Tuesday, August 9, 2011


It’s ten o’clock in the morning and I've already seen three myths on the internet. And I’ve only been up for an hour! One was petty small mindedness, but the other two were actually dangerous.

The first is that Matt Lauer said that “most” blogs are inaccurate, denigrating, and belittling. I find this offensive, not so much because I’m a blogger, but because he’s in a position to spread this crap. And really. How does he know? Has he read ALL blogs? Can he really determine that MOST of them are inaccurate? No. (No, Matt Lauer, you haven’t. I know because your name is not among my followers, so I know you’re not reading mine.) How many people are going to parrot what he said, assuming it’s true? Thousands? (Sixteen or so?)

I personally feel that generally, bloggers are the new bastion of freedom fighters. They are the unpaid journalists who are researching the truth, sifting through the myths, lies, and campaigns, and reporting what they find. I'm talking about the ones that are not owned by any major news source, and while they may have an agenda, at least it’s probably an honest agenda. If there’s an agenda, it’s probably borne out of passion. (Except for the blogs I read, which are usually nail-polish related. These may not actually qualify as “freedom fighters,” strictly speaking….)

The second wasn’t so much mythinformation, but an article about mythinformation. It was about a South Carolina man who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, uninsured, and who did not qualify for Medicaid. (Story here:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44065422/ns/health-mens_health/ ) There’s an alternative care plan for women with breast and cervical cancer, but he doesn’t qualify because he’s a man. So, yeah. He’s screwed because he’s a man and he got a disease that he wasn’t supposed to get because his penis was supposed to provide him some magical protection, apparently.Even he said that he didn't know he could get breast cancer.

I call shenanigans. Loudly. It's completely insane that with all of the pinkness and "awareness" surrounding breast cancer, we are so dreadfully uninformed about breast cancer. Think of how obnoxiously pink October is, and then swallow the fact that this man might die (or go bankrupt) because he had the balls (pun intended) to get breast cancer as a man! Not only is he uninsured while in chemo, but he won’t be covered in case he wants the BRCA testing, which I would bet he needs. (His penile safety shield failed to protect him from developing breast cancer, so I’m guessing it won’t help to prevent him from passing on the gene(s) in the event he has the mutation.) It’s ridiculous. And here’s the thing that really pisses me off: breast cancer isn’t that uncommon in men! The last time I checked the statistic on that, it was about one in 25 men get breast cancer. (I blame lavender and other hormone disruptors in personal care products. Or perhaps they’re huffing nail polish. *snort*)

The third piece of ridiculousness I read this morning was on one of my nail polish (-yes! Leave me alone already! Everyone has their addictions…) sites. Someone asked about whether a particular nail polish really causes birth defects. (Which: its risk probably depends on exposure. It contains chemicals which are known to cause cancer and birth defects, but is probably a much greater risk if she were, say, a nail tech using this product all day every day.) She got some good information (shout to Anna @ loodieloodieloodie.com!) and some bad information, but the most distressing thing to me was that someone told her that if it caused birth defects, the FDA would pull it. I nearly freaking choked.

You see? People actually believe that the FDA is out there standing between us and harm from beauty products. And why shouldn’t they? Is it so unreasonable that they think this? It’s not as if beauty products are packaged with an FDA disclaimer. It’s not like the beauty industry or the FDA have campaigned for people to know the truth here.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about whether it’s the government’s job to step into the ugly world of the beauty industry. Is it? Because that will take resources, and that translates into tax dollars. Is that what we want? In a world where people don’t have insurance to see them through whatever medical treatment they need, do I want for tax dollars to be spent brokering peace between us and the beauty industry? I don’t know. I think I’d rather have the money spent on people's wellbeing. On the other hand, there are PLENTY of stupid ways our government spends money. How about eliminating some of that dumbassery, (hello wall between us and Mexico… hello IRS audits for the poor… hello to the HUNDREDS of orange construction barrels on the roads where NOBODY IS WORKING!!! And hello to a million other expenditures that I can’t think of, but most certainly exist to waste our money,) and using the money to protect people? Yes, I think it is important for us to know the risks with the products we use, but in a real-world application kind of way. Should that woman be afraid of applying a particular nail polish once in a while? I don't think so. But she should be aware that there is a risk associated with a certain chemical at whatever her exposure rate is, both because she should know that there is a risk, and that a low exposure is probably safe for her. My point is that she should be informed, and should be able to decide if she wants to take the chance on that product. Ideally, the beauty industry would see the benefits of eliminating harmful chemicals from their products, but in a capitalist society, that’s an unreasonable expectation. I would love it if that were the kind of world we live in, but it’s not. Lead and cadmium are in lipsticks, hormone disruptors are in baby shampoos, and the labels all have a little green leaf on them to show us how safe and gentle they are. So, yeah, maybe it’s time for the government to step in.
If you go to the safe cosmetics website you probably already know this, but there is a bill before Congress now  called the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011. Here are some of the highlights about it (taken directly from the safe cosmetics website, the link is below.)

Provisions of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 include:
  • Phase-out of ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental harm;
  • Creation of a health-based safety standard that includes protections for children, the elderly, workers and other vulnerable populations;
  • Elimination of labeling loopholes by requiring full ingredient disclosure on product labels and company websites, including salon products and the constituent ingredients of fragrance;
  • Worker access to information about unsafe chemicals in personal care products;
  • Required data-sharing to avoid duplicative testing and encourage the development of alternatives to animal testing; and
  • Adequate funding to the FDA Office of Cosmetics and Colors so it has the resources it needs to provide effective oversight of the cosmetics industry.
For what you can do if you agree with this: 

What You Can Do
Ask your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor the Safe Cosmetics Act. Congress needs to know that this issue is important to constituents
Learn more about this issue and get your friends and family involved: Watch the short film, The Story of Cosmetics, and share it with people in your life.

In related news, safecosmetics.org is not going to continue the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. Yes, gasp. But it goes back to the tangled web of self-regulation, and resources. They don’t have the resources to govern the signers of the compact, so they have to count on industry/self policing. And as we’ve seen, that doesn’t really work; or at least in theory it can’t work. There are too many ways to slip through the cracks. If I don’t like self-policing within the beauty industry (and I don’t,) then I can’t like it in the body that claims to protect me from the self-policing beauty industry. Fair is fair.

However, I still think that the Compact is a good tool for us to use when choosing our personal care products. Companies can still sign the Compact (which is a pledge to use safe ingredients, and to phase out scary ones,) through the end of this summer. The companies who have signed it have typically been dedicated to providing cleaner products, and tend to be on the cutting edge of the clean products movement. I think that the point of discontinuing the Compact was to cap the list before corruption became inevitable. (More info here:  http://www.ecoplum.com/greenliving/v/280-Skin-Deep-Continues-Despite-Compacts-Close )

OK. So everyone send Matt Lauer a link to your blog, and ask him to read and fact-check it:
Have questions or comments? 
E-mail TODAY at: TODAY@nbcuni.com


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