• Not Just A Pretty Face

10/10/2007

At a panel discussion and book signing on Tuesday, October 9, Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and author of Not Just A Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry (New Society Publishers, October 2007), confessed that she had been an ardent teenage consumer of cosmetics when she attended Lynn Classical High School.  “When I was a Seventeen-magazine-reading high school cheerleader desperate to fit in, the Osco Drug cosmetics aisle was my comfort zone,” she writes.  Now living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is Communications Director of Health Care Without Harm, Malkan has become a leading activist in the grassroots campaign to hold the $35 billion cosmetics industry accountable for marketing beauty products that contain hazardous chemicals.

Erin Boles of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, chair of the discussion panel, warned that the cosmetics industry operates in the United States with almost no government oversight or regulation.  “No one is minding the store,” she said.  Yet scores of toxic chemicals -found in many personal care items sold in the United States- have been linked to many diseases, birth defects, and infertility problems. 

One third of the cosmetics sold in the U.S. contain at least one proven carcinogen, Malkan claims.  Sixty percent contain hormone-disrupting chemicals.  American women carry a high “chemical body burden,” or measurable level of certain synthetic chemicals in the blood, urine, and breast milk.  “Babies are being born pre-polluted,” says Malkan.

Massachusetts State Representative Frank Smizik (D-Brookline), a co-sponsor of the Safer Alternatives bill currently before the Massachusetts legislature, joined the panel discussion.  Pay attention to global warming, he urged the crowd; but also be aware of “global poisoning.” 

The Suffolk University event marks the launch of a six-week, coast-to-coast book tour for Malkan.  The event was co-sponsored by Suffolk University’s Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights, Women’s and Gender Studies program, and Health Services and Health Education department, in cooperation with the nonprofit organizations, Health Care Without Harm and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

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