Ms. Integrity- Feminism and the Guilt Surrounding Me

I am going to admit something.   I am a feminist. A die hard Roe V Wade fighter who wants equality for us all.  I want women to be seen to be just as powerful as men.  It crushes my soul that we have not have a female president.  I was not the biggest Hillary fan but I desperately wanted little girls to see they could hold the highest office in the land. I want fair pay and childcare to be something that both employers and the government give a shit about. I was empowered to see the turnouts internationally for the Women’s March to protest our new administration.  I will go to my grave hoping and that not just the women of this country see better treatment but that women all over the world do, however I will also probably always carry a burden of guilt secretly on my shoulders. Well, not so secret now I guess since I am writing about this- but a burden of guilt none the less.

I grew up the product of first and second wave feminism.  The women of my family lineage were and are strong figures dating back to the Victorian era. My grandmother on my maternal side is still with us, 96 and worried about the Trump agenda. My mother fought in the 1960s for civil rights. No part of my upbringing made me feel like less of a human due to my gender. I went to progressive private schools in my childhood years that my grandparents paid for as my parents were too poor on an academic salary t0 afford such a luxury.  The bulk of my high school years were spent at an art school where women were a tour de force on the faculty out numbering the men.

My complicated relationship with feminism began in the 1990s.  I was in high school and the third wave of feminism was emerging.  I was at the center of much of it being a part of the local punk scene in Richmond Virginia.  The riot grrrl scene was strong in the area- probably in part due to our proximity to DC where Positive Force was an epicenter of 90s political activism via the punk scene.  Also Richmond had VCU, a university which had an art school that attracted liberal creative types from all over the state and country. Richmond had the perfect climate for activism in the 1990s.

I was a little younger than most of the riot grrrls in the scene so I was a bit of an outsider from the get-go.  I also did not share certain interests that the riot grrrls I knew did. I didn’t feel like I needed horn rimmed glasses and a retro betty look to fight the man. I loved Crass but did not feel that by the 1990s being a “Shaved Woman” made me a collaborator. I got the sentiment but did not feel that I needed to join in on every aspect of this new movement.

I have always been an individualist.  My family taught me at a young age to stand up and be who I am and that I needn’t conform to anyone’s mold, particularly my father- which may tie into some of my feminist guilt. My mother had some mental tough times in my youth which meant that my father often ended up being the one to be my moral compass. My father is a staunch libertarian who hates power going unchecked. For instance he sat me down in my early teen years and explained to me my rights with the police and to threaten to call the ACLU if I was being fucked with.  He never addressed civil rights in terms of being a woman or a man to me, just a person.

At this time in my youth I also ended up by happenstance hanging out with more men than women.  The Richmond punk scene outside of that Positive Force/Riot Grrrl world had few females involved. The music that I was more drawn to in sound and style had a more masculine fanbase and I honestly do not know why.  I do not feel that the punk and metal-punk that I was into at that time had a sexist or even machismo element to it (other than tongue and cheek like the Meatmen or the Dwarves).  If you listen to Buzzoven or Eyehategod, who were at the center of the man “scene” I was a part of I think you would be pressed to see them as sexist bands.  There was little cross over in fan base too locally- you would see very few riot grrrl types at metal/punk gigs and vice versa.

So here I was, a young girl trying to decide who I was, immersed in a subculture that made me feel like I had to “take a side” to a certain extent.  If I was a “good girl” I would attend the local Riot Grrrl meetings and work towards bettering my gender in society as a whole. If I continued on the path I was on, not conforming to certain feminist ideals and aesthetics I felt that to some extent I was failing my gender. And honestly, not much as changed for me.

I constantly feel at odds with feminism to some extent even in my middle age.  Now I am not faced with a grrrrl with a pamphlet about the patriarchy blatantly telling me what I should do but with a movement that does not fully embrace who I am.  I work as a makeup artist- a career dominated by women and gay men, yet diametrically opposed to many of the tenants of feminism. In the eyes of the philosophies of Crass I am a full on collaborator not only by shaving my body hair, but showing other women how to change their appearance in ways viewed by many feminists as making them slaves to the “male gaze”. I also make less money than my husband and spend much of my time in the “domestic sphere” at home. I enjoy cooking and being a care taker.  And I feel guilty for all of this. The third wave of feminism of my youth left me a conflicted human being.

