Category Archives: For Extra Credit

Pretty Price Check (06.04.10)

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

  • 76: The age of beloved Golden Girl Rue McClanahan, who died yesterday. Eat The Damn Cake had a great piece last week about Taking Back the Cute; why women who aren’t tiny, young, and traditionally beautiful should get to act girlish and adorable if they so please (and women who are these things should get to be taken seriously when they want and basically, we should all get to break the rules about how the world thinks we should look and behave whenever we damn well want to!). Blanche got that. And it was pretty trailblazing of her.
  • $2000-$5000: What you’ll pay for dimple implants. (If you’re that kind of rich, will you come pay my mortgage first?) (Via Lemondrop.)
  • Over 10 percent of her income: What the average Iranian woman now spends on cosmetics. (Via BellaSugar, who has a very thoughtful take on the matter.)
  • 4 times: How much longer it takes the average woman to get ready for work on Monday versus Friday. That would be why I’m typing this in my PJs. At noon. Because doing a ton of beauty work before you even get to work-work? Not so much. (If you missed it, check out my series on Beauty Labor for more about why this is; stat via Jezebel.)

New Favorite Blog: (Actually I’ve been liking this one for QUITE awhile) re:Cycling, which is the blog for the Society of Menstrual Research, where the always insightful Elizabeth Kissling takes on the feminine hygiene industry. Hint: It’s a lot like the beauty industry, if this ad that equates moist towelettes for your ladyparts with courage is anything to go by.

Oh and shameless self-promotion time: Tuesday’s Tip Jar got republished over on Jezebel, where it has clocked over 300 comments. A lot of folks think 13 is a pretty legit age for an eyebrow wax and Nine’s parents probably have her best interests at heart. Others are totally skeeved. What do you think? Comment here or there.

[Best of Blanche video via Bitch from YouTube.]


Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, For Extra Credit, Glossed Over., Pretty Price Check, products, week 28

Pretty Price Check (05.28.10)

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

Photo of Cassie Smith, Hooters Waitress told to lose weight

  • 132 lbs: The weight of this (5’8″) Hooters waitress, who was given a 30-day gym membership and told to drop some pounds by Hooters management. Of course, enforcing weight loss among your employees is pretty questionable no matter what their size but I include her stats for the shock value. If you weren’t already boycotting Hooters on principle, please, let’s start that now. (Via Lemondrop; above photo from same.)
  • 23.8 percent of executive board seats are occupied by women at fashion, beauty and retail brand companies, according to a study commissioned by WWD. The really scary news? This is a way higher percentage than at other kinds of publicly held companies. You know, because these brands are selling girly products, so we’re (sort of) allowed to play. (Via StyleList.)
  • 30 percent of consumers are concerned about the validity of natural and organic claims on beauty products. Can’t imagine where they’re getting that. (Via GCI)

New Favorite Blog: OMG! Have you discovered The Seventeen Magazine Project yet? Jamie Keiles is an 18-year-old high school senior in Eastern PA who is spending 30 days following every bit of advice she can glean from the latest issue of Seventeen and I would really like to be her best friend, not just because I think we have the same hair, but also because she’s been making these awesome pie charts showing how 75 percent of Seventeen‘s advertising is related to Stuff That Makes You Look Better — all the while also dissecting the ramifications of pigtails and ripped sweatshirts.

Speaking of compliments and favorite new blogs… I am loving how yesterday’s cross-post by Eat The Damn Cake’s Kate got everyone all fired up to do some complimenting already. And would like to direct your attention to a prime complimenting opportunity known as The Fresh Reflection. From their Welcome post:

We have decided to make changing the perception of ourselves official. The goal of this blog is to tell each other what WE see. The beauty WE see in YOU. Every day we will post a photo of a woman. Someone we know or don’t know. And then we ask you to leave a comment to tell that woman what YOU see in them. What do YOU think is beautiful about them that they may have missed?

But I warn you now, if you read that blog while playing Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” (or if you have maybe recently watched the Heathrow airport scenes from Love Actually) you might not stop crying for a week. Oh people. All so f*cking beautiful and we never have any idea about it.

And now, I’m off to enjoy a long weekend, during which I plan to wear absolutely no makeup or hair products and compliment people with wild abandon. I encourage you to do the same!

