Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty

Ever wonder why babies are cute, why gentlemen prefer blondes, or why the human ballsack is the size that it is? Hmmm, ok maybe not that last one, but the answers are pretty interesting.

The subject of beauty is far from only skin deep, and it strikes me how very perfect the book’s title is. Beauty isn’t just incidental, and the source of frivolous fun or petty envy. It’s deeply tied into our instincts as living things, something we share with even the flowers, and goes back virtually as far as we do. This book leaves no stone unturned, and encompasses science, sociology, and of course biology in a way that’s truly fun to read. Not only that, but Nancy Etcoff’s own personal touch is extremely compelling, and this alone makes the book worth a read. This combined with the huge amount of learning inside is likely to leave you with a whole new perspective on a subject you once held strong and long-lived opinions about.

What’s interesting here is the particular way that this information offers up new meaning to the subject of beauty. To understand how beauty has transformed us biologically and culturally into the creatures that we are, it becomes both more important and yet less important all at once. Without beauty, we simple would not be, but who we have become also gives us the power to appreciate it in the most enlightening way possible. This isn’t a book so much about sitting in front of the mirror, putting on makeup and poking at your belly as it is about humanity itself. It strikes me as extremely valuable, and it can and should be read by people of all genders and ages. This book is awesome, and as it meets both my demands of educational and entertaining, I can’t recommend it enough.

Rather just see the movie? Well, there isn’t one exactly, but you might want to check out The Human Face.

Other recommended reads:  The History of Beauty, Sex in History.

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How to Lose a Guy in Ten Minutes

We’ve all had that one boyfriend/girlfriend/other who irritated us to death, but that we just couldn’t bear to break up with because we felt sorry for them. What if there was an alternative – a way to get rid of him that not only doesn’t include breaking up with him, but ensures he’ll be happy to leave you? I have the perfect plan. Mix and match any of these tips to your liking for the perfect lover-repelling experience.

– Make his visits to your place extremely unpleasant. Show him some very old vacation photos and talk about your favorite gas station. Put your male pet in a dress and baby-talk to him. And make him talk back. For you. All the time. Involve him heavily in every conversation. Talk all about his favorite hobbies.

– Attempt to recruit him to help you with some very unpleasant chores. Like scrubbing under the sink. Say you’ve been trying all day but you have a bad back, could he please help? Oh what a darling he is! Oh and don’t forget to get all around the pipes. And get rid of that mysterious corpse-like smell.

-Make your dad, or any other male member of your household walk around in very tight short shorts. He shouldn’t wear a shirt and he should scratch his belly a lot.

 

Then start making all kinds of negative comments about “The Jews.” And the “homos” and the commies.

– Turn the tables on him. “Hey Lover, when are we going to get married? Maybe next month, we should elope to Hawaii. You can afford that right? Of course there’s nothing you wouldn’t do for me 😉 How many kids do you want? I’m thinking 6. We will name all of them Lover Jr. I don’t think it will be confusing, because we can just say each one with a different intonation, you know? Or we could put a different symbol in front of each one, like a hashtag. Our family band is going to be amazing. Speaking of which you need to get on those music and marketing lessons, I will not have a lazy husband.”

“OMG I should tattoo your name on my eyes!!! Wouldn’t that be awesome?? And you can get MY name tattooed on YOUR eyes!! HOLY CRAP THAT WOULD BE SO ROMANTIC!! I’ll make the appointment tomorrow!!”

– “Oh and since we’re getting married I guess I should tell you now. I’m into furries. That’s ok right? I mean I participate in YOUR fetishes. I’m going to buy you a furry head as a wedding gift and you can wear it ALL THE TIME! You are the best boyfriend ever!”

