Monday, October 21, 2013

Concealing, "shrinking"

Man, I wish I were still guest-blogging over at Autumn's, because I think this may be more for her audience than mine, but here goes:

There's this thing in beauty writing where the woman recommending whichever product or approach must not have the 'problem' being 'corrected.' See: Gwyneth Paltrow's diet advice. See also: a woman without under-eye circles learns how to conceal under-eye circles. And also: a wrinkle-cream recommendation from a young woman who "[hasn't] started to think about that yet."

Somehow I relate this to "Japanese" hair-straightening. There's this sense in which the women in the market for advice on how to fix whichever perceived flaw will be drawn to images of women who don't have it, or who barely do, or who wouldn't be thought to. I suppose that's just how advertising works, period. But if there was ever a moment to get all Naomi Wolf about the beauty industry, it would be when advice on whichever miracle product, presented as ostensibly editorial, can only be given via the images of a woman on whom nothing changes. Like, if the thing worked, it would be demonstrated on a woman who didn't so visibly not need it.

(Oh, and Fourtinefork, thanks to a big-enough coupon, I got the Nars concealer. It's OK, not miraculous.)


This Upworthy video has been making the viral rounds. It's a young woman's slam poem (just ignore the background snapping and groaning) about men, women, and body image. And I'm having trouble deciding what to make of it. On the one hand, if I were the sort who snapped and groaned to express agreement with the sentiment, I'd be snapping and groaning with the best of 'em to what Lily Myers has to say. (Instead, I've long since misplaced the black turtleneck I think I once owned.)

On the other, if the poem is indeed strictly autobiographical - which, maybe it's not, but every reference seems to be about it being "about her family" - it's some fine reverse-parental-overshare. While the ethics of spilling about one's parents and grandparents are different from those of spilling about one's kids, it seemed a very personal glimpse of mom at home, one she might not want shared with the positive-thinking masses. And, she called her male relatives fat. While Myers makes a good point about the difference between male and female body-image concerns (while at the same time making a much bigger point about gender and assertiveness - thus the strength of the poem), it's not as if men don't have any. I can't imagine any man I know being pleased to hear himself called rotund in a viral video.

But is this her family? Or is it a poem, and therefore fiction? College-student slam poetry, where my literary-analysis tools fail me.


fourtinefork said...

The Nars concealer is not miraculous?!? The blogs and editors have been lying to me? No!!! I am crushed.

I guess I will have to put my quarterly dollars, which expire at the end of the month, to more practical use. Drats.

Phoebe said...

It's good concealer, don't get me wrong. It's just liquid concealer, and I don't think I ever learned what to do with liquid makeup. (I own but can't figure out luminizer, and never to figure out foundation.)

Phoebe said...

never *did