Friday, January 31, 2014

Make-Up and Transformations

Now, I'm very much a Feminist (especially as an avid Gender Studies major) and because of this I'm rather disappointed with how the media portrays beauty and body image. Perfect, poreless, skinny skeletons are obviously not a great image to throw at impressionable preteens or even full grown females for that matter. (and it's quite misleading for males as well) These archetypes are troublesome for the entire human population and yet we continue to don and dote them all the time, whether they be on television, in magazines, on billboards, in movies, or even on our Facebook news feeds. Subconsciously, these images become so ingrained in us and we are so influenced by them (perhaps subliminally) that we aspire to reach these unrealistic standards which are unhealthy and unreasonable! These photoshopped portraits are fake and phony! After pics of women (and men, who look completely fine the way they naturally are) are retouched and edited, they end up looking like awkward aliens with uncomfortable poses and disgustingly flawless features that are artificial and superficial. I say all this not to sound redundant, but to make the point that our world desperately needs more realistic, diverse, and reachable standards of beauty.

With all of this being said, I was honestly a bit tom-boyish growing up. I rebelled in my own little secret way by refusing to wear make-up. I've always struggled with acne and I figured it would make my skin worse anyway, so why bother?  My mom was never a great role model in my life, so I never learned the art from her and I thought it best to embrace the natural beauty of a clean, plain face. 

When I reached high school, however, my mind changed. I became a full on Fashionista and tried to wear cute outfits everyday, so I thought a splash of color here or there with my eye shadow would be a fun way to color coordinate my eyes to match my outfits. But I didn't exactly get the best feedback from friends. One of my best guy friends straight up asked me "Why do you match your make-up to all of your outfits? You should really stop." Another girl who I wasn't really close to got all up in my grill and said "You need to stop putting all of that on your face, it's why your skin is so bad" and then walked away as if nothing happened. I recall another day when I was feeling adventurous and I wanted to try a peacock feather look and when I showed the results of my dabbling to my foster sister, she responded by saying "You kind of look like a clown." These comments upset me and I stopped wearing make-up for years. Until I reached college.

 ^^^Me tryna look all cute back in high school^^^

Now that I'm in college and I'm a grown woman, I'm learning to enjoy the creativity that comes with cosmetics. I used to think that make-up was pretentious and a mask that insecure women hid behind, but after watching this video, I thought it was so much more: 

^^^ A little bit of background behind this video: Cassandra Bankson is a model and make-up guru with severe acne and she shares all of her brilliant tips and tricks with the internet world on her Youtube channel, DiamondsAndHeels. If you like this vid, be sure to check out more of her work here: DiamondsAndHeels

I had always dreamed of having flawless skin and I never thought that make-up could make this a reality. (or, at least the illusion of reality) And so I became inspired to learn how to properly apply make-up and use it to my advantage in accentuating my natural beauty. 

I swear, everything I know about make-up was learned from Youtube and Pinterest!I did NOT become a pro over night, but I do have a few tips and tricks of my very own that I learned from the vids I've watched and the friends I've talked to over time. A good one for ensuring that your eye shadow stays on is to dab a little bit of lip balm on your eye lids with your index finger before applying the colors and then closing your eyes and spraying a fine mist of hair spray to seal the look. (I learned these from theater major friends/drag queens) This will allow your make-up to set and stay neat for up to 8 hours or more! (and I'm speaking from experience, so don't be afraid to try it!) I've also learned one of the secrets to clearer skin, and it's to moisturize, moisturize, MOISTURIZE! I use both a daily moisturizer with SPF 30 in the morning and a night cream before going to bed. Never deprive your skin of the care it needs and this is essential especially in the cold, dry winter months that leave your skin chaffed and rough. (On a side note: I ALSO thought that using make-up on my sensitive skin would increase the amount of breakouts I had, but this is, in fact, FALSE! I use Neutrogena SkinClearing oil-free makeup foundation with Salicylic Acid which fights acne as you wear it, and I also use Clinique pore refining cream to diminish the look of enlarged pores. There is NO product placement intended here, and I am most definitely NOT sponsored by these companies to advertise their brands, but these items DO work and leave my skin as clear as can be!)

Anyways, what I discovered after getting acquainted with make-up is how much of a difference it makes in my appearance. I really go all out when I wear it, putting on primer, foundation, concealer, pore refining cream, eye shadow, liner, mascara, lip stick, lip gloss, the works, and I like to get intricate so I'll take about an hour to do so. I don't wear make-up often at all, only when there's a special occasion, so when I do, I like to make a big impression. I really do call it my "transformation" and as I was curious to see just how much of a difference it makes, I decided to go ahead and take before and after shots. Here's the best one below: 

Keep in mind I did NOT photoshop either of these images at all! I did take the second picture in better lighting and I did mess with the brightness,contrast, color and sharpness of the pic, but they were very minor adjustments that didn't have much of an effect in altering my appearance. You have to admit though that make-up creates a significant change in the way I look. In the "Before" photo, you can clearly tell I have blemishes from acne scars, and if you really zoom in you can see my skin is very porous. (also keep in mind that I took these pics on a GOOD day. There are times where my skin is WAY more broken out than it was in these pictures) But in the "After" photo, I've made my skin look almost completely flawless, as smooth as porcelain and brought out my features with the bold colors. 

I guess my take away message here is that although we live in a society with ridiculous standards of beauty and outrageous expectations of what we should do and who we should be (for women especially), we can redefine these concepts and make them work for us! We don't have to be against things like make-up to seem down to earth and intellectual, but we can learn to utilize them as tools to enhance ourselves and celebrate femininity. Is make-up a necessity for me? No, not at all. But I wear it because it's fun and it makes me feel good (when you look good you feel good!) and that's all that counts. 

So in the meantime, I'm going to go out dancing with some friends tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to getting all dolled up and fancy. My friends and I have agreed to photograph our before and after "transformations" and I'll be sure to update this post with the pics. Thanks for reading and stay classy. ;) 

                                                                                               ~ Sky xoxo

February 1st, 2014 UPDATE!!!!!!!!!!

Here's my look for the night out with my friends. I did a dramatic smokey eye for the first time. Always wanted to try it :)

I think it looks pretty chic. You? 

Me and my little toothy smile. Tee hee hee ^_^


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