Tag Archives: magazine

Beauty in the Movies: The Devil Wears Prada

I had a job interview this week, and on my way I couldn’t help thinking of The Devil Wears Prada. That might sound silly, but it was reassuring to know that even if the interview went badly, it couldn’t possibly be as bad as finding Miranda Priestly (or Anna Wintour) sitting at that desk across from you.

The Devil Wears Prada is the story of Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), a Midwesterner in New York, fresh out of college and desperate for experience. Andy wants to be a journalist, but she finds herself at the world’s top fashion magazine, Runway, interviewing to be the assistant of Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), a job a thousand girls would kill for. Miranda isn’t just an editor at a fashion magazine, she is the voice of fashion. Her word is the last word, and all other opinions be damned. She is cold, brutal, and unsympathetic, but also elegant, successful and respected beyond compare.

Miranda hires Andy despite her “frumpy” (ahem, I have the j. crew coat she wears in the opening sequence—it’s cute, ok?) appearance in the hopes that she is different from the fashion obsessed girls who usually land the job. While Andy is up for the challenge, the demands of her new position put her relationship with her family, best friend (Tracie Thoms), and boyfriend (Adrian Grenier) into jeopardy. Andy has to choose what’s important to her, but in the process of self discovery there’s also a bunch of montages, a few Madonna songs, a makeover, and some great designer clothes.

This is not the most unpredictable film, but it certainly has its charms, most specifically Meryl Streep’s perfectly frightening portrayal of Miranda. It’s hard to take your eyes off her, everything from the way she enunciates her words, to the cruel flicker in her eyes while torturing Andy with impossible tasks, further propels the believability of her character. Miranda Priestly makes Working Girl‘s Catherine Parker look like a whiny, disheveled brat. Rumor has it the character was based on Anna Wintour, the notoriously steely editor-in-chief of American Vogue, but Streep creates her own Miranda and delivers a woman who is both vicious and awe-inspiring in her approach to life and business.

Emily Blunt is fantastic and funny as Miranda’s other assistant (the 1st assistant), she is the stand-out among the supporting cast and steals all her scenes right out from under Anne Hathaway. Stanley Tucci is also charming, while stereotypical as Nigel Runway’s Art director who is adored by both Miranda and Andy. Simon Baker plays a roguish writer and Valentino and Giselle (proving she shouldn’t quit her day job) make appearances as well.


Most people have had a boss or supervisor whom they’ve found less than pleasing, but this film takes it to new levels. Miranda’s treatment of Andy could be seen as character building—a tough love of sorts, after all she does learn a lot and come out on top in many ways. Unfortunately the ugly side of that coin is that her sadistic treatment virtually ruins Andy’s life, and as we learn, Miranda’s personal life isn’t all roses and sunshine either, leading the viewer to believe that great success comes only with great sacrifice. It’s an issue I wish the movie explored a bit more, because it feels like we’re meant to believe Miranda must be evil in order to be respected, which forgives her cruelty just a tad too much. There is too much of a shine put on everything in this film and the minute you think you might get to look deeper, you’re placated by pretty clothes, which is fine and can be really enjoyable, but it doesn’t make you think too hard either.

The Devil Wear Prada is a fun, entertaining, possibly unrealistic look at the fashion world. It’s also a coming of age film, and a film about figuring out who you want to be as a professional and as a person—but most of all it’s about really pretty clothes, Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana and Patricia Field’s beautiful styling. I’d take a film like this over a bland rom-com with Jennifer Aniston or Katherine Heigl any day, because while it might not be groundbreaking, it’s about something other than just men and cliches. Don’t expect to be surprised by the twisting plot or unconventional characters, just get lost in the brilliance of Meryl Streep and the beauty of Chanel while you sit back and wish you could afford designer clothes.

The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada by justinez featuring peep toe shoes

PAUW SS10/42330 009 COTTON –
172 GBP – farfetch.com
Wrap blouses »

Trimmed Cardigan by D&G Dolce&Gabbana
153 GBP – my-wardrobe.com
Knit cardigans »

Whyred Pasca pleated mini skirt
145 GBP – brownsfashion.com
Pleated mini skirts »

Lanvin T-Strap Sandal
$955 – barneys.com
Peep toe shoes »

Bianca Patent Platform Pump
$735 – bergdorfgoodman.com
Christian louboutin pump »

Christian louboutin shoes BLACK
535 GBP – matchesfashion.com
Peep toe shoes »

Gepa Vitello Daino Tote
$1,650 – bergdorfgoodman.com
Prada handbags »

Marc by marc jacobs bags DARK BLUE
440 GBP – matchesfashion.com
Leather totes »

Susan caplan vintage jewellery GOLD
475 GBP – matchesfashion.com
Gold jewelries »

CA & LOU Bracelet
315 EUR – colette.fr
Couture bracelets »

Chanel Gold Medallion Chain Belt
$900 – cmadeleines.com
Chanel belts »

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Filed under Beauty in the movies

The Basic Beauty Essentials Everyone Should Have—For Real

There are a lot of fun items involved in beautification, there’s lipstick, eyeliner, deep conditioners, toners, and hundreds of other “important” things for you to buy and use, but sometimes it’s the simpler items that are essential. You always keep them stocked, you use them more than pricey products, and they’re available at your local drug store. It’s not usually that exciting when you re-stock them, but if they ever stopped making any of these products (god forbid) you know you’d be really upset. If I run out of any of this stuff, or lose any of these tools, I have to make a rush visit to the drug store to replenish ASAP.

A lot of these items also have multiple uses, they’re tools, honest to goodness tools, just like hammers and nails. Who needs a pliers when I have a cuticle clipper? I’ll never forget working at MAC and listening to one of the very masculine stock guys going on and on about the wonders of nail polish remover and how it could erase sharpie marker. He was impressed by the untold usefulness of beauty products, and so am I, most women have an arsenal of tools disguised as beauty products sitting on their bathroom shelf—we’re savvy like that.

