Last week Alicia Keys opened up and declared that she was embracing going sans makeup. In a personal and moving essay for Lenny, Keys explained why she was no longer going to wear makeup. In the essay, she equates wearing makeup to covering up her face, mind, soul, thoughts, dreams, etc. She ties makeup to the world sending the message that you’re not good enough as you are and an unrealistic expectation of perfection. I’ve never walked in her shoes. I’m just a plain, ordinary girl from rural Missouri, not a powerhouse of a musical talent from New York. I can’t crawl inside her head or her life and live her feelings, but I can say this: I respectfully disagree with Alicia Keys.
I do agree with her to an extent. There is absolutely a pressure on girls from an early age to fit into some sort of societal or cultural idea of what is “pretty” at that moment in time. When I was a kid it was permed hair, and stonewashed jeans worn tight before the 80s gave way to the 90s and the look went much more natural. I remember begging my mother for a particular outfit at the store, not because I was all that partial to it, but because it was what the girls I admired at school wore. It was what was in style. My mother, smart woman that she was, didn’t get it for me. Instead, she made me a whole batch of sweatshirts herself that I paired with normal jeans that school year. Every day I wish I still had the one with the little tipis on it. It was the best shirt ever and I felt amazing in it. No one was going to call me fashionable, but no one made fun of me, either. My cool came from being who I was and I didn’t lack for friends.
I didn’t wear makeup until high school because of my mom’s rules, and to be honest I didn’t wear it much once allowed to. When I did wear it, though? I wore it for myself. There is something absolutely magical about being able to pick up a brush and utterly transform what you see in the mirror to reflect how you feel inside. Dark, moody day when the PMS was bad and I just wanted to be left alone? I learned pretty fast I could smear on some eyeliner, taking my baby face to something harder and people left me alone. Feeling cheerful and happy and like I had the world on a string? That slick of bright pink lipstick lit up my smile and there wasn’t anyone that didn’t want to hang out with me because I was cordially inviting them all in.
Makeup let me express myself in ways that clothes couldn’t. Makeup gave my inner world a voice and often times more honestly communicated who I was than the words I would say. I could bend my words to play polite, but my face would always tell the truth.
Now that I’m an adult I’m still a big fan of makeup and as a professional makeup artist I still believe firmly that makeup has nothing to do with other people or the opinions of the world around you. Makeup is, and always should be, about the person wearing it. When I put on my makeup, be it a full face with dozens of products requiring an hour of my time or when I’m just dashing on some mascara and calling it good while my dark circles stand out in all their glory, I’m opening up a window to who I am. Made up or all natural, my face is always the most honest thing about me. What you see in the moment is exactly what you get. It’s the same when I am teaching women to do their own makeup or applying it to a client. I say it all the time: I don’t do makeovers. A makeover implies something is wrong and needs fixing. I do application. I work with the canvas in front of me. I’m just a girl with a brush helping women make self portraits of how beautiful they are at any given moment. And they are all beautiful, always.
We are all a million things inside and we all have a million faces. Makeup doesn’t cover anything up. It brings it all to light.
Maybe I get that from my mom, who rarely wore makeup herself and when she did wore whatever the hell she wanted to, hanging on to her blue eyeshadow long after society said it was pretty. She did what she wanted and she was the most beautiful woman I have ever known.
I absolutely respect Alicia Keys. I love her music. I love her strength. I love her face, with and without the makeup and I love that she feels so strongly about going makeup-free because there is nothing wrong with that at all. But I won’t be joining her movement. I won’t be giving up my makeup because my makeup doesn’t make me feel less than. My makeup isn’t for society. My makeup is for all of the faces of who I am and gives me another way to be pretty and powerful exactly as I am. So instead of #NoMakeup? I’m team #BeYourself whatever that looks like for you.
Oh New York. We’ve been doing this dance for years with friends trying to lure me back towards the East Coast even though it knows I’m team Left Coast. But friends have worn me down. So has the lure of the big big city, incredible food, and the idea of having my own Breakfast at Tiffany’s moment. You win, Big Apple. I’ll be seeing you in 2016.
Some of my plans are obvious. I have to spend some quality time with my bro, Terry. He’s been the most vocal about getting me out there over the years so I’m excited to actually show up. The others are newer plans with newer friends. I only got to know R. this summer, but it feels like I’ve known her my whole life and I count her among the top of my friends. I’m so excited to get to run wild in the city with her. Maybe we’ll even get lucky and our boys Third Eye Blind will be playing when I venture out.
So what are some things I want to do while in the Big Apple? Here’s my current list.
Four & Twenty Blackbirds Um. Pie. Amazing pie. ALL KINDS OF PIE. I’m a Southern girl by heritage and a massive part of being Southern is pie. This place has amazing pie, so I have heard, and they have an incredible menu that changes by the season. This is an absolute must-do while in NYC and if I don’t get to eat so much pie I get sick I won’t consider the trip a success. PIE.
Shake Shack Because I love cheeseburgers. And hype. And I feel like I need to do this, nevermind that I can do this in Las Vegas. I need to hit up the NYC location and be annoying and Instagram the shit out of it.
CW Pencil Enterprise I’m a writer and an artist. I love pencils. I love them more than pens and the idea of a store devoted to pencils? Yes. Please. Sign me up. Buy me all the pencils. Blackwing here I come.
Ellis Island This is probably one of the most important places for me to go in New York. Family lore talks about how my family crossed into the United States here (after generations of back and forth between Germany and the US) and I want to go there, to stand where all the promise and all the hope and uncertainty came together for those before me in my own private show of gratitude for getting to be American because of the choices those before me.
