What's going on in beauty this week, from head to toe and everything in between.
Naked hair: No More Dirty Looks is doing their annual summer hair challenge, which amounts to nothing more than sending in a picture of what you look like without any hair styling whatsoever. I hardly think of myself as a blow-dry addict but realized upon doing this challenge last year that it really had been a loooong time since I'd gone au naturel. Participate! There's a prize!
Toeing the line: Ohio man downs 12 drinks, then walks into a nail salon carrying duffel bag full of cash and demands to receive a pedicure—first from salon workers, then from patrons.
Well-heeled: The NBA is now licensing stripper heels. As Tits and Sass points out, "These are perfect for dancers, but for female sports fans? Jerseys that fit would be a nice gesture, too..." For real. The one basketball jersey I own (Kenyon Martin + Autumn Whitefield-Madrano 4-eva!) is a kids' size, and people, I am not kid-sized.
...And Everything In Between:
Skin-So-Obama: Personal care spending (including beauty products) is back to its pre-recession levels. On the face of it, folks, it seems we've recovered, at least in hairspray dollars. But not so great on the employment front. Enter President Obama's initiative on increasing biobased production—including within the skin care industry—which could lead to preferred federal procurement of...moisturizer.
Kimpact: The Kardashian sisters launch a beauty line, its holiday collection will be called Kardazzle, and thus it was ever so.
Smells like teen spirit: Stalwart Elizabeth Arden buys licensing rights to Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj fragrances, thus confirming my suspicion that Justin Bieber himself is not actually spending his evenings mixing ambergris and deer musk in his laboratory. (Why didn't he go with MTV?)
On the offensive: How Korean beauty lines are skillfully taking advantage of the sagging sales of imported cosmetics brands.
Brazil's next top model: Gisele partners with Brazilian organization Central Única das Favelas—or Central Union of Slums—for a modeling contest focused on the pool of talent in impoverished Brazilian neighborhoods. Certainly the goal is to "boost slum dwellers' self-esteem," as officially stated, oui? Not to mine communities in need for tall, pretty teenagers? My suspicions aside, this could be interesting: Most slum-dwellers in Brazil are of mixed race, so this could potentially increase visibility of dark-skinned women in a country with high racial tensions.
On buying in: This gossip bit from Star is less interesting for its content (Mila Kunis doesn't find herself sexy—hold the press!) and more interesting for the choice of words Kunis uses: "I've never bought into my own beauty myth." I'm sort of over celebrities 'fessing up their body woes, but embedded in Kunis's dismissal is a sort of capitulation to the double bind she's in: She's a young actress who is known for her looks, and she knows she's known for her looks, but she also understands how much of the starlet appeal is something constructed—that is, something that has little to do with what she actually brings to the table.
Logo for Benefit's Mascarathon, which raises funds for survivors of domestic violence. Seriously, people, am I reading too much into the sunglasses thing here?
Run for the money: I keep on almost liking Benefit because it seems like their heart is in the right place, but they're always just a hair off. Like, it's great to raise funds for supporting survivors of domestic violence! But why must it be called a Mascarathon? And oh dear lord, is the woman in the event's icon wearing sunglasses because it's a charity run for victims of partner violence, and we all know those women have black eyes all the time? Please tell me I'm reading too much into this?
Ladymag diet: Caitlin on going a year without women's magazines: "I know that there are people out there for whom the imagery in women’s magazines does not affect them. They can look at the photos and recognize how unnatural they are.... I wish I had the ability to do that. The truth is, I don’t. I can tell myself over and over again that the photos were airbrushed like crazy, and it doesn’t do a single thing to quiet the voice in the back of my mind that wants to know why I can’t have skin like that, why my abs can’t be cut like that. But here’s the thing—that’s exactly what these magazines were designed to do." (Alternate idea to cutting out the women's magazines: Instead of reading Cosmo, read Pervocracy's monthly Cosmocking.)
"How would you live your life...if your story mattered?": On the (sort of) flipside, Margaret Wheeler Johnson makes a case for ladycontent—she's speaking specifically of the women's section of Huffington Post (which she edits, and which recently celebrated its year anniversary) but her arguments apply to women's magazines as well.
