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Monday, 26 March 2012

Fotoshop by Adobe

Been busy lately, so I thought I would leave you guys with this funny video, claiming to advertise 'Fotoshop' by Adobe. I think this is a great video for awareness about the beauty industry. It does a good job of describing the truth behind the face presented in advertisements.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Serial #'d Vaginas

So, a new law proposed by Republican Debbie Lesko (called HB2625) was recently endorsed by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 6 - 2. What does this law propose? Arizona wants to give employers the right to fire a woman for using birth control to prevent pregnancy. Yes, that's right. If you're not using birth control for "non-sexual" reasons, you can kiss your job goodbye if your employer so desires it. The article at Jezebel wraps up a lot of the points I'd like to make quite succinctly here (in of course a vulgar and well-versed manner) but I just want to voice my own outrage.

Why the fuck does the US seem to be hell bent on making unwanted pregnancy a reality for every underprivileged sexually active woman. Why the hell should insurance not cover birth control? It covers vasectomies. It covers cancer. If republicans are so pro-fetus and anti-abortion, why raise the rates of unwanted pregnancy, and therefore the 'horrible sins' of a well thought out abortion?

Oh I get it! The idea is, if women might get pregnant, they'll wait until they're on their marriage bed before even considering in engaging in the foul act of sexual intercourse. Are they fucking retarded? I try to keep my opinions from being vulgar, but this is just ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. I am outraged and very happy to not live in the US right now. I pity women of the US for having to put up with the state seeking to regulate their bodies in such a foul manner. Come off your high horse and realize that you can't force a largely religious opinion on an entirely nonreligious person. Such bullshit.

That's not to say that Canada doesn't have arguments over abortion, we do. Our government is conservative and I worry everyday that one day I may not receive the support if something does go wrong and I find myself with an unwanted pregnancy. It's like the government assumes women run around having unprotected sex just to cost the state money. How can people be so ignorant?

It all goes back to the roots of feminism. My body. My choice. If women aren't property anymore under law then how does that give the government the right try and control these bodies? What happened to the supposed separation of Church and State? Seems like just a bunch of vacant words right now.

Line up ladies, pretty soon they'll put serial numbers in our vaginas.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Skincare without the price

Look 439412347 years younger!
Yea, you've probably heard that before, and host of other slogans that skincare 'experts' use to coax you into buying their products. Personally, I don't employ a rigorous skincare regiment to keep my skin in the shape that I want it to be in. And while I can't stop consumers from spending umpteen dollars on products (because yes, they can work it's just they probably won't do all that they say they will) I can however advise you on how to keep your skin clean naturally and without breaking the bank.

1. Hormones:
 Sorry young men and women, you're hormones are raging and you're probably going to get acne. It's the way of life. Everyone gets it and it sucks. I know it does. Yes, some products work, but it's going to cost you. In extreme cases, prescriptions are sometimes given out by doctors. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can really do about your hormones but ride it out until your skin clears up.

2. De-stress:
Holy crap! The number of times I have gotten pimples from exam week! Stress is personally my number one cause of pimples. My recommendation is that you take some time to de-stress and you WILL see the results.

3. Sweat:
Yep, sweat is not only your body's way of controlling its temperature, it also keeps your pores clean. Next time you feel a breakout coming on, go for a good cardio workout. It's not only good for your overall health, it'll help keep your skin clean too.

4. You are what you eat:
Foods high in anti-oxidants are great for your skins health. These foods include berries, red grapes, tomatoes, and whole grain foods (just to name a few). Not only are they great lifestyle choices, they also help fight signs of aging and keep skin clear.

5. Swimming in Salt Water:
Swimming in salt water, while terrible on your hair, actually promotes moisture in your skin and keeps the pores clear. Not all pools are salt water, so you should probably check before doing this regularly because it can actually result in negative skin effects if the water is chlorinated.

6. Sunblock.
My mother is a sun-worshiper and her skin has been destroyed by the sun. She has had skin cancer 17 times and her skin looks like it has been through a warzone. Put some sunblock on or seek the shade. I know a tan looks good but too much tan can literally kill you.

