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Tag : beauty


Who needs plastic surgery, make-up and beauty regiments when you can just buy a whole new face in the form of a mask? The Uniface mask comes with cell-binding glue and features big anime eyes, long lashes, a perfect nose, contoured cheeks, and a narrow chin – an all-in-one product for a lifetime’s worth of confidence.

But, it’s not what you think. Uniface, developed by Zhuoying (Joy) Li, a design and technology graduate of Parsons The New School for Design, created the mask and an accompanying website as her thesis project last year in response to the pressures women face regarding the “never-ending quest to adhere to society-set beauty standards.”

Raised in China, Joy was motivated to create Uniface by the many young Chinese women who she says suffer negative self-esteem due in part to how the “media has manipulated women’s desire to have the same extreme facial features.”

“The longer I stay in the U.S., the more important I feel individuality is regarding facial appearance, which is the opposite in China,” she said. “A large number of Chinese women are overdoing make-up and plastic surgery and increasingly look like clones of each other. Uniface is intended to raise the awareness of this beauty issue, and to make women rethink about what they are doing to themselves.”

Would a world full of Unifaces make you feel a bit uncomfortable?

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I hoped for a minute that she was parodying the whole eternal youth myth. But no, the supermodel was just ridiculing the old.

I am not privy to the thought processes of supermodels (thank God), and I cannot for the life of me think what was running through Heidi Klum’s head when she came up with the idea that dressing as an old woman was an amusing concept for Halloween. Heidi is well-known for going the full nine yards on All Hallows’ Eve. She’s been Clive Barker’s Hellraiser (or Gunther von Hagens’ flayed body, depending on your cultural references), the Hindu goddess Kali (managing to offend an entire religion) and now she’s given us what currently terrifies the western world beyond all reason – age.

Yes, there are cultural differences at play here – dressing up for Halloween in the US does not necessarily mean witches, vampires and Frankenstein – but it’s hard to see this stunt as anything other than ill-judged and offensive. There is a fine line here and Klum has crossed it.

Once the initial “red mist” had dissipated and I started to analyse my reaction, I’ve concluded it’s the fact that she played it straight and gone to a great deal of trouble to do so. This is not the slightly more acceptable “comedy crone” that we’re used to seeing and can tolerate – if we can’t laugh at stress incontinence and sagging bosoms we’re screwed. No, the problem for me is that it feels frankly insulting to quick fix a look that most of us are working hard to achieve over several decades. I’m not joking – take pride in the battle scars life leaves. Lines, wrinkles, veins, scars are all badges of survival – signs of a life lived. How dare Heidi Klum make light of that. As several people pointed out when I started on a rant this morning – there are those who have gone too soon who would have been very happy to embrace a wrinkled and stooped old age.

I then began to wonder whether she was trying to subvert the whole supermodel eternal youth myth. Perhaps she was saying something profound about all of us heading the same way. Something like “age is compulsory” or perhaps “life is terminal”. But after reading her  comments on Twitter, such as “Little old me” – I decided I was crediting her with too much existential angst.

No, it is quite simply that making herself into an old woman for an evening is meant to be funny – not ironic, not an indication of the inner terror of a young and beautiful woman, not witty or making a point, it is purely to ridicule the old and have a good laugh at their expense. There is a serious discussion beginning on the subject of positive ageing and positive representations of age. I’ve been to two conferences in the last two weeks on the subject. Both were fascinating, stimulating and reassuring. What baffles me is that neither were rammed to the rafters – there seems to be some sort of apathy among older people about tackling their own future and status. Perhaps they think if they ignore it, it will stop, like ignoring a child having a tantrum. Or perhaps it’s a generational thing and they feel it’s impolite to make a fuss.

Unless a fuss is made there is a real danger that they (we) will find themselves negated still further to the point of oblivion. Older people, and I include myself at 58, must stand up and be counted, and protest against ageist nonsense such as this. Younger generations must be allowed to see positive representations of age and older people, not stereotypes and caricatures. To allow the current situation to continue is to stoke the fires of ageism and isolation of older generations. What are older women used for in the advertising world? Anti-ageing beauty products (usually heavily airbrushed or shown on 30-year-old models), medical products and walk-in baths: I’ll happily bore the tits off anyone who wants to talk to me about the lack of positive imagery in the media. Which might be rude of me to say so, but I’m still not nearly as rude as Heidi Klum.

By Invisible Woman


Beauty pageants have dominated the news this past week. First the French Senate banned them with for girls under 16, threatening a two-year prison sentence and stiff fines of thirty thousand Euros for organizers — or parents — who enter their children into illegally organized contests. The French bill referenced the spate of advertising already occurring in France with hypersexual images of prepubescent girls showing up in advertising and the potential negative mental health effects to girls of sexualizing them at a young age by requiring them to wear heavy makeup and provocative attire.

In the same week many in the U.S. were surprised to learn that we still hold the Miss America contest and that it was won by an American of Indian heritage. Derogatory comments on twitter erupted about why an Arab and Muslim had won the American contest despite the fact the new Indian descent Miss America was neither Arab nor Muslim and we already had an Arab Miss America two years ago (Rima Fakih). It seems some forget the beauty of the American dream –  in myth at least — is its ability to assimilate and offer opportunity to all. Even our beauty contests allow American contestant of any ethnicity or religion to potentially win — despite prejudices held by these few on Twitter.

