WBEZ | beauty http://www.wbez.org/tags/beauty Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The truth about pretty http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-09/truth-about-pretty-108638 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP%20Photo%3AJohn%20Minchillo.jpg" title="A model has her makeup applied at New York Fashion Week. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">The beginning of September also marks a new dawn of high fashion trends: another year of being told what&#39;s hot and what&#39;s not. New York Fashion Week is in <a href="http://www.mbfashionweek.com" target="_blank">full swing</a>, and the iconic Vogue &quot;September Issue&quot; with covergirl Jennifer Lawrence is on stands now.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Lawrence may be the most refreshingly <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/kmallikarjuna/the-best-jennifer-lawrence-quotes-of-2012" target="_blank">real</a>&nbsp;movie star to come along in recent years, but she&#39;s also astoundingly pretty&mdash;and pretty sells magazines.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">This topic has been on my mind a lot lately, as I recently read a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emily-armstrong/pretty-is-a-set-of-skills_b_3791169.html">great piece</a>&nbsp;by <em>Bitchtopia</em>&#39;s Emily Armstrong defining pretty as &quot;a set of skills.&quot; But honestly, pretty is even more than the manipulation of makeup, angles and lighting. Pretty is a lie that the beauty industry has sold us; a promise that no matter how much concealer we buy or miracle products we put in our hair, we will never be good enough. We will always need<i>&nbsp;</i>more.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In 2003, the beauty industry raked in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.economist.com/node/1795852" target="_blank">$160 billion</a> worldwide. By 2012, that number had climbed to <a href="http://www.fashinvest.com/world-spends-billions-beautiful-big-beauty-industry/" target="_blank">$426 billion</a>. For even more perspective on the rabid consumerism of all things beauty, consider this: MAC sells one lipstick and one eyeshadow every <a href="http://www.hoovers.com/company-information/cs/revenue-financial.Sephora_USA_Inc.f72e7fa0aee05f4a.html" target="_blank">two seconds</a>, while Sephora alone collects over <a href="http://www.hoovers.com/company-information/cs/revenue-financial.Sephora_USA_Inc.f72e7fa0aee05f4a.html" target="_blank">$636 million</a> in revenue each year.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Countless women claim that they wear makeup purely for themselves; and for many people, this may very well be true. But how often do we wear makeup to impress others, or cover up our supposed flaws? How much time do we spend concealing or tweaking our natural features in order to more closely resemble the models in magazines, or convince the men who say &quot;You look so much prettier without makeup&quot; that our&nbsp;<a href="http://www.eatliver.com/i.php?n=8013" target="_blank">&quot;no makeup&quot; makeup</a>&nbsp;look&nbsp;is real?&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The media bombards us with images of beautiful, sun-kissed celebrities every single day, and we long for what they have: Emma Stone&#39;s eyes, Taylor Swift&#39;s nose, Blake Lively&#39;s hair. Addictions form, whether online at Urban Decay or under a plastic surgeon&#39;s knife. The need to be &quot;pretty&quot; becomes insatiable.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Plus, in a&nbsp;world where the vast majority of runway models are <a href="http://jezebel.com/354782/fashion-week-runways-were-almost-a-total-whitewash" target="_blank">white</a>, the lines of otherness are carved even deeper. The ideals of beauty become overwhelming; and for 95 percent of Americans, literally<a href="http://www.ted.com/talks/cameron_russell_looks_aren_t_everything_believe_me_i_m_a_model.html" target="_blank"> impossible</a>.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But if we have solved one problem (like clearing up our skin or straightening those rebellious curls), the beauty industry will come at us with even more reasons to feel incomplete. Your eyebrows need that perfect arch; you would really look better with <em>this</em> bronzer, <em>these&nbsp;</em>perfectly face-framing sunglasses. The list goes on and on.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">I can acknowledge my privilege as a tall, thin, young white woman. I am aware that I fit a certain mold. And yet, I can always find &quot;problem&quot; areas that I need to &quot;fix:&quot; fingernails, teeth, cheekbones, eyelashes. To quote the mirror scene from <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhCzRr9EwBk" target="_blank">Mean Girls</a>,&nbsp;&quot;I used to think there was just fat and skinny, but apparently there&#39;s a lot of things that can be wrong with your body.