Saturday, January 19, 2008

Weekly Links

The LA Times has a very interesting article about the rise of Mary Kay within the California Latina community.

The Beauty Brains
discuss why getting rid of animal testing is a lot more difficult than many expect.

The Times (U.K.)
has tips for incorporating more bright colors into your winter wardrobe (via The Thoughtful Dresser).

Beauty Addict
raves about Redken's Volumizing Foam, which is on my must-try list.

The New York Times
describes this season's Prada men's collection as "read like the manifesto of a gender revanchist".

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Beauty and Success

It may seem obvious to acknowledge that there are benefits to being beautiful, and that they extend past gaining the attention of potential mates. People are attracted to and fascinated by beautiful people, and most of us would admit to being guilty of judging others on the basis of their looks before getting to know them. Science Daily had an interesting article a few days ago about a recent study showing that attractive people often receive better job positions and pay than average looking applicants. Perhaps a bit surprisingly, the study found that women were more likely to give high status packages to attractive men than men gave to attractive women.

Unlike discrimination against people on the basis of their race, religion, sexuality, gender, nationality, etc, it's totally legal and often acceptable to discriminate people on the basis of their physical appearance. In positions that require the employee to woo prospective clients or sell a product, it's arguable that attractive people are more likely to impress others and convince them to buy from the company. This might be true, but it certainly feels unfair to those otherwise competent, qualified people who didn't luck out with the beauty gene.

While I wasn't particularly surprised to read that attractive people have an edge in the business world, I found it interesting to contrast it with another popular attitude about the intelligence of highly attractive people, namely that beautiful people are airheads, ditzes or dumb blondes. Television and movies teach us to recognize "the hot girl" as gorgeous but stupid and "the nerd" as intelligent but awkward and ugly. We might be attracted to beautiful people on both social and sexual levels, but I think most people would assume that someone with model looks lacks brains.

The Economist recently published an article reporting that studies have shown that there may be a link between beauty and high intelligence, and that allowing a person's good looks to influence your decision about them is not a bad idea. One study found a correlation between bodily symmetry (a marker of beauty) and general intelligence, while another had participants view photos of faces and guess how intelligent the person was, which a significant portion got correct. Beautiful people earn more money than average looking people, but also bring more revenue to their employers, making it advantageous for a company to hire the more attractive of two equally qualified candidates.

Just as in the Science Daily article, the studies discussed in this story concluded that men were rewarded more for good looks and penalized for unattractiveness than women (men characterized as ugly earned 9% less income than average men, while ugly women earned 6% less than average women). Researchers found that these rewards and penalties varied between countries, as Chinese men and women were penalized more for ugliness and rewarded more for beauty (with ugly women penalized as much as 31% in lower salaries), while attractive British men and women were rewarded only 1% for their beauty.

Finally, researchers found that investment in cosmetics and clothes didn't pay off in increasing one's salary, showing that "that the beauty premium generated by such primping is worth only 15% of the money expended."

Is this depressing news for everyone who's not a Heidi Klum look-a-like? In some ways, yes. I certainly find it disturbing that so much weight is placed on physical appearance, both in personal and professional situations, and that the lucky few who are born beautiful have a tremendous advantage in both areas. On the other hand, I think about how much control we actually do have over our looks. So few people really pay attention to how they are presenting themselves, and many beautiful people slide by on their looks without making the effort to look professional and put-together from head to toe. I would think that in most cases, a sloppily dressed, unprofessional looking beautiful woman isn't going to get a job over an impeccably dressed average looking woman. In response to the article's final point, I think you can throw all the money you want at pricey cosmetics and designer clothes, but until you recognize what flatters you, it's never going to help you look better.

Dressing sharply, looking put-together from head to toe, being healthier (not just in a weight sense, but when you live a healthier lifestyle, your skin and hair reflect it), carrying yourself with confidence and poise... there are so many ways to improve the way you present yourself to the world. I think about the fact that when I'm dressed to impress, feeling healthy and energized, wearing clothes I feel great in and having put time into my hair and makeup, I hardly resemble the way I look when I wake up in the morning. Anyone who's ever seen an episode of What Not to Wear can attest to the fact that a wardrobe/hair/makeup/confidence makeover will make you into a totally different person. While it's wrong not to acknowledge the fact that you can't change your genes or go from average to supermodel, I think everyone can reap (at least some of the benefits that attractive people gain in their professional and personal lives.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Confession Time...

There's something I've been thinking about for a very long time and I think it's time to come clean with all of you. I have decided that I will stop posting on FGB at the end of February, and will slow down posting until then- probably down to about 2-3 posts per week (if you'd like to receive updates of new posts, I encourage you to subscribe to the FGB RSS feed or to receive new posts via email). The impetus for this decision came from a combination of things. I no longer derive the same pleasure and satisfaction from writing and managing the blog that I once did. A year and a half of waking up early every morning to write for an hour, then putting in many more hours into answering e-mails, responding to comments and dealing with advertisers and other site issues has made blogging feel more like a burden than a hobby. I made a resolution a few weeks back that I wanted to make the most of my senior year of college, and I'd love to have the freedom to just live my life without always worrying that I'll fall behind on my work for the blog.

