Archive for August, 2012

August 16, 2012

Bullying pretty ladies

Love her? Hate her? Just wish she was a bitch?

I have recently come accross this interesting post by Lesley Kinzel at xoJane, acutely titled An Open Letter to the Guy Who Helpfully Announced “Daaaaamn Bitch, You Fat!” to Me in the Target Parking Lot this Morning — there´s really no need for additional explanation regarding what could be the contents of her text. I myself was a little overweight when I was a child, and was rather bullyied about it by skinny girly girls who did not enjoy my quiet vibe and my preference for the boy´s company and who found in my body a path to revenge for whatever pain my lack of interest in their interests might have caused them.

Fast forward and about two decades later and I have overcome all that angst of my early youth: self-esteem issues concerning my body image, anger management and socialization difficulties due to having suffered gratuitous aggression from groups of little evil barbies, plus a long term despise for most things feminine which ended rather recently, if a few years ago qualifies as such.

So, I take care of myself and I am happy and I believe it shows. I have grown from grunge teenager with oversized clothes to pretty lady who lunches, a well manicured girl with some academic and professional achievements which are not extraordinary, but make me proud enough for the time being. Silly me, I thought I´d never be bullied again, but that was just me thinking bullying had to do just with me being fragile in the eyes of others, when the fact of the matter is that it´s precisely the contrary.

To me, one of the points Lesley is trying to convey is that people who go out of their way to destroy someone else´s day are in fact themselves unhappy and embarrassed by their own lack of self-esteem. They look at a woman who is overweight and going about her own business with peace of mind and just find unbearable her capacity of living with herself. They can´t live with people who can, especially if they do it regardless of what others might be thinking of them. They must let others learn what they think of them; in fact, we learn what they think of themselves.

So bullying is not about the supposedly deviational behavior or physical aspect of the victim, but the moral frailty of the perpetrator; in considering so, whatever can be perceived as normality, or worse, as outstanding, is also motive for aggression; pretty ladies suffer their quota of bullying too.

I believe the example that best illustrates my point is the eternal quest for celebrity scandal. I can only imagine how much it would sell a story uncovering the truth about Angelina Jolie´s adopted children: she just did it for the press, someone would finally prove, because yes, of course, that´s the sort of thing rich and beautiful people do to get attention, they adopt a lot of african kids just to piss of Jennifer Aniston. Questioning a celebrity´s character is, apparently, a sacred right of the press and their fans, justified by the fact that their success arises from publicity and for that reason, their entire lives — not just their work — should be subject to scrutiny and worse: speculation. Regular people, however, suffer bullying too. “She thinks she is so perfect, I´m going to screw that bitch” (and then they actually do, or at least try to do it) — no, you think I am perfect and you think I think I am perfect and because you feel deeply all your flaws, real and imaginary ones.

Where does the pleasure in finding, amplifying or inventing flaws on people actually come from? I do think there is a strong component of their success and beauty being somewhat unbearable; that fascination brings a sense of despair in the face of what seems to be utter perfection in the eyes of those who feel deeply unsatisfied with themselves. “Why is their life so easy if in the end, they´re just as good as I am or even more messed up?” is the other side to the question “Why should those losers be happy if I´m not and I´m better than them?”, both provoking the same reactions directed at destroying the bully´s victim self esteem.

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August 6, 2012

High income, girly girls

One thing that has been duly noted by me since I started earning a little bit more money is that women with higher income tend to turn into girls of the flashiest pink category. Too harsh and generalizing a critique, that´s obviously true. Let´s rephrase it all: the more I develop and chisel my design choices regarding each aspect of my life — not just the way I dress, but the places where I´ll go, the furniture in my house, the objects on my desk at work — the more I feel the marketing choice for high-end design environments targeting women is a sort of retardment appealing to the princesses, in the pink-with-tiara sense of the word, within: everything is super, amazing, ultra, and filled with the sort of pampering a nine-year-old lady would imagine as the epitome of chic, like candy and champagne. Apparently, cute cupcakes and cheap sparkling wine give hairdressers the right of ripping your heart from your body, regardless of how actually better they are in comparison to other hairdressers that work in salons that do not offer such delicacies.

I guess it is very hard to escape gender-driven expectations when it comes to marketing and publicity, and with the sort of counter-feminist movements that have been around for a while — think women returning to the kitchens or sewing machines at home, and vintage inspired fashion that sort of glorify the 50´s american housewife (see this post o´mine for further development on the matter) — I guess being girly is the new step into assuring our hardly earned places as high-end consumers, but perhaps, and by perhaps I mean I in fact really think so, it would be nice to take another step towards not sanctioning all the baby talk and glitter that comes with practically every merchandise that bring together the concepts of luxury and feminine. Perhaps there´s even more — perhaps the opposite of that happens to products categorized as masculine, and perhaps gender-related baby talk (your new car/deodorant will not turn you into a highly trained spy — and that´s not even truly glamorous anyway) in general should start being rejected altogether.

