Tag Archives: beauty

Obesity is a problem, yes, so is body-shaming.

This week for Role/Reboot I wrote about Maria Kang (aka “What’s Your Excuse?” fitness mom), this phenomenal piece by a Karen Hitchcock, “Fat City,” and the challenge of holding two seemingly competing ideas in our heads at one time. I contend that obesity-is-a-crisis and body-shaming-is-n0t-helpful are not, actually, competing ideas, but two separate, related problems that need big, multi-faceted solutions.

I really appreciate this comment from the always on point Marianne Cassidy:

Reducing obesity and ending body shaming are not opposing or even parallel goals. They’re the same goal. They want the same things – a healthier, happier population. They can be achieved the same way – by encouraging people to take care of their bodies and giving them the education and resources they need to make informed healthy choices.


Related Post: 1 in 4 women don’t exercise because they’re unhappy with their looks. 

Related Post: Can I have fat pride without throwing thin women under the bus?


Filed under Body Image, Media, Republished!

So What Do You Do Exactly? Hair Model Edition

grace hair 1When I was a kid my favorite part of getting my hair cut was paging through those big coffee table books of crazy hairstyles. Remember when those tiny rubberbanded twists were all the rage? I always wondered, who are these people that waltz around rocking these edgy bowl cuts or mint-green stripes? Welp, turns out, I know one of them! This is Grace, and for the latest edition of my jobs series, So What Do You Do Exactly?, she will tell us a little about being a hair model.

What’s your actual job title? This isn’t so much a real job as an adult “extracurricular activity” [ed. note: Grace has a "real" job too], but when get hired for things I am either a “demo model” or a “presentation model”.  I mostly fall in to the category of “creative cut and color”, which tends to mean asymmetrical or severe looking cuts and colors not commonly or naturally found in human hair.

What would your title be if it described what you actually do? I work on event-based contract for a major salon brand as a hair “demo model.” That means I get my hair cut and colored by creative directors of different salons (basically, the top stylists and colorists, who set the tone for the styles that are “in”).

I think the most accurate descriptor would probably be “living doll”– my head and hair tend to be an experiment ground for whichever instructor is playing around with it that day. They know I’m quite open so I’ve wound up with pretty much every hair cut or color you can imagine. For public events that aren’t just in the salon, there is a makeup artist and wardrobe situation going on too.

grace hair 6How on earth did you get into this line of work? Very simply: I got my hair cut one day, and one thing led to another! A friend in college turned me on to this website where you could sign up to get a free haircut from an “apprentice” at a salon who was auditioning to be a full stylist, and one day I went to quite a fancy salon for my free haircut and the head stylist asked me if I’d modeled before, and asked me back to model for an in-salon training they were going to be having.
From there, I wound up doing a photo shoot with the same salon (You know those big pictures of people’s heads and faces up in a lot of salons? I’m one of them!) and some work as a color model for another salon. This was back in 2010 and I’ve been working for them regularly ever since. As I understand it, I am desirable as a hair model because I amiable and willing to pull off very creative work– I have very thick, dark hair that grows in stick-straight, takes color well, and I like to keep my hair short. I can pretty easily wear the kinds of haircuts people want to see as an example of creative work but don’t want to wear themselves– super angular or asymmetrical looks and “circus colors” for the most part.
grace hair 4How many different haircuts have you had? Best? Worst?
I honestly can’t say how many different cuts I’ve had– in fact I’m pretty much sure I’ve only had the same haircut twice since I’ve started (this December and January actually, when a stylist I was modeling for was getting really in to classic cuts “invented” by Vidal Sassoon, and I had the right hair type to show one, the five-point cut.)
I think my favorite was a few days before I graduated from college– I did a show where the stylist asked me what my school color was (maroon!) and what color the gown was (black!) and gave me these amazing angular bangs that were dyed maroon and intentionally super awesome peeking out from under a graduation hat.
The good thing is there’s really no such thing as a bad haircut because the haircut I get on stage will often be completely different than the one I go home with– they let me know when they’re illustrating techniques that aren’t “wearable” (say, chin-length wispy sideburns or bangs that cover the eyes) and are totally not offended if I ask them to change the cut or adjust the color afterwards.
grace hair 3Do you get to go to hair shows like the ones Chris Rock featured in Good Hair?  I’ve actually never seen Good Hair! But, I do a show every year called America’s Beauty Show at the Chicago convention center that is huge and really over the top, where lots of different salons and brands from all over the US show their work. The group I work for tends to be one of the classier ones there– cut and color with makeup and wardrobe, but no wigs, extensions, etc– but you will see girls (and guys) working for other groups with big hair, huge added-in hairpieces, body paint, etc. Shows are actually the best, though, because you get paid the most for doing them– depending on the number of days you work it can be in the high hundreds of dollars.
Sidenote on the money thing since I know I would wonder if I were the one reading this: There is money in doing this, but it’s not a living wage. Sometimes you’re just getting the free haircut (which if you had to pay for it, would be a $200-300 experience, so that’s nice by itself), but for more public events you do get paid a base rate per day or per event; I used my modeling money to pay for my books while I was in school, so it was useful income but not life-sustaining.
grace hair 5What would we be surprised to know about the hair modeling industry? Most people who do hair modeling are not who you’d be looking at on the street thinking, “Wow, that girl must be a model.” Hair modeling tends to be a lot more forgiving in terms of height and body shape/size; I’m only about 5’6″ and I eat food regularly and with much gusto.
You do need to be able to walk in heels comfortably, but the “model walk” that’s actually desirable is not so much a strut and hip-swag as an “I am comfortable walking in heels and can go in a straight line”. While I’ve seen a lot of the traditional super tall skinny model-type at hair shows working for other companies, the group I work for especially tends to just pull people that have the look they’re going for when they come in for hair cuts (like I did) or by standing outside of art schools.
Related Post: So What Do You Do Exactly? Tween Lit Edition
Related Post: So What Do You Do Exactly? T-Shirt Edition


