skin deep

Its at the nexus, that volatile inflection point between emotion and capitalism somehow tied into the fascist aryan ideal of beauty. A world of choreography following the Leni Riefenstahl template. I faintly remember my grandmother pushing me to eat, to finish the pot so to speak and then vaguely kind of figured it out. Back in Belarus the pogroms and the Bolchevik raids forced the men and their sons into the woods,saddling a horse and outlasting the terror which often extended over several weeks. A little extra padding, a ten to fifteen pound insurance policy was based on wisdom, and prudence. Even though some of the cooking was debatable, the commentary was a credible narrative focusing on the shifting nature of circumstance and chance. How the superficial vanity of delicate skin, slimness and delicate features were toxic baggage in a crisis. …

The bureau announced Wednesday it is levying a $300,000 penalty for “false or misleading advertising” against Beiersdorf Canada Inc., the distributor of Nivea products which had claimed its My Silhouette cream could erase as much as three centimetres from “targeted body parts, such as thighs, hips, waist and stomach, while making the skin better toned and more elastic.”…The claims, which the company insisted were scientifically proven, were made on packaging and on the Nivea website….

---With every image of Nicole Richie's feeble wrists or Posh Spice's concave thighs - which seem to shy away from each other as if they've never been properly introduced - with every shot, an inch or an ounce is shaved off the notional ideal female form which governs our relationship with our bodies and with the world. Images of Lindsay Lohan's chest bones, desperately reaching out to greet strangers, or Keira Knightley's xylophone of vertebrae, countable at 30 paces, have burned themselves into our consciousness so that uber-thin no longer looks odd. It no longer shocks. But it does make you look at your own soft, warm body in a hard new light. It's almost as if, in the course of a generation, we've overturned the age-old feminine ideal - maternal, curvaceous, zaftig. Looking now at pictures of Linda Evangelista in her supermodel prime, or Elizabeth Hurley in her safety-pin Versace frock, they look - unbelievably - a bit on the heavy side, even though at the time they seemed radiantly slim. To achieve this mental switcheroo, something seismic has happened, enough to make a body mass index of 10 (the BMA recommends something in the region of 22) look nearly normal to our rewired brains. When you rub your eyes, though, and snap yourself out of the reverie, you realise that this isn't glamorous. It's cadaverously, dangerously thin.---Read More: image:,%20Greta-Annex.htm

…The FTC also objected to a TV commercial for the cream showing a woman, her impressively firm torso on display, digging out an old pair of slim jeans from storage and trying them on in front of a battery of mirrors, as her smiling husband looks on approvingly. As Feist’s Mushaboom plays on the ad’s soundtrack, a voiceover declares that the cream “visibly firms skin in just four weeks,” and “helps reshape your body’s appearance and the way you see yourself.” … Read More:

---Little could I have known that, in the intervening two decades, the morbidly hungry body type I saw there would become celebrated, a glory to which women of all ages might aspire. And they do. We do. If we are truthful, it's not just anorexics who pedestal the thin; we all do, to one extent or another. After all, the mantra of our age is that thin gets you noticed. It gets you a contract as a TV presenter or a model or a singer in a girl band. Thin fast-tracks you with far more alacrity than a degree in history. More than that, as a society, we tend to cast a forgiving eye upon the very thin, while castigating the repugnantly fat.--- Read More: image:

The ad also touted the cream’s so-called Bio-Slim Complex, a combination of ingredients that includes anise and white tea…. A product that is ecologically responsible and oriented toward a greener more sustainable world. Not tested on animals….. Excuse the digression. Products like Silhouette are simply backloaded with all the machinations that white patriarchal culture can present on its best behavior, with the veiled threat of fear inducing violence to women as instrumental soundtrack. Silhouette is another cheap form of ethnic cosmetic surgery selling a slim hope to look like the mass modern norm: McBeauty. Thinness is a racialized idea-white- and classified at the high end of the socio-economic status scale which has an inverted relationship to the size of the waistline and cup size. Its back to Barbie. As Laura Essig has asserted, all cosmetic surgery is ethnic. In fact, if Nivea could claim they had developed a skin cream that could shrink the size of a nose to an impossible proportion for an adult face, that could approximate the look- after repeated applications- of a “truly” white lady….

