Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 126: Fun Fact Fridays (M.C. Escher's Hand with Reflecting Sphere)

In the lithograph Hand with Reflecting Sphere created in 1935, M.C. Escher is seen holding the sphere in his hand (which is itself reflected) so that he also has himself and his studio “in hand”. To Escher, the mirror image was no ordinary matter. He was fascinated by the mixture of the one reality (the mirror itself and everything surrounding it) with the other reality (the reflection in the mirror) as seen with this work of art.

So here's the fun fact:In Hand with Reflecting Sphere, Escher depicts a spherical mirror, seemingly resting on a left hand. But... because a lithograph print is the reverse of the original drawing on stone, it is really the right hand being depicted. CRAZY! (FYI - Escher was left-handed, so he needed that hand to make the drawing).

Today's Fun Fact was found here, at

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 124: Facial via Target and Michael

Tingly Goop from Olay's "Microdermabrasion and Peel System"
Thanks to The Knot's Bridal Beauty: Countdown To Gorgeous list, what could have been just another boring Tuesday night in front of the TV ended up being... a slightly more colorful Tuesday night in front of the TV.  I realized earlier today that it's been 2 weeks since my last B.B.C.T.G. post (on "Mirrorless Wedding Makeup"). It seemed time for a bit more bridal beautifying.  According to The Knot, at the "1-2 Months Before" mark I should:
Use and at-home face mask or get a salon facial.  (Don't risk and allergic reaction closer to your wedding day.)
Yikes!  Masks and facials make me nervous.  You may recall from Day 80 that a history of "bad skin" (currently at bay) has left me quite wary of shaking up my skin-care routine. I needed a bit more convincing, if only to know what I'd be getting myself into (or out of!).  I turned to "The 411 on Facials" - an article published by The Knot with all the dirty details.
A biased account?  Undoubtedly.  But informative, nonetheless! 
Facials are a beauty treatment many brides enjoy -- they feel indulgent and can ensure your skin looks its most glowing on your wedding day.  A good facial includes surface cleansing, deep pore cleansing (sometimes including extractions), exfoliation, toning, and moisturizing.
The cost?  Anywhere between $50 to $250, depending on the treatments you have done and where you live.  And be sure to get recommendations before you choose a salon -- you don't want just anyone picking at your face!
Well, $50 to $250 wasn't going to happen, and "extractions" didn't sound too good either (the only person I trust to "pick at my face" is me!).  Yet I was intrigued.  Could I capture the "indulgent" experience of a facial without the expense?  Would my skin "glow" or just freak out?

In the spirit of experimentation, I bit the bullet and spent $35 at Target on a "Microdermabrasion & Peel System" from Olay + a "Conditioning Clay Mask" by Boots.  $35 felt a bit steep, but I was assured that I could return the products if my skin reacted badly.  Next step: enlisting an unsuspecting amateur esthetician.
Michael, looking skeptical... (nice socks!)

Poor Michael was settling into an episode of Weeds, waiting for our Thai delivery to arrive, when I arrived home and accosted him with demands for assistance.  I don't think he realized what he'd agreed to until he found himself following directions to: apply Olay "dermacrystals to [my] clean, dry face (about the size of a quarter)."  (To clarify, the "about the size of a quarter" part refers to the scoop of dermacrystal goop, not my face.)

As I stared at the ceiling of our TV room, Michael "gently massaged" my face for ... about 2 minutes longer than the recommended 45 seconds.  It must have been a good Weeds episode, because his fingertips started going numb around the time that my cheeks started tingling.  Yowza!

He quickly, sloppily, applied the "activator serum" to my face, and we both kind of freaked out when the ingredients started foaming.  Apparently "it is normal to experience a warming sensation," but I'd had enough.  I hauled my butt to the bathroom, and gave everything a thorough rinsing.  (This took a while since Michael had generously Microdermabraised half of my neck and an inch of my hairline.)

My attempts to get Michael to help with the Conditioning Clay Mask were temporarily thwarted by the arrival of our dinner.  Spicy eggplant w/ chicken and basil: yum!  (Now THIS felt indulgent.)