I hope as we enter into this new wave, or fourth wave, of feminism we can embrace ALL women fully.  That we can agree that feminism is about empowerment for all.  That being a woman is a magical thing.  Let us not pick each other apart.  Let us learn from the mistakes of the feminists before us.  And let us embrace men who want to join us in this cause. We can all be feminists. We can accept that being a “feminist” can mean anything and that you can be successful in any sphere whether it be domestic or in the workforce, or hopefully, one day, the highest office in the land.

 

PS- The title of this essay is a play off of the L7 song “Mr. Integrity”, a song about an overly concerned political punk who does not want to see bands like L7 sign to a major labor and therefore “sell out”.  It is this type of in-fighting and nit picking that made third wave feminism not always effective- let’s learn from my generations mistakes and fight for the big picture just like L7 and other female performers like Wendy O Williams, Lydia Lunch, Girlschool, Kim Gordon, Dinah Cancer of 45 Grave, Tam from Sacrilege and countless others have done.  These women did took no shit and fought their way into a male dominated world- just like you and I can. If you have not heard these artists here are some links below you should check out.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Age of Quarrel

I vividly remember the first time someone pointed out an aspect of my appearance in a way that made me feel aware of myself in an uncomfortable way.  I was at a childhood friend’s house and  we were playing with Jem dolls or maybe My Little Pony. It was a small group, maybe five of us.  We were all chattering away- we had just gotten to the age where gossip starts to rear its ugly head into your otherwise blessedly naive childhood world.  We all went to the same elementary school.  It was a tiny private school that existed in a gorgeous Victorian mansion with only about 10 children in each class so we all knew each other well- and sadly this meant that there were few people to go around and pick on- so if you stood out, well, your life got a little bit harder during the pre-pubescent years.

As we were playing with dolls hair and swapping secrets a girl said “Beth, do you know what Veronica said about you?”.  I felt a little pang in my heart and my stomach sink due to the unfamiliar tone in her voice.  I hesitantly replied, “No,what did she say?”.  “Well, she said that you have big, huge, weird bug eyes!!”.  My heart and stomach sunk as far as they could at that moment.  I did not know how to respond. I left the room and went to my friend’s bathroom and cried for a minute. I felt hurt in a way that was all new to me.

I went home from my friend’s house and told my mom and dad what happened before we ate dinner.  They consoled me and said that I was beautiful and that my schoolmate Veronica was just jealous because large eyes are a desired trait.  I was confused by it all.  I did not want to stand out. I wanted to blend in with the others and just be left alone. I also did not understand why my eyes suddenly seemed to matter, or anything on my face. I was too young to understand the fickle world of beauty and attractiveness. I tried to just forget about it all but with every year it just got worse, my classmates and I grew and changed at different rates and we questioned our attractiveness along the way.

I have been giving a lot of thought recently to childhood development and the idea of attractiveness.  How do we decide what we think is attractive?  At what age does this matter?  I can find countless studies about the fact that we all, even as babies, prefer symmetrical faces (http://open.lib.umn.edu/intropsyc/chapter/14-1-social-cognition-making-sense-of-ourselves-and-others/), but I can find little research done about how we develop our idea of what is attractive and also what drives us to develop preferences.  For example what makes some people desire a blonde bombshell like Marilyn Monroe or a brunette ingenue such as Audrey Hepburn?  They both have close to perfect facial symmetry but they look entirely different in terms of body type, hair color and style. Why would a person be drawn to one more than another if appearance is all about symmetrical facial features as most studies say?

My guess is that we take a mix of social influence and evolutionary genetics.  From my memories of the developmental years of my life I did not think much about my, or anyone else’s appearance, until middle school.  I was an awkward 6th grader.  My nick name was “chicken legs”.  I faced endless harassment from my schoolmates over my slim body.  For me outside of my awareness about my own appearance I had little awareness of what made anyone pretty or handsome. My first boyfriend in 6th grade and I bonded on a shared love of Guns and Roses “Appetite for Destruction”, not my shoulder length brown hair or his black rat tail. I was more drawn to his interests than his facial structure.  And I can say that for myself this has generally how I have chosen partners in life.  I have spent little time looking for chisled cheekbones or 6 pack abs.

I feel this is due in great part to my upbringing.  My family all told me repeatedly that what they loved about their partner was their personality and intellect.  My grandparents on my mother’s side, they were the only couple that had a love at first sight type of marriage, but what kept them together over the years was their intellectual compatibility and shared interests. My father had a terrible health scare as a teen that affected his complexion but that did not keep my mother from falling in love with him, or staying with him.

