Fave Cheapie Products

Late summer is often a time when many of us feel a tight pinch in our wallets. Whether it’s that like myself you work a job where this is a slow season, or you are having to spend your hard earned dollars on back to school supplies for your children, August and September tend to mean cutting back on some of those cosmetics items that truly are a luxury.

Below is a list of some of my favorite products that are either a great bargain for an outstanding product as well as the products I buy use when times are tough in my household and I need to substitute my luxury goodies for something more practical.

I have also asked some of my co-bloggers and friends to contribute to this theme and they will be posting lists soon!

  1. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

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I recently had a woman tell me that this product “is the devil”.  In my industry any product that has a paraben in it has been declared the enemy since they are derived from petroleum.  The truth is parabens in such small doses are not going to affect your health in any way as the Paula’s Choice website tells us- http://www.paulaschoice.com/expert-advice/myths/_/parabens-are-they-really-a-problem.

Cetaphil was first given to me by a dermatologist when I was having a very hard time with my skin becoming red and inflamed during the cold months in the winter.  It was a life saver for my skin!  My redness calmed down and ever since then I have always kept a bottle around. I currently use it as my morning cleanser when I am not having to break down dirt and foundation.  It saves me a tremendous amount of money that allows me to stretch my higher end, more deeply cleaning, cleansers by using it once a day.

Available at any drugstore, Target, Ulta and million other retailers for around $7.

2. Coconut Oil and Baking Soda

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I have written about this combo before on here- it’s an all time fave of mine and something I use even when I am not trying to save a buck.

Oils like coconut are amazing at breaking down cosmetics and dirt on the skin.  I always do a pre-cleanse with an oil at night before using a gel cleanser with my Clarisonic for a deeper clean. Mixing coconut oil with baking soda provides a gentle exfoliate that helps to slough off dead skin cells and smooth the skin.  It is so gentle you can safely use it on your lips!

The ratio I use for this homemade scrub is about 50/50 oil to baking soda- however you can adjust that to your skin type- using more baking soda if you want a more intense scrub, more oil if you have very delicate skin. I use this scrub after I have washed my face and simply rinse off.  The coconut oil residue left on your skin is a great hydrator.

3. Loreal Paris Double Extend Mascara and Maybelline Great Lash

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When I was in school finishing my BA in Austin I did not have the money for my favorite high end mascaras.  I have tiny lashes and was working in cosmetics so I needed something that really worked, and for cheap.  This stuff did the trick.

The white end of the mascara is a primer- you apply this first and then us the red end which contains the mascara.  This creates length and definition hard to get with using simply mascara alone.

Prices vary on this product greatly- I usually found that grocery stores had the best deals as their was often a Loreal coupon available at the store. On average this costs between $8-11.

For a good lash for even less Maybelline has a new version of their famous Great Lash mascara that reminds me of Benefit’s They’re Real called “Lots of Lashes”.  It’s in the same familiar pink and green bottle but has a rubber wand which is generally better for length and definition and is a perfect jet black.

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Usually about $4 in Target and other drugstores.

 

4. Loreal BB Cream-

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This was another product that got me through the college years. It gives skin a light amount of coverage with a healthy glow and is excellent for oily skin in hot climates as it rarely separates on the skin.

Available- Target and some other drug stores, Ultas and grocery stores.  This is one that you can often find a coupon for, particularly at Ulta if you are a rewards member.  Their $3.50 off mass merchandise cosmetics works for this, or any other Loreal product.

5. NYX- HD complexion and Lip products.

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NYX is this amazing brand that has professional quality makeup at a drugstore price point.  My faves out of this line are anything in the HD complexion category- their concealers and foundations are fantastic and perform as well or almost as well as their higher end counterparts.  Their foundations tend to not give a lot of coverage- full coverage makeup is something I feel is really worth spending a little extra on as you do not want cheap ingredients not allowing your skin to breathe.

Their lip products are truly fantastic.  My current faves are the Suede Lips- they give that full coverage matte look that everyone is dying for right now at a quarter of the price of similar products.