Back on Tuesday. xo


Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, For Extra Credit, Glossed Over., Happenings, Pretty Price Check, week 27

Feminist Blog Carnival No. 16: Beauty Edition!


It’s Feminist Blog Carnival day!

I know, you could hardly sleep last night with excitement. (I too could hardly sleep because I was busy reading through the many, many awesome submissions. And also excited.)

Thanks so much to everyone who sent in work. We’ve got a lot of amazing-ness here, so I’m just going to dive right in. Start clicking!

On working in the beauty business:

Karen Greco of BeautyOlogy says dismissing the work of beauty professionals wouldn’t be so easy to do if the industry employed mainly men in Sexism on the Front Lines: A Beautician Bites Back.

Jamie Silberberger of The AFA Blog talks about how to get a more socially responsible mani-pedi in Why We Must Protect Nail Salon Workers From the Toxic Trio.

On accepting your body:

Julie Goodale of Fitness for Survivors on Body Image After Breast Cancer – A Story Of Time, Acceptance, And A Little Exercise.

Look left of the pleiades gets on board with her booty in My arse.

Persephone Pomegranate of Voices of Dissent embraces her body hair in Double Standards – The Issue of Body Hair.

Exercise psychologist Michelle Segar of Essential Steps talks about appreciating what your body can do, not just how it looks in How to EmBODY Gratitude.

On beauty advertising:

Stacy Malkan of Not Just A Pretty Face has a Dear Drew Barrymore letter about that COVERGIRL campaign. (You remember. This one.)

Elizabeth Kissling of Society for Menstrual Cycle Research talks about the Kotex Anti-Ads.

On LGBT beauty:

Melissa Walker of iheartdaily on why it’s cool for a girl to wear a tuxedo and take her girlfriend to prom.

On beauty and consumerism:

this ain’t livin’ dissects teen girls’ shopping power in Look At Those Silly Girls and Their ‘Haul Videos’.

Sarah Burns of Consumer Search keeps us safe from DIY wrinkle removers (yikes!) in Pretty Ugly.

Heather Wood Rudulph of Sirens discusses Is Selling Our Bodies a Last Resort or a First Instinct?

On Jessica Simpson’s The Price of Beauty (Um, you’ll recall, I had strong feelings on this one myself):

Alicia of Peace X Peace is annoyed by the show’s over-simplifications in Confessions of a Not-so-Simple Beauty.

Ms. Blogger Courtney Young gives Jess a Thumbs Down.

Novelist Philana Marie Boles of The LOVE Spot thinks Jessica is taking a step in the right direction (and has some ways to trim your own beauty spending) in Beauty Budget: What’s Yours?

On other beauty/pop culture stuff:

franklyfeminist talks about Lady Gaga’s glamorization of prison in Thanks Lady Gaga for that triumph of misogyny.

A Canadian Lefty in Occupied Land explores Alice’s Gender Journey in Wonderland.

fbomb reassures us that televised gender stereotypes are being enforced on both sides of the pond with  Ladette to Lady: How to be an Acceptable Human Being.

Lina Talks About Writing explores beauty standards in video games in Beauty Trumps All.

On beauty and weddings:

Sara of 2000dollarwedding on finding meaning in your wedding dress (beyond how hot you look) in Postcard #1: The Embroidered Wedding Dress. (Also, if you’re in the thick of wedding/beauty madness right this minute, check out her Letter to the Bride for a delightful dose of sanity.)

Meg of A Practical Wedding had to reconcile being a feminist and wanting to get her hair and makeup done. Don’t worry, it all works out.

And now, off-topic, but just so you know what else feminists are up to these days:

Fannie’s Room talks about how the gay rights movement is throwing reproductive rights under the bus in The Oppressed Gay Male Oppressor.

Mad Kane’s Political Madness offers a great limerick about the Christian Domestic Discipline marriages (that’s where God tells you to beat your wife) with Religion Hits Bottoms.

Yes Means Yes Blog discusses Affirmative Consent As Legal Standard?

Cynthia Bateman of Blog About It explains why Women In Combat should happen.

LonerGrrrl hates being The Office Housewife.

Thanks for joining me for this edition of the Feminist Carnival! If you loved it (of course you did) be sure to submit to the next edition of the carnival here. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

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Filed under Beauty Schooled, For Extra Credit, week 20

Trade Schools Scam Students and Taxpayers Like You.