We were back to work soon after finishing our mango sticky rice. Michael finger painted my face with the clay mask from Boots, which promised to clarify my skin "with a negative electrical charge to pull out impurities."  It was olive green and slimy. Then it dried. Whenever I smiled I felt flakes of mask sprinkling onto my chest.  I pondered whether I could test the flakes for "negative electrical charge," but it was almost midnight and things had reached ridiculousness.

Michael headed to bed, looking bewildered by his new expertise.  I washed all of the green goop off of my face (at least I hope I did!).  My skin feels really soft, but, considering all that effort, I'm more struck by how empty my wallet feels.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 123: Thank You!

You may have noticed that this project has been getting a bit of www attention in the past few weeks. This has made me realize: blogging about this project would not be half as fun or meaningful without the support I've received from a larger online community of writers who care deeply about women's issues.  I'm listing several here to show my appreciation, and to encourage readers to explore these great sites!  

Girl-positive non-profit extraordinaire, About-Face equips women and girls with the tools to understand and resist harmful media messages that affect their self-esteem and body image.  I volunteer my academic skillz with these folks, so you know I believe in their mission.  They've been kind enough to repost updates on my progress here and here.

Written by witty and insightful Autumn Whitefield-Madrano (who embarked on her own month-long "mirror-fast" in May of 2011!) The-Beheld examines the concept of beauty through essays, interviews, experiments, and analyses of how economics, business, globalization, and science inform our ideas on appearance.  Autumn has been kind enough to cross-list my blog in several posts, including her fabulous essay on "How to Stop Checking Yourself Out".

I LOVELOVELOVE this website, which encourages people to exercise their sociological imagination by presenting brief sociological discussions of compelling and timely imagery that spans the breadth of sociological inquiry.  Co-founder and friend Lisa Wade encouraged me to write my first-ever guest-post, asking "Can a Feminist Diet?".  What an amazing experience getting so much feedback on an issue so close to my heart.

Jezebel picked up on my SocImages guest post and sent additional traffic my way by opening up the same question ("Can Feminists Go on Diets?") on their website.

Mrs. Bossa, writer of this fantastic feminist fashion blog, entrusted me with a guest post on mirror-free fashion tips.  So fun!

This phenomenal collective blog of - what else? - Feminist Fashion Bloggers features monthly "roundups" of intelligent and funny posts on a shared topic.  My essay on "The Sociology of Fashion, Feminism, and Social Class" was featured in the July Roundup.

This phenomenal website creates articles, campaigns, events and other cool stuff that inspires a body and self-loving world.  My 100-Day Recap was featured as a guest post, here.

This fun, feminine site drew on my blog to ask, Would You Be Happier if You Avoided Mirrors?

Adorable positivity blogger, Davinia Hamilton kindly mentioned my quest in her links post.  Thanks Davinia!!

My first (and, so far, ONLY) international coverage can be found here, at this well-known Brazilian news website, affiliated with Time.  Thanks to author Martha Mendonça for the international coverage!

This lovely woman wrote a touching post about her own body image issues, and has decided to embark on her own mirror-fast.  Read about it here.


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Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 118: Fun Fact Fridays! (Flappers, Makeup, & Mirrors)

Image found here.
"In the effort to look like the attractive women they saw in movies and magazines, American women in the 1920s put aside long-established objections to face makeup and began to purchase and use a wide range of cosmetics.  At first, face powders were the most popular; eventually, rouge, lipstick, and eyebrow pencil were added to the list of acceptable beauty aids.  Gadgets for curling eyelashes were also marketed in drugstores for the first time in the 1920s.

Image found here
By the middle of the decade, the American cosmetics industry was flourishing and its growth was unrelenting, largely because teenage girls, as well as mature women, were making up in a way that was associated with the 'flapper' ideal.  Sales of compacts (small, handheld mirrors with a compartment for powder) soared because they allowed women to scrutinize and 'reconstruct' the face almost anywhere, at a moment's notice."

This fun fact found on pg. 70 of The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls, by Joan Jacobs Brumberg

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 117: Feathering the Nest (Hall of Mirrors!)

Michael and I just moved into a new apartment in San Francisco.  We're very excited because - after almost 2 years of long distance + 2 months of subletting somebody else's apartment - this move is for keeps.  (Well, at least for the 11 months we've signed on for and assuming our landlord doesn't decide to sell the place before then. Hooray for renting!)