Hair elastics are about as essential as it gets if you have hair past your chin. I’m a Scünci girl, Goody is alright, but I don’t find them as well made. I like the no damage elastics without any metal on them, and they’re strong too. Hair elastics have many purposes, I never have rubber bands so they end up being used for a multitude of things, like bundling pencils or keeping shutters closed, oh yeah, and putting your hair in a ponytail too.

Scünci Elastics, Medium Black, $2.69 for 28

My hair is a battle ground for hair accessories, only the strong survive. My strands snap hair elastics like nobodies business and they laugh at silly little hair clips. I’ve tried dozens of hair claws and clips, so when I found these heavy-duty, no-slip gripped clips, my hair finally met its match. They still break sometimes, but they stand up to my hair like nothing else. They’re also essential for keeping curtains closed and you can clip them all over your bathroom so you always have one on hand.

Scunci No-Slip Grip Jaw Clips, $3.19 for 2

There is always one of these looped over my bathroom doorknob, if you have bangs or even long layers around your face, you need one of these to push your hair back when you put on a cleansing mask, or just wash your face everyday. I treat them like crap and they always end up looking ratty, but you can throw them in the wash, and whenever I lose them I realize how much I need them, especially if I’m in need of a bang trim.

Scunci Hairband, Assorted Colors, 5 for $5.69

One of my favorite things about beauty supply stores is the huge tub of bobby pins you can get for like, 2 bucks, so cheap and they last forever. Unfortunately when you can’t make it to a real beauty supply, you have to settle for the slightly more expensive (but still pretty cheap) Conair or store brand bobby pins. If you’re growing out your hair, or you like to wear up-dos, you need bobby pins. They’re also great for cleaning up nail polish in the corners of your nails, unlocking doors, and so many other little things.

Conair Brush Styling Essentials Matte Minis Bobby Pins, Black, 60 for $1.29

Ok, so this one is hard to use as anything but soap, although Wendy does try to re-attach Peter Pan’s shadow with a bar of soap, but mostly I just love this stuff because it’s extra gentle and I have very sensitive skin. I try to get someone with a BJ’s membership to buy it for me or let me tag along on a trip because they have it there in bulk. I’ve been using it forever and it never disappoints in making my skin soft and irritation-free.

Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar, Antibacterial, $4.49

A cardinal rule of skin care is “don’t touch your face”, and it’s really true, my skin has gotten so much better since I started following that rule, I should have listened to my mother when I was teenager. If you must pop a pimple or squeeze a blackhead, use this loop, it’s worth the $9.00 to keep your skin clear and satisfy the urge to pop. It looks like a torture device, and you can go a little squeeze-happy with it, but it’s a great thing to have on hand when you need it, always clean it off with some rubbing alcohol (another essential) between uses too.

Tweezerman Skin Care Tool, $8.99

These are an ultimate essential product, I actually buy mine in bulk at Costco, but I’ve tried these Johnson’s wipes and they’re good too. I know that Terrence Howard thinks they’re essential for other reasons, but they’re great for cleaning out your makeup cases, and they can be critical for makeup application. If it’s hard to get a straight line on your eyeliner, or if you screw up and need to wipe it all off, you need some of these babies on hand.

Johnson’s Baby Hand & Face Wipes 25 for $2.99

I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t wash my hair that often. It takes literally six+ hours to dry and it doesn’t get greasy very quickly. So when I shower I need to protect my hair from the water, otherwise the steam has a field day creating frizz. I like these Goody shower caps because they’re super cheap, brightly colored and they last a long time. My fiance things that shower caps are hysterical, which is why I’m considering ordering one of these immensely silly caps from Urban Outfitters, because he’ll get a kick out of it, it’s fun—and who cares? You’re in the shower anyway!

Goody Shower Cap Large, $1.49 or

Urban Outfitter Shower Caps, $8.00

This tool is probably the most essential of my essential products. It’s meant for clipping cuticles and it does an amazing job with its super sharp edges, but it’s also great for clipping the tags off clothes. To me, it’s a standard do-everything tool. I use it to open stubborn products and I pretty much use it as a pliers most of the time, I have a toolbox with a legit pliers, but this guy works better for everything. I’ve had mine for about six years and it’s still pretty sharp, I think I might send it back to Tweezerman for a sharpening and re-aligning though, because they let you do that, so it’s worth the investment too.

Tweezerman Stainless Steel Cuticle Nipper, $24.99

We all need a nail file sometimes, especially in a nail emergency—this is a no-brainer. I’ve also used them to sand wood, but I’m weird, I use a lot of these products for art projects. These Trim boards are the way to go. I’ve bought cute nail files with hearts and patterns on them, and they’ve given me cuts under my nail, seriously—those things can be dangerous. Stick to these, they’re effective, last a long time, and the price is right.

Trim Salon Boards, Grit Heavy Duty/Medium 2 for $2.29

Ok, so now I want to hear about your essential items, I’m sure I’ve left some great products out, but I think it’s different for everyone. These are items that are either very cheap, or last forever and are used often, you can get them at the drug or beauty supply store, and you always need them, extra points for products with multiple uses! Let’s hear what you got!


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Filed under shopping

Beauty grab-bag: Purple Power

The theme of this post is purple, maybe you love it maybe you hate it, but to me, it’s awesome. I’ve heard purple described as a “juvenile” color before, and it pissed me off. Try telling the royals that purple is juvenile—it’s their signature color, ok? To me, Purple always felt edgier than pink. It’s can be girly, but it can be regal, and it can be dark and gothy too. I love all shades from lavender to eggplant, I like it on my clothes, I like it on my eyelids, I like it on my nails, it can be a neutral or it can be a statement, and since it’s comes from mixing blue and red, it’s flattering on pretty much every skin tone.

Sephora tells me Purple is the hot color for fall, and I’m like “duh!” that’s why I chose it for my wedding!

Here’s a blueberry pie I baked this morning, I thought it looked really purple and pretty as I was making it, it doesn’t look as purple when it’s baked, but I look forward to eating it anyway.

