Monday, June 30, 2014

I Like Facial Masks

Why, hello there.

I was babysitting today, and since we arrived at movie theater a bit too early, I decided to take a quick look into Ulta. In the acne/skin care aisle, I recognized the green squeeze tube as the one my friend Amy has. One day, we felt extra gross and extra girly after doing some Blogilates and ratchet Just Dance, so she, Annie, and I decided to cover our pores with the Queen Helene "Mint Julep Masque."

Quick Review: It claims that it "helps dry up acne pimples, rinse away blackheads & shrink enlarged pores." I have to say that it lives up to its label. Since using it at my friend's place about two weeks ago, my acne (though it should be bursting forth as that time of month is approaching) appears to have retired. I've also notice a reduced amount of redness around my cheeks and T-zone, and, as a good facial mask should, it gives my face a "fresh" feeling after I was it out. The clay itself is a nasty pastel green color, yet I find massaging this awkward looking, minty-smelling green gunk into my skin oddly relaxing. Plus, it's just $3.99 for a large tube. Now a proud owner of aforementioned product, I plan to use it roughly once every week or so.

(P.s. I've realized now that I've limited myself from buying fashion-ish things, I am slowly becoming more drawn to items of the makeup/art supply/comic book variety. The shopping addiction is real.)

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Standard of Beauty

Last semester, my friends and I would have these random conversations about our favorite childhood movies. Almost all that came up in our discussions were Disney films. We loved the songs, and most of us had a favorite princess (I really like Mulan and Ariel). One day, we were all at an on-campus restaurant to have a Valentine's Day dinner, plus some of our friends were performing there with their A Capella group. After their lovely performance, the little TV screen up on the ceiling started playing random films, its sound competing with alternative rock pumping through the venue from the speakers. The film was Beauty and the Beast. The conversation moved to discussing Belle's beauty and beauty of Disney females in general. I never took issue in any aspects of the film Cinderella until my friend, Amanda, pointed out the absurdity in the term "ugly stepsisters" and questioned the features of the two siblings which Disney's animators felt merited the sisters' reputation of repulsion. The two girls, Anastasia and Drizella, Amanda pointed out, had, "Big noses, brunette hair instead of blonde hair, and curly hair instead of straight hair."

A similar standard of beauty was seen in The Princess Diaries. In this film, Anne Hathaway's character, with her frizzy hair, "bushman eyebrows," glasses, and retainer, is seen as a candidate for a mandatory "makeover." In order to be presentable for her new role as "Princess," it seems fit that young Mia should change everything about her physical appearance.

The makeover included: tweezing, hair-straightening, glasses-breaking, and makeup. Voila, now you have a princess. With all this focus on physical appearance (there's an entire makeover scene for crying out loud!), the ending message of the movie, which I never caught on to as a young girl, obviously faded into obscurity. This message, ironically, is to "be yourself."

In the last scene, (spoiler alert) Mia decides to officially accept her role as Princess of Genova. However, her last minute decision followed a plan of running away from these duties. In escaping, Mia left in a hoodie, tee, jeans, and Docs and found herself, just as the top of her convertible decides to break, in the middle of a San Francisco downpour. Therefore, her appearance at the royal ball, dripping wet in non-couture and sporting the shoes her grandmother had made her swap for black pumps on Day 1, proved that the appearance doesn't make the princess, but her personality within. However, the message came a bit too late. For eighteen years prior, I thought the message was "you can't be cool unless you look like everyone else."

So far, we've seen Disney's standard of beauty to consist of:

  • straight hair
  • good brows
  • no glasses

Let's add:

  • Big eyes

And most blatantly obvious:

  • the "ideal" female physique

This physique is:

  • petite
  • thin, but athletic and toned
  • curvy (perky chest and lifted butt)

I feel brainwashed by the Disney standard. 
I feel victimized by the notions hidden behind these images. 
No, I do not blame Disney. They have every right to exert their artistic style and perpetuate their ideals. And it would be wrong, though I feel urged to do so, to call these notions of beauty "falsified" or "ignorant." However, I am not one on board with those commanding Disney to produce movies staring "normal" girls. 