Filed under Art, Chicago

Model Behavior and a Train of Thought

MODEL-MORPHOSIS - T Magazine Blog - NYTimes.com

Model Hannah Gaby Odiele for Marc Jacobs

Confession: There are few things I find more engrossing than model “before and afters.” There’s a whole genre of this stuff, with variations like “Celebrities without makeup!” and “They have cellulite too!” and “Stars: They’re Just Like Us!” and I can’t pull my eyes away.

The example above is from the New York Times Magazine in a series called Model-Morphosis (It’s interactive! Yippee!) but here are a few other examples from the blog I Waste So Much Time

Supermodels without makeup.-2

Supermodels without makeup.-1

Supermodels without makeup.I think the word “engrossed” is the right one. It’s not “fun” per se, to sit and parse the appearances of beautiful people looking less beautiful, but I do find it some twisted combination of mesmerizing, fascinating, horrifying, reassuring, and enlightening. I see pictures like this and in quick succession I think:

a) Wow, she is not attractive

b) That was mean. Stop judging.

c) But like, really, that is all make-up and hair and lighting and photoshop…

d) Maybe I could look like that with make-up and hair and lighting and photoshop?

e) Hold up. Why do I want to look like that?

f) This is fucked. Why is our standard of beauty so far outside the spectrum of what actual humans look like?

g) I want no part of this.

h) Except… look how much bigger her eyes looked like when they added mascara…

i) Maybe I should invest in some good mascara

j) But why are big eyes a good thing? What’s wrong with the size of my eyes?


l) Except not as perfect as they are… with make-up and big hair and lighting and photoshop…

m) But if people don’t know about the make-up and hair and lighting and photoshop…

n) Then they just think that these women are abnormally beautiful,

o) Which they are not, because they are just normal looking humans.

p) What does it mean if we think these women are normal?

q) It means we start doing things like shaving our jaw bones

r) and getting eyelash extensions

s) and injecting collagen into our lips.

t) That shit is scary.

u) So…maybe it’s okay if everyone knows that this not what they really look like?

v) So… maybe these “before and afters” are actually kind of an educational tool?

w) We should teach media literacy in schools. There should be warning labels on magazine covers.

x) I hope I don’t have daughters

y) That’s a really sad thing to say.

z) I hate everyone and we are doomed.

Related Post: Average-sized fitness models. Who knew?

Related Post: How old is she really? Underage models.


Filed under Advertising, Body Image, Gender, Media

It’s telling that they call it “cover-up”

This week at Role/Reboot I wrote about my relationship with make-up. The inspiration for this piece was some combination of Caitlin Moran, Leighton Meester, Hillary Clinton, Toddlers in Tiaras, Sephora, and those annoying Latisse ads.