8. Wash your fricken face!
This is probably the most important one, to be honest. The number of friends that I have who wear lots of makeup and then just don't wash it off before they go to bed drives me insane. If you're not going to wash your makeup off, don't complain about acne and a bad complexion. It is the easiest thing you can do to promote healthy skin.

When it comes to picking products for my skin, I try to avoid ones with a high price tag because that usually means I'm just paying for their massive marketing campaign rather than the quality of the product itself. I use a generic liquid soap on my skin because I find that products high in chemicals like those blackhead removers and fancy face washes actually cause my skin to breakout rather than prevent it.

One other important fact I'd like to mention is MOISTURIZER. Doesn't have to cost a ton, just pick the stuff that's right for your skin. I personally use a cheap, generic moisturizer with SPF 15 to help stop the sun from aging me beyond my years.

On a final note, your skin is the largest organ in your body. You know those commercials that say "use this get healthy looking skin!"? Personally, I'd prefer if the largest organ in my body didn't just look healthy, but actually was healthy. Also, nobody has perfect skin. Don't worry if you have imperfections, the commercials are all airbrushed anyway.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Where the real problem is at ...

According to a new study that Marketing Week recently published, women want their cosmetics to work harder. They want a simpler, faster way to achieve the look that they want, (ie. instant pimple zapper, one step foundation, one step acne cream, etc.) and they want it to work fast. While the full (rather long) article can be read here, I'd like to put my own 2 cents in (again).

The article mentions that consumers are looking for three key things when it comes to beauty products and brands; multipurpose products, detailed information, and genuine celebrity endorsements. What intrigues me most here is the last point. What is it about celebrities that garners enough trust that we are willing to let them shape our decisions when we do everyday shopping at the store? I must admit, I'm guilty of trusting people I've never met (ever heard of Mike Holmes from 'Holmes Inspection'?) and I'm sure that I've let a celebrity shape my choice of product, but I honestly can't rationalize why. This got me thinking that if I can't rationalize why I do something, then why do I do it? When you think about it, what makes a celebrity different from a regular person that enables a person to put unearned faith in them?

The study briefly touched on the reasons people believe that they need these products, and it wasn't just the obvious:
According to 67% of respondents, being beautiful “helps you to get more out of life”.

I just had to bold that quote and put it all on its own, and not because I find it ridiculous. Guess what? It's borderline true. I have read so many studies that prove that physical attractiveness (for women in particular, but men too) enables a person to get a higher position at work, a better mate (duh) and helps people to feel more content. No wonder the beauty industry has such a hold on consumers! Its advertisements are simply a manipulation of an idea that society (and even Darwinian ideas of genetics) has enabled to become truth.

This got me thinking... to change the marketing of the beauty industry, we need to change what we have allowed to become truth. And to change that, we need to change the way our very society thinks and makes decisions.

That's one hell of a task.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Red Means Ready-to-Go According to Study

So, I recently read an article on the revelation of the colour red and the responses it produced by men when women were styled in it. You can read the full article here, but I have a couple of thoughts on this shocking revelation (as always).

First of all; interesting, but kind of obvious.

What man wouldn't sexually advance on that? Hmm?
This study says the reason for men's interest in women in red was because these women seemed "more receptive to sexual advances." I'm sorry, but what? I literally laughed out loud. This study just used technical words to say they think you'll be easy. Why? Because you're wearing a colour that has been sexualized by the media (think the elegant woman with the red lipstick on the white collar) and the beauty industry alike. Not to mention it's association with red-light districts (look it up). And while I'm not gonna lie that red's a show-stopping colour, you can't deny iconic images of the women with the red pouty lips and the long, matching red dress. This colour has been sexualized over and over again.

With this study, we obviously need to consider how the women were styled in red. Was it done in a seductive manner? I know the article says it was the changing of a shirt, but I've seen some pretty revealing shirts in my time, and also some not-so sexy ones. I'd be interested in seeing if the study produced different results with different styles of shirt, personally. I mean, if I came dressed up like Nicki Minaj (see right) to a bar I wonder what kind of attention I'd get?