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I hope this list helps your wallet survive any budget cuts you are currently undertaking- and look out for more lists like this from others and myself!

 

 

 

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5 Summer Products That Make Your Complexion Makeup Stay Flawless

The heat is on and makeup is melting off your face faster than you can reapply- here are 5 products that can help you keep your face properly intact.

  1. Algenist Sublime Defense – SPF 50- This high SPF wears like a dream alone or under your foundation, BB Cream or tinted moisturizer.  It lacks the greasiness that tends to make complexion products slide off of our face.  Available at Sephora and Utla $28.

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  1. Blotting Sheets- Blotting sheets beat out blotting powder any day of the week in my opinion.  Oil and sweat get picked up from the skin and removed, not further imbedded.  Various brands available at Sephora, Ulta and drug stores for varying prices.  My favorite are the Sephora brand pictured below.

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  1. NYX HD Foundation- Lightweight with coverage you can build and is inexpensive when compared to similar products- this mineral base liquid is what I swear by for a fresh and flawless face in the hotter months.  Available at NYX stores, Target and Ulta $17.99.
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HD Foundation by NYX
  1. Smashbox Primer Water- Hydrates with electrolytes and helps makeup adhere all while being silicone free- it can prime set and refresh- and smells amazing. Grab this before you reach for your compact and watch your makeup come back to life. Available Macys, Nordstrom, Sephora, and Ulta $26.

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  1. Benefit Cosmetics Stay Flawless Primer- This stick primer acts as a magnet for your makeup- it essentially water proofs your foundation, concealer and powders through hydration.  Available Macys, Sephora and Ulta, $30.

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What can hatred do: a thought about postmodernism, tribalism, and resisting hatred.

The times we live in the west are described as postmodern. The hallmark of postmodernism, is very broadly, the lack of a belief in absolute viewpoints, be it absolute truth, absolute realities, instead, each person is viewed to have their own version of each of these. In social situations, we see this as the need to accept other people’s viewpoints, regardless of our ability to compare them to our own. In architecture and art, we see it the dispersing of absolutism in regard to absolute authenticity, with much of postmodern work embracing, or appropriating items from other periods, juxtaposed into the now. And in culture, we see a decline in absolute beliefs, like religion, or political stance. Accordingly, with it being harder to make absolute statements, irony has become a friend to postmodernism in culture; though its use does hint at an absolutism in the background, the basis upon which a things is ironic to.

In this move from absolutism though, identity seems to have suffered. If one cannot attach a strong identity to something, one may feel lost. And irony isn’t a sufficient base.

Tribalism, the idea of having a strong identity with a group of people, has tended to be anti-postmodern, because it tends to depend on absolute beliefs. But this shift to postmodernism occurred before the advent of many of the new technologies in our society like social media. And curiously, there has been a shift back to tribalism, which may be very much the product of these new avenues of communication which lend themselves nicely to identity building.

I believe the rises in hatred we have seen are directly the product of this new tribalism.

Postmodernism may be easy to flourish in affluent society. But I believe that in economically stunted situations, situations such as in the west where rent prices have grown faster than wages, postmodernism, after a time, becomes a dangerous base upon which to organize one’s life. And this, I believe, is why we have seen the move to tribalism.

The Wests current times are marked by two factors daily: one, the expansion of labor, commerce, and communication worldwide as facilitated by the internet, and two: fear of terror.

The fear of terror most notably swept the nation after 9/11, but in the last few years, it has been in response to increased threats from increased militarization of Islamic radicalism. And Islamic radicalism is NOT postmodern. Groups such as ISIS depend, and kill for absolute principles. Accordingly, I believe it is in response to this, that some tribalism in the US has sprung up, with folks taking more absolute stands in the face of fear.

With the rise of domestic attacks by lone gunmen in schools, malls, and by the increased coverage of killings by police of suspects, we also see a rise in tribalism, as people confront emotions and turn back towards the absolute.

