Category: Beauty Blogs
I struggle with adult hormonal acne. FYI. As a result, I end up wearing a lot more makeup (foundation) than I probably need to, because I’m constantly battling red and ruddy skin. Being fair-of-skin is no joke – it often means your skin is prone to rosacea and the resulting blushing, scaliness, and red patches. It also often means your skin is super sensitive, and will react if you even THINK about putting product on it. BOO! Being “old enough to know better”, I had hoped this would go away, but I know that I need to be proactive in treating it.
While we’re working on the hormones and regimen that will make my skin pretty again, I’ve found a seemingly magical remedy for those big, deep, bad-boys that pop up under your skin. It’s calming, and soothing, while drying out pimples (but not overly-drying my skin). What is it??
It started when we took a little trip out to the San Juans – specifically, Friday Harbor. On the island there’s a little place called the Pelindaba Lavender Farm. I’d been recommended a trip there by a friend and since I love the smell of lavender, I picked up a little roller bottle of lavender oil (to be used as perfume, or whatever), and a spray bottle of lavender body mist (AKA: Floral water or hydrosol; basically just the oil mixed with a binder and water).
There was a little card attached to the body mist that said, “Use as a general body fragrance, as well as to rehydrate dry skin, cool sunburn, and soothe minor irritations. For a special summertime treat, keep cold and use as a facial refresher.”
Of course, it had been hot and sticky, so as I was going to bed, I sprayed some of this mist on my face – hoping it would a) be refreshing and b) would have magical powers. I patted it in, after my moisturizer and went to bed.
In the morning I woke up and the giant pimple on my chin, that had been there for the last week had dramatically subsided. In the interest of science (kinda) I decided to continue this same remedy the next night. By the morning of day 2, the blemish was almost gone – and with none of the ill effects of slathering crazy chemicals on my face, trying to beat it down.
I’ve tried this again since then. Once a big ol’ zit pops up on my face (usually just a large red lump), I squirt a little of the lavender water on a cotton pad, swish it all over the area, and wait (after cleansing of course). By the next morning the lump is almost gone and doesn’t hurt anymore. If it’s a really bad blemish, I’ll put a little of the full strength oil on my fingertip and pat it into the bump.
I did a little research on the stuff and found out that the reviewers at Makeup Alley LOVE lavender oil for this same reason – giving it a 4.6 out of 5 for facial treatments. The research I found noted that lavender is one of the gentlest essential oils – one of the only oils that can be put on the skin, undiluted, with very few negative side effects. It’s both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. It can be applied neat on acne or bug bites – which works really well if you’re like me, and are super allergic to bug bites. For spot treatment, just dab a little bit on with a finger, or q-tip. For larger areas, mix a drop or two of lavender oil with a little bit of lotion, and rub that shit in!
I’m not doing anything different in my routine than I have been doing – the other products I like to use are Lush’s Aquamarina (cleanser), Dermalogica Microfoliant (exfoliant), and DDF’s Moisturizing Dew (moisturizer). I generally use tinted moisturizer by Smashbox during the day, although sometimes my skin calls for something a little heavier – like a powder foundation. We’ll see how well this remedy continues to work.
Have you ever tried lavender as a facial treatment? Did it work? Did it give you hives? Let us know in the comments!
My body is changing. In the last year, I’ve gained an inch or two around – everywhere. I know this because sometimes I can be a little self conscious, but if you no longer fit into any of your jeans, wouldn’t you be a little annoyed? Besides being heavier than I’ve ever been, I’m also more out-of-shape than ever. So in a recent conversation I mentioned a meeting with a trainer, and a friend asked me, “Like … at a gym? Why do YOU need a trainer? That’s silly!” I thought about it – I want to fit into the clothes I own. I’d also like to be able to run up a flight of stairs without gasping like a fish out of water! From the outside this might seem like a thin-obsession, but it’s more about knowing what makes me feel good.
I asked body-positive blogger, Jessica from Tangled Up In Lace, about this phenomenon:
The whole flipping point of Body Acceptance is that NO MATTER what you decide your body’s path is, its perfect for you. Its a matter of thinking critically about WHY you want to do what you want to do with your body. I’m so behind self care and deciding what healthy means to you
No one ever has the right to put value on how someone handles their own body.
