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Friday, March 22, 2013

Flawed Thinking

Flaw: Noun
1. A mark, fault, or other imperfection that mars a substance or object.

I can't think of one single book, article or blog on personal appearance advice that I've read that doesn't talk in terms of enhancing your 'assets' or 'best features' and hiding or camouflaging your 'flaws.'  I hate this way of thinking. It makes a straight up assumption that we are all flawed in some way. 

Thinking that what you find aesthetically unappealing about your body is somehow 'defective' is really quite presumptuous seeing as how our bodies house our souls through life. In short, you're lucky to have one- learn to appreciate it, and treat it with the respect it deserves. 

I also can't think of a single thing to be gained by calling parts of our body 'flawed.' It is what it is- calling short legs a flaw won't make them grow longer, change or improve anything in any way. Same with any proportion or feature. It simply serves no purpose to vilify any aspect of your body. No- that's not true- it serves to tear down your confidence every time you say or think it. 

So can we stop with this already?

Here's my solution. 

Instead of, for example, choosing black slacks or skirt, and a top with a v-neck with a pretty scarf or necklace to "draw attention to your best feature- your face, and camouflage your biggest flaws; too-wide hips and short legs" how about doing it just to "draw attention to your best feature- your face, and create visual balance with your figure." The only difference here is that I've left off the totally unnecessary and judgmental comment about the proportions of hips and legs. Same outcome, but a much nicer, kinder path. 

I know it sounds like a tiny, nit-picky thing to always be going on about, but I don't believe we're aware of how important what we say to and about ourselves is. I don't believe we're aware of how much of an impact it has on us over time, too. 

Awareness is always the first step. Then comes learning to correct yourself when you've said or thought something disrespectful towards your body. The payoff is not only immediate, but cumulative, too. Make it a rule to only be kind to yourself.

See, don't you feel better already?

Happy Dressing!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sexy Science

"One is not born, but rather becomes a woman." ~Simone de Beauvoir 

Ok, so here's another one of my totally, completely favorite books. The Science of Sexy by Bradley Bayou, Gotham Books, 2006.

The Science of Sexy is unique not just because Bayou tackles as many different figure types as he can, but also for an unusually 'inclusive' attitude toward all sizes and shapes.  He does talk about 'figure flaws' which I try to avoid because I don't feel there are really any flaws in how we're created- only bad attitudes towards it. What I LOVE is that his approach is to create visual balance with your figure through how you dress- that's my goal as well. (Starting to see why I like this book so much?)

In the first part he talks about some of his celebrity clients, goes into his strategy: 'conceal and reveal,'  and helping the reader to define her style with his 'red carpet questionnaire.' All excellent stuff. 

Then we're on to his 'ten commandments.' These are all very sound commandments (of course the fact that they're pretty much exactly what I preach may make me a tad prejudiced) such as choosing the proper undergarments, buying the best quality that you can afford, not attempting to force your figure into every style out there, ignoring the size and instead focusing on fit, and so on.

The part where this book veers off into the brilliant category is next: 'The Four Steps to Sexy.'  (Step 1) he walks you through taking your measurements so that you can (step 2) match your shape, and then you (step 3) find your height and weight on a color coded chart, which enables you to (step 4) find your exact match out of his 48 different 'types.' This is what makes this book the most specific and precise book on personal image I've come across yet. 

Most authors of books on personal image make big,sweeping statements; 'women with wide hips should wear boot cut pants,' for example. I find this disturbing because this approach fails to take into account all the other variables associated with the individuals figure. How tall is she? How long are her legs in relation to the rest of her body? Is she slim or fuller figured? All of these variables will affect how she'll look in said boot cut pants. Bayou takes on each of his 48 figure types and goes into specifically what will and won't work for each one, and why. 

That's about as close as you can get to having your own stylist or image consultant without actually hiring one. 

Happy Dressing!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Cheap and...Fruity?

"A banana is not a pistol. Still, please don't point one at me." ~ Jarod Kintz

I'm running out of my favorite hair oil, and I use it several times a week. It's expensive. This is a problem as I've recently put myself on a budget. (Me on a budget. Right. Me + budget= oxymoron.) Hmmm.

I went to the website where I buy it and looked at the ingredients, and decided it's simple enough that I can approximate this and save myself some $$.  So that got me exploring. I found all the ingredients online to make the oil for approximately 1/6 the cost. (Don't quote me on that. Math is not my strong point. It's a lot less expensive this way, ok?) I can also add any scent I want to customize it.  With some of these ingredients I can also make a really nice, light body oil. 

Well, that got me started, didn't it?  Watched a few videos on making hair oils, and of course there were other videos down the side of the screen…hair masks, face masks, and so on.  Scribbled down lots of recipes. Then it was on to Google for more recipes on face masks…papaya, papaya and banana, banana and honey….on and on the list goes. Most of the recipes call for mashing the fruit; I'm inclined to think that pushing it through a strainer would yield a smoother texture… Anyway.