Meanwhile, some groups in the United States have never embraced the acceptance of multiculturalism demanded by postmodernism, most notably in the political right. While the left was moving towards accepting everybody, the right was hardening it’s fight against multiculturalism, be it towards sexual orientation, the rights of immigrants, or the acceptance of religious beliefs. We’ve seen it the most frequent in the rhetoric of Donald Trump, a candidate for president whom centers most of his time around tribal dialogue, with the tribe being those whom view his version of America as noble, and immigrants and Muslims consisting of the group deemed as ‘other’.

Both Trump and ISIS share some similarities in how the operate. But most notably it is in their use of Hatred to fuel further work. Neither group really suggests hatred, but rather the removal of certain entities, with Trump’s removals via new policies and walls, and in ISIS’s case, via violence and killing.

The hatred arises when one feels the need to defend. If one erects a wall in their garden, perhaps to keep things from eating their plants, and that wall is violated, they themselves may begin to feel hatred towards the little critters who come and eat their plants. This basis of logic depends on two absolute beliefs, that no animal should eat the plant, and two, that the gardner is entitled to control the area. If we parlayed this to immigration, we see the same two absolute beliefs occurring, that no one should immigrate without permission, and two, that we control the land. Accordingly, if our survival depends on these elements, then when boundaries are crossed, we feel our survival to be threatened, and may resort to hating what threatens us.

Hatred is closely linked to caring. It is very difficult to hate when you care about nothing. Most commonly, the situations we feel hate arise in ourselves is usually in response to something we care about being violated. On the more superficial levels, ‘I hate this traffic’, perhaps because we have plans that we care about and our time is being obstructed, thus obstructing our plans. Or, ‘I hate these wild rabbits that keep eating my lettuce’, because we care about our lettuce, and want to enjoy it. In more serious situations, we may feel ourselves loving our way of life, and hating the terrorists that threaten it. Or may love our sense of community, and hate the crime that threatens it. Or in the most extreme cases, love God’s world, but hate those who threaten to destroy it. The later bit being the line ISIS takes.

But hatred is not a necessary response, though it can be somewhat hard to avoid if other beliefs are not in place. The key to not hating a thing, seems to be understanding that we do not control anything absolutely. We don’t control what others believe, or what others do, and accordingly, we have to accept that conflict will occur between folks with different intentions and beliefs. However, this runs into big issues when we shift into the realms of government, where the job of the state is implicitly to control. Each country, by the doctrine and nature of it’s self as a state, feels the implicit demand to control how it operates it’s borders. Accordingly, the Islamic State (ISIS), though not operating as a physical place, feels the need to defend it’s vision of an all Muslim world from those who would threaten it. So in dealing with these models of states, we begin to see much more hatred, as they themselves depend on exerting absolute control.

And we see this hatred arising in response to the social situations in which control is exerted, such as in the cases of African-American men being shot and killed by the police. In these situations, we, as a citizenry, feel violated that a human being is being shot by state apparatus (the police, exerting absolute control of laws), and us being subject to absolute laws, see this as wrong, and accordingly, find ourselves hateing the police.

When emotions are involved, not hating, and accordingly, not accepting that we can control a thing, runs very close to a feeling, or worry of, apathy. When we see people being shot by the police, we feel that not saying something, not addressing it, not fixing it, leads to our position as being part of the problem, as endorsement of, the killing. And this is true. As citizens we must stand up against injustice. However, we must exercise caution when we feel the beginnings of hatred towards those who perpetrate injustice. First, hatred tends to be spread thick, human’s rarely apply it explicitly. So, in the case of cops killing black men, we find a tendency to hate all cops. We can go back through history and find many examples of spreading hatred based on the actions of a few, to many, and this is dangerous and flawed.

Perhaps we need to look at what Hatred, as it seems to be applied, actually is. It seems to be a feeling of ‘I don’t care if you die’, and sometimes ‘I want you to die’. As a species of living beings, human’s, we tend to want to care for our species, and the last thing we want is to hurt others. So generally the times when we find ourselves wanting to hurt others, it is in defense of our species. So it’s based on what I would consider a good intent. However, if we look at the world historically, it is this conflict of the perceived protecting ourselves as species that has given rise to the most hatred, it’s just the basis of threats that change.

