What’s going on in beauty this week, from head to toe and everything in between.
Cinnamon bun: Why did so many Oscar hairstyles resemble baked goods?
The pedicure that hate built: Need a new shade for your pedi? Try Santorum. I think this nail polish, from ManGlaze, a nail polish company targeting men, is hilarious. It also makes me wonder why no nail polish aimed toward the vast majority of its wearers—you know, women—did this first. (Of course, the company’s other offerings include names like Lesbihonest and Butt Taco, so it’s not like they’re necessarily freedom fighters over there at ManGlaze HQ.) There’s plenty of humor to be found in shade names for women’s cosmetics but I can’t think of anything explicitly political (however crude) offhand. Anyone?
…And Everything In Between:
Dr. Daddy: I really try not to get too judgmental about media-circus parents who take questionable action regarding their children’s appearance. As Virginia Sole-Smith put it, “By focusing only on these extreme, headline-grabbing stories, we get to outsource the issue and blame the victims”—instead of examining our larger cultural attitudes toward beauty. Caveat over? Okay! So, which is more gross: Performing cosmetic surgery on your daughter, or naming her Charm?
Lady resources: Not directly beauty-related (I stumbled into it when sniffing around for info on Procter & Gamble), but fascinating for its insight into gender essentialism: How human resources departments went from being male-dominant to female-led in a fairly short span of time.
Pro-recovery: Tumblr has banned pro-eating-disorder content, as well as other content promoting self-harm. And, you know, I hear all the “this is a slippery slope” arguments, but frankly the slippery slope I’m really worried about is the harm that pro-ana sites contain. There will always be a home for that kind of stuff on the Internet, but brava to Tumblr for recognizing that it doesn’t need to be a part of it.
Ode to an Eating Disorder: Elizabeth Nolan Brown examines the real fallout from eating disorder literature. I’m thrilled to see someone taking a sharp view on this—my own experience with ED lit mirrors Elizabeth’s, varying between using such books as dirty little guides to tips and tricks, and using them as actual support. In fact, I once pitched a piece about this to a teen mag and it was flatly shot down with, “There is no way in hell we can run a piece like that.” But Blisstree can! Yay Internet! (Actually, Blisstree overall seems to be offering smart content for NEDA week, sharing the real story behind sensationalist recovery tales and featuring an interview with Carrie Arnold, one of the best ED writers around.)
Case study: You’ve followed my advice and read Ashley Mears’ sociological study of the modeling industry, Pricing Beauty, right? Good. Then you have context for this lawsuit in which a model is suing a low-prestige cosmetics company for unauthorized use of her image.
From the history files: Meet the Anti-Flirt Club, a group of women from the 1920s who banded together to organize responses to street harassment, or “embarrass[ment] by men in automobiles and on street corners,” as they put it. As with plenty of anti-harassment measures the onus was on the women, but I love these ladies nonetheless. Rule 1: “Don’t flirt: Those who flirt in haste oft repent in leisure.” (via my momma)
Beauty beyond the grave: From mortuary anthropology blog Bones Don’t Lie comes the rundown of a recent archaeological paper on the role of cosmetics in funerary rites in central Mexico.
Eau de Die Hard: Interesting/hilarious marketingspeak about celebrity fragrances, pinned to—I am not making this up—the new fragrance Lovingly by Bruce Willis. (Bruce Willis! Smell like who Bruce Willis loves! L’objet du desir d’Officer John McClaine!)
In the beauty parlor: Yolanda Gibson gives a salute to black cosmetologists and hairstylists, from the legendary Madam C.J. Walker to the Bronner Brothers Hair Show to founders of makeup lines for dark-skinned women.
All the world’s a stage: HuffPo looks at the role of physical transformation for actresses receiving Oscar nods. Putting aside for a moment the notion that part of acting is physical transformation (and that it’s actually refreshing to see actresses make that transformation instead of just playing pretty—or playing “ugly” as with Charlize Theron in Monster), the point is a good one. The piece quotes John Berger’s Ways of Seeing: “Men act and women appear.” Are male actors allowed to just inhabit their craft while women have to become visions—or is the physical transformation of female actresses more of a reclamation of the outside-in approach to acting? I’m not sure.
Being liked, being known: Is the Internet still aflutter with the Pinterest-is-for-the-ladies discussion? Either way, I’m entranced with this essay about the ways that Pinterest and other sites of self-curation wind up hiding, not revealing, ourselves, and why that matters in particular for women. I don’t agree with everything the author says here but as someone who suffers from a chronic case of pleaselikemeitis, this piece resonates. (via Marginal Utility)
On Whitney: I’ll be frank: I didn’t understand the intense outpouring over Whitney Houston’s death. Until I read this. “Outside was a culture that derided black girls as hoes and welfare queens. Inside we were fed ‘positive’ messages, by black women who swanned around in gowns and updos—female performativity, as Judith Butler would have called it. They were overly feminine and overly dignified so as to prepare us for a world that believed we were neither. Before we went out into the world, we needed them to show us how to behave. That’s why we took Whitney’s decline so personally. Our model wasn’t supposed to deviate from the script. Now who would show us how to be beautiful and poised? If she could succumb to the familiar stereotypes—the drugs and the thugs—what in the world would become of us?” (via Britticisms)
Where the bois are: Thanks to reader Felix for pointing me toward Butch Sightings, a blog of…butch sightings. It’s interesting to see photos of women proclaiming the butch identity, all over the spectrum, from butch women to bois to simply genderqueer to women who present as men.
Finis: What exactly is the namesake behind Danielle Meder’s wonderful blog, Final Fashion? “The instance where fashion fails to impress and instead absurdly breaks its own spell is the beginning of the end of a trend. That is final fashion.“