Next at Marina High School in Huntington, CA elected 16-year-old Cassidy Campbell, a male-to-female transgender who is still in the process of transition, to be its homecoming queen. It turns out that Campbell is not the first transgender girl to win the homecoming queen title. Jessee Vasold, a male-to-female transgender became homecoming queen in 2009 at William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA and a 19-year-old named Devon, also a male-to-female transgender student still undergoing transition was voted her school’s Junior Homecoming Princess. In the last case Devon was elected to the queen’s role without letting on about her status and prior to having sex reassignment surgery.

So what does all this news amount to?  Is crowning any girl — a still transitioning or fully transitioned transgender woman, an Arab, a Muslim, or none of these categories — to become a high school or college homecoming queen, or beauty pageant winner a good thing?  Is it healthy for any group of females to be submitting themselves to the organized judgment of others — to determine who is most worthy to be crowned among us?   And when it comes to younger ages, are the French right that sexualizing young girls in order to place them in beauty contests is detrimental to their psychological health?

The French are perhaps the first to officially recognize that it is not healthy for young girls organized by adults — to try to fit stereotyped gender roles and compete in popularity contest in large or whole part based on sexualized ideals of beauty that have nothing to do with innocence or childhood.

Transgender individuals now entering into homecoming contests may perhaps begin to cause some of us to ask ourselves what is both gender and beauty anyway — and how much of it is culturally defined versus intrinsically known?  And why would we want any developing young person under the age of 18 — male or female, transgender or not, to submit themselves to the scrutiny of others to decide if they measure up?  For a country that got rid of royalty on its road to independence it seems Americans could also now grasp the wisdom of doing away with the hierarchical idea of beauty queens as well. Can’t we see the beauty in everyone and celebrate without any beauty king or queen being crowned among us?


‘Mini-Miss’ pageant organisers face fines and prison sentences as parliament addresses ‘hypersexualisation’ of under-16s.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem

The French parliament has moved to ban children’s beauty contests in an attempt to halt what one former minister called the hyper-sexualisation of young girls.

France’s upper house of parliament, the senate, adopted the proposal as part of a wider law on gender equality after former sports minister Chantal Jouanno called for the ban on beauty pageants for children under 16. It must now be passed by the national assembly before becoming law.

“Let us not make our girls believe from an early age that their only value is their appearance,” Jouanno told the senate. “Let us not allow commercial interests to outweigh social interests. Lawmakers are not moralisers, but we have a duty to defend the superior interest of the child.”

The ban on what the French call Mini-Miss beauty pageants was opposed by the Socialist senator Virginie Klès, who sponsored the gender equality bill, as well as the government’s spokeswoman and women’s rights minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, both of whom judged the penalties too harsh.

Under the proposed law, anyone who flouts the minimum age limit for beauty pageants will face up to two years in prison and a €30,000 (£25,000) fine.

Vallaud-Belkacem tabled an amendment that would force pageant organisers to apply for official permission to stage them, but this was ruled out after Jouanno’s amendment was approved.

Afterwards, Vallaud-Belkacem suggested she might call for an amendment to control rather than ban the child beauty pageants when the bill is discussed in the lower house in the next few weeks.

In a parliamentary report drawn up in March 2012, Jouanno expressed concern about the hyper-sexualisation of young girls, including “the sexualisation of their expressions, postures or clothes that are too precocious”. Jouanno said at the time: “The phenomenon is more and more present.”

Her report, Against Hyper-Sexualisation: A New Fight for Equality, expressed concern that young girls were being disguised as “sexual candy” in a competition over appearance, beauty and seduction, which she said was “contrary to the dignity of the human being”.

The report also recommended further measures that were not included in the bill including outlawing adult clothing in child sizes, for example padded bras and high-heeled shoes, and banning the casting of models under 16 in advertising campaigns.

Jouanno’s report was prompted by international outrage over a fashion photo-shoot in French Vogue that showed 10-year-old Thylane Loubry Blondeau and two other girls posing in heavy makeup, jewellery, high-heeled shoes and tight clothes, and pouting provocatively.

The magazine feature initially failed to rouse anger in France, but sparked widespread criticism in America where the pictures were deemed inappropriate, prompting the French government to announce its inquiry.

After the senate vote, Michel Le Parmentier, who organises the Mini-Miss pageant, said his company would look at moving the contests to other European countries if France imposed a ban.

“Maybe in Belgium, very close to the border,” Le Parmentier said.

He insisted his pageants involved “no make-up, no swimsuits, no artifice” and that the girls simply paraded in princess dresses.

The bill now passes to the national assembly where it needs approval before entering the statute books.


What would Barbie look like if she were modeled after the average American woman?

Very different, it turns out.

Artist Nickolay Lamm of MyDeals.com used CDC measurements of an average 19-year-old woman to create a 3-D model, which he photographed next to a standard Barbie doll. Lamm then photoshopped the 3-D model to make it look like a Barbie doll.

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“If we criticize skinny models, we should at least be open to the possibility that Barbie may negatively influence young girls as well,” Lamm said in an email to the Huffington Post. “Furthermore, a realistically proportioned Barbie actually looks pretty good.”

Considering how peculiar a Barbie body would look in real life, Lamm concluded: “If there’s even a small chance of Barbie in its present form negatively influencing girls, and if Barbie looks good as an average-sized woman in America, what’s stopping Mattel from making one?”