In the end though, hatred does not help the species. It is the easy reaction. And exercising it perpetuates the ease to which it is dispersed. In every case, it’s justification is the product of quick and generalized thinking. The quick solution to complex problems. And the more complex the problem threatening us, the more easy hatred is to arise.

Some people have found a way to combat this. Instead of using hatred, they use their love of humanity as the basis to avoid it. And the more complex the problem, the more determined they become to find an appropriate, yet possibly difficult to arrive at, solution. They take responsibility in knowing that complex issues cannot be solved with simple ideas. And they struggle in that, and work to fix the issues.

If ISIS approached the world this way, instead of sending bombers around the world to try and kill folks into their belief structure, they might instead try and just share what the benefits of their belief structure are, and respect the humanity of their fellow humans to either accept or reject it. Of course, they would also have to lose their feeling of need to control everyone’s religion. And accordingly, If we wanted to deal with the unjustified shootings of African-Amercan men by the police, we would apply ourselves to investigating the root causes, and working to stop them from implementation in the systemic operations of police. And accordingly, if we wanted to keep our borders free from ‘illegal’ immigrants, we would need to look at the causes of such immigration, and address the issues behind it, and accordingly, address the domestic issues of why such immigration is a problem for jobs, perhaps looking at our own wage structures as part of the problem.

If there is a positive side to hatred, it does serve as an indicator for where complex problems really need to be addressed with deep thought and sustained work. But for the sake of ourselves as human beings, let us not lose sight of the basic nature of our existence: Our survival depends on all of us living, and thriving. And our sense of freedom depends on all of us respecting the rights of others to these opportunities. And hatred does not work towards that goal.

When sick days are the normal days

To me, hell, is a predictable discomfort.
And for the last five months, I have been in a sort of hell.

It started with a lack of energy. That lead to me weighing myself, only to discover that I had, somehow, lost twenty pounds: weight which was there when I last checked, a few months prior.

And then my mouth became hyper sensitive to textures, my eyes started becoming harder to focus, the black spots appeared in my vision in the early hours of me waking up, and overall, I felt bad. Not like a person, but more like the shell of one.

And then the never ending colds appeared. Being the parent of a three-year old, new to school, my wife and daughter and I caught a few. And thankfully they worked through my daughter quickly, however, they lingered for months with both me and my spouse.

To fight the infection, I began taking Cipro. Then a few months later, Clyndamycin. Both horribly strong antibiotics, but two of the few I can take due to allergies.

And then further weak feelings, and blood tests indicating that my liver is having some issues, possibly a side effect of the antibiotics, or perhaps a problem unto itself, and possible connected to my weight loss.

Then the lingering cold turns into an ear infection, and for the first time since my childhood, my eardrum breaks.

This is where I am now. An audio engineer with a broken eardrum. A person whom has been trying to find a positive self-image for themselves, sickly underweight.

Coping revolves around taking it a day at a time, and not really contemplating that some of this could be deadly, while simultaneously, taking it serious enough to trudge through the needed actions to correct it. So that means picking my self-esteem off the floor long enough to go to the doc, and make it through the three rounds of unconvinced questions about if I shoot heroin or not: a side effect of low weight and tattooed appearance.

It is in times like these that I reach my baseline. Why am I doing this? ‘This’, being living. Why haven’t I killed myself yet?

And the truth is, because fuck it, I am at war with it. Not in a hateful way, but in a way that I will confidently work to put myself into a position of non-violent resistance to it. I will stand beside it while I struggle with it. I will accept my emotions in reaction, but also see it as a situation that is effecting me. And I will try not to render judgement, because there really isn’t any. It’s a situation. I will try to make space for myself to have emotion about it, while simultaneously making sure that I don’t become a victim. I will try to respect the situation, and respect myself.