And Ashe from Dramatis Personae pointed out:
There hasn’t been a point in my life where my body wasn’t solely my own concern. My parents were always worried about me being too fat as a child, when I really wasn’t more than chubby. Instead of teaching me to eat right, they just tried to ban foods from my diet. It wasn’t ever about health, it was about appearance.
In the past 2 months, I’ve had one close friend and one acquaintance call me fat. And the fact is, it made me more angry than anything. Who the hell are they to make comments on my body? As far as I’m concerned, my weight is the concern of me, my doctor, and my partner– in that order.
The media doesn’t help– since I was a kid, magazines had covers boasting the weight loss of stars, while tabloid magazines trashed the weight gains and struggles of others. They’ve taken women’s bodies and made them public property, free for all to make comments on, without regard to the fact that there are people inside those bodies.
Women should do, simply, what makes them feel good without being detrimental to their health. If eating a cupcake on a bad day makes you feel better, do it! If going on a 5 mile run makes you feel great after a fight with you best friend, do it. Every goal I have for my own body and weight is, for the first time in my life, strictly for me. It’s about feeling a certain way, going back to a place where I was happy, and was living a life in moderation.
My friend Carrie is undertaking a fitness/body challenge – she’s recently competed in figure competitions. She does it because “It makes me feel strong, confident, sexy, invincible… I’ve realized that I loved the process leading up to it much more than the competition itself. The way I feel when I take care of myself by eating right and working out is enough motivation for me now. There’s nothing better than feeling great!”
Although she does it for the best reasons, she’s still subject to body-shaming. She adds:
It’s much easier to cut a person down or discourage them because of your own issues than be unconditionally supportive. I see this in all aspects of my life, but never moreso than going through this fitness/body transformation journey… and I STILL get it even after all this time. The comments change but story is the same, the people belittling my effort, & my goals seem threatened by it. They are happier if I’m not doing than if I am.
Honestly, the more I think about it, that whole “you’re fine just the way you are” thing really gets to me. Because if [someone] mentions a desire to change… why not improve? There shouldn’t be anything wrong with that (outside of like you said, extreme situations where there’s something else going on). I really think it goes back to making the rest of us uncomfortable… it’s been much easier for the masses to say, “love yourself the way you are” than for ALL of us to have to take an honest look at ourselves and either accept what we know we don’t like, or … work fucking hard to make changes. Change isn’t easy, especially when it comes to matters of eating/exercise and the discipline that involves.
I felt a little shame as I headed to my gym appointment, because obviously I love me, right? Why should I get the side-eye, because I want to be healthier and stronger? There’s this derisiveness towards my hitting the gym as if these people think I’m deluding myself about why I go. I feel like we (Everybody. Women. Ourselves. Each other.) are so programmed to snark on women’s bodies, regardless of the situation – whether they’re curvaceous or thin or fit or waiflike or brown or purple or like cheese or whatever. We’re totally missing the point of just caring for ourselves.
As this post titled, The Body Count from “At War With Our Bodies” adds,
Body image should never be a battle. Although it is true that the ideal weight, as defined by the mass media, has been shrinking in recent years I am more disheartened by this attitude of “winning” and “losing” than I am by the media’s glorification of a nearly unattainable body. People are losing sight of the real problem maker, the media, and aiming their frustrations at each-other by splitting off into teams of sorts ; us against them, skinny against fat, muscular against frail… it just doesn’t make sense.
While I am 100% behind the Fat Acceptance Movement and all of the more generalized Body Acceptance Movements, I cannot get behind their unintentional exclusion of certain body types. For instance, the phrase used by many FA Activists, real women have curves**, really bothers me. Real women have curves? How about; real women have vaginas? Or even better; all women are real women, whether they were born female or became female by choice. By excluding women of a certain body type from being “real” women these groups are participating in the same exclusion they protest… that hardly seems like winning to me.
[These two sentiments] are both equally damaging as they deny people their right to feel comfortable with their body, regardless of what shape it is. One sentiment may be more mainstream than the other, however, this doesn’t make either statement right or justifiable.