Anyhoo... it took a few weeks, but we've finally got about 90% of our stuff organized.  But, space that previously looked cluttered suddenly looked kind of naked, and yesterday I felt a strong urge to feather the nest.

So, I popped over to the closest TJMaxx / Home Goods store.  I had a few specifics on my list (kitchen chairs! coffee table! coat rack!), but mostly I just wandered around waiting for inspiration to strike.  It struck quickly, but not in the way I'd expected.  THIS was the first section I wanderlusted into:
SAVE (up to) 70% on MIRRORS.  

Shoot.  I don't know if it was the promise of a sweet bargain or just an unconscious urge for self-punishment, but I decided to take a walk in the hallway of mirrors.  And you know what?  Other than making me feel kind of sad, it went just fine.

I stuck to my rules, and was careful not to check myself out while I was checking out the mirrors.  This required that I not look at any mirror while standing in front of it.

Guess what?  Even though I'm avoiding my own reflection for another 248 days, I actually like mirrors.  I like the way they look!  I like the way they open up a room.  I like the way that mirrors are "neutral" decor that add pizazz without freaking out my color scheme.  I also appreciate mirrors for the artistry that often goes in to their creation.
How cool/cute/artsy is this!?!  Buy it here.

So it was fun to check out the mirrors - not myself - for a while.  I didn't end up buying one.

Bringing home a new mirror seemed kind of risky, given that some days I can barely keep myself from tearing the curtains off of the ones I already have!  But I did find one piece of furniture that really tempted me: A narrow dresser, blinged out with broken mirrors.  So perfectly symbolic, yet depressingly out of my pathetic price range, at $99.  Sigh.

*How do YOU decorate with mirrors, if at all?  
*What's more important to you in a mirror: how you look reflected in it, or how beautiful it is on its own merits? 

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 116: Time to Buy New Mascara...

Love. This. Product. 
Buying a new tube of mascara exactly every 3 months isn't something I worry about.  Yes, I know that mascara is the cosmetic (supposedly) most needing of frequent replacement, but my frugal side scoffs at these guidelines.  In my mind, overly rigid makeup expiration dates seem to benefit cosmetic companies more than me.

Double Bubble Baby!
Here's what I figure: if I can keep using each beloved $5 tube of Maybelline Great Lash mascara for even 1 extra month, then I only have to buy 3 tubes of mascara per year, instead of 4.  That adds up to some serious dinero over a lifetime, no?  (Savings of $5/year X 60 years = $300 - or 1,200 sugar-full gumballs!)

Okay, to be honest, I've never actually done the math. (1,200 gumballs??  That's lame.)  Still, I consciously try to use each tube of $5 mascara until it obviously isn't working as well as it should.  I refuse to discard mascara a minute before this happens.  Typically, the product gets a bit dry over time and doesn't easily coat my lashes.  A quick look in the mirror during application gives me the lowdown.

But... not so these days.  Without mirrors my mascara status is kind of a mystery.  And, since it's something I don't think of about... things have gone amiss. It seems that my mascara hasn't been working quite right, but nobody bothered to tell me.  (Did nobody noticed?  Maybe nobody EVER notices if my mascara isn't working so well.)
That smudge is NOT a birthmark. 

But now I know that it's time for a replacement!  How do I know, you ask?

Well, I was putting on my mascara a few minutes ago and clumpy flecks fell out.  Yes, flakey clumps of mascara fell off of the wand, and onto my computer keyboard and my wrist.  This must be a sign that the formula has ... turned.  

Now that actually I think of it, it's been over 3 months since this no-mirrors experiment started, and I haven't bought a new mascara during that time.  Oops.  I can only imagine what my poor eyelashes have looked like these past few weeks!

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 115: 4 Mirror Free Fashion Tips

Thanks to Mrs. Bossa for featuring this post last Thursday at blog extraordinaire Mrs. Bossa Does The Do!

You may recall that this whole no-mirrors-for-a-year experiment was actually motivated by a fashion emergency: my growing anxiety over wedding dresses.  See, I'm a feminist fashionistette.  (FYI, per Urban Dictionary a fashionistette is: "someone who is "not quite as shallow as a fashionista, but someone who deeply enjoys fashion and looking good.")  Anyway, I put a lot of pressure on myself to both (1) find the impossibly perfect wedding dress (ideally... modern-yet-traditional, flattering-yet-brave, luxurious-yet-inexpensive, unique-yet-classic, etc. etc.), and (2) to look insanely gorgeous in said dress, once found.

