I just wanted to introduce myself to new-to-me readers here at The New Inquiry. Faithful readers of TNI may know me from the recent comparative review I did of Erotic Capital and Pricing Beauty (the latter of which will also make an appearance in my first official TNI post). And the truly faithful may remember an essay published here in June 2011 about my month-long mirror fast.
Actually, the mirror fast is a good launching point to share what The Beheld is about. It’s not necessarily inaccurate to call The Beheld a beauty blog, but what I’m interested in more than makeup tips is the reasons why we wear it (or don’t) in the first place. More specifically, I’m interested in examining how we form our ideas of personal beauty; ways we absorb, reject, or subvert beauty standards; and how each of us forms a complex relationship to being looked at, or looking at others. This might take the form of, yes, abstaining from mirrors for a month. It can also take the form of challenging the notion that men always prefer long hair on women, questioning why business pages love the “lipstick index” so much, or looking at the significance of why Anne Frank packed curlers. My work here is filtered through a feminist lens, but instead of falling into tired arguments over whether feminists should reject beauty work or whether “lipstick feminism” is valid (has anyone ever referred to herself as a lipstick feminist?), I’d like to start off with the notion that we all care about the face we present in the public sphere. The question is what we do from there.
Mixed in with my personal essays and cultural analysis are two recurring features: interviews and “Thoughts on a Word.” In my long-form interviews, you’ll hear from women who have a unique take on beauty. Models and photographers, sure, but also boi comics, sex workers, professional bodybuilders, and morticians. In my word series, I look at the etymology and usage of words we use to describe women’s appearance—from cute and sexy to handsome and bombshell—and ask what we can learn from our social construction of beauty from the words we use to describe it. I also do a roundup every Friday of everything that catches my eye that my readers might be interested in: business news, blog entries that make me think, studies about personal appearance, and maybe every so often a good old-fashioned beauty tip. (My favorite of all time: Toilet-seat covers as facial oil blotters. WORKS.)
The Beheld is syndicated here at TNI, and I think it probably takes on a different meaning in the context of TNI alongside my fellow bloggers. But if you’re interested in my back content, feel free to browse a year’s worth of posts at the-beheld.com. I’m terrifically excited to be blogging here in addition to maintaining my first home; I’m active in comments over there and plan to do the same over here. I always love hearing readers’ own experiences, so please share in comments; the only ones I’ll delete are ones that are rude to my interview subjects. I’m eager to see what kind of community develops here. Let’s start.