Manhattan Trade School for Girls Photo

In case you missed it, the New York Timesfront page story yesterday was all about how for-profit trade schools are raking in beaucoup bucks in tuition right now, taking advantage of desperate-for-work students and federal financial aid programs alike:

But the profits have come at substantial taxpayer expense while often delivering dubious benefits to students, according to academics and advocates for greater oversight of financial aid. Critics say many schools exaggerate the value of their degree programs, selling young people on dreams of middle-class wages while setting them up for default on untenable debts, low-wage work and a struggle to avoid poverty. And the schools are harvesting growing federal student aid dollars, including Pell grants awarded to low-income students.

The article focuses mainly on schools that want to train you for food service, auto mechanics, health care, computers and electronics, probably because tuition for those kinds of programs can run you upwards of $30-40K, while beauty school is more in the neighborhood of $5-$15K. (Beauty U costs $8500 – $12,000, plus a slew of little extras like aprons, black clothes, products, and “advanced training” classes that are constantly being advertised at $95-$150 a pop.)

But I think we can all agree that even $8-12K is debt you don’t want to be carrying around when your expected income after graduation is $18-32K per year — if you can get a job at all. (Estimates vary widely, but I use the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data, which ballparks salon workers’ before tax salaries at $9-15 per hour.) A lot of my Beauty U classmates are worrying about the debt they’re racking up and whether it’s going to be worth it. “I’m at the point where I can’t believe I got a loan for this,” says Meg after the now slightly infamous water bottle thing. “It doesn’t feel like they’re preparing us for anything.”

Of course, the for-profit trade school industry argues that it’s providing an indispensable service, helping the working poor realize their middle-class dreams and creating opportunities for professional growth for “career changers” or other recession casualties. When I interviewed at Beauty State, the owner talked a blue streak about how this would be a better investment than my fancy bachelor’s degree from a private university. And Mr G, the owner of Beauty U, loves to paint word pictures about our anticipated success.

And here’s another trick that the NYT story forgot to mention: Extra hour charges. Since most of these programs require you to complete X number of hours in order to sit for the state board exam (I’m working my way through 600), trade schools assign you a graduation date when you enroll. On paper, this makes sense. You want to get through your 600 hours as quickly as possible, so having August 16, 2010 marked on your calendar gives you a reason to get up every morning. But then comes the catch. If you don’t finish all your hours by that set date, the school gets to charge you by the hour to finish them up afterwards. Which means if you miss a couple of nights (to move house, take care of a sick kid, cope with a death in the family, whatever), you have to make the time up as quickly as possible to avoid getting charged later.

Is anyone surprised to hear that Beauty U has extremely strict rules about when you’re allowed to make up those hours? Or that their “make-up hours” fall exclusively during weekday business hours, which makes it nearly impossible for night students (who are attending school at night precisely so they can go to paying jobs during the day) to ever catch up? We’re stuck choosing between losing income now by missing work, or paying Beauty U later.

But I am encouraged to hear that Obama administration is taking notice of these issues. From yesterday’s article:

Concerned about aggressive marketing practices, the Obama administration is toughening rules that restrict institutions that receive federal student aid from paying their admissions recruiters on the basis of enrollment numbers.

The administration is also tightening regulations to ensure that vocational schools that receive aid dollars prepare students for “gainful employment.” Under a proposal being floated by the Department of Education, programs would be barred from loading students with more debt than justified by the likely salaries of the jobs they would pursue.

Yes. More of that, please.

[Photo of the Manhattan Trade School for Girls, which offered year-long training programs for women headed into the garment industry circa 1890-1930.]


Filed under Beauty Schooled, Career Opportunities, For Extra Credit, Government Watch, In Class, week 18

Mad Men and Barbie: A Marketing Love Story

Mad Men Barbie photo

Consider today’s post a public service announcement for women’s studies majors everywhere: I have your senior thesis topic!

Today’s New York Times is reporting that Mattel will be releasing a set of collector’s edition (read: $74.98 a pop) Mad Men Barbie Dolls this summer.

Mattel is all about the brand synergy: The first Barbie came out in March 1959; the first episode of Mad Men was set in March 1960. But let’s talk about the brand irony: Betty Draper, the beautiful-yet-dead-inside Stepford wife as a Barbie doll? Well, yes, I think we knew that. So is literally marketing her as a Barbie doll a way of acknowledging Mattel’s 51 years of sexism? Or will it just encourage little girls (who are probably not DVR-ing the show and parsing its every nuance) to think they have to look just like January Jones to land a hottie like Jon Hamm?

