WBEZ | Nordstrom http://www.wbez.org/tags/nordstrom Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en I want to put my face on http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-07/i-want-put-my-face-108095 <p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-69662932-efe4-4f98-474a-0c3d595a9ffb"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3444864653_79fe03492c_z.jpg" title="(Flickr/Yasmin Falahat)" /></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>I grew up inside of the beauty stores that littered Madison Avenue in Oak Park. I have definitive memories of beauty and childhood: the first time my mother used a hot comb on my hair, my strange and strong desire to cut off my long thick locks (and the moment in which I actually did it), the first burn of a first relaxer. But none stick out so clearly in my mind as the beauty supply store, probably because, unlike those earlier experiences, going to the store was a ritual itself. This was not a one-time moment of trauma or fear; this was a homecoming every few weeks.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-69662932-efe4-4f98-474a-0c3d595a9ffb">According to <a href="http://www.wwd.com/beauty-industry-news/marketing-trends/essence-panel-explores-beauty-purchasing-2139829" target="_blank">Essence&rsquo;s 2009 Smart Beauty research study</a>, black women spend $7.5 billion annually on beauty products, while paying 80 percent more on cosmetics and twice as much on skin care products than the general market. Reading this was affirmation of something I&rsquo;ve always known: we </span><em>want</em>. We want to play and protect and hide and and comfort ourselves in the same way that a &quot;new face&quot; can for others.</p><p dir="ltr">In high school, a dance teammate asked, &ldquo;Can black people even wear eyeshadow? Does it even show up on your skin?&quot; And so, although <em>I</em> want and we as black women want, what remains is a blissful, perhaps even deliberate ignorance to those desires. They can&#39;t possibly want, they think. And if they do, does it ever even matter?</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-69662932-efe4-4f98-474a-0c3d595a9ffb">Earlier this year, my mother, sister, aunt, family friend, and I attended a beauty &ldquo;trunk show&rdquo; event hosted by Nordstrom. My mother had grown to love these shows. Everything was exciting, from the waiting in line to the runway presentations, to the free samples at the end.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-69662932-efe4-4f98-474a-0c3d595a9ffb">&ldquo;Honey, sit down. I&rsquo;ll take care of you,&rdquo; a representative from Smashbox told me as we lingered near their display. I was interested in trying their CC (color correcting) cream, the latest advancement on their BB cream. As a woman with years of acne, hyper pigmentation, and the most sensitive of skin, BB creams emerged as my chance to create a face that was clear and smooth and average. Average escaped me most of my life.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-69662932-efe4-4f98-474a-0c3d595a9ffb">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to get this,&rdquo; I later told her after she applied her products.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-69662932-efe4-4f98-474a-0c3d595a9ffb">&ldquo;Me too!&rdquo; my mother said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-69662932-efe4-4f98-474a-0c3d595a9ffb">&ldquo;And me as well!&rdquo; my aunt chimed in.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-69662932-efe4-4f98-474a-0c3d595a9ffb">&ldquo;Will this work for me?&rdquo; my mother whispered to me before handing over her purchase. She wondered not because it was something new or she was not a professional. She wondered because we are shades considerably different. My mother has light skin with freckles. My father&rsquo;s skin is much darker. My sister and I ended squarely in the middle.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-69662932-efe4-4f98-474a-0c3d595a9ffb">Smashbox had one shade for darker-skinned women. This is their fault and yet not. In many ways, they are just competing at the same plateau as their fellow beauty brands. I was reminded of reading teen magazines as a child.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-69662932-efe4-4f98-474a-0c3d595a9ffb">SKIN CARE FOR PALE SKIN, FOR LIGHT SKIN, FOR OLIVE-TONED SKIN, FOR DARK SKIN.</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-69662932-efe4-4f98-474a-0c3d595a9ffb">We were left with few options in my childhood.&nbsp;</span>There was one foundation color for black skin in youth theater and it did not match my skin. When at first our faculty sponsors did the make-up, they covered me from limb to limb, leaving no surface bare. &quot;We can&#39;t have you all mismatched,&quot; a woman said.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">I told my mother, &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like this, but I don&rsquo;t really know why,&quot; and she just nodded her head.&nbsp;<span>As an adult, little had changed. </span></p><p dir="ltr">On a family trip to Maui two years ago, I went inside of a local Walgreens and stood in the hair care aisle in awe. Lined on the shelves were the products and brands I came to understand as my own, the kind that were made for my hair.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-69662932-efe4-4f98-474a-0c3d595a9ffb">&ldquo;They have more black hair care products than any Walgreens I&rsquo;ve seen in Chicago,&rdquo; I told my mom. