Category Archives: Happenings

This Blog is Moving!

Hello, again. It’s almost the weekend and I’ve got something pretty to show you: home page screenshot

I know, right?!

Here’s the deal. For the past few years, I’ve maintained a professional portfolio site at a whole other domain. This made sense when I first started beauty school and had to keep a low profile. But it stopped making sense awhile back and so I’ve finally rectified the matter, bringing blog and portfolio together at last.

Or rather, Liz and Jeff, the geniuses at Super Runaway have rectified the matter and I can’t say enough good things about them. (They also designed my best friend Amy’s website, and we joke that we maybe have a collective crush on them. If you need web folk, hire them. Stat.)

So. You can go check out the new, improved right now. 

UPDATE: If you’ve been to the old recently, you may need to clear the cache on your Internet browser to see the new site. Good luck with that!

And here’s one big change you might notice: Beauty Schooled — as in, the complete chronicles of my time in beauty school — is archived as a special project. So is Never Say Diet. You can still read every word of every one of those posts if your little heart desires, but those adventures are officially complete.

Here’s the other big change: As of Monday, this here blog that you’re reading right now — where I write about beauty, body image and other women’s issues — will become this new blog on the new site, where I write about beauty, body image and other women’s issues. In other words, nothing will change beyond the URL. But as I said in this post, 2012 is the year for new adventures. So I do hope you’ll subscribe via email or RSS feed (or update your old subscriptions*) and come along for the ride.


*Some helpful fine print:

RSS Subscribers: We think your feeds will automatically update, but please do double-check and resubscribe if you don’t see any new posts from me next week —I’d hate to lose you!

Email Subscribers: Your subscriptions will not transfer, so you’ll need to resubscribe to the new feed. As always, rest assured that I’ll never do anything unseemly with your email address.

WordPress Followers: Alas. I’m going where you can’t follow (to — hooray, no ads!). So please consider swapping over to an RSS or email subscription — or just bookmarking this site!

Facebook: I’ll be retiring the Beauty Schooled Facebook Page and switching to a Virginia Sole-Smith Facebook Page, so I’d be extra delighted if you’d head over and like that. 

If you have any questions or concerns about your subscription or just general feedback about the new site, feel free to leave a comment or email me: virginiasolesmith [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Filed under Happenings

On Really Liking All Of You

Because I like you all SO much!

I’ve been delightfully inundated with your sweet comments and emails this week, in response to Tuesday’s post about my body not liking me right now. I won’t lie — I was nervous to press publish on that post. Migraines and cysts are the kind of “female complaints” that carry no small amount of crazy girl stigma, and I worried I’d come off as unwrapped, self-indulgent or just… weak.

But you guys reminded me that we don’t fight stigma by succumbing to it. And hearing from those of you who have dealt with this same kind of nonsense reminded me that I’m not alone — which is a cliche, but also, everything.  Apologies to anyone I haven’t yet responded to directly. Please know that I’ve read what you wrote and am so thankful for it.

And also: Please know that I am okay. At least, it’s been five days now since a migraine or a Horace flare-up. We’ll take it!

I’m not out of the woods — yesterday, my doctor and I made the tough decision to cancel a trip to visit family in the UK, which I was supposed to take next week, because we have every reason to expect Horace back for the kind of party then that would make air travel completely miserable. (You’re welcome, everyone who would have been my fellow passengers on that American Airlines flight.) This is the first time these problems have caused me to completely miss out on Something Big, and it sucks. But there has been at least one potentially positive development on the health front and I’ll be writing more about that when it seems appropriate. Without turning this into a sad sack sick girl blog, I promise.

In cheerier news, we’re going to be getting back to regularly scheduled programming around here as much as the above circumstances allow. And be sure to check back here later today — my website redesign is thisclosetodone and I’ll be unveiling the goods.



