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.

Organizing Your Makeup – For the Average Person

I’m not a pro, and while I love to experiment once in a while, I really wouldn’t consider myself a makeup geek or fanatic in any way. I’m terrible at application and I’ve had the same basic routine for about 2 years with just a few tweeks here and there depending on my changing moods. So I really don’t have a lot of makeup, but being femme I still have enough to get REALLY messy really fast. I’m thinking most of you fit into this same category.
So when I got a little too frustrated by the little hurricane covering my dresser, I started looking up videos on how to organize it all. I should have expected that virtually all of these videos were geared towards makeup artists and fanatics, people with multiple huge eyeshadow palettes (DVD stackers are perfect for that!) and tackle boxes full of lipsticks.


Clearly, I have no need for this stuff. I won’t be running off to Walmart to buy a 3 foot high plastic set of drawers.
But it did give me some ideas, which I would like to pass on to you. Since my makeup collection is a whole lot smaller, I just made the storage smaller. I got some glasses out of the kitchen (hey, no spending!) of the size I felt was appropriate. They should be clear so you can see what’s inside them. In one of them I put all the tall skinny things, like mascara, lip gloss, and eyeliner. I may actually need to get a bit of a bigger glass for those. In another I put the flat things like eye shadows and small blushes. In a third I put bobby pins and little hair clips. You can also use a glass or pencil holder for your brushes if you don’t already use one. The bigger things, like foundation and powder stayed separate and on its own. There’s not much of it at all so it doesn’t matter.
Of all the things I organized in this way, they were all things that I use not necessarily every day, but on at least a weekly or so basis. All the rest was put in a little velvet bag and stuffed into the back of a drawer. You can use a makeup case like you probably already do because, duh. Don’t forget to go through this every once in a while for things that may be overdue for the trash, or ready to be included in your routine. Sometimes the best thing to do before makeup shopping in a store is shop in your own collection. It’s easy to forget all the stuff you have. The only things I haven’t included by now are the items I carry around with me which stay in my bag, which is stick foundation, eyeliner, and a lipstick.

It was kind of amazing how quick and easy it was. I’m almost feeling stupid now, but hey, what are you gonna do? I’m also thinking that it would be really cool if you could get your hands on some pretty little apothecary jars for this, and you could even put interesting if irrelevant labels on them, just because. And if they have lids, all the better if you need to travel.
So that should pretty much do you. If you have more things, use bigger containers, up to and including the aforementioned 3 foot high drawers. If you have less, your dresser is probably a lot cleaner than the rest of ours. I admire that.

Teacher’s pet 😛

Kat Von D Autograph Eyeliner and Benefit Play Sticks

You get what you pay for. And for the past little while I’ve been having a real bitch of a time covering up an irritated trouble spot on my face, a result of resting my hand there in my sleep. So this is why I decided it was time to step up my game and take a trip down to Sephora for some of the good stuff.
Sephora is like a little piece of heaven for makeup addicts. A very, very expensive little piece of heaven. The average item I looked at cost about 40$ as opposed to the usual drug store price of 13$.

The first thing I looked at of course was concealer. The sales girl first recommended Boi-ing by Benefit. My only real issue was that it came in a pot, and I prefer the cleanest possible application, something that requires minimal use of your fingers. So I started poking around a bit and eventually landed on Play Sticks, a cream to powder stick foundation. I’ve used this style of foundation before in a drug store brand, and I loved it. I also figured that since this was a high end brand, even a foundation would hide things better than my still-pretty-good drug store concealer. It would do the job of 3 things – foundation, concealer, and powder – so it would be a better deal and leave me with less junk on my face.
I was right. This makeup feels non-existent, and covers almost flawlessly with no effort at all. My skin hasn’t looked this good since I was 12. And contrary to what some others have found, on me this lasted ALL day. The only real drawback here is that there are a surprisingly limited number of shades, and I was worried that like many other foundations this one would end up looking weird and orange-y on me. When I first swiped it on it almost did. But while it’s still not a perfect match, it does blend quite well. As long as I remember to put it all over so I don’t have any weird white-ish patches, it looks quite seamless. If you’re considering buying this and the shades are holding you back, I urge you to test it out before making a decision.

