On Looks and Love

Every time I, naturally as curly as my avatar, turn up anywhere with straight hair, there`s lots of comments because I look so different.

They are usually positive, but today, someone said she really prefers me curly. “Me, too,” I replied. “But my husband prefers them straight, and because I never do this at home, whenever I go to the hairdresser, that `s what I ask for.”

The other woman, an elderly colleague, just couldn`t get over how sweet this was. But is it? To every 8 weeks or so wear a hairstyle I don `t really like for a couple of days because it pleases him? It`s not like I permanently dye them blonde or lose weight or get a tattoo or do something else that is… permanent or drastic.

PS: He wore a kilt for our wedding, even though he first said he hasn`t worn one since he was 5 and would feel ridiculous in it now. This was my surprise, and the most lovely one of them all…

Lifestyle Post: on Dying one`s Hair

I`m a dyed red head. My real colour looks like this

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and this (profile pic from January 2016)

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is courtsey to that:

2 packets, 3 weeks apart, were necessary to get me to this colour, but after that, the result was indeed pretty close to the model on the package. Typically, I had to re-apply every 5 weeks or so if I wanted no roots at all, but I ended up regretting this over-processing in the past and eventually died it back to my natural colour.

Last year though, I succumbed to red again. While testing how long I could go without re-dying, I discovered this product here (available at Amazon in various colours):

It is non permanent and ammonia free, and it`s designed for reviving dyed hair (does not cover roots!!) between “proper” colours to avoid it becoming dull and lacklustre. Indeed, my hair looked freshly done again – the colour is rich and glossy, and it  just washes out over time, lasting 2-3 weeks depending on my tolerance levels.

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It`s now about a year and a half since I last dyed, and while I did have to go through a really difficult stage of getting used to the every growing and increasingly noticeable roots, those have now grown down to giving a nice dip-dye effect, which just does not seem to go out of fashion at the moment.

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After I was seriously considering going back to dark, I now feel I found the perfect compromise, particularly as red is also notorious for being difficult to change. What I particularly like is that the roots are now long enough for all to look dark again when I wear my hair up:

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So I can have both and don`t need to decide!

I now moved on to another shade of red, which is this semi permanent one:

This says it lasts for a month, but I re-dye after three weeks, when I usually find it`s getting a bit dull. I only dye the bits that have been processed before and leave the roots alone –  a perfect compromise between staying red and not overprocessing. The fact that I managed to grow my hair so much in one year (between the second and the following picture) proves that neither of those products have caused any damage – and the colour is pretty cool, too:

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PS: I do not receive sponsorship from the manufacturers of either of the mentioned products

Lifestyle Month: on Body Image

I can relate such a lot to this brilliant post! I, too, was a chubby child, teenager and young adult. I managed to lose and regain this extra weight several times, but in my own eyes, I was never thin enough (even when I stopped menstruating).

It was only when I got big again that I could see what I had, and I would grieve every single time because I hadn`t appreciated it more. I promised myself that if I ever lost weight again I would believe the numbers (which we give so much importance to when we want them smaller!!) and enjoy my body. (Today, I`m actually convinced that that mindset of never being slim enough was part of my yoyo-dieting issue: Because I still saw myself as fat, I never stopped starving and, equally, had nothing to lose when I started binge eating again…)

Eventually, I managed to lose weight again, and I`ve kept it off for 6 years now. And I think that`s a lot about acceptance. I can now accept that I`m a good weight, and this motivates me to take care of it. Neither do I want to starve to lose more, so I no longer binge eat. I wish I had known this at 20, but I`m glad I`ve learnt it at all.

>> ” I do these things not because I hate my body and want to change it, but because I love it, and want to take care of it.”
– is just *beautiful* and *so right*!!! I think that`s the difference for me, too!

Lifestyle Month: Wardrobe Boredom

As my longer term readers may remember, I was on a lengthy no-shopping mission last year. Nevertheless, I get bored, which is when I`m usually looking to adding a few items. After some generally unsuccessful visits to charity shops, I finally came up with the following two cheats:

1. Dyeing my old Clothes

Suitable for things which still fit and are in a good condition. Works best with natural fabrics which are light in colour – it is not recommended to dye an item lighter than it was originally, as you cannot anticipate the outcome (other than that it`ll not be as advertised).