Around 8th and 9th grade people repeatedly told my mother I should be a model or an actress. I was clueless as to why.  No one at school ever approached me at school to say I was pretty.  I felt awkward and ugly due to the bullying I was enduring at middle school. My mother, despite her academic leanings, was thrilled at the prospect of having me become a model, and to this day I do not know why.  My guess is that my learning disabilities were affecting my schooling to the point where she thought “Ok maybe she can survive via her looks.”

One might think that having people say you should be a model would bolster your sense of attractiveness but it did not.  It did not matter to me that someone wanted to take pictures of me.  I wanted friends and acceptance and was finding none of that through school or going to open calls and to me it mattered very little how I looked- in fact the less I stood out I felt the better for me. I did not want attention about my looks whether it was positive or negative.  I was exhausted of people always talking to me about it. I just wanted to hide out and be “normal”.

A huge shift occurred in my youth when I discovered the world of alternative music.  Through 120 Minutes and Headbangers Ball on MTV I saw plenty of people who did not fit any sort of norm and perhaps like me were uncomfortable in their natural skin.  I felt an immediate bond with the various appearances and styles I saw on these shows.  For me my definition of attraction became extremely tied into what a person was about- if a boy dressed like me and my new “tribe” I would be attracted to that before their facial features and body type.  Or at least their style was the predominant thing I found attractive, then their natural physical features. I also realized that I could hide myself in dark clothes, leather jackets painted with offensive album covers, wear huge un-feminine boots, all to hide from my natural appearance.  I felt a safety in cloaking myself in a uniform that said “don’t talk to me or look at me unless you are one of my kind.”  It worked for the most part.  The teasing I experienced at school at least went from “chicken legs” to “hey freak Halloween already happened.” My new look not only made it possible for me to survive the high school and middle school age of quarrel but shaped me into the person I am now who still looks at a person’s band t-shirt before their face while deciding if I might want to chat with them.

Over the next few months this is a subject I will be writing more about and hoping to do more research on.  I would love to share people’s individual stories of identity, attraction and their youth.  Please write to me and let me know if you have a story to share about this subject, or know of applicable research, especially if you have children of the middle school age group who are going through this awkward yet crucial age of cognitive development and awareness.

PS-

The title of this piece comes from the classic Cro Mags LP “Age of Quarrel”.  If you have never heard it go check it out and I highly recommend reading “Life of My Own” by Harley Flannagan. His book is all about growing up in the NYC lower east side and ties very much into the aspects of self- identity I have touched upon here.

 

 

 

My Skin Care Essentials

Over the time I have been doing this blog the request I get the most frequently is for me to publish my skin care routine.  I wrote about this from a personal standpoint in a previous post. I explained the what may work for me might not work for another person.  I have honestly struggled with what to do about this- it makes me feel vain to write about my personal beauty rituals.  I never want anyone to think I am trying to preach to them about what to do or how to feel about their skin and appearance in general. So what I have decided to do is write about a few products at a time in different entries that have changed my skin for the better and that I believe can help most people in most age groups, skin types and income brackets. Healthy skin is always my focus, not perfect looking skin. And this might sound trite but I really do believe a smile and confidence is the best beauty accessory you’ve got- not a perfect dewy highlight.

  1. Clarisonic/Cleansing Brushes   – Prices vary -$130 and up.I remember when these first hit the market I was beyond skeptical and thought the price point was ludicrous.  It took me several times of seeing the product demonstrated to make me believe it did anything that you couldn’t do on your own scrubbing with an exfoliant with your hands.  However once I was told the creators of Sonicare came up with this product I became more curious and started doing research.  Sonicare toothbrushes have changed my dental health experience so I finally took the plunge and purchased a Clarisonic to see if it could do for my skin what the Sonicare did for my teeth. I have to say that the claims the company makes are all true for me (http://www.clarisonic.com/beyond-cleansing).  Refined pores, my existing skincare products worked more effectively, and most importantly to me it helped my hormonal cystic acne and texture.  The brush head vibrates on this, it does not spin as you will see most of the less expensive versions of this do. The vibrations are what penetrates the skin on such a deep level and makes such a different not just in cleanliness but in making your skin prepared to be at its best when you apply your skincare prodcuts.  I have had my Mia 2 for several years now and it still works great. This product has a high up front cost but the results you see make it worthwhile and the life of the product is so long you truly do get your money’s worth.  A less expensive alternative cleansing brush that I like, although it functions differently is the Mary Kay “Skinvigorate” for $50.  The brush works via rotation and defintely cleans the skin far more throughly than using hands or washcloth alone.

