Friday, February 6, 2009

Today on Oprah -- Beauty and Sexiness

Paris, the City of Lovers, knows a thing or two about sexiness. And for Parisians, slender is sexy. Stephanie grew up in St. Pierre and Miquelon, a French island off the coast of Canada and now lives in Paris. "I've fortunately lost a bit of weight recently, but I used to have a hard time finding clothing in Paris stores because they go up to size 12," she says.

Stephanie says the goal of most Parisian women is to look effortlessly chic. "For French women, being beautiful is all about being elegant but in a natural, very subtle way." But how do French women get this je nais se quoi? "French women don't like to admit it, but, in fact, they spend a lot of time and money on beauty products for every part of their body," Stephanie says.

Once the body is perfectly moisturized and the complexion is flawless, Stephanie says the next step to sexiness is lingerie. "It's all about feeling good from the inside," she says.

In France, Stephanie says women look forward to getting older—turning 60 is sexy! At the same time, Stephanie says women keep up appearances and stay slim, trim and well groomed as they age. "French women feel entitled to be sexy and desirable all along their lives," she says. "It's a lot of work, but they feel entitled to it.
Watch Stephanie's report.

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YOU: Being Beautiful: The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty



In India, women take a more natural approach to beauty. Ramya, a young woman from Bangalore, India, says some use homemade remedies to beautify themselves. On her wedding day, an Indian bride may use a mixture of turmeric, lemon and honey on her skin to achieve a glowing complexion.

Ramya says brides also wear special clothing and jewelry, including a forehead chain, on their special days. A dot of red powder on the face—known as a kumkum—is also thought to make a woman more attractive.

Around the world, Indian women are known for their beautiful skin and hair, and in the United States, women go to great lengths to achieve the same thick, shiny locks. To help American women achieve this look, salons offer hair extensions and weaves, a common practice that's grown into a multibillion-dollar business. What most women don't know is that their weaves may be coming from a sacred place.
For the past eight years, Angie has been wearing extensions, but she says she's never thought about where the hair originates. Each year, Mara says more than 1,000 tons of human hair are imported into the United States and used to create extensions and weaves. "Some of the best quality and most desirable hair comes from India," she says.

Where do they get all these long locks? Some of it originates at the Venkateswara Temple in southern India, one of Hinduism's holiest sites. Many of the worshipers who visit this temple leave a special offering for Lord Venkateswara—their hair. "It's part of a ritual called tonsuring, the cutting of hair for religious reasons," Mara says. "Every day, thousands of Hindus sit before the temple barbers to offer their hair and please the God."

Annually, Mara says the temple earns about $18 million selling this hair to exporters. "As soon as the hair leaves the devotee's head, it starts the journey to someone else's," she says.

New York City stylist Jay Ferrara uses "temple hair" in his extensions. "When this hair comes from India, it's beautiful," he says. For short extensions, Jay says he charges clients $2,000, and if you want longer hair, it will cost you as much as $4,000.

Mara says temple hair accounts for just 25 percent of the Indian hair market. The rest comes from women who collect the hair that comes out naturally and sell it. "It's called the dead hair market," Mara says. "You may have 60 women in one village who pool their hair together, and they'll sell it for $2. So they're getting pennies for this."

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