Friday, April 30, 2010

Makeup Is Easy: What's New, Kitty Kat?

I got my Gaga Viva Glam lipstick in and wanted to give it a whirl, so I fired up this look. I think you need to have strong color involved one way or the other - it's a light opaque pink. I paired it with the salmony pink Kitty Kat color from the She Space.
The green dress helped balance everything out, though I'm not sure I love the necklace with the lipstick. The necklace in and of itself, however, is awesome - I found it at Fresh Produce in Sarasota and thought it was so cool I just had to have it. The baubles are a series of quartzes, and they're tied together with a brown twine, so it has a very organic feel to it.
My eyebrows seem to be filling in a little, which is interesting to me. I wonder if it's because I'm basically brushing them daily as I apply brow powder? This was a super-simple look - just Kitty Kat on the lids and Givenchy Phenomen'Eyes mascara, with the lipstick to finish.
Kitty Kat is a terrific shadow color - if Heather still has it over at the She Space (she's liquidating her inventory so she may be all out) I highly recommend it, particularly if you have similar coloring to me. You won't be sorry!

Monday, April 26, 2010

M.I.A., Violence and Pop Culture

M.I.A. has a new video out, and though the song doesn't do much for me, the video is a different story. Jezebel linked it with some good queries to ponder, and included a pretty good synopsis: "armed soldiers — with American flag patches on their uniforms — break into homes, looking for something or someone. It becomes clear that people doing drugs or having sex are not the intended target when the soldiers take a man with red hair and throw him into a bus full of red-headed boys and men. That these guys are being treated like criminals, when we have not seen them engage in any illegal behavior, leads us to believe that their only crime is their appearance. As the bus full of gingers is driven out of town, it passes a crudely drawn mural depicting red-haired men in uniform, with the words "our day will come." The bus is driven to the desert; the red-haired boys and men are killed."

Here's the video, but please note that there is nudity, drug use AND extreme violence.

Personal disclosure: I have some issues with M.I.A. because I would prefer that she come out harder against the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), a now-mostly-defunct(ish) terrorist group that her father was associated with. I don't think that she herself is a secret Tamil Tiger, but she has not made a clean break from the organization and I think that failing to do so weakens the very real cause of the Tamil ethnic group of Sri Lanka and makes her look like she's leaving a loophole for the LTTE which is quite frankly unacceptable. She tends to comment on LTTE violence with a "but Sri Lanka has done terrible things too" disclaimer and she's also included some imagery that's too close to LTTE logos for my own comfort (ex. kids dancing in front of a roaring tiger in her "Bird Flu" video). I think she is rightly averse to extreme violence, however, I do believe that she gives the LTTE more room than they deserve as one of the most prolific suicide-bomber-per-capita groups in the world, a massive recruiter of child soldiers, and a group that has responded to devastating oppression by the Sri Lankan government with....ethnic cleansing. I sincerely hope that with the death of their leader last year that the civil war in Sri Lanka can move on without the fear of extreme violence overshadowing any negotiations.

Now, that being said, I think this video addresses a very difficult problem that faces those who would fight crimes against humanity. I'm taking a course called Political Mass Murder right now (become a poli sci major: examine the world, discover new people, and find out ways they kill each other!) that studies the history of genocide, and we've heard a lot about Raphael Lemkin, the man who worked so hard to make the word "genocide" something meaningful and actionable. Among many other problems, Lemkin's pleading for the world to take genocide seriously fell on deaf ears because countries would have had to face up to problematic actions in their of histories. We're seeing the same issue now confronting those looking for a working definition of terrorism - it demands that nations admit that some of their actions may in fact be acts of terrorism.

The interesting thing about this shared guilt is that a fear of the "other" and the violence undertaken to combat it, along with acts of terrorism seem to be a universal part of political power. We are all guilty - the US of both terrorism and genocidal acts in its own way - but we cannot let those missteps overshadow our overarching desire to do good in the world. As it is now, we allow incredible violence and genocide to continue unabated, crippled by our inability to stand up and say "this is wrong." Much of our reluctance to intervene comes from our respect for sovereignty, and that's something that SHOULD be valued, but a regime that transacts or allows genocide on its people does not have a legitimate claim to sovereignty.