This certainly doesn't diminish the fun, fulfillment and personal growth I experienced because of Faking Good Breeding. It's been the most important, life changing activity I participated in during my college career, and I've gained so much from my involvement with the site. The support I've gotten from readers is a constant source of joy in my life, and I feel so lucky to be part of a community of such intelligent, interesting women. Thank you for your kindness, and I appreciate your understanding of my decision.

Monday, January 14, 2008

How To Use Hot Rollers: A Tutorial

While the wavy and curly-haired ladies of the world slather their hair with anti-frizz products, spend hours blowdrying and straightening and constantly complain about their uncontrollable locks, those of us with the opposite hair (limp, lifeless and flat) invest time and money in the hopes of getting even the slightest bit of volume and bounce in our hair. This is the female hair conundrum- we always want hair that's the opposite of what we've got. When I wrote my post last week reviewing the Conair hot rollers that had given me the fullest, thickest hair I'd ever had, I was happy to hear that many of you were dealing with the same hair issues, and wrote in requesting a tutorial on how to use the hot rollers. I have to admit that it took a while of trial and error for me to figure them out, and I certainly don't claim to be a hair expert. I just want to share what I've learned works for me, since I'm pretty happy with the results I've been getting from my rollers. Here are my tips and a step-by-step guide for using hot rollers to get big hair.

One of the first issues I had when using my rollers was getting them to stay put once I'd rolled my hair. The little metal pins that come with the set don't do a great job keeping my rollers up, and I sometimes got creases in my hair from where I'd pinned them. I found a deal on Amazon for a set of roller clips (make sure that the clips are large enough for your rollers or they'll be worthless) that were far easier to use than those pesky pins. My one beef with the clips is that only 10 come in a set, while I have 12 rollers. I'll use pins or other large hair clips for the last two, and make sure to use them on the bottom layers of my hair, where the curls don't have to be so perfect.

So, onto our steps.

1. After you've showered, set out your clips and plug in your rollers, preferably in front of a mirror in a room that isn't too humid (if you've got a small bathroom that stays hot after a shower, you probably want to do this in front of a mirror in your bedroom). The humidity of the bathroom will prevent your curls from holding and you'll be sweating bullets from the combined heat of the room and the rollers on your head.

2. Comb your wet hair and apply a quarter-sized ball of volumizing mousse to your hair, making sure to get it at the roots. If you've got longer or thicker hair, you'll want to use a little more, shorter-haired girls use less. Comb the mousse through so that it's evenly distributed and then flip your head over and blowdry it upside-down (I do this while sitting on a chair so I don't get dizzy or tired). Once it's partially dry, use a large round brush to brush your hair while drying it (you're still upside-down), making sure to curl the ends a bit. Once your hair is totally dry (you need it to be completely dry or the rollers won't set) use your dryer's cool setting to blast your hair with cold air before you flip over.

Note: If you've got bangs, it's a good idea to dry those first while standing up, otherwise they'll be all funky.

3. Brush your hair a bit so it's not all over the place, and open your box of rollers, which should be hot by now. Take a piece of hair at the crown of your head (the one closest to your face) that's about 1.5-2 inches wide and not very thick and use your round brush to brush through it. While holding your hair in one hand, take a roller (grab it by the plastic edges, not the middle) and wrap the bottom of your piece of hair around it. Now lift your hair straight up and begin rolling the length of your hair around the roller slowly and tightly, until it hits your head. Secure the roller with a clip.

4. Continue rolling small pieces of hair, starting at the hair at the top of your head, then moving onto the next layer below that. Don't worry if there are small pieces that don't get rolled in, you probably won't notice them once the rollers are out, and you can always use a curling iron for touch-ups. Once all your rollers are in, go and do your makeup (preferably in a cooler room, since your face and head will be warm from the rollers and you don't want to sweat your makeup off).

5. Once the rollers cool (after about 10-15 minutes), begin removing them. Go slowly, starting with the bottom layer, careful not to pull on them. Once they're all removed, you can decide how much you want to brush them through (if you want very curly hair, only brush a little bit and very lightly so that the top of your hair isn't messy). Your hair should be very big right now, but keep in mind that it will fall down as the night goes on. If you notice any mistakes, fix 'em with a curling iron or brush through them. Also, if you really want your hair to stay, flip your head over and spray it lightly with hairspray.

One final note: Depending on your technique, you can achieve vastly different results from hot rollers. When I took these pictures, I was rolling quickly and kind of sloppily, didn't use any product and brushed through the curls after I took them out (my boyfriend and I were planning on staying in that night, so I didn't really care whether my hair was perfect). If you want tighter curls, don't brush your hair, and if you want ringlets, roll the rollers vertically instead of horizontally. The more you practice, the more control you'll have over the style. Good luck!

Products Mentioned in this Post:
Conair CHV14J Instant Heat Jumbo and Super Jumbo-Sized Rollers
ConairPro Pro Clips