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Clarisonic varying prices depending on model.  Mia 2 pictured here is usually around $115

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Mary Kay- Skinvigorate- $50

2.Retin A– When I was in my early 20’s I began using Retin A.  My best friend told me about it.  She said it was a miracle product that helped prevent and even treat wrinkles as well as destroying acne. I went to my primary care physician and inquired about it and was delighted with the results and it is still a product I use to this day.

You have to be careful with several things with Retin A.  It is a powerful prescription       product. This is not a product to be used every day.  The product makes you sensitive to sun- so you must be vigilant with your sunblock.  Retin A is essentially a very intense concentration of vitamin A.  Retin A makes your cell turnover intensify and produces collagen production and attacks acne this way. (https://www.drugs.com/retin-a.html)

I encourage clients to start with a retinol treatment.  This is an over the counter product that has a lower concentration of Retin A.  Some of my faves are Peter Thomas Roth’s, Murad, Philosophy, Sunday Riley, and Roc. Once your skin gets used to retinol then it’s a good time to talk to your doctor about going with a prescription.  Many insurance companies cover Retin A and it is in various generic forms.

You MUST moisturize and exfoliate with this product.  If you do not you will look like you have snakeskin peeling off your face. More tips to come on that below.

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Retin A– Prices will vary with insurance and co pays.

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Roc Retinol- Around $20 at Drugstores.

3. Eye Cream– Algenist Renewal Balm.

All eye creams claim to change your life and make promises they usually do not live up to in any way shape or form.  What an average eye cream, especially a drug store one, can do for you is generally keep the area well hydrated to prevent wrinkles.  However there have been huge advances over the years bonding ingredients like peptides, amino acids and anti oxidants to penetrate the skin which is something that can prevent and treat aging  along with providing smoothing hydration. Ingredients such as caffeine and burnet root have also made their way into eye creams and these help dark circles and puffiness.  My all time favorite eye cream is the “Complete Renewal Eye Balm by Algenist”. It has a good balance of hydrators, lipids, blood circulators yet it is  gentle on the eye area . One huge bonus with using an eye cream day and night and vigilantly is that your concealer will work SO much better.  If you have dry, dead, flaky skin under your eye concealer will actually make it look worse. Less expensive eye creams that I do like, although they are not as strong anti-agers are Benefit Cosmetics “It’s Potent”  $32 and all of the First Aid Beauty eye creams which are generally in the $30 range and are a great option for anyone with sensitive skin- the brand was created for people with allergy prone skin.

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$65 at Sephora and Ulta.

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$35 Utla, Sephora

4. Natural Oils– I have written a lot about my love for natural oils.  For me few things have made my skin have such a dramatic and immediate positive reaction.  Oils are an interesting category in that oils have been part of European and other culture’s routines for a long time, but is relatively new to the US.  Here in the US mineral oil was one of the few oils you saw listed on ingredients in skin care items. Also few people used oils as a stand alone product to hydrate, cleanse, heal acne, and prevent aging.  The oils that you see on the market now like jojoba, argan, almond, sesame (the list goes on) all focus on one thing primarily- repairing the skin’s moisture barrier -what this does is make the texture of the skin more supple along with smoothing out dry spots and healing breakouts-and then there is usually a secondary function such as brightening or tightening.

Oils are wonderful in part because there are so many kinds, and so many price points.  Everyone can afford to treat themselves. Oils tend to come in two categories- a pure oil – argan and coconut are great examples.  These oils are usually sold by themselves, often at health food stores, and are generally inexpensive.  Then there are blends like Fresh’s Seaberry oil, Eminence’s Firming oil and Honest Beauty’s dry oil blend that is coming out next month all of which are favorites of mine.  These oils come at a higher price due to the quality of the oils and the blends of different oils that have different functions.   I gravitate towards mix blends when my skin is more intensely dry from the weather or I have been undergoing a chemical peel series- something where my skin needs an extra boost to recover.

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Rosehip oil -$110              Eminence Webstore or http://www.sauveurskincare.com

Health food store coconut oil- $6-15 usually.

5. Scrubs-My last essential for this piece is more of a category than one favorite product- exfolriation.  Exfoliation helps skin cell turn over, which prevents aging and helps heal acne.  Exfoliation also makes your complexion makeup go on smoothly and easily.  If you ever put your foundation on and see little flakes of skin, or the foundation is sinking deeply into your pores, you need exfoliation followed by hydration.  Exfoliation does not need to be an expensive or complicated process.  My general go to is baking soda mixed 50/50 with coconut oil.  I wash my face, scrub with this mix, then hydrate and head to bed. For a more intense scrub I love Peter Thomas Roth’s exfoliating gel.  This product goes on your dry skin and removes any loose dry skin and leaves you perfectly prepped for your makeup. It also is great to use 2 days after using retin a.  Retin a makes cell turn over increase and therefore it gives you quite a bit of dry flaky skin and this exfoliant is so gentle yet effective you can safely remove all the debris your treatment is leaving behind.

