What's going on in beauty this week, from head to toe and everything in between.
Hair sculpture: I knew about Hair Wars, but I didn't know how extreme they'd become. Actually, these are so fantastic that they qualify as X-Treme, oui?
Curbed: The roadside pedicures that appear to be the norm in Lagos, Nigeria.
...And Everything In Between:
Left: Procter & Gamble promotes My Black Is Beautiful.
Right: Procter & Gamble sells skin-whitening cream. Surprise!
Two-faced: Jenna Sauers at Jezebel puts a fine point on the problem with the Procter & Gamble-sponsored documentary My Black Is Beautiful, "a celebration of African American beauty" directed by two rising black directors and featuring interviews with the wonderful Melissa Harris-Perry: It questions the standards placed upon black women, including the idea that lighter skin is preferable, while selling skin-whitening creams. Sorta puts the Dove campaign in perspective, eh?
Missing market: You'd think that halal beauty products would be booming in the Arab Peninsula, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong.
Price support: Japanese cosmetics vendors have refused to lower prices in response to a weak yen, meaning their exports have slowed waaaay down.
Tragedy in Bangladesh: At least 300 people were killed in a collapse of a garment factory in the capital of Bangladesh that contained tenants that supply low-cost clothing to western companies. Not that any of the companies are now willing to admit that: "The website of New Wave claims to supply major Western retailers from the U.S. and Europe. Ethar claims to produce clothes for Walmart, but this has been challenged by the U.S. giant. Other firms have also distanced themselves from the disaster. Only Britain’s Primark freely admitted that it was using a factory in Rana Plaza."
Old school: Love this collection from Procter & Gamble of vintage ads and packaging of some of its iconic products, like Oil of Olay—née Ulay. (And if the P&G folks listen to this analyst and drop their attempts at fragrance and color cosmetics, Oil of Ulay will be all the more important to the beauty behemoth.)
Faking it: The Sydney Morning Herald takes a look at the gray market of counterfeit makeup, prompted by last year's revelation that Australian Target stores had been accidentally selling counterfeit MAC cosmetics (which were sourced from a warehouse in east Texas, of all places).
Spirit of the law: Even when government agencies take action on regulating cosmetics—as was the case in the Philippines with skin-whitening creams containing mercury—there's little to stop retailers from selling them illegally, as this report shows.
F for effort: And from the Department of Egregiously Poor Taste, lower-tier modeling agents have been scouting clients outside of eating disorder clinics.
Tits and class: That "tittooing" story from last week about women tattooing their nipples to look darker struck me as fishy—but what I missed was its reinforcement of classism, which a Liverpool blogger takes to task in The Guardian this week. Much like the ways Jersey Shore uses fashion and beauty cues to signal "working-class Italian American!" as loudly as possible, representing Liverpool as a place where women would line up to tattoo their nipples allows others to point and gawk: "Everything about this so-called craze, including the cute nickname, smacks of media confection." (If, like this American, you don't know much about regional UK stereotypes, this piece is helpful on the Liverpool front.) Thanks to Liverpool reader Kirsty for the link!
B student: I still have no idea what the "BB" in BB creams stands for (worst beauty blogger EVER!); I just know I freakin' love mine. But apparently now we're supposed to get ready for CC and DD creams? I give up.
On humiliation: A truly remarkable protest by Iranian men (though initially started by an Iranian feminist group of women) against the court-ordered punishment of forcing a convict to parade in public wearing women's clothing. Male participants posted photos of themselves in women's clothing to communicate the idea that womanhood is not punishment. The best part? It seems to be having some effect: 17 members of Iran's parliament have signed a letter saying that the sentence is discriminatory toward women.
Burgundy nails: I'm too cheap to shell out for a corking fee so I can sip wine while having my nails done. But some places allow you to BYOB, it seems—in which case, let the party begin! (As long as you're a generous tipper while tipsy, mkay?)
Full bloom: I dislike the term "white trash," but I love the idea of repurposing old bras to be hanging gardens, so shall I link to this bra planter or not? Hmm.
Terrance Gainer, United States Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and hair enemy
Budget cuts: The finest in senatorial hair care (yes, it's taxpayer-funded—though Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer is doing his damndest to change that): "The salon caters to senators, their staffers, and even interns, though outsiders who seek it out are welcome. But there's a scheduling hierarchy: If a senator (or a more powerfulsenator) wants your slot, you could be bumped. Suppose New York's Chuck Schumer, the Senate's third-ranking Democrat, needs a trim at 9:30 a.m. but Wyoming's Mike Enzi, a three-term Republican who occupies no major leadership positions, has reserved the spot. The gentleman from Wyoming will have to yield."
Appy ending: Want your nail polish to perfectly match Mitt Romney's tan? There's an app for that.
Slumber party marketing: Cassie raises a larger question stemming from the now-infamous Dove sketch-artist video: What do we gain from BFF-style marketing? "If companies want to be our friends, then we're going to treat them like our friends when they piss us off—we're going to get angry."
Age lines: I tend to be somewhat optimistic about the visibility of women over 40—I mean, at 36 Anne Bancroft was playing the original MILF (how could a 36-year-old be anything but "older"?!), whereas today's 35-and-overs (Angelina Jolie, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, etc.) are simply playing...attractive women. So there has been progress—but as Beauty Redefined shows us by the numbers, there hasn't been enough.
Self-secured: This post from Sally about insecurity and jealousy sprang up right when I was dealing with an acute attack of exactly that, so I'm proof that this post asks you to ask yourself all the right questions.
Check her out: And speaking of things that can make one feel insecure: When men make off-the-cuff comments about other women's appearance, how has that affected you? This one hit home for me, not only because of the kind of comments that Kate discusses here (i.e. the "ooh, she's so hot" types or the "her? ick" types), but because of the wonderful occasions where a man reveals that much of what we're led to believe "men really want"...just isn't true.
"I'm going to be a cheerleader": Sexualization of girls is a problem, no doubt. But as Hugo deftly lays out, to assume that any particular girl's interest in the hallmarks of sexualization means she's "at risk" tunes out the fuller internal reasoning that draws girls to those hallmarks.
On strutting your stuff: "To move with purpose is to rebel against the world that manipulates how we exist within it."
Gwynspo: I try not to focus on eating disorders too much in this space, because they are so complex and misunderstood, and I don't want to contribute to one of the #1 misunderstanding about them: That they're about wanting to look good. So Kjerstin Gruys's story about how she used Gwyneth Paltrow as thinspo at the height of her own illness is remarkable, as it illustrates that even though it may look like wanting to be just like Gwyneth spurred her to an eating disorder, it was a symptom of her sickness, not a cause.
Un/reality: We (well, me, given that my feed is full of feministy fashion types and I'm one myself) often hear the idea that fashion needs to be more realistic—and a fashion illustrator who makes her trade in depicting the unreal asks, simply, Why?
Opting in: Mara hits a key point of self-care head-on, by reminding us that self-care is not a punishment—which can be exactly what it feels like when I hear myself say in my head, "But I deserve a night on the couch doing nothing but eating graham crackers and watching Law & Order SVU even though I hate that fucking show..."