Because, in this situation is a human. Complex like most. Not just a sick person. But a father who wants to love, an artist who wants to create, a musician who wants to sing, and a person who wants to live. And on the other side of it, is just complications of health. Impersonal. Not a mechanism, but a series of collisions between the processes of the body. It has no goal. It’s inanimate. Just a mixture of health/life/time; working.

It is in these situations that I have created the baseline for what I define as value in life, because here, value sticks out so brightly. It is the thing that you really wish you could do now. It is the thing that, if thinking turns morose, you will regret not doing. It is the thing that pulls you from the state of sickly awareness, into a state of flow. One of these values is this thing I am writing now. Other times it has been my songs. In these states, you find the things that my not seem so rational as to having value, but you discover as having immense value to you. Colors, smells, thoughts of places, little things.

My purpose in writing today, from this place I am in, is to establish a precedent with myself, one which has existed in form but not so blatant in text: of creating, and sharing while sick. And also of addressing being sick. Not as an apology for not fulfilling something, but rather, as a statement of my current being. My goal is very simple: to do this, and make stigma of being sick move a little further away. Because as a person with chronic health issues, every day that I treat my ‘sick’ days as days off, whether economically or socially, I reinforce the idea that the world functions only when healthy. And the truth is, the world has much sickness in it. And the voices and thoughts that come from this place need to be heard. Health is a privilege that many enjoy, that defies many of the boundaries of which human beings set themselves apart. But sickness is part of being human, and for some, it is a state in which much of their time, as human, is spent. I see my own reluctance to share as the result of aversions to receiving pity. Or having my words taken with disclaimer; ‘sick person talking’. The reality is, much of our world, our most beautiful and inspiring ideas, have come from those whom were sick, in bad health, chronically ill, but we tend to canonize them into romanticized martyrs, rather than just taking them as the words of human beings spoken on a given day. And such practices further mystify, and de-normalize the state of many ill individuals.

So this is my morning. These are my thoughts. I’m glad I took the time to share them with you.

Gary

Conceal And Conquer

Concealer is a tricky product.  It is not as simple as it looks and it is advertised as being a  miracle worker for your complexion insecurities.  I remember as a teen being  disappointed that my Maybelline cover stick did not do anything other than add a bit of flesh tone over my acne and not making me look like the girl in the ad.  On a daily basis I have either a friend or client ask me about how to use this useful, yet confusing product.  The questions are usually the same- so here are my most simple answers for them.  Please feel free to comment and ask more questions as what I am going to discuss here really is only the most basic aspects about this product category.

  • When do I apply concealer?  Generally you are going to apply your concealer over your foundation. Concealer is essentially a very condensed version of foundation with a higher amount of pigment and a thicker consistency.  What you want to get is the most concealment out of your foundation that you can because it has a texture that is meant to fully blend into your skin.  Concealer exists to add EXTRA coverage.
  • How do I keep it from looking cakey?  This can be a tricky- there are very few concealers out there that have a smooth and silky formulation that offer any real coverage.  Your best ways to keep a creamy concealer in check and away from creasing is by a) being super duper careful how much you apply, most people use far too much and b)blending it in well. I find that most clients of mine can use a quarter of what they think they need. Start small and build!  And blend the product in until you can barely see it.  My favorite tools for this are the Beauty Blender sponge dampened and also using your ring finger to pat it in with.  The ring finger secretes the smallest about of oil so you can safely use it without destroying the consistency of the concealer while still getting your body’s own warmth helping the product emulsify and settle .      original-beauty-blender
  • How do I keep it from breaking up into my pores and wrinkles?  Concealer can indeed move around and settle into crevices more on your face than foundation can because of that thicker texture it tends to have.  Brushing a powder over the concealer helps with this immensely.  Powder and creams lock together- hence the term “setting powder”. Primers help as well- I recommend Benefit’s “Stay Don’t Stray”.  This primer is one that you can use 360 around the entire orbital eye area.  It  creates a smoother canvass for you to apply and it is meant to withstand high temperatures and the other elements we encounter that tend to make our concealer break up and settle. shopping-1
  •  There are so many- how do I choose? Think about what part of your face or body you are looking to conceal.  Although there are a few people that can use one concealer for every issue most of us need a minimum of two to create desired coverage.  If you are looking for a concealer for the face, meaning blemishes and spots you will want to go with a matte product generally with a flesh tone and yellow background color.  For under eyes you most likely want something more illuminating with a pink or orange background.  To break that down into laymen’s terms- no one wants their zit to be made shiny and pink, and rarely do we want our eye area to look dried out and possibly sallow.  Here are some good guidelines from Sephora in regards to color correctors-e1d52f8895d9b3feeaa4b5b742961290

