Trick or Treat! My Biker Zombie Costume

Happy Halloween, my creepy ghouls!

I am totally obsessed with Halloween, and Alex and I had a fantastic time coming up with our costumes this year. We are attending this year's Halloween festivities as biker zombies! Our back story is that we were on a ride and got into a crash. While at the hospital, the town was taken over by zombies. When the hospital was infiltrated by zombies, we failed to escape and we now walk the night and feast on brains!

I did our makeup to look freshly dead, sallow, banged up, and hungry for human flesh. Here are a few shots of our costumes!

Happy Halloween! What are you dressing up as?

Zombies, Vampires, and Sluts-oh my! Some Thoughts on Sexy Halloween Costumes

All Hallows Eve is the one night of the year that the spirits of the dead can walk the earth, and women can wear lingerie in public without ridicule. 

Remember the film Mean Girls? New kid Cady arrives at a party in her frightening bride costume, only to discover that the other girls were using Halloween as an opportunity to wear as little as possible: 

The film humorously highlights a trend that I am sure most all of us are familiar with. But what is going on here? Why do women put on fishnets and bunny ears and call it a costume? What is going on in our culture that encourages this? Is it "slutty"; is it liberating? In this post, I would like to sketch out the debate and offer my own thoughts on the phenomena of women's hypersexualization via Halloween costuming. 

My friend Grace, who blogs over at Grace & Beauty, first got me thinking more critically about this issue. Grace posted a  video to youtube and her blog imploring women to ditch the "slutty" Halloween costumes. With Grace's permission, here is her video:

The comment responses to Grace's video have been heated- some slammed Grace for what they perceive as her anti-feminist, slut bashing position, and others celebrated and aligned with her opinions. My own critique falls somewhere in between. 
 Like Grace, part of me is saddened and disgusted when I see young women in lingerie and kitten ears prancing around on Halloween. It angers me to see women participating so uncritically in the systems (I'm looking at you, patriarchy!) that serve to limit our options and punish us  for not conforming to gendered norms. Part of me looks at these women and sees them as brainwashed dupes of the patriarchy. On the other hand, I can't help but think about how our culture has produced the very conditions in which young women would want to do such a thing. Who gets to determine what is sexy? Who does this image of "sexiness" serve? I am all for women expressing themselves as sexual beings, but it strikes me that the very parameters for doing this are actually quite limited and narrow, and have been established and defined by a male gaze. Basically, what is considered "sexy" comes out of a male-dominated pornographic imagination. This definition of sexiness does not come from women who are consciously and critically considering how they want to express their sexuality for themselves. In our discussion of this issue, Grace made an astute observation that it can actually be challenging for women shopping at a Halloween store to find a costume that isn't sexualized.
Moreover, women we reap real benefits, such as male sexual attention and social status, for conforming to these sexist standards of beauty and behavior. When we resist this norm and express our sexuality in a different way, we are called dykes, butch, prude, and so forth. Our culture still operates within the virgin/whore logic regarding female sexuality. If we express ourselves as people with sexual desires, we are called sluts; but if we don't put out, or we don't present ourselves in a way that our cultures sees as sexy, we are called prudes. Halloween is supposedly the one night where this doesn't apply. A combination of the narrow definition of "sexiness" and this pervasive virgin/whore logic might help explain why women might take Halloween as a "free pass." Reminding myself of these things helps me to be more sympathetic and understanding. It prevents me from perpetuating the problematic, misogynistic slut-bashing that I want to challenge.

Another issue I would like to breifly consider is how women who do go the "sexy cop" route on Halloween are demonized as inviting sexual assault. Some responders to Grace's video lamented that young women who dress as "sluts" for Halloween are walking rape targets. First of all, women never ask to be sexually assaulted. I don't care if you are trick or treating naked, that never gives someone the right to touch you without permission. Also, this type of victim-blaming negates the fact that women, regardless of how they dress or behave, can and are sexually assaulted by friends, family members, dates, and strangers all the time. That said, I do think women have a responsibility to be aware of the culture we live in. Though I would never, ever say that a young woman asks for or invites sexual assault or general creepiness, I do think that women must be realistic of how other people who are totally complacent with our culture's messed up views of gender and sexuality might interpret and misread our actions. Us ladies are in a perpetual bind, really. Ideally, we should be able to do and be and dress as we want, but in reality we also have to be attentive and practice risk management.

I would encourage us to resist the urge to look at this trend of sexy Halloween costuming as all good or all bad, as totally slutty or totally empowering. Hopefully my brief discussion of it helped to highlight the complex cultural issues at work here. Let me know what you think about this issue!

Have a happy, creepy, and safe Halloween!

Sephora Friends & Family Sale Haul

Here are the items I picked up during the recent Sephora Friends & Family Sale. I resisted the urge to splurge, hauling only three "must have" products and one that I have been lusting after for a few months.