August 2, 2012

Red hair, brown eyes. All natural. Almost.

When I was in Edinburgh recently, I did enjoy a little of the Film Festival that was going on from June 20th to July 1st. This is a more low profile, Sundance-y like event that makes for a few celebrities and parties but is really more about the public and the movies. The Closing Night Gala featured the premiere of the new Pixar animated picture Brave, which tells a story that fittingly unfolds in the Scottish Highlands.

The heroine is a red haired girl, a choice rather clear for anyone who has spent any time in Scotland, a country that probably shares with Ireland the highest proportions of red haired population in the world. I say probably because I´m lazy and I´m not going to look it up, but I mean, they have a lot of natural flames in there.

I, a brunette with chestnut hair and eyes and extremely fair skin, have always dreamed to have been a natural red. An impossible dream, since I was already born, as told before, with a different hair color. I grew up nurturing an adoration for the Old Hollywood red divas (which were not natural — but who dares to claim to understand the female soul), particularly the one and only Gilda Rita Hayworth, red hair, brown eyes:

Red hair, dark red lips. So daring and yet, so beautiful. What I find so amazing about this natural tone of red is that it is both quirky and profoundly glamorous — it can be worked in both ways (sometimes simultaneously) with amazing results.

Coming back from Edinburgh, inspired by all those red boys, girls, man and women all around me, I decided it was the time for the change, and I would not formulate any more postponing excuses such as waiting for the gray to cover my head or, less dramatically, for the hair to grow longer; I´d just do it.  So, without warning anyone, I went to a beauty salon and said, “I want to be as red as this lady here”, the lady in question being Christina Hendricks. Can you do it?

He did it. And after he did it, I freaked out for a few days, until I finally relaxed and accepted I was, at last, as red as I always wanted to be, and it looked amazing. But there are tricks for such a dramatic change from dark to natural flame hair to look amazing, which I will share with you now.Brow Set in Boy Girl by MAC Cosmetics

eyebrows – If you´re a natural blonde, your eyebrows will probably work really well with the copperish, natural red hair tone. If you are a brunette, THEY WILL NOT. Taking care of the contrast is probably one of the most important things to do if you don´t want your very expensive look (no, it´s not low cost to maintain a dyed red hair gorgeous) to become cheap due to the terrible contrast. Two tips: dye your eyebrows too (some argue this may be damaging and eventually cause them to fall — do your research and reach your own conclusions, and DON´T. DO. IT. YOURSELF); buy this AMAZING PRODUCT by MAC Cosmetics, in the Girl Boy hue and wear it. Every. Single. Day.

Eyebrows will turn you into a new woman just as much as the hair did. It´s a whole new level of redness, and it makes the whole difference when it comes to the elegance of your whole new look.

make up – your new best friend. If you are a blonde, again, your skin´s undertones will probably work perfectly with your new flame hair. If you are a brunette, it´s not going to be so easy. The new red frame around your porcelain face will make you realize your perfectly fair skin is actually blue. Yeah, sorry. Blue. The unfortunate fact is, we are not all white in the same way, and the fairer the hair, the warmer the undertones of the skin — notice the rosy shades in which the natural blond haired people come. So be prepared to overcome this problem with some light, very light, extremely light bronzing powder. You should form a soft halo around your face, blending into your natural skin color, sort of softening the contrast between your new red roots and the contours of your face, and then add depth to your temples, under your cheek bones and finally, your chin.

If you have hazel eyes, try contrasting with a thin line of purple eyeliner and shadows in gold tones to make them pop when out to party. I find copper eyeliners also good for those same purposes, and it´s also more discrete for work (maybe). Keep your eyelashes dark. Dark eyelashes are a good thing for everyone.

maintenance – spend money on maintenance and take good care of your hair. Your flame top will soon turn into pumpkin — just like Cinderella´s carriage, except it will be your hair, not your vehicle, who will turn into a orange hued thing — if you don´t touch it up on (about) a monthly basis. Plus, if your roots are dark, all the glamour will be GONE if they become the first thing people notice about your hair. Can you imagine Gilda with visible dark roots? Also, don´t let the sun go down on you: wear hats when out to the beach and don´t do it very often. Finally, wear some good shampoos and conditioners for colored hair — that´s particularly vital when it comes to red hair. I´m going for the Color Extend line by Redken. No complaints so far; in fact, only compliments.

christina hendricks – look up to Christina on Mad Men (the incredibly beautiful character Joan Harris) for some work wardrobe inspiration. Classic cuts, solid purples, greens, pinks and blues, fitted dresses and pencil skirts, chignons, corals and the eventual red on your lips and perfectly polished nails. Don´t look up to Christina on the red carpet — it might not work just as well.

Feel powerful and thankful you can look this good without running the risk of being burnt on a stake — natural reds were common suspects of witchcraft during the Holy Inquisition. Not anymore, though. Not anymore.

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