5. Ok I am doing all these things and my concealer is STILL getting cakey and not looking quite right…  If this is the case you probably need to examine your skincare routine.  If your eye area is creating valleys out of fine lines, and your skin seems to crack underneath your makeup then it is probably the fault of your skin care and not of the concealer or application.  For example many clients I talk to do not use an eye cream.  What this does is create an environment where the concealer does not have enough to grab onto when applied.  Moisture acts as an adhesive for our makeup and they also help moderate our oil production during the day.  Or if you are using an aggressive acne treatment like Pro Active remember that you are drying your skin out and that this does not create a good canvass for any of you complexion makeup to stay on.  Try and balance your acne treatment with a healthy dose of moisturizer.

I hope this helps!  I encourage anyone looking for concealer to visit their local Sephora, Ulta or department store and get some professional assistance, especially if you are having a hard time.  If you are on a tighter budget and cannot do that read reviews of products online and try seeing if where you are like Walgreens or Target have a beauty concierge – they can help you out with the overwhelming world of drugstore products.

 

Hair Bleaching Guitar Screeching Rocket Queens

In the 6th grade my life was completely changed.  I went into Sam Goody at Chesterfield Towne Center in Midlothian Virginia and purchased a cassette that I knew was going to be awesome based on the cover alone.  I saw four skulls on a cross staring out at me daring me to listen to something unlike anything I had heard before.  I got home and immediately grabbed my walkman and fell in love as pure chaos entered my ears.  I heard Axl Rose warning me of the jungle and dancing with Mr.Brownstone and knew I had found my future.

The world of metal was not totally new to me.  I had a few months earlier acquired Poison’s record “Look What the Cat Dragged In”.  It was a fun record, I liked the idea of Brett Michael’s talking dirty to me, or CeCe picking up his guitar and talking to me, but it was not the all on assault that Guns N Roses delivered that my socially awkward 12 year old self needed.

Not that I understood any of what these bands were really about.  I grew up on the outskirts of Richmond Virginia in a rural county called Powhatan where I had school mates with names like D’wayna who invited me to go drinking with her uncle on the weekends. I did not know what the Sunset Strip was let alone that Axl Rose was singing of the insanity that was his reality when he first came to Los Angeles.

Somewhere around this same time I discovered Headbangers Ball and the audio assault turned into a visual assault.  I was enthralled by the images I saw of girls and guys both wearing heavy eye makeup, teasing their hair and sporting denim, lace and leather.  This look resonated with me- I wanted to emulate what I saw. I permed my hair and sat outside with Sun In desperately trying to get my mousy brown hair bleach blonde.  I even purchased Aqua Net to shellac my bangs as high up in the air as they would go, and pegged my light blue denim jeans.  I hoped to be the total babe that Christina Applegate was on “Married With Children” but my scrawny chicken legged body did not lend itself to this.

I was told recently by a fellow makeup artist in the industry that I should consider changing my look to a more “approachable”one.  She suggested heels and a blazer and generally toning it down.  I appreciated her honesty but my mind knew that although I could perhaps make more money this way, that I am content with who I am.  I thought of my youth, starting with hair metal and graduating to thrash, doom and punk and how my style has been what has always brought me a level of comfort that I never want to let go of.

It is far from the first time I have heard this either.  I have had men tell me I would be more beautiful with no tattoos.  I have had family members upset that my graduation photos included blue and white tresses.  I realize that I make choices that may put me in a minority but I am completely at peace with that.

