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'Should I Just Go Under The Knife?'
A recap of last week's AMA.
Thanks to everyone who attended last week’s hour-long beauty culture AMA on Substack Notes! I typed as fast as my unpolished, bitten-down fingertips would go and got to most of your questions. As promised, here’s a recap of your Qs/my As.
Does retinol really prevent wrinkles?
I’m debating and trying to wean myself off of highlighting my hair — any tips? Any thoughts? I have tied blonde to my identity for so long it feels scary!
This isn’t skin related aesthetically, but have you done any research into the way skin smells? … A lot of skincare products are designed to make us smell differently and nobody ever talks about the possible functions of our little smells.
I just used my friends Lotion P50 last night and I feel like my skin looks like a glowing angel’s. Is it a scam? Or should I shell out for it.
What laser treatment are worthwhile for a 70 year old woman? Or should I just go under the knife? I’m looking for some lift in my jowls and mid-face.
While people are dying in Ukraine & Israel from bombs and people in Pakistan, India and Africa die from hunger… This is what you care about?? This is so insensitive and ridiculous and shallow. Stop.
Beverly, I agree! Beauty culture is insensitive and ridiculous and shallow (in a certain sense of that word, at least). That’s why my work here is… anti-beauty culture. It’s why I focus on how beauty culture functions a form of oppression — how it stems from patriarchy, white supremacy, colonialism, and capitalism; how it holds women and gender non-conforming people back politically, economically, and socially; how it exploits workers in the Global South and contributes to the climate crisis. It’s why I cover how the beauty media used Iranian protests for women’s rights to promote fake eyelashes, and how the beauty industry capitalized on the political unrest of 2016 to sell us “self-care,” and how U.S. Republican representative Matt Gaetz used the “ugly feminist” trope to argue against abortion access, and how skincare brands used the war in Ukraine as a PR hook, and how the largest online retailer for beauty products funds anti-LGBTQ legislators, and how the Bush administration cited nail polish as a justification for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. It’s why I’m still working on an article related to the violent events of the past week, and how beauty culture is involved (it’s always involved). It’s why I encourage all of us to divest from industrialized beauty, to examine how it invades our brains, how it steals our power — not only because divesting is good for our own physical and psychological wellbeing, but because, like… Imagine the possibilities in a world where billions of us aren’t funneling so much of our finite time, money, effort, and attention back into our own faces!! What would society look like if our minds were freed from the pressure to contort and control and present our bodies, from the shame of not doing it well enough? What would happen if all that energy was turned outward, toward others? Toward community? Toward collective liberation? Dismantling beauty culture is a political project. For better or worse, that includes debunking “shallow” ideas about wrinkles and highlights and jowls from time to time. And as for your final request — “Stop.” — let me try to understand this: You’re saying physical beauty is superficial and unimportant… and you want me to stop engaging in public work that tries to deprioritize physical beauty?? I have to wonder if you’re using retinol on that ideological through-line, because the line is nowhere to be found.
You can scroll through the rest of the 50+ questions and answers from the AMA — topics include: dealing with body dysmorphia! treating post-pregnancy acne! the joys of jojoba oil! educating your friends about beauty culture without sounding like an asshole (I’m still working on that one myself)! and more! — here.