Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sephora haul! Palettes from Kat Von D: Esperanza, Monarch, and Chrysalis

Sephora recently had their big springtime Beauty Insider/VIB/VIB Rouge sale, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to pick up KVD's new summer mega-palettes, Monarch and Chrysalis, and her spring palette, Esperanza.

Here's a quick look and some swatches (done with fingers, on bare skin). They are all sturdy, magnetized cardboard (like Sugarpill's palettes), with generous mirrors and KVD's signature artwork on the packaging (which I love!)

First, the Esperanza palette: It's funny to me that it was a springtime release, considering how the colors are so summery to me. It's absolutely beautiful though - with two mattes, two shimmers, three sparklies, and one iridescent/duochrome transformer shade. All pigmented and butter soft.

I'm pretty much in love with the entire palette, and can't wait to mess around with Dayglo.

The Monarch palette is a total winner, if you like warmer palettes. Like its counterpart, the Chrysalis palette, it has three light-to-medium base shades and nine additional eye shadows, and it seems to be sectioned off into thirds: the left third is colorful; the center third is more mid-range neutral; and the right third is great for a smokey eye. (Of course, you can use them in any combination you want, but it struck me that the colors were set up this way for a reason.) Obviously it is HUGE compared to her True Romance palettes, which have eight eyeshadows. However, these don't come with an eyeliner, but I'm okay with that.

This one was also super soft and very pigmented, and it's a healthy mix of finishes.

Chrysalis is the cooler-toned palette of the two. I didn't think it stacked up quite so well, as I found Hybrid Moments and Mezzanine (the two purple shades on the left) to be a bit dry/patchy. Mezzanine, which has some glitter to it, felt a little gritty. Lucid, the pink shade on the right, also felt a little on the dry side. They weren't bad, but compared to all of the other shades in the palette (as well as the palettes above, and any of her other palettes lately), I was a smidge disappointed. Especially since I love purples and pinks.

FYI, the two black shades are different when you look at them side-by-side. Tornay is definitely a cooler, blue-toned black whereas Deadhead (in the Monarch palette) is more of a brown-black. Glasswing is actually quite pigmented, but it's hard to tell in the photo because it's so close to my skin color.

Overall, I think KVD has really, really stepped it up with her palettes over the years, and I'm always excited to see what she comes up with next. I'm super happy I picked these up (and even happier that I had the 15% discount to use on them).

Friday, April 11, 2014

FINALLY: 30 Things, Item 26: A tattoo to commemorate my first marathon

I had LOTS and LOTS of running tattoo ideas, some very large and convoluted. In the end, this is what I went with - the elevation profile for the Morgan Hill Marathon, which was my first marathon. (I'm now working on preparing for my third.)

The whole experience of training for and then running my first marathon was a really huge deal for me (as you may know, since I posted about it on my blog), and I think there is a lot of metaphorical resonance in these hills and in marathoning in general - the grueling difficulty, the ups and downs, the importance of being mentally strong in addition to physically strong. Those miles took a lot out of me, but they gave me back something too - the knowledge that I COULD finish a marathon. (And I've even finished another one since then.)

This experience is something that will be forever inked in my brain, and now it's inked on my arm too, where I can see it every day, and when I have moments of self-doubt, moments when I think to myself, "I can't," I can look at it and remind myself that I HAVE.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Like a girl? LIKE A BOSS.

Does my gender make my muscles look fat? *twirls hair*
As a female, I am constantly inundated with messages both subtle and overt about how my body is supposed to look. All the voices fighting for space inside my head become exhausting and even toxic.

Don't be fat, be thin; no, don't be thin, be strong; strong is the new skinny. Be strong, but don't be muscular. Work out like a man, but don't look like one; be feminine and pretty instead. Be a real woman. Real women have curves, but they should be boob-and-hip curves; they can't be curves of fat. Don't be fat.

And these expectations start early, right? As a girl, I was expected to be mild-mannered and well-behaved. I had a lot of dolls and art sets, but never any sports equipment (aside from a bike or skates). It's ingrained pretty early on that females are supposed to look a certain way and behave a certain way, and that deviating from the norm is baaaaad. And unfortunately for me, I was never "normal," EVER, if you take into consideration the fact that I can put on fat and muscle very easily.

It took me a really, really long time to start thinking of my body in terms of what it can do, rather than how it looks. The truth is, friends, that you are so much MORE than your looks. Your body is more than its appearance - it's a living, breathing machine that functions and IT CAN DO STUFF, pretty awesome stuff like (in my case) running marathons and playing roller derby and having a baby.