Also, is it just me, or did they shave down the curves on Barbie Joan? Um, kind of a lot?

Mad Men Joan Holloway Photo

Ugh. Type, women’s studies majors, type as fast as you possibly can!

[Barbie photos via the New York Times; Joan Holloway photo cropped from Jewelry Gal Blog.]


Filed under beauty standards, For Extra Credit, week 17

The Other Kind of Brazilian Beauty.

Last week, I had my first brush with a Brazilian bikini wax. Well, let’s face it, I just overheard other people learning how to do one and I pretty much broke out in hives — but don’t worry, my turn to wield the wax is coming up in a few weeks, and you’ll get every gory detail.

But this experience reminded me that when it comes to beauty standards, Brazil is known for a lot more than its disdain for body hair. My friend Melissa of I Heart Daily, was in Rio de Janeiro a couple of weeks ago to cover their Fashion Week and sent me a handful of runway beauty shots so insane, I obviously had to share them with you all.

Runway fashion is so odd and other worldly, I have a hard time getting it to fit with the kinds of beauty standards (be skinny/free of all body hair and pores) that I’m learning to enforce over at Beauty U and that we more generally encounter from the fashion industry. Is this art? Cracked-out designers grasping at straws to get attention for their clothing lines? How to reconcile the above versions of beauty with the pressure these models face to stay clothes-hanger-skinny?

I’m still digging out from under over here (we just moved house, hence the BSP radio silence* over the past few days!) so I’m going to let these pictures say thousands of words… and encourage you all to provide a caption for your favorite (or weigh in on any of my musings above) in the comments.

*Never fear. I’ll be back up to usual blogging speed later this week — and have oh so much beauty school news to report. Stay tuned!


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Filed under For Extra Credit, Happenings, week 14

Pretty Price Check and Beauty Schooled on Feminist Blogs! (02.01.10)

Why did Rainbow Brite need to grow up and get Barbie-fied? Find out at Feministing, one of many great blogs in the Feminist Blogs network.

Big news, sports fans!

I’m so pleased to announce that Beauty Schooled is going into syndication, joining the ranks of Feministing,, Gender Across Borders and tons of other provocative, inspiring, and hilarious blogs on the mega-blogging network Feminist Blogs: Independent alternatives to the malestream media.

Current Beauty Schooled readers, don’t fret now: Posts will be published simultaneously on the Feminist Blogs feed and here on, in your inbox (if you’ve subscribed via email), or in your blog reader of choice if you’ve subscribed that way. (Hey, if you haven’t — click here to subscribe now and thanks a whole bunch for doing that.) But do click on over to to explore all my neighboring bloggers there. And, if supporting independent journalism is your cup of tea, please make a donation, because us feminist bloggers rely heavily on the support of viewers like you.

New readers and fellow feminist bloggers who are just discovering Beauty Schooled: Hi there! You can find out what I’m up to here, catch up with school news here.

Or, just keep reading this post for The Pretty Price Check, your Friday (sometimes Monday) round-up of how much we paid for beauty last week:

  • 40 pounds in 4 months: How Christina Aguilera got her body back post-pregnancy, as the baby weight craze gathers steam. Jezebel and Daily Beast explain why this trend sucks.
  • $485: What you’ll pay for a session of skin needling, aka having a spike-covered roller run over your face to stimulate collagen production and make you look younger. Angelina Jolie is a fan, but let’s not use her as our model of good decision-making, okay? (Via tough-as-nails Beauty Counter, who says the pain is worth the gain.)
  • $1.9 billion: A rough estimate of how much boys (yes, boys) aged 8 to 19 spend on grooming products, a trend that’s going way beyond Axe Body Spray, as explored in yesterday’s New York Times story. Sounds like Dove will have their finger on the pulse when they release their first Real Beauty ad targeted at men during the Superbowl this Sunday. (I remain on the fence about whether these ads are part of the problem or the solution.)
  • $588: How much the average American (read, those of us who eschew skin needling and try to keep our kids off Axe) spends on personal care products and services each year, according to The Simple Dollar, who has a bunch of good tips on how you can get away with spend even less.

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Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, For Extra Credit, Glossed Over., Pretty Price Check, products