There's no such thing as "normal"
Many push the issue that "Disney does not portray normal girls." However, what is a normal girl? "Normal," though often interchanged with this idea, does not mean "average." Let's say the Disney girl standard body type is 5'8, has a waist size of 24, and wears a dress size of 2. Google says, "Today, the average American woman is 5'4, has a waist size of 34-35 in, with a dress size of 12-14." So, Disney portrays a woman of these dimensions. It's a win for the "average woman." Yet, once again, women are alienated. The girl who's just naturally thin and curveless. The disabled child. The girl who's plus-size. Anyone not fitting this standard must wait for another image revolution. 

Embrace the diversity. Know beauty when you see it. 

If we can't change their perception of beauty, we ought to damn well train ourselves out of the notion of "the standard of beauty." Let's face it. There are no real standards of beauty. There is no "normalcy" in terms of how a body should be shaped or a face should appear. 

Disney trained my eyes to see beauty in one type of girl. It's up to me to decide whether I want to expand this perception of beauty. 

I do.

I want real beauty. I see girls too thin to fill their A-cup bras just as beautiful as those with the silhouettes of classic pin-up girls. Curly, straight, frizzy hair. Any color. Any eye shape. 

I don't want to perpetuate an ideal anything. I hope someday, my eyes will see beyond preconceptions. I want to challenge the standard of beauty. 

Because everyone is different.
Sure, the media presents ads with "perfect lashes," "perfect skin," "perfect outfits," "perfect bodies" etc. etc. etc.
These images are perfect. They're not real. It's hard not to get hooked into the cult of perfection when it's all around us. We live in a world of images. It's the digital age. And this constant influx of ideals and standards, especially regarding beauty, confuse the mind, change the perception, and its too easy to get sucked into striving for a fantasy. The media wants us to reach for these unattainable physical standards because advertisers prey on girls' insecurities. If there appears to be this collective need as a society for girls to look a certain way, marketers can easily sell products to "help" women achieve "the look." We can only be accepted if we fit the mold. We desire these products because we want to be desired. Market manipulation gets really scary if you think about it too much.

Which is why I support marketers who want more than profits.

I'm a huge fan of Aerie, the lingerie branch of American Eagle Outfitters, which began a campaign which celebrates "real" beauty. No filters or photoshop. These are natural photos are of women embracing their unique bodies.

We need to get these kind of messages out: that beauty cannot be standardized, that any girl should feel beautiful in her own skin, that no one deserves to be criticized for the shape of her body, that though many remain closed-minded on their perception of beauty, slowly people are beginning the realize the meaning behind the statement "beauty is in the eye of beholder" and that the definition of beauty can encompass everyone if we let it.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy 4th Monthaversary! (:

My current boyfriend and I have been together for a third of a year now! I feel like it's been both a long time and no time at all. He feels really awkward writing cards, so he decided to send me a poem. It was based on a poem he'd written when he was 10 called "The Angel." (haha) The last bit is what he made up when he could not remember the original lines. 

An Angel past compare
Her fragrance so sweet so fair

An embodiment of perfection

A cause of so many distractions

Her hair a flowing fountain

To praise her is to build a mountain

A little crazy a lot of cute
But sometimes I wish she would be mute 

But still I like it when she speaks

because shes amazing, and what more could a guy seek 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Feeling Artistically Constipated

I'm so unmotivated to make art. When school was attacking me with homework and tests and etc., I felt the need to draw things. But now that I actually have the time... nothing. hfodiahfidjsalkfda l;adsla

Friday, June 6, 2014

Summer Reading List

My taste in books is... questionable. I am about to turn 19, and I feel at this age and with my college-student status, outsiders expect my summer reading repertoire to consist of intellectually stimulating works or at least novels of the "adult" genre ("adult" referring to books with SAT vocabulary words scattered on every page, not fan-fictionesque prose [although many include such lol]). However, it's summer. The reading list is of my choosing, and I am guilty to say that my current genre of choice is... YA. I'm also a sucker for Rom-com, Biography, and non-fiction books with health-related topics. Oh, and comic books. I am so lucky to have awesome friends with extensive comic book collections and the kindness to share these beauties with myself. Here's to an awesome summer!

