to fuck, have it all). She would not feel she had lost so much had it not counted for all that, for and against all of us, in our disconcerted female youth." What I love about this response is that it refuses to shame Brick while also refusing to valorize her, instead seeing her piece for what it is: a sort of last refuge of the woman who is confident enough to proclaim her beauty but not confident enough to fully understand the ways the sociological implications of attractiveness are still used as a weapon against women.


Rah rah girls: Why are adult women pretending to be high school cheerleaders? More specifically, what is the lure of the cheerleader all about?

But no rompers, please: How can a grown woman incorporate child-like elements into her wardrobe without looking creepy? One of the few concessions I made to turning 30 was ruling out pigtails (except not really! but I was with my momma, so maybe I reverted to pigtail-age?). Overall I prefer a more mature aesthetic so this wasn't hard for me, but I wouldn't want everyone over 18 to rule out knee socks just because. Sally's guide makes sense to me.

Beauty, sexuality, and the good book: Hugo Schwyzer explores the biblical teachings on lust that we conveniently forgot because they just didn't serve the patriarchy enough. "Because we refuse to take seriously men’s ability to not lust in the presence of loveliness, we shame the great many women who—whatever their other fabulous qualities—also want to be affirmed for their beauty. If every man is 'fighting a battle' against lust, and if few men are capable of distinguishing appreciation for beauty from carnal longing, then every woman who dresses to be validated becomes a traitor to the cause of spiritual purity."

Concealer: Venusian Glow asks how much of your beauty routine you reveal to your partner, something I've been giving a good deal of thought to lately. I think it's as telling the stuff I won't let my fellow see me do (say, tweezing) as the things I don't mind if he watches (makeup, hair); it's like it breaks a sort of code or something.

"Wizard of Oudh": Read this account of oudh, the intoxicating perfume used in Qatar, and tell me you don't want to book a ticket to the Arabian peninsula stat. (via Terri)