My Makeup Evolution

As I mentioned in a previous post, I played with makeup at an early age just as many other little girls do, and then I grew out of it. For years I thought I would be the last person who would have any interest in beauty. Now look at me; I’m running my own fashion and beauty blog, and I’m even contemplating going to cosmetology school. Since I recognized this shift, I wanted to explore just how I transitioned into a makeup geek over the years.

My earliest recollection is that picture of little me my has where I’m applying a tiny lipstick with a hat and big sunglasses on. (I was a really cute kid. Just saying.) Then there was this roll-on eyeshadow that was shimmery gold I found in my house that I’d put on and then put my glasses on. (I think there was a time when I took my glasses off and walked around blind for the sake of looking good, too.) Otherwise, I mainly used those old-school Lip Smackers balms.

As I got older, I turned into a frumpy, tough tomboy. It would have taken a miracle to get me to do something to my hair other than brush it or pull it back into a messy ponytail, so it’s easy to assume that makeup didn’t exist in my world anymore until early in high school. But, even then, it wasn’t like I really had any application skills.

15 years old vs. 22 years old

The way I applied my eyeliner was, pretty much, draw around the shape of my eye and pray I didn’t look like a raccoon when I finished. (I also remember trying some terrible “Egyptian” look, which was an absolute failure.) Eyeshadow got slapped on with the crappy little sponge applicator that came with it. I didn’t know about primer, so my purple shadow was very faint. And, for whatever reason, the first lip color I ever worked with was red (the Revlon Colorstay Overtime “Stay Currant” stuff that takes a jackhammer to remove, at that).

As time went on, my eyeliner looked a little better, and my red lips looked less wobbly than before. But college was when my makeup started getting serious. I splurged on Kat Von D’s “Chrysalis” eyeshadow palette and got some small brushes for better application. My lipstick shades expanded to nudes, purples, and even black. I found eyeshadow primer and liquid liner. Putting on makeup became an art more than a laborious task.

My makeup skills and interests, today, are even better than only two months ago, and I feel proud about that. I’ve started exploring the world of face makeup (foundation, concealer, blush, and bronzer) and different techniques in which to apply them. I’ve come pretty close to mastering winged eyeliner and want to practice a gel liner cat eye. I finally bought a blending brush a couple weeks ago for my eyeshadow. And I never knew the importance of lip liner until I finally got one…and four more after that. When I’m not doing my makeup, I’m always learning by watching YouTube videos or reading.

Makeup has not only boosted my belief in myself, but it’s also been saving my life, in a way. Whenever I start feeling worthless or useless, I can do my makeup and realize the talents I have to make myself feel beautiful. It brings up passion inside of me, giving me a vague sense of direction and also igniting my passion for writing that I lost. I get that feeling of worth back and maybe, just maybe, feel hopeful for my future.

Why I Don’t Wear Spanx

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The dress in this photo of me is one of the sexiest things I have ever owned. I love the black and grey leopard print on the front (since I absolutely love my leopard print), and the dress clings to every inch of my body just right. However, with a tighter dress come more visible rolls and a more visible tummy. Yet I wear it, and I wear it without Spanx.

When I look at the photo, is it hard to keep my eyes from darting right to that back roll or my prominent stomach? Absolutely. But that roll and that stomach are still me, and I like to keep it real. Now, I have no feelings whatsoever about people wearing Spanx, since I’ve considered it from time to time; wear it if it makes you feel amazing, or don’t wear it if it doesn’t interest you. However, my personal idea of keeping it real includes leaving my body as it is.

My thought process works like this; if I’m a “what you see is what you get” kind of person from the start, including with my body, it will help weed out all of the people who are too shallow to deserve a place in my life. Anyone who genuinely gives a damn about you, as a person, won’t care about your chub that much or judge you for it. And with my history of people staring at me and judging/picking on me, I don’t need people like that around. I need genuine ones, and so do you.

The other reason I don’t wear Spanx is to challenge myself and learn how to accept and love myself from the inside out. The more I can look at myself in a different way (like in that bodycon dress), the easier it becomes to see it and my flaws without feeling uncomfortable or insecure. I still feel a little uncomfortable looking at the photo sometimes, but I can also say I looked freaking beautiful that night. I felt amazing about myself, and it helped lead to my first kiss and my first date (which both felt magical).