At some point the dress search stopped being fun.  I hated feeling vain, insecure, and indecisive.  Never one for subtleties, I rejected these obsessions by rejecting my reflection.

Despite lingering body image insecurities, I've always found pleasure in expressing myself through clothes.  My style is all about combining opposites.  I revel in mixing bright colors with neutrals, feminine with masculine, flowing fabric with sleek lines, old with new, preppy with bohemian... sometimes all at once!  Thus, it scared me to wonder if shunning mirrors might make my life feel boring.
Life is NOT boring when you're wearing this much color! 
Thankfully, this hasn't happened, but it's taken careful strategizing and a few attitude adjustments.  Here they are.  (Note: you DO NOT need to abandon mirrors to try these things out, though it could be fun!)

1) Feel your fashion
How many pretty-but-painful items line your closet?  Instead of focusing on how good something looks on you, first figure out whether it feels good.  At first, not being able to see myself felt like cruel sensory deprivation.  Then I started focusing on senses other than sight.  This led me to try new styles, and to abandon trends that hurt.  My walking commute demands solid, supportive (preppy!) boat-loafers instead of delicate uber-feminine flats.  High-rise, high-stretch (high-comfort) jeans now softly hug my tummy and hips instead of cutting off circulation at "muffin-top".
Hooray for shoes!
2) Buddy system
Focusing on feel does NOT mean abandoning style or flattering clothes.  (Snuggies are comfy, but lack that pleasing je ne sais quoi, no?)  Once you find fashion that feels good, check with a trusted friend to make sure you look as good as you feel.  It's as simple as that.  I've relied on my sister, friends, and my future-mother-in-law for this!  (If you shop alone, consider staging a fashion show at home... or starting your own blog to feature your favorites!)

3) When in doubt, copy yourself!
Once you find something you love, get one in every color.  When faced with buying a new outfit for my wedding shower a few weeks ago, I bought the EXACT same Rachel Roy dress that I'd worn for my engagement photos, but in a new fabrication (and at a steep discount!).
This is a model, not me.
Since I'd purchased the first dress before my no-mirrors experiment began, I knew it was flattering, and had some fabulous photos as proof!
This is me!  And Michael!
4) Abandon control.
I look at this photo a lot.  It's the last picture
taken of me before I started the project.
Back to weddings... as most of you know, I found my dress.  I bought it the day before I stopped lookign in mirrors, and - to be honest - I really wasn't sure about it.  It has ruching (I hate ruching), it has girly flower appliques (including one in the back that looks, to me, like a bunny tail!), and it wasn't made by a famous design house (I'd always fantasized about name-dropping a bit, if only to myself).  But it felt comfortable, was flattering to my body, the price was right, and ... my mom got goosebumps.  I trusted my mom.

Buying my dress was a first step to letting go of wedding style perfection and it feels great.  Now - thanks to my no-mirrors pledge - I'll be completely reliant on other people to help me navigate dress fittings, choose a veil, jewelry, lacy underthings, and shoes (not to mention the all-important old/new/borrowed/blue items!).  Others may disagree, but sometimes good enough has to be good enough.  Even on your wedding day.  Well.... as long as we're not talking about the groom!

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 113: Fun Fact Fridays!

Image found here.
"Legend has it that Archimedes used mirrors to set fire to Roman ships during the siege of Syracuse. Probably untrue, the story nonetheless inspired useful experiments for centuries."

This fun fact came from the book Mirror Mirror, by Mark Pendergrast.

UPDATE: Speaking of inspired experiments... check out this awesome "Annotated Mythbusters" report, busting the Archimedes myth: "Episode 46: Archimedes Death Ray Revisited"
(Thanks to "M" for directing me to this!)

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 111: Three Cheating Confessions

As I mentioned in last week's post, "3 Reflections on 100 Days Without Mirrors," I've had a few slip-ups lately.  I thought ya'll might enjoy reveling in my ineptitude.