 – Goth Rosary brand perfume makes gross smells. Including barf and body cheese. Wear them every time he comes over.
– This is you…
– This is household member/friend #1..
-And the rest just dress like this…
– INSIST that these people become the godparents to your 6 kids. After all somebody will need to watch them when you go on your very frequent vacations to Antarctica.
– Start serving Fancy Feast for dinner. Tell him you just learned how very healthy it is, so now you insist the two of you eat nothing else.
– Keep offering him a beverage, but wink every time you hand it to him.
-Tell him how excited you are about him joining The Last Kindred of the Forgotten Divination, which you’ve already joined.
-Tell him you feel strongly about all sexual contact being only through the use of your astral bodies.
– Pick your nose. With your fork.
-Tell him about your big plans for a career in Philosophy.
– Related to the above, tell him you don’t need an income, because you don’t like, believe in the economy. It’s just an imaginary construct of society, man.
-Tell him you absolutely adore the brilliant musical stylings of Kanye West.

I How I Planned a Hassle-Free Vow Renewal in One Week for Only 22$*

Well, it’s now been a whole five years since Mr. Strange and I were married. And for almost all of that time, I’ve been grumbling bitterly about our wedding. I won’t bore you with the details but let me just say I wanted a do-over. I mean a second do-over, because the two sides of my family are like oil and water and I needed a chance for my dad to be included, too. Well, it happened, and the ironic thing about weddings is it’s the kind of thing that you really do get better at with practice. Now that we’re at #3 I think it’s safe to say we’ve gotten pretty damn good at this.

It started a week before. Our fifth anniversary was coming up, and we wanted to make it special, though our finances were hardly improved since we did the real deal. On that quiet Saturday at work I got into the planning mood, and just out of curiosity I Googled “cheap wedding venues in Winnipeg.” Literally the FIRST suggestion to come up, on Yahoo Answers, was a place I’d never heard of called Pineridge Hollow just outside of town. It’s a restaurant that also includes a clothing and furniture shop, and gorgeous outdoor surroundings specifically intended for weddings. I looked up the place online and really didn’t need to look any further. We made a reservation at the restaurant for 15 people, and didn’t ask for any set-up. A Facebook event was made and that was about it until the day of the event itself. Let me dissect the rest before I go on to describe the evening.

Invitations: None = 0$. We just created a Facebook event like all the kids are doing these days.

You gotta like free.

Rings: We’re already married, so we already had them and didn’t need a ring pillow either. Free again! But if this is your first wedding together, here’s where you can get some unique and affordable options.

Decor: Nothing but nature, baby. And centerpieces? Nah. 0$.

Mr. Strange’s clothes: Nothing but what he already owned; nice black pants, a blue button-down from our real wedding, and a nice hat that he wears often. 0$.

Wedding dress: Years ago I saw a beautiful pale pink cocktail dress online going for just $108. Things sell-out often on that site, so I couldn’t afford to put it off. Because I owned this for so long before the big day, had worn it twice already and will definitely wear it again, I’m not counting it as an expense. It couldn’t be more perfect for the occasion, but in the end I just pulled this out of my closet. 0$.

Veil: I didn’t wear one then, and I didn’t wear one now. $0.

Shoes: It takes a mighty special pair of shoes to not leave my feet beaten and bloodied by the end of the day, and when I find them, I stick with them. Who wants to pay for pain? I’m not a masochist. I wore my everyday shoes, even though they’re black and didn’t technically match my pastel dress. 0$

Hair and makeup: I did this myself instead of visiting a salon, and accessorized my hair with a gold hair vine I wore on our wedding day. I bought nothing new. 0$.

Jewelry: You guessed it, I didn’t wear anything new here either. I wore some “diamond” studded fake tapers (I bought them before I actually started stretching, and if I didn’t wear them now I probably never would) and a key necklace my brother made for me many years ago.