Also my future sister-in-law, Alison, sent me this beauty finds story, and it involves purple shoes so it applies! Here’s what she says:

“It is a sad day when you realize that you might have to start wearing actual shoes again, time to bid farewell to the carefree days of flip-flops and sandals. I have so much trouble finding fat shoes that don’t pinch my toes or gape at the sides, that was until I wandered into Nine West, I was hoping to find some sandals on clearance for next year but instead I found these great suede flats an amazing price. They were marked $24.95 but if you buy 2 you get one pair half-off, so for less than forty bux, these comfortable, cute shoes are all mine”

I might have to seek those babies out and try them! Don’t forget to send me any beauty buy suggestions and I’ll feature them, we want to see what you buy, especially if you get it for a good price!

I’ve been obsessively looking for a cute pair of purple flats to wear at my wedding reception once I inevitably get sick of (or fall off of) of my 4 inch heels. Here are some I’ve been looking at:

These are from Frye, and while I love Frye boots and sandals, I’ve never had good luck with their flats for some reason. If i got them I’d have to start breaking them in ASAP,

They’re on Zappos for a steep $148

These are from Yoox.com (which I’ve never ordered from) and they’re cute, but still a little pricey at $98 and of course you never know if they’ll be horribly painful!

These are from blowfish and are available on Zappos for $40.00—but would they be comfy for dancing?

Or of course I could just go for these, because I already know they’re comfy, still $40 though.

Anyway, purple is super hot this fall, so I’ve put together a polyvore collage of pretty much anything that’s purple and cute. Also check back here tomorrow for Beauty in the movies this week we feature the cult classic Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, it’s a great movie and it’s gonna be good!

perfect purples by justinez featuring Alexander McQueen dresses

Womens Miso Ruffle Pants
4.99 GBP – republic.co.uk
More intimates »

Propose a Toast Heel
$35 – modcloth.com
More pumps »

Julie’s Dainty Purple Flower Ring
$17 – fantasyjewelrybox.com
More rings »

Echo Purple Candles
$6.95 – crateandbarrel.com


32″ Lavender Swirl Paper Parasol
$6.50 – asianimportstore.com


OPI Rumple’s Wiggin’
shareasale.com


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Filed under acceptance

Whoops! Elle Actually Does Care What I Have to Say

There is some back story to this post, it all started with one of my first posts on this blog. I wrote about a letter I sent to the editors at Elle about how pissed-off I was about a piece of advice given by their resident advice-giver, E-jean. You can check out the original post and the letter I wrote to the editor here. You can also check out the angry rant I wrote after I received the July issue of Elle, and not only had my letter failed to be included, but there were zero negative, or even lukewarm, letters printed at all. As you can tell by that post I was pretty annoyed at Elle and fed-up with magazines in general. So when I received my August issue, I tossed it on the coffee table without glancing at it, and there it sat—until yesterday.

I had a lazy Sunday, I was blown out from attending Meatfest the day before, it’s an annual BBQ and ode to succulent, fattening, tasty meat held by my sister and her boyfriend. I ate a “bacon explosion” which consists of bacon, sausage, and cheese, all rolled-up, covered in spices, and smoked until delicious. I ate lamb chili, and tried hard to forget I was eating baby sheep because it was so damn amazing. I ate a lot, and for the occasion I made cornbread covered in bacon, and I ate some of that too.

Anyway, I overindulged, and I spent the next day recovering. My day involved a few accidental naps, some aspirational internet shopping, and a lot of in-depth vegging. It seemed a good time to finally put a dent in the accumulation of magazines on my coffee table. I grabbed the August Elle, and after reading the same old crap about Drew Barrymore and some boring stuff about home hair color, I flipped to the “letter to the editor”, or “mail bonding” as they call it, page to see if they had any less-than-positive readers this month. A negative letter caught my eye, and I spotted the name “E.Jean” and thought “Alright! At least someone got to have their thoughts about this lady put in print”. As I continued reading the letter sounded strangely familiar, and I almost fell off the couch when my sluggish meat-infused mind put it all together and I saw my name in print. I squealed, and then I thought “whoopsie! Maybe I should have held off on my little rant”.

Here it is, highlighted in pink, click the image to view it larger.

I can’t say that I’m not a bit embarrassed, but I’m really glad they printed my letter, so thanks Elle! That being said, I stand by most of my rant, but I may not cancel my subscription just yet because I’m still a total sucker for pages like this:

Pretty isn’t it? A good makeup collage can mend all wrongs (well not really, but it doesn’t hurt). Makeup is the only thing in the pages of Elle that I can even remotely afford anyway, so I have to hold on to something. I’m super psyched that Elle published my letter, and I hope that if enough people continue to speak their minds, I’ll actually be able to relate to some of the stuff they publish. For the moment I can say that I enjoy looking at the cosmetics pages, and maybe one day Elle will catch-on that most of the women who read their magazine would like fewer items that are “Priced upon request” and more that are available at say Forever 21 or Macy’s.

As for Ms. E. Jean, I still think it’s about time for her to retire, and if Elle needs a new advice columnist—well, I’m currently available.

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Filed under acceptance

Beauty Grab Bag Fun-Time Vacation Day

I’m taking a break from well thought out posting today because I am overwhelmed with a long list of things to do which I keep putting off since I like writing this blog so much more than doing important stuff. I need to take care of some of those important things today so instead I am bringing you a potpourri of silly things, you can probably expect more posts like this as my wedding approaches and I start to panic.

Here’s a picture of a pretty new Orly nail polish I bought last week, it’s a mini bottle called it’s up to blue and was only $2.50 at CVS, it reminds me of mermaids, and I’ve been loving metallics recently, so I love it.


Here’s a funny video of the most amazing cat on the internet, if you haven’t seen him before check it out, his name is Winston and his owner is Rich, who writes a funny blog, and I’ve never seen another cat like him. I recommend watching it until the end if you think cats are funny.

He’s pretty amazing no? He also sleeps in a wooden bowl on the kitchen counter so he can guard his bananas, you think I’m kidding? Watch this:

Here is a pretty picture of chrysanthemums, it’s wedding inspiration for me.