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Filed under Happenings, Sick

Is Sexual Harassment the New Normal?

ivillage herman cain virginia sole-smith

We interrupt our regularly scheduled beauty & body issues talk once again, this time to discuss the insanity that is Herman Cain and his inability to behave appropriately around women. So I guess, in a way, it’s still a body issue — especially if you factor in the way conservative pundits are going after Sharon Bialek’s obviously-asking-for-it hair. (They clearly haven’t been paying attention to Slut Walk.)

But what’s depressing me even more than yet another politician sex scandal is the study published this week revealing that 48 percent of 7th to 12th graders experienced sexual harassment in the past year. Which means we’ve normalized sexually aggressive and derogatory behavior — especially towards women and girls, though boys were harassed as well — to a frankly, alarming degree.

How has this happened and which cultural forces are to blame? I’m not entirely sure, but I tell you, worrying about this is taking all of the fun out of watching The Vampire Diaries. (Seriously. Is it just me, or is this season extra rape-y?)

Anyway, back to Herman Cain, and how we can use what’s left of his fifteen minutes to have a productive conversation about why sexual harassment has become so commonplace, Cain genuinely seems to expects us to believe him when he says he doesn’t remember doing anything wrong.


Filed under Career Opportunities, Government Watch, Happenings

Secret Deodorant Gets Busted: pH-Balanced and Full of Toxins. (Sigh.)

I first met Jessica Assaf back in 2008, when she was a plucky high school student with Teens Turning Green and I was writing this book about greening your lifestyle. We interviewed Jessica about her group’s awesome projects, like when they all wore prom dresses and combat boots to encourage peers to choose toxin-free beauty products for prom season. Good times.

Anyway, Jessica is now an NYU student (that’s my other alma mater, btw) and continuing her eco-beauty activism as president of Teens Turning Green NYC and director of a forthcoming film called Body Burden. Her latest action, from the Department of “Sh*t I Wish I Thought Of:” Plastering toxic warning labels all over Secret Deodorant in Lower Manhattan drug stores. Um, hello, awesome!

Except if you’re one of Secret’s devoted fans, of course. Because here are the hard facts that Jessica sent my way:

According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Report, ingredients in the deodorants are linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, and organ system toxicity. Specifically, Secret Deodorant contains Butane, a chemical linked to allergies, immunotoxicity, and organ system toxicity, and 18% Aluminum Chlorohydrate, which is linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity and neurotoxicity. The product also contains Dimethicone, a silicone emollient, which coats the skin not allowing toxins out. It may promote tumors and accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes.

Yikes. The good news is that there are some safer options out there that actually work. And no, they aren’t a hippie crystal rock. I test-drove a couple of decent natural options for Planet Green last summer, and my No More Dirty Looks girls review another great option over here. Full disclosure: I tend to swap off between my beloved Beacon Bird Bath and stealing Dan’s Old Spice, depending on the level of sweat protection I need. (Strong-Enough-For-Him Old Spice isn’t necessarily safer than Secret or any other regular antiperspirant, but I really like how it smells. All chemical-y fresh.)

Since I’ve been all about body image lately what with Never Say Diet, I realize I’ve been neglecting my eco-beauty activism roots. So I wanted to give Jessica a shout-out and also make sure y’all know about the new and awesomely redesigned Skin Deep, which is the Environmental Working Group’s database of cosmetic ingredients. Plug in any one of your favorite products and you’ll get a safety rating plus a ton of info on any potential hazards they contain.

For more on Jessica’s Secret Mission (ha! see what I did there?) check out coverage on Good and TreeHugger. And watch out. She could be headed to a CVS near you.

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Filed under Happenings, Ingredients, products

[Never Say Diet] Princess Perfect

Princess Perfect Kate Middleton Royal Wedding Never Say Diet Virginia Sole-SmithY’all know I have some strong feelings about princesses. Which means the Royal Wedding cannot pass us by without a discussion of the relationship between princess culture, beauty and body image. Only this time, it’s not just the kids we’re worried about.