It's a uniquely female experience, being valued for your looks rather than your abilities and skills, and not in a good way. I'm not saying that men aren't judged by their appearance, but men are so rarely judged by ONLY that. Women are so often reduced to just their appearance, with beauty (someone else's standard of beauty) being emphasized to the extreme, to the point of devaluing physical and mental health, and that's what I've been tossing around in my head today - the fact that society really f***s us over when it comes to our bodies and our health.

Today I read this article (does it even DESERVE the categorization of "article"?) called "Is Spinning Making You Fat?", and it's so headshakingly stupid that it doesn't even deserve my anger. Essentially, it's cautioning readers against doing too much spinning lest it make your legs bigger:

Says celebrity trainer David Kirsch, "If you have a predisposition to bulking in your lower half, Spinning can make your butt and quads bigger." Adds Rebecca Battista, an associate professor of exercise science at Appalachian State University, "Those are the muscles you're using. Some cyclists get really big thighs."

I can understand if you're a model and you've hired your trainer to make sure that you maintain the physique you need to make a living (no matter how I feel about that particular physique being the standard), but this article is extremely problematic in that it categorizes being fat as a bad thing (but of course, how could we expect them to say otherwise? It's a fashion amgazine), and that it equates being muscular with being fat.

If you're an avid spinner, your legs are getting bigger because of muscle, not fat. And the last time I checked, muscle is 1) not the same as fat, and 2) a good thing! If your body is responding to spinning by putting on muscle, you're doing it RIGHT. You're seeing results! But no, according to this article, muscular legs are BAD. One of the women named in the article stopped spinning "to let the muscles atrophy" to get her legs back to their nice, lean shape. That is a direct quote from the article - I'm not embellishing. The article cites a woman who was doing a great job at an activity she liked, but she gave it up and let her muscles atrophy because she wanted to meet a particular standard of female beauty rather than letting her body be its natural, strong self, and this magazine is condoning it. Let that sink in a minute. (I'll wait.)

Now put that article on the backburner, and check out this blog post: Women's difficulty with pullups is about more than biology, in which Camille of Fit and Feminist debunks the idea that women are just not meant to do pullups:

Few things have made me cringe in recent memory like the flood of commentary that greeted the Marine Corps’ revelation that 55 percent of its female recruits could not meet the new standard of three pull-ups when tested at the end of boot camp. 

 I’ve read one comment section on this story and that was plenty. I am pretty sure I’ve had enough “see? we told you women were genetically inferior weaklings suited only for making me a sandwich” bullshit to fill my tank well into the next decade.

All of the research she's read essentially proves that, with proper training, women can in fact do pullups. More than three, even! (And this is something I already knew because, hello, CrossFit!)

She continues:

So what’s the big issue here? If women are capable of doing pull-ups, then why are so few of us actually able to do them? 

Well, I tend to have the same line of thought whenever we talk about female physical strength, which is that we live in a culture that has glamorized and sexualized female weakness, and so any analysis about the physical limitations of female bodies has got to take that into consideration or else it is worthless. (This is the thesis of The Frailty Myth by Colette Dowling, by the way.) 

Women are told it is unfeminine and gross to have muscles and to cultivate strength, which in turn leads them to actively avoid doing things that will build muscles and strength, which then makes them even less capable of doing things that require strength, which the critics then use as proof of women’s inherent physical frailty.

Let that sink in along with the first article, and then put that on the backburner too.

Now: a few weeks ago, I watched the following clip of Mythbusters in which they try to debunk the concept of "throwing like a girl." Go ahead, watch it. It's good:

They tested males and females of four different age groups, and then decided to RE-test them, making them throw with their non-dominant arm because it was the only way to correct for the inherent cultural bias towards males - in general, boys are taught early on how to play catch ("playing catch is usually a boys' game") and they've had a lot more time, practice, and encouragement to do well at throwing and catching than girls. Of course there are always exceptions, but there's enough of a bias there that they had to account for it as a scientific variable, and once they did, they found that there isn't any profound difference between the way males and females "naturally" throw. Fancy that.

Women CAN do pullups, just like men can. Women CAN throw just as well as men. 

