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TOPIC: beauty


Perfume Politics: The Scent Of Women's History

The fragrances we use are not just a matter of personal taste, but a choice connected to the time in which we live. Perfumes of the 20th century varied between bold and soft, depending on the role that women played in society at the time. What does today smell like?

MADRID – Although perfume may seem, at first glance, the least appropriate tool for calculating international politics, the truth is that, on the contrary, trends in olfactory notes provide valuable insights into key geopolitical issues. One can construct the history of Western society — particularly the position women held and their expectations for the future — by relying on the sense of smell. Each perfume trend and each decade has its dominant notes, which translate into varying worldviews.

Perfume has been a key element in the construction of glamour, at least in the "modern idea" we associate with the th today, as historian Carol Dyhouse explains in her book Glamour. Scents opened up new perspectives and even played a part in shifting paradigms of what was expected of women. Thus, in the emergence of the "modern woman" of the 1920s, one cannot overlook the significance of perfumery. As more liberated behaviors took hold and women claimed spaces for themselves, their favorite perfumes followed suit, much to the dismay of critics of this "modern woman."

It was considered acceptable to wear perfumes with a single floral fragrance (for example, lavender water) that had dominated the world before World War I. However, consumers were actually seeking perfumes with complex compositions inspired by oriental scents, much heavier and more striking than floral fragrances. When Guerlain launched Shalimar in 1925, it became a great success, one that continues to be sold even today. Even if they didn’t fall into Orientalism, perfumes still broke away from the pre-war trend. As Carol Dyhouse recalls, Chanel No. 5 doesn’t smell like flowers, but rather something abstract.

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Being LGBTQ+ In India, Fashion Can Be A Glamorous Way To Save Your Life

The hyper-inclusive queer world of fashion challenges the view that gayness is a "curable" tendency.

KOLKATA — “Beauty gives me hope,” says Luna.

When Suruj Pankaj Rajkhowa, popularly known as Glorious Luna (They/He/She), presented as a boy with visible effeminate tendencies, they were picked on by peers and relatives for their mannerisms and for the single blue shirt they used to wear almost all of the time. Without many options, Luna would borrow a chunni, or scarf, from a cousin and pair it with their favorite blue shirt. When the tongues still wagged, they would fire back, “There’s no satisfying you lot!”

Today, Luna is a non-binary, gay model, drag queen and make-up artist. They have worked with renowned designers and international labels and their portfolio includes Vogue India and Femina covers.

For Luna and others like them, fashion is much more than an assemblage of clothes and accessories: “As a queer person, fashion is more than a profession – it is a survival skill. My language of rebellion is not asking people for acceptance, but about showing them that I am queer, and so is my fashion.”

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

In India, the world of fashion seems to be one of the most welcoming professional options for the LGBTQ+ community. Though bias and prejudice often make trans and non-binary models merely token characters in an entourage, it also affords them the freedom of expression that is stigmatized in day-to-day life while giving them employment.

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What's That Smell? The Perfume Industry's Upcycling Savoir Faire

The circular economy is a hot trend, being embraced by everything from fashion to home decor. But one industry has been upcycling for decades. And the benefits and potentials go far beyond the environment. Soon, your perfume might help you fight stress and even wrinkles.

What do orange peels, a Texas-based sawmill and rosewater have in common?

Well, all three are part of the upcycling system developed by the perfume industry. This version of recycling, which transforms a waste product by adding value to it, is well known in fashion and home decor. But perfumery has been using the technique for generations, and not just for environmental reasons.

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Is Modernity Destined To Destroy Beauty?


PARIS — Between all the brutal Brexit fireworks, the British government took an initiative of rare poetic dimension by establishing a "Building Better, Building Beautiful" commission.

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William Ospina

The Fundamental Right To Health, Happiness And Beauty

Beauty and happiness may be in the eye of the beholder. But they're also fundamental components of a healthy society, writes Colombian novelist William Ospina.


BOGOTÁ — It's been remarked that when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed, they forgot to include people's rights to beauty and happiness. Both were considered superfluous, no doubt. Too distant from humanity's basic needs.

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Patricia Suárez

'Fat Acceptance' In Latin America: Resisting Tyranny Of The Slim

Latin Americans call it the Movimiento Gordo, accepting weight differences as a way to resist a mass consensus typical of our time. One Argentine author offers her portrait.

