Category Archives: For Extra Credit

Backstory: How Beauty U Led to Mary Kay

Investigative Fund: Why I Went to Beauty School by Virginia Sole-Smith


Another coda to The Pink Pyramid Scheme — and more free online content for y’all! The Investigative Fund asked me to blog about why I went to beauty school in the first place, since that is, of course, how I met my first Mary Kay ladies and stumbled on to this story.

Regular readers here might think you already know the whole Beauty Schooled story, but this post is still worth a read — because I talk about the enormous gap between what women spend on beauty ($200 billion in 2009, the year I enrolled at Beauty U) and what women can earn when they sell beauty. As you’ve probably guessed by now, it’s not a hell of a lot whether you’re hosting Mary Kay parties or waxing eyebrows in a salon. And since beauty workers are almost always also beauty consumers, too … there is math here that is just not adding up. Read more. 


Filed under Beauty Labor, Career Opportunities, Customer Cult, For Extra Credit, Makeup, Mary Kay, Press

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More Kitchen Porn.

Cultivate Open Shelves vs. Cabinets by Virginia Sole-Smith

I’ve got a story up on asking one of life’s more confounding questions: Should you have open shelving or closed cabinets in your kitchen? 

I know. It’s a head-scratcher. But we roped in Sherry Petersik of the absurdly addictive Young House Love to push her open shelving agenda give her take and I think you’ll walk away with a much clearer head. (Hint: It’s all good! You can have both!)


Filed under For Extra Credit, Press

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Brave Books for Girls (Not Princesses)

Brave Books for Girls Virginia Sole-Smith Amy Palanjian

Last week’s Dara-Lynn Weiss debacle reminded me of one of the biggest problems with this whole, endless is weight health? debate: When we focus relentlessly on weight and beauty, we teach girls that their entire value comes from their weight and/or beauty. Just ask all those teenage girls posting YouTube videos about it. This is why I push to separate conversations about health from conversations about size. In our culture, right now, the latter is just too tangled up in the Beauty Myth — start talking about weight or BMI as a non-judgmental health marker and you’ll all too quickly veer into fat-shaming territory with all its moralizing rhetoric. When we don’t even know for sure that it’s the actual excess weight causing the problems, why go there? Let’s talk about enjoying nutritious foods, finding fun ways to stay active and other healthy lifestyle choices that can be taught in a less judgmental fashion.

But it’s not enough to get the Fat Talk out of our health conversations. Girls are hit with the Holy Trinity of Pretty/Pink/Princess from infancy (for a more thorough explanation of how that happens, check out this post on Peggy Orenstein‘s Cinderella Ate My Daughter). So even if you can teach them that these things have nothing to do with health (a major victory in and of itself), they’re learning that they have everything to do with making friends and being popular, liked by boys, successful, and so on. Pretty/Pink/Princess may not sound so evil on the surface, and to be clear: I’m writing this as a former girl who ardently loved all things pretty/pink/princess and I hope to one day have a daughter and I will certainly enjoy the heck out of it if/when she goes through the PPP phase.

But when we narrow our girls’ options down to nothing but Pretty/Pink/Princess, we’ve got trouble. Because that’s when they start thinking the “Am I pretty or ugly?” question is the most important thing ever, that’s when it gets more difficult to unpick Pretty from other valued character traits, that’s when the cycle continues.

All of this is a long way of telling you about a fun baby present that I put together for my friend Amy, who is expecting a baby girl in June. I have no doubt that Amy is going to teach her daughter that the world is wide open and full of possibilities in addition to Pretty/Pink/Princess. (Because this isn’t about eradicating the PPP — I probably can’t make that clear enough. It’s about presenting plenty of other options, so the PPP stays in its place and doesn’t become the all-powerful narrative of a girl’s life.)

Awhile back, Amy had mentioned wanting suggestions of books to read to the baby  so I put together a collection of all of my favorite books from childhood featuring brave (non-princess-y) girls as the main characters. My mom (who is awesome and responsible for making sure I read most of these in the first place!) and sister (also a prolific reader who now works in education) brainstormed with me to pull together the ultimate list. Then I winnowed it down to my favorites, which was delightfully difficult. There really are a huge number of amazing books with strong heroines out there — despite how many times you had to read The Red Badge of Courage in school (blergh).

