My Belated Resolution: An End to Comparisons

I know making big life resolutions is traditionally reserved for the start of the new year while the start of spring is traditionally reserved for conveniently forgetting all about them but I’ve decided to go ahead and make one anyway. Woo for nonconformity! Or something.

So what’s this untimely promise I’ve made to myself? Hint: it has nothing to do with the gym (I’m not quite that deluded).

I’ve decided…. to stop being jealous. Sounds simple, huh? Or perhaps unrealistic. I know jealousy isn’t something turned off with the well-intentioned flick of a switch. But I do believe it can be done, with effort, over time. Perhaps I should be more specific about the type of jealousy I’m referring to – I’ve decided to stop comparing myself to those around me, for I always seem to do so at the expense of my self-esteem.

I think it might be helpful if I provided some background as to where this resolution originated. Several months ago an acquaintance from university passed away tragically and unexpectedly. I wouldn’t say we were close, he was more a good friend of good friends if that makes any sense. Despite our minimal contact, when he passed away I was close enough to feel the shockwaves. To still feel the shockwaves. To experience that jarring and unexpected grief specific to the loss of someone who had so many of life’s firsts still ahead of them.

In so many ways we equate youth to invincibility – or at least we do while we still consider ourselves young. The various commercials for medications, wrinkle creams, and life insurance resonate only as messages for someone else. Someone with lines around their eyes, cholesterol pills in their medicine cabinet, and a diet that’s replaced Mountain Dew with Metamucil.

When this acquaintance passed away so unexpectedly, I felt for the first time the fraying edges of that cloak of invincibility I had wrapped around myself as a child. Suddenly I became aware of how much I had left to look forward to and how very much I stood to lose, how much there was to be grateful for. This awareness stuck with me for weeks and weeks, cropping up at random moments throughout the day. In one particular instance, I was making my commute home from work when I spied an annoyingly attractive woman across the subway car and had my usual, fleeting moment of jealousy – I wish I had her hair/skin/legs/style. These incidents of comparison – where I hold myself up against another and find myself lacking, are almost as consistent and unconscious as the in-and-out motion of my breathing. Such is the effect of our beauty-obsessed culture, especially evident among women. It is a constant state of being to measure ourselves against the ubiquitous icons of beauty and find ourselves wanting. In this particular moment of envy; however, my newfound sense of perspective kicked in and I was forced to wonder at the pointlessness and absurdity of what I was doing. Sure, this girl may have great legs and Pinterest-worthy hair but I have a supportive network of family and friends, a passport decorated with stamps from around the world, and a warm apartment to retreat to out of this especially bitter winter. While I can’t be sure that this woman isn’t also in possession of these things, I can assuredly state that any one of these things trumps great legs and bouncy hair.

Until recently, I wasn’t even aware of how much I made these comparisons, the same way I’d imagine most women reading this are similarly ignorant. We place ourselves perpetually in competition with other women, as though beauty, poise, and admiration are finite resources we must constantly struggle to retain a share of. It’s not that we’re petty or shallow or undercover masochists, we’re simply byproducts of a culture that has placed youth, beauty, and attention at the apex of desirability. A culture that has taught us to equate our self worth with our sex appeal, to idolize models and treat airbrushed celebrities as achievable standards of what it means to be beautiful.

And truthfully, i’m tired of it. I’m tired of perpetuating a culture that has its priorities so very out of order. I’m tired of feeling my self-confidence shatter to pieces every time I have a major breakout or put on a few pounds. From a rational standpoint, I know that every woman, no matter how gorgeous or confident, has something she’s insecure about. I know that things like intelligence, kindness, wit, and tolerance are far more worthy goals to strive for than sex appeal. I also know that I will no doubt be working on this resolution for the rest of my life. That being said, I’m already noticing a difference.

Now, when some girl with flawless skin and kick-ass style sits next to me on the subway, instead of running the usual depressing checklist in my head of all the ways I am less cool/exotic/clean/schmexy, I instead counter that instinctive comparison with the reminder of something I have to be grateful for. Ok, I could never pull that dress off BUT I’m living in the city I’ve dreamt about since I was twelve. Sure, she somehow escaped puberty with skin like a baby cherub but I’m blessed to be among the depressingly few debt-free college graduates. I realize this all sounds very Hallmark and cliche but it really puts things into perspective. It’s a reality check that not only stops the self-deprecation in its tracks but also includes a healthy dose of gratitude, which is scientifically proven to be one of the most significant contributing factors to overall happiness.