Women CAN. But a lot of the time? We DON'T. Because so often we're told that we can't and we're told that we shouldn't. We're expected to exercise so that we're not fat, but not so much that we become strong. Women in our society who are strong and muscular are considered manly and unfeminine and subject to questions about their sexuality. And then we're told by people who are eager to preserve the male position of privilege that men are MEANT to be the dominant ones, that historically they're the hunters and providers and women are the fairer sex and meant to support the men, and then you have all the people who are insistent that Chloie Jonsson not be allowed to compete against other women even though she is mentally, physically, emotionally, legally a woman, because of some misguided belief that all the other women in CrossFit can't stack up to her just because she happened to have male parts when she was born, even though there are plenty of cis women in CrossFit who could obliterate a large portion of the the cis male competitors as well as Chloie herself. 

Hooray, status quo! Keeping women weak since FOREVER!

So let's not accept this BS, okay? Let's NOT let our muscles atrophy - let's build them up even stronger. Let's be our best selves, whatever that means for you and your body. We are trying to fight back from under an enormous weight - let's not add more to our burden. As the quote goes, "Well-behaved women rarely make history." So let's make history and keep chipping away at the status quo. 

And let's continue to rock the booty shorts. Because I worked hard for my bulging thighs, dammit.

*ADDENDUM, 4/11/14*

Maybe my brain is broadcasting on some universe-wide frequency, or maybe I'm just incredibly consistent in my choice of Internet browsing, but since writing this blog post, two more things popped up on my radar that go along with what I've been saying here.

1. This is an old blog post (from 2006), but I just saw it for the first time yesterday. I think this quote sums it up rather well:

Now, this may seem strange from someone who writes about pretty dresses (mostly) every day, but: You Don't Have to Be Pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked "female".

2. And this video from Hank Green (vlogbrothers) was just posted today (Friday),

in which Hank addresses his concern about how, in our society, so many females measure their self-worth by how attractive males find them, and in typical Green brother styles, he recaps all these various historical standards of beauty with the point of demonstrating how arbitrary beauty (physical beauty) really is. "You exist for your sake!" he says, not for anyone else.

So, unless it's your job (in which case, I have no advice for you), you don't owe it to anyone but yourself to "look good." And even then, don't you owe it to yourself more to be happy and healthy (again, whatever "healthy" is for you personally), and to make your own decisions about your appearance rather than letting society dictate that for you?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Comparisons: Urban Decay Electric Palette vs. Sugarpill eye shadows

In case you already own a bunch of Sugarpill and are trying to decide about the UD Electric palette (or the reverse), here are some swatches I did. I tried to find the closest Sugarpill shades I could for each UD shade (and I do own the entire line except for one, which I know for a fact doesn't match anything in the palette). Since Sugarpill obviously has more shades, assume that if I didn't swatch it, then it didn't even come close.

Swatched using my fingers on bare skin.

Verdict: Pretty similar. Well, with a shimmery, sparkly bright silver, there are only so many ways you can go

Verdict: PRETTY close. Afterparty is a bit more blue than Gonzo, but just a smidge. Probably not a big enough difference to matter to the average person.

Verdict: Nothing similar. You could probably create a Slowburn-like shade by mixing Love+ and Flamepoint, but you may or may not be into that.

Verdict: REALLY REALLY similar. Love Buzz, one of the ElektroCutes, has sparkle to it, but otherwise, it's pretty much the same base shade of pink all around.

Verdict: Fringe is lighter/brighter than Starling (which I didn't do a good job of swatching). It's also got more of a sheen to it, whereas Starling is pretty much just sparkly. The other Sugarpill teals had more green, so I didn't bother.

Verdict: Pretty similar all around. Royal Sugar has sparkle to it, of course, but again, just like with Savage, it's the same blue base. (I did take a gander at Sugarpill's Hellatronic in comparison, and it's FAR more purpley, so I didn't bother retaking the photo.)

Verdict: Nothing super close. Jilted is more purpley than Magentric, which is the closest thing I could find (but wasn't identical or anything).

Verdict: Nothing close here either. Poison Plum is redder and more matte, and the two loose shadows weren't nearly close.

Verdict: Tipsy is pretty close, but it's not as bright. Absinthe is a bit more yellow.

Verdict: Nothing remotely close. It's too yellow to match any of the greens, and obviously too green to match either of the two yellows (which I didn't bother swatching). I tacked on Fringe again to see if it matched either of the other two, but not so much.

So, only you can decide for yourself if you need multiple bright shades, but hopefully this helped you with your decision-making a little. Also keep in mind that if you're new to brights and are just learning to experiment, then a palette would be a good way to go if you want more shades in smaller amounts, whereas Sugarpill's products are all full-size (even their palettes), but if you only want a couple of shades, then that may be a better choice.