The great thing is that the stuff I looked at is all natural- no chemicals, and because you're making it yourself, you're paying a fraction of the cost.  Some of the oils- Argan oil (Moroccan oil) and Buriti oil- I got on Ebay. Some of the other ingredients- jojoba oil, sesame oil, Moroccan Rhasoul (Moroccan red clay) I got on (I wish I owned stock in this company. I might earn back some of what I spend there.)  Also, you can make it as you need it, and thus always have 'fresh' product. With the fruit masks this means real enzymes and other benefits that you can only get from fresh fruit.  Nothing you buy in a jar from a fancy department store or a drugstore will ever be able to do that.

Here's some goodies for hair:  And here's some goodies for the face:

Well, that's all I have time for today- I'm off to try a papaya and banana face mask...

Happy Dressing!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pretty is as Pretty Eats

"Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone." ~Dorothy Parker

Skin, being the largest organ of the body, is perhaps the first indication of health. If you're skin doesn't look it's best, neither do you no matter how great your clothes and makeup are. Because of course, being attractive is really about health- not the color of your eyes or skin, the kind of hair or body you have, or how much money you spend on clothes. If you're healthy you'll look great no matter what- even in a cheap t shirt and jeans from a thrift shop- providing of course they're the right colors and design lines for you. 

Skin has always been an important issue for me- I was born with a genetic disorder that causes very dry skin. As an adult I've learned that I can pretty much eliminate my dry skin through diet, so I'm keenly aware that whatever you put in your mouth is pretty much responsible for your overall state of health. That and of course certain environmental things too- stress, chemical pollution, etc. 

About a year ago I saw this video, and was so impressed with this woman not only being able to halt the progression of her MS, but actually reverse many of the symptoms, that I felt she must be on to something.  So as a result I went sort of psudo-paleo. Over time I experienced significant improvement to my health.

Then one weekend morning last fall I was watching PBS and saw this special on The Virgin Diet. She recommends eliminating the 7 foods most commonly responsible for food intolerance- corn, soy, wheat, sugar/artificial sweeteners, peanuts, dairy and eggs- for 3 weeks- to test yourself for these intolerances. (Just google The Virgin Diet- your library may have the book.) Much to my surprise, I found I have an intolerance to eggs- once I quit them, and cut down drastically on the rest, things really started happening. One of the most pronounced being changes in my skin- all good ones.  The texture of my skin is improving and my coloring all over has become more even. And I've experienced a huge improvement in my digestion. And my energy level- let me put it this way: I recently started jogging again. I haven't had the energy to jog in over 15 yrs. Now I'm doing it regularly. Now when I wake up in the morning I'm awake right away, I accomplish more during the day, and my mental clarity has improved considerably. And- my face is changing. I look way, way, way better.….I could go on here, but you get the idea.

Ok, let's say I haven't made my argument solely on the basis of vanity. Having pretty skin just won't do it. You're just not sold on all the work, money and time you'd have to commit to to look your very best. So let's talk money.

Often people get so caught up in saving money that they completely ignore the quality of the food they buy. Warehouse club generic brand processed food in bulk, instant this, that and the other, all for pennies a serving. Well- I've got news for these folks. You ARE going to pay, one way or the other. Let's think through the options to the end results here, shall we? Let's see- I can put in the $, time and effort now, and feel good, have the energy to exercise on a regular basis, have more mental clarity, and generally age much more healthfully and attractively,or…I can save lots of $ now, which I'll wind up spending later on a hover-round, oxygen tank, diabetic supplies and astronomical medical bills, feel and look like crap, and probably die at a younger age. 

I dare you- the next time you see someone in a hover-round, hooked up to an oxygen tank, with bottles of prescription pills bulging out of their pockets, ask them what their diet has been like over the course of their life. I'd be willing to bet you good money it wasn't fresh, organic produce, grass fed, organic meat and poultry, whole grains and fresh vegetable juices.  They may boast about how little they spend on food. How much they've saved over the years, all the tricks they learned- clipping coupons for processed, boxed foods and the like. 

If you live on the warehouse club generic brand processed crap, take a good, long look at that person in the hover-round. Because I'd also bet good money that'll be your future, too.

I wish we could just buy a miracle cream to make our skin- ourselves- look fabulous, take a pill to make us healthy, but it just doesn't work that way. If you look in the mirror and don't like what you see, you need to first look in your refrigerator and pantry to see where the culprits are. In short, the quality of what you put in your body is exactly proportionate to the quality of what you look like and how you feel.  The good news is of course that it's systemic- even if the only reason you start all this is vanity, you're still going to have positive results in all areas of your health, and thus your life.

Sorry if I ruined it for that donut you were about to eat....

Happy Dressing!