For a scrub that will remove dead skin cells and brighten I use Epicren’s Himalayan Superfruit.  The enzymes in this scrub work as a brightening, tightening and lightening scrub.  Scrubs like this are aimed more at glowing skin than they are at scrubbing off debris and are generally more potent- I use this one once or twice a week.

 

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$48 -Sephora

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About $15 all together.

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Usually around $50.

 

 

 

Under My Skin

When I met my best friend Carol I was a tom boy who worked at an indie record store.  I remember telling her how much I liked her bag and then chatting with her about the cassettes she was purchasing.  I was an painfully awkward 18 year old who was trying to find herself.  I had few female friends and was anxious to meet more as I grew tired of the constant testosterone fest my life was at the time and had been for most of my teen years. Most of my friends were guys who shared the same interest in hard, fast and heavy music, but they tended to not have a softer side interested in things like bleaching hair and finding the perfect scarlet red lip stick.

Carol would come into the store probably once a week and we got to know each other better.  She told me that she had a part time job at the Body Shop at Regency Mall (the fancy mall of the era) and I did not even know what that was.  When she told me that it was as store with cruelty free makeup and skin care I became interested and asked her to “take me to do whatever it is girls do”.

I remember walking into the store and becoming entranced with the smells and packaging of the products.  Carol and her co-workers kindly guided me through the process of creating a “skin care routine”.  I remember being particularly excited by the concept of “exfoliation” where I removed dead skin cells from my face with these beautiful beads made out of a Japanese grain of some kind.

I fell in love with the ritual of having a daily routine of cleansing, toning and hydrating.  It relaxed me and gave me a form of control over at least on element in my chaotic young adult life.  Peels and masks appeared in my bathroom much to my boyfriend’s surprise.  Gone was the girl who drunkenly fall asleep in her cat-eye liner after staying up late partying post Buzzoven show.  I was turning into a woman who used a chamomile cleanser to take off her cat eye nightly for fear of premature aging and clogged pores.

My skin changed as I aged and what once was a calming ritual became a painful experience. I developed adult acne.  My first bout was when I was 21.  These small little whiteheads formed all over my forehead.  They disgusted me and I felt a shame I had never known in my younger years as I was blessed to have only gotten the occasional pimple.  I eventually braved a trip to my doctor to address the issue.  I was given a medication that dried my skin out horribly and made me flake all over the place but did get rid of the acne.  The experience opened my eyes to the emotional pain that millions of people experience due to skin conditions.

For a couple years I got to enjoy calm and clear skin and went back loving my skin care ritual.  Sadly this did not last long as in my mid 20’s my skin decided it wanted to develop horrific hormonal acne.  I had painful cyst like pimples generally on my chin.  They did not pop and they did not go away for long periods of time.  My doctor had no suggestions for me- hormonal acne was not as well understood as it has become over the last few years.  I did not have the money to seek out a specialist who may have been able to help so I tried countless products that more often than not caused more damage than good.  I was back to feeling ashamed and angry at what I saw when I looked in the mirror.

Also I had just started beauty school.  I was immersed in an environment that worshipped beauty and here I was walking around with zits raging with puss desperate to be popped. I felt completely out of sorts and far from attractive.  In addition to my skin shame my beauty school was not one that represented my personal esthetic or style.  There were only a couple other “punk” girls and as I soon found out I had little in common with them as they came from a different part of the scene, one that I did not grow up with in little ol’ Richmond Virginia.  I went to school in Costa Mesa California – an affluent area close to one of the largest luxury retailers in the world, South Coast Plaza.  The beauty norm at my school even for the “punks” was very “Real Housewives”, not a small chested, skinny girl with a short and choppy bleached blonde hair style and raging acne.

It had been a long time since I felt this bad about my appearance and wanted to change things.  I invested it what was then the best product for acne prone skin- a Pro Active type system.  I was so broke that I couldn’t afford the real thing- so a Target knock off had to do. I was fortunate and my skin cleared after about 2 months.  I kept using the system after I needed to not understanding that these products are not intended for long- term use.  I did some damage to my skin in terms of scarring and making my pores more prominent due to the harsh chemicals used to treat acne in these types of systems.  I started to feel as if I was never going to find a happy routine and place with my skin again.

