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      How Girls Look Good

      August 16, 2011
      From the column 'Girl News'

      Forgetting about makeup, which is mostly for shits and gigs, the stuff that girls do to themselves and put on themselves to look good is divisive and conflicted and ultimately so weird. Like, there are these tank trucks worth of “product” in most girls’ bathrooms–even a dyke-punk-veg-femme combo will have her “special carbon soap”–but all of it is kind of not great and mostly doesn’t “work” in any real way and yet maintains this creepy presence in the collective consciousness of women. This is an internal issue, not a Magazine Problem, and has no resolution. Girls are so pretty but usually want to be pretty in juuuuust this other way.

      WAX
      You know what a “Brazilian” is, I bet. Let’s congratulate ourselves for popularizing a vulvic hairstyle while your nation still doesn’t know the difference between Mitt Romney and that other guy. But, did you know, that after girls start having adult sex and before girls get all Portuguese (just fucking with you, we don’t call it that) there is an era of razor shaving one’s pussy? And, since everybody seems to buy these Escalade razors with moisturizing strips buttressing the edges (it must be “everybody” because apparently they cost three cents to produce, and twenty dollars to purchase), getting close to the hair-stuff becomes a Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, which is why eventually girls just let it happen or do wax. Also: waxing your area hurts less than waxing your legs. Why? I don’t know.

      SHIMMER
      Trannies know every secret, and a verra, verra tranny look is the intense body shimmer. Go check, I’ll wait. SEE?! All that confectioner sugar is just fucking caked on every angle of clavicle and knee-butt and knuckles (maybe not). The best shimmer is called “Body Bling.” Let’s just sit with that for a moment.

      OIL
      There is this new thing being regulated in Girl Nation about how oil is the item to be using to moisturize scrungey hair and leg-skin, and also to wash your face. I guess?

      ARM HAIR
      I take these suspicious hair vitamins called Viviscal because I read about them in a magazine while I was on a fancy beach in Mexico with my two perfect sisters (eight feet tall twink-skinny rich ur-blondes). I was feeling vulnerable--to the point where, later, I cried so hard lying on a massage table that my face-liquid dripped loudly onto the floor and, truly, narrowly missed my masseuse’s shoes--anyway, it made my head-hairs grow as fast as dandelions (pretty!) and I was so pleased. But guess what, it also makes my formerly insubstantial arm hair grow so fast, so that randomly there are inch-long arm hairs (summer-blonde at least) all up on it.

      Here are things to do with arm hair: Wax it; bleach it (ONLY if you’re white; at summer camp one of the brown girls borrowed some Jolene and there was a collective awakening about how that was a bad idea); hope nobody notices. Regardless, it’ll be fine. One time my friend, who doesn’t care about things, rubbed her arm hair and said all nonchalantly, “I love my fuzz.” That is the move. Really, this is the least important thing, which is why it’s easy to pay a lot of attention to.

      DRY SHAMPOO
      Showering is a drag when you have long hair because it’s this whole repetitive and labor-intensive activity of caring for what is essentially a dead carpet. Instead, a burgeoning population of girls just don’t do it, and it is glorious. Dry shampoo has existed forever, primarily in the form of this thing called “Psssssst” which is essentially corn starch in a spray bottle, and so named because I guess not washing your hair is like this sick tragedy to the North American beauty industry and just making it giant and fluffy with product instead of cleaner is our big, gay secret.

      Dry shampoo comes out like a fine but stiff mist (Oribe, the best) or a Halloweeny play-dust that turns brown hair a sort of light gray wizard-hue (Klorane, also good). Both make a satisfying sound (“Psssssst!”). You have to moosh it in there with your fingeys after spraying it in, and toss your head around a little bit. I went too nuts with this stuff yesterday and when I woke up this morning my hair was still perfect but obviously possessed by some demon and I will pay for it later.

      EXTENSIONS
      I can’t speak to the accouterments of the black hair experience because that would be disgusting of me—I used to cut my various guy friends’ hair a lot, and when one dude requested I braid his I tried and then retired the whole enterprise in a spiral of white-shame. I also can’t speak to the war-chest level funding that goes into it. I am, however, an expert on cheap blonde extensions, and can say that when left alone for too long, owing to the inevitable dearth of hair-maintenance time between Rockstar-and-Absolut benders and all-day blackouts, they start to look like matted poo-sticks formulated by a vitamin-deficient diet of Rockstar and Absolut and cum and plastic glitter and choked-back bile and Premium Plus.

      TANS
      I haven’t figured this out yet. I dunno. It’s genuinely scary and awful, but also somewhat recommended in short bursts; it looks great until it looks bad. I spend all my time applying SPF 50 and then a layer of bronze over that. Tans are an eternal mystery.

      BLEACH
      Bleach is the primary symbol of What Girls Do To Look Good, in that it’s a toxic, difficult product that rarely ends up making anybody look better but with which we trrrry, we trrrrrrrry.

      You can bleach your body hair, your asshole, your face (don’t), and your hair. Especially your hair. Before achieving one of the Skittles-y hues that is absolutely mandated at some point in the girl experience—remember, rarely is What Girls Do To Look Good about “looking good”—it is crucial to bleach the color, health, and ethnicity riiiight out of there, and then layer on your pinks (good) and purples (good) and greens (good) and blues (careful: this can look like an accident, kind of).

      Also, there is the ombre thing, for brunettes at least, where you just bleach the bottom half. My hair is usually pretty gnarly—much too long, rarely brushed—and I like bleaching out the ends because it really draws attention to how dead and abused my ends are. Like everything else about corporate beauty, ombre was invented to convince women it made them look younger, but then the youngers started doing it too, and then everyone just looked around at each other and was like “None of this works, right?”

      OK so highlights. You can tell where a girl is from—if you don’t know already from her bag—based on her choice of bleach. Ombre, as discussed, will be a city person. Penciled streaks of beige and blonde that begin a uniform inch from the top are the girls you went to/go to high school with who are so horrified by the idea of interacting with A Homeless that they’ll stay in their shit town with shit salons until they are diagnosed with Stage Four Boredom and slowly perish, which is fine if you’re into that sort of thing, but they are required to wear these highlights—or, their suburbs-hip variation, a “funky” thick stripe job, I can’t even talk about it—like a scarlet letter, forever and ever, amen.

      Nota bene: It’s also mandatory and gross to dye your hair jet black at least… what, twice? And then maybe your furious mom pays for you to get it stripped out so that you are left with a sort of shabby non-color for seven years until it all grows out.

      PEDICURES
      Mos def, a pedicure feels amazing and results-wise is worth doing if you care about that kind of thing. It's also a good way to see your friends in an activity setting while being officially “relaxed” plus getting to read tabloids like it’s required, like, “Oh I guess I’ll just pick this one up and see what Coco is doing, no big deal.” It is, however, straight-up racist. It is racist! What, you think having semi-recently immigrated women bowing in front of you to fucking WASH YOUR FEET is anything other than the greatest demonstration of global economic disparity ever thought up by anyone? Forget the other insane stuff that goes on down there like toenail filing and callous rubbing. There are ZERO other activities as eloquent as this one about the functions of class and race, ZERO. It’s so absurd that coming out of a pedicure and awakening to the reality of it is just as new and hateful every time. Enjooooy!

      KATE CARRAWAY

      Follow Kate on Twitter @KateCarraway

      Previously: Girls and Sex

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