1) Shopping for wedding jewelry.
Several weeks ago I looked at wedding jewelry with my future mother-in-law, Sherry (of past Anthropologie try-on fame!).  We were only seeking inspiration.  Sherry, a former art teacher, is one of those amazing creative types who can make anything.  I asked (begged!) her to make my wedding jewelry, and she accepted. On her suggestion, we looked at some pre-made designs for inspiration.  I fell in love with this GORGEOUS coin-pearl necklace at Gumps.  Sherry took a photo on my iPhone, for her memory.  And then.... I totally peeked at it when nobody was looking!  Of course, Michael picked up the phone a few minutes later and I'd left the image up on the screen. Caught red-handed!   (But isn't that necklace sooo pretty!?!)

2) Clubbing (ad nauseam).
This guy would have been boring at Re-Tox.
(original image here)
A few weeks ago on a Friday night, Michael and I stumbled into this lounge called Re-Tox, and found ourselves in the midst of crazy-time.   The crowd could only be described as .... eclectic: lots of dreadlocks, a few mohawks, numerous combat boots, several clearly home-made (home-ruined?) body-piercings, and what looked to be a sprinkling of orgies in the club's dark corners.  

If you didn't know this already, Michael and I are total yuppie squares.  We were intimidated, but persevered.  After allowing the bouncer to stamp our stomachs for discounted admission (okay, we are cheap yuppie squares), we ordered a round of incredibly strong drinks and tried, hopelessly, to blend in.  Fast forward a few minutes, and suddenly I felt like Alice-in-Wonderland-After-TooManyMaiTais.  How much rum did she put in my drink!!?!  I glimpsed a poster advertising "Goth Swingers Night, THURSDAY!" (no joke) and bolted to the ladies room for a time-out.  Upon arrival, I went to a sink, splashed some water on my face, and looked up... into a mirror.  Oops.  Joke was on me: I looked like Alice-in-Wonderland-After-TooManyMaiTais: blonde, bewildered, bleary-eyed.  Time to go home!
Stunning Annie Leibovitz image found here.
3) Moving apartments (again!)
As happened the last time I moved, living in a new environment totally threw off my mirror-avoidance abilities.  We took the curtains off of the mirrors at our old place, and then took almost 2 weeks to put them back up at our new place.  The bad news: I've been cheating a lot over the past 1 1/2 weeks.  The good news: (a) the curtains went back up TODAY, and (b) I figured out how put on eyeliner sans-mirrors!  (This should come in handy for my DIY wedding day makeup!)

Thanks for your forgiveness (I hope!) in regard to these little dalliances I've been having with myself.  It was fun while it lasted, but I've renewed my vows and am newly re-committed!

Question - Have you ever cheated on YOURSELF, in any way?  I'd love to hear your own confessions!  :)

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 110: Artsy-Fartsy NEW Blog Design!

I was feeling artsy today and have RE-DESIGNED my blog template.  


What do you think? Are ya feelin' it?

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 109: The Sociology of Fashion, Feminism, and Social Class

This month, the FFB's (Feminist Fashion Bloggers) monthly topic of discussion is social class, as it pertains to feminism and the fashion/beauty industry. The roundup for all posts can be found here.

Warning: this is my most geeky academic post, by far.  And it has very little to do with mirrors.  (You lucky readers, you!)  Below please find a series of edited excerpts from my PhD qualifying exam on Cultural Sociology.  (Seriously.)  Naturally, I wrote about fashion.  

So.... what do sociologists have to say about fashion, social class and feminism?  Plenty!  Here goes:

One of the earliest sociological theories of fashion appears in Thornstein Veblen’s analysis of conspicuous consumption, in which products are consumed as a way of demonstrating wealth and status. This theory has been used to explain the fashion cycle in clothing.  George Simmel explains that, as the lower classes imitate their social superiors, the elite strive to distinguish themselves from them.  Thus, once a particular fashion diffuses down the social strata, it can no longer be considered “in fashion” by elites, and must be replaced by a new trend.  

Marxist feminists have voiced concerns that capitalist beauty culture reinforces the subjugation of women, particularly poorer women. Commenting on how “under capitalism, the sale of women as commodities” has been “displaced by the sale of commodities to women,” Evelyn Reed remarked that, “The fashion world became a capitalist gold mine with virtually unlimited possibilities. All a big businessman had to do was to change the fashions often enough [...] and he could become richer and richer.”  The agenda of the (capitalist) fashion world, Reed argues, exploits women by both their gender and their class: “while it may be ‘fun’ for wealthy women to discard their wardrobes with each season, such expectations are “disastrous for the poor.”  By this sensibility, fashion can both reflect and reproduce social inequality.

