Saving Face: Beauty is in the Eye of the Purse Holder

The second part of this series was a bit longer than I’d planned (I also didn’t originally plan a series!) so I’m going to keep the next two posts short and sweet… or bitter, depending on your viewpoint. My second question in that first post was about why skincare products are so expensive, and it turns out they don’t have to be, but first of all let’s address the elephant in the pharmacy.

Women have an expense that is considered to be optional and isn’t: we have to use feminine hygiene products (which for some reason are considered a luxury and taxed) so we will pay for them. I had a daydream about what would happen if all woman said ‘I can’t afford them, I’ll go without my tampons/painkillers/chocolate this month’ and the carnage resembled Godzilla. Let’s face it, if menstruating women refused to turn up for work, the economy would break. If we all rioted, every country’s infrastructure would come to a complete standstill. Part of me wants to see it happen.

So we’re already being overcharged for products we can’t not buy. Moving on to the international beauty industry! It’s raking in the cash and expanding all the time: Unilever, which owns Treseme, Lynx, Simple and Dove to name but a few, is a FTSE 100 company. L’Oreal and Estee Lauder are ‘increasing focus’ on the Indian market. In China, the cosmetics industry is estimated by the Economist to be worth $26 billion per year, and growing, although Revlon is halting business there… possibly because despite China’s enormous market, Chinese law requires all products to be tested on animals, which can put Western customers off (I don’t think Revlon is catering to the needs of the baby rabbits who shouldn’t wear mascara… more like their bank balances). Getting back to the unnecessary expense of products, there is another proverbial sexist elephant:

Apparently women in the States pay $1300 per year more for cosmetics than men, even though they are paid a lot less. It’s daylight robbery, innit, especially if you use products a lot.

Thankfully there are ways to beat the fuckers at their own game and save cash without forgoing your own beauty standards. For starters, since the Internet, people have been able to share their expertise and money-saving tips a lot more easily. The Beauty Truth is a blog that tests products and reviews them in a way that normal people can actually understand. (They also pointed out – and blew my mind in the process – that pump-action bottles last longer than the standard ones because you can’t empty the bottle’s entire contents in one go.) A More BeYOUTtiful You is another site which shares beauty tips but doesn’t make me feel like I’m being talked down to by a snob. Plus there are also little ways to save when you’re actually out shopping, and they’re stupidly obvious once you learn them – like buying men’s razors instead of pink ones, or substituting shop-bought products for homemade ones. I’ll talk more about that in the next post…

In the mean time, if any of you discover a way to cut down the price of tampons, let me know. We can save (and probably take over) the world together.

** Update, 06/02/15 ** There’s a UK petition to ask the government to exempt tampons from tax, so if you’re UK-based and you’d like to make George Osborne uncomfortable while attempting to instigate governmental change, go here.

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The Eleven O’Clock News: Eurovision Explained

So, The Economist analysed Eurovision, which makes it news (as if this wasn’t already).

Actually I just searched for more news and it turns out this is the best I can find… That’s Chloe’s Tumblr, by the way, please leave a message saying hi. The thing is, on Monday everyone will pretend that Eurovision doesn’t exist – except the country that wins, which has 365 days to find a room suitable for 8000 cans of hairspray, 10000 drunk dudes and some flags – so I’ve run out of things to say, so here is a handy guide for everybody who doesn’t understand Eurovision.

Eurovision Explained 

  • Established 1956 (yep, it’s almost as old as the EU. I wonder which is more effective at uniting Europe and making UKIP uncomfortable?)
  • It’s basically the Olympics meets a montage of every musical you’ve ever heard meets queer pride meets The X Factor
  • “Nil points” means “no points” which is what the UK tends to get because the UK is like Loki but with worse hair (fun for a bit but nobody wants to play with us for long based on historical events and distinct lack of overall idealogical cohesion)
  • For one half of the competition Europeans express feelings that are either “YEAHHH THIS COUNTRY THAT I’VE NEVER HEARD OF HAS THE BEST SENSE OF HUMOUR/COSTUMES/LEVEL OF SCHIZOPHRENIC DANCING AYYY I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!” or “Well I don’t think that’s appropriate what is society coming to?” For the other half we go “YEAHHH WE GOT POINTS FROM A COUNTRY WE ONCE WENT TO WAR WITH!!! WAIT THAT COUNTRY WE WERE ONCE ALLIED WITH GAVE US FEWER POINTS THAN WE DESERVE! WE VOTED FOR THEM, DAMNIT!”
  • There is an unspoken agreement that Eurovision is the one global forum in which the USA cannot dominate; both because it is geographically forbidden and even if it wasn’t, no one would put up with its hard power shitick. Eurovision is all about the sparkles and faintly embarrassing music, not who is ‘the best’