I appreciate what the self-love movement does and is trying to do to liberate people from certain ideals. I also appreciate when a girl mows down a salad instead of picking pasta because she’s looking after herself (who am I to judge? Maybe she needs the fiber, right?). In my opinion, she should be able to also eat pasta if it pleases her, but jumping off on a rant about how she “needs a cheeseburger” assumes things about her that may not be true. Self acceptance comes from within – not from the peanut gallery. Self-love can mean challenging your self to become a better you. Just because you’re undertaking that challenge doesn’t mean you love you any less.
I think we could stand to stop treating women’s bodies like public property to comment on. I know that sometimes it’s hard to take a message off the ‘net and apply it in real life, and that it might be awkward to point out to your group of in-person friends when they’re body-snarking. But maybe you can turn it around.
When someone says something negative about a girl’s body, point out a positive. Or when you hear yourself saying you want to lose a few, acknowledge the reasons why and remember all the other reasons that your body is great. And then work out if you want to - if your goal is safe, and reasonable, there’s absolutely no reason why you should be ashamed of wanting to “make better”. Your choice is just that – yours.
And if you’re one of those people who constantly say “you’re fine the way you are” to your friends who express wanting to better their bodies, know your reasons for doing so. Stop to think about your reasons before you speak, because that sentiment could be inadvertently shaming. Instead of saying, “you’re fine the way you are”, try pointing out something positive, your favorite part of that person who wants to make better. Encourage them to do what they feel is right for their bodies, because ultimately that choice is theirs.
So what do you think? Angry? In agreement? Ever been subject to body shaming on either side?
Part 1 – I always feel strange writing about body issues – especially considering my size. I worry that, since I’m on the small side, I’ll be subject to a lot of negative commentary pointing out that I’ve got nothing to complain about. And that’s exactly the problem…
During a recent conversation with friends, a gal I know mentioned going on vacation and wanting to shed a few pounds for the beach. She was asking about our workout routines (for those of us who are so inclined). There were a few different camps – those who said that diet could change it, those who said that exercise could change it, those who (like me) said “get a trainer because they are magical creatures who tailor your workouts…” And then there was the camp that shamed us all, saying “That’s silly. You don’t need to go to the gym. You’re fine the way you are”.
It felt a little like saying *if you have to go to the gym you obviously don’t love you and that’s wrong* – like wanting to better your body is not a legitimate goal. I started to feel like that’s just as damaging as the whole “thin is in” campaign we see in fashion mags, etc. It’s very damned if you do, damned if you don’t – when did we start subconsciously shaming girls for wanting to care for their bodies? For striving towards becoming a better person (in whatever regard that may be)? Or for just loving and accepting themselves as they are now?
As Kate from Eat The Damn Cake says in this post: “Really, there’s probably a compromise here. If someone is trying to lose weight, I’m not standing next to them at the gym with a bag of Doritos, going, “You’re wasting your time! Want some pizza? I could really go for a pizza…” I think losing weight is a completely legitimate goal in plenty of cases. I don’t think it has to be a symptom of superficiality or self-hatred. It can be really, really healthy.”
When I shared my thoughts with Kate, she added:
“I think sometimes on my blog I lean too far in the direction of the women you were describing, who act derisive about weight loss. I don’t feel like that, but I feel pressure to act like that publicly. Reading [your note] helped me put that tendency in perspective and understand better how unfair and, like you said, shaming it can be, to emphasize either approach without giving people room to make their own decisions. Life is too complicated for extremism in either direction.”
It feels like the “real women”, body-love mantras we hear so much about are walking a fine line; we should start loving us regardless of what our body looks or seems like, but we should be ashamed of wanting to change ourselves (and, we know that certain body love movements can be very exclusionary).
While it’s great that the motto of many bod-acceptance movements is “love thyself”, I feel it’s can be healthy to both accept yourself and be a little conscious of your body, knowing its limits, knowing what it can do and what’s good for it. And if you’re comfortable with you, rock on! Work it!