Interestingly, most contemporary accounts of the fashion cycle suggest that Simmel’s “top-down” theory no longer predominates!  Instead, Diana Crane argues that, although 19th century fashion followed a class-and-gender-based “top-down” model, “contemporary fashion is more ambiguous and multifaceted,” and, since the 1960s, a “‘bottom-up’ model, in which new styles emerge in lower-status groups and are later adopted by higher-status groups [...] has explained an important segment of fashion phenomena,” (pg. 14).

Also, many fashion trends appear to bypass the issue of class entirely, and instead follow patterns of “personal identity” to include consumer identification with groupings based on age, race, gender, sexuality, leisure activities, and various sub-cultural allegiances.  That contemporary fashion cycles operate differently from purely top-down models suggests a certain democratization of fashion, and perhaps increased space for people to challenge class and gender inequalities through fashion. 

So there you have it.  Proof that I'm a total geek.  But I do love fashion, and I'm endlessly fascinated by it's role in both reflecting, reproducing, and challenging social inequality!  And now I have a question for you:


Thanks again to FFB for creating discussion around this well-deserved topic!

SOURCES CITED:          
Crane, D. (2000). Fashion and its Social Agendas: Class, Gender, and Identity in Clothing. Chicago, The University of Chicago Press.
Davis, F. (1992). Fashion, Culture, and Identity. Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press.
Reed, E. (1954). The Woman Question and the Marxist Method. Cosmetics, Fashions and the Exploitation of Women. J. Hanson and E. Reed. New York, Pathfinder Press.
Simmel, G. (1957 [1904]). "Fashion." American Journal of Sociology 62: 541-558.
Veblen, T. (1994 [1899]). The Theory of the Leisure Class. Mineola, N.Y., Dover Publications.
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 108: Mirrorless Wedding Makeup - Trials and Tribulations.

The "after" shot is what I HOPED I looked like after my makeover...
(FYI, this makeup "application" was done by me, using
According to The Knot's Bridal Beauty: Countdown to Gorgeous list, it's high time that I start worrying about my wedding makeup.  At the "3-4 Months Before" mark I'm commanded to do the following:
Make consultation appointments with potential makeup artists.  Be sure to take pictures, then analyze them.  Do your features stand out?  Do you look like you're wearing a mask?
Decide on a makeup artist and book him/her for your wedding date.  Set up a day-of-wedding schedule.
The B.B.C.T.G. list, of course, assumes that I (and all brides) have the bucks to pay for a professional makeup artist on the big day.  I find this assumption really obnoxious.  That said, up until a few weeks ago, I also assumed that I'd hire a pro to take care of my makeup.

But now things have changed.  I'm going to do my own wedding day makeup.  Without mirrors, but with a little help from my friends.  How did this happen?  Have I lost my mind???

Alternative wedding day look:
Lighter eye makeup, dramatic red lips!
In a nutshell, I tried the makeup artist thing (check, check), but ... it didn't go as amazingly as planned.  Then I looked at my wedding budget, and that also wasn't going quite as amazingly as planned.  Here's the story:

It was the morning of the "couples shower" that my sister was hosting for Michael and me.  My parents were in town for the event, and my mom and I had plans to get our makeup done at a local salon.  This was to be my makeup trial, and I felt pretty psyched!  I enjoy my girly pampering things, and it doesn't get much girlier than a professional makeup application. Plus, my mom would be paying (or so I'd hoped).

The experience itself was luxurious, and the makeup artist (who's own makeup looked awesome, I thought) was incredibly sweet and personable.  After 55 minutes of dabbing various brushes into various pots and compacts and then my face, I felt optimistic about the results, and imagined how amazing I probably looked (at least more amazing than normal, no?).   The makeup artist stepped back to look at her work, smiled with a satisfied sigh, and said "Oooh, you look soooo great!" My mom nodded in approval (though not vigorously, as I later recalled).