&quot;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">How is beauty defined? Some say <a href="http://thevelvetrocket.com/2008/03/19/the-pretty-project-what-makes-someone-attractive/" target="_blank">symmetry</a>, others point to delicate features or clean lines. But in my opinion, true beauty is what emanates from the inside out: kindness, intelligence, generosity, joy.&nbsp;If only these attributes were as easy to come by in our Instagram-obsessed culture, or as marketable as the promise of &quot;pretty.&quot;&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Then again, perhaps the rarity of such virtues is what makes the people who posses them so beautiful in the first place. Societal constructs fall away in the presence of what beauty ads boast but <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/why-people-hate-doves-real-beauty-ad-2013-4" target="_blank">rarely deliver</a>, and what money can never buy. When a person radiates happiness from the tips of their fingers (and who cares if they&#39;re manicured or not?), &quot;pretty&quot; can&#39;t even compare.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But for now, I&#39;m just happy that when I enter &quot;pretty&quot; into the search bar on YouTube, this is the second video that appears:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="300" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/M6wJl37N9C0" width="500"></iframe></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer and co-host of WBEZ&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels,</a>&nbsp;a podcast about the future of television. Follow Leah on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">&nbsp;Tumblr</a>.</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 10 Sep 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-09/truth-about-pretty-108638 King me: my inaugural visit to the Korean spa http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/king-me-my-inaugural-visit-korean-spa-106693 <p><p dir="ltr" id="internal-source-marker_0.4246171511994621"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1077252262_y4XkDwTK_4.jpg" style="float: right; height: 212px; width: 300px;" title="" />No big deal. It&rsquo;s 9:45 on a Tuesday night and I&rsquo;m just laying, completely naked, on a massage table in a line of other massage tables also covered by other completely nude women, none of whom I know.</p><p dir="ltr">Still more nude women are enjoying the sauna and hot tubs nearby and some others are sitting on white plastic stools, showering. A Korean woman who I estimate to be about 55 or 60 years old, wearing a black bra and panties, is scrubbing my body vigorously with what feels like a brillo pad. She&rsquo;s scrubbing behind my ears, she&rsquo;s scrubbing my breasts, she&rsquo;s scrubbing my belly and she&rsquo;s got my butt, too.</p><p dir="ltr">I often hear a loud cupped slap as one of the nude women down the line from me gets popped with the hand of the underpantsed woman working her. Occasionally I am doused with a few buckets of hot water to wash away the threads of dead skin that have been exfoliated.</p><p dir="ltr">I&rsquo;m covered with a towel but not in any sort of modest way: my breasts will be covered while my crotch lays bare, or just one thigh will be covered. The scrubbing feels raw and hurts but then the second the woman moves onto the next part of my body, I miss the scrubbing, in a strange way. The woman&rsquo;s name, I can see from the sign hung near the table, is Linda. Linda is also the name of my old boss so it&rsquo;s funny to imagine her doing this job. I think she&rsquo;d be strangely good at it.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1077252262_bMNfatYi_l3.jpg" style="float: left; height: 233px; width: 300px;" title="" />By the end of the event, after Linda had flipped me around like a seal and slathered me with baby oil and given me a satisfyingly intense shampoo and conditioner, I felt utterly defeated. But in a good way!</p><p dir="ltr">This was my first experience at <a href="http://www.kingspa.com/c-about.php">King Spa</a>, the mega Korean spa over in Niles, Illinois. I still can&rsquo;t quite wrap my brain around it, because the spa reminds me of Las Vegas, except I&rsquo;ve never been to Las Vegas. It&rsquo;s also like a shopping mall, but one where you can walk around barefoot and sleep overnight. But I haven&rsquo;t actually been to one of those, either. It was also a lot like the baths I&rsquo;d been to in Hungary, only instead of feeling like I was in the 19th century, I felt like I was in the 22nd century. In a Korean version of Las Vegas. Do you get where I&rsquo;m coming from?