In How to Be a Woman, Moran wrote:

“I love drag and make-up and reinvention and wigs and make-believe and inventing yourself from the floor up, as many times as you need to. Every day, if you want.  At the very end of all this arguing, women should be allowed to look how they damn well please. The patriarchy can get OFF my face and tits.” 

Gah, she is just the best. And then, Gossip Girl actress Leighton Meester was recently quoted in Cosmo saying, “I don’t care if there are a million photos of me with no makeup. I love being able to walk down the street without it. We should promote women not having to wear makeup, or at least feel we can go out without it.”

I couldn’t agree with her more, but the language of her statement makes it clear that the default position is to be plastered in cosmetics, and that “being able” to go without it is somehow a bold statement. It seems to me that face-painting would be the unusual case, not our baseline for leaving the house, but I think I’m deluding myself (at least, for celebrities).

And then there’s Hillary, who is just the biggest BAMF around. Her quote, my favorite, is in my essay:

Related Post: That time I went to Sephora

Related Post: Katie Makkai’s “Pretty”

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Filed under Advertising, Body Image, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Republished!

Sunday Scraps 67

1. TELEVISION: Someone took the time to make a Lego-animated recap of The Wire. It’s disconcertinly accurate, down to McNulty’s boozing and Lester’s dollhouses (via The Atlantic Wire).

2. NAMES: File this under things “Things I Worry About A Lot.” NPR investigates what happens when hyphen-girl meets hyphen boy and they try to name their offspring.

3. CRIME: Great, complex New York Times Magazine essay on the fate of Greg Ousley, who killed his parents at age fourteen, was tried as an adult, and is now a “model” prisoner.

4. BOOKS: Do you like books? Do you like the history of books? How about the history of the deckle edge (that rough, uneven way that some printers style book pages)? Then this piece from The Millions is for you.

5. BEAUTY: Just a little reminder that we could all be supermodels if we had the resources, and cheekbones. Or, at bare minimum, supermodels are really just very tall normal people when you take off the make-up.

6. TECH: TimesCast interviews Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr, about her new project, Pinwheel.

Related Post: Sunday 66: Library propaganda, Nancy Pelosi, dying languages, etc.

Related Post: Sunday 65: Nicki Minaj, Margaret Atwood on Twitter, lady scientists.


Filed under Art, Body Image, Books, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People

Sunday Scraps 53

1. BEAUTY: One mom, Eleni Gage, writes about how she pierced her infant’s ears and wound up on the receiving end of a whole slew of comments ranging from “female genital mutilation!” to accusations of class warfare.

2. REDDIT: Pretty fascinating account from Wired of how a rampant Reddit thread about a hypothetical Romans vs. United States military battle became a sensation, a screenplay, and a soon-to-be-released blockbuster.

3. GROCERY: Ever been to the Bi-Rite in the Mission in San Francisco? How did the store on the corner become the little grocery nobody can shut up about?

4. ORIENTATION: From Salon, one story about how San Francisco’s sexual fluidity pushed Anna Pulley away from her lesbian history towards conventional hetero sex.

5. BLOOD: Incredible, moving, beautifully-written piece in The Atlantic by John Fram on the course of his relationship after his boyfriend’s HIV status is revealed.

6. ART: Artist Andrew Myers creates 3D portraits out of screws, a drill, and paint.

Related Post: Sunday 52 = Advice for black children, Southerners deserve more, SATs at 35

Related Post: Sunday 51 = Rooming with Gloria, Bruni on double standards, A League of Their Own


Filed under Art, Body Image, Food, Gender, Hollywood, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sex

“Don’t worry, we’ll get it all fixed”

I’m still thinking about that “Death of Pretty” article I wrote about yesterday. But no matter how much I mull it over, all that happens is that my list of objections grows and I just get more irate. I’ve discovered an antidote in the form of a youtube clip. This is Katie Makkai:

This kind of commentary makes me feel sad for the world, but thrilled that there are people and poets like Katie Makkai who can articulate so powerfully the corner into which we have backed ourselves. I’d write more about it, but she’s got it covered, and I’m too busy watching it again.

Related Post: We talk a lot about princess crap, but what about Disney princes?

Related Post: I learned how to use make-up. Sort of.