The "must have" products are:
Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Tinted Moisturizer
I adore Tarte's Amazonian Clay products, and read a bit of hype on this product, which is supposedly more like a light to medium coverage foundation than a tinted moisturizer. My oily prone skin has actually been, dare I say, more normal and balanced lately, and I have looking to branch out from matte finish, full-coverage foundations to let my well-behaving skin show through. I am so excited to see if this fits the bill.  I bought the shade Agent 004, which is deigned for light skin with neutral undertones.

NARS Copacabana Illuminator
I had a deluxe sample of the Orgasm Illuminator, and I found it to be a great multipurpose product. However, I wasn't wild about the shade.  Copacabana is a pearly pinked beige, and I plan on mixing this in with my foundation and using it as a highlight.

Urban Decay Primer Potion in Eden
My makeup life changed when I discovered eyeshadow primer, and I recently ran out of the various mini versions I had of the Urban Decay ones. I selected Eden, a matte tawny beige primer, to also help conceal discoloration on my lids.

My nonessential treat:
Illamasqua Blush in Katie
I have been lemming for this blush for months after seeing it featured on various blogs, namely Golden Glow and Getting Cheeky. Katie, a matte milky pink, is not a shade I typically gravitate towards but there is something about this pale, creamy color that I found irresistible.

Did you haul anything during the Sephora Friends & Family Sale?

Frankenstein Nails ft. Zoya Yara

Happy All Hallow's Eve weekend! 
To get into the holiday spirit, I recreated this Frankenstein design that I have seen floating around on some blogs lately. Despite the fact that my cuticles are a mess, I totally adore this mani. I used two coats of Zoya's Yara, a phenomenal olive green with gold shimmer, and a Kiss nail art polish for the design.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month- FOTD & Self-Exams

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and bloggers have been doing their part by posting information and inspired FOTDs. For me, the standout post has been Jessica's from Getting Cheeky- not only was her FOTD simple and elegant, but she also reminded me of the importance of performing monthly breast self-exams. As Jessica argues, we spend countless hours a month applying cosmetics, yet often forget to take 15 minutes or so a month to focus on our health. 

It occurred to me, though, that I didn't even know how to properly perform a monthly breast exam. After a bit of research, I discovered  some helpful information. Although the Susan G. Koman Foundation does not endorse breast self-exams as a screening or diagnostic tool for breast cancer, it is nonetheless important to become familiar with your breasts. Doing so will allow you to detect changes and warning signs early. Of course, if you notice any changes, contact your doctor. For more info on breast self-exams, check out the Susan G. Koman Foundation's page on the subject. Moreover, here is a step-by-step guide on how to perform monthly breast self-exams. If you don't do them regularly, I implore you to start. I know I am. 

Here is the pink inspired FOTD I came up with for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I wanted this look to be bold (the goal is awareness, after all!). However, the look is much more subtle in pictures for some reason. I assure you that in person, this look was much more dramatic.

Revlon ColorStay in Medium Beige
Benefit Boi-ing Concealer in Light
Benefit Erase Paste in Medium
Maybelline Dream Matte in Sand
e.l.f. Cool Bronzer

NYX Cream Blush in Boho Chic
Hard Candy Face and Body Luminizer in Doll Face

Urban Decay Primer Potion
Benefit Lemon-Aid
Wet n Wild I'm Getting Sunburned trio- pink on lid
Wet n Wild Spoiled Brat trio- bright pink in crease and along lower lash line
Tarina Tarantino Sparklicity Pure- inner corners
Urban Decay 24/7 Glinde-On Eyeliner in Zero- upper lash line, tight line, lower water line
Loreal Voluminous Millions of Lashes

Revlon SuperLustrous Lipstick in Primrose
Tarina Trantino Gem Gloss in Disco Nap

Falling Leaves Tutorial

 Here in the Midwest, Autumn is finally starting to settle in. My partner and I adore this season, and we have relished in watching the leaves change colors and fall to the ground. The color palette of fiery reds, burnt oranges, crisp yellows, complex greens, and deep browns that we find outside our windows is perfect to pull into our makeup routines. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to recreate this eye look inspired by the falling leaves of Autumn. 

1) Apply primer and a base to your lids to ensure your shadows pop and last all day. I used UDPP and NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk.

2) Apply a yellow based gold shadow to the inner third of your lids and inner corners of your eye.I used UD's Half Baked from the Naked Palette.

3) Apply a burnt orange shade to the middle section of your lid, leaving the outer third free of shadow. I used Stila's eyeshadow in Ray. Using the side of your brush, gently blend the line where the gold and orange meet.

4) Apply a red shadow to the last outer third of your lid. I used UD's Gash. Using the edge of your brush,blend the line between the red and orange shadows. If you do not have a red shadow, a copper or deep brown would also look lovely!
5) With a clean fluffy blending brush, blend the hard line on the top of your lid. Be careful not the muddle the gradient of shades on your lids.