Also, we see the colour red everyday. It psychologically grabs our attention. What colour means STOP? What colour means McDonald's? The point is, I don't know why we needed a study to figure this out. Just look up next time you stop.

Happy Belated International Women's Day

I know I'm a bit late, but I just wanted to say Happy International Women's Day... why? I don't know. I honestly don't see the point in an 'awareness' day that is supposed to promote equality when the fact that the day exists is truly unequal. Why? Where is International Men's Day? Don't get me wrong, I support Women's rights, but I think it's a bit backwards of the cause to have a day dedicated to women and not men if the ultimate goal is equality. Furthermore, while I think that awareness about a cause is a great thing, what about action?

And it is obvious that action is still required. Still, in 2012, women are paid less than their male counterparts for the same position. You can read more about the Gender Pay Gap (Ontario-specific) here. Despite the fact that it's actually against federal law for women to be paid less than men, it still happens.

The article linked above cites the following reasons for the pay gap:

  • women choosing or needing to leave and re-enter the workforce in order to meet family care-giving responsibilities, resulting in a loss of seniority, advancement opportunities and wages
  • occupational segregation in historically undervalued and low-paying jobs, such as childcare and clerical work
  • traditionally lower levels of education (although this is becoming less of a factor as more and more women graduate from all levels of education)
  • less unionization amongst female workers
  • discrimination in hiring, promotion and compensation practices in the workplace
I have personally experienced the last billet on this list. Living in Oil and Gas country, many of the 'decent paying' jobs are male-oriented, and it is very difficult for women to be hired into any of the industries. Women are hired, but usually for trade-specific or office jobs. I have personally been turned down by companies, or offered wages less than male counterparts of the same qualifications by companies in the area.

Overall, it's disheartening to think that the world is celebrating how far we've come with this inherently unequal awareness day for women when the facts are we still have such a long, long way to go.

Beauty Seduction

I recently read an interesting article on the emotional appeal of advertisements in the Beauty industry. It explains that certain colours and combinations trigger an emotional experience when interacting with an advertisement. You can read the full article here.

Well, I've known this for some time, like how the colour red triggers hunger (think McDonald's and Arby's) but honestly hadn't thought of the way that this applied to the beauty industry. Colours such as green (think Garnier) imply natural ingredients and that the company is 'good for the earth'. I personally have never heard of Garnier ever doing something for the earth's preservation, have you? In the article, though, a participant stated that Garnier is "committed to using natural resources". Hmm...
Another participant, when speaking of Dove products, said that "Social mission means they strive to do something good". Uh, what? That social mission is the Campaign for Real Beauty, a marketing scheme that while it may do some good things is not inherently designed to "do something good," it is designed to maximize profits.

This study just reminds me (and hopefully you) of the need to be aware of the way that things are being marketed to us. We need to be conscious of not only what we're buying but why we're buying. So that brings me to my questions; what appeals to you about your favourite beauty brand, is it emotional or quality based? Do you maybe think it's about the quality, while it is truly an emotional opinion? It is both? Discuss in the comments below or contact me on twitter.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

World's Youngest Female Billionaire

Spanx Logo.
Forbes magazine recently put what it believes to be the world's youngest female billionaire: 41-year-old Sara Blakely, inventor of Spanx®. You can read the full article here, but I'd like to highlight some key points.

First of all, Sara Blakely is 41. While that is by no means ancient, it's a disparate number from what Forbes has crowned the Facebook Four, the youngest of whom is 27. The same article the mentions the facebook four later goes on to state that the youngest women of wealth  "both inherited, rather than built their fortunes". Apparently, that is what makes Sara Blakely so unique; that she built her wealth without the help or financial backing of a man.

From Sara Blakely's cover on Forbes.
Now, am I the only one that finds that to be a shame? Maybe it's coincidence, maybe it's just the way that things played out, but why are there not more female powerhouses in the business of being extremely rich? I know, being rich isn't everything, but only 2 out of the 20 youngest billionaires are women. That's 10%. And they inherited their position from a man.