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>The comment was made as a moment of humor at first, but quickly grew into a moment of questioning and then a moment of anger. My thoughts began as thoughts of amusement and ended as thoughts of recognition. At home, I thought, your needs are not good enough. At home, I continued, your needs are no one&rsquo;s but your own. </span></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not surprising,&rdquo; my mother responded to me in the car as we prepared to leave the store. Eventually, we are conditioned to not care as much and then to not care at all. This is what it is. I heard it in my mother&rsquo;s voice. This is not surprising.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-69662932-efe4-4f98-474a-0c3d595a9ffb">There will always be beauty supply stores for as long as there will be black American women. But I do not live mere blocks away from these stores anymore. I live in neighborhoods where a quarter of one shelf dedicated to creams and gels and conditioners for my kinky coils is generous. This is not a plea. This is what it is. It does not make me uncomfortable anymore. Whether that is a good thing is yet to be seen.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>As a child I used to find beauty supply stores strange and overwhelming. The truth, I recognize now, is that a lifetime without access to the things I wanted or needed trapped me in a cycle of loathing for something I could not comprehend. These merchants want you to want them.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious&nbsp;writes about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 18 Jul 2013 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-07/i-want-put-my-face-108095 Why I'm on Team Nordstrom http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/why-im-team-nordstrom-103167 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP318316543424.jpg" style="height: 368px; width: 620px; " title="Nordstrom: Keeping department store shopping hip and relevant. (AP)" /></p><p>When my mom used to take me clothes shopping, we had a bit of a disagreement over where to shop. I would have preferred to go to individual stores like the Gap, Banana Republic or Old Navy (ignore the fact that those are basically the same store). But my mom preferred department stores like Bloomingdales, Saks or Marshall Fields (RIP) because they had good service, good quality, a wide variety &mdash;&nbsp;and because she had credit cards there. I didn&rsquo;t like the department stores, though, because they felt too old-fashioned to me. I felt like I rarely saw girls my own age the department stores. You didn&rsquo;t buy &ldquo;pants&rdquo; at department stores, you bought &ldquo;slacks.&rdquo; Department stores were staffed by disapproving older women, played fusty muzak, had headache-inducing lighting and were organized in confounding and monotonous ways.&nbsp;</p><p>I felt that way until I discovered Nordstrom. Nordstrom has everything that&rsquo;s good about a department store, I.E. everything under one roof, but somehow manages to make shopping a fun experience. I&rsquo;m not a consumer genius so I&rsquo;m not sure exactly what it is but I think it&rsquo;s a combination of their lighting (bright but not blinding), layout (open, without that never-ending college-library circular maze feel) and selection (wide but not overwhelming, like someone actually decided there were items they would not show or sell you).<br /><br />Good service exists at Nordstrom, too, even if you don&rsquo;t look all rich and fancy the way things often go at Neiman Marcus (AKA &ldquo;Needless Markups&rdquo;&mdash; haha, up here, high five!). I&rsquo;ve had Nordstrom salesgirls go above and beyond the call of duty to help me track something down, or find something I needed but couldn&rsquo;t articulate, or even suggest something I would have never tried before, but without making me feel like a chumpy walking commission.<br /><br />Most importantly: Nordstrom gives you cash for returns. There&rsquo;s something really wonderful about turning a piece of merchandise you don&rsquo;t want into some cash you actually need. It&rsquo;s like Nordstrom is the realistic, considerate wedding guest who knows the bride and groom could always use cash; if they want to spend it on boots, fine, but if they need to put it towards dog food, that&rsquo;s OK too.<br /><br />But now I have another reason to feel good about shopping at Nordstrom: The company has made a point of openly supporting gay marriage, stating so in <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-la-fi-mo-nordstrom-gay-marriage-20121015,0,7541326.story">a company-wide memo</a>.<br /><br />I admit I am not the most conscientious shopper when it comes to supporting or not-supporting organizations based on their belief systems (it&rsquo;s easy for me not to patronize Chik-Fil-A mostly because of the calories and tummyache). I would have continued to happily shop at Nordstrom had it failed to ever make a public announcement on its stance on gay marriage. But I admire the company president and executives for taking a public stance on equality, probably just because they really didn&rsquo;t have to. The store will undoubtedly lose some shoppers, and it may gain a few new customers, but I think more important are the consumers who probably never expected that shopping at a department store would make them think twice about marriage equality, the ladies who go to Old Orchard Mall on weekend afternoons or the teenagers cruising the Uggs collection. It&rsquo;s nice knowing that they might give this topic a second thought while they&rsquo;re pulling out their credit cards.<br /><br />So there&rsquo;s a new way that Nordstrom is keeping department store shopping hip and relevant. Getting cash back for returns is still probably my favorite thing about the chain, but taking a public stance on inclusion is pretty cool, too.</p></p> Wed, 17 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/why-im-team-nordstrom-103167