</p><p dir="ltr">At King Spa, where my friend <a href="http://www.ericareid.com/">Erica</a> was my guide, we checked in and were given keys on wristbands that would serve as our de facto credit cards the entire experience. (It&#39;s sort of like the card you&rsquo;re given at FoodLife: you ring everything up on it and then pay when you&rsquo;re done.) We removed our shoes in the anteroom and then got naked in the ladies&rsquo;, where little colorful things are for sale that I couldn&rsquo;t adequately identify but some seemed to be massagers and some seemed to be little adorable slippers and hair ties.</p><p dir="ltr">It took me little while to get used to the full-on nudity. I&rsquo;m not <em>super</em> shy, but I am not so used to walking around nude in front of a lot of strange women that it comes to me naturally. My bod is not as red-hot as it once, believe it or not, was so I was a smidge self-conscious. But once I got over that, we had fun trying out the various lovely hot tubs and sauna.</p><p dir="ltr">I was tempted to try the sitz bath, just for fun, as it has many &ldquo;healing properties&rdquo; that benefit new moms like me but the process really just looked like someone ties a garbage bag around you from the neck down and lights incense near your crotch.</p><p dir="ltr">The phrase &ldquo;anal intake&rdquo; and the reassurance that it&rsquo;s &ldquo;mentioned in many ancient medical references&rdquo; didn&rsquo;t tempt me that much (Didn&rsquo;t ancient medical references also encourage tempting the uterus to leave the part of the body that it&rsquo;s bothering?)</p><p dir="ltr">One of my complaints about ladies&rsquo; day spas is that you are starved as you are pampered: the most you can ever expect to eat is a tiny cup of trail mix and you suspect that that mix is merely a test to see whether you have any willpower or are a big fat hog who doesn&rsquo;t deserve to get a massage. At King Spa, you actually get to eat. There&rsquo;s a restaurant with a wonderful array of Korean food, juices, ice cream, you name it. I went for the Bibimbap which included a big bowl of meat, veggies and egg with rice, kimchi, pickled radishes and other yummy stuff on the side. Erica got some shrimp dumplings.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1077252262_qXACTWGV_4.jpg" style="float: right; height: 233px; width: 300px;" title="" />After we ate, Erica showed me around some of the various saunas. &nbsp;I am not a big sauna person: sitting still in a very hot room doesn&rsquo;t do it for me, so I failed to truly take into appreciation all you can get from the gold sauna or the salt sauna or the amethyst sauna (&ldquo;They all have different healing properties,&rdquo; Erica explained. I gave her a suspicious look and she shrugged.)</p><p dir="ltr">They&rsquo;re basically like different theme rooms in a cheesy Wisconsin Dells hotel but in this case they&rsquo;re all incredibly hot and you lay on the floor in your standard-issue shorts and top (women get pink, men gray, kids yellow, and theirs are the cutest.)</p><p dir="ltr">One room is a gold pyramid, one looks like a magical cave, one looks like a regular cave, one is super hot, another super cold. There&rsquo;s something strangely exciting to me about the construct of a tiny house inside a larger, actual building, so even while I didn&rsquo;t particularly adore the sauna, just the prospect of all these little rooms to go and try was enjoyable.</p><p>The part that&rsquo;s most interesting, that I&rsquo;m trying to wrap my brain around, are the parts of the spa that seemingly have nothing to do with a spa. There&rsquo;s a meditation room, yes, but there&rsquo;s also a movie theater with a bunch of La-Z-Boy recliners in it, plus another room with a bunch of similar chairs in it with some flatscreen TVs where you can <em>spend the night</em>.</p><p>Did I mention it costs $25 to get into King Spa and that it&rsquo;s open 24 hours? Something doesn&rsquo;t quite add up to me about the fact that there is basically a hotel that you can stay at for $25 a night as long as you agree to wear their clothes and sleep in a cushy chair and then go sit naked in a hot tub for as long as you please.</p><p>I was relaxed by the time we decided to leave, thanks to the yummy food, the hot bath and Linda&#39;s pummeling, but not all my questions were answered.</p><p>I think I&rsquo;m going to have to go back a few more times to figure this all out. Maybe by then I will have gotten up the nerve to allow the wormwood steam sitz hip bath to let its water vapor &ldquo;reach inside the vagina&rdquo; and to try out a one-person jacuzzi that looks onto the main lounge of the spa. I just hope Linda is there to scrub me down again. I miss her already.