Beauty Blogosphere 11.18.11

What's going on in beauty this week, from head to toe and everything in between.

From Head...
The haircut of the future: QR code haircuts on British football players' heads being used as ad space. Basically, we are all going to be cyborgs.

...To Toe...
Oh, bother. Absolutely nothing of note happened below the ankle this week, and I've already used up the pedicure video game I had stashed away for this emergency. But would you take a moment to help a boot-challenged lass and let me know your boot recommendations? I need a pair that can handle the snow and rain but that won't look ridic. Thoughts?

...And Everything In Between:
Belleza!: "3 mujeres, 2 languages, 1 blog" is the kicker for new culture and beauty blog Spanglish Beauty, co-run by the editor of's Spanish-language beauty channel (and friend of The Beheld), Soe Kabbabe.

Rinse it good: The cleanse/tone/moisturize routine embraced by Americans 40 years ago is so over. Now it takes 14 steps! (Where's a college course in this when you need one?)

Ashtanga Shrugged: Why is it not at all surprising that Lululemon is run by a bunch of Randians? "Our bags are visual reminders for ourselves to live a life we love and conquer the epidemic of mediocrity."

...And to All a Good Night: Ohio man high on bath salts breaks into strangers' home and puts up Christmas decorations. (Since when are bath salts a "designer drug"? I thought designer drugs were for 1980s stockbrokers, not something you could buy at Bath & Body Works.)

Prosumed: The rise of the "pro-sumer"—consumers whose engagement with beauty products makes them want professional-grade wares—is allowing various professional beauty companies to launch lines designed specifically for the educated amateur. The threat of the educated amateur is partially responsible for the clinicizing of beautyspeak, as demonstrated in From the Kitchen to the Parlor, a book about salons catering to African American women. Hairstyling students were encouraged to use vaguely medical-sounding terms to encourage customers to rely on professional care instead of the DIY approach that had become popular in some areas. (Also, clinicizing is not a word, but don't you think it should be?)

This marks the one and only time you will see a LOLcat on this blog. Because you, Reader, are worth it.

"Because you're worth it": L'Oréal's tag line has turned 40, and Jezebel asks if we really need a makeup company to remind us of this anymore. I read this as now being an affirmation of our worthiness, not a decided act to convince us as such. It's still manipulative (as ads are wont to be) but more than anything I think it just paved the way for the "real beauty" ads like the Dove campaign and Bare Escentuals recent one ("pretty is what you are, beauty is what you do with it," whaaaa?!). Now that everything the ladies do is très empowered, I think the slogan is actually more relevant than ever, in marketingland.

Developing news: Procter & Gamble to start manufacturing goods sold in India. Most imported products in India are targeted toward the elite, as cheaply made local products are widely available, so honestly I was surprised to read that this hadn't happened ages ago. In related news, the French beauty industry is targeting emerging markets like India, banking on its reputation as a maker of luxury to drive growth.

Worldly: Last week's Miss World pageant prompts two interesting pieces: Feminist academic Mary Beard thoughtfully examines her own lack of rage about Miss World, and beauty pageants in general. "This isn't, in other words, the licensed child abuse...that we watch on Britain's Got Talent.... A hundred, apparently robust, grown-ups in bikinis don't seem quite as offensive as that." And then Indian writer Kalpana Sharma asks, after an 11-year dry streak of Indian women not being crowned, "Are we not pretty anymore?"

Regulate, mediate: Malaysia may up its regulation of the beauty industry. "We can only regulate doctors who perform beauty procedures under the Medical Act 1971," said health minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai. "But if a beautician performs them, the ministry cannot take action against them under this act, as he or she is not a medical doctor, unless there is a complaint." Coupled with Abu Dhabi's public warning about cosmetics ingredients, it seems as though the uptick in awareness of the risks people take for beauty is global, going far beyond our Safe Cosmetics Act here in the States.

Lipstick defense: Young Israel of Hewlett, New York, is hosting a care package sendoff for female Israeli soldiers featuring notes of gratitude handwritten by Girl Scouts—and beauty products. Sweet and all, but this got me wondering about whether femininity is more tolerated in countries where women are conscripted and therefore not seen as anomalies in the military. Is there more room for lipstick in the Israeli Defense Forces than in the U.S. Army?

Gentlemanly preferences: Naturally raven-haired Chandler Levack bleached her hair, qualifying her to definitively answer in this essay: No, blondes do not have more fun.