But if you want to shed a couple pounds before your tropical vacation, that’s a legitimate goal. You can eat what you want, and/or be religious about exercise if that’s your thing. Being conscious of you, of how you look, of how you want to look doesn’t mean that you hate your body, or that you’re necessarily trying to conform to a thin ideal. Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot of “thin idolatry” out there, and current beauty standards do shame girls for not having the perfect body (whether it’s Christina Hendricks or Twiggy. And, of course, this is not touching on cases where there’s something else going on etc.). But we all realize that the perfect body doesn’t exist, but in a few very lucky cases. The majority of us are gloriously imperfect. And you have the power to demonstrate enormous self love by caring about your body – whether it’s feeding it cookies or taking it for a walk.
So a couple weeks ago, I received an invite to a Body Shop event at Pacific Place and I RSVP’ed. Celebrity makeup artist (oh, she’s good!), fun products, and a new line of bronzing options so that we sun-fearing, fair-skinned ladies can still rock a golden look during the summer… It sounded interesting, so I said, “yes!” Let me just say, the Body Shop was a madhouse when I arrived – probably a testament to their line of products.
I met Irene from Couture Petite (who’s super adorable) and their Celebrity Makeup Artist Shalini Vadhera, whose had quite the roster of clients. Throughout my session, Body Shop associates kept coming up and commenting on how luminous my makeup looked, courtesy of their full line of bronzing products. We were offered goodie bags and photos with professional photographer Paul Nathan. I was really impressed with the quality of their makeup products. Helloooooo Gorgeous!
I was amazed at how much fair trade sourcing they do, and I really liked the idea of “trade, not aid“. The Body Shop promotes small and struggling economies around the world by sourcing ingredients, with the objective of “creating trade to help people in the Third World utilise their resources to meet their own needs”. Having studied the phenomenon of trade in third world economies in Econ, I believe this is much more effective than throwing money at a problem until it goes away. This might be considered anti-capitalist or anti-globalization, but the Body Shop philosophy is actually in favour of international marketplaces. The Body Shop uses its profits and influence to enact fair labour practices, safe working environments and pay equality. That’s definitely cool in my book, because that’s the best way to boost the international marketplace.
Another interesting thing the Body Shop lists in their values is their Stop Trafficking campaign, calling for a safe harbor law for child-victims of sex trafficking. In their campaign they say,
The US should change the laws that allow children to be arrested and prosecuted when
they are victims of sex trafficking. Instead of arrest they should be offered support and
protection as they are in New York and Washington states.
A “safe harbor” law can:
- Protect and prevent any person under the age of 18 from being charged, prosecuted or incarcerated for prostitution.
- Refer exploited children to special services and shelters that will support their recovery.
- Require the training of law enforcement, judges and first responders
I think this is a wonderful and worthy campaign so I asked how I could help. Lara, my Body Shop contact, said it’s as simple as getting people to sign the petition. She offered a couple goodies to give away to participants who’ve signed, so I have 3 items from their Honey Bronze line to give out to you, dear readers. They are the Honey Bronzing Powder in Medium, the Honey Bronze Face Gel, and the Honey Bronze Brilliance Powder. Faux, being my preferred method of bronzing, I can say I’ve used all three products (as well as the Honey Bronze Shimmering Dry Oil) and they’re shimmery, but not too heavy – great for a sun-kissed glow without the risk to your skin.
So click below to add your signature to the petition and comment to let me know you’ve signed. You can also tell people about this petition (and contest) by tweeting:
Help @birdiee and @thebodyshopusa stop Sex Trafficking! Sign the petition (& let us know, to win a Honey Bronze set). http://bit.ly/j6VYsK
On July 15th, I’ll pick a name from the comments and tweets about this post, and the recipient will receive this lovely little care package, courtesy of the Body Shop. I’m excited to be helping the Body Shop with such a great cause.
While flipping through June’s Elle last night, (I go through it a couple times, once for the pretty pictures, once for the articles and once to tear all my favorite images out of) I stumbled across a quote that seemed incredibly relevant:
“It just reminds us how different “real” women and celebrities are when it comes to their relationship with fashion. Stars [and internet stars - my emphasis] use it to build an image; the rest of us look for clothes that connect with some inner part of ourselves – we need self expression, not a fan base.”