I’ll leave you with a polyvore collage of cute stuff from modcloth, just for fun. I hope to see you back here tomorrow for Beauty in the Movies, this week we feature one of my favorites—Volver. It gets better every time you see it, so don’t forget to check back here to read more about it!

9 Comments

Filed under accessories, cosmetics

Breasts, Boobs, Jugs, Knockers, Whatever You Call ’em—Let’s discuss…

This post was originally going to be about bra shopping, but I decided to make it more basic than that, because as much struggle as I’ve had shopping for bras, I’ve had a lot of trouble just dealing with breasts too, and I have to talk about that first. This subject might seem a tad vulgar to some, but it shouldn’t, because we all have them right? I mean, even men have boobs, so there really shouldn’t be any shame in talking about them, especially since most women have spent a portion of their lives thinking about having them, or not having them, or how to keep them from sagging, or why they grow, or shrink, or provide nourishment, or become infected with disease. Our breasts and our relationships to them make up a large part of being a woman for a number of reasons.

I’m busty, I developed pretty young, I am embarrassed to talk about it, but when I think about it, that seems silly since it’s something I had absolutely no control over. When I was ten my mom finally bit the bullet and told me I needed to start wearing a bra to play soccer, and I know she was long past due in that conversation. I was trying pretty hard to ignore my chest, especially since I was the only girl I knew with visible breasts at that age. It’s why I could never relate to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret., it’s why I hated that book, particularly because I kept being told to read it. I hated stupid Margaret and how she thought boobs and periods were so great, because I wanted nothing more than to make them both go away so I could go back outside with my super-soaker and play until the street lights came on.

By Jr. High School I had started wearing a minimizer because I was embarrassed of my chest. Finally, I just said “screw it”, and at my ninth grade promotion dance I wore a delightfully goth brocade dress with insane cleavage, and I was proud. That is until I actually got to the dance and saw my peers, then I covered myself with a shawl for the rest of the night, but you know, it was still a statement for me at the time. I wish I had thrown off that shawl and made no apologies for my risqué ensemble, but I wasn’t there yet. I’ve gone through phases of showing and not showing cleavage and usually I feel more comfortable showing less. After working in an office for a few years I learned that if a woman shows cleavage, she is unfortunately not taken seriously at all. Which sucks, because if I saw a woman rocking some cleavage at a meeting I’d think “damn straight, wear that low-cut top, you look awesome!” but at the same time I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing it myself. I know I’d feel the same way about a man who came in wearing incredibly tight pants, I think it’s great, but it’s not for me, and why should I care what someone else wears anyway?

It drives me nuts when people talk about boobs being distracting, because first off—control yourself, and second off, if you can’t look at a woman’s breasts and focus on what she is saying at the same time, you don’t only need to work on your self-control, you need to work on your multitasking. I can do it, I think women check each other out all the time, but then you look away, do it covertly, quickly, and be respectful. If I wear a low-cut top I know some people are going to look, and I’m not going to get pissed off about it, because we tend to hide our parts away so often that when we do show them, people stare, and I understand that. But you can also be polite, there’s a difference between a cursory glance and a glaring, perverted, unapologetic ogle. I hate when I see a girl in the subway tugging at her shirt to hide her cleavage, but that’s why I don’t wear low-cut tops. I hate that there are some people who think showing skin is an open invitation to stare, that it somehow forfeits basic courtesy.

When I do wear a low-cut top, I’m usually not doing it to be sexy, most of the time I do it because I have a cute new dress or top and I just don’t want to wear a camisole under it. Maybe I don’t have one that matches, or it just ruins the line of the dress, or it’s a million degrees outside, or maybe I’m just sick of it! If my boobs are prominently displayed, especially if it’s out in the city, I usually end up regretting it, because I don’t feel comfortable, or I don’t like being stared at. And I’m not saying “oh woe is me, I’m just so beautiful people can’t look away”. If you have ever taken the subway late at night (or even during the day) in any large city, you know it doesn’t take more than a crack of cleavage or a normal knee-length skirt to incite pervy stares.

Obviously a lot of women would like larger breasts, some get implants, or padded bras, and I’m not complaining here, I love my breasts, but it’s other people’s reactions to them throughout my life that have altered my feelings for them. I do like the way my cleavage looks, so maybe I’ll try to show it off more, because why not? I hate that us well-endowed ladies are taught to be embarrassed so early in our lives. I’ll never forget walking down the street in Manhattan with my parents when I was around eleven years old and having a guy shout out “can I get some fries with that shake?” I didn’t even know what it meant, but I knew to be mortified.

I always wonder if women who get implants feel more comfortable showing cleavage, maybe it’s just a personality thing. I hate that I let what I wear be dictated by other people’s reaction to my boobs, but that’s what is considered “decent” and as much as I try not to give a crap what others think, sometimes I just don’t want to deal with worrying about it, so I cover up. I know other women have these problems, I’m sure that small breasted women have this problem all the time too, because it extends to all of us, and it’s not just our breasts either. Somehow showing your body in our society has become an open ticket for tactless torment, and not just by men, there are plenty of women who see showing cleavage as brazen and slutty, and I’m not sure why, I just wish it would stop.

So what’s the solution? Should we all just show what we want, ignore the stares, and screw what everyone else thinks? Should we cover up to avoid uncomfortable ogling? I think it’s a personal choice, but I wish it wasn’t a choice that was so powerfully influenced by the reactions of others, and I can’t help but hope one day it won’t be.

9 Comments

Filed under acceptance

The Twilight Saga: Hate It, Love It, Deal With It

Let me start by saying that I love vampires. I started reading Anne Rice novels at age eleven (even though I didn’t understand half of them, especially the dirty parts) and I might be the biggest Buffy fan you’ll ever meet. I’ve always loved stories about vampires, fantasy, and supernatural stuff, so I had to read Twilight. I tore through those books in about a week, and I enjoyed them, they’re great escapist fantasy, and the real pull (as with a lot of good fiction) is finding out what happens next. They’re predictable, but if you’re like me, sometimes you can’t help but want to see if you’re right about your predictions.


