Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Natalia Vodianova looks tired

Embrace your flaws! Anyone familiar with fashion writing will know this is code for, time to use a model who's airbrushed-flawless but for a delightful gap between the two front teeth. Meant to indicate, I suppose, that the girl/woman in question is effortlessly beautiful. After all, how hard would it have been to fix that flaw? If she's left that alone, presumably no artifice whatsoever has entered into the rest of what we see before us. And it's reached the point of cliché: new models now regularly have that gap, because it's the perfect flaw-that-isn't. It's the kind of thing that, on an ordinary-looking person, might be thought to detract from an appearance. Or it must be: I had such a gap as a kid, and my family paid good money - and I underwent good tooth-agony - for this to be closed up. (This was allegedly for legitimate dental reasons, something about what would happen to my teeth as I got older if this wasn't fixed. Maybe?)

See also: the gigantic-eyebrow craze. Traits that add a certain off-beat edge to conventional beauty will, if adopted by the merely tweezer-lazy, lead to the not-charming version of effortless, a kind of sad return to those elementary-school pictures, before you learned that eyebrows even could be shaped. By all means resist the tweezer as a way of standing up against beauty norms (and fine, don't overdo it if you do tweeze). But if you're doing so in order to look more beautiful, and you're not a certain British model-socialite with the world's most energetic PR team...

The flaw of the moment is under-eye circles. As someone blessed with this trait - since childhood, and yes, even if I get plenty of sleep, probably related to being this pale - I ought to be thrilled. Huzzah, I can toss my concealer! (Better yet: I can hold off buying the Nars "creamy" one I keep going back and forth on - it seems so great, but for $28? Fourtinefork, oh commenter, oh official WWPD makeup advisor, thoughts?) And yes, there's the secondary problem of this particular slideshow - of course if you have mere under-eye shadows i.e. nothing to conceal, you'll only make matters worse by painting over your under-eye area with a shade that inevitably won't be a perfect match for your skin tone. But it's entirely conceivable to me that a Natalia Vodianova who did in fact have splotchy, purple half-moons under her eyes would be that much more intriguing. Which in no way liberates me from the beige-goop hold.


Matt said...

Those are pretty normal and really quite attractive eyebrows. The truth has always been that plucked eyebrows mostly looked crappy and fake. I hope people finally get over them. They look terrible.

caryatis said...

Matt, the eyebrows you think are "normal" are also plucked--just less so than what you think of as "plucked."

Phoebe said...


I could swear we've had this conversation before! (Or it's the deja vu that comes with having the same blog for this long.)

But Caryatis is right - what reads as "plucked" is an eyebrow that's been plucked more than usual for a given era/milieu. It's so default for women to do something with their eyebrows that it's really difficult not to see the relatively-less-altered ones as "natural" - even if the same amount of artifice, on a man, would be obviously fake.

Also worth remembering: the healthy/natural/"normal" style of eyebrow tends to bring with it its own form of artifice: eyebrow pencil/powder/gel.

fourtinefork said...

You called!?!

I have resisted trying that Radiant creamy concealer, but it seems to be the second coming of concealing products. Unfortunately (or fortunately for my bank account), I have no personal experience with it, though.

(Also, I think Clarins discontinued my eye cream. I am not happy. It was perfect: basically just sunscreen but it didn't irritate my eyes, and, being sunscreen, it actually did something, unlike so many other products.)

Related only in that I apparently like red lipstick, especially of the NARS variety: based on an Into the Gloss post (I know, I know) I sought out one of the Velvet Matte pencils in "Mysterious Red." Into the Gloss called it the "perfect red." I ended up having to go to Barney's to get the damn thing.

While maybe not as perfect as Terre de Feu (for me, and for everyday), it is quite a stunner. I ran into someone in an elevator who had seen me only 30 minutes before (pre-Mysterious Red application) and he said something to the effect that I looked both very nice and very fancy. So it's one of those lipsticks that does that thing beauty editors sometimes say but I never believe of transforming your look from day to night with the mere swipe of a lipstick. Imagine if I had put on concealer and eyeliner!

A tired Natalia Vodianova is still gorgeous. She's my favorite model, and every time Vogue puts some irritating Hollywood person on the cover to promote a crappy movie, I shake my fist and think, why isn't Natalia on the cover? (I want models on magazine covers.)

Matt said...