As the much-talked-about Blogger Beautiful post from Gala Darling points out,
“We all retouch our faces to be blemish-free, & if you only knew how many bloggers manipulate their waistlines or thighs in Photoshop! My point is, some fashion blog images are as unrealistic & idealistic as what is presented to us in magazines.”
Our relationship to the clothes, the platform, the photos are all different – but for many of us, it’s a form of self expression, not a means to a fan base. And the beauty of that is that our self expression is what keeps us beautiful, relevant, shining, bright. I sometimes wonder if, as fashion blogging becomes a bigger industry, it is becoming less creative – following the footsteps of the fashion world. I wonder that and then I remember all the unique, down-to-earth, well read and amazing people whose lives I’ve been given a peek into. And if they stopped blogging (and if you stopped blogging) and being them (your) selves, yes, fashion blogging would be less creative, less fun, and less intriguing.
When we give ourselves permission to be and feel everything we are – monstrous, large, loud, brazen, occasionally ugly – we age backward.
Translate that: when you love yourself regardless of your bad hair days, your outfit faux-pas, your gaffes in public (I’m a total goober in public, but I laugh, because it’s often hilarious!), you are nothing but inspiring – even on your non-fashionable days. When you allow you to be you, when you’re not afraid to post images of yourself, and challenge others around you to do the same, you are courageous. That’s what style blogging is all about.
It started with the feather extension craze… A twitter contest landed me in one of the plush seats at Swink Style Bar in downtown Seattle. I’d seen the feathers on a few of the Twitterati (an affectionate nickname for my favorite group of girls…) so I was stoked to have a set of my own. Not only that but their brochure promised lovely, tousled, wavy locks and as any girl with stick straight hair knows, when someone offers you volume, body and curls, you take it!
On my second visit – to get the same lush waves for a concert date that evening, I had a chance to ask the Swink crew how to get that same big-bouncy hair at home…
Birdie: Do you have any amazing tips to getting big, bouncy, luscious hair?
Swink’s Alanda Siefert: If you want big bouncy hair, Spray Davines’ Defining texture spray throughout the whole head. Then zap the blow dryer on your hair to lock in the product. This will give you that plump power you need to achieve this look. Next, use a 1 ½inch curling rod and curl the hair in 1-2 inch sections while spraying the Davines’ Structure spray through each section. After the whole head is curled, run your fingers throughout the ends with Moroccan Oil…. And BAM! Victoria Secret Hair 101!
Birdie: What are your favorite volume-enhancing hair products?
Alanda: When volume is an issue we use Davines Volumzing Mousse! This is one of our favorite products to create thickness in any type of limp or lazy hair. Another great “on the go” product is Kevin Murphy’s Powder Puff. You can sprinkle this phenomenal product into your roots anytime that you’re wanting just a little bit more vavoom!
Birdie: What is your favorite style-of-the-moment, offered at Swink?
Alanda: To be on trend, go with the rod wrapped fingerwave curls. Loose flat iron curls are out, be fashion forward and spring into summer with fingerwaves combed then touseled out. All the celebs are sporting the style!
Birdie: Can you give readers a tip on how to get that style at home?
Alanda: To Achieve: Wrap hair around an ENZO Malano curling rod (sold at Swink), set the curl in pincurls with double prong clips, then brush it out with a boar bristle brush and tousle where desired.
Birdie: What is your favorite non-hair product/service that you offer at Swink?
Alanda: Pure Vida bracelets are simple, unique, hand-made bracelets that have a great story. Each one has a unique and different color combination so coming across someone with the exact bracelet will be a tough find. The Pure Vida bracelet is a member of “1% for the Planet” and donates a portion of it’s proceeds to the Surf Rider Foundation – which is a grass root foundation dedicated to cleaning up beaches and oceans around the world.
Thanks to Alanda and the Swink crew for keeping us on trend, and offering tips to beef up the body in our hairstyle!