After thoroughly boring Mike to within an inch of his life, I also walked out with Kat Von D’s Autograph eyeliner. This was more of an impulse buy, even though the Revlon liner I was using really had been bugging me. It smeared, smudged, faded, and wouldn’t go on evenly. It looked like crap from the get go. Its only real good point was that it had a felt tip, making application virtually idiot-proof. I had seen video reviews for the Kat Von D liner before, but let me tell you, they did not do justice to just how dramatic and precise this looks in person. The color payoff is amazing – this is the blackest black that was ever black. And while it doesn’t stay perfect all day, it comes pretty damn close when you leave it alone. Fading in particular is nil. Speaking of which, the negative? It’s incredibly UNwaterproof. It takes some time to dry – about a minute – and even then smudging is a bit of a risk if you rub your eyes or they start to water. And definitely don’t forget your umbrella if it rains.
So consider me sold. When I can afford it, I’m buying the good stuff, one or two products at a time.

“Everybody is Just Jealous!” : Trying to Debunk Beauty

Being attractive is obviously not such a bad thing. But it’s not always a good thing either. While I strongly believe the whole “Everybody is jealous of me!” statement is a pathetic excuse not to have to look at your own flaws, there are definitely some issues here worth looking into. Like everything in life, it looks different from different angles, and having a better understanding of it can help you both navigate different social situations and avoid using it as “the anesthetic used to ease the pain of stupidity.”

Like I said, whether it’s true or not, leaning on this means that you won’t be looking at the flaws you do have, easily turning you into the sort of arrogant jerk who actually deserves such treatment. It’s for this reason that I never recommend it. Ever. If you catch yourself saying this, unless you have absolute proof (the person told you so and you took it in the CORRECT CONTEXT) know that you WILL be ridiculed later on.

Oh, and a word about that context. Someone might tell you they are jealous of an opportunity you have, or of your house, or some other part of your life, but this does not mean they are jealous of you as a person and/or your whole life. Again, keep the arrogance in check, please.

Nevertheless, this sort of thing can happen, and it’s important to know why. Women are naturally programmed to compete with each other. It’s a primitive (yes, PRIMITIVE) instinct used for snagging a man, much like the douchebags in a club who beat each other up because one of them looked at the other’s woman. It’s easy for them to see each other as a threat, even when such a notion is beyond silly. This is where we get the tag line, “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” Have you ever done this? If so, it’s important to remember the same things you might want to remember when it comes to an “ugly” person; that they can’t help it, and it says nothing about the person’s personality, intelligence, or intentions. Just because you see a beautiful woman does not mean you can jump to the conclusion that she’s going to be a bitch to you and steal your boyfriend. If she does, it’s more likely a result of her bad personality. So if you must hate someone, at least make sure it’s for a better reason than “she has prettier hair than me,” and if another girl hates you, maybe don’t assume so quickly that it’s because she just wants your shoes. More than likely, you’re coming across as somewhat unpleasant. Work on that, I promise you’ll see a difference.

On the other side of the coin, psychologists tell us that we often judge a person’s personality (I’m guessing this is more likely to be a person of the opposite sex, but not always) based on their looks. If someone looks good, we automatically assume they are a good person. You can see this theory in action on the episode of “What Would You Do?” where they have various people stealing a bike to see which of them will be confronted. Unsurprisingly, the beautiful woman was not. Instead, she was judged to be the owner of the bike who may have just lost her key. So this brings me to two points. First of all, just because you are attractive does not mean you get to be a jerk, because you assume you won’t as likely be perceived as one. There is no excuse for that kind of behavior. Beautiful on the outside and ugly on the inside just equals ugly, plain and simple. The second point is that just because you’re a hot chick and guys are nice to you, does not always (Ok, it does SOMETIMES) mean that they want to sleep with you. On South Park when Bebe got boobs, the boys didn’t even know what sex was yet; they all started thinking she was “really, really smart.” I’m sure if they were older it wouldn’t have gone down quite that way, but the theory still stands. There is a good chance that they just see an attractive girl and therefor are also seeing a girl with attractive qualities. They’ll be more likely to actually want to sleep with you, and STAY with you if you try to live up to those qualities.

I guess this can all be summed up by saying that you should never jump to conclusions about a person, whether it be what kind of person they are based on what they look like, or their motives towards you based on what you look like – or THINK you look like for that matter. We are a species that judges people. If we must do this, let’s judge each other for our personalities, not our bodies.