Seams don`t always take the new colour, because they are synthethic – I like the contrast as in the red skirt below, which still has its original blue seams, but this may not always desired. Also, you may not always get exactly the colour you bought if it`s so different from the original colour (same item – was hoping for plum, but still ended up happy:-)).

The white blouse had become just a bit too grey over the years but was otherwise still in good condition, and dying it makes it feel and look like new again.

White items, which may have become a bit too grey (as the blouse pictured below) are great to dye, as they take on any colour really vibrantly.

I particularly like the fact that I`m not adding to or taking away from the size of my wardrobe, but still getting one new thing for each old one for about £5.99. I wish I could be motivated to change buttons, but right now, while writing this line, I think I may give this a go… watch this space…

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2. Design my own

I was looking for some more T-shirts but couldn`t find any at all that I liked. Eventually, I remembered this shop here: Their T-Shirts are so customisable I felt overwhelmed by choice (style and colour of T-Shirt, colour, font and direction of text, size of picture, border or not, where is the motif going to be placed and will there be something on the back and arms as well?), and it was a project which fitted in beautifully with my desire to start doing a bit more with my own photography. I even designed my own logo, which I placed on the back of each creation, between the shoulder blades.

For the highest available quality, I paid just over £20.oo each, they kept their colour, print and shape after a lot of wear, and apart from being unique, the Siamese cat T-Shirt especially is a great talking point – I feel properly proud to tell people that`s my own cat, and on the back, it actually says #catenvy underneath the logo.

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Lifestyle Month: Wardrobe Audit

I `m always trying to cut my spending, but I also really like my clothes. It used to be a ritual every new season to set a (large) budget, go to town and shop to my heart`s content.

As I entered what is probably my third wave of a more solid interest in sustainable living, I started going to second hand shops more, but I still rarely find things I end up buying.

It was inheriting a large part of my friends` wardrobe that made me sit down and list every single item I own. I never thought I had a lot, and most importantly, I was kidding myself that I was wearing every thing I own at least once a year.

What I however found shocked me:

Shoes Boots – Black 1 smart, 1 biker
Shoes Boots – Grey sheepswool
Shoes Boots – Brown tan, chocolate
Shoes Boots – Blue sheepswool
Shoes Boots – red wine red
Shoes Boots – half aztec tan
Shoes Shoes – Trainers lilac
Shoes Sandals – Fitflops cream, yellow, red
Shoes Sandals pink, grey, brown, cream, red, blue, yellow, black
Shoes Shoes – Pumps blue, teal, black, green, lilac, pink
Shoes Shoes – evening gold, silver
Bottoms Jeans – short light blue and dark blue
Bottoms Jeans – long next, gap, shredded, dark
Bottoms trousers – relaxed 1 long, 2 medium
Bottoms trousers – short cord plum
Bottoms skirt – casual orange, blue, green, brown – all cord
Bottoms skirt – work winter black pencil, lilac short, lilac long
Bottoms skirt – work summer black, stone, brown, burberry style, floaty black
Dress Dress – maxi blue, colourful, stewardesses uniform, vietnamese, burgundy
Dress Dress – Casual Winter leopard, psychedelic autumn colours, psychedelic wine
Dress Dress – interview navy
Dress Dress  – work Winter RL leopard, wine
Dress Dress – Casual Summer daisies, black, cream
Dress Dress – work Summer stone, green, 2xblue, black and white
Dress Dress – occasion RL Blue, long black, short black, Cavalli black, chinese, tartan, gold
Dress Dress – holiday white, yellow
Tops Tops – T-shirts 3 cream, 2 white
Tops Tops – long blouses 3x black, 2x white, leopard, yellow, stone, lilac, blue mix, brown cord,brown, green
Tops Tops – short blouses stone, blue, 2x teal, white, black and gold
Tops Tops – winter pullovers lilac, grey, white, stone, orange, brown
Tops Tops – Summer Pullover 2x stone
Tops Tops – evening orange, orange mix, corset, black
Jackets Jackets – winter black, fake fur, leather
Jackets Jackets – summer jeans, black, grey, weather, poncho
Jackets Jackets – vest blue, yellow
Sport Sport – Bikini 2x black, pink, orange, green, white, multi
Sport Sport – top 3x football, pink
Sport Sport – Bottom 2x blue, 2x black, pink

I spare you the entries concerning my underwear and coloured tights, but all put together, I owned 198 clothes and shoes, not counting at all accessories. How on earth, I ended up with 13 long sleeved blouses, 11 pairs of sandals and 7 bikinis (I live in Scotland!!) I do not know.