---Nivea still sells a number of other so-called “firming” creams, including Goodbye Cellulite, touted as an “anti-cellulite gel.”...At the Rhodes Farm Clinic for Eating Disorders in north London, Dr Dee Dawson has noticed a startling jump in the numbers of very young children suffering from anorexia and bulimia. 'We see lots of 10-year-olds,' she says with a sigh. 'The link with celebrity cannot be overstated; though anorexics talk of family problems, the pressure of school or not wanting to grow up, we're now seeing girls who openly say they want to look like Victoria Beckham. Thinness is valued. Among my patients, she is one of the top icons: as far as they can see, she gets invited everywhere, she's got plenty of money, a handsome husband. It's not surprising that they associate her body shape with glamour and success.'...Read More: image:

In some measure, the entire Western economy would collapse if there was no racism or discrimination. An apartheid like structure of status and distinction could no longer feed off and parasite off those trying to escape a racializing “degenerative” body, the “diseased” racially other, because creams like Nivea are also linked to celebrity, the industrial entertainment complex and the magical seduction of want and desire. In any event, the game is always about women on the brink, and the difficult challenge women have when their female passions confront cruel circumstances.


‘Women are duplicitous on this issue,’ says Leeds Medical School psychologist Dr Andrew Hill. ‘Much of the pressure about appearance and weight is applied by other women. In the face of nutritional abundance, women are showing their status by eating poorly – much as a corpulent belly historically indicated status in times of privation. It’s perverse, but a reverse snobbery now informs our relationship with weight; being thin in an overeating society is a sign of control. It takes enormous will to stay so thin….

---In recent weeks, Indians have been treated to an eye-catching television advert "mini-series" featuring three of Bollywood's hottest talents in a moody love-triangle. All in the name of skin-whitening cream. The whitening market in India is worth millions of pounds, with men as well as women routinely buying bleaching lotions in an effort to "improve" their complexion. But the mini-series advert featuring Saif Ali Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Neha Dhupia has reopened a debate about India's obsession with pale skin and triggered an angry reaction from some who think the advert is discriminatory and outdated. "It is strange. There is such a premium placed on pale skin," said Urvashi Butalia, a historian and director of Kali for Women, India's first feminist publishing house. "I am not sure where it c

from. It may have something to do with India's history of being colonised by various people and that there is a hangover of the idea that Aryan people are superior and Dravidian people – those who were already here – are inferior."---Read More:

…’Nationally, we’re getting fatter by a percentage point each year – so people who are trying to lose weight, which means most of us, are in awe of the high achievers in the field. We’re also intimately involved in celebrity lives in a way we never used to be. We’re encouraged to have an opinion by an invasive media.’Read More:
Essig reminds us that neoliberal ideology relies on the belief in freedom of choice, but her interviewees seem helpless and say things like: “Appearance is all that counts in our society” or “The job always goes to the one who looks youngest”. She says facelifts and Botox seem to them as inevitable as death and taxes. In fact, the interviewees create a reality over which they claim to have no control, and thereby constantly escalate demands – foreheads must be ever smoother, features ever more frozen and breasts ever larger. The ubiquitous images of models’ and celebrities’ smooth, shiny, artificial faces and bodies set a precedent, and feed anxiety, contempt and hatred of the real body….

---I graduated high school, went to college, and then worked in New York City. For a while, I moved to Paris, where I dated a medical student from Senegal. As people stared at us—interracial couples were unusual in those days—I became painfully aware that my boyfriend could never peel off his skin. Obviously, he’d always be black. And although I felt irrevocably Jewish inside, to the outside world, I was white. I had become an invisible Jew.--- Read More: image:

…The industry did not suffer much from the great financial crisis. Essig noticed that in fact people became more determined to change their appearance, even if that meant a second mortgage on their home. She thought they viewed their bodies as assets that had to be managed in order to grow in value on the market (love or labour), to have any chance of fulfilling the American dream. Upgrading the body seemed a sensible investment. A friend of Essig’s is self-employed and, although penniless – or rather, because she’s penniless – has spent $800 on injections to fill in the nasolabial folds (between the nose and the corners of the mouth). “I thought maybe if I didn’t look so old, so tired, I’d get more clients,” she said. The procedure was her only possible response to her insecurity and lack of external control. Read More:


Related Posts

This entry was posted in Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Marketing/Advertising/Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>