So, there’s my little post about why I haven’t gotten Spanx…yet. (I’m thinking I can make it a treat for myself once I’m confident enough to wear it and not think that I need it afterward.)

How many of you guys do or don’t wear Spanx, and why? I’m interested in your voices, so start a conversation in the comments below!

Being a Red-Lipped Siren: Why I Love Red Lipstick

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Festive Christmas selfie (lipstick: Kat Von D’s Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in “Outlaw”)

The red lipstick look is a classic one dating as far as back as ancient Egypt (Cleopatra would smash beetles to make the lip paint). In modern times, this look exudes an almost otherworldly energy. When many women rock a red lip, they transform into a totally different, more confident individual; red lipstick has that power for me.

Whether it is a bright crimson red or a dark burgundy red, the color is bold, and it brings people’s attention to you pretty much right away. Red lipstick conveys a sense of sexuality, strength, mystery, and confidence that only a person with those qualities (no matter how deep down) can pull off. The main word I associate with it is “fierce”.

I’ve dealt with self-esteem issues and social anxiety since middle school, but even though I still have my bad days where I hate myself or I can’t bring myself to be around people much, I feel like I’m in a better place when it comes to how I feel about myself as a person. There are, actually, some days where I feel fierce and want to show it. Boy, do I notice a difference on those days.

Due to my social anxiety, I have difficulties approaching other people to even say hello; I think everyone is judging me and will hate me the minute I open my mouth. Once I swipe on some red lipstick, though, that all goes away. I feel like I can take on the world. Hell, on those days, screw anyone who doesn’t like me. I like me, so they can shove it. (I can be so eloquent sometimes, can’t I?) Not to mention it’s sometimes flattering when I get hit on, since I get hit on more when I’m rocking red on my lips at a rock or heavy metal concert. They’re approaching me first, so it’s a lot less scary. (Thank you, lippies!)

I may sound timid and weak to people when I bring up things like my anxiety or my depression, but I have two things to say to dispel that:

  1. Making it through each day when you wake up feeling like you don’t want to be alive or deal with anything takes a ton of strength (more strength than other people realize).
  2. It also takes a lot of strength and bravery to admit that something is wrong with you, you know it, and you need to get help fixing/managing it.

Underneath all the garbage my thoughts make me think or feel sometimes, there is a bold, confident, “take-no-shit” young woman, and she comes out when I put on the “war paint”. I have one of the loudest voices out of everyone I know (with plenty of people telling me so). I can be rowdy and joke around with a beer in my hand. I went my first 22 years of life alone (no dating at all), and even though it would suck losing the guy I’ve been speaking to, I can manage to live alone again, if I have to. I’ve witnessed ugly fights full of verbal abuse and slammed doors. I’ve been bullied (even by my own family, at times). And now I’m still trying to kick depression and anxiety’s asses even when I felt like dying less than a week ago.

I may forget it some days, but I am a good person. I made it through some awful things before, and I can do it again and again. Sometimes my mental disorders don’t let me show that woman, so I’ll let my lipstick do it for me.

Battling the Voices In Our Heads

Warped Tour 2014
Warped Tour 2014 (with Lyssa at the top left)

Hey there, everyone. Even though this page primarily focuses on fashion and beauty, I also want to start some conversations about mental health awareness and make this place a safe zone for anyone else who struggles like myself.

To say I’ve been in a funk the past few weeks is an understatement. A few…well, shitty things happened, which hit my mind’s worst anxiety and depression triggers. The guy I was talking to and seeing since August/September stopped talking to me and answering me back without an explanation; he was my first everything (except for my “first time”), so it’s breaking my heart. I did the scariest thing I could do, in my mind, and trusted him only for him to leave without showing me any courtesy. And, a few days ago, I found out another friend of mine will die from cancer. It all sucks, and I’d felt more than ready to end all of the pain until a phone call this week with my friend Lyssa.

I mentioned what was going on in my life and in my head, and Lyssa stayed with me having nothing but patience and understanding. Even through my tears, her heart stayed kind and gentle. Then, she gave me some advice that (somehow) managed to sift through the storm clouds brewing in my mind; she told me that bad things will happen, but I have control of how to handle those situations and that it just takes time for the good things to come into my life, if I give it that time and work hard. She said I’m a beautiful person and she loves me, and it was the rare time when I really knew someone meant what they said to me.