Why the lack of female entrepreneurship? What do you think? Post comments or tweet me on twitter and get into the discussion.

UPDATE: Thanks to Heather (see comments) I have a few articles for you guys to check out if you're interested in this topic further.

1. Bank of America Long-Term Projections
2. The Triumph of Working Women Around the World
3. The Richer Sex

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Plus-size or just REAL?

The gorgeous woman on the right is Robyn Lawley, international model. You can find more about Robyn on her facebook page. This beautiful woman is not just any type of cookie cutter model; she is a plus-size model. Now, hopefully I don't have to tell you what is wrong with this, but I have been surprised by less, so I am going to divulge anyway.

How on earth is Robyn Lawley a plus-size model when she herself does not wear plus-size clothing? At least in Canada, most plus-size clothing stores are for women sizes 14+. Robyn is smaller than me and I am a size 11. 

The influx of "plus-size" models in the fashion industry is a good thing, I'm not denying that. However, there is an inherent issue when the models that are being labelled "plus-size" are far more representative of an average sized woman than a woman who is truly overweight. What does presenting this image do to young women who look to the beauty industry for ideals and inspiration, when the woman whose body is most like theirs is labelled "plus-size". It is quite possible that they themselves will begin to think of themselves of overweight, when it is likely that they are not.

In my opinion, the prevalence of plus-size models increased in order to satiate the claims that the beauty industry represented an unhealthy and marginal standard of beauty. The women that they chose to represent the healthy and more "real" beauty of average women, while a commendable act, were then labelled as "plus-size". I don't know what's more unhealthy; telling women that they should be thin or telling healthy women that they are considered "plus-size" in the eyes of the fashion industry.

Nice try, beauty industry, but not enough.

Pinteresting ...

The Next Fashion Week?

So, I'm currently awaiting an invitation from Pinterest, what Maclean's magazine recently dubbed the new facebook. I'm not sure what the hype is all about quite yet; I've just perused the pin-boards (or whatever you call them) rather briefly, but I have definitely noticed some things that might bear mentioning.

First of all, there seems to be an obvious female majority in the users of Pinterest. Whether that is due to feminine content or the large presence of women on Pinterest has resulted in the feminine content, that would require more analysis. However, it is interesting and I believe puts Pinterest in an excellent position to become a  tool for fashion marketing.

In my brief look, I noticed that many posts on Pinterest were actually those of fashions and "Outfits" that members had found or designed. In one case, a member had pinned a scarf from Etsy, along with the price and  the scarf's maker. Because of this, I foresee Pinterest as an excellent marketing tool for designers, both indie and mainstream, to reach an already targeted market of women.

Why do I find this interesting? Well, I personally am concerned with the way that the fashion and beauty industry markets itself, as I have already expressed in my blog. When I look at all the "thinspo" blogs on tumblr, I worry that these same blogs could crop up/have already appeared on Pinterest. What further concerns me is whether the same methods of mainstream beauty marketing will permeate into the community of pinterest. What do you think? Post comments below, I would love to have a healthy debate!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Dove: "Real" Beauty?

You've probably seen this video, and if not, you really should. It illustrates the power of technology and manipulation in the "beauty" industry.

This video was released by Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty that began in 2004. You've likely seen the commercials on T.V. where real women who are truly beautiful are featured in a mostly non-sexual way in what seems to be an effort to support self-esteem and true beauty. While advertising good intentions, this campaign is a perfect candidate to illustrate the importance of critical thinking when it comes to media and advertising.

It's true, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty does put forth a great message for women and men, young and old. However, if you stop to think about it, it's the opposite message that the same advertising company that designed the ads for Dove uses in its AXE commercials. Yes, the Campaign for Real Beauty is the same company that produced the following commercial with models running in slow motion:

To think critically about Dove's campaign, one must realize that the advertising company has not decided to advertise "real beauty" out of the goodness of their heart: they are looking for profits. Imagine doing the same  commercial for AXE with overweight and average women. It probably wouldn't entice a lot of men to use AXE in the same way that the actual commercial does. The company has a target audience in mind for each client, and has tailored their ads for each. While with the AXE ads it is rather obvious the inherent issues with them, one must also recognize that while Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty sends a great message, it shares it's root goal with all good advertisements: sales.