I happily scampered off for a blow-dry at the hair-doing side of the salon, and my mom sat down to have her own makeup done.  But an hour later, I picked up on a few clues suggesting that... perhaps my made-up face didn't look quite as fabulous as I'd hoped:

Clue 1: My mom's makeup didn't look much different from her usual self-application.  Except the foundation was kind of settling into her pores (and out of her non-pores) in a weird way.  Wait, were those crows feet? And she looked a little pallid.  Was she even wearing mascara??!  Hrmmm...  

Clue 2: Then... when it was time to pay, my mom hesitated, and then asked "Sooo... how do we want to do this??"  And we ended up paying for our own services.  Note: my mom has a fairly predictable habit of buying stuff for my sister and me whenever we're looking particularly cute.  When it comes to clothes shopping, haircuts, and now makeup applications: if we're lookin' good she often treats, but we always have to pay for any uncute (in her opinion) clothes/hair/makeup by ourselves. Hrmmm... again.

I got nervous on the way to the party and asked my mom if I should be worried.  She said I looked "fine," but admitted that she didn't think it was worth $50 (for the trial), much less $150 (for the big day).  This would have been really depressing news, had she not mentioned that my very own self-applied (sans-mirror!) makeup looked BETTER!  (Recall: I've developed a carefully crafted routine for applying my makeup sans-mirrors.)

"BETTER?" I asked?  (Incredulous, yet still hinting for compliments)

"Yeah," she confirmed, "I think you would just need more eye makeup than usual for it to feel more formal. But somebody else could do that, right?"  Hrmmm.... indeed!

A quick calculation confirmed that NOT hiring a makeup artist would save over $600 (plus tips!).  The math was in favor, but I wavered for a moment; would my bridesmaids find it tacky if we didn't offer them a professional makeup makeover??  And then I remembered something important:

I don't need the Bridal Beauty: Countdown to Gorgeous list (or anyone else, for that matter!) to tell me how to get married.  

Oh, and my bridesmaids are all competent and sane women who won't give a fig about missing out on unaffordable (and crappy) makeover.  Finally, if my mom thinks my cosmetic application skills suffice, well.... that would be good enough for me!  (Good enough is good enough, right?)  And that, my friends, is how I decided to do my wedding day makeup myself (with a little help from my friends).

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 104: Mini-post (20X Mirrors. WTF?!?)

I spent some time in Bed Bath & Beyond today.  I was picking up some supplies for a few upcoming B.B.C.T.G. challenges, and ran into THIS TERRIFYING ABOMINATION:
Warning: do NOT use this product unless
you have already photo-shopped your face.

Yes, you are looking at a small handheld mirror with....


To illustrate just how ridiculous that is, I placed my left thumb on top of the mirror, and then positioned it to reflect the fingers on my other hand while I snapped the photo.  This is INSANE, no?

I avoided these kinds of mirrors even before I started this project and advise you to do the same unless you actually enjoy seeing all the way down to the bottom of your pores (not recommended.  it's impossible.  they're all full of gunk.  how do you think Biore makes so much $$ with those nose strip thingys?).

Oh, and FYI, I've determined that it is not cheating for me to see my hands reflected in a mirror since I can look at them whenever I want to anyway. Capisci?

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 103: First Guest Post... From Fairy Godmother

My relationship with Marilyn is kind of like this...Except
she'd tell me I look beautiful just the way I am, and then she'd
remind me that Michael doesn't have the fashion sense to
know whether or not this was a "hot new look," anyway.
This VERY FIRST GUEST POST didn't start out as such, but here it is.  A cherished family friend wrote me a touching personal email on Tuesday morning, in response to my "3 Reflections on 100 Days Without Mirrors" post, and I felt that it deserved sharing (with permission, of course).  The first time I read it I laughed; the second time I got a little choked up.

** NOTE: In addition to being my much-loved "Unofficial Secular (Fairy) Godmother," Marilyn is, more generally, one of those fabulously witty, wise, and comfortable-in-her-own-gorgeously-makeupless-skin women whose quirky-calm perspectives on life and womanhood make me look forward to "growing up." :)

From: Marilyn
To: Kjerstin
Email Subject: Advise/comments wanted/welcome?