It is only recently that I have found that happy place.  I started working in the cosmetics industry for Benefit and was exposed to more information about skin.  I made friends with several aestheticians one of whom really broke things down for me.  Her name is Sabrina and if you live in Austin go see her at Vain salon.  She taught me that you have to find balance in your skin care routine and that a good routine is not going be the same for each person.

She got me in the habit of using a Clarisonic and a better quality of product than I had been using (she mostly uses Eminence and sells it at http://www.sauveurskincare.com/online-store).  I saw that my skin was an investment.  It was an investment into my happiness.  That I felt my best when I did not have to cake concealer on but had a natural glow.  And that I was better off achieving that glow through wise skin care purchases and facials than via heavy foundation.

I am writing about this because the most common request I get from people who read my blog or who follow me on instagram is to give them my “skin care secrets”.  There are no such things as skin care secrets. There is no one way to achieve a great complexion.  Sadly much of what is out there is misleading marketing and a lack of scientific standards for effectiveness of products. There are also unrealistic expectations put on us as a society via social media and advertising.

I have battled with myself whether or not to write down the products that I use and what my routine is.  I do not want to propagate a false hope that if you use x,y and z product suddenly your skin will improve and your life will be better for it.

I have chosen to make my skin my one “vice” if you will.  I recognize that the products I own, use and review are not going to change the world.  They will only enhance mine to a certain extent.  They are little luxuries that I will give up in a heartbeat if a larger need comes along in my life.

However just as how back when I was a young adult my skin care practice is something that I can count on.  It is something I can control.  My life is no less chaotic now than it was at 18.  I crave my nightly cleansing routine as it makes me feel as if I am washing my day down the drain and starting anew.

My recommendation for anyone reading this who has a skincare issue that makes you feel embarrassed and ashamed is to seek out a good facialist and a good doctor.  Do not spend money on various product hoping for results.  Get down to the real source of the issue.  For those reading who just want to add a little glow and maybe get rid of some unsightly black heads and battle annoying fine lines I still recoomend getting a good facial and getting your skin examined. Even if your schedule and budget won’t allow for this to be a regular thing you can at least find out what kind of skin you have, and perhaps what products may be best.

I will be putting together a list of things I use that have been game changers for me, and I feel can benefit most every person out there.  And yes, I will post that list before Christmas if you want to hope Santa brings you some holiday glow.

Happy holidays to all my readers. Go out there and have some fun- just wear a strong SPF while doing so!!

 

Ugly American

On the night of the election I was driving from Richmond Virginia up to Capitol Hill in Washington DC.  I had been visiting friends and family in Richmond and was getting ready to spend my last night in town watching the election results with my grandmother’s best friends, a sweet gay couple in who have become like uncles to me.  We were all hopeful that Hillary Clinton would win and that my 97 year old fierce civic rights activist grandmother would have been able to see a woman finally in office.  As I drove up 95 I listened to the results come in on the radio.  About an hour outside of DC I decided to gas up and grab a snack.

As I walked in I saw a drunken man wobble over my way.  He stared at me with both a look of disgust and sexual attraction, a combo that every woman in the world is sadly familiar with.

“Trump’s winning” he said.  He got up in my face and said it again, and then again.  I side stepped him silently and ran into the rest room as he continued to try to engage me by telling me how “fine” I was looking among other derogatory statements.  I locked myself in the restroom and tried to get myself together.  I have been a victim of sexual abuse and get easily rattled by incidents like this.  I texted my husband and took a deep breath. I unlocked the bathroom door and peeked around and he appeared to be gone.  I walked out and shakily asked the clerk if the man had left and he said he had.  I got back into my car and hustled my way back to the District shaken by what had happened.  As my final hour of my drive concluded it was obvious that Trump was going to win the electoral college.  I got to my friend’s house and we all lamented to news together hoping for a last minute surge in a left leaning suburb of Michigan or any other area.

I went downstairs to the room I was staying in and let it out and cried.  I thought to myself “Is what I experienced tonight going to be the new normal?”  As the days have gone by since the election it appears to be that Trump’s campaign and subsequent victory has emboldened an angry portion of our population. I have talked to countless others who have been harassed they way I was or worse. I have read countless articles about hate crimes on the rise.