I don't mean to knock the Campaign for Real Beauty, I am simply trying to promote critical thinking when it comes to media and the like. I love the message that Dove sends, I really do think it's important, but it needs to be recognized that the message is not for pure reasons. It is an advertisement. It's there to sell you something. Just be careful what you're buying.

Covergirl Lashblast

My personal tube of Lash Blast Luxe in Very Black. 
The first review I will be posting is a review of CoverGirl Lashblast. You've probably heard of them, considering the fact that they're commercials run non-stop on T.V. and youTube. In reality, you've likely tried them. I can honestly say that Lashblast mascaras are the easiest mascaras that I have ever used. Even with fairly unsteady hands, I rarely get clumps unless my mascara is getting old. The brush really is unique and effective, particularly for newcomers to mascara. I find a lot of my friends shy away from mascara because it is "so difficult to apply" or "always looks clumpy" and this brush really does make this simple. If you're one of those people who is afraid of the difficulties of applying mascara, Lashblast is definitely for you.

Obviously, the Lashblast line comes in endless varieties and colours and the choices are really dizzying. I've used all of them. Guess what? They all do the exact same thing. Sure, colour tints are sometimes different, but they aren't truly noticeable unless you're really scrutinizing. And since the the only person who is really going to be scrutinizing it is you, you really shouldn't care (even though I myself am guilty of doing exactly that).

The greatest thing in my opinion about Lashblast is definitely not the price. It's not expensive, in fact it's actually reasonably priced for its effectiveness, I just don't necessarily agree with the absurd prices that women often pay for makeup. That however is a different rant. It's around 9 bucks at Walmart in Canada (around 7 dollars US) and it works well for the price you pay for it.

Now, I don't approve of Covergirl's marketing campaign. It's a typical Beauty campaign. Pretty women who are supposed to represent "real" women in an "everyday" setting. I won't deny, they do have some decent spokeswomen (ie. Ellen Degeneres and Queen Latifa) and that does give them points in my book, because they have made an effort to represent not necessarily "real" women, but women who definitely are more realistic than your average model.

Overall though, great product, annoying over-marketing, cool spokeswomen. It's a big company, but it does make a mean and simple to use mascara.

Welcome to Reality.

This is not a photoshop lab. This is not the magical land where airbrushers follow you around and create a face for you. This is the real world. As women, we all know how the media wants us to think we should and can look like. They even give us products that are guaranteed to help us create that impossible face and look. Unfortunately, the beauty industry is basically a lie. It's a compilation of 6 foot tall anomalies and airbrushed photos that many women still buy into even with the evidence stacked against the faltering facade.

Hell, even I'm guilty of buying into it. I used to be obsessed with the ideal of beauty. In some ways, I still am. However, I have developed a critical mind of the beauty industry. This is largely due to a private battle with eating disorders and BDD (body dysmorphic disorder) over the past 8 years. While I'd like to say that I've been magically cured, I know from experience that I will always have that darkness hanging the background for the rest of my life.

Just because I've become critical of the beauty industry doesn't mean that I have sworn off of makeup. I've just become critical for every product I put on my face. Just because a product says they'll turn you into a bombshell beauty (or in many cases, simply hint at it with airbrushed photos and stunning models) obviously doesn't mean that they will. However, it also doesn't mean that they can't help you to create your own individual style and look.

This blog is a compilation of reviews and rants on the beauty industry marketing campaigns, products, and possibly even tutorials if I get a chance to. They are all made by me: an average, real woman who wears makeup and clothing for everyday life, not for runways and fashion campaigns.

I am a real 19 year old woman with flaws and experience with the devastation that ideals can cause. I am here to advise consumers and critique the beauty industry on its campaigns and image. I'd love comments and help, since this is my first dedicated blog ever, so advise away!