On Friday my fiance and I were supposed to go see Inception, but he surprised me and bought tickets for Twilight Eclipse instead. I’ve made him sit through the last two movies with me, and I really wasn’t going to ask him to see the third because upon re-watching, the second film New Moon is incredibly slow-moving and at times painful in its awkwardness. Eclipse is better, and it has prompted me to write a Twilight post, because it just had to happen. I’m not going to say I think Twilight is brilliant, but I’m also not going to say it’s total crap, because I really don’t believe either of those things are true. It is however, no matter what you think of it, an undeniable phenomenon, and although I know it has been talked about, and talked about, I’m going to talk about it some more. There are spoilers below, but only if you haven’t seen the first two films, or if you care to see the films at all.

The Twilight Saga is a series of four books written by Stephenie Meyer, the novels are world-wide bestsellers with over 100 million copies sold. If you have managed to avoid the news stories, the tabloid coverage of the film’s stars, or the television in general, let me give you a brief summary of Twilight giving as little away as possible.

A boring, typical, teenage girl, Bella Swan, moves to Forks Washington (the rainiest town in America) to live with her father, Charlie, who is the sheriff.

Bella likes headbands and Romeo and Juliet, and I’m not sure what else because what she really likes, more than anything is Edward Cullen, a boy she meets on her first day at Forks High School. Edward is a vampire, he is beautiful, and brooding, and he can read people’s thoughts, everyone’s—except Bella’s. Oh, and he sparkles in the sunlight, making him not so much a scary vampire.

After lots of intense staring, some lip-biting, and heavy breathing, they fall deeply in love and he introduces her to his vampire family. They like to dress in color coordinating outfits, specifically in shades of blue and gray.

The Cullens love Bella, they don’t eat her (or anyone else) because they subsist on large animals, which makes them friendly vampires. There are vampires who kill humans though, the leaders of these vampires are called the Volturi, they also like to dress in matching outfits.

While Bella is dealing with loving a vampire, she finds out her best friend Jacob Black is a werewolf, as are some of his peers in the Quileute tribe of which he is a member. Jacob also loves Bella and can’t wear shirts because they make him itchy.

There is a love triangle, more intense staring, and loads of teenage yearning while Bella gets herself into trouble over and over, constantly needing to be rescued. Werewolves hate vampires, and Bella is caught between, and that’s pretty much what you need to know.

So, now that we’ve covered that, let me get down to it. Bella is often called an anti-feminist character, she shows little if no strength, she is constantly being saved by, or in need of saving by, a handsome dominating male. The only real thing we know about Bella is how much she loves Edward. Of all the characters in Twilight she is given the least dimension. Everything she does is motivated by her love for Edward, she is willing to give up anything for him, her body, her life, and her soul. In the process she is knocked around and fought over like, for lack of a better word, an object. It’s obvious why she isn’t a great role model for young girls. The story isn’t really about Bella anyway, it’s about the fantasy of being “special”.

I truly believe that Twilight is a teenage girl’s fantasy. The daydreams I had as a teenager, and I think were shared by many, of meeting someone who plucked you out of the masses, who was interesting themselves, and declared you different and interesting too. Really the whole idea of Bella is that she is somehow special, despite being completely ordinary and otherwise uninteresting. There is no other evidence or reason for Bella’s specialness aside from Edward’s interest in her.

We know that Edward plays piano, we know that Jacob is an amateur mechanic, but Bella doesn’t seem to have a hobby. She cooks for her dad and she does her homework. On the HBO series True Blood, which is based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, Sookie finds herself in a very similar situation to Bella—but she fights, she’s tough, and she learns how to take care of herself, in other words, she has a personality. She is driven by far more than her love of her suitors, and the love triangle she is stuck in is partially because she gets pissed that both men treat her like an object, so she’s conflicted about both of them. The character of Bella is like a void, she is a blank slate that any girl can project herself onto, and I think that is part of what has made Twilight the phenomenon it has become.

I don’t think it’s that Sookie is braver than Bella, or that she is saved any less than Bella, but she is fully flesh to us. It’s that Sookie talks about her life, all the little details of it, in a very personal and realistic way. Of course she is supposed to be about seven years older, but there are plenty of teenage characters who manage to feel real to us on paper. For a story that is told in a first person narrative, Bella’s decisions and inner dialogue seem to repeat a loop of “Edward, Edward, Edward“. Bella loves Edward so deeply that she is fully prepared to give up her life and family—fake her own death essentially, in order to be with him.

In the film Eclipse there is a scene where Bella, who at this point is expecting to be bestowed eternal life by Edward, says her last goodbye to her mother (although her mother has no idea). While watching the scene I was surprised by the ease of it, It touched me only because I was thinking how difficult it would be for myself in that situation. The scene isn’t an error in translation from book to film, the treatment of Bella’s determination to be made vampire is almost glossed over with just a few—”oh, I’ll miss my parents” thrown in there. I’ve read a lot of fantasy, and usually when a similar choice comes about (which it so often does) the protagonist chooses against it, because it’s just too painful and wrong somehow, or they have their hand forced and live to regret it, but Stephenie Meyer gives the teenage girl inside of us that forbidden choice, and barely even takes note of the hardship that truly comes with it.

It’s lovely to live in a fantasy where you can give yourself over completely to another world, forgetting those you leave behind, or better yet, managing to have it all at once without consequence, but there is something about it that just rings false. Life is painful, and the decisions we make when we’re young can sometimes be so damaging that we spend the rest of our lives regretting them. There is so little real threat in the Twilight saga, the werewolves and the vampires warm up to each other almost too quickly (too bad Capulet and Montague didn’t have to battle an army of vampires) and it’s nice that they work things out, but it’s just too easy.

Feminism is all about choice, so I can’t call Bella an anti-feminist character, I may not agree with the choices she makes, but she (and Stephenie Meyer) have the right to make them, and that right should be protected rather than condemned. I still couldn’t feature Twilight in my weekly Beauty in the Movies post, because although though the films can generally pass the Bedchel test, I can’t get behind Bella as a role model, I’m a child of the Buffy generation, and I think there is more to being a woman than just choosing who to love, even if it can be fun to read about it.