DJ: Music wasn’t involved in this particular vow renewal, but if it had been I would have DJ-ed myself with the help of an iPhone. 0$

Photography: Mr. Strange brought his fancy camera along and we all took turns shooting each other with it. More time would have been nice for this, but oh well. 0$

Food and alcohol: We were at a restaurant and all ordered for ourselves. As a gift, my dad covered the two of us on his bill. So with that, 0$

Wedding cake: We could have ordered dessert with our meal, but we were all full. If this had been a bigger event, I would have bought a lot of cupcakes. But as it stands, 0$

Venue: It does get used for “real” weddings frequently, but as far as our small group was concerned this was little more than some people going to dinner. We also didn’t ask for any special set-up, so the venue fee was 0$.

Officiant: As ours was not a legally binding ceremony, we printed our original wedding ceremony, changed a few words, and had it read by a very good friend. 0$

Other: Vow renewals don’t have wedding parties, which means no bridesmaid’s dresses, groomsmen’s suits, and other various things. While real weddings usually have these things, they’re not a necessity. If you’re broke, consider keeping the wedding party to a minimum and letting them wear their own clothes.

Flowers: this was literally the only true expense in our entire event. They came from the grocery store, and I tied them with gold ribbon from the dollar store. total cost: $22.

That’s it! Sunday morning we got up and went to the Pancake House for brunch, and while we ate Mr. Strange Googled on his phone (he’s such a rude fuck) for an open florist nearby. None were open, so, we headed to the grocery store. I had a small pink and white bouquet in mind, but grocery stores are not usually known for their wide flower selection. What they did have, I think since it was Pride day and it’s huge here, were half-dozen bouquets of rainbow-colored roses for $20. At the dollar store next door I bought two little spools of gold ribbon. When we got home I slightly shortened the stems and wrapped them tightly in the ribbon. DIY florist-ing, bitches!

They're gay, and they're spectacular.

They’re gay, and they’re spectacular.

If you’re curious how this is done and/or want to make some for yourself (of course you do), you start with white roses. Split the bottom of the stem into as many pieces as you want colors, and put each piece into a separate vessel of water, each with a different color of food coloring. As the roses drink up the water, they’ll soak up the color too, and 24 hours and some unicorn farts later, you’ve got yourself the coolest damn roses ever and a whole new way to honor Pride.

So anyway, I did my own hair in a very simple earthy style with just loose curls and a couple pieces on the sides pulled back with my hair vine pinned across the back, and did my own makeup with a little more care than usual. Mike got dressed too and we drove to the venue where we met up with my dad and the rest of our guests.

Pre-event selfie!

Pre-event selfie!

Pineridge Hollow is such a charming little place that I was a little bit sad I hadn’t known about it years ago. It was perfect, exactly what I’d always wanted. Simple, pretty, rustic, full of character, and with a huge outdoor element. Someone else was having a full-on wedding reception in a large tent behind the main building, but it was somewhat tucked away and none of us were in each others way – the area we were in had nobody in it but us. On the lawn and among the scenery we were able to spot no less than 7 wedding arches where a ceremony could be held, including stone steps, beautiful benches and chairs, and a small artificial pond with a little waterfall and a bridge crossing over it into a small space enclosed by… what would you call that? It was like a room made of branches with a couple lanterns hanging from the ceiling. It was the perfect size for our little group, and made it feel wonderfully intimate, so that’s the spot we chose. Theresa, who was my maid of honor at our wedding, read our original though slightly edited ceremony. It was meaningful but it was pleasantly short, just under 10 minutes or so. When it was over we high-fived. It was great.

We all goofed off with the camera for a bit, and at 6pm we headed in for dinner. We were lead upstairs to a minimalist room with hardwood floors, exposed rafters in the high ceilings, and huge windows. The food was gorgeous and delicious, and it felt amazing to be surrounded by so many people who were close to us, knowing they were there to help us celebrate our anniversary. It meant the world to me. My only complaint was that the food was painfully slow to arrive. It took an entire hour and a half. WTF! oh well, if that was our only complaint I guess the whole thing worked out pretty damn well.