There is sometimes a belief among women that _all_ women engage in non de minimis eyebrown sculpting. (I'll call it de minimis if it's truly occasional and limited to a few unruly hairs. I do that w/ my _eye lashes_) This isn't true. My wife, for example, doesn't do this. Some of my girlfriends did, and some didn't. My preference has always been for those who didn't. I like it more. I also don't like makeup on most people. It's not a sort of deep preference for "the natural" (whatever that would mean) but rather, the belief that most makeup looks bad, as does most more than de minimus eyebrow sculpting. Now, I'm sure that nearly every part of a fashion model is highly sculpted. (That's one reason why they don't usually appeal that much to me.) My point is only that those eyebrows are not "gigantic" in any way, unless you also think that non-fashion model women are "gigantic". They are of a normal size. And, non-sculpted eyebrows usually look just fine, and often great. And it's just false that no women engage in no more than de minimis eyebrow sculpting.

Phoebe said...


I'll probably cave on that concealer eventually. If so, expect a report.


"And it's just false that no women engage in no more than de minimis eyebrow sculpting."

Agreed - there are women who groom no more than basic hygiene demands, or not even that much!

As for the big-eyebrow trend in fashion, and "gigantic," I think what you're still missing is that these eyebrows have been filled in with makeup. So while the overall dimensions might be more or less natural, the denseness of them most likely is not. It could be that you happen to prefer artifice that enhances a brow than that which reduces it.

And finally, not to rehash the entire what-men-think-of-makeup discussion, but...

I have no way of knowing if you personally have exceptional makeup-dar, or tweezing-dar. You very well might. And there are absolutely subcultures (like parts of academia) where enough women wear no makeup that that becomes the default, so it is noticeable if a woman's wearing even a little, as much as it would be if a man were.

But in general, men don't know what's going on with women, artifice-wise, and the "no-makeup" look they prefer is generally the result of well-applied makeup. This is a source of great frustration to women - even, dare I say, a feminist issue, if not the biggest of the bunch. Because yes, it would be convenient if all the men who said they prefer no makeup (that is, nearly all men) meant this, because makeup means time/money/dubious chemicals, but they don't. You might; most don't.

What men really mean, often (not always!) is that they don't want to be tricked into finding a woman attractive whom they wouldn't find impressive without makeup. That they want the sort of woman who doesn't need makeup. Which is quite the opposite of a reassuring, you-look-good-as-you-are message.

fourtinefork said...

So you're not a fan of slutty eyebrows?

(My embedded links never work.)

Please, yes, I wait eagerly for the concealer review!

Phoebe said...


The way I waver when it comes to shopping, they may have discontinued this product by the time I'm prepared to take the plunge. But who can say?

And if you hadn't mentioned being from the Midwest, I'd wonder if we were the same person, because I immediately knew what the "slutty eyebrows" phrase was in reference to.

Britta said...

Yeah, I really think beauty routines are regional (in addition to being subcultural). The PNW, and the West more generally, really is a different place. I think growing up in NY or LA though especially warps one to what is generally required elsewhere though. I've found, weirdly enough, in places where makeup is more common I find it's easy to go without makeup and have people assume I'm wearing some, simply because most people do, and I don't look obviously not put together in the way people associate with no makeup. E.g., my boyfriend who grew up in LA just assumed I wore makeup because he had never met a woman who didn't. Also, my sister works in a fairly trendy industry in NY,* and I don't think she's ever even worn lipgloss.

This isn't to say people wouldn't think my sister and I are better looking with makeup, but the lack of makeup isn't noticed and both of us are considered put together enough to meet standards of daily professionalism.

*Not fashion, but she could have this career in a rom com, and it's one where image is definitely very important.

Phoebe said...


Agreed that it's regional and subcultural, and having never been to the Pacific Northwest, and having been to LA only once, I'll take your word for it. But New York is definitely not the place I'd think of when it comes to makeup as necessity. Certainly high school girls don't seem to wear much, apart from punk-type looks or attempts to cover up bad acne. Nor do grad students. If anything, a woman with a full face of makeup will, in NY, mark herself as being from elsewhere. (Exceptions: some subcultures, certain corporate jobs where, I've heard, very subtle makeup, but still some, is required.) Where is that "elsewhere"? The South? Parts of the Midwest? Certain types of suburbs more or less all over the country? England? I have no idea.

As for empirical evidence, we might look at the wide availability of Maybelline and such in drugstores and not just in NY and LA. And if you search for Sephora locations on Google maps, you find they're just about everywhere. (Not Wyoming. But both Dakotas appear to provide the opportunity to buy $25 lipstick.) I can't imagine these stores are supported exclusively by NY and LA sorts taking road trips.