Like I said, I realize that this resolution is more of a process than a decision and I’m aware that my seemingly permanent breakouts will no doubt always induce feelings of inadequacy but I’m determined to give this thing a shot. Things are changing for women across the globe, and in western culture in particular, the calls for realistic beauty standards are becoming ever louder and more powerful. Even the most monumental of cultural shifts start small, with individuals, and I intend to be one of them. It’s time to stop treating beauty as an objective goal and more as a subjective concept. Every person has a beauty unique to them, visual or intangible, and it makes no sense trying to rank one person’s over another’s.

So, I am officially declaring 2014 the year of no more comparisons. Hopefully by the time 2015 rolls around that knee-jerk instinct to measure myself against other people will be well on its way to extinction and my happiness and self-esteem will reflect the change.

If you made it to the end of this marathon post, I am both suitably awed and tentatively hopeful that you found it in some way compelling or interesting. I’d love to hear any thoughts other women/beauty bloggers/humans have on the subject!

P.s. I recognize that this post might seem a wee bit hypocritical on a blog dedicated to all things beauty but I personally feel that beauty products not only help boost self-confidence but are also just plain fun to play around with. It’s all about keeping a healthy perspective.

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Best & Worst: Oscars 2014 Beauty

The Oscars have once again come and gone, leaving us dazzled by the gorgeous gowns, envious of the star-studded selfies, and gutted that Leo once again left the theater without a golden statue. This year, a few beauty choices caught my eye as the movie stars worked the red carpet and after parties and I decided to share my standouts.

BEST USE OF COLOR

Vanity Fair Afterparty, beauty, makeup

Rita Ora is killing it lately with her makeup – did anyone else notice her amazing purple smokey eye at the Grammys? Well Rita outdid herself at the Vanity Fair Oscars Party, sporting an unusual and gorgeous navy smokey eye with a bright yellow inner corner highlight. THAT is how you wear bright eyeshadow, friends. This might be my favorite look of the whole night.

oscars 2014, beauty, makeup

Idina Menzel (sorry, Adele Dazeem), manage to squeeze in a makeup update during her costume change for her “Let It Go” performance. She debuted some seriously cool green eyeliner on stage which worked beautifully to enhance her brown eyes and infuse some edge into her otherwise fairly safe nude gown/soft waves look.

BEST LIP

beauty, oscars 2014

Kerry Washington’s deep raisin lip is perhaps the most talked about lipstick of the night. Not only does the deep tone work beautifully with her coloring, it also pairs perfectly with her cool-toned purple gown to jazz up an otherwise boring look.

oscars 2014 beauty

Emma Watson, could that red lip be any more stunning? It goes perfectly with her effortless, edgy look and works as her sole statement accessory. A perfectly executed red lip. Hats off to you, Hermione.

BEST EYELINER

Oscars 2014 beauty

Olivia Wilde’s dramatic winged eyeliner worked in perfect harmony with her understated Valentino gown. The bold liner application is balanced by a bare under-eye while the use of white eyeliner to sharply define the wing keeps this look clean and modern.

WORST

Oscars 2014 beauty

Ok, I know I may get some heat for targeting America’s golden girl but WHAT is up with those brows, JLaw? Her sparse and un-groomed brows were especially noticeable after she smoked up her shadow for the Oscars after party. This may be because I am a firm believer in the transformative power of a defined eyebrow but I feel they ruined an otherwise stunning makeup look. Was anyone else unable to look beyond the brows?

theBalm Cosmetics 1 Hour Flash Sale – Today! Egad!

THIS IS NOT A DRILL, I REPEAT THIS IS NOT A DRILL (or spam).

flash sale, cosmetics, charity, the balm

I was casually perusing some of my favorite beauty blogs this morning when I came upon this shocker of a press release from theBalm Cosmetics on Vanity Rouge. IS THIS REAL LIFE??? Since Vanity Rouge is one of those super impressive, terribly professional looking beauty blogs and there was an actual press release, I had no choice but to believe it and go running in search of my credit card.

Just to be clear – today, February 7th, theBalm Cosmetics is having a one hour, site-wide flash sale on their website between the hours of noon and 1 pm to benefit Indexed Tuition for children in the Bay Area.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with theBalm, they’re basically a super cool, paraben and cruelty-free cosmetics line that’s been taking the beauty world by storm. Some of their most popular products include the Nude ‘tude Palette, the Meet Matt(e) Nude Palette, Staniac lip & cheek stain, the Mary-Lou Manizer highlighter, and the cult fave blush, FratBoy.

As of publication we have approximately ONE HOUR until the EST hour of the sale commences (1pm). Good luck ladies and happy shopping.

Image credit: theBalm

Low-Funds Lust List #1

I’ve decided to start a new series on Full Coverage, tentatively named “Low-Funds Lust List.”