I tried for a long time to justify Twilight as a valid piece of literature with a real message, just because I wanted to believe that a story that resonates so deeply with so many people must be more than just a happy accident. But here’s the thing, I really think that’s all it is. I think Stephenie Meyer stumbled on something, and though she is obviously talented in that she could  sit down and write four novels (all her haters, where are your bestselling novels, huh?) I don’t think the real message of Twilight is useful for anyone. As much as I’ve heard fans of the series try to justify the message as meaningful—the vampires and werewolves show tolerance for each other, or Bella finds acceptance in a world where she feels like an outsider, the message that really, undeniably jumps off the page, is that when you love someone you sacrifice everything, even if it changes who you are—just because you love them, no matter the consequence. We all love happy endings, but the stories that resonate deeply are the ones where something was gained and lost, or at least learned. I can’t say that Twilight gives you any of those things, but that doesn’t make it crap.

Twilight taps into a part of our collective unconscious, or at least mine and loads of teenage girls. It seems to resonate in some way, it’s deeply escapist and obviously romantic. It’s a love triangle, a battle of fire and ice, vampire vs. werewolf, chastity vs. sin, and of course Edward vs. Jacob. More than anything it’s a good story, but it’s not Romeo and Juliet, or Harry Potter, or Buffy, all those stories involve complex sacrifices, growth, pain that can’t be mended, and choices that are so hard it’s almost unbearable—and that’s what makes them transcend the realm of fantasy, what makes them human, and what makes us feel a part of them.

Oh my gosh I could go on about this forever, but I’m not sure if people are interested. So let me know if you are—hate Twilight so much you’re pissed I even brought it up? Let me know! Love Twilight so much you hate me for saying anything bad about it? Let me know too!

Also, why is it that the werewolf has a waxed chest and the vampire who is supposedly made of stone, has very visible chest fuzz? Thoughts? Anyone?

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Beat the Summer Gross

If you live in the New York City area, you’ve been either sweating your butt off for the past couple of weeks, or adding money to your electric bill by cranking the AC day and night. Earlier this month records were broken from Central Park to La Guardia Airport. Just this past weekend more heat records were set across the area, and we still have another 2 weeks of July. Even when records aren’t being broken, the temperature has been sitting at an average of 90 degrees each day, so it’s hard not to feel like this:

Maybe you’re one of those people who thrive in the heat, who soak up the suns rays with pleasure and feel invigorated by the sweat—if that’s you, I’m in total awe.

If you see a girl looking sweaty, angry, tired, sunglasses slipping down her nose, a halo of frizz around her head, blisters on her feet, and using her skirt as a means to fan herself, well that’s probably me. I was not made for the heat, I am of hearty eastern European and Irish stock, I flourish in winter and was born in December, heat and humidity have always felt foreign and unbearable to me.

What drives me nuts about the heat is that you can’t escape it, the air just bears down on you. When you’re cold you can add on more layers, drink hot tea, start a fire, snuggle up with a buddy, do some vigorous exercise—you have some (usually inexpensive) options besides turning up the thermostat. When it’s nearly 100 degrees outside and the air is wet with humidity, all you can do is turn on the AC, or bathe yourself in cold water.

What’s worse is dealing with the back and forth between superficially freezing places like office buildings or supermarkets and the baking heat of the outdoors, it makes you nauseous. Then you have the constant worry of bringing a sweater wherever you go, and having to carry it around since it won’t fit in your bag—and maybe you should just bring a bigger bag, ugh, frustrating.

I recently read in a magazine (I have no idea which one, I can’t keep them straight at this point) that around 75% of women feel more beautiful in the summer, I found that sort of shocking. I guess it makes sense when you think about it, people work out more because you end up showing off your body more, and if you tan then you feel better about yourself too. For me though, the summer means frizzy hair, shiny skin, visible sweat stains and eww—chafing.

Chafing is gross, and while it’s stigmatized as something that only happens if you’re overweight, it can happen to anyone at anytime. It occurs from sweating and rubbing and it can happen anywhere on your body. It can even happen on your feet when you’re wearing cute new sandals and decide that even though you haven’t broken them in, it will probably be OK to walk around the city in them all day—big mistake.

The summer makes me long for socks, and boots, and comfy sweaters, but come February it will be a different story. Anyway, it’s hard enough to bear the dumbing heat, but trying to look attractive on top of it—who even cares? Unfortunately there are also a lot of events in the summer; parties, BBQs, weddings, and when you attend these events you want to feel you’re looking your best. So, I’ve put together a list of a some products that help keep me feeling human when I can’t sit around the house in my underwear with the fan blowing on me.

If you’re going to wear make-up in the summer, you have to be prepared for it to slide off your face, so what I suggest is a tinted moisturizer with SPF because it’s very light and gives you sun protection too. Now the problem for me is that I’m incredibly pale, so even the “fair” shade in most tinted moisturizers is too orange for me. I don’t think I’m alone here, a lot of these products only come in 1-3 shades and people come in a lot more shades than that. Laura Mercier makes this one in a variety of shades, it has a nice light coverage, but is a bit pricey, there is also an oil free version available.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, $42 for 1.5 oz.

I like to make my own tinted moisturizer by using my normal moisturizer and mixing it with concealer. This way you have control over how light you want your coverage to be, and it’s much cheaper. You can just mix it together on your hand and then apply it, or you can get fancy and actually mix it up in a container, just make sure it’s well sealed.

M.A.C Studio finish SPF 35 concealer, $16.50

Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15, Fragrance Free, $11.49 for 4 fl oz

I’ve spoken before about my love of powder, specifically Lush dusting powders, but they’re $11.95 for 3.5 oz and in the summer I go through powder fast. I always keep this Johnson & Johnson powder on hand because it’s inexpensive and with the lavender and chamomile scent you won’t have to smell like a baby either.  If you dust yourself with this stuff after a shower you will stay smelling sweet and you’ll minimize sweat too!

Johnson’s Baby Baby Powder, Lavender & Chamomile, $5.49 for 22 oz.

