What’s going on in beauty this week, from head to toe and everything in between.
Photo op: “Requests for [cosmetic] surgery as a result of social media photo sharing rose 31% in 2012, reports the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.”
Jeepers creepers: The word of the week is creepers, or shoes with thick, soft soles (which unfortunately turns out to be etymologically unrelated to the Teddy Boy subculture of the 1950s).
…And Everything In Between:
Please hold: Apparently UK beauty salons have a ways to go with their telephone protocol, leaving callers on hold for (gasp!) 33 seconds.
Eye spy: Procter & Gamble is hiring eye-tracking firm blah blah blah [at this point the actual story here—about P&G trying to figure out which of its ads are actually seen—becomes of secondary importance, so we can focus on the fact that there are eye-tracking firms that track people’s eye movement].
Tipoff: Bloomberg Businessweek breaks down exactly what the Professional Beauty Association is lobbying for tax-wise: Basically, the same tax scheme that restaurants enjoy as far as employee tips.
Hellenic beauty: Greece’s best-known cosmetics line, Korres, is continuing to thrive despite the ongoing severe problems with the country’s economy.
Under the sea: Do your part to combat overfishing: Buy more beauty products containing jellyfish. It takes a village, people.
Concealer: A cosmetology school is demanding that a student who wears a niqab bring in written documentation from a religious leader that she indeed needs to cover her face for religious reasons (as opposed to, what, just for kicks?). This does beg the question of how students who prefer to be covered handle hair and makeup demos: Do they only participate as models when all students and teachers are women? Or simply observe? Plenty of women style their hair and wear makeup under the veil, but that’s quite a different thing from participating in the learning process of achieving professional standards.
Sensitive skin: A new test developed at Newcastle University can predict people’s sensitivity to cosmetics—good news for users, eschewing the need for a patch test, and great news for animals that are frequently tested upon.
Military dress: How does the biggest institution of The Man—the military—give rise to counterculture fashion? (Tidbit: The T-shirt itself is an example of military fashion.)
Numb (featuring DJ Herpes): A Rihanna fan is suing MAC, claiming that she got a fever blister as a result of sampling the MAC shade RiRi Woo offered by a MAC representative at a Rihanna concert.
Just drawn that way: I’m not particularly sold on the idea that if we just have more diverse images, eating disorders will decrease. That said, I’m intrigued by this Brazilian PSA that shows what women would look like if they had the proportions of fashion illustrations—in other words, if they were created entirely for showcasing clothes instead of living. I asked fashion illustrator and blogger Danielle Meder for her thoughts, and she pointed out that like any ad, this PSA cherry-picks its data: “If it was a juxtaposition of an actual fashion illustration next to a supermodel, the PSA certainly wouldn’t be so provocative.” Meder addresses the topic of fashion versus reality more generally here, and points out that her fashion illustration how-to post is open to anyone. “My attitude towards the way I draw fashion figures is that if you don’t like it, draw your own! … [P]roportions are up to you, not reality.”
Razor’s edge: What it’s like to strut your (newly shaved) stuff on the runway—courtesy Gillette. (Pretty sure this qualifies as undercover investigative journalism on Katie J.M. Baker’s part, right?) If this marketing scheme is a clever misstep on Gillette’s part, it’s not like it’s their only one: Their whole “How does [Superman] shave?” campaign is falling flat because true fans recall that he uses a mirror to blast heat rays from his eyes to his whiskers.
Where ladies fear to tread: So what is it about those dudes who biohack, à la Tim Ferriss’s “binge one day a week but do air squats every time you go to the bathroom” or Dave Asprey’s butter coffee? Virginia Heffernan takes a look. My two cents: I’m pretty convinced half this stuff is eating disorder territory, but since it’s biohacking as opposed to, say, straight-up bulimic or anorexic behaviors, we’re less likely to identify it as such. The fact that biohacking seems to be dominated by men only helps/hurts here. Speaking of which: What can women who love men with eating disorders do to support them? It can be difficult enough to support a person with an eating disorder even when they’re not suffering from the double stigma of doing something so “unmanly” (do you say anything when you see them undereat? do you keep trigger foods around the house?).
Go figure: Feminist Figure Girl enumerates how her life changed after entering a figure show (i.e. bodybuilding): “I love and trust my body more than I did before.”
Wedding gown, crepe de toilette, 2013.
Flushing bride: The Ninth Annual Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest has been adjudicated, and though I’m partial to the second-place winner (pictured above), the grand prize winner is no less stunning.
Great Kate: Kate Middleton is the most influential celebrity when it comes to British consumers’ beauty purchases. Apparently after the royal wedding, Kate’s “natural brown” became the leading hair color shade? (And leave it to the Daily Mail to somehow frame this as a “Kate-off”—Middleton trumps Moss—because what good is a story without an imagined catfight?)
Turnabout’s fair play: Remember that whole “best-looking attorney general in the country” comment Obama made about Kamala Harris? Fascinating to compare it to a similar incident in 1973, between Richard Nixon and White House reporter Helen Thomas, who was actually asked by the president to turn around so he could check out her butt. But as Miranda Weinberg’s analysis shows, the way it was deftly handled reveals subtle, strategic uses of the reporter’s power.
Sci-fi’d: I’d never had thunk it, but it seems Fast and Furious has a thing or two to teach Star Trek—or at least J.J. Abrams—about presenting women onscreen. (Thanks to reader Jame-Ane for the link!)
Shopping stigma: I still remember the relief I felt when thrifting became cool in the early ’90s and I no longer had to worry about being seen going into Goodwill with my mother. But as Sally points out, shopping stigma continues to thrive.
Neptune’s Daughter: Let us bid farewell to Esther Williams, who entertained us as “America’s mermaid” and who died yesterday at 91. Despite her fame, she considered her movie career a consolation prize for not reaching her true dream, the Olympic gold.
Works if you work it: It’s easy enough to raise your eyebrow at self-help—I’ve done it plenty of times, skeptic that I am—but as Gala Darling points out, “I still can’t believe that self-love is something we’re expected to somehow magically discover for ourselves.”
Mythbusting: Interesting counterpoint on the whole “all women are wearing the wrong bra size!” thing that every ladymag is required to report on annually. While I’m someone who really did need a bra fitting in order to learn that I was wearing the drastically wrong size, as Phoebe points out, the idea that women just don’t know how bras fit is also mighty convenient when it comes to imbuing fitters, sellers, and manufacturers with a sort of magical power that isn’t necessarily the most helpful stance for consumers. Bras really can be difficult to fit well (and as Phoebe discovers when her readers protested the idea that bra fittings are gimmicks, the flattering-yet-comfortable bra is not necessarily a gimmick) so of course that just makes us curious about manufacturer promises that no, no, their bras really do fit, à la Jockey’s new sizing system (via Lindsay). What are the girls to do? Read awesome bra blogs, that’s what.