National September 11 Memorial This is probably the most important visit for me. Like so many people, I lost friends in the Towers that day in September. I don’t feel like my grieving will be full and complete until I am able to go and say goodbye.
What else should I do in NYC? Leave me your best tips and suggestions in comments (and remember, I love food and coffee. HOOK ME UP.)
I have recently become mildly obsessed with sheet masks.
I have known about and heard good things about them for awhile. After all, they have been popular in Asia since forever. I just haven’t really paid much attention to them. This is a little weird seeing as how one of my all-time favorite skincare related things is a good mask in general. I’ve always had something of a love for facial masks. When I was a teenager it was those weird gel masks that you could peel off when they dried. Later it turned into a love of clay masks (to this day I love the Origins Clear Improvement charcoal mask with clay and use it almost weekly.) Sheet masks, though, just seemed weird. Slimy, even. I hate slimy.
But, as with most of what is ultimately good for me the universe has a way of making me come into contact with things. I ended up with a White Lucent mask from Shiseido (I think it came in a gift with purchase, but I don’t recall for certain.) Then, I got a When Travel sheet mask in one of my subscription boxes. This one was particularly well-played by the universe since I travel so much. The icing on the cake came when, during a recent trip to Sephora, I discovered that Sephora has house brand sheet masks with coordinating eye masks and, more than that, they also have When, Boscia, Dr. Jart, and Tony Moly masks available. And they were cheap (all under $10.) And I have been getting low on my Clear Improvement.
I bought the Sephora branded brightening eye mask and the Tony Moly moisturizing mask. My intention was to come home and use them both, but then I remembered the White Lucent mask so I decided on a brightening theme. I put the eye mask on first, not expecting anything more than to be wholly freaked out by the slime. Instead? Fifteen minutes later my eyes were no longer puffy or discolored underneath. They were bright and smooth and I looked epic. And my skin felt pretty good, too. I put on the White Lucent mask and lay down to relax while it worked. Half an hour later I felt totally zen and my face looked incredible. My skin looked so good even the next day that I found myself hooked.
So hooked I went back to Sephora and bought more, adding more eye masks to my pile and picking up the When Restore mask (because I feel like my face needs lots of love.) I think sheet masks are going to end up being a big part of my regular routine and I’ve figured out some reasons why.
1. Cleanup after using a sheet mask is super simple. One of my only real complaints with traditional masks is that I have to wash my face after to get all the mask off. Sometimes that feels like I’m stripping my skin too much and I don’t really like that. Being able to just pull the mask’s sheet off my face and toss it is pretty great.
2. The masks contain powerful serums that I can just massage into my skin. The good stuff that the mask is giving my skin can be massaged right on in after the sheet comes off so it’s not just a mask; it’s a treatment serum. My skin is getting lots of good things and that makes me very happy.
3. They’re cheap enough that I can get multiple kinds of masks for the cost of one tube of a traditional mask. I like variety. A lot. So does the myriad of issues my skin experiences.
4. Storage of a flat sheet mask is far, far, easier than multiple tubes of products. This one is pretty much a no-brainer. My bathroom has limited storage so flat packs are a blessing.
Yeah, I think the sheet mask and I are bff now. In fact, I need to go put one on right now!
We got a foot of snow yesterday. That’s twelve inches, a pile that goes up to my mid-shin region on my leg and most of the way up my tires on my car. I stepped outside this morning to discover that the snow removal team hadn’t even begun to hit my parking lot and that though the city had come through on the street the world was still very, very white.
I immediately turned around, came back in, hit up the coffee maker, and selected a mug that made me think of sunnier skies. Maybe some of the warmth of California would find its way here through the magic of my coffee cup. Maybe.
The day job decided to give us another day off because of the snow, the crazy cold, and the hazards of braving humanity today. Of course, I’m going to go in on the late night overnight shift (essential services for a crisis center run twenty-four hours a day) but I still get to enjoy the actual snow day. I’m presently on my second cup of hot chocolate, I had some of my amazing gluten-free Bacon Cheeseburger Soup leftovers, and I put away the laundry. I’m considering more coffee and maybe a Batman movie festival before taking a nice long nap. I know the snow is pain, but I’m really grateful for snow days. They give me a chance to just enjoy my life exactly where I am. In the busy world of being an adult I don’t get to do that enough.
Winter has not been ideal here in Kansas. It rarely is, but this winter in particular has been strange and unrelenting in its strangeness. We started with the Polar Vortex only to have temperatures bounce into the sixties for a handful of days before crashing back into brutal cold. We’ve had rain and ice and little bitty fluries, but nothing consistent and nothing that made sense. Then they started calling for a snowstorm.
I woke up to the sidewalks and parking area lightly blanketed in snow this morning. I had deliberately slept in as my day job had made the decision the night before to close. My part-time job, a gig in the makeup industry, was still possibly on for the evening so getting started on a big project wasn’t in the cards. So I set about making a warm breakfast, having some coffee, curling up on the couch for a multi-hour nap, and putting together a gluten-free Bacon Cheeseburger Soup that has become a snow day staple in my life. By then the makeup job was declared cancelled for the evening (yipee!) and the day job declared a late start for tomorrow. I had time to do stuff.
I’ve attempted blogging before. I read all these beautiful and fabulous blogs and I wish that I could write like them or have my pictures look like theirs or, honestly, have a life like the ones portrayed on those blogs. The reality though is that my home is usually in a state of chaos, my meals aren’t all home-cooked, and I often look as frazzled as I feel. My life isn’t ready for a magazine spread. It’s imperfect. But it’s also wonderful. So on this grown up snow day I decided to start a blog that celebrates my life exactly as I live it: imperfect, chaotic, and absolutely fabulous.
Stay warm out there, friends.