Frizz is the enemy. During the summer months it can be completely unavoidable, but I’ve found that if I use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, and then while my hair is wet I work in an anti-frizz finishing creme, I manage to keep the poof under control. I also give my hair a blast of ice-cold water right before I jump out of the shower, it’s supposed to seal the cuticles and increase shine or something, also the cold water feels invigorating when it’s this hot out. I’ve also decided that the Fekkai glossing conditioner is worth the hefty price tag, because it really works. I’m still on a quest to find a conditioner that works as well for less money. That all sounds complicated, but avoiding frizz is a battle people!

John Frieda Frizz-Ease Secret Weapon Flawless Finishing Creme, $5.99 for 4 oz.

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Shampoo, $35 for 16 oz

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Conditioner, $35 for 16 oz

Nexxus Humectress Luxe Ultimate Moisturizing Leave-In Spray, $11.49 for 5.1 fl. oz.

Remember when I mentioned chafing? Yeah, it happens whether you want to admit it or not, and Aquaphor ointment is a great way to sooth yourself after you’ve fallen victim to the rub. I love this stuff, it is great for chapped skin in the winter, chafed skin in the summer, burns, small cuts, even bug bites.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment $5.99 for 1.75 oz.

This one is more for after you’ve been in the heat and you’ve forgotten your sunscreen and are now suffering from a painful and unattractive sunburn. When you get home from the beach or a walk in the park and notice that your skin is turning a brighter and brighter shade of pink each moment, you’ll be very glad you bought some aloe gel and put it in your fridge. My mom always kept a bottle in our fridge year round, and it remains to be one of the most comforting things for a bad sunburn, you can also just put it on if you’re really hot, anything helps right?

Up & Up Green Aloe Gel, $3.49 for 16 oz.

Lastly, but most importantly—put your hair up! Seriously, this seems like a no brainer, but when I see girls with their long hair sticking to the back of their necks, it instantly makes me feel hotter. I think sometimes we’re willing to sweat our butts off and be miserable to avoid ponytail bumps in our hair. But for real, this instantly cools you down, unless you’re lucky and can sport a cute short hair cut, then you have us all beat!

Goody Ouchless Hair Elastics, $2.99 for 14 pieces

I’d love to hear what other tips people have for managing to feel human when you really just want to seek out the nearest air conditioner. Please give me more tips, I need them!!

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Finding the Beautiful

I’ve touched on this before and it’s part of the whole idea for this blog, so I wanted to do a post specifically about feeling beautiful. It seems that feeling beautiful and being beautiful are completely different things. You can see a woman in a fashion spread in perfect make-up with glossy hair and thousands of dollars worth of designer clothes, but if you ask her, there is a pretty good chance she will tell you she doesn’t feel beautiful. She might be dying to get home to her cooking, or her husband, or her dogs, or somewhere else that turns the world into a place where she feels like she fits into it, even if she is wearing sweats.

That’s the funny thing about beauty, it happens in the most unexpected of places. I’ve had days when I spent hours trying to make myself look beautiful so I would feel confident (see yesterday’s post), sometimes it works, but it’s an external form of “beautiful”. Then there are days I’ll be working for hours on a project, I haven’t showered or even noticed my hair, and I’m probably still in my pajamas, maybe with a dirty painting apron thrown on top, and I stop to look in the mirror, before my brain even lets me think something else, I feel beautiful. Of course that is a rare occasion, usually I take a whiff of myself and march right into the shower, but it happens. When I have that rare moment of beauty, I know it has nothing to do with the actual face staring back at me, it’s that I’m at a point where it doesn’t matter, because I’m more concerned with something else I love doing.

I think if you asked most women “when do you feel most beautiful?” they would give you responses that didn’t have much to do with physical beauty. After hours of plucking, curling, dyeing, brushing, and smearing on makeup we often feel like we’re in a costume, but we don’t truly feel beautiful, it’s more like playing a part. I’m sure actresses must feel like this all the time, and when they actually might be feeling beautiful, like when they’re walking around with their kids or something, then they get slapped on the cover of Us weekly for the regular “Gross: Celebs Without Makeup” article.

We are conditioned to think that we can’t be beautiful if we don’t meet certain criteria, or at least try our hardest to look like we’re making an effort, but what sucks is that it keeps us from noticing when we actually do feel beautiful. That’s not to say that it doesn’t help sometimes. I’ve watched What Not to Wear and been so moved when you can see someone finally getting to feel beautiful, and it’s all because of external stuff. I don’t think there is anything wrong with feeling beautiful because you’re all dolled-up, there are situations where that is exactly what we need, but I think we tend to forget that there are other things that make you feel beautiful too.

I posed the question to myself, and it can be a hard one to answer. If I have a new outfit that I think looks awesome, or I just got my haircut, or found a great lipstick, it can give me a huge confidence boost and it’s easy to feel beautiful. I feel the most beautiful though when I’m in my element, when I’m doing something I love, creating something, or just singing to myself in my own world. When you notice moments like that, it’s like you catch yourself, and it’s perfect. You don’t need a mirror, or a good picture, or validation from someone else, because you know how you feel, and that’s all that matters.

I know this seems like a small thing, but feeling beautiful is something that everyone deserves, I hate that we narrow down the definition so much that I can’t even remember what it’s supposed to feel like if it isn’t attached to a product.

It’s weird because all these studies show that what really makes people attractive is confidence, and I bet it’s probably true, but that isn’t what anyone is actually selling, it’s just a gimmick. Magazines, TV shows, what they’re really selling are tools that will help you think you’re confident, or give you confidence that is tied to something external. Real confidence is the feeling that what you have to offer is valuable, and that you’re crucial to this world in some way, even if it is small. I think that is the real “beauty” everyone is always talking about, it’s self-worth, and I think so many of us are really lacking in it.

I don’t now what makes confident people confident, I truly believe a lot of it is genetics and personality, but I do think confidence is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight, it shows up in fits and starts, always being punched back down by our nasty inner voice. When I’m doing what I love, or with the people I love, that voice just drops away.

