Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Recessions, the Lipstick Effect and Neo-Grunge

Women buy more lipstick during recessions. Image Source: Wealth Wire.

The recession has affected human relationships and associated fashions. Business Insider and Wealth Wire report on the 'lipstick effect':
Many years ago the chairman of Estee Lauder, Leonard Lauder, claimed that during tough economic times, lipstick sales rose. He said that it was a countercyclical economic indicator. The claim came backed with minimal research, so recently a study was conducted. It turns out the “effect” proved that not only was Lauder accurate, but – according to the researchers— is “deeply rooted in women’s mating psychology.”
According to an article by Scientific American, women buy more luxury beauty products during recessions and work harder to attract a mate with more resources. Researchers claim that women do this, regardless of their own individual buying power. The article also argues that:
Recession cues increased women’s desire to buy high-end cosmetics and designer clothing, but not to buy budget-line beauty products, which were rated less effective at improving one’s appearance.
Similarly, Wealth Wire notes that men will tend to buy suits during a recession in order to get a job.

I am not sure whether this trend has lasted as the recession has dragged on. I see more disaffected, nihilistic rebellion in the face of all this striving desperation. Aren't women turning to cheaper cosmetics now? Or no cosmetics (see also here)?

No film anticipated Grunge like River's Edge (1986). Soundtrack from River's Edge main theme by Jürgen Knieper. Video Source: Youtube.

Keeping up appearances during a prolonged economic downturn eventually goes by the wayside. Grunge came into fashion during the early 90s' recession. The lingering effects of the Great Recession might explain why Grunge music is coming back into fashion, following on the heels of Lady Gaga's now-declining revival of 80s' pop. (I admit that I felt a certain nostalgic relief when I heard that Soundgarden finally had a new album out in 2012 and a 2012 single, Live to Rise, which was released with the Avengers movie.)  And fashions reflect this too: with  Neo-Grunge, the 90s are back.

Neo-Grunge revives fashions from the 90s' recession. Image Source: Explore Everything.

Does a sense of recessional déjà vu prompt people to mull over where they were during the 90s as opposed to now? Perhaps contemplation of the present recession is enough for people to question their personal circumstances. In The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues, Pam Bennett reported on the impact of the recession on personal relationships:
As reported by the Pew Research Center ... “Of the 13 recessions that the American public has endured since the Great Depression of 1929-33, none has presented a more punishing combination of length, breadth and depth than this one.” This “Great Recession,” as it has been named, has presented major difficulties to families across the nation. Although the recession officially ended in June 2009 (The National Bureau of Economic Research 2010), the effects on families still linger and many are wondering if it really ended and when they can expect to feel better. Continuing concerns include the areas of housing, unemployment, financial management challenges surrounding household debt and wealth, and the effects of financial stress on personal relationships.
Bennett continued that recessions make or break relationships:
There is a strong correlation between financial difficulties and relationship difficulties. “Financial hardships and instability can foster conflict and seriously impact the stability of a couple’s relationship as well as their finances, especially when there are no rainy day funds and little knowledge of where to turn for help. On the other hand, strong relationships can act as a buffer during financial hardship (Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation 2009).”
Other articles reflect this mixed bag. The recession's emotional picture mixes some people forging ahead (no matter what the circumstances, presumably in the hope things will improve), with others displaying increasing caution.

On the one hand, the Guardian observed that divorce rates rose in the UK in 2009-2010. On the other hand, both the Telegraph ("Lawyers braced for post-recession surge in divorces") and Slate ("Help America: Get divorced! The coming boom in failed marriages and why it's exactly what the economy needs") have argued that couples stayed together for the sake of security during the recession. Canadian Business agrees ("Economic recession lowers divorce rate"). Rising divorces are apparently a sign that the economy is becoming more secure.

The Boomers are in the vanguard of this potential indicator of economic recovery. Last month, HuffPo commented that Baby Boomers are leading demographic groups with a wave of divorces:
Baby boomers are ending their marriages at record rates, according to new data from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML).

The AAML polled its 1,600 members and found that among the respondents, 61 percent said they have seen an increase in divorce cases among the over-50 set, with 22 percent reporting that wives initiate the splits most often.

In a press release, Alton Abramowitz, president of the AAML, explained the significance of their findings.

“Baby Boomers have regularly been catalysts for social change and getting divorced in their later years appears to be one of the most recent trends,” Abramowitz said. “Alimony, business interests, and retirement accounts certainly represent some of the main concerns that need to be addressed and settled for spouses facing the end of their marriages in this over 50-year-old age group.”
In the UK, divorces continued to rise at the end of 2011, but this was taken as a sign of the recession dragging on, not of recovery. In that case, Gen Xers in their early forties were the dominant demographic group seeking divorces. That report notes: "one in three marriages now breaks down by the 15th anniversary"; the average British marriage lasts 11.4 years.

Fell on Black Days by Soundgarden, Superunknown LP (1994) © A&M. Video Source: Youtube.

Worse Dreams by Soundgarden, King Animal LP (2012) © Seven Four/Entertainment/Republic/Vertigo. Video Source: Youtube.

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