For those ladies who aren’t in town, you can pick up Davines on Amazon, along with the Kevin Murphy Powder Puff that Alanda mentioned. I LOVE Powder Puff, both as a dry shampoo and as a volumizing powder. I also picked up a Spornette Little Wonder brush at Swink, and have enjoyed giant boufs ever since. They’re also available on Amazon, and they’re great for big-hair-backcombing, or adding just a little extra oomph.
Swink’s University District location opens next week and there will be “Swink Week” events all week. I’m a fan of the curls and waves, so I’ll definitely be dropping by the new location to check them out. Let me know if you go, or if you’re out of town – have you tried any of the Kevin Murphy/Davines products?
Last Friday, my good friend Mitzi invited me to the Nordstrom Spring Fragrance Festival. It’s an amazing event – she promised me – with bubbles and snacks and all your favorite scents. You try, and buy, and usually get a big bag of samples while you’re there. Of course, it sounded like an interesting event and I had a couple scents in mind that I wanted to try, so I dolled up and hit the town.
I found out that there are a few rules when attending this event that one might follow if one is so inclined… Actually, we made these rules up for giggles (why so serious!?).
Fragrance Festival Rule One – you pay $25 to be there. Therefore, we decided it’s equitable to drink at least 5 drinks and taste every snack that comes around to break even – even the rhubarb pastries. (I don’t generally eat rhubarb, but these were pretty good.) By the end of the night you’ll be having a hilarious time with the lady you met in the bathroom who totally just bought the Dior scent you’re wearing. Or you could just purchase a yummy new scent and get your money back on the purchase! Everybody wins.
Fragrance Festival Rule Two – Make best friends with the ultra stylish, very awesome guy who’s working the Chanel table – he has the hook up. While they have the best scents, they don’t always offer gifts with purchase. But because your Chanel guy is a sweetie, he may slip a trial size Chanel Rouge Coco lip color in Mademoiselle into your shopping bag if you pick up a bottle of No 5. This is my new favorite lip color. OH and did you know that the French government reports that a bottle of Chanel No 5 is sold every thirty seconds and generates sales of $100 million a year? Also, he might let you set your bags down while you go retrieve another drink from the bar.
Fragrance Festival Rule Three – Are you a blogger? Did you bring your camera? Leave it in your bag. I took ONE lousy photo. LOUSY. The lighting is no good… But the film grain on the Chanel bottles looks romantic, right? Trust me, don’t even try. However, do carry cards because there are a million billion interesting people to talk to. Also, you’re more interesting when you’ve got a drink in hand, right? You know the bar is free? (And it’s nice to discreetly tip your bartender).
I made this photo extra small so you couldn’t see the horrible lighting/graininess of the photo.
Fragrance Festival Rule Four – Try and buy. But try it on a card… or spritzed in the air or… anywhere not on your bod. Trust me, if I had let them actually spritz me I might have hurled after about 10 minutes. There’s a LOT of fragrance in that little room and you don’t want to spray something on you that might turn sour in an hour. Oh, and if you think you like it? Just put it in your bag (along with all the samples and free gifts). You can sort it out later when you’re a little buzzed and trying to add up just how much cash that bag of pretty bottles is going to cost.
Fragrance Festival Rule Four… The Sequel – The one thing you DO want is that bag with the Donna Karan Cashmere deodorant in it because it’s hot, and you’ve been drinking, and I felt the need for an emergency application about halfway through the night. I know nobody will notice, because you’re in a room full of perfume, but peace of mind is priceless.
Fragrance Festival Rule Five – Bartering… that might work? Maybe if I retrieve a drink from the bar for this nice lady standing next to the Gucci table….
Rule Six – You’re never going to be able to use all the little samples you got, so share them with your friends! Mitzi hands them out at parties (and I’m in the process of giving a bunch away). Sending out gifts? Great addition if you know someone’s signature scent.
So, tell me – whats your favorite scent?
I found this in my written archives and after reading through it, I thought the message was poignant. At the same time, I’ve seen recent fashion shows – like Betsey Johnson – where REAL models walked the runway. I’ve seen beauty ads – like Bobbi Brown – where real women are used. And I sort of wonder – have fashion’s fictitious standards changed that much in the last few years? Read on, and let me know!
