Guilty Free

Whenever someone says that something is their “guilty pleasure”, I always ask why they feel guilty about it. If someone takes pleasure in killing animals or setting fires, then yes you probably should feel guilty about that, but if you’re talking about a tv show or song then save your guilt for shit that matters.

These guilty pleasures are usually things derided by society en masse, so it’s a “I should know better” kind of vibe. Like reality television or manufactured pop music, someone can acknowledge that it’s not “high concept” or “high art” and still enjoy it – but feels compelled to feel guilty about it. I know I shouldn’t, but I do! Don’t judge me as I would judge you if the roles were reversed. Why do we do this? Is it simply fear of what others might think, or is it because someone is not able to admit it to themselves for it might go against how they perceive themselves?

If a person, for example, loves rock music and defines themselves as a ‘rock music lover’ then they might describe their love for a Britney Spears song as a ‘guilty pleasure’. Is this because they want to downplay a sincere love for something in their peer group as to not lose respect, or is it because they are so narrowly defining themselves as a ‘rock music lover’ that to admit to themselves they like a pop song would mean potential soul searching?

As one of these reasons is external (appearances to others) and the other is internal (definition of self) then it might be worth looking at how the person presents this so-called guilty pleasure to themselves or how emphatically they might defend it. Do they begrudgingly like it against their better judgement, or embrace it as their ‘failing’? If the former, then maybe we need to question how we are judging things and if the latter then what else is counted among their character flaws.

Perhaps it is not as simple as one or the other but a tangled mess of how society is structured, tribalism, and classism. People are reluctant to venture beyond their self- or world- defined groups and express a passion in a vulnerable way for fear of retribution. This sounds like a dramatic reason behind calling “Real Housewives” your favourite show, but stop and think of what you believed the consequences would be if you did. Potentially, depending on your group, there is a risk of social shunning, being perceived as low-class or low-educated, or admitting to yourself that maybe you weren’t the person you thought you were. I’ve found people don’t like tugging on threads that would lead them down a path of self-evaluation, because there is a fear of what might be found.

I am probably only comfortable yanking on these threads because I’ve been unraveled several times during my brutal therapy sessions. There is enough guilt to go around without using it up on what’s on your playlist, and the world can be so horrible we shouldn’t downplay our pleasures. So fucking embrace what you love, love the person you are who loves it, and let yourself be happy.
There will always be something bigger to feel guilty about, so maybe enjoy what you can.

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Beauty Edition

There are a lot of “cult faves” and hyped products in the beauty world, and while sometimes you can be disappointed there are times when it actually does deserve all the praise. Of course, people are different and just because I love a product doesn’t mean it will work for you in the same way. This is just my personal list of makeup or beauty products that I will cry real tears if they ever get discontinued.

Beauty Essentials-2

 

  1. NYX is perhaps my favourite ‘drugstore’ brand because it’s got a great variety, is good quality, and very affordable. I love many of their products but their lip liner is fantastic, and you can usually find a corresponding lipstick to match. I mention it in particular as they have a shade that matches my natural lip colour per-fect-ly and makes it so I can fill in the scar on my upper lip so nobody can notice.
  2. As a natural blonde, I am well versed in mascara because if you don’t darken those natural blonde lashes people will ask you if you’re feeling faint. If it’s better than sex for real is up to you, but it’s better than any other mascara I’ve tried. The formula is quite thick so definitely one to stick in your bra or waistband to warm up before applying!
  3. Rihanna is not only out there being a talented, funny, sexy, sharp force of nature but she’s also out there bringing us beauty products. Her super inclusive line is friendly to us who lurk on the far ends of the spectrum – light or dark – and actually gets that all undertones are not created equal. My pale AF olive-undertone skin adores it. (Shout out to the Kat Von D line too, which was the first brand that I know of to cater to us Eastern Europeans).
  4. Eye crayons are fantastic because I’m lazy, but finding them that don’t have a sparkle to them is oddly hard. Sometimes I don’t want my eyes to glitter, and Julep (which I found on Amazon) understands that. The Putty shade is the perfect shade for smoothing my eyelids for a nude look.
  5. Oribe (which is pronounced “or-bay” apparently) smells like heaven and all the products of theirs that I’ve tried have been brilliant. This texturizing spray is the shit, and one of the few things that makes my fine hair look thicker and interesting.
  6. The packaging initially made me think it might be a bit gimmicky, and while I haven’t tried the makeup products (except the blur stick) I have found their skin products to be very good. I love the Matcha Toner for easy and smooth application, and how it hydrates my skin really effectively without clogging it up.
  7. Yeah, Glossier has a lot of fans so this recommendation is hardly groundbreaking. I love this moisturizer because it’s so thick and luxurious, applies really well and has a neutral scent.
  8. I get this from my dermatologist, so it’s the only thing on this list that isn’t easy to pick up although it’s not a prescribed product so it’s not hard to get either. SPF is important and this is a light formula that wears very well. It’s not scented and absorbs quickly. There is also a tinted version which I am rather eager to try out!

There were many other products I wanted to include, but wanted to keep the list streamlined for brevity! Sephora blotting papers, The Ordinary Retinols, Guerlain Pearls, La Labo Soap, Oribe Brightening Shampoo + Conditioner, Burts Bees Lipbalm, Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor, and the list goes on!

