Monthly Archives: October 2010

Pretty Price Check: It’s Protest Friday! (10.29.10)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday roundup of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Photo of Teens Turning Green Abercrombie & Fitch Protest Poster

Attention New Yorkers! You still have time to hoof it over to the Abercrombie & Fitch store on 5th Avenue and 57th Street, where Teens Turning Green will be hosting another fragrance protest at 4 PM. (Check out my Lemondrop coverage of their first San Fran protest, and New York Mag’s report on today’s festivities.) Bring your gas masks! Good times for all!

And after you finish fighting toxic fragrances, why don’t you mosey on over to the Hearst Building at 57th and 8th Ave for the Big Fat Kiss-In protesting Marie Claire writer Maura Kelly’s woefully misguided blog post about how fat people shouldn’t kiss (or walk or do much else) in public. (Via Jezebel)

I’m ALL about some fat PDA, but it is also worth noting that MC is starting up an interesting series of counterpoint posts in response to Kelly’s piece. Jezebel’s Sadie also has a fabulous round-up of all the other great writing that has been pouring forth on this topic this week. Bottom line: We’re all talking about the epic problem that is size prejudice — and I’m excited to see what good can come out of this.

Plus you have a busy afternoon of protesting ahead of you, so quick, grasshoppers! On with the Price Check… Continue reading

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[Beauty Overheard] Should We Regulate Photoshop in Youth-Directed Media?

Considering Rachel Leigh Cook is best known for playing the we-hid-her-hotness-under-glasses lead in She’s All That, I am loving this quote from her, via Jezebel:

Nothing that you see is real, even if you look at what looks like a candid photo of someone, anything can be done. It is false advertising and false advertising is a crime so why isn’t this a crime? I’m just up in arms about it. People need to know that there are actual lenses that are put on cameras that make people stretched out. If you saw these actors in person, you wouldn’t even recognize them as the people you see on TV. It’s just all a complete illusion and maybe it should be viewed as art, the way that art isn’t real. The way that a picture of a rose can be beautiful, but it’s not a real rose.
Cook made this speech at last week’s Healthy Media for Youth Summit, organized in Washington DC by our friends the Girl Scouts, who are continuing their push for the Healthy Media for Youth Act, which I wrote about earlier this month over on Lemondrop. She also said: Continue reading

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[Back to Beauty U] Mary Kay Calling

Back to Beauty U: An occasional series where I roll out some never-blogged-before Beauty U moments

Mary Kay and Missiles

The first thing I learned from Delores is that Mary Kay ladies don’t drive pink Cadillacs anymore.

Well they can — a shiny pink convertible is still one of the choices if you’ve earned Career Car privileges — but Delores drove up to Beauty U in a silvery-pink Chevy Equinox SUV. She wore a royal blue skirt suit with black fishnets and black knee-high boots plus lots of gold accessories and I later learned that the suit itself was a “Mary Kay Sales Director” suit that she had to qualify (in sales numbers) to wear, but that the accessories were all hers.

Delores carried in a pink tote bag brimming with catalogs, while behind her, Sue wheeled in a the biggest pink polka-dotted suitcase I’d ever seen. Upon closer inspection, the dots revealed themselves to be tiny hair dryers and makeup brushes. There weren’t any clients on the books, so everyone piled into the spa classroom while Sue passed out little plastic-covered cardboard folders. Inside, they held a mirror and a plastic tray, divided into different inch-sized compartments. Mine held the remnants of many prior product applications. The mirror in Blanche’s folder was cracked.

The next thing I learned from Delores was that if I wanted to, I could make “a corporate income” selling Mary Kay products right out of my home. “Even in the recession, our saleswomen are doing better than ever!” She jumped right into her speech about that while Sue came around and squirted little bits of product onto each of our trays.

“I always wanted to stay home with my children and Mary Kay has let me realize my dream,” Delores said, showing us her gold charm necklace that featured silhouette heads for each of her three kids. “My husband has even been able to retire early because my business is so successful!”

I knew that Sue was between jobs and trying to pick up a bartender gig. They mostly relied on her boyfriend’s income, doing something for the town that meant whenever we had a snowstorm he had to pull double shifts and plow the streets.

“That’s why I’m so thrilled that Susan has come back to Mary Kay again,” said Delores. I had never heard Sue go by “Susan,” but it sounded right coming from Delores, all successful and corporate. “She can help support her family and still have time to be with her son and pursue her education! Now ladies, let me tell you about our amazing new skin care line.”

And as we were instructed to dab each of the product samples from our little trays onto our faces — the custom Mary Kay “facial” — I couldn’t figure out if I was being sold a career or a face wash.

Delores really liked the Mary Kay Timewise 3-in-1 Cleanser, which promises to cleanse, exfoliate and tone you all in one step, but Miss Jenny was underwhelmed. “We don’t like combination products here,” she explained to Delores, rubbing a bit of cleanser doubtfully onto the back of her hand. “If you’re going to do all those things properly, you really need three separate products.”

“Of course, that’s why we also offer our Classic Basic Skincare line, where you use a separate product for each step,” Delores responded smoothly, marching us right along to the lip treatment samples. “Remember, ladies, you earn 50 percent commission on every product you sell. That’s why I’m so pleased that Susan has come back to us — the sky really is the limit!”