Fact is – I do not need new clothes. Not for a long time. Or, let`s say, not until I stumble upon something I really like and that`s hard to get again. And since this list was done in May, I really only bought one more thing which definitely belongs to this category:

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A Parisian Street Cafe motif from a boutique in Porto! That`s definitely one of the exceptions that should always be allowed.

I can really recommend making a list like that – it`s a real eye opener, but last month, I took my little project a bit further still: When I started my new job, I “downgraded” a few things to spare time only, and after I also just gave quite a few away, I  was getting concerned that I was wearing the same stuff all the time. So in order to find out how long it would take me to run out of outfits, I vowed to wear something different every day for the whole of December (same things were allowed, but not the same combination or acessorisation) and also took notes of them (one extra page in my planner, which I was simply moving along with me:

image(Hearts indicate compliments, and dark hearts mean many of them)

And I could do it. Despite my much reduced wardrobe. I still don`t need new clothes. I`ve got enough to wear a different outfit every day of the month. And there are still things I have not worn at all.

We all know that a lot of our reasons for shopping are more want than need, but I for my part still do it, and I feel the occasional reminder does me a world of good.

Airbrush apps and thoughts about beauty and perfection

Below, a fab post about a topic which I was wanting to write about, too, for some time.

It`s about apps which beautify your selfies, and about what they do not only to our own self esteem, if we cannot keep up with our own selfies or if they show you “imperfections” of your natural self, which you never cared about before.

I also think it raises expectations which are both unrealistic and dangerous. As Paleica writes, social media became so popular, because it was authentic. But is it still?

There was that rather catty remark from a colleague about a friend, whose facebook photos were always looking so  much better than her real self: “I saw her in the street last week, and she looks nothing like that!” My initial thoughts were to defend her – if you are really that plain, but once in a while, you get a really good photo of yourself, of course, you`ll want everybody to see it.

On thinking a bit deeper however, I don`t think it`s all that cute. The woman who saw her in the street was now, in other words, telling everyone she was an imposter. And imagine she was invited to a class reunion and felt she could not live up to her own selfies. Would she still go, or would she find an excuse? Even though we all know about the apps, we kind of expect each other, and ourselves, to look like that in real life.

What I often think is that there now seems to be an expectation that you photoshop yourself. Everyone can do it, the tools are for free – there is no “excuse”. If you don`t you stick out for being mediocre – not only don`t you look good enough, you also cannot possibly value yourself, otherwise you`d at least try. It`s the same phenomenon which has been raised numerous times in relation to cosmetic surgery. The sheer availability of it has raised standards for everyone.

BTW, apparently, the selfie culture has significantly increased demand for facial surgery…

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Heute stelle ich euch eine App vor, die mich selbst sehr zwiegespalten hinterlässt. Auf der einen Seite finde ich sie genial, auf der anderen Seite aber “horrifying”. Warum stelle ich sie euch dann überhaupt vor? Weil ich selbst bis vor kurzem nicht wusste, dass es diese App gibt und ich denke, dass es nicht schadet, wenn man sich dessen bewusst ist, dass es heute kein Photoshop und ausgefeilte Retusche-Kenntnisse mehr braucht, um entweder das Beste aus sich rauszuholen oder im Kleinen und auf die Schnelle ein sehr unreales, halbwahres Bild von sich zu erschaffen.

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Why are women so mean about other women`s weight?

I sometimes get the impression they totally relish it when another one puts on weight or otherwise doesn`t look good in this department. (I rarely hear this kind of talk about skin issues or bad hair days.)

Today, I overheard yet another conversation which was just plain nasty. She`s off sick from work, and everybody knows she isn`t ill, so noone who would evoke warm feelings in the first place. Someone asked about her, and someone else said no, she hasn`t spoken to her again, but she`s seen on Facebook that she is currently in Turkey, and there were photos of her sunning herself in a bikini. The moment she said “bikini” the whole focus shifted and became rather ugly.