Note that I haven't even TRIED to compare UD's Electric palette shades against their existing eye shadow line. They have SO MANY that I bet there are quite a few shades that are really similar to each other...

Happy makeupping!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Urban Decay's Electric Palette - swatches & stuff

In truth, as excited as I was for UD's new Electric palette, I had already decided that it had a lot to live up to. No person who knows about the existence of brands like Sugarpill could avoid making comparisons, I think. For me, Sugarpill is the end-all, be-all of bright, electric color, and though Urban Decay wasn't always famous for its Naked palettes, even the colors they had before weren't, like, ELECTRIC. They were edgy, and beautiful, and colorful in their range (in fact, Sugarpill's Cold Chemistry collection is the most Urban Decay-ish set of shadows they have), but not necessarily BRIGHT BRIGHT BRIGHT.

Nonetheless, I was excited. There are some gorgeous shades in this palette, some Sugarpill-ish and some that are more along UD lines:

I agree with other bloggers who say that a pure yellow would've been more useful than, say, the silver, and that this palette trends towards the blue side of the spectrum. But every shade here is really beautiful, and it turns out that I don't mind having to bring in neutrals to make these shades more wearable. In fact, if you want a fairly versatile eye shadow collection with minimal products to own, I would recommend getting one of the Naked palettes and getting this palette. (It wouldn't be enough for ME, of course, but for people who don't fuss with makeup much, but still want things to play with, that would be pretty much all you need.)

L to R: Revolution, Gonzo, Slowburn, Savage, Fringe
Revolution is your standard-issue sparkly silver. Nothing special, and I'm not super sure why it's even in an ELECTRIC palette, aside from the fact that people need something neutral that works with each of the other colors in the palette.

Gonzo is LOVELY in the pan, but came out less pigmented than I would've liked. (But still pretty pigmented. Like I said, my expectations are super high.)

Slowburn - Holy geez. THE FORCE IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE. I don't know how often I will wear this shade, but it was REALLY pigmented. It's reddish-orange, rather than just orange.

Savage was also SUPER pigmented. It's very similar to Sugarpill's Dollipop.

Fringe was one of the shades I was really excited about (even though it's one of the two repromotes. I guess I should pay more attention to the eye shadow collection I already have). It does kind of veer towards the "calmer" side of the spectrum in terms of brightness, and is shimmery (as opposed to the previous three shades, which are kind of matte or satin).

L to R: Chaos, Jilted, Urban, Freak, Thrash
Chaos, I DO remember - it's from one of the Vice palettes. It's very similar to Sugarpill's Royal Sugar and Velocity (which are similar to each other). Not a blue for the faint of heart.

Jilted is so pretty. At first I was like, I think I already have a lot of things in this shade, and then I realized I was thinking of my lipstick collection. And like Fringe, this isn't so much ELECTRIC, so much as jewel-toned, but I'll take it.

Urban, I was REALLY excited for, because I love my purples. UD loves purple (as it's their trademark color), and I think this shade is really beautiful.

Freak looks just like their eye pencil of the same name. It looks really bright in the pan, but is much softer and more shimmery when swatched.

Thrash is a really yellowy lime green, and like Slowburn, I'm not sure how often I will wear this shade, but it's nice to have.

Do you love Urban Decay and want a fun way to experiment with bright colors without investing in a gazillion full-sized eye shadows that might not get a ton of use? Buy this palette. Already own a bunch of Sugarpill? You're probably fine with what you've got - I don't think you'll miss much if you don't buy this palette.

I am wearing Freak and Fringe on the lid and lower lashline, and Gonzo in the crease.

Divergent: The Movie

I first read Divergent (and the second book, Insurgent) almost a year ago, so I had already known that there was going to be a movie, and I spent a lot of time on IMDB while I was reading just to match up names with (the actors') faces. In fact, the thing that got me interested in reading Divergent was the fact that Shailene Woodley had JUST been announced as Hazel for The Fault in Our Stars (one of my dearest, most favorite books), and there were a lot of people online whining, "She gets to be in both TFIOS and Divergent????" Hearing the two books get mentioned together a lot, even for that sort of a comparison, made me really curious.

So, I spent the summer tracking the Divergent tag on Tumblr and found all sorts of cool things about the movie, which was currently being filmed in Chicago, and I devoured all the interviews and panels from Comic Con, and I pretty much found myself obsessed with everything about Divergent, from the books, to the movie, to a certain THEO JAMES. I haven't been waiting as long as many fans for this movie to come out, but trust me, it still felt like a long time. And now, finally, here we are.