Things I've read:
[x] Starters Lissa Price YA (5/20/14)
[x] Looking for Alaska John Green YA (5/26/14)
[x] Eat Pray Love Elizabeth Gilbert Self-enlightenment/ Bio (6/6/14)
[x] All You Could Ask For Mike Greenberg Adult Fiction of the Rom-com variety (6/7/14)
[x] Saga (Vol. 1-3) Comic

Things I've started:
[ ] Game of Thrones George R. R. Martin Adult Fantasy/ Action 
[ ] Untouchables Narendra Jadhav Bio
[ ] How Sex Works Dr. Sharon Moalem Non-fic Health
[ ] Fat Chance Robert H. Lustig, M.D. Non-fic Health 

Things I need to get my hands on:
[ ] 1984 George Orwell (because it's awkward that I've never read this before)
[ ] All the next Sagas because I'm kind of really obsessed 

Now for some subjective reviews:

Starters  6/10 
Okay novel. Too YA. Ughhh I really need to stop reading these books because the writing is just so early-middle-school level. I did enjoy the story-line. Yet, another post-apocalyptic tale, but with an interesting twist. It was engaging and memorable, but the writing-style (a lot more Hunger Games than Harry Potter) felt off-putting after a year in college. As nerdy as it sounds, I like the challenge upper-level novels offer.

Looking for Alaska  7/10
Another YA novel. Very John Green. If you haven't read a John Green book before, I'd definitely recommend his novels. His style goes either way- you're either super into it or super not. I am a happy fan. This one wasn't my favorite (The Fault in Our Stars and An Abundance of Katherines have a higher place in my heart), but it's a nice novel for leisure. As usual, John's characters are quirky and offer that live-while-we're-young teen take on life. 

Eat Pray Love 8/10
My friend OT (greenglassheart) recommended this novel. It was during one of our talks about being "a strong, independent woman." She praised it, going as far as saying, "It changed my life." And yes, it's definitely a life-changer. Gilbert explores her journey of finding herself post-divorce. She's the epitome of the strong, independent woman. I loved the author's expression of vulnerability. She talked about personal issues most aim to keep hidden: depression, being hung-up by an ex, questioning spirituality, etc. Her style read as genuine; as a person on paper, she appeared humorous, ambitious, and undeniably inspiring. She isn't a perfect person, but when she feels broken, she refuses to remain so, and I totally admire that. I also admired her sense of adventure; through her words, I traveled to Italy, India, and Indonesia. (I'm really craving an adventure now...) 

All You Could Ask For 9/10
I'm loving these books about strong, independent women. This dude knows how to write about women. I was dubious at first, but within the first few pages, I connected to the three beautifully and genuinely voiced characters, Brooke, Samantha, and Katherine. Soon, these women felt more like friends than figments of Greenberg's imagination. The tale is very rom-com-esque, self-explorative, and touching. It's about friendship, love, and life. I loved this book even more because it's set in NYC/ Greenwich, Connecticut- two places I've recently visited; it even references Colgate! haha.  Definitely not the book for everyone, but I now feel impulsed to purchase the novel and add it to my collection (I borrowed the copy in my hand from la biblioteca), and find anything else this guy has written because, after this novel, he's gained a loyal fan.

** On second thought, turns out Greenberg's previous books, as he is an ESPN reporter, revolve around sports. I guess I'll just have to wait for the next fiction novel.