At the end of our phone call, Lyssa assigned me some “homework” I need to send her every night. The first thing I need to do is keep writing on here and make it for me and show her that I’m working on my blog. The other thing I have to do is send her a photo of a journal entry every night so I can record what happened during a day, what I’m thinking, feeling, etc. Now, while I’m going to my therapist every week and working on learning about the deeper parts of myself, she’s exercising my ability to change my mindset so I can live a life I want rather than give in to my mental disorders; she’s making me proactive. That’s what I need.

That phone call with my friend then sparked quite a few wonderful memories that I’d almost pushed into the back of my mind. I remembered my two weeks doing anti-bullying press work with my friends on the 2014 Vans Warped Tour and how I met so many amazing people and overcame my social anxiety so much. I remembered my friend Bethany telling me at the end of Warped Prom (the night I left tour), “You’re one of us.” I belonged somewhere. People liked me. I felt happy.

I’ve hung out with so many cool people in the music scene and had some great conversations, both musicians and fans. The four friends who went to see Steel Panther with me and I had so much fun together; I even went onstage when Michael Starr motioned for me to come and danced (when I never dance) with my friend Danielle. I thought of the one night I went out with my “gay bae” (one of my best friends, but I use “bae” facetiously) Jacob, my brother, and his girlfriend, and Jacob introduced himself to my brother’s girlfriend by saying, “Hi. I’m gay,” before we got 40 McNuggets altogether on the way home later that night.

The depression and anxiety make things so awful and dark. When you get in those funks, it’s so difficult to get back to yourself and remember who you are, what you love, and who really loves you and matters. Once the clouds dissipate, though, regardless of how long they stay away, the beautiful parts of life start to show themselves again. And then, even if it’s just for a moment, you feel free; you feel happy. To all of you who also suffer, please work on remembering that with me.

Jess’s Shopping List #3: Torrid’s ‘Rebel Wilson Collection’

Hey there, lovely readers! I had some down time at work over the weekend and noticed that I haven’t posted any items that really struck my fancy recently. So I started putting together list after list by online window shopping, and Torrid was my first visit. I never gave Rebel’s collection a really good look to see what I like before, so here we go! (Let us also be proud of the fact that I didn’t buy anything while making lists.)

1. Embellished Surplice Dress ($68.50 normally, currently on sale for $51.48)

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Photo courtesy of torrid.com

As some of you may have read in my last post, I never used to have any interest in dresses AT ALL. But recently that has changed drastically (meaning I now own seven or eight dresses). The majority of my clothing is black, but how can anyone go wrong with a classy black dress? It’s versatile for either a casual day of errands and walking around or for a formal event. Not to mention I love the way this dress hugs the model’s body. (Yes, I know we’re all not built like the model and it will look different, but it still looks gorgeous on her.)

While this dress primarily has good reviews from buyers, a few others mentioned that the fabric feels bulky, the sizing runs small, and one reviewer (Ashw9593) even said, “Word to the wise if you are bigger then a size 1 this dress is not for you. It is unflattering and will make your look bulgy. Trust me, save yourself the trouble of this disaster!” It’s still super pretty, so maybe I’ll buy it soon and give my own review. Let me know below if you want to see that!

2. Multi Zip Skinny Jeans ($68.50 normally, currently on sale for $51.48)

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Photo courtesy of torrid.com

I need another pair of black pants like I need a hole in my head, other people would say. But black pants are truly my religion! Black is so neutral, and I can always create new outfits easily by making the black pants the base item. (Not to mention I like looking goth and kind of looking like a badass anyway.)

These pants look like they’d fit really well and hug in all the right places, so I’m definitely ready to buy these the moment I’m able to. The zippers on top are also a really cute detail that none of my other pairs of black pants have. I don’t tuck in my shirts too often or wear crop tops to really show them off, but I’d still feel cute knowing they’re there. Plus, I could always use these pants for an outfit where I actually would tuck my shirt in.

3. Coated Jeggings ($58.50 normally, currently on sale for $43.98)

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Photo courtesy of torrid.com

If I had to pick one word to describe these jeggings, it would be “unique”. I love the addition of the zippers (as we know from the previous item I mentioned) to give the pants a more visible metallic pop, but I also love the panels on the thighs and the black ponte. I can definitely say I don’t own any pants like these, so these are a necessity.