Now excuse me as I go put some hairspray on, pull on my engineer boots, and go drive to Target blasting “Rocket Queen”.

 

 

Hot Child In The City

I sit here in the sweltering heat that has just come over the Los Angeles area and contemplate what to do on my day off- which has so far not been very fun- I have visited the bank about some fraudulent charges on my account and gone to the vet to pick up yet more medicines for my elderly cat.  I run through ideas in my head of what would be fun, and the pool at my complex comes to mind.  As soon as I have that thought I feel anxious and uncomfortable.

I have lived in this complex for several months now and have yet to jump into either the pool or the hot tub.  I wish I could say it is out of hatred or fear of swimming, or that I am simply just too busy, but neither are close to the truth.  I love being in the water.  I spent my youth running around beaches and pools and loving every second of it, however now I dread even heading in the direction of the sun and the water.

It is really honestly very silly reason and I know it, and it is one that every woman I know struggles with, hell Cathy Guswrite made her career in part by accurately depicting how a woman feels in the summer.  Accck Acckk chocolate!!  AACCKK THIGHS!

This is my fear. Not a fear of drowning – but of my thighs- IN PUBLIC.  My thighs revealed to the world.  As soon as I walk out of the apartment in my adorable retro red bathing suit I feel as if every person is staring and judging me.  They are looking at my extreme paleness in horror, checking out every blue vein and thinking “cover yourself up”. They are checking out the back of my thighs which have- get this- cellulite.  Yes- those little dents in the thigh and butt region that almost everyone has, but I am somehow supposed to be free of.  They are looking at my thighs and noticing that, horror of horror, they TOUCH.  I lack the thigh gap a woman of my medium build should have.  I feel shame and cringe as a in my head I am convinced that everyone at the pool is horrified at my presence.

I know on a rational level this is not happening.  Probably very few people even notice me there anymore than they notice anyone at the pool.  But the insecurities that rule my brain cannot allow my sensible side to take over.  I choose to stay inside and do some yoga where no one other than my loving husband can see any part of my body truly exposed.

I am not sure exactly when this all happened.  I have memories of my mother struggling with this.  She is a woman who has a passion for the ocean.  My family spent the majority of our vacation time up and down the east coast visiting various beaches.  My biggest fear as a child were the sometimes terrifying amount of jelly fish in the Chesapeake Bay, not of what that one guy over in the corner thinks of my fat deposits on my left leg.

I do have a distinct memory of my mother’s horror over the classic 80’s high cut swimsuits that left little to the imagination.  She yearned for the suits of her youth in the late 50s and 60s where the designs of the time left a lady with a little more to hide behind. I did not really get it- I even thought she was being a little uptight- although when I tried on the suits of this style I found them to be exceedingly uncomfortable even for a skinny pre-pubescent child and opted for a sportier design.

I now understand every fear my mom had.  I understand that as we grow from children to adults that somehow we get a very fixed idea of what we, as women, are supposed to look like in public. We are supposed to all look like an airbrushed perfectly tanned robot- not an actual human.

I know from first hand experience that even the models that pose for things like the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue do not have “perfect” bodies.  I know that other women like me do not tan- we burn and go straight back to a pale gothic princess.  I also see other women out at pools and know that they are not perfect- but what they are is strong.  They are stronger than me who keeps thinking, “after a few more months of toning up and losing 5 pounds and maybe trying a self tanner”.

To all of you women of all shapes and sizes out there revealing it all I commend you, and I hope to join you soon.  I respect your ability to say “screw that” and enjoy the water and the sun.  I need to be inspired to be more like my mom, who although she struggles with loving her body, never let it keep her away from what she loved, and letting me and my friends enjoy ourselves by spending endless hours in the sun and the sand playing or jumping off diving boards at the community pool.

So this is my current life goal- it is a small one, one that should be easily accomplished, to walk from my apartment to the pool in only a swimsuit, slather on SPF 60, and slide into the pool with the couple that I see in there every time I walk by to do laundry, even though the guy looks fully naked at times.