What’s going on in beauty this week, from head to toe and everything in between.
Water wigs: Click through, trust me.
Know thine enemy: We can all agree that PUA—that’s pickup artist, in case you’ve had the good fortune to remain unawares until now—tactics are grody gross gross, but reading this sad little forum thread about whether or not to get a pedicure sort of puts it in perspective. PUAs aren’t threats in the least! They’re just sad, with gnarly feet.
…And Everything In Between:
Hellboy: Revlon controlling shareholder Ron Perelman got his way this week when a federal judge dismissed a suit filed by his estranged brother alleging that Perelman improperly used pension proceeds to finance Revlon. Also, disappointingly, Ron Perelman and Ron Perlman are two separate people.
It’s P&G time, kids: Procter & Gamble CEO takes a pay cut of 6.1%, leaving him with a Cratchit-esque $15.2 million annual pay. C’mon folks, buy more Pantene! Daddy needs a new pair of shoes! But in sunnier P&G news, two board members were listed in the Forbes 100 list of powerful women. (The company actually has good gender representation on their board, a nice change of pace.)
Catwalked: This list of the world’s 20 richest supermodels is interesting enough in an Us Weekly sort of way, but what made me include it here is the smirk of satisfaction that crossed my face when I realized that the vast majority of these women have been public figures for at least 15 years. We may think of modeling as a young woman’s game—and, to be clear, it is—but part of the “winner take all” schema of the way modeling works seems to include financial growth with age and planning.
Woman Up!: The bad news: There’s a “Woman Up Pavilion” at the Republican National Convention where women can get their hair done while boys do boy things like talk snips, snails, and gross domestic product. The good news: It’s empty. (Thanks to Caitlin for the link.)
Beauty OD: Keep an eye out for Beauty in Coma, a documentary about cosmetics overuse in Iran. It’s unclear if the “overuse” refers to physical problems resulting from toxic products or social and psychological repercussions of relying upon makeup, but either way I’m glad to see this addressed outside of the western world.
Two great bits of street harassment art: Hijabi to the rescue graffiti, and a stereotype-inversion cartoon. (I’m almost afraid to publicly like this cartoon, for fear that a certain strain of dude would then come up with a variation of “nice stitching!” as an alternate pickup line, but whatever, it’s funny!)
Hot new look: A group of scientists have developed flame-proof makeup, designed for firefighters and soldiers at risk for being exposed to explosive blasts, which can emit temperatures as high as 1,1112 degrees Fahrenheit. It incorporates DEET (which is flammable), is waterproof, comes in camouflage colors, and is non-irritating to eyes and mouth, all of which makes it seem like it’s ready to hit the consumer market: “Ballistic with new Si-O-Si silicone bonds goes from day to night in a flash!” (Thanks to Rahel for the link.)
Stop the press!: Obama deems women worthy of talking to! The news that the U.S. president agreed to give an interview to Glamour magazine spurred ribs about how he’s focusing on trivial concerns. Because you know us girls! We don’t care none ’bout politickin’ so long as our hair is shiny! (Seriously, when Glamour does these interviews they know better than to ask about boxers vs. briefs. The magazine has been shying away from its once-admirable news content as of late, which is a real pity, but it’s good to see that they’re staying on-task for the election.) (Thanks to Lindsay for the link.)
Primate primer: If more writing “for men” were like Levitate the Primate: Handjobs, Internet Dating, and Other Issues for Men, a newly released collection of essays from former Nerve columnist Michael Thomsen, I daresay I’d be far better able to handle “men’s magazines”—and women’s magazines too, for that matter, because the two exist in tandem. On being asked by his date to flex: “It’s the introduction of someone else’s gaze that inspired…an impulse to commodify yourself, to be desirable, to feel the dislocated pleasure of becoming an object in someone else’s eyes. That desire can become quanitified, reduced into a hazy disillation of self-worth. It’s a way of putting the burden down for a few moments, to let the weight of your own body be buoyed up by the admiring look of someone down below.” Never before has an essay titled “Come on My Face” stirred emotion within me, but then again, finding essays of such candor and nuance is rare. If you enjoy personal essays, this book mustn’t be overlooked.
You know, for girls!: Nothing to do with beauty, but judging from the number of people who sent me this link to Amazon reviews of Bic pens “for Her,” it fits here anyway. Hilarious! (via everyone)
Photoshopped: Excellent opinion piece that articulates part of why I’m hesitant to jump whole hog onto the bandwagon of anti-retouching activism. Of course I’m not giving the thumbs-up to the massive distortion of bodies that retouching perpetrates, but like the writer of this piece, I can’t help but wonder: “In trying to fell only the parts of the tree that we can see, are we falling prey to a clever campaign of distractivism by industry players keen to keep things as they are while appearing to support progressive policies?”