So here’s my list, pictured above and Amazon-linked below. Appropriate for ages 3 (or however young you can push Madeline on ‘em?) to 18 (and really, well beyond), with nary a princess in sight. Okay, there’s one but she’s very ordinary. There’s also one garishly pink cover (thanks publishing industry!) and some of these girls happen to be pretty, but that’s really not the point.

And I can guarantee that none of them ever so much as mentions their weight.



Filed under Beauty Standards, For Extra Credit, Health

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Dear Teenage Girls: You’re Asking the Wrong Question (But It’s Not Your Fault)

 Time Magazine tells me there is a new and disturbing trend du jour: Teen girls posting YouTube videos in order to let the Interwebs decide the 2012 version of that age-old burning question: Hot or not?

A quick survey of YouTube does indeed pull up dozens of videos like this, including the one above where a girl in an awesome koala hat explains that she’s going to show us lots of pictures of herself because “I just wanted to make a random video seeing if I was, like, ugly or not because a lot of people call me ugly and I think I’m ugly and fat, but all of my friends that are girls, they’re just, like, Oh you’re so beautiful … and I’m, like, Shut up because I’m not beautiful.”


Filed under Beauty Standards, For Extra Credit, Happenings

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Pinning Things Down

Virginia on Pinterest

Hi, my name is Virginia and I’m addicted to Pinterest. (If you’re already confused, click here to find out what it’s all about.)

My friend Amy got me hooked way back in September 2010. I’m fairly sure it’s the only thing we’ve ever early adopted! Since then, she’s pinned a reasonable 268 items. Meanwhile I’ve pinned 839 things.

Ahem. That total actually went up to 845 pins since I wrote the first draft of this post.


Filed under Beauty Standards, For Extra Credit, Happenings

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Happy Black Friday

Take a break from all that damn shopping for some beauty-related funny from my friend, the hilarious and talented stand-up Sue Funke. 


Hee hee. The hair mayonnaise thing, I know! Now back to shopping. Those flat screen TVs aren’t going to buy themselves.

Filed under Beauty Labor, For Extra Credit, Happenings

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Is Childless By Choice On the Rise?

iVillage Virginia Sole-Smith Childless By ChoiceNope, today’s post isn’t about beauty or body image. We’re mixing it up a bit over iVillage, so be prepared to roll with it — and today I’m talking about new data that shows 43 percent of Gen X women (that’s those of you aged 33 to 46 — so technically, not me. I’m an X-3 years, or a Y+ or something) aren’t having kids.

Which is higher than ever before, so at first you’re all, hooray! More lifestyle options for everyone! Being single or married without kids doesn’t make you sad — it often makes you the most interesting (and well-read, well-traveled, well-dressed and well-rested) person at anyone’s dinner party.


Filed under Career Opportunities, For Extra Credit, Press

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Just Saying.

Royal Wedding Cinderella

This landed in my inbox this morning.* Our Princess Obsession really is out of control.

*Thanks Aunt Donna! (If anyone knows the actual source, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.)

Filed under For Extra Credit, Glossed Over

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[Fashionable Feminist] Friend Friday: Rules of Engagement

Last week’s Friend Friday post was about fashion and feminism. This week, the Qs are about the nuts and bolts of blogging etiquette. I don’t often write about how to blog — mostly because I think I am still learning how to do it! — but I thought it might be interesting to talk a little bit about how the Beauty Schooled sausage is made.

Q: Guest posts are a good way to gain new exposure. What do you think is the appropriate way to go about securing a guest spot?

I adore guest posts. Both writing them for other peeps and featuring them here on Beauty Schooled. Let’s face it: Coming up with daily blogging content can be a grind, and it’s nice to cut yourself a break every now and then, by letting someone else do the work for you I mean, featuring exciting new writers that your blog readers might not otherwise know about.


Filed under Fashion, For Extra Credit

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Good Morning From Your Local Beauty Industry Spambot

Hey remember last month, in the Pretty Price Check, when I talked about the No! No! Hair Removal System? This is what I said:

No! No! Hair 8800 is the ridiculous name of this DIY hair removal device, voted At-Home Beauty Treatment of the Year by 50,000 consumers in an industry-sponsored survey. I hope everyone pronounces its name with an appropriate level of exclamation-point-indicated excitement. Or is it horror? (via GCI)

Well, look-y who wants to comment on that:

Author : no no hair removal system reviews
URL    :
Whois  :


Filed under Beauty Labor, For Extra Credit, Hair

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