Just a couple observations on the imagery in the video...the whole thing is rife with references to terrorist groups. "TemptressofDoom" in the Jezebel comments noted that "'Tiocfaidh ár lá," is, "Our day will come," in Gaelic and is a popular slogan for Sinn Fein [the political face of the IRA]"; the red-headed rebels appear in front of a street mural (common in Belfast, which seems to strengthen the reference) with that slogan. Even if it don't limit the reference to Sinn Fein, it's common rhetoric for genocidal and terrorist regimes. The rebels are also wearing red keffeyahs, a color typically seen on HAMAS militants. These references, along with general tone, seem to point quite clearly to a statement on terrorism.

[NB: A couple of people mentioned that the American flag patches on the soldiers' shoulders are backwards. The flags are technically backwards, but they are correct according to the military standards for uniforms. The idea is that the flags should always look like they are moving forward; you'll see this on aircraft fuselages as well.]

M.I.A. is saying something here that most politicians are too scared to say, and it's an important message. It's interesting to see a sudden burst of women Saying Things on this scale in their music and corresponding videos: Lady Gaga's encouragements to consider the way we see ourselves and live, Erykah Badu's "Window Seat" video (and most of her catalog), etc.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Makeup Is Easy: This House Believes In The Color Blue

March 25th was a busy day. I went to my four classes (Philosophy and Literature, Political Mass Murder, Economy and Society, 20th Century Continental Philosophy), then met with the two members of the Cambridge Union Society with whom I would be debating that night, then got inducted into the Phi Sigma Tau Philosophy honor society, THEN changed into a dress in the bathroom like the class act that I am and went to debate the existence of the War on Terror, followed by a celebratory trip to The Citizen. It was quite the extravaganza and a TOTAL blast. Debating the Cambridge Union Society folks was a terrific experience, and we all had a great time...really smart, wonderful people. They're on a US debate tour, and they are serious, serious business.

Anyway, since I was leaving the house at 9:30, I needed makeup that would last all day, and I came up with this:
You can see my haircut more clearly here, though I usually wind up pushing my bangs to one side. I went with an adaptation of a look I saw on Sephora. I applied Scared Silly on my inner eye, making sure to work it around the hollow and along my lower lash line, then applied Electric Lust on the outside corner, again working it around to the lower lash line. Sephora left a bare strip between colors in the middle of the eye, but I didn't really like how that looked so I added Jumpin' Jellyfish to blend the two together. I added two coats of Givenchy Phenomen'Eyes mascara and then set the whole shebang with Skindinavia makeup setting spray. For lipstick, I used Julie Hewett lipstick in Oona Noir with M.A.C. Dazzleglass in Get Rich Quick over it.

If you have the chance to see the Cambridge Union Society debate, or even better, to talk with them, don't pass it up. The quartet that came to assumption was just a wonderful group of people, and their performance was brilliant. A good time had by all!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Makeup Is Easy: Life Is A Cabaret

I guess that's not a very excited face, but it's still a FIERCE face. I went to my friend Cha Cha's cabaret show at 86 Winter last night with my friend Dan and my Dad, and I figured it was the ideal time to fire up some hardcore makeup. I've been loving Michelle Phan's YouTube channel because she does totally awesome makeup and she is great about explaining the mechanics of and reasons for what she's doing. She's basically the Alton Brown of makeup. I was looking for something fun to try out, and one of the looks that caught my eye was an Avatar inspired one that incorporated the lush colors of the movie. It looked great, so I decided to give it a whirl.
I used my She Space colors, which are powders instead of creams like Michelle used. I started out by using Fairy Tale Failed (light green) from my inner eye to the middle of my eyelid, about halfway up the lid. I then took Scared Silly (light blue) and continued the line out to a long wing on the side, and did a mirror wing from my lower lid. When you're doing winged eyes, it's easy to get disenchanted by fumbles, but the good news is that they're super easy to fix. You just want to use a wet Q-tip and pull firmly along the line you want while holding your skin taut. Once I was done refining the wings, I applied some sparkly Extra Caution (glittery blue-green) in the center of my eye.