This is directly inspired by my apparently insatiable need to buy pretty things and my distinct lack of funds with which to do so. New York City will do that to a girl. Basically, I’m hoping that putting products in a blog post instead of a shopping cart will take the edge off my consumer hunger without breaking the bank – like pretend shopping.

This is getting depressing, for so many reasons.

I present to you the inaugural Low-Fund Lust List:

Chloe, Dior, Bobbi Brown, Deborah Lippman, Illamasqua, Benefit

Apparently I’m subconsciously really excited about Valentine’s Day this month because there is a decidedly pink theme going on in the makeup department here.

1. Roses De Chloe – I’m currently head over heels for the original Chloe Eau de Parfum and this version is a more delicate, rose-based scent that would be perfect for ringing in spring.

2. Diorskin Rosy Glow (001 Petal) – Though this blush looks kind of bananas in the pan, the formula is made to react to moisture levels in the skin, adapting to create a radiant, natural, and bespoke flush for the wearer. Drool.

3. Bobbi Brown eyeshadow – Would you believe that I’d never actually worn Bobbi Eyeshadow until this weekend? I tested out Cement from a friend’s gorgeous Navy & Nude palette and was blown away by the buttery, velvet texture and crease-free formula. It doesn’t hurt that Bobbi B is the master of the tasteful neutral either. Shades i’m coveting include Antique Rose, Cement, and Wheat.

4. Deborah Lippman Nail Laquers – I’m practically jumping out of my skin to get ahold of some of these babies. The color and finish selection is bold, gorgeous, and unlike anything else on the market right now. The glitter collection in particular has caught my eye and fave shades include Candy Shop (it’s just so over the top Barbie/cupcake/princess,) Stronger, and Happy Birthday.

5. Illamasqua Cream Pigment (Hollow) – I’m attempting to get into contouring and this seems to be a cult fave for fair skin types aiming for a natural effect.

6. Benefit’s Lollitint – There’s just something about this purpley candy pink that calls to me. I have a sneaking suspicion it’ll be a knockout on pale skin and I’m a sucker for a liquid cheek stain.

Express, ASOS, LBD, fashion, dresses

Once again, apparently I was channeling some Valentine’s Day spirit since I fixated on date night LBDs while perusing my favorite shopping money traps sites.

1. Express Mesh Detail Sheath Dress – This dress, to me, is the epitome of sexy. It’s a perfect balance of demure and sexy that blows slinky and low-cut right out of the water. An ultimate, classy LBD.

2. ASOS Swing Dress with Collar and Drop Armhole – This LBD is about as flattering as it gets. The halter-esque collared neckline slims and streamlines the upper body while the drop armhole keeps the look modern and sexy. Add in the loose, floaty fit that hides a multitude of sins and you’ve got a pretty foolproof LBD.

While I have approximately 8,000 other things I’ve been coveting lately, I thought it best to stop here before things got out of hand. Now I’m off to go convince myself that no one really needs a Dior blush. Maybe If I keep repeating it…

Current Fling: Cinnamon Mini Donuts Candle

candles, frangrance, scents, target, cinnamon, sweet, incense

I’ve made an effort in the past few months to get more into candles. I love the idea of infusing a room with some lovely fragrance and always notice when someone has a candle burning. It just seems to make everything more homey and cozy. My motivation might also secretly  stem from the futile hope that a lovely, girly fragrance would distract visitors from the fact I use my floor as a second closet. It hasn’t worked yet but I remain hopeful.

I’ve always been more drawn to clean or fruity scents like Linen, Lavender, Rain, or Peach. I love a good christmassy candle during the holidays but, on the whole, I prefer my fragrances fresh. Usually those scents like “Frosting” and “Vanilla Cupcake” smell mouthwatering to me for about five minutes at which point they suddenly become overbearing and sickly. But when I spotted an adorable, carnival-themed line of candles at target in tempting flavors such as “cotton candy” and “fresh baked cookies” I had to stop and give them a sniff. When my nose reached “Mini Cinnamon Donuts” I swear I started drooling. It smelled so amazing that, despite my dubious history with sugary scents, I simply had to take it home with me.

This is the loveliest, warmest, most sugary fragrance that makes my whole room smell like a fairy bakery without ever becoming sickly – even when burned for hours at a time. I’m so enamored that I went and bought a spare one pre-move in case the stores in New York didn’t carry them!

Anyway, I know this has nothing to do with beauty but I have been know accidentally wander into shops other than Sephora and MAC so I thought I’d share!

P.s. I realize the picture above is a reed diffuser, not a candle but I couldn’t find the candle anywhere on Target’s website! They seem to be denying their existence – probably to hoard them all for themselves. The scent is the exact same though so It’s not that much of a stretch!

Image Credit: Target.com