So there’s my list for today. Also, in case you guys didn’t know, Torrid is currently running an online only promotion that is either “Buy One, Get One (BOGO) 50% Off Regular Price” or “BOGO $5 Clearance”. Just enter “CELEBRATE” at checkout to save and take advantage of such a good sale!

Happy shopping! XOXO

Fashion, Beauty & Mental Illness

My grandmother has a favorite picture of me from when I was a little girl, and it sits right on a shelf with some of her other knick-knacks. In that photo, I’m a five- or six-year-old little girl wearing a white hat, big sunglasses, and a dress and applying a clear little lipstick from an old mini kit. (Even at such a young age, lipstick was my favorite thing.) I have such an intent look on my face, making sure it’s on just right. I loved all of my little lippies as well as all of my nail polishes.

Fast forward to 2005. I’m 12 years old and starting my first year of middle school; that little girl has disappeared. Now, I wear nothing but baggy jeans, band t-shirts, cargo shorts, skater shoes, and backward-turned baseball caps. I messed with some eye shadow and whatnot in fifth grade, but that was two years ago. I don’t own a single bit of makeup, nor do I own a single dress or skirt anymore. I don’t care about my appearance; hell, I’ve stopped caring about much of anything, at this point.

My mom tries to buy me some nicer, more girly clothing so I’d look nice, but I never want any of it. Girly shoes? Forget about it. Why would I like shopping when I entered the girls’ plus section in fourth or fifth grade? I’ve always been a little bit bigger than the other girls, and it’s gotten me picked on and even pushed down a set of stairs (though that incident was probably more because I’m “weird”). Things suck at school, I feel like my family fell apart as a child and now, and I can’t explain the way I feel. Just…sad. Very, VERY sad. And, while I do enjoy “tomboy” things like sports and video games, I think that’s part of the reason I don’t want to try and look nice; I’m not worth it.

Junior high finishes, and I start coasting through high school. It’s basically a “same shit, different day” mentality every time I wake up. I’m a little more open to finding some girly clothes than I was before, and I at least start picking up some eyeliner and eye shadow every once in a while. But I still always suffer from that self-loathing, that feeling of emptiness and hopelessness that I haven’t been able to shake. I saw a therapist at 13 and again at 15 to try and deal with it all, but it never worked for long. Everything looks bleak. I don’t deserve to be happy. And after my friend died from cancer at 16 years old, it’s only harder to feel happy when life is so unfair.

Somehow I trudge through high school, make my way to college. My first year of college rocks; I’m meeting some new friends due to the roommate/suite mate situation, and some of the classes are pretty cool. I’m away from some pretty bad memories, so maybe there is room for me to grow here. Well, until my depression starts kicking me down just about every other semester, after that point. I like the idea of shopping for cute clothes now, but then I cry at Forever 21 when something in the plus size section doesn’t fit me right. My heart drops every time I try looking in Bon Ton only to find ugly pants with those god-awful elastic waistbands. My makeup skills are simple, at best. I’m nothing special. And, in my junior year, my dog (one of the only things that made me feel special) dies. And everything crumbles, including my school career.

Now, I should be finishing up second-to-last semester at the university and getting ready for winter break. Instead, I’m at home with my family working part-time while I see a therapist every Tuesday and go to the doctor monthly to check on how my antidepressant makes me feel. Even though I’ve gotten lost in my depression, anxiety, and fears of loss and abandonment in the past, this is probably the most lost I’ve ever been. I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing or want to do with my life. But I guess there have at least been a couple good things in the mix.

At 22, that love for makeup I had as a five- or six-year-old girl has made a comeback. I had to buy an even bigger Caboodle makeup case because I’ve gotten so much new makeup in the last year or two. And, rather than using it as a crutch for any insecurities, I use it as an art to make myself look as I wish on a given day. Winging my eyeliner just right, mixing my lipsticks into a unique shade, and styling my hair take my focus away from my issues and bring a smile on my face. I shop for cute clothes without concerning myself too much about the size; how I feel has to matter more, and I’ve lived hating myself for far too long. I take more photos of myself than I ever did before so I can look at myself and be okay with what I see, made-up or otherwise. Fashion and beauty have given me a passion I’ve been missing.

Battling is hard. Trust me, you guys have no idea how badly I feel like giving up and quitting life as I type this. But I shouldn’t let my mental illness win. And, to those who also suffer daily, neither should you. Thanks for reading, and please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.