Case study: Beth Teitell road-tests that whole "makeup makes you look more competent" study we learned about last month by getting a "natural" makeover and taking it for a spin. (My favorite part: “But don’t I look like the kind of mom who would make delicious food?")

You can thank me when nurdle is on your SAT.

The war of the nurdles: An otherwise boring trademark infringement lawsuit between Colgate and Aquafresh toothpastes is made etymologically fascinating by the fact that it's about the nurdle, the wave-shaped blob of toothpaste both companies use to represent their product.

The evolution of sexy: Well-done slideshow of the things that we widely consider sexy in women, and how they have (or, more likely, haven't) changed over time.

Sexuality and eating disorders: Do lesbians experience eating disorders in ways that differ from straight women? A researcher at the University of the West of England–Bristol is trying to find out.

Anorexia as branding: Courtney elucidates the ridiculousness of Jessica Simpson's statement that "The decision not to make myself anorexic was actually really great for branding."

Men, sports, and EDs: Hats off to Australian rugby player David Pocock, who writes openly about battling an eating disorder in his new autobiography. If there's another male public figure who has spoken about his eating disorder, I don't know of it, but it's a growing problem: Men might be "only" one-third as likely as women to develop anorexia or bulimia, and one-half as likely to develop binge eating disorder, but those numbers aren't exactly encouraging any way you look at them. Certainly men face appearance-related pressures, but given that the dogpile of "perfect" images isn't as intense for men, I feel like the more men talk about their eating disorders, the more we'll all come to understand how complex they really are, and how little they actually have to do with the body.

It's vocabulary week at The Beheld! This is a flipper, or the fake teeth used in child beauty pageants. (Thanks to Virginia Sole-Smith for teaching me the word and indelibly imprinting the horror in my memory.)

"I judged a child beauty pageant": Not sure which part of this account is my favorite, but I think it's between "I did not expect to be faced first and foremost with the specific question of how pretty a child's face is. How pretty is any child's face? In a state of constant flux, the child's face might as well be a blur. And no matter how pretty it is, it will change in a year, six months, two months. How does one even start making that kind of a call?" and his account of the contestant who, for the "celebrity" portion of the pageant, dresses as Sofia Coppola and "dances around with an actual slate to a disco version of 'Hooray for Hollywood,' much as I presume Sofia Coppola does on her days off."

3-D nail art?!: This sounds torturous at first, but Fashionista manages to make it sound almost doable.

"Whoever someone else thinks you are, you don’t have to be": Wonderful essay at Guernica about being raised by a mother who was into EST. Of note to The Beheld readers: What the writer learned about self-presentation and manipulation of perception. As her mother said after the daughter complained she had nothing to wear to sixth grade: “ 'How do you want to look?' I stared back at her. 'What do you want people to think?' 'That I look good?' 'Oh, honey. Decide what you want to look like. Not how.' This, I see now, was a lesson in persona."

Let's talk about sex: The Feminist Fashion Blogger roundup this month is on the theme of sexuality. Ooh la la!

Razed: When I first read Nahida's post about marketing of men's and women's razors, I was all, "But! As anyone who has been paid to read Glamour magazine ad nauseam for years on end knows, there IS a difference between men's and women's razors! The blades are angled in reverse, as men hold the blade downward for their faces but women hold it upward for their legs!" Then I actually bothered to compare my razor with that of my gentleman friend. So! Read Nahida's post.

All made up: I'm not the only one who had a hard time participating in Franca's wonderful no-makeup meme, and Decoding Dress articulates her reasons for not joining in: "And so my program of self-liberation will not include posting a photo of my face without makeup today because to me, makeup represents agency: my freedom and power to choose how I present myself to the world. That power extends beyond myself to others; I can control (at least partially) how I am perceived. I am not a slave to genetics or biology, nor am I consigned to wear my failure to care appropriately for my skin in my youth like a scarlet letter for the rest of my life. I do not have to accept my vulnerabilities. I have the power to subjugate them to my will, to make them disappear. That, to me, is liberation."

"First, it's nothing I'm ashamed of": Kjerstin Gruys interviews her mother-in-law about her multiple cosmetic procedures. We often only hear from people who regret the work they've had done, so this is particularly compelling reading.

Britney's beauty labor: Rachel Hills reminds us that despite the rewards that come with beauty, it still takes a lot of work even for those who have all the "right" ingredients—and the price beautiful women pay when they deviate from the script is dear.