Me and the girls

Being surrounded by some of my best friends in the world: Priceless

If I didn’t have such a difficult family situation, which pushed us into eloping, I can honestly say this is exactly what I would have been looking for the first time around. The guest list would have been bigger, we would have sent out proper invitations, and we would have been the ones in the big tent pumping awesome self-DJ-ed tunes. But essentially this was perfect. It was so simple and relaxed we could just focus on how it felt to enjoy each others company. My dad finally got to see us take our vows. It was awesome. I would totally do it again.

Now of course I realize that the chances of anyone recreating this down to the last cent are slim to none, but I hope there are still some ideas in here that you may find helpful. The most important thing about planning a wedding is to prioritize. Think about what really matters to you, focus on that and don’t sweat the rest. Your wedding is over so damn fast, but hopefully your marriage lasts forever.

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*Goddamn, that Asterisk makes this look like a shady sales deal. I promise it’s nothing sinister. I just need to mention that if yours is a legal ceremony, there will be some fees involved with that. Then probably rings, and maybe your dad won’t buy you dinner. Plus our guests paid for their own food. Really though, when you consider the cost of the average wedding, this amount is quite negligible.

Mirror, Mirror, Off The Wall: How I Learned to Love My Body by Not Looking at it For a Year

Omg I can’t believe I read this so long ago but still haven’t written a word in review. Well, since my blog has been a big stagnant lately it’s worth a shot trying to remember this one.

I first heard about this book when the author was interviewed on The Daily Show. This is a sociologist who challenged herself to not look in a mirror – or any reflecting surfaces – for an entire year. A year which just so happened to include her wedding day. Now while this may come across as a nice fluffy little self-esteem booster book, the author is well-educated enough to take this subject deeper, and we’re not left without a good dose of accessibly written psychology and sociology. I can’t remember all of the points she made, but the most fascinating one to me was exploring how mirrors almost serve as a form of companionship when we’re alone. We know it’s only the illusion of another person sitting there, we’re not beta fish, but we get a small amount of satisfaction that there is either way. Mirrors also have a way of affirming our existence. It sounds silly, obviously we know we exist, but it was interesting to note how Kjerstin started to feel after some time, almost doubting that because she couldn’t see herself, she wasn’t really there. She could only see other people.

The biggest message I got out of this book though was not that she suddenly started feeling physically beautiful – she was forced to focus more on her emotions, deep within herself, and her loved ones around her, those outside of herself, as opposed to the body in between. She learned to trust those around her more because she relied on them to make sure that she didn’t, say, have a booger hanging out of her nose, and she learned to pay more attention to her emotional self-esteem rather than her appearance. She didn’t feel beautiful because she knew she looked beautiful – she felt beautiful because she felt loved by those around her, and that’s what really mattered. Her appearance still caused her anxiety, especially as she had no idea what she looked like, but she gradually learned not to care. It simply wasn’t important. I think that’s a very valuable thing to take away here. Some people are ugly. Yep. While it’s nice to want to make ugly people, or yourself, feel physically beautiful, I felt the most important thing here was to learn that it just plain doesn’t matter. It’s such a tiny part of life. What matters is your mind, and your soul, and your relationships. Looks are a thing, but they’re not anywhere near being the most important thing. We have so much more to get our validation and happiness from. And while learning these important lessons it was nice to hear about these soul-searching thoughts and every day experiences from a very educated, sympathetic, real-life person. This wasn’t philosophy, it was real. We get to read all of her insecurities, all her learning experiences, and how all her relationships evolve. It was enlightening and it was fun. This was a great book, but it was great in a way that I didn’t expect. I feel that it could easily prove to be an important book for a whole lot of us, women, men, or anybody else.