During the course of the election it seemed that Trump’s fanatic supporters kept going further off the beaten path of what most of us think about as “conservative.”  I grew up in a family that was sharply divided- half the family were Reagan democrats and the other were progressives.  For all of the uncomfortable dinners I endured with my family bickering over issues such as the Iran Contra affair or Bill Clinton’s scandal with Monica Lewinsky I never heard one iota of racism, homophobia or sexism.  I was brought up to believe that the N-word was the worst thing you could say and that immigrants made up our great nation, and that women deserved equal rights and equal pay.  I was raised to acknowledge that we all have our difference of opinions but that respect was paramount.

The inclusion of what is called the “Alt Right” (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/23/alt-right-movement-white-identity-breitbart-donald-trump) in this election year has had me spooked for some time now.  It goes against my very core.  It takes me back to a time where in the punk scene we would be fearful of white power skinheads coming to shows and terrorizing people.  Except now its and organized network of people who have succeeded in helping elect a man who has said vile things about women, muslims, the disabled and countless other minorities.

As someone who works in the beauty industry perhaps I live in a bit of a bubble of love and inclusion.  Cosmetics and hair has always been the place where those like myself who feel rejected from mainstream society have chosen to make their living.  I work with all races, creeds, genders, you name it.  I service clients with countless different backgrounds.  Living in Texas and Los Angeles for the last 7 years has made me particularly fond of the diversity in the U.S. I love that I can go from assisting a muslim woman with her wedding makeup to helping a trans individual learn how to conceal a 5 o’clock shadow. I would not want it any other way.  We learn from each other.  We embrace each other over a love of a good blush or an outstanding blow out.

I hope that in the upcoming months we will see the Alt-right get pushed out of mainstream politics.  I hope that the incidents of hate crimes go down.  I feel that the protests we have seen so far are addressing these issues of hate and ignorance beautifully. I will protest and survive this scary time.  And I hope that we as a society can rid the country of the ugly American that fails in representing our diverse and beautiful culture.

Photograph-Learning to love the face you see every time you breath.

I went to see Def Leppard a couple of months ago with two friends who are the kind of mega fan that I am (yes I am an 80’s baby hair metal junkie).  We went upstairs to take our seats and of course took the obligatory selfies to prove we were at the show-a friend did get us some amazing seats with a view that was well worth documenting. As the show went on and I looked around the crowd I started to think about the different experiences some of the fans had over the years.  It was something Joe Elliot commented on as stage banner.  He asked for people to hold up their phones, or lighters, for an encore song.  It reminded me that we live in an age where no moment goes without technology and social media’s presence.

It is now rare that we do not document every little thing in our life, from favorite bands when we first encounter them to every social encounter that we have. When the band played their 1983 hit single “Photograph” something dawned on me.  Joe Elliot sings about “all I’ve got is a photograph” of the woman he is pining away for.  If that song was written now there is no way he would be referring to ONE photograph.  Whether it would be a film star or hair metal fan he was lusting over he would have an archival amount of photographs at the click of his finger.

This brings me to today when I was glancing through some old photo albums on Facebook. I came across several photographs of myself that made me cringe. It took everything I had not to delete them. These were photographs from about 10 years ago when I was going through a health crisis and it shows in the pictures from those years.  For several years I struggled with stomach issues that eventually led to a diagnosis of celiac. In these photos I saw deep dark circles under my eyes, a puffy face, and an awkward facial expression and an overweight body that say to me “Look!!  I am not taking care of myself!! I am eating WAY too many potato chips right now to both soothe my stomach and my heart!”. I wanted so badly to erase social media’s memory of that time of my life, and my friend’s memories with it.  I had to argue with myself that these photographs are not on Facebook to point out my flaws, but they are there to serve the wonderful purpose of documenting a time where me or one of my friends decided it was photo worthy. I reminded myself that when I was 80 neither I, nor any one of my friends, care about being a little over-weight or having dark circles in a picture.

I also thought about the technology of the time.   10 years ago it was primarily a digital camera that I or my friends were using.  We would take selfies (before they were called that) with a hardcore bright flash and had no way to edit them.  The photos I was looking at today present a brutal honesty that Instagram and other apps on our phones have made us forget.  There was no way to instantly blur out blemishes, lines, pores, make yourself skinny, anything.  If you wanted that then you had to fork over some serious money for Adobe Photoshop.

With modern technology at the press of a button we have “beauty” apps that make all those “imperfections” disappear.  We have become numb to what an actual face looks like.  I see this in my job all the time, most heart breakingly with teenagers who already are struggling enough with what nature is doing to their bodies.  I often find myself wishing that those kids had the luxury of instant gratification photos only being Polaroids which were generally so blown out with flash that you couldn’t see a pore on the skin- and even if you could they were not moments after being taken getting put up on social media for the world to see.