A women at my old work lost more than half her weight and then put it back on. And some of the women were pleased about it. When I lost weight myself a year or so later, this woman was my inspiration for keeping it off. I don`t don`t want to gain weight again because it doesn`t conform to my beauty standards or would cause me health problems, it`s because I don`t want to make myself vulnerable to nasty comments. I could easily afford another few pounds, but I couldn`t deal with the sneering. I just don`t have enough confidence to be, leave alone become or regain, fat.

I don`t particularly like envy comments either, but I can deal with them because I can see them for what they are. But against fat shame, you`re utterly defenceless, at least in the short term and definitely when you are at an age where you probably have to work really hard to not get even bigger.

I think most women have or had body issues at some point in their lives, and this makes me even more puzzled if I encounter such behavior. I also know women who were big themselves, lost the weight – and with it all the tolerance and compassion they were so wanting for themselves.

Please could someone shed some light? I really want to understand, at least sort of…

 

Decluttering Toiletteries: Makeup

This is a photo of all the makeup (foundation) I`ve got:

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Contrary to my seven body lotions, these did not accumulate by themselves – I bought each of them deliberately.

At the very front, you see my all time favourite ever since I first tried it in 2008: Bare Minerals. I use the compressed powder (£26.oo plus £24.00 for the special brush at the back), as I found the lose powder too messy (clothes!!), and the liquid make up too thin/light. I think I`ll keep using Bare Minerals forevaandevaandeva, but there`s certain days in the month, where this is just not enough, which is why, over some time, I collected some other items:

First, I bought the stick from Bobbi Brown (£26.oo), which is incredibly fast to apply: I just draw a number 3 on each cheek and then blend this in with my hands. Great coverage while very natural looking, but oil based and makes my skin break out if I use it continuously for, say, a week.

That`s why I bought L`Oreal True Match (£ 9.99) as well. This doesn`t give me spots, but use any more than just a thin layer, and you can see it (Did I buy the right colour???), which is why it was joined first by a Blur Cream (£7.99 – waste of money! It`s meant to smooth out pores, which it does, but my problem is breakouts, which this does not cover) and then the Mac product (£ 22.oo). This is a yellow liquid which, applied on red areas, neutralises their colour and makes them less visible underneath your usual makeup. This works, while still looking natural.

A couple of weeks ago, I was given a sample of Estee Lauder`s Double Wear (£32.oo) in the small plastic bottle. They take a close up photo of your skin and then mix a color to match in front of you. I chose medium coverage, and was properly amazed at how it made my skin look – smooth, dewy, and not at all made up – simply perfect!! I would have bought this on the spot, if I didn`t have so much already (but previously, I would have!!)! Unfortunately, oil based, too, so what I think I`ll do is use up all the other stuff and then buy just this to use alongside my Bare Minerals on acne days and special days. May need a different colour for summer and winter, but at the moment, this one is what I think the best looking makeup I ever had!!

 

Decluttering Toiletteries: Body Lotions

This is a picture of (almost!) all the body lotions I possess :

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Of the small Decleor one, I have two – they were freebies. There is a gel as well, which is not in the picture. The Aloe Vera gel was bought for use on sunburnt skin (didn`t do much), and the large one was for the gym (where I’m even less inclined to use anything! ). The Argan oil was meant for my hair, which it made greasy, so this was relegated to the body as well. The “funny” thing is – I don`t even use body lotion! I always plan to, but I`m notoriously lazy.

The only one that`s precious is the white bottle with the silver top – that`s a perfumed body oil, Teint de Neige. If every perfume was available as oil, I`d only buy those. I love the way you can rub it all over rather than just a few spots, it feels incredibly luxurious to apply, and (contrary to all perfumed lotions I had in the past) the perfume lasts all day.

Anyway, all but this one are now being used up and wont be replaced. If ever I re feel in need for a body moisturiser, I’ll always have some in the kitchen. It smells delicious (but fades quickly, so will not interfere with any other scent!) and puts loads of goodness into your skin, and both without a single additive. It`s also very affordable:

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Extra Virginia coconut oil!

My corset

Every time I wear my corset, I inevitably cause a discussions about women`s rights and women`d liberation. I have not forgotten what the corset represented in Victorian times, but others tend to forget that today, it represents something totally different. I feel good wearing it, even empowered in some way.