The white beauty myth: Interview with makeup artist James Vincent, whose background in gender and race studies informs his work: "We have to step outside of our comfort zones; you've got to be a makeup artist who shows diversity in your portfolio. ... I think that makeup artists have got to step up and work with whatever face is in front of them—I have no tolerance for people that say 'I can't match this skin tone' or 'I'm not comfortable working on that skin tone.' It's a lazy way of looking at makeup and we, as makeup artists, are responsible for opening people's eyes and changing all of that."
Weaving history: This sounds fascinating: a "Human-Textile Wellness Initiative" on June 23 in New York, co-sponsored by the wonderful style blog Of Another Fashion, in which participants bring a family photos and a textile connected to the photo, ready to transform.
Whiff of history: The secret scented history of royal anointing oils, timely with the Diamond Jubilee and all. While you're visiting the Scented Salamander, check out their list of suggested fragrances for film noir viewing. (Sadly, Poison does not make the list.)
Too sexy for this ad: Fifty-one percent of contemporary ads for beauty products include "sexiness," up from 23 percent in 1983. This would make a lot more sense if women—you know, the people buying most beauty products—responded positively to sex in advertising, which maybe we don't.
"Our discomfort with beauty comes down to unease with judgment itself": Lovely, lyrical meditation on the philosophy of beauty, as pegged to Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima in this literary essay at Full Stop.
I'm secretly hoping the movie version comes next.
Book club, anyone?: A huge congratulations to Sally of Already Pretty, whose book, Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body by Learning to Dress It Well, will be available for purchase June 22. Nobody nails the sweet spot of body positivity and dress-to-impress like Sally, and this book (like her blog) serves as an antidote to cookie-cutter figure-flattery advice. It's easy for "dress your figure"-type advice to get me all grumpy—so often it's just coded body-shaming (anything but a slim-but-not-too-busty hourglass? Fix it here!) or simply irrelevant to my body, and, I imagine, plenty of other women's bodies too. But Sally consistently offers relevant, practical tips that actually apply in a real way, and she never strays from the blog's core philosophy: "Whatever work you’ve chosen, whatever opus you’re creating, whatever battle you’re fighting, I want to arm you with confidence in your body and your style. Why? So you can stop worrying about your outward presentation and focus on what’s important." Pre-order her book here!
Snowed over: See now, I'd been trying to get myself psyched up for Snow White and the Huntsman, since I thought I had a duty to see it because it's all beauty and aging and women and desire and blah blah blah, but between reviews from Subashini ("LET’S ALL NOT SHOW UP AT THE CINEMA") and the Ms. blog ("There were a few good points.... Kristen Stewart has perfect eyebrows") I think I've been excused. (Also, am I alone in wishing Jon Huntsman had done better in the Republican primaries? Think of the interdisciplinary headlines this great nation could have!)
Kids!: Phoebe crushes the "oh no girls are getting bikini waxes" so-called trend story, elegantly pointing out how these pieces make us feel righteous without actually saying anything of note. "If we're thinking about 11-year-olds and their beautification requests in terms of preserving innocence, we're thinking about it wrong. By the time a girl demands the means/permission to address hairy legs or frizz, that particular innocence—which, again, we need to remember is something entirely different from sexual/romantic innocence—is long since kaput."
Occupy couture: How does fashion intersect with the Occupy movement? As political blogger Maryam Monalisa Gharavi points out, "Fashion is endowed with the potential to inform a political reality—whether the point it makes is illustrative, illuminating, or impinging is a separate question—because fashion comes from people."
Fifty shades: Dress With Courage's Elissa asks how much of a "choice" dyeing gray hair really is when, as she points out, "Of the 93 women who serve in Congress, only five of them have allowed any grey hair coloring to show through."
All made up: I write a lot on here about makeup, but I don't write much about not wearing it. For that, check out Claire's list of reasons why she doesn't bother with the stuff. #9: "Fear of becoming lessgood 'without my face on.'"