What makes a woman look powerful?: Darlene at Campbell and Kate (a boutique company of button-down shirts designed for large-breasted women) examines visible signals of power and femininity via a look at the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women list. It’s a difficult issue: When showcasing a list of powerful women, what images should you use? It seems that Forbes took a purposefully desexualized angle, which certainly provides a respite from the idea that success isn’t a shield against having to look sexy at all times. At the same time, the images chosen make it clear that we still have a hard time pairing conventional femininity with power. For more on this, check out some musings over at Feminist Philosophers about a “pinkified” cartoon of a lady scientist. (And for more on the trendified spate of made-up words with -ify endings, read Nancy Friedman.)
On permanent depilation: It took Kate’s assertion to make me realize this, but I, too, want old woman pubic hair.
Mary Kay manipulation: One of the criticisms Virginia Sole-Smith ran into after publishing her excellent exposé in Harper’s about Mary Kay profiteering was that she believed women who signed up for the direct sales scheme were, well, stupid. In this op-ed piece, she makes clear not only that that’s not the case, but that in order for the program to work as well as it does, Mary Kay needs to speak directly to the needs of its potential workforce, promising flexible hours and maximized profits. In other words: Mary Kay wouldn’t work if it counted on suckers; instead, it manipulates legitimate concerns of female workers for its own benefit.
Biden Bergamot Body Butter: Bliss releases a limited-edition election product pair: orange-scented O-bama lotion, and Mint Romney lotion. I’ve tried to think about why this makes my skin crawl a little and am coming up empty. Could it be the commodification of democracy, the refusal to actually treat politics as something one could have a stake in instead of as an opportunity to earn a little cash, the trickle of dread that creeps down my spine when I think about Romney voters picking up the pair of lotions after a $500 face treatment for a laugh? Or do I just think it’s a bad pun?
20 Irrational But Nonetheless Persistent Beauty Fears I’ve Picked Up From My Time as a Female Human Being: “If I forget to wear bronzer, I’ll look like Powder.”
You can’t see it, but I’m playing footsie with Dr. Nancy Snyderman.
Mirror mirror: If you missed my appearance on the Today show this week (what, you were sleeping at 8:10 on a Monday?), you can catch it online here. I’m still thinking about some of the dialogue that went on during my five minutes of fame—namely why despite me not saying a word about feeling critical about the way I look, the segment turned into a discussion of our “hate relationship with the mirror” and how to find “self-compassion”—but for now, I’ll simply point you to this Jezebel piece about why some might be hesitant about the idea of abstaining from the mirror. I also like this column from Rebecca Kamm at the New Zealand Herald, one of of the few pieces that addresses something within mirror abstinence besides self-esteem.
What a fox: When writer Liza Mundy was slathered with blue eyeshadow before her appearance on Fox News, she was taken aback; other news shows had done her makeup, sure, but not like this. And for us, the result is a report on the network’s “Fox glam” look, though the entire practice of making over “real women” (not just anchors) gets a nice review here too. (Thanks to Nathan for the link.)
That hoodoo that you do: Fascinating entry at Vintage Powder Room stemming from Lucky face powder, an early midcentury cosmetic designed for women of color. It’s not just to blot oil; it was a tool of hoodoo, or conjure, a folk magic practiced in the southeast United States.
“That girl needs to be fucked”: Devastating, crucial piece from Evelyn Hampton on language—specifically the language we use to describe women—can leave a psychic stain. “Language has a force. It has the power to change how we behave. How we move and use our bodies. Language has the power to change our bodies. Language is how concepts move and change. Concepts are the screen through which we see and believe. But a lot of the time we make a mistake: we mistake the concepts for reality.”
Awesome people hanging out together: I don’t normally get too fangirl, even about public figures I adore, but every so often I can’t help it, and this is one of those times: John Berger drawing Tilda Swinton.
Manic pixie dream you: Lauren Wilford gives the best take on Manic Pixie Dream Girls that I’ve read yet, given in the guise of an ersatz review of Zoe Kazan’s Ruby Sparks. “It’s easy to take aim at the ways that women are physically objectified in gossip and fashion magazines, in pornography. Idealization is a much sneakier enemy, because it masquerades as something benevolent: see, we’re thinking well of women, we’re raising them up. And the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is sneakier yet, because it hides its idealization in stacks of pretty imperfections. But all of these things serve to define women by ideas and images in the minds of others—in the minds of men, even men who claim to love them—rather than by their own thoughts, feelings, and actions. They reduce. They dehumanize.” Rarely have I seen someone look so squarely at the idea of women idealizing their own tropes, something that strikes me as ever more insidious about the MPDG stereotype than the indie-arty dudes lollygagging about. (Bonus points for connecting the phenomenon to mirror abstinence!)
Doing the math: In one of the more ill-conceived portion-control charts I’ve seen, Lauren Conrad’s team suggests using beauty products as a guide to portion control. Your salad should be the size of a shower scrubbie, your pasta should be the size of a compact, and your fruit bowl should be the size of two large magenta vibrating eggs.
Mannequin: I love this story from the mother of Rags Against the Machine blogger Terri, about making her own dress form for her wedding gown in 1953.