Monthly Archives: December 2010

Pretty Price Check (12.17.10)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday roundup of how much we paid for beauty this week.

photo of Mexican breast implant ad

Beauty Schooled goes on holiday break starting tomorrow (we’ll be back in full five-post-per-week action come Monday, January 3rd!). And I wanted to leave y’all with a really grand Price Check, just chock full of startling stats and insights. Or at least have some Big Year-End Thoughts About Beauty, like I did last year.

But instead, all I can think about it is this head-exploding concept: Read more…

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Looking at Beauty Products Makes You Feel Bad, (Maybe) Buy More

Sephora rainbow display

At least, that’s the conclusion drawn by this study, as reported in the New York Times‘ Sunday Styles this week.

From the official write-up (emphasis mine):

The authors conducted four experiments to examine the different meanings
consumers gleaned from products that were advertised versus not advertised. In
one study, the authors exposed female study participants to either a beauty-
enhancing product (eye shadow, perfume) or a problem-solving product (acne
concealer, deodorant).The product was either embedded in an advertisement (with
a shiny background and a fake brand name) or it was depicted against a neutral
white background. “After exposure to the advertised beauty-enhancing products
consumers were more likely to think about themselves than when they viewed the
same products outside of their advertisements.”

What’s more, those advertisements affected how consumers thought about
themselves. “After viewing an advertisement featuring an enhancing product
consumers evaluated themselves less positively than after seeing these products when they appeared without the advertising context,” the authors write. The same effect did not show up when the items were problem-solving products.

Important note: None of the ads in the study featured humans — they were just straight-up product shots. Which means we “compare” ourselves to ads for lipstick and perfume in much the same way we compare ourselves to pictures of skinny, airbrushed models and celebrities.

This is pretty fascinating, peeps. So buckle up. Read more…

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[Beauty Overheard] Tom Ford Wants Fat People to Take Their Clothes Off

Tummy by YarnivoreThis tummy belongs to Yarnivore, who shot this self-portrait as a way of facing up to her biggest body anxiety. Love. (Used per Flickr’s Creative Commons License.)

So, former Gucci designer/fashion mogul Tom Ford wants fat people to take their clothes off.

And actually, I agree. Sort of. Wait! I’ll tell you why in a second. First, here’s Tom (via Jezebel and Contact Music):


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Pretty Price Check (12.10.10)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

photo of $132,000 nail polish

  • $132,000: The price tag on this bottle of nail polish. It’s mostly cause of the bottle, which is covered in 1,118 inlaid diamonds. (Diamond-free bottles of the same color sell for around $10.) Golly, I hate when brands pull these “we will stun you with how expensive we can make this product!” gimmicks. (Victoria’s Secret stupidly uncomfortable diamond-encrusted bras, am talking directly to you.) I mean, of course I can make something super expensive if I cover it in diamonds. How is this even a challenge? Especially when the polish inside is no (safer/greener/more effective) better quality than the sh*t you usually make? (Via BellaSugar)


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[Fun With Press Releases] Is Cosmetic Surgery a Career Investment?

Fun with Press Releases: Because sometimes the beauty industry just goes there.

This publicist says yes:


Studies have shown that attractive people have an advantage when it comes to getting hired.  In the recessed economy with so many Americans out of work does it make sense to “invest” in cosmetic surgery?  Smoothing out an angry looking furrowed brow or choosing from a myriad of lunch-hour procedures to look younger and fresher might give job-seekers more confidence and a greater probability of landing their job.

XXX Medical Institute in the XXX area has over 20 years experience as specialists in plastic surgery and eye surgeries. They are available for interviews and comments on this topic.  Dr. XXX of XXX Plastic Surgery is a XXX. area Top Doc and specializes in breast and body cosmetic surgery.  If you would like to speak to anyone on their team regarding a topic, please let us know.

I’m thinking a lot about how the recession has shaped our spending habits this week (like, remember how on Friday, I asked you about this and told you to email me? It is still true and you still should!). For so many of us, the last few years have served as a bit of a wake-up call, whether you were impacted directly and had to do some serious retrenching, or worrying that you might be made you think a little harder about how we got so addicted to buying so much stuff in the first place.


