Body Image Barriers

women in leadership

I know I’ve told this story before, but it has shaped my worldview so I’m gonna lay it on ya again:

A while back, a dear friend of mine told me something that stopped me cold. She said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Sally, do you know why I don’t run for political office myself? It’s because I could never handle the scrutiny and criticism I’d take for how I look. Women in politics and power are constantly under the microscope for their bodies, grooming, and style, and I just couldn’t take it.”

My friend – from what I can tell – is afraid of very little. She has told me that she truly enjoys conflict resolution and adores speaking in front of large crowds. I can quite easily imagine her fending off rabid wolves to protect her young daughter. She has also worked in politics for years and is incredibly informed about public policy and remarkably passionate about her beliefs. So I was shocked to hear her say that the prospect of dealing with press and public critiques of her looks has prevented her from campaigning.

We talked a bit more about it, and she pointed out that helping women feel confident in their looks removes barriers. We live in a world that frequently evaluates women based on our looks and, if those looks are found to be somehow lacking, dismisses us. We know this. And many of us hesitate to step up to positions of leadership, or speak out against actions we question, or put ourselves in the public eye for fear of censure and dismissal.

Another friend – a gifted musician – recently expressed similar hesitations. She has dabbled a bit in performance and stepped into the spotlight a few times, but she mainly keeps her music on the backburner. Because for every Adele there are 500 Katy Perrys, and if she were really to put her all into her dreams she, too, would risk a life under the microscope. Her style, her figure, her hair, her makeup would all be subject to examination and ridicule. And as talented as she is, the prospect of being constantly held up to the prevailing beauty standard holds virtually no appeal.

And this is valid. Only a select few of us have the drive, ambition, and talent PLUS the thick skin necessary to deal with the deluge of comparison and judgment that comes part and parcel with positions of power and prominence. No one is required to pursue elected office, an executive position, a career in the arts, or any other avenue if the accompanying scrutiny would be too much to bear. No one should sign up for a life that means constant stress and misery. Really. No one at all.

But knowing that many of us have the drive, ambition, and talent but lack that essential thick skin is why I write about style as a tool for empowerment, self-awareness, and confidence. I don’t actually care one whit what any of us looks like. I just want to help women have one less thing to worry about as they chase their dreams, rise to power, or express their creativity. I want to help women see dressing as a creative, helpful, important means of showing self-respect. Because when you’re confident in how you look, some of the appearance-focused flak that comes at you from the media, from petty rivals, from jealous strangers can bounce right off. Your self-assuredness becomes your armor. You can move through the world with a little less weight on your shoulders. You can get on with the work of your life.

If it weren’t for the very real fear of judgment, many of us would spend more time at the beach, wear bright colors, indulge in trends. Many of us would start more conversations with people we find attractive, go to more parties, pose for more photos. And many of us would run for office, demand promotions, pursue careers in the arts, put ourselves in positions of prominence and rock the world. This isn’t a stumbling block for all, but it trips up more women than you might expect. And until the world sees bodily diversity as the gift that it truly is, I’ll do my best to provide knowledge, tools, and armor to everyone who comes here.

Until my friend feels ready to run for office, there’s work to be done. Until my other friend feels confident stepping into the spotlight, there are changes to be made. Until all of you can walk through your lives confident and unselfconscious, until every woman everywhere can pursue any ambition without any hesitation, there are body image barriers that need to be broken.

Image courtesy Robert Hruzek. This is a revived and refreshed post from the Already Pretty archive.

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Make Up for Sensitive Eyes

By Kristine
AP Contributor

Hello all!

A reader who wished to be kept anonymous recently emailed us with a beauty question:

Just wondering if you or your contributors have any advice on wearing eye makeup for those of us who have “dry eyes” and apply eyedrops throughout the day. I used to always wear mascara and now don’t because the eyedrops smear and run the mascara after application and give me “raccoon eyes.” I’m not sure I want to try waterproof mascara since it seems rather harsh and removing it might get problematic since my eyes are sensitive. I should tell you the eyedrops I use are over the counter and not prescription on the advice of my optometrist. 

What an interesting question. I don’t have dry eyes myself, but I do have terrible allergies in the spring and summer so I am familiar with the eye drop situation. Not only are my eyes watery, but they swell up and get really red.

After experimenting with many different mascara formulations, I threw in the towel and decided to start eyelash tinting. My brows and lashes are naturally blonde and if I leave them bare I look like I have none at all. Honestly, I do this at home with Henna. I’m not going to explain to you how to do that, because you shouldn’t be doing it. I shouldn’t even be doing it but I’m broke and…my safety just isn’t that important to me I guess? But you, being the responsible person I’m sure you are, can get this service done at a salon. There is no FDA approved eyelash or eyebrow dye currently, so it’s important to know what your salon uses before undergoing the service. Benefit is a good choice because they use a vegetable based tint so there is no danger of blindness. The service take around 20 mins and prices vary, but are usually in the $20-40 range. If you have sensitive eyes, this may be uncomfortable, but the results last 4 to 6 weeks and it might be worth it. I’ve never had a problem with it myself, and it’s wonderful not worrying about putting in eye make up everyday.

dyed eyelashes

If you want to stick to mascara, there are several options to consider. I even asked a few knowledgeable friends to weigh in with their advice. If you don’t want to try a waterproof mascara, I would suggest carrying a make up remover pen like the one from e.l.f. and just clean up any excess after applying your eye drops. You can also blot your mascara brush before applying, a thinner layer of mascara won’t smudge as easily.

If you would like to try a waterproof variety, just make sure you are using a very gentle make up remover. Some of the safest include Lush Ultrabland, Bioderma, and Make Up For Ever Sensitive Eyes. Using a thicker eye cream like Kiehl’s Rosa Artica Eye Cream will greatly reduce irritation as well.

I hope one of these solutions was helpful and I would love for you guys to let me know via email or in the comments. Any of your own tips would be a great addition as well.

Email me with any beauty questions.

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Kristine Rose is a make-up artist, esthetician, and writer. She strongly believes in each individual’s right to express themselves through style, make up, and body modification (or lack thereof). Beauty writing is her one true passion and she intends to revel in it until her untimely death, crushed under the weight of her own jewelry.

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Inspired Outfit: Bold, Beautiful Badassery

cassie

Cassie of the blog Style Cassentials has created an outfit so beautifully badass it nearly took my breath away. Arty angles and shapes, all-black palette with a pop of red, simple but bold statement bracelet … all the elements work so well together. Check her original post for details about this inspired outfit, and to read her musings on making peace with her belly.

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