How to Get Out of Bed

This article was originally published on Offbeat Home http://offbeathome.com/2014/03/how-to-get-out-of-bed

I get it. What others might see as a chronic case of laziness is actually paralyzing depression. The thought of getting out of bed is like running a marathon. The thought of getting better is like getting a PhD in life, something you want no part of. You haven’t even changed your clothes in four days. Today, we’re going to take it easy. Forget about all those thoughts that are slowly crushing you. Today we’re just going to take a shower. That’s it. Don’t worry if you forget your meds right now. If a shower is too much, run the bath. Just put two feet on the floor, get in there and soak.

Take as long as you need to. Don’t think about the mean things people have said while they thought they were helping. They don’t get it and it’s not your problem. You don’t owe the world anything but your best effort, and it already got you in here, so you’re doing great.

Now look at what you’ve accomplished. More than you have in days. You’re doing it. Let’s build on that. Time to take your meds. It’s an important step. The only thing you have to do today is take your meds.

You’ve done some very important things. Facing the day can be tough, but you’ve already gotten so much out of the way. But there’s just one thing you need to do. All we’re going to do today is get dressed. It can be ugly, it can be comfy, it can be something that makes you feel beautiful. There are no rules. Wear what you want. Don’t worry about impressing anyone. There. Doesn’t that feel better already?

All we’re going to do today is eat. I know you haven’t been hungry, and if you were you don’t feel like you deserve to eat anyway. But you have to eat to live, and for now, for just this moment, that’s what’s going on. You’re living. It’s a big deal, but a bowl of cereal isn’t. You can sit under your therapy light while you eat. You can cuddle your animal or a teddy bear while you eat. Just eat. Eating is showing yourself some of the love that you need right now.

It’s over. You’ve done so much. There are no expectations placed on you today, but do remember that there is a strong correlation between depression and creativity. You might not realize it, but there’s something in there that you’re amazing at. Write, paint, compose. It doesn’t have to be good. You don’t have to finish it. You don’t have to show anyone. But just look what you can do. Look at simply what you can get done. You who thought just an hour ago they couldn’t even get out of bed. This is huge. You can do this.

Perfect Headband Curls

So you saw headband curls on Pinterest, thought “ERMEGERD so cool!”, tried it out, and hated the result. Why must everything on Pinterest be so misleading!! Well I know that you can indeed get perfect curls this way, but the other tutorials seem to skip a couple steps. Let me fill in the blanks.

I’m not going to get too deep into the basics because you already know that by now. But let me just say that if your hair is fairly long, or if you have a hard time keeping one side tightly wrapped while you do the other, two headbands, one for each side, is a good solution. So there you are in all your going-to-bed hotness, you sleep on it, wake up, and now we’re ready to begin.

 

Here’s the front when it’s wrapped, your starting point.

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Realistically, you CAN wear this out of the house.

The back, meanwhile, if you used two headbands, looks like this.

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Ok, so you take the curls out of the headband, and you are immediately disappointed, because it looks like shit.

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The look on your face of course will match this picture as well. This is not what you signed up for! Well it’s at this point that the extra steps come in. First of all, brush it. I know the tutorials all say not to, but fuck that we’re brushing today.

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Then to smooth it out and calm down any frizz, run some mousse through it. So now you got this.

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Ok so now you grab the top layer of each side, hairspray it, and tease it. I like mine to be HUGE.

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I know it’s a little hard to tell the difference between the last two pictures, but trust me that teasing is important. This curling method doesn’t curl your hair at the top, so it can look quite flat compared to the rest. Teasing it helps to even things out, and as far as I’m concerned, big curly hair is the best curly hair.

So just fuss and tinker, and shape the curls by twirling it around in your fingers a bit, you know. I also find a little styler/flat iron thing is great for curling the ends where they got loose from the headband, and calming down any parts that got too curly. I always get one little piece like that in the front. But that’s it! It’s not quite as quick as they lead you to believe, but it’s not bad.

 

Hey, there we go!

Hey, there we go!

And since we all know that any kind of set can often turn out inconsistent when you’re not a pro, here’s another example of my hair at this stage, from about a month or two ago.