There was an article in Newsweek asking what the media standard of super-thin models is doing to our society. With the close of NYFW that February, Newsweek reported that an epidemic of slimness was on the rise again! They mentioned the symposium at Bryant Park on weight guidelines in the fashion industry – noting harrowing stories of models who were only allowed to eat “lethally small amounts of lettuce and Diet Coke“. The article reports that, although the industry claims to be monitoring girls for unhealthy habits, designers are hesitant to impose minimum weight guidelines for catwalk models – Diane Von Furstenburg, most notably, saying weighing runway models would happen “over my dead body.”
(Img courtesy of NY Magazine)
The article pointed out the discrepancy between fashion models and the average woman. On average, an American woman stands 5?4? at 155lbs, where the average model now boasts a height of 5?10? and weighs 23% less than that. No wonder women today cling to fad diets and unhealthy eating habits that could eventually lead to more weight gain in the end.
(Img courtesy of LongStation.com and Amber Mac)
The models themselves can’t even keep up with their own images – the article notes that even after hours of hair and makeup styling, their photos go through hours of rigorous photo-manipulation to look perfect on the cover of popular fashion mags. No wonder women feel a little outdone by runway and magazine models – their images are unreal. They’ve had their freckles erased, every stray hair photoshopped into perfection, their legs and necks lengthened, their faces slimmed and realigned for symmetry, their nose shaped, their breasts lifted – and all of it is done through the click of some editor’s mouse.
In the end, these images we’re bombarded with on a daily basis may contribute to how we perceive ourselves. In Dove’s “Real Truth About Beauty” study, Dr. Nancy Etcoff of Harvard University says:
“Only the minority of women see themselves as above average in appearance, and only 2% claim to be beautiful… Indeed, the study shows that women are less satisfied with their beauty than with almost every other dimension of life except their financial success.“
And Dr. Susie Orbach from the London School of Economics states,
“The overwhelming majority of women … [do not] wish to be excluded because they fail to find their beauty reflected in the images which bombard them, on average, in 2000 advertisements per week.… Beauty itself must be revitalized to reflect women in their beauty as they really are rather than as portrayed in the current fictions that dominate our visual culture.“
Indeed, the study did show that women feel that the ideal standard of physical attractiveness is almost impossible to obtain, and that weight and proportions are inextricably linked to that standard of beauty.
The best part of the Dove study was that women do consider beauty a combination of factors (including physical attractiveness). Women do know that beauty is about who you are, not just how you look according to some fictitious standard set by the advertising industry – but with the continuing bombardment by mainstream media, we sometimes find it hard to believe.
Perhaps we are judging ourselves a little too harshly against some false standard set by people who want to sell us product. The truth is, beauty IS on the inside as well as the outside. If you feel good about yourself, and feel confident in your lifestyle and choices, that inner radiance will shine through.
It’s time we recognize the unrealistic standards our media and fashion industries set, and begin to love our selves, despite what anyone else thinks is beautiful. Appreciate people (including yourself), not solely for their physical attractiveness, but for that beauty they possess that isn’t based on weight or proportion.
Newsweek. Why Skinny Models Could Be Making Us Fat. Feb 28, 2007.
Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. The Truth About Real Beauty: A Global Report. September 2004.
I was flipping through titles at the book store the other day and something caught my eye. In Entre Nous, the author Deborah Ollivier insists that French women have more “je ne sais quoi” than American women.
American women ask themselves, “How do I remake me/my wardrobe/my life…”
French women who possess that “je ne sais quoi“, ask themselves, “How do I make me/my wardrobe/my life more me?”
See what I did there?
Apparently, Parisian women are so much more intriguing and mysteriously seductive because they know who they are, without a doubt. They work on building that character instead of pretending to be a different character. They use that to their advantage, creating a world based around themselves; as a metaphor, “cultivating their inner garden”. Let this strike a chord with you for a second.
Apparently, Parisian women continually work to refine themselves, not to change themselves, or to become something different like the rest of us spend so much time doing. Ladies, don’t deny that sometimes we sit around, all starry-eyed, wishing we could be the next Mary-Kate, when instead we should be cultivating ourselves and refining our style to reflect exactly what it is that draws us to that image.