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Bikini Waxes are Definitely Not The Opera

Definitely Not the Opera

Which is why I was so excited when CBC Radio’s DNTO called last week to interview me about Brazilians, inspired by the Slate/DoubleX piece.

For you United States-ers, DNTO is the Canadian “This American Life” (except, again, Canadian. And hosted by the awesome Sook-Yin Lee). Every week, they explore stories on a theme. Saturday’s theme? Making the Private Public.

It’s a terrific show and you can listen to the whole thing here or in iTunes. If you’re in a really big hurry, my story starts at 25:59 and lasts about seven minutes. But do try to listen all the way through, because every story is pretty grand. (You know I adore/am slightly haunted by Sushma Subramanin’s story of being a recovering makeup addict, just for starters.)

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Pretty Price Check (12.03.10)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday roundup of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Marymount basketball team and cheerleaders 1958

  • $150: What you get paid per game if you’re a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Plus the hidden perk of having your body ripped apart by catty judges. (Via Hairpin)
  • $225: What you get paid when you model for Vogue‘s editorial pages.


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On the Subject of Selling Hair

Blond Extensions

This story from last week’s New York Times is still haunting me and it seems like nobody really took much notice, so we better: Poor Russian women are selling their blond hair for around $50 a braid, so you can pay an average of $439 for glorious golden extensions.

This actually made the gray lady’s front page, which surprised me — except for how this piece got top billing there too, so clearly, somebody at the ole NYT has a hair fetish, methinks — because this isn’t quite news. Indian women sell or donate their hair in religious ceremonies all the time, as everyone knows if they saw the Chris Rock movie. In fact, (brunette) hair from Asian countries makes up the majority of the $250 million per year human hair extension market. And the NYT reports that blond women have been selling their hair since the 1960s, only now the demand has substantially increased thanks to extensioned-out stars like Jessica Simpson and my hair crush Blake Lively.

I’m a soft touch when it comes to hair — I cried buckets when Jo sold hers in Little Women — but crowning glory rhetoric aside, doesn’t this whole practice feels like a bad Disney movie in the making? Only instead of Cruella Deville chasing puppies, we’ll have some pretty-yet-plucky blonde (with the Indian chick as her sarcastic sidekick, I mean, it is Disney) running from a cartoon Kevin Paves wielding evil magic scissors, with her spun-gold tresses hidden under a jaunty newsboy cap.

And yet, it’s far more real than that.

So many black women have this lifelong struggle against their natural hair texture, which starts young (check out this awesome news story about a black mom who decided to cut off her extensions after her five-year-old daughter talked about hating her own hair) and never really ends unless they decide to wear it super short once they hit middle age, as Debra J. Dickerson explains over on DoubleX.

Meanwhile, all these Indian, Russian and insert-other-poor-countries-with-great-hair-here women are selling off these pieces of their bodies for grocery money. So their more affluent sisters can achieve cartoonishly long, volumized hair.

Which, by the way, most of us still don’t even realize isn’t real — I just had to break the whole “yes it’s extensions” news about Blake Lively to a good friend last week, and I spent most of last summer in denial myself about the girls on Pretty Little Liars. Like Photoshopping and really good plastic surgery, you can know extensions are out there happening somewhere.. and still not know them when they’re right smack there in front of you, making you feel inadequate about your own hair’s naturally flat top and just-below-the-shoulders stopping point.

In short, human hair extensions make everyone’s hair worth less. While costing you a small fortune. Read more…

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[Beauty Overheard] Emma Watson, Free from Hermione’s Reign of Terror

Truth? I have never read a Harry Potter book or seen a “Harry Potter” movie from start to finish. I’m pretty sure the rest of my family has joined a support group over it (“Loving Your Non-HP-Loving Child” or some such), but there it is. And I wanted to be sure to admit my ignorance before we get started today, because I would like to discuss one Emma Watson, with her adorable new pixie cut!

Here’s what she told WWD about it (via New York Mag’s The Cut blog, where you can see said haircut pictured because I have copyright issues to consider here). Read more…

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    The Eating Insinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America by Virginia Sole Smith

    Pre-order now!