There we go!

A less than perfect job and it still looks good!

And on a particularly good day, with particularly good lighting, you might even be able to make it look like this.

Hellooo profile picture.

Hellooo profile picture.

In the set I’ve included pictures of, it looked its very best after sleeping on it for a night. All you have to do in the morning is brush, add a touch of mousse, and ruffle it a bit.

 

Perfect

Perfect

When I wrapped it up again that second night and left it dry, to preserve the curls over a few more days, I timed myself at exactly four minutes. This is officially the absolute quickest way I have ever found to curl my hair, as long as you plan about 5-8 hours ahead. Practice this one, tinker and play with it a bit, and you’re sure to find this will be one of your go-tos too 🙂

I’m a Blond! – Color B4 and Nice ‘N Easy

My hair has been dyed for the last 10 years. For the most part it has been red or red/brown, and at other times it has been white, yellow, blue, green, black, and pink. Most recently it’s been pink into brown (ie faded black) ombre, and I haven’t done my roots in 6 months.

My main reason is laziness. To get my hair pink, as you may have read, I have to dye my roots light blond first, and then the pink dye is a totally separate process. It’s a pain in the ass. I hate it. It’s bullshit and I didn’t want to do it anymore, so I just stopped. That has been leaving me looking a little… blah.

Before, with 6 months of root.

Before, with 6 months of root.

Mr. Strange has been wanting to see me go blond pretty much forever, since that’s my natural color and the color it was when he first met me. He also just likes change. I’ve been feeling a little less than fabulous lately, so I decided to take the plunge and try to go from pink-brown to blond at home. Brave, I most definitely am.

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So here’s what I used to do this. As you know, I HATE bleach. I don’t mean I have anything specific against it, it’s not like it’s ever done anything to hurt me personally. But it’s harsh and I’m afraid to use it so I just don’t. Instead, I used Color B4, which is a color stripper, which I had had lying around for a few months. By some miracle I was also able to find a dye in my exact natural shade (natural medium ash blond), and on sale for 7$.

The way Color B4 works is by shrinking the color molecules in your hair, so that they just rinse away. It doesn’t do anything to lighten your base color, so it’s really safe and doesn’t do anything you don’t want it to. But now here’s where things for me got weird.

 

Umm...WTF?

Umm…WTF?

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Absolutely no blue dye was used in the making of this photo.

Through either some fluke of science or sorcery that I don’t understand, it turned my hair blue. Explain that one, Bill Nye! But it wasn’t some deep rich blue. It looked like it had been a deep rich blue at least 6 months ago and I had now started my own squeegee-ing business. Luckily I stayed totally relaxed about the whole thing (I had been considering doing blue ends anyway) and just went ahead with everything as planned, putting the dye on top of it. I cannot be stopped.

Almost immediately the blue faded away into a nice deep blond. Now let me tell you, the Color B4 was no picnic in that tiny bathroom. It smelled kind of like an open sewer. But it had nothing on the dye. An impenetrable wall of eye-watering toxic stench formed around me and I had to escape to the living room a couple times to catch my breath. I have never experienced anything that bad, so thank god I never have to use it ever again. In Clairol’s defense however, I must say the color turned out spectacular.

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After. About 20$ spent and no trip to the salon required. Am I good at this or what?

I didn’t bother with the roots, because why, and I can see absolutely no demarcation line between them and the dye. The color is not only exactly the same, but just like the box promised it has many tones in it so it looks totally natural. Nice! Well after all, I guess they did owe me after subjecting me to that stink.

I am super happy with the way my hair looks, super proud of myself for making this work on my own, and especially super happy that with my hair back to natural I will no longer be required to do any root upkeep. My current plan is to go ahead and continue playing with color on the bottom half, leaving the top half the hell alone so that dye jobs only have to happen when I want them to, not when I need them to. I would definitely call this a success.