Friday, December 11, 2015

Your Beauty Mark by Dita Von Teese: Review and Thoughts


If you are a fan of burlesque star and general goddess of retro glamour Dita Von Teese, you probably know she has had a beauty book in the works for years. I had almost given up hope of such a book ever materializing, as it had been rather a long while since I first heard she was supposedly working on it. Now that the book, Your Beauty Mark, has finally arrived, and I have it in my hot little hands, I can certainly say it was well worth the wait!

The first thing you'll notice about this beauty bible is the overall size of the book, it is a large coffee table sized book, but unlike most "coffee table" books, Your Beauty Mark is full of much more than just gorgeous photographs (though it has many of those too). Broken into sections covering skincare, make-up, and hair, there are chapters devoted to more specific topics like physique, lipstick, and hair color. There are both poetic discussions on such topics, as well as step by step photo tutorials of how Dita herself applies her own glamorous look herself.


As a longtime fan of Dita, I am throughout enjoying reading through this book. It took a long time to complete, and it is obvious why, she poured herself into creating the book. Reading it feels like Dita is actually talking to you, giving you her best advice. Sure Dita has elevated beauty to an art form, and reading her routines does leave you feeling like you could never incorporate all of her inspiring regimens into your own slightly more mundane life. It is obvious Dita believes in finding ways of turning the ordinary everyday into more a more glamorous affair, with silk dressing gowns replacing over-sized t-shirts for example. Instead of being turned off by her utter dedication (near religious devotion) to living and creating a beautiful life at every moment, I am inspired to incorporate more glamour into my own life in the small ways I can. Not all of us can afford the expensive products she may mention (all the while being totally down to earth about the whole thing, and often suggesting less pricey alternatives) or trips to the spa, but all of us can learn from the rituals of self care that she describes in detail. She doesn't describe her routines herself as self care, but that's really what taking time for yourself, be it a nice bath or playing around with your make-up for fun, really is. In a world constantly telling us we aren't beautiful enough, aren't thin enough, what have you, feeling beautiful and taking time and pride in our appearance becomes an almost anarchist act.

Dita's message in the early passages of Your Beauty Mark is certainly one of celebrating both individuality and created beauty. Though it seems she may not think so herself, Dita does have a lot of "natural" beauty to work with but preaches what she calls the Hollywood makeover, the kind of created glamour that once turned plain Jane's from nowhere into the toast of 1940's Hollywood. The addition of lipstick and a new hairstyle can do wonders for a girl after all. The idea of creating beauty can become so twisted sometimes, as if we women do such things for men (ha!), but Dita clearly believes her routine and look give her an inner strength. As modern women, putting on our game faces if you will, our lipstick and rouge, can become politicized so easily. As a feminist I know there is a strange cloud around female beauty; what we are expected to look like, expected to aspire to, even as feminist what we are expected to rebel against. Raising beauty (make-up, hair, self-care) to such a high level seems indeed overtly feminine, and I'll not accept that something is less than because it is perceived as feminine. Dita seems to be saying go ahead- layer on the lipstick, buy frilly lingerie, be feminine. Not because you have to, not because you are expected to, but because you want to, because you enjoy it. Its a message I can certainly get behind.


I guess by now you can gather that I think this is a great book, it is full of inspiration and discipline worthy of aspiring to. Dita even describes her diet and exercise regime in a very straight forward way, preaching both the virtues of a healthy lifestyle and indulging occasionally when opportunity strikes. I really responded to the way she writes about exercise, being myself someone who seriously abhors exercise! There is a whole section on stretching (with lovely images of the ballerina like Dita showing you each move) and exercises you can do at home. The focus is never on weight loss or some unreachable level of thinness; instead it is on feeling good, and improving your posture and flexibility. As someone who rarely moves unless I really must, the whole section had me ready to incorporate just such an elegant routine into my own life soon.

As for putting my reviewer hat on and giving you at least one tiny complaint, I do wish the section about how Dita arranges her hot rollers included a setting pattern. You can kinda tell how she has the rollers positioned from the photos, but it would have been nice to have a diagram of her setting pattern. Still, I understand she doesn't want to give away all of her secrets ;)

I haven't even finished reading through this quite lengthy tome yet, I am savoring reading through a few chapters a night! I definitely recommended the book for fans of Dita or old Hollywood glamour. It has been inspiring me to take a look at my own routines and seeing where I can incorporate a little more care and time. I need to upgrade my skincare routine and use more sunscreen! Your Beauty Mark reads like the longest most thorough (and entertaining too) answer to the question Dita must be asked forever on repeat "So what is your beauty routine?"

6 comments:

  1. It seems an interesting book. When I was reading about Dita telling you of being fememine and pretty because you want to, made me think of some of my (very) feminist friends who think that being femenine and look for beauty is a male imposition and we should not. I can not agree. I think every woman should decide how she want to look like and live, and don't care about if it's traditionally femenine or not. That's the true freedom for me. I feel like hiding femenine atributes and beauty is like thinking women are less, so I enjoy my dresses and caring about my beauty.
    Sorry for the offtopic, but that's what came to my mind while reading you!

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    1. I totally agree. To say that feminine things are somehow to be seen as less than, isn't truly very feminist. It's the same reason men get made fun of if they appear feminine, or people tell them they "throw like a girl" because being girly is viewed as bad. So I feel like turning on the feminine and dialing it up to max is a feminist act, I wont let the world tell me being girly is a bad thing. Plus I don't even date, and couldn't care less what men may think of me. I enjoy makeup, I enjoy styling my hair, I do it for myself, and no one else. I don't think this point is offtopic at all :) You've got the right idea 100%

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  2. It sounds really interesting, especially the parts about taking time for little routines to take care of yourself. So important but often the first thing to go when we get busy.

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    1. It has been such a great read, and I totally agree :)

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  3. I lapped up every word of this lovely review, as this book is presently topping my vintage related reading wishlist. Thank you so much for sharing some of your thoughts on it with us, sweet gal.

    Big hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Thanks Jessica, I hope you'll enjoy it too!

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