I love new technology with all my heart.  I am grateful for the tools it gives us to communicate.  I am grateful that I can document precious moments so easily.  I love that I can log onto any number of platforms and see photographs of my friend’s children growing up right before my eyes.  I love that in mere moments I can send a photograph to my family from across the country.

What I do not love are the new standards being set for beauty.  As a makeup artist I strive not to put images out on my IG, this blog, or anywhere else that show an unattainable beauty standard. I will use editing tools, but generally just to lighten a picture taken in dark light, and yes, occasionally to blur a blemish 0r brighten an under eye, but I am very aware that I what I put put in the world affects others.  I know that if I post endless pictures of myself, clients, models, whatever that show skin so flawless it does not have a visible pore, or bodies so curvy yet skinny no one could achieve them without a waist trainer and photoshop, that I will affect some one who follows me or reads this.  I try to represent all shapes, sizes and colors equally to remind myself, and the world, what beauty really is.  Beauty is all that is around us that makes us feel good.  It is what makes us want to take a moment to pause.  It makes us ponder this wonderful and strange thing called life.  Beauty is not an on-point contour and highlight but a state of mind and the coming together of some sort of aesthetic pleasure.  I call onto others to join me in this.  Dare to post a pic without a filter and notice that the world does not end nor do you lose your loved ones over it.  Dare to do some minimal makeup and think more about how much fun you will have when you are out with your friends at the Def Leppard show than how you look. Or go hog wild with a bottle of Aquanet and some hot pink blush. Either way works, just do not forget to actually live life and love every photograph you take.

 

 

 

 

Dishing the Dirt on Cheap Cosmetic Faves: A few of my co-bloggers and BFF’s weigh in with their picks.

Since my list of fave cheapie products was so popular I had some of my co-bloggers list out some of their fave goodies that will not break the bank!

Thea Brown- Buyer World Of Mirth Toys, BFF, mom and all around stylish lady.

  1. Dr Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap-
    When it’s 100 out with 80% humidity, there’s nothing like the cooling mint tingle on your skin! Natural, family owned, and made in the US.
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  2. Sephora Collection Rouge Balm with SPF
    Sheer colors that still make an impact. Super moisturizing but not waxy or sticky.Sephora-Rouge-Balm
  3. General faves- NYX and Sephora lip stains and lip sticks.  Full pigment and long wearing.  Sephora brand and NYX consistently deliver high end products with a close to drugstore cost.1072

Carol Brown- Psychology student, mother of three, BFF, and style maven. 

  1. Floxite LED magnifying travel mirror- under $30 on amazon.com
    I received this as a gift, and it’s the gift of knowing you’ve applied your make up perfectly coupled with the curse of knowing how jacked up you truly are. v31957.001
  2. BB Face Mask from Daiso -www.daisojapan.com (is this really from the dollar store?) Seeing some horrifying dry patches in the aforementioned mirror compelled me to slap one of these on. My family was terrified for the fifteen minutes it was on, but the dry patched were gone and my skin felt softer.s-l300
  3. Maybelline Line Stiletto- Around seven bucks. This has the tapered felt tip applicator that I am most accustomed too. Easy application and stays on as expected.12053975
  4. Loreal Ever Pure- Although I love my Deva Curl sometimes I need to cut back costs and this shampoo and conditioner does a good job with dry, colored hair. everpure_08022009162651

Lori Basarab – Visual Merchandiser for Chrome Hearts, BFF, and total makeup queen. 

  1. NYX Lip Primer. 7.99 or so -the best lip primer aside from duwop…which is $16… both great but if you’re on a budget definitely get NYX. My lipstick feathers/ bleeds like crazy and I will not wear lipsticks with out this on! lipprimer_main
  2. NYX’s Liquid Suede- It’s a cross between a lipstain and one of those “8hr lip colors” doesn’t dry out your lips. stays on well. Colors are amazing- lots of pigment!liquidsuedecreamlipstick_main
  3. BH Cosmetics make great eyeshadows. the colors are vibrant and last all night. they are cheap and are usually on sale and animal friendly. bh-cosmetics-smokeyl-eyes-28-color-001
  4. At the 99cent store here in Los Angeles they carry these gel eye patches for wrinkles. I put them on when when I’m sleeping they are cooling and leave your eyes nice and plump. If you do not live in LA the Sephora brand ones are great too and inexpensive. maschere occhi sephora
  5.  Sephora eyeliners and eyeshadow sticks are amazing- waterproof and great colors!  Sephora Crayon Jumbo