If you have any other questions, just look on social media tomorrow evening.

The Ten O’Clock News: Living Below the Line

I never thought I’d do the news about an article on Glamour magazine’s website, but I also thought this pose was exclusive to professional gymnasts, so if you’ve got proof UKIP’s not full of shit now would be a good time to let me know. (Please don’t let me try that outside of my Pilates class.)

Anyway.

Amanda Abbington is Living Below the Line

You guys know how during Comic Relief we sit there eating ice cream trying not to cry at all the little children living in sheds and trying to imagine what it’s like having virtually nothing to eat? Well, an organisation called Live Below the Line does a thing where people get sponsored to live, food-wise, on £1 a day for five days, so that we can start to imagine what  it’s like to live in abject poverty. Amanda Abbington’s done it and has written about it on the Glamour website (beware the distracting scroll-y thing).

To balance out all the procrastinating I did reading about Hilary Duff’s marriage, here are some fun facts about poverty! All info is from my Politics course so I don’t have sources, although I’m sure my teachers would be flattered if you demanded that I asked them to provide sources.

  • More people have access to a mobile phone than have access to a toilet 
  • It’s estimated that a country takes thirty years after a civil war to reach the level of prosperity that it held before the war
  • People tend to disagree over exactly how many people are ‘in poverty’ because if the figure sounds too high to tackle, schemes to eradicate it won’t take off. That said, poverty is relative; there are rich people in central Africa and people who can’t afford to eat in the USA. In 2005 it was estimated that about 20% of the world’s population was in poverty
  • Expanding on that: India’s effing huge general election is on at the moment and one quarter of the electorate is illiterate. Please note that India has a nuclear programme, a space programme and its own version of Hollywood
  • There is actually enough resources for everyone to have access. Or there would be if richer people were willing to share…

Okay I’m now mildly depressed and quite guilty about the amount I eat. I might try the Below the Line thing when school’s finished – has anyone else ever done it or something similar? I mean, the last time I did anything remotely selfless and food-related was when I gave up biscuits for Lent back when a) biscuits didn’t make me puke and b) I thought taking part in Lent made me a cool atheist… 

Those were the days, huh. They were also the days I could write a post without screwing with the colour scheme, so apologies if I made anyone’s eyes go funny!

The Six O’Clock News: Dogs Are As Smart As Humans (but that’s not saying much)

Wag the dog

It’s been scientifically proven that dogs are smarter than they look. Again. According to The Economist, Italian scientists have discovered that not only do dogs “wag their tails to the right when they see something pleasant…and to the left when they see something unpleasant” but that a video or silhouette of dog with “a left-wagging tail… induced… an anxiety response” in subject dogs, while the right-wagging one didn’t. Basically, they can both tell humans how they feel and impact how other dogs feel – with their tails.

I want to take a video camera out with me when we go for a walk, and record everything, especially when Fred and Don meet their dog friends. We could analyse who likes whom and whatnot. (Video camera necessary for playback because those tails go fast, man).

Clerics rule besieged Damascus residents may eat dogs

The end of Eid is traditionally cause for c e l e b r a t i o n in Muslim cultures, but there are Syrians starving to death because humanitarian aid can’t reach their areas – so clerics have issues a fatwa, a ruling, that people are allowed to eat dogs, cats and donkeys. The BBC says that “similar religious edicts were announced in Homs and Aleppo when the fighting in those cities was at its fiercest”.