Why? I can't help but believe that most of your comments are tongue-in-cheek writer's creative rhetoric for the reader's enjoyment/interest/pleasure/curiosity re: your blog & process.  The whole mirror/non-mirror thing is a journey.  The success of the journey does NOT depend on whether you actually look in a mirror but rather all these thoughts that go into it.  You are an amazing person who deserves to look (or not look) in a mirror whenever you feel like it.  It does not make you more or less attractive, it does not make you think you are MORE or LESS attractive (ok, well that part I cannot really address; but can only hope that YOU come to terms with the fact that you are truly a beautiful person inside and out and looking in a mirror/or not does not change that).

You've got to understand that these comments come from a person who wears makeup for special occasions only:  Kjerstin's bridal shower, Kjerstin's wedding, baby showers, other persons' bridal showers & weddings.  AND, further, that my "makeup" consists of looking in the mirror and quickly applying mascara so that my eyes look more "open", then doing other things for 5-10 minutes before glancing quickly in a mirror once again to make sure that either the upper or lower lashes did not leave "spots" on my cheek or brow.  If it is the dead of winter there might me a small dash of cheek color applied (so that I don't look like I woke up out of a coffin), but other than that I've completely abandoned eye shadow, lip anything, and have NEVER used much in the way of foundation.  In fact, I have a multi-beige cream/lotion in a squirt bottle right now that I mix in with my face moisturizer mostly because the moisturizer that works best on my face does not have sunblock in it, and the multi--beige cream stuff has SFP15, so I think I am being kind to my face by performing this act.  It does require a mirror because I hate to wash my hair daily (every other day at best) and I get annoyed when I find that I have applied face cream or beige-mix-SFP cream to my hair!!! (You get the picture, I am sure).

By the way, your sister Hanna does have an awesome butt - but she definitely works at it!!! I don't have a butt at all, but then, I don't work at that - something for me to think about!! My daughter, Sarah, and I have "talked about" going to a local place that just opened called "Levity" that advertises "bar exercise" (I don't think there are daquiri's involved); however, with Sarah's ballet history and my need do stretch and increase my flexibility and sense of balance, we will be checking this out THIS WEEK (having said that, it will be more motivation for me to actually follow-through and do the checking out).

So, where was I going with any of this?  Uh, something about whether you should look at yourself in the mirror on your wedding day:  my weigh-in on that one (no pun intended) is:  YES, look in the darn mirror if you want to - do not refrain from looking because of your project; only refrain from looking if you do not want to see what you look like (it doesn't make any difference if you look in the mirror or if you take a digital photo then look at it) - translation is the same.

You DO care what you look like - simply from a neat, sanitary, consideration for others & yourself viewpoint.  Not because you have to look perfect, or because you are worried what "others" will think (at least I hope that is not why most people look themselves over in the mirror)... I KNOW that if I THINK that I look put together and neat/clean/dressed nicely, etc., that I FEEL better.  If someone then confirms that by making a nice comment, well then, that's just gravy on the mashed potatoes - not really a requirement for MY meal/appearance!

I used to wear t-shirts all the time, and, I'm not really crazy about seeing myself in pictures in t-shirts...and while maybe I'm not 100% satisfied with what I see when I see pictures of myself "dressed up", it is a major improvement over the t-shirt look!  But no matter how I look, it's OK, I have the power to change it, and whether I change or not, that's OK, too. 

I'm not sure at all where feminism comes in to any of this.  I've always thought that your mom would probably fit into that category, that my husband definitely does not fit into that category, and that I have no idea what your dad really thinks because he just wants your mom to be happy, and that I'm just ME and I do what I want and think what I want, when I want, and mostly I want everybody else to be happy and that in itself makes me happy!  By now you are possibly thinking that I am a total whack job!  But that's OK too.

Really looking forward to your wedding when the time comes.  It will be fun to see everyone again and to get dressed up, look in the mirror, hope that you will think I look like I cared enough to pull it together and not drink too much that I make a spectacle of myself!  Everyone will be there to celebrate your love and happiness.  You WILL BE a beautiful bride whether you look in a mirror or not, and whether you BELIEVE you are beautiful or not; Michael will know you are beautiful and he will know that he has found an amazing and wonderful person who wants to share their life with him. You found each other and that in itsself is a challenge and a pleasure.   Take comfort in all of those things.  Be happy.  Enjoy your relationship.  That's really all we have to get us through - each other.

Much love,

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