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Filed under Art, Body Image

“The Death of Pretty”

Read this piece called “The Death of Pretty” by Pat Archbold at the National Catholic Register. You’ve been warned; you will want to tear your hair and wail.

Archbold’s thesis goes like this: “Pretty” is the combination of aesthetic beauty and projected innocence. Women no longer aim for pretty, instead they aim for hot. Pretty women bring out the best in men (namely the desire to protect), and hot women bring out their basest instincts. A few choice quotes:

“As I said, pretty inspires men’s nobler instincts to protect and defend.  Pretty is cherished. Hotness, on the other hand, is a commodity.  Its value is temporary and must be used.  It is a consumable.”

“Who can forget how pretty Olivia Newton John was at the beginning of Grease.  Beautiful and innocent.  But her desire to be desired leads her to throw away all that is valuable in herself in the vain hopes of getting the attention of a boy.  In the process, she destroys her innocence and thus destroys the pretty.  What we are left with is hotness.”

Let’s vomit all over that, shall we?

Dear Mr. Archbold,

Let’s begin where we share common ground. I, too, have noticed the trend away from “pretty” (as you so narrowly defined it) and towards a commercialized sexiness personified by Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and the like. I, too, think that teaching young women and girls to aim for sex appeal is damaging and unhealthy.

You believe that there is a dichotomy between hot girls and pretty girls, one that correlates to promiscuity and sexual purity. I believe there is another axis, one for which the highest values are agency, confidence, sexual satisfaction, and pleasure. I believe that this is the axis should teach women (and men) to aim for.

You believe that women on a pedestal with men as their protectors is an idealized state of affairs. I believe this does a disservice to us all; across the chasms that such an arrangement creates, we can’t see each other clearly, or communicate with each other honestly. Protection is something we offer to those that cannot help themselves. It is not something we offer to equals, unless the desire for protection is mutual and reciprocal. There is no place for equality on your spectrum.

You believe the opposite of innocence is promiscuity. I believe the opposite of innocence is wisdom, experience, and self-knowledge.



Related Post: Talking to your daughter about beauty, a piece on dads and daughters.

Related Post: White House gear for boys, pink crap for girls.


Filed under Body Image, Gender, Sex

White House Gear for the Boys, Princess Gear for the Girls

In all the (deserved) hoopla about the documentary Miss Representation I somehow missed the fact that the writer, director, and producer of the film was Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of the Lt. Governor of California, Gavin Newsom.

A little birdie sent me her Ted Talk about what inspired her to make the film. She’s not a stellar speaker, but she hits her stride after a few minutes and her message is loud and clear. Her unique position in Hollywood (she’s an actress whose agent told her to take her MBA off her resume) and politics makes for some pretty disturbing anecdotes. My favorite (by which I mean most nausea-inducing) is Newsom’s anecdote about receiving congratulatory letters and gifts from the President and the VP for her son, but not her daughter.

Other highlight: “shows like Jersey Shores.”

Related Post: A Ted Talk about washing machines.

Related Post: Sarah Palin’s sexual history is apparently fair game?


Filed under Advertising, Gender, Hollywood, Media

Sunday Scraps 36

1. HAIR: I love this essay on Jezebel by Autumn Whitefield about the social and personal implications of short hair on women. Maybe, as she suggests, the expressed male preference for long hair comes from conditioning, not from some sort of inherently biological attraction.

2. WRITING: Gaby Dunn (100 Interviews) explains some of the nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes of trying to make a name and a living from blogging. Apparently, it’s not as easy as she makes it seem.

3. CHALLENGE: Best of luck.

4. ENVOY: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named Ellen DeGeneres as a special envoy for global AIDS awareness. Not sure what a special envoy does, but I love these two ladies, so who cares.

5. INK: New York Times has a gallery of science-related tattoos. I happen to know a gentleman with the chemical structure of seratonin on his arm, and another with an anatomically correct skull of a T-rex. Beautiful and educational.

6. WEDDED BLISS: Fun piece from The Frisky about non-traditional engagements involving Jim Beam and mixed feelings on wearing $1,000 diamonds on your finger.

Related Post: Sunday 35 = Lady boxers, Louis vs. Rick, Magic Johnson and more.

Related Post: Sunday 34 = The Phantom Tollbooth, beluga births, race in Hollywood casting.


Filed under Art, Body Image, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People