I’m not sure how I feel about military action in Syria (Iraq versus Rwanda, Iraq verses Rwanda) but for God’s sake, UN, find a way to get food and water to these people. Better still, get them out. Okay so the Mediterranean-refugee issue is suggesting that people who are leaving aren’t finding help, per se, but if you can’t end the war please try to make the whole fiasco as painless as possible for civilians. Ahh. Go here to give money if you’d like.

How do you safely match stray dogs to new owners?

It was simultaneously heartbreaking and anger-inducing hearing about Lexi Branson’s death this week. Her family’s bulldog Mulan mauled her to death and in a bid to help her daughter, Lexi’s mother stabbed the dog to death with a kitchen knife. They had owned Mulan for two months. It’s opened up another debate about whether we should be adding to the Dangerous Dogs List (don’t think it’s actually called that) or whether or not people should rehome strays.

My thinking is that instead of blaming the dogs when they bite a human, we should be blaming the humans. Not the little girl, of course, nor her family – but the thing is that Mulan had been a stray for an unknown time before being rescued. Very little was known about her history or the treatment she had in her previous home(s). You could blame the rehoming centre for giving a potentially dangerous animal to a family with a small child – but every single dog is a potentially dangerous animal.

They all have teeth, yes, and claws, and really strong jaws. Even Chihuahuas can do some damage if they really want to. I love Adonis with all my heart but I will never, ever, take his food away from him while he’s eating it because he would take my hand off. He’s lived on the streets and has had to fight for survival – manners don’t matter when you’re hungry, and despite the whole wagging-tail thing, dogs are far less able to think critically than humans. They see a person getting in their space, they growl. The person keeps provoking them and they’ll bite. If they’ve been mistreated, they could lose their temper and attack. Even your cutsey Labrador that you bought from a breeder off the Internet who’s real good with kiddies because all Labs are good with kiddies will bite your kiddies if they poke him in the eye, or hit him with a toy, or torment him by taking away his food. The breed of dog is almost irrelevant – yes, Mastiffs or pit bulls are “dangerous”. They are physically big and strong so are naturally able to do more damage than, say, a Boarder Collie. But that’s what they were bred for. Dobermanns were “invented” by a tax collector named Mr Dobermann who wanted a dog that was intimidating enough that people wouldn’t give him shit while he did his job. Go figure.

Humans are the ones in charge of the dogs, not the other way round. It’s up to us to make sure that our dogs are raised in a safe and stable environment so that they in turn are part of a safe and stable environment. The BBC is nicer about saying this than I am.

Do you have a dog? Have you had one? Let’s share pictures. (I will upload some of Fred and Don when I can get Fred to sit still.)

The Six O’Clock News: Greece & Eastern Europe

Since I got back from Greece this week, I thought I’d talk about some news stories about the Grecian part of Europe – or mostly, anyway.

Armenian Culture in Turkey: From the Ashes

The Armenian genocide comes up a few times in We Need to Talk About Kevin, which I read while I was away, and this story from The Economist was interesting. Why don’t genocides like this get taught in schools alongside the Holocaust? There’s Rwanda, the DRC conflict, all the shit Saddam Hussein did. Surely they’re just as relevant as the shit Hitler did?

Illegal Workers Arrested at Woking Restaurant

This BBC piece is a teeny tiny story that will help out UKIP, but since I recently found out that some Albanian friends of mine were smuggled out of their country and were illegal immigrants, this made me think. There’s always two sides to a story and all that…

Jamie Oliver Slams ‘Wet Behind the Ears’ British Youth Who Don’t Work as Hard as Europeans

… Especially since British people don’t seem to want to work in restaurants anyway (via The Independent). For the record, the hardest-working people I can think of are Albanian.

Sisa: Cocaine of the Poor – Full Length

I’ve only just discovered Vice, and I’ve not finished watching the video, but this article about Athens’ latest drug problem highlights that fact that while Angela Merkel and her friends are discussing bailouts, and while people are talking about how Greece “should just leave the euro” or whatever, the economic problems over there aren’t just economic – they’re social, and the longer the economic issues last, the harder it will be to fix the social issues. Just a thought for the IMF.