6) Using an angled eyeliner brush, apply a dark green shadow to your lower lash line. I used a gorgeous shimmery dark green from the Wet n Wild Comfort Zone palette (top pan in photo).

7) Blend a reddish brown shade into your crease. I used a really complex reddish-brown/green duochrome shade from the Wet n Wild Comfort Zone palette (bottom pan in the picture). This is a really unique shade- if you don't have anything like it, a deep brown or even the dark green we applied to our lower lash lines would work fine as well. If need be, touch up your lid with the gold, orange, and red shadows if you feel you have blended out some of the pigmentation.

8) Apply a brown eyeliner to your upper and lower lash line and tight line. I used UD's 24/7 Glide-On Pencil in Whiskey.

9) Curl those lashes and apply your favorite mascara. I used the e.l.f. essentials eyelash curler and Loreal Voluminous Millions of Lashes mascara.

10) Finish the look with a natural blush and a glossy nude lip. I opted for NYX Cream Blush in Boho Chic and Revlon ColorBurst Lipstick in Soft Nude lined with NYX lip liner in Ever and topped with Buxom Big & Healthy Lipgloss in Sandy.

 Happy Autumn!

A Letter to My Body

This month's theme for the Feminist Fashion Bloggers network is youth and aging. Check out the round up of posts here. This post is also part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival

For this month's FFB post and in honor of Love Your Body Day, I wrote a letter to my body. Though I certainly harbored many more body image issues as a teen, I would be lying if I said that as a young adult all of these insecurities have been magically resolved. As it turns out, feminists, regardless of our age, are not immune to our society's body fascism. We are still socialized and immersed in this culture, and though we often consciously resist the forces that encourages us to strive for a narrow image of feminine perfection, remaining body positive is a struggle. It occurred to me that for all of the time I spend on my appearance through my love of fashion and cosmetics, I still often neglect my body. I get so consumed with the trappings and accessories and products that I use to decorate my body that I forget to appreciate my body for what it is. This is a first step in getting back in touch with my body in order to cultivate a positive self-image and loving relationship with my self. 

Dear Body,

You must think I'm a bit of a hypocrite, huh? Feminism this, love your body that, blah blah blah. Is that what I sound like? I know we haven't exactly been on speaking terms for a while, but I want to make amends. Besides...we are kinda stuck with each other for a while. Remember when I was little? I wasn't afraid of you then, wasn't ashamed of you. What happened? I grew up. I grew up, and suddenly thousands of fingers were poking and prodding me, thousands of eyes judging me. I lost you in a whirlwind of airbrushed images, diet pills, waif-like models,  infantalizing pictures of women, cruel classmates, calorie counting, trickster mirrors. And since then, I haven't always been so nice to you. I've ignored you, yet I've paid excruciating attention to your flaws. I've pushed and pulled, cut and carved you, tried to make you something you're not. I've starved you, beat you, cursed you, abandoned you. At times, I have been outright disgusted by you. Over the years, however, I have grown tired of hating you. It has sapped me of too much time, too much money, too much emotional, physical, and spiritual effort. Will and force were not enough to change you, so I figured I might as well invest my energies into learning to live with you. There is something I've been meaning to say to you for a long time. I'm sorry. I am so sorry. You have tolerated all the abuse I have put you through: the loathing, the neglect, the unrealistic expectations, the drastic measures to change you. Despite it all, you still serve me well. Because of you, I have powerful legs that carry me through the day, a heart that keep me living and loving, a brain that is eager to learn, and an ass that looks damn fine in a pair of jeans. I am still discovering your power of your limbs, the beauty of your curves. So why don't we give it another shot? What do you say...can we be friends again?


We live in a cultural climate that actively discourages women from loving their bodies. Beauty, fashion, and plastic surgery industries create (in part) and cash in on our insecurities. Moreover, systemic inequalities are naturalized and normalized when those who are oppressed become complicit participants in the very institutions and ideologies that subjugate them. Thus, loving yourself is an intensely political act. Loving yourself is an important form of activism and resistance. I encourage everyone to say 'thanks' to your body today in whatever way is meaningful for you, whether that is writing a letter or reconciliation to your body, taking a bubble bath, doing some yoga, indulging in some ice cream, or whatever else.

My 'Finish It Up' Face

Several of my makeup items are approaching the end of their lifespans. I have been so eager to finish these products up that I have been trying to use them as much as possible. In conjunction with one another, these nearly empty products make for a relaxed and simple look for days when I don't have anything I want to get dolled up for. Look forward to seeking some of these products in October's Sayonara Products post!