Know thyself. Discover thyself.
These words ring out from every self-help and style book on the planet. Yet we spend all our time and efforts trying to be different. We try to be unique, cool, interesting. It’s cool to be special. Individualism is the norm. Maybe it’s not about trying to be a certain ideal of cool, but instead embracing that inner individual, that wonderful weird that we try to bury to be this and/or that.
Like the garden metaphor, the authors of Style Statement suggest we spend too much time “out there” (p45) – not working on what feels right, what feels like us, and what feels authentic. We try too hard to be special, unique and ultimately cool. We stray away from our “inner homes” wanting so badly to be more stylish, prettier, wanting to have more friends and be more of an influencer. We invent these crutches to escape our inner home, confused by the mixed messages about who we are and who we should be. When we’re confused about who we are, we latch onto ideals of beauty, weight, purchasing power that have nothing to do with, and little to no bearing on who we truly are, inside.
Style Statement’s authors simply say, “Style is an expression of personal truth – never without meaning” (p76).
I confess, I did pick up both books, because realizing I haven’t put that “je ne sais quoi” into words is like realizing I haven’t been serious about cultivating my inner-self. I want to know how to make my life more “me”. I don’t think I’ll learn it from a book per sé, but I feel like I’ll have an interesting perspective to start building my life, my way.
Today I’m spending a little bit of time meditating on that personal truth. What is that overall theme that defines me, guides my life, draws me towards deco-inspired prints, futuristic shoes and crazy fur hats? It’s not something that I’ve really thought of – even though I’ve spent time coming up with a style direction for the new year. I’ve never stopped to think about the unifying “me-ness” of every thing I do, so I know exactly what part of me to cultivate.
Have any of you tried their method? What did you think?
You know the feeling. You’re rehashing. You’re reliving. You’re thinking of all the ways you could have handled it better, but you’re left with the way it actually happened. The actual course of events depicted something other than the real-you, or the you-you-want-to-be. How does a girl get over feeling bad about the way x, y or z event played out?
Those things happened – but they are no longer reality. Remind yourself of that, as often as you need to. Remind yourself that you can start from scratch, and you will move forward. Look yourself in the eye and say “It happened, it’s over, and it isn’t my now. I’m moving forward” Guilt and despair are both little angry voices inside your head that belittle you and keep you down. Guilting yourself won’t make it better; guilt won’t make the hurt go away, it won’t make anyone forgive you. It won’t make you a better person. You know, deep down, you did the best you could with what you had, and what you were dealing with.
I know just saying it won’t make it any easier, but you have the power to realize the past is like a dream. It’s something that happened in some other alternate universe. Time helps. And so does knowing every day is a do-over. That past thing doesn’t make you who you are, but it points you to where you need to/want to be. Think about the situation – not as an actor, but as an observer – like you’re watching it on tv or reading it in a book. When you’re ready to be done with the weirdness, close the book. You can feel empathy for the characters, but mentally remove yourself from the scenario, taking with you the ultimate lesson.
Quarantining those old memories - is in a sense, like closing a book – it frees you from all the emotions attached to each memory so that you can move forward into new situations and adventures. Waiting for external closure means missing out on better opportunities. Realizing the closure you’ve had since is key to turning that final page in the book of your memory.
If it’s absolution you’re looking for, every new day is absolution. It’s your chance to do everything and do it right. The universe doesn’t remember what happened – only people remember and chances are their view is skewed in their own personal way. They forget the way it was, they remember things that happened differently. Take two deep breaths, and hold your head high. You’re the best person you can be, and that’s pretty damn good! Those other people will think what they will - always. And the beauty of that scenario is that when you don’t give a damn, you feel a lot more peaceful.
Remember that you have time on your side. You have the power to cultivate new experiences. You have a whole span of time in front of you and with that, you can choose to wallow in the stuff that has happened, or you can choose to make new, amazing things happen. Now that you’ve finished that chapter, you’re ready to move forward.
Got anything to add for those out there in readerland? Leave it in the comments!