Today's Times takes us inside the latest alleged craze amongst the rich — Tupperware-style at-home beauty treatment parties, in which people try (and presumably purchase) ludicrous devices as an economical alternative to spa weekends. The bargains include "a $28,000 home massage machine," some electronic pacifier that whitens teeth, and that fore-mentioned taser — the Galvanic Spa II Ex — which "contains negative ions that are forced into the skin by the device’s negative polarity and attach themselves to dirt. Then, the polarity is reversed and and the dirt is pulled out while a positively charged lotion is driven in."Apparently home spa products, "an amorphous category that can include anything from tooth-whitening strips to plug-in steam facials" is a growing market, since penny-pinching rich people are now skimping on spa retreats and plastic surgery. The article goes on to quote various experts who, unsurprisingly, debunk the products' claims. But snake oils aside, Marie Antoinette-like conceptions of economy aside, what the hell is wrong with us that this kind of a placebo is necessary? I'm not under the illusion that rich women pampering themselves is a new phenomenon — Cleopatra, asses' milk, etc. and heck, even the Tin Man gets a shine in the Emerald City — but as we all know, the prevalence and attainability — nay, the pressure to pamper yourself! — of such products is relatively recent. I saw Cindi Leive, the Glamour editor, on the Today show the other morning talking about ways women could save money, and obviously beauty treatments came up. She made the point that small luxuries we take for granted — manicures and pedicures and facials — would have been pretty much unthinkable to prior generations. But whereas once getting treatments was the purview of luxury, now it's a necessary sign of the aggressive "self-love" that is apparently measured, ironically, by very traditional mercantile standards. I for one am heaving a silent sigh of relief that the pressure to get professional grooming — because we're worth it, or something — is abating. What's obviously been a boon for various beauty and spa industries is a serious waste of money for the rest of us. Don't get me wrong: I know a thorough facial is a good thing when I can afford it, my home-polished toes never look any good and I enjoy a free ride in the massage chair when I'm at the Sharper Image, too. But the feeling that luxury — and more to the point, getting other people to do things for and to you — is an accepted part of women's lives might be one of the healthier casualties of the economic turmoil. A Tupperware Party For The Body [New York Times]