'Finish it Up' Product Status
(Clockwise, starting in upper left corner)
LORAC Perfectly Lit Oil Free Luminizing Powder in Spotlight- This highlighter has also doubled as a sheer champagne eyeshadow. Nearly scraping the pan on this one!
Urban Decay 27/7 Glide-On Pencil in Zero- Look at that little nub! I am on my last sharpening.
Urban Decay Primer Potion in Original- This sample size has maybe two uses left.
Tarina Tarantino Gem Gloss in Disco Nap- Give me a week or two of only using this gloss, and it is sayonara!
e.l.f. Mineral Lipstick in Runway Pink- The bullet is totally broken, but I like the color too much to just toss it and I rarely use the lipsticks I depot.
Bronzer from the Sephora Sculpting Disk- While the highlighter remains virtually untouched, the setting powder is completely gone and the bronzer is disappearing fast!
EOS Smooth Sphere Lip Balm- The sphere is nearly flat!
NARS Orgasm Illuminator- After what feels like 1,000 years, this deluxe sample is almost out.
Revlon PhotoReady Concealer- I am literally scraping at the tube!
Tarte Cheek Tint in Glam- This one has a fair bit of life yet, but it is getting kinda old and I need to use it up!

Unmentioned products used to create this look:
Revlon ColorStay Foundation in Warm Golden
Loreal Voluminous Millions of Lashes Mascara in Black

Are any of your products on their last leg? 
How do you commit to using up a product?

Fierce Femme FOTD & OOTD: Taking on Challenges

My classes have been kicking my butt lately, and last week I was feeling less than confident in my capabilities. After a few days of self pity, I channeled my inner power femme and dressed to the nines for my most difficult class. While it may sound like a silly method to some, outfitting myself in my favorite duds and completing the look with fierce hair and makeup actually does help me get into the right mindset to take on challenges. Here is what I wore that day: neutral yet luminous makeup, a teased high bun, and a killer outfit (if I do say so myself!). Oh, and it worked- I totally rocked that class :)

Revlon ColorStay in Warm Golden
mixed w/ Sephora Perfecting Tinted Moisturizer and NARS Orgasm Illuminator
Bronzer from Sephora Sculpting Disk

Tarte Amazonian Clay Long Wearing 12 Hr Blush in Exposed
LORAC Perfectly Lit Oil Free Luminizing Powder in Spotlight

Urban Decay Primer Potion
NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Iced Mocha
UD Sidecar on lid (Naked Palette)
UD Smog in crease and lower last line (Naked Palette)
UD Virgin in inner corner and brow bone (Naked Palette)
UD 24/7 Gline-On Eyeliner in Zero on upper lash line and tight line
Loreal Voluminous Millions of Lashes in Black

Sephora Collection Lip Attitude in 19 Innocent Beige

Make your own animation

Black Top- Wet Seal
Red Paper Bag Waist Skirt- Urban Outfitters
Leopard Tights- Urban Outfitters
Black Ankle Boots- DSW
Gold Chain Necklace- Thrifted

How do you prepare for a challenging day?

Zoya Mirrors Collection- I'm a winner!

 A few weeks ago, the lovely Kristine of Beauty in New York City hosted a giveaway and I was the very lucky and grateful winner of the Zoya Mirrors Collection. This set of six gorgeous colors is perfect for Fall and I know these will be gracing my fingertips all season long, so keep an eye out for NOTDs. Thanks again Kristine! If you like to stay up to date on the latest launches and collections,  Kristine's blog, Beauty in New York City, is a great one to follow.

 L-R: Nimue, Marina, Tao (can't wait to try this metallic grey!)

L-R: Yara (olive green with gold shimmer? I'm dying), Neeka, Jem (plum with gold and magenta shimmer. That's what's up)

MAC Paint Pot in Idyllic

When MAC's Posh Paradise collection launched, I knew the paint pot in Idyllic, a coppery red, was definitely my kind of shade! I threw it into my online shopping cart, and then proceeded to think for a few days about my pending purchase. Of course, while I was so wisely mulling it over, the little bugger went out of stock. Panic ensues. I don't live near a retailer that sells MAC, and all of the online department stores were out of stock as well. As a last stitch effort I browsed Ebay, and thankfully uncovered a highly rated seller with Idyllic available for only a couple of bucks more than I would have paid for it at MAC. I have learned my lesson: although it is smart to think through purchases, if there is an item that you *know* you love and will use, by all means buy it! Especially if it is limited edition!

Having never used a paint pot before, I was surprised by how soft and creamy the product is- for some reason, I imagined the formula would be a bit harder. I don't have application down quite yet- using my finger was a little messy, and a brush took too long. Any tips for a pain pot newbie?

Idyllic looks very red toned in the pot, but once swatched or applied it transforms into more of a copper brown. It is an incredibly gorgeous shade that I will certainly make a strong appearance in my Fall rotation.

Did you pick up anything from Posh Paradise? 
Any paint pot tips for a newbie?

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