In fact, this was Sue’s third time selling Mary Kay, which meant it was the third time she had bought the $120 start-up kit, where you get samples of all the key products and a guide to selling them to all of your family and friends. “The first two times, I didn’t make any money,” she told me later. “But this time, with our esthetics knowledge, being in this business, I think it makes a lot of sense.”

After our “skin care class,” Delores handed out catalogs so we could page through all the different shades of Mary Kay eye shadows and lipsticks. “Remember, ladies, if you buy tonight, Susan will earn 50 percent off everything!” she told us. “You really are helping out a friend. That’s how Mary Kay works. You can help her even more if you agree to host a party, plus that way you can get free products!”

Of course, we all wanted to help out Sue. Miss Jenny bought some eye shadow. Miss Stacy agreed to host a party. I bought the lip treatment and later I would buy a toner and a clarifying mask, when Sue swore they would be just what I needed to clear up my Beauty U breakouts. (They weren’t.)

By then, she had hosted a few parties where she earned $500 in a night — way better than bartending. Except out of that $500, she also had to pay for party snacks and wine, pay Mary Kay to maintain the web page of her “exclusive online store,” and pay for inventory so she could make more sales at her next party.

That first night, Blanche had been the most suspicious of the whole thing when Delores began her sales pitch. “Can I get another mirror?” she asked Sue, handing back her cracked one. “Do you really make any money this way?”

But the magical phrase “corporate income” — plus Delores’s shiny car and spiffy suit — seemed to go a long way. By the end of the night, she had signed on to Delores’ team, forking over the $120 for her own starter sales rep kit. And she and Sue helped Delores cart out the roll-along suitcase and the pink tote bag, chattering about that 50 percent commission and the great new range of eye shadow colors.

So. I’m pretty fascinated by the whole world of direct-marketing cosmetics, which so many women at Beauty U seemed to at least dip a toe in — without ever making much money.

Have you tried selling Mary Kay, Avon, or another direct-marketing makeup brand? What was your experience? Tell us in the comments, or email me (beautyschooledproject [at] gmail [dot]com) with your story.

[Photo: “Missiles and Makeup,” by Brent Moore of SeeMidTN.com, via Flickr.]

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Filed under Back to Beauty U, Beauty U, Career Opportunities, In Class, Makeup

So, We Have to Talk About Long Hair

I, umm, kind of don’t want to, because we’ve been talking a LOT about the body image side of things in the past week (especially Fat Talk, Fat Talk Haters, and how I feel about being a little fat now). And I’m ready to get back to Beauty U and some of the other Beauty Things that make up the whole varied mix here at Beauty Schooled.

But first.

Dominique Browning is asking New York Times readers “Why Can’t Middle Aged Women Have Long Hair?Continue reading

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This is My Body.

So here we are, a full two months after I graduated from Beauty U. And while my life is largely back to “normal,” last week’s fat talk made me realize that I’m walking around feeling very not normal in one key way: My personal body image. And it’s time to own up to this. Which means talking about size — but hopefully in a way that changes the conversation a little bit. I’d love to hear what you think, even if you think I’m being not very nice and maybe a giant hypocrite. Because I might agree with you there.

Here’s the thing: I gained twenty pounds during my ten months in beauty school. Continue reading

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Pretty Price Check (10.22.10)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

NOW Love Your Body Day winning poster

  • 10 million American women and girls suffer from anorexia and bulimia.
  • 25 million more suffer from binge-eating disorder.
  • Over 80 percent of 4th grade girls have been on a fad diet.
  • 35 percent of dieters will progress to pathological dieting or eating disorders.
  • Oh, and also: 95 percent of diets fail. (All via NOW’S Love Your Body Campaign.)

Those numbers aren’t new. You’ve heard them before, here and in a million other places, and I’m even betting your eyes glazed over a bit as you read that list. But I thought we’d kick Friday off with that price reality check precisely because of how very not new those numbers are. Continue reading

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A Flapper Daughter Responds.

In her latest column “Feminist Mothers, Flapper Daughters,” Katha Pollitt* admits that she sometimes finds young feminists irritating:

I’m tired of their constant use of teeny-bopper words like “amazing” and “awesome,” the lazy use of obscenities and the way they refer to themselves as “girls” and “chicks.” What’s wrong with “woman?” Is “woman” too fat for them? I don’t get their obsession with ads and women’s magazines and pop culture and celebrities — to me, feminism is about getting that stuff out of your head, not coming up with yet more reasons to object to it while remaining in its thrall. I’m tired of “body issues” getting so much more emphasis than economic and political ones, and the endless fetishizing of “choice” where anything a woman wants to do is sacrosanct, including stripping, prostition and porn, which are simultaneously obscurely troubling and perfectly OK!

Pollitt goes on to defend young feminists (against Susan Faludi who accuses us of ritual matricide) giving us credit for volunteering, mentoring teens, organizing conferences, writing books and blogging. Which I appreciate. So I’m hoping she won’t mind me taking a minute to look more closely at her objections to us. Continue reading

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