What are your beauty and makeup essentials?

Style Chameleon: Society Sorcerer

It’s a tea party at Miss Havisham’s manor and you’re all invited. Unpack your fingerless lace gloves, costume jewelry, and best ruffles because the dress code is your best gothic finery. It’s girlie and dark, a tinge of the Elegant Goth Lolita Harajuku look but more understated and wearable. Don’t shy away from jewels or hats, and more is more when it comes to tulle and lace.

Society Sorcerer

There’s a fine line between girl and woman, which the Society Sorcerer look tiptoes along. A debutante in her mother’s art deco finery, heirloom pieces and ruffles. I love the idea of a coven having a debutante ball, with innocent silhouettes in rich fabrics and gems. Look to Helena Bonham Carter, Vivienne Westwood, and Art Deco for inspiration – even some Tim Burton movies have that fancy darkness to them (especially Corpse Bride!) and even some old fairy tales too.

Nodding Blandly

Nostalgia is being peddled as currency, and no generation seems to be immune. Whether it’s the Boomers waxing poetic about a time that wasn’t really that great, or the 90s getting a reboot in the form of movies and fashion – we are all being sold a polished up memory.

As one of the kids born in the 80s, I am part of the generation to graduate into a recession and have Buzzfeed try to lure me with listicles of candy and television shows I should terribly miss. While I certainly share common experiences with those my age, there are some glaringly disjointed experiences I don’t share having grown up poor (by American standards) in another country.

Nodding blandly has become my go-to state when the conversation turns to reminiscing.  It tends to be the case that Americans think if something existed here, it existed everywhere but I can assure you that it is far from true. In all fairness, without having Sky or cable TV as a kid meant I was a little out of the loop in general because of the 4 channels our small TV (that was black and white until I was 6) received, none of them were MTV or Nickelodeon.

Due to the delay in pop culture reaching our shores, I found I had more common touch points with the Americans born 7-10 years before me so I often find myself straddling two generations in a peculiar manner. I don’t resent the American-centric nostalgia I’m sold because this is America and what else would I expect? Generations are generalizations, and I wouldn’t want to be put into a box in any case.

I just want to let other expats and foreign-born America-dwellers to know you are not alone. When a song comes on at a 80s/90s night and you have no idea what it is because despite the whoops around you, it had no success beyond the US: you are not alone. I’ve been there and I know how awkward as fuck it feels. Nod blandly unless you want to hear “oh my god don’t you know this?!” or “but this was such a big hit here!” or “come on, are you sure?”. When the talk turns to actors who were on that totally popular kids show, nod blandly because trust me you don’t really care and the explanation will just open a can of worms to more things you don’t need to know about.

Sometimes it’s worth asking about, because it can explain how and why things are the way they are. However, most of the time it is best to nod blandly and just look it up on the internet later. Nostalgia is a big emotional trigger and it is often easier to look it up without invoking a passionately intense explanation from someone which can sometimes leave you feeling stupid or vaguely unwelcome for asking.

Nod blandly now. Internet later.

Oh, make me over

Browse any drugstore and you will find several eyeshadow palettes that are curated specifically for an eye colour. This one will make your blue eyes pop! This one will bring out the rich tones in your brown eyes! You get the gist.

As someone who likes to take all the help she can get with makeup, I would always give these a once over and search for a palette dedicated to making my grey eyes… be the best grey they can be. However, never have I ever found one. I’ve seen several ones for green eyes which I thought were rarer than grey eyes, and the ones for blue eyes do not translate to grey. Are grey eyes not as common as I thought? Is there a secret vendetta against those of us with cloud-hued peepers? What do you want grey eyes to do in terms of popping or enriching?

Since the jury is still out on that secret vendetta, I decided to do some research and put together some colors that are either scientifically sound via a colour wheel, or are shades that I – a person with grey eyes – have had success with. Grey has so many shades, it was hard to try and encompass them all, so get ready for some trial and error. For what it’s worth, the shade of my eyes is dark grey but they do have the grey-specific ability to look different shades when I wear certain colors or during diverse weather.

gray eyes

The general consensus and advice from beauty and design blogs was as follows:

  1. Purples, blues and greens will bring out the blue tint to your grey eyes.
  2. Warm browns and peaches will highlight any flecks of hazel if you have any (I don’t, sadly. That sounds like a lovely combination!)
  3. Greys and smokey hues are also a winner so go and get that smokey eye! In my experience if you use a grey hue similar to your eye shade, it helps to have a bold eyeliner look to divide them up a bit.
  4. If you want a neutral shadow, but still want to emphasize a tint then use colored eyeliner. I love how just doing your bottom waterline with a tight green line can work wonders on grey eyes.
  5. If you have paler grey eyes, avoid red or pinks.
  6. Your ability to pull off bright shades is not affected by your eye colour but rather your skin tone. I shall leave you to discover what works there!

Of course, this all is nothing compared to needing foundation and skin makeup to be inclusive so I am happy to wait. Especially since I can create my own now! If only foundation shades were so easy and readily available!