Once I had the wings established, I took Fire and Brimstone (punchy strong yellow-orange and filled in the space between the two wings. I liked the pink overlay that Michelle used, so I applied Kitty Kat (salmony pink - I REALLY love this color, it's so pretty!) about midway up to my eyebrows. I finished the whole thing with white accents in Snow Capped along the eyebrow and my inner eye. Once all the shadows were done, I applied a round of mascara and defined my brows with Anastasia brow powder.

Then came the hard part.
I'm not good at applying false eyelashes. I usually wind up with a creepy V shape that makes no sense, gives a distinct drag feel to my look, and requires a two inch application of eyeliner to fix, which shoves the look from "drag" to "cat lady." It's not good. However, I liked these Sephora lashes so much I couldn't resist. The style I am wearing here isn't on the website anymore but the construction of them is so good I'll link you to the page anyway for other styles. They're really long with a criss-cross section at the inner eye. The nice thing about the Sephora lashes is that they have a band that's thick enough to give you good glue coverage but isn't obtrusive. I applied the glue, let it get tacky, then carefully placed the lashes along my lash line. I have literally spent twenty minutes one eyeball before (followed by swift giving up) and applying both lashes only took me about three minutes this time. I'm NEVER going back to drugstore lashes!

All in all, I was really happy with how this came out. The only thing I would have changed would be my lips - I think I probably should have used a light coral lipgloss just so my lips could keep up. The color in my lips has faded a bit as I get older so I'm used to being able to go without, but I think I need a little somethin'-somethin' these days. Enjoy!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Various and Sundry Items of Interest: Hand Cream and Brow Powder

I have a couple interesting items to recommend today, which is the least I can do given the sluggishness of my posting lately. The first item is for men AND women which hopefully helps the men who have been bitching about "those makeup things you do" and who got confused by Couture Week because the Worcester Sharks currently have a player named Logan Couture and they expected a week dedicated to him (which you could conceivably do, since he is awesome). Said item is Lush's Charity Pot, a really excellent hand cream, the proceeds from which go to various charities all over the world. It's a neat idea and a terrific cream. I have problems with hand cream, because my skin gets extremely dry and most creams that are meant to deal with that are super heavy and greasy. This one absorbs quickly with no greasy feel and the moisturization is awesome. It's not girly scented - it's kind of an earthly, raw-cocoa-bean-ish smell - nor is the smell particularly intense. My current favorite test for hand and body creams is to use them after I work out with Frank, because I irritate the callouses on my hands with the weights and my feet get a little dry from working out on the mats he has (I work out barefoot). This deals with the problem fast and lasts a long time. I highly recommend it, and I think it would be a nice gift too. You can see the charities that they support on their website and each container comes with a label on top telling you about one of said organizations (like the TreePeople one below).
The next item could also be for men and women, but I don't know that men would be receptive to its use; it all depends. For a long time, Sephora has been pushing the Anastasia Brow Powder, and I always look at it and think the little kit is just ridiculous ($75), but I recently tried the powder alone in a sample. My eyebrows look best a little skinnier than most people do theirs, but they peter out at the end, which is annoying. With this powder, it fills everything in to supplement the shape of your brows, and the effect is just right. I never would have believed I would use this product, but I totally love it and it adds just the right emphasis to my face. The powder on its own is $22 and comes in a variety of shades so you can match it to your coloring. It might sound a little pricey, but it will last you forever and make your eyebrows look great. If you are ordering something from Sephora, try the sample and see what you think.
I have to admit, I haven't really thought about men's grooming stuff, and given the recent whinging about my focusing on makeup, maybe it would be interesting. Are there any male readers out there who would be interested in hearing about any particular products? Skin care? Shaving? Nail care? Foot issues? I could probably help with all of these, particularly the foot situation since I have caveman feet. If you're interested in any of these things or something else, let me know in the comments or by email and I'll take a shot at it.