Three or so days in, I’ve listened to Beyonce’s new, self-titled record straight through at least a dozen times. I say with all seriousness that I believe it is her masterpiece, one of those increasingly rare albums in which every track is essential to the overall story. While I have my favorites, there is not one track I have the desire to skip. The album and its 17 accompanying music videos tell a story about womanhood, but specifically Black womanhood, that is powerful, compelling and beautiful. At times, the songs are clearly autobiographical, but they also speak to themes that are relatable to many women — sexuality, self-expression, motherhood, love, heartbreak, power, and self-worth. The latter theme is especially felt in the album’s opening number, “Pretty Hurts,” which has Bey singing about the damaging effects of rigid beauty standards and body policing. The video for “Pretty Hurts” features Beyonce as a pageant contestant (from the Third Ward, the area in Houston where she grew up) who endures judgmental looks and objectifying weight and measurement assessments as she sings, “But you can’t fix what you can’t see/ It’s the soul that needs the surgery.”
The song sends a powerful message about the pressure we put on girls to look a certain way; the video depicts just one way that pressure is experienced by girls specifically in the pageant circuit. But according to Amanda Hess over at Slate, the video’s pageant theme is “based on an incredibly outdated vision of how we reinforce unattainable physical norms for girls.” According to Hess, “today’s beauty myth is constructed through collections of highly curated ‘candid’ selfies beamed straight from the stars themselves, and Beyoncé is its queen.” In other words, it’s not just the video that Hess has a problem with — it’s Beyonce delivering that message at all because, in her opinion, Beyonce is part of the problem. What Hess gets wrong is … well, everything. Keep reading »
Art student Anna Hill, 24, has been using Photoshop for over a decade and knows exactly how much magazine images are digitally altered to achieve that “better than perfect” look. To illustrate this disturbing fact of modern day media, she turned her Photoshop skills on her own self portraits to create a series of mock ads for Photoshop beauty products, like the “all-in-one beauty kit” above that promises everything from perfect skin to a nose job — instantly! The ads are sharp satire, but the craziest part is how the exercise affected Hill’s own self-image. “One thing I noticed when I was doing these was that when I suddenly went back to the unedited [photo of myself], it looked so wrong and kinda gross,” she said. “It made me extra aware of how skewed my perception was after looking at the edited ones for a while.” Who hasn’t felt a similar sense of shame and “wrongness” after flipping through a fashion magazine and then taking a look in the mirror?
Check out a couple more of Hill’s imaginary ads, including a limb-lengthening serum and a pore-disappearing treatment (“For that android look you’ll never achieve in real life”), after the jump! Keep reading »
Earlier this week, we fell in love with 12-year-old badass Vanessa Van Dyke (and her supportive momma!) for not letting her private school enforce racist beauty standards on her hair. The Orlando, Florida, student complained about bullying from students over her Afro and school administrators responded by demanding that Vanessa straighten or cut her Black hair or face expulsion. The school’s dress code said hair must be a natural color and not be a “distraction,” but they only said Vanessa’s ‘fro was a distraction after she complained about the bullying. Fuck you, Faith Christian Academy! In honor of Vanessa Van Dyke, EBONY.com has declared today, November 27th, #NationalAfroDay. Women and men rocking natural hair are invited to submit their photos to Ebony, where they will be posted on a special “We Are Hair For Vanessa Van Dyke” Facebook page. Show Vanessa Van Dyke some love for staying true to herself in the face of bullshit. [EBONY.com, Facebook.com: We Are Hair For Vanessa Van Dyke]
Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, Florida, has forced 12-year-old Vanessa Van Dyke, a Black student who rocks a mane of natural hair, to either straighten her hair or cut it off — or be expelled.
The school claims her hairstyle is in violation of the school dress code, which says, “Hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction.” It gives examples of inappropriate hair such as rat tails, mohawks and shaved designs. The “distraction” is apparently Vanessa’s complaint to grownups at the school that she was been teased over her hair. Keep reading »
Once upon a time, a woman named Louise Mensch was an MP for Britain’s Tory political party. Last summer, Mensch suddenly resigned [last item], saying she could not juggle her young family and being a politician at the same time.
Since then, Mensch has taken up a somewhat … surprising … pursuit: she now runs a beauty and style blog called Unfashionista in which she blogs about how someone with tomboy style can please her man. Keep reading »
There are these women, in Tory Burch flats, with their hair styled, their button-downs starched, and the vents in the backs of their knee-length pencil skirts never rumpled or creased. I know this is true because I see them everyday, slogging along to work, just like me, with their perfectly applied nude lips and their obligatory Longchamps tote.
So as much as I want to believe that such levels of polish existing is as likely as me bumping into a unicorn in CVS, I know better — I’ve commuted beside them in the mornings, quietly mortified. Because, more often than not, I’ve forgotten to apply lipstick before leaving the house, my skirt is clean but wrinkled from sitting on the train ride in, and my own obligatory Longchamps tote — a bid at joining their ranks — is coated in what I am 86% sure is Marshmallow Fluff. (Furtive licking would later prove this to be so.)
It’s not like I’m a slob. I know how to dress for my corporate day job and when I get to the office there’s always a stop at the bathroom to make sure I can pass for business casual. This means: the forgotten lipstick is applied, the cardigan put on, the Fluff removed, the slept-on-it-wet hair pulled back into a clean ponytail, my favorite boots replaced with sensible pumps. By the time I’m done, I’m transformed from who I am into an appropriate, if not stylish, secretary. Keep reading »