BUENOS AIRESLux Moreno is an Argentine philosopher, writer and activist of the so-called fat-acceptance movement. In Argentina, it is the Fat Movement (Movimiento Gordo), written this way to appropriate a word that is often used as an insult.

Born in 1986, Moreno has recently published her autobiographical Gorda vanidosa: Sobre la gordura en la era del espectáculo (Fat and Vain: Girth in the Age of Spectacle). She was a fat child who became an anorexic teenager, then an overweight adult until she resorted to gastric bypass surgery on a doctor's advice. "Nobody warns you that bariatric surgery to reduce weight is not magic, but a major intervention," she told Clarín. People are not informed, she says, that "it's not advisable for fertile women, that you could have menstrual bleeding or thrombosis the first month, that you must exercise five days a week. That you have a lifelong contract with taking vitamin and iron pills."

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Emeraude Monnier

Extra! On The Perils Of Low-Cost Plastic Surgery In China

Over the past decade, there have been countless reports about the boom in cosmetic surgery in Asian countries such as China, Japan and South Korea. Names have even been given to particular facial features in vogue, including the term "red net face," taken from the "red net" young female internet celebrities making a mark in China's popular culture.

These online superstars, including live-streamers, self-published writers, bloggers and assorted digital-minded fashionistas, tend to share a particular set of facial features: high cheekbones, big eyes, double eyelids, a narrow nose bridge and a V-shaped jawline. The overexposed digital stars often cover each step and slice of their plastic surgery across their social media accounts. But now, China Newsweek has featured a cover story this week about the downside of such body transformations, including pain, scars and the risk that operations are being illegally carried out in beauty salons by uncertified surgeons.

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Watch: OneShot — Fairest Of Them All

OneShot — Fairest of them all, 1996 (©Stanley Greene/NOOR)

OneShot is a new digital format to tell the story of a single photograph in an immersive one-minute video.

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Julie Rambal

YouTubers Help Male Grooming Finally Step Out Of The Shadow

GENEVA — His video, "I'm testing a blackhead vacuum," has more than 200,000 views. The one entitled, "Baldness: my hair transplant" has been seen at least 440,000 times. But his bestseller remains "How to have a beautiful, well-trimmed beard," with more than 800,000 views. Since he created his YouTube channel, The Winslegue Tutorials, two and a half years ago, Westley, 36, has become the most popular French-speaking male beauty YouTuber, with more than 100,000 subscribers.

His credo? The same as that of his female counterparts: Test and comment on any and all men's beauty products, increasingly in serious competition with those of women. "In the past, you used to have to take stuff from your girlfriend's toiletry case. Now we have our own, well-stocked shelf: balms and oils for the beard, hydrating creams, scrubs, masks, epilating strips for the eyebrows, conditioner, concealer, hair-styling powders," Westley says.

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How Chinese Students Spend Summer Vacation? Getting Plastic Surgery

For some students, summer is a time to rest; for others, a time to work. But for a growing number of China's female youth, the summer break is a chance to go under the knife.

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South Korea
Jason Strother

All-Natural Model Defies South Korean Plastic Surgery Obsession

Kim Gee-yang is taking on the beauty industry in a country leading the world in cosmetic surgery. "When I was in LA, I was too skinny to do plus size modeling, but in Korea, I am just a fat woman, yeah," she said.

SEOUL — Kim Gee-yang struts down the runway dressed in a black corset and leather skirt.

She doesn't fit traditional catwalk standards: At 1.66 meter (5ft5) tall and about 70 kilograms (154 lbs), she is average height and, well, curvy compared to many other South Korean women in their 20s.

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Alexander Hagelüken

Breaking Down The "Beauty Bonus" - Why Attractive People Get Paid More

MUNICH — The old proverb that says, "beauty pulls more weight than oxen," is getting some close investigation in the modern job market. The latest study from Germany found that not only do good-looking people have a better chance of finding a job, they also earn as much as 20% more.

This "beauty bonus" appears to be particularly high in Germany, says economist Eva Sierminska, one of the researchers involved. Respondents to a survey Sierminska carried out characterized nearly half of Germany's top managers and executives in state institutions and the private sector as very good-looking. But the same people ranked only a quarter or workers and farmers as being very good-looking.

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