The advertisements in fashion magazines have long been accused of harming women, lowering their self esteem by creating unrealistic expectations that lead to self-image problems and self-destructive behaviors like bulimia and anorexia. I don’t know about the validity of those claims, but my cousin recently encountered one serious and bizarre danger between the pages of a fashion magazine that required medical attention.
This is my cousin Heather in all her usual gorgeousness:
Now here’s a picture of Heather after flipping through the December issue of Elle Magazine:
Yes, that’s really the same person and no, there was no photo editing in this picture.
What you’re seeing is an extreme allergic reaction caused by a sprayable perfume sample of a fragrance called (no joke) Alien, by Thierry Mugler. On the Sephora website it is described as “Radiant and mysterious, the elixir of absolute femininity.” That’s funny, last time I checked, embracing one’s feminity didn’t involve acquiring contact dermititis with severe edema of the upper eyelids — symptoms that appeared within 20 minutes of Heather’s contact with the ad.
“I played with the thing trying to open it and must’ve gotten it on my hands. Then because the smell bothered me so much it made my eyes itch and I rubbed them with my soiled fingers,” Heather told me in an email. Luckily, she works at a hospital and was able to take Benadryl within five minutes of the onset of symptoms and a PA there gave her a shot of prednisone when it got worse. “I couldn’t see that whole first night and could only open my right eye a slit the next 24 hours. After continued Benadryl use every 4 hours, I had a full recovery after 4 1/2 days.”
She still doesn’t know what specific ingredient in the perfume caused the reaction, but she’s going to tell me when she figures it out (right??). In the mean while, I am going to steer clear of Alien. Probably fashion magazines in general, for good measure.