</p></p> Thu, 18 Apr 2013 08:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/king-me-my-inaugural-visit-korean-spa-106693 In praise of caring, but not too much http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/praise-caring-not-too-much-104329 <p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.9326233577138003">Sometimes we women buy into a lot of bull when it comes to the business of looking good. Just look at colors: How is it conceivable that the cosmetics world is still inventing shades in which to manufacture nail polish, eyeshadow and lipstick? I suspect they&rsquo;re not, actually&nbsp;<span id="internal-source-marker_0.9326233577138003">&mdash;</span>&nbsp;the companies just slap on new celebrities, taglines and ridiculous adjectives (&ldquo;ultimate suede,&rdquo; &ldquo;moon candy,&rdquo; &ldquo;photoready,&rdquo; &ldquo;clump crusher,&rdquo; &ldquo;smoothwear&rdquo; and &ldquo;mega plush&rdquo; are all nonsense terms cosmetics companies are currently using to sell us product). These companies rely on our collective hope that this next new product will be the thing that saves us from our own decrepitude and ugliness. So many of us are vulnerable to this, even the smartest and most mature of us. And sometimes, aside from the hope, the sillyness is fun.&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIb6AZdTr-A">You know how it is.</a>&nbsp;<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2694215152_ca39fbe53f.jpg" style="float: right; height: 448px; width: 300px;" title="(Flickr/NCinDC)" />Part of the appeal of the old beauty song and dance is that if we&rsquo;re&nbsp;wasting/spending our money on our looks, we want to feel like we&rsquo;re being taken care of. I am pretty sure that at least $20 of the cost of my haircut is my haircut lady consulting with me as if we are about to do something very important. Bangs or no bangs? Are we bringing up the length significantly? (This is salon-ese for &ldquo;cutting off a lot.&rdquo;) What&rsquo;s the layer situation? This all involves a serious chat wherein we don&rsquo;t look each other in the eye directly but speak to our reflections in the mirror. Then she gets to work, I am out $100 and I feel kind of good about myself until I sleep on my new hair and I realize the next day I am totally unequipped to take care of it. But the point is, if I get a good haircut or a good eyebrow wax or makeup applied by a pro, it just makes me like my reflection a little bit more and I feel more willing to go on that journey with someone who seems to be taking me seriously.<br /><br />As I get older, though, I realize I don&rsquo;t need everything to be a&nbsp;production. I used to get my eyebrows waxed at the same place where I get my hair cut and I always dreaded the appointment. Not because it hurt, although it did &mdash; &nbsp;for better or for worse, the lady plucked a lot and all that plucking stung and made me have to sneeze &mdash;&nbsp;but because she spent 15 minutes before the appointment chiding me for how awful my eyebrows were. God forbid you pluck in between appointments. You might do&nbsp;permanent damage! She would then inform me what her plan was. She was going to wax here but not here to see if we can encourage this little bit to grow back, but only if I promised not to touch my eyebrows for three weeks, warning that it might be too late to save my brows. We could only hope. It was a bit much, all of it, and I&rsquo;m not just talking about the $50-plus per month.<br /><br />Recently, one of those strip-mall salons opened up near my house, the type that would have a name like &ldquo;Sexy Nails,&rdquo; only in this case it&rsquo;s actually&nbsp;called&nbsp;Sexy Nails. This weekend I took a gamble and walked the block and a half (instead of the mile from my office to the fancy salon) and asked for an eyebrow wax. Should I have been suspicious that there was a zero minute wait time for my wax? Or that the wax took place in a chair in the corner of the salon and not in a private room? Or that it cost $10? I don&rsquo;t know. The wax was efficient, chit-chat free and in the end I got what I asked for: a cleanup that left my eyebrows relatively full. The whole thing took about ten minutes, from entry to tipping.&nbsp;<br /><br />I felt liberated. This must be what it&rsquo;s like when men get their hair cut (specifically, my husband, because he goes to a specific chain where the employees don&rsquo;t typically speak English very fluently so he&rsquo;s guaranteed not to be chitchatted too much in the chair, which he finds excruciating).&nbsp;<br /><br />Being a woman and doing the whole thing &mdash;&nbsp;the product and frivolity and chitchat of it all &mdash;&nbsp;can be a good escape. But at the same time, it&rsquo;s not a true and serious commitment; you should be allowed to not take care of your split ends or to cut your nails with clippers or to pluck your eyebrows as much as you want without punishment. Sometimes it&rsquo;s good to find that happy middle where you&rsquo;re still taking care of yourself but without the investment and lecture. Sometimes you gotta just Sexy Nails it.</p></p> Wed, 12 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/praise-caring-not-too-much-104329