Overall, I loved it. It wasn't as good as Catching Fire, but seriously, CF was ridiculously exceptional as an adaptation, so I think that it will be difficult to find any others (YAF) that are THAT well done. What do I look for in a book-to-movie adaptation, you ask? Well, a few things... I understand, of course, that novels and movies are two totally different forms of media, and that there will always be differences, and that you can't fit EVERYTHING from a book into a two-hour movie. You just can't. A lot of people still can't get over that. That's why it's called an adaptation. What matters to me is whether the changes they decided to make add to or detract from the experience of the story.

But duh, right? That's what everyone is looking for. It's just that some people are better at accepting this idea than others. When I watch a movie version of a book I love, I take into consideration things that are acceptable losses and whether the things the writers/directors cut from the movie harm the story in any way, and I also keep an eye out for ways in which the movie improves upon the book. It rarely happens, but it is possible for a movie to be better than its source.

I thought Divergent the movie did a good job of capturing the essence of the novel and bringing it to life, and certain things that I breezed by when reading were suddenly more impactful in visual form. There were some things that were noticeably missing, and though I lamented them a little bit, I did not feel that the overall story was harmed in any way, and the ending was JUST ambiguous enough to lead to a sequel, but still stood well on its own in wrapping up the plot for this installment.

From here on out, my post will include spoilers from the book and movie, so if you don't want to know anything, then maybe you shouldn't read this. (But, from what I hear, you shouldn't rely on the major published reviews either, because what do those guys know about fandom, anyway??? Do stuffy old snobby critic guys spend time reading dystopian YAF?)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Eff that noise.

Take your negativity and piss off.
Not that I've run recently (but I'm trying!), but I get kind of annoyed when I see people post stuff like the image above.

Of COURSE I take it personally. I DO share my workouts on my Facebook. I post because I'm proud of having accomplished anything athletic, and I post because people have been moved to sign up for races or do whatever form of activity they love as a direct result of seeing my posts. (I'm not assuming, they've TOLD me this. And it's a great feeling.)

I'm not here to tell people how to work out, and I'm not here to tell people TO work out. YOU DO YOU. I'm a big supporter of that. But not if that involves you raining on my hard-earned parade.

Seriously, "unfollow" and/or "unfriend" are literally a click away. (God knows I make good use of those buttons.) I'm sorry-notsorry if you're annoyed that I wax ecstatic about the things I love, but if you can't deal with that, we don't have to be friends.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sugarpill Sparkle Baby swatches - Frostine, Hotsy Totsy, and Kitten Parade

Well, three out of four. (Candy Crush was out of stock. But it WILL be mine, oh yes.)

L to R: Frostine, Hotsy Totsy, and Kitten Parade
I'm so excited to have these! They're not available through Sugarpill.net yet, but I found them at a store in LA, and I ordered them over the phone (since I'm not in Southern California).


These are really, really pretty, and as always, the quality is stellar. Well, Frostine is a little powdery, but that's just what happens with pastels. It's got this really great, subtle iridescence to it. Hotsy Totsy is the brightest of this collection, though pretty tame compared to other Sugarpill pinks we've seen before. It's got some sparkle to it. Kitten Parade is my favorite of the three, a beautiful peachy-pink with gold shimmer.  All smooth, all pigmented, all lovely.

The last one that I'm missing is Candy Crush, which appears to be a sort of baby blue/pale aqua. I'll post when I get it :)

Urban Decay Early Exclusive Sample - 24/7 Velvet Glide-On Eye Pencil!

I love that UD occasionally sends out sample-sized versions of upcoming products, and I especially love when I manage to snag one :)

So, this is interesting! I can't tell if this is just a new black pencil or if there are going to be a whole line of Velvet pencils in different colors, but the finish on this one is different. 

It reminds me of charcoal, a very black charcoal. And much more matte than even Perversion, which does have a sort of sheen to it. Here, see for yourself:

L to R: Zero, Black Velvet, Perversion
Perversion is inky-black and extremely soft and creamy. It's got a touch of satin in its finish, and in my lighting, it leans a little blue.  Black Velvet is black, black, black, and I found it to be slightly harder in texture Perversion, less slippery, which you may like or you may not like. 

Either way, if you're a black pencil enthusiast, you definitely won't want to miss out on Black Velvet when they finally release it. (I don't know when that will be.)