When you paint or draw, you have to be confident. If I think about that line before I draw it, it’s going to be sloppy. When I just give in and turn off my mind, that confidence kicks in. I think at times we even take that confidence for granted because it comes so easily. I imagine that’s what it takes to be a tight-rope walker, you just have to release all that fear and know that you can do it. There is so much beauty in being able to let go, to give in, and let yourself have the freedom to feel that gorgeousness that can come rushing in. Beauty isn’t something you need to get, or make, it’s something you already have, you just need to find it.

Ok, so that last bit is a little cornball, but I don’t mind. My point is that we need to shift our idea of “beautiful”, because it keeps us from noticing when we actually do feel great about ourselves. I know there is that old adage that if everyone is beautiful than no one is beautiful, but sorry, beauty doesn’t work like that. The whole idea of beauty is something that is pleasing in any way, it has no absolute definition, and it exists in each one of us—old, young, man, woman, tall, short, chubby, or slim, it doesn’t matter.

So I ask, what really makes you feel beautiful? There is nothing to be ashamed of if it is a product, but I want to know for real, what makes you feel like there is beauty everywhere and that you’re a part of it, inside, outside and all around?

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Your Body is Not a Fruit

The other day I was looking through images to use as reference and I stumbled across this illustration, I’m not sure who it was done by:

It was featured with an article about how it’s important to know your body shape in order to be a snazzy dresser and “know your flaws” or some such advice that doesn’t seem like anything new, but it struck me how flipping annoying it is that we’re always focusing on the shapes of women. In case you don’t know, let me give you the breakdown:

If you have broad shoulders and a narrow waist you’re called “apple-shaped”, because some apples look like this.

If you have wide hips and a smaller chest and shoulders, you’re “pear-shaped”, because you see, pears look like this.

If you have more of a straight body, then you get to be a “banana”, lucky you.

And if you’re super lucky and have a small waist but a generous bust and hips, then you get to be the very coveted “hourglass” shape.

If you’re not as lucky you don’t get to be a fruit, or even a time measurement device, you just get to be a “circle”. See that girl all the way on the right in the illustration up on top? Notice how she is the only one with a different face and legs? If you’re overweight your body apparently has no real shape rather than “round”, isn’t that nice?

The shapes and fruits are always changing, in the July issue of Glamour there is advice for how to wear flattering shorts, and the categories are pear-shaped, plus-sized, and petite.

(Click to see larger image)

I know Glamour is trying, but to me this page says, “if you’re pear-shaped or plus-sized and going to wear shorts, you should stick to dark colors and a loose fit so nobody will actually notice that you’re wearing shorts. If you’re petite, only wear short-shorts because they make you look tall”— so what do you do if you’re petite and not comfortable showing that much leg? Or what if you’re petite but plus sized also, quelle surprise!

That is yet another problem, there can’t be only these five shapes can there? With so many millions of women, how can we fall into so few categories? I’ll use myself as an example, I would be a pear-shape in that my lower half is at least two sizes bigger than my upper half, but I also have a big bust, and a small waist, what does that make me then? All humans are so diverse in so many ways that we should know by now that we can’t be classified, and all that happens when we do is further separate ourselves from each other—and that is how wars start people! Ok, it’s not that serious, but in a way it is.

So I ask you, does it really help to look in the mirror and remind yourself, “well I’m a banana shape, so I’d better strap this here belt around my waist to give the illusion that I don’t actually look the way I look?” I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, everyone should dress however makes them feel good. If wearing a belt to give yourself more of a waist makes you feel feminine, that is fabulous, but as I always seem to be repeating, it shouldn’t be a mandate. Also, it’s depressing to constantly be beating yourself (and all of us) over the head with these rules.

You see, I don’t like my body compared to fruit, I don’t like my body compared to inanimate objects, or shapes, or you know what? I don’t like comparing my body to anything or anyone. I hate labels that are perpetuated by magazines or given as advice on reality shows as a way to help people dress to accentuate their assets. I know that the people who use these classifications have the best intentions, but they really don’t mean anything. I’ve never met anyone who was helped by being told they were a pear or banana-shape, it doesn’t make you feel better about yourself or your body, it’s just another label, and I am so sick of labels.

Why do we feel the need to put everything in categories? It can be fun sometimes, when it comes to astrology, or numerology, but those things are defined by the day you were born, not the way you look. People love the zodiac because you can take an ancient system of symbols and personality traits and see how you fit up against it, or how you don’t. I’ve never felt bad when someone has told me I’m a typical (or an atypical) Capricorn, sometimes it’s a little annoying because that’s not all I am, but when someone calls me a pear-shape, that gets me really pissed.

I’ve never seen a man’s body compared to fruit, and they come in all shapes and sizes too. Why not a cucumber shape for those tall lanky guys? Or perhaps a melon shape for the gentleman with a bit of belly? Nope, won’t happen, and it shouldn’t. The last thing I would want to do is make men feel bad about their bodies, it’s bad enough that women have to deal with it. What’s scary is that it seems like that is the direction we’re headed in—everyone gets to be scrutinized. We just can’t stop comparing ourselves to everyone and everything, and it’s incredibly unhealthy.

Why is it that the world thinks women need so much help? It’s true, it can be hard to get dressed some days, and when you have certain parts of your body that you would like to downplay and others that you would like to highlight it helps to know what they are, but usually we already know that don’t we? You live in this body all the time, you know its flaws and its strengths, having them pointed out to you only makes you more self-conscious.

What if you don’t care that you’re a banana shape; what if, god forbid, you like that you have a body with straighter lines rather than curves, what is wrong with that? Why are we made to feel that there is something wrong with our body shape and then told to dress in order to make it look more like another woman’s body—the ideal body shape?

This is just one piece of advice I see repeated over and over again, and it’s become so much a part of the vernacular of fashion that we don’t even think about it anymore. That’s why I’m talking about here, because the whole point of this blog is to put some darts in those conventions, and question where they came from and why we need to have them. So repeat after me:

I am not a fruit, I am a person, and thank goodness for that!

Do any of you like being compared to fruits? let me know!


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