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Filed under beauty standards, Glossed Over., Happenings, Never Say Diet

Baby Botox and Virgin Waxing

photo of Sad Little Girl Doll by Rinoninha

I mentioned this in the Price Check on Friday — but had to take a little time to mull it over so I could give you a response more coherent than “WTF?!”

Which is pretty much the only appropriate reaction to the news that a British mom named Kerry Campbell (living in San Francisco) gives her eight-year-old daughter Britney Botox injections every three months plus monthly leg, arm, and bikini waxes. Both treatments are intended to stave off physical flaws — those would be wrinkles and body hair, otherwise known as basic functions of your skin — before they start, so Britney can grow up to be a famous pop star. Britney says:

“I feel like a supermodel and if I do ballet or go swimming I don’t have to worry about hairy legs. Although the pain makes me cry, I feel like a cool grown-up when it’s all over.”

In case you haven’t already read the coverage on this, I’m going to give you a minute to have your own WTF moment and process and all that.

We good? Okay then. Continue reading


Filed under Beauty Labor, beauty standards, Glossed Over., Happenings

[Never Say Diet] Plastic is (Not So) Fantastic

Barbie NEver Say Diet

Don’t get all googly-eyed on me about the recent Barbie and Ken lovefest. She still 11 inches of body image distorting plastic and that’s what I’m talking about today on Never Say Diet. (Where I’ll also be guest starring tomorrow and Thursday, yay!)

Go on, click and chime in.

PS. If you want to do even more to keep raising awareness about body image issues this week, check out the NOW Foundation’s Love Your Body video campaign. Hot.

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Filed under beauty standards, Glossed Over., Happenings

Just One Thing

It’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and this year, NEDA is asking everyone to do just one thing to help raise awareness and provide accurate information about eating disorders.

So while I’m technically on a little mini-break today (Happy President’s Day!), I wanted to pop on and share NEDA’s info. If you’re struggling with your relationship to food, please know that you are not alone. There is hope — and there is help available.
Toll-free Helpline: 800-931-2237


Much love,


PS. For more on all of this, check out these great posts by The Beheld, Jezebel, and Health for the Whole Self. Oh and Dances With Fat on Photoshopping.


Filed under Happenings

I’m Talking about Butts Now on Never Say Diet

Never Say Diet Post on Butts

So obviously, you’re going to need to click here right away.

PS. Other Beauty Schooled Around the Interweb adventures include Monday’s post scoring a Jezebel repub and lots of business by me over on MyDaily. Enjoy!

PPS. Just in case you haven’t voted yet, I’m still real eager to hear your thoughts on which kind of Beauty Schooled content you love and hate the most. That poll is over here. Thanks!

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Filed under Beauty Labor, beauty standards, Happenings

Thoughts on DIPEs (That’s Documented Instances of Public Eating)

Eating Cake B

Talk about burying your lede. It takes New York Times writer Jeff Gordiner 677 words (during which he waxes poetic and/or quotes poetic waxing about Minka Kelly eating spaghetti, Drew Barrymore eating mac and cheese, and so on) before he gets a source to explain exactly why every Hollywood starlet interview you read has to include the requisite Documented Instance of Public Eating:

“Don’t you feel awfully sorry for actresses?” said Bumble Ward, who spent years as a Hollywood publicist before leaving to write a blog and work on a novel. “They’re so sure that people assume they have an eating disorder that they’re forced to wolf down caveman-like portions of ‘comfort food’ in order to appear normal. And worse, they feel they have to comment on how much they’re enjoying themselves. Gone are the days of the black coffee and 10 Marlboro Reds lunch.”

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Actresses have to work so damn hard to look great (as Jenn Fischer explains in the current issue of Redbook, you have to tell your agent every time you chance pants size). And because beauty is supposed to be effortless, they also have to pretend to have these freakish metabolisms that let them wolf down on cheeseburgers and onion rings whenever they damn well please. Continue reading


Filed under Beauty Labor, Happenings