Tag: beauty

The Importance Of Skin


This is one part of my fashion and beauty inspiration doors. The more diversity of skin the magazines include, the more you will see on my boards. I see beauty in all shades of skin. Missing: Asian models are the least represented in the magazines within my reach. I will need to get actual Chinese and Japanese fashion mags to see more Asian beauty!

I have been thinking a lot about skin in the last few days.

A twitter friend, Em Davey (@KromBoomEm), tweeted about seeing skin-lightening products all over the world but was particularly surprised to see them in Hawaii. My first thought was “Why would anyone want to lighten their skin?” and the next thought was the racist angle concerning white standards of beauty. But immediately following that I thought about the millions of white skinned women who spend tons of time and sometimes tons of money trying to make their skin darker through tanning. It was impossible to express all this without sounding either dismissive, racist, or annoyingly simplistic.

But for me, it really is simple: I think everyone should embrace the skin they’re born with. I think skin is beautiful in all the shades it comes in from so dusky it has an almost iridescent cast to it, to the palest that also has an almost iridescent cast to it. All of it. Every shade of natural skin, even my own occasionally annoying ruddy version of pale skin (moonlight skipped my skin, sadly), looks good on the person who was born with it.

To me, artificially changing one’s skin on purpose is a kind of self mutilation. White women working so hard to have darker skin weird me out. First of all, I don’t think it looks good, and second of all, it seems like an unhealthy obsession.

What I don’t understand at all is that in my country, where being a white person is supposedly such a huge privilege and whiteness of communities is something white people have been willing to protect with violence, why are so many white women working so damn hard to be LESS WHITE?

I don’t get it. I will never get it. If being white is so fucking superior, why do so many women work hard to get brown or orange skin?

I’ve thought about white women hating having actual white skin but I have rarely (probably because I’ve always lived in predominantly white communities) thought about women with brown skin trying to become lighter skinned. I didn’t know that was truly a thing outside of the rare Michael Jackson kind of – I don’t know if there’s a name for what he had – extreme whitening of his skin.

People: the skin you were born with, the shade it is when you use at least moderate protection to care for it, the shade it is when you go about living your life – that’s the shade that you’re meant to be. It’s the shade that goes best with the rest of you. Embrace the skin your in while also embracing the skin every one else is in.

I’m not saying I’m against enhancing or playing with one’s looks. I happen to very much enjoy make up and it’s fun to play with skin like a canvas. But make-up is superficial and you wash it off at the end of the day. I used to wear rice powder to be Kabuki-white. It was theatrical and fun, but not permanent. Make-up allows you to play dress-up but it doesn’t alter who you are on a cellular level.

Skin protects us. It holds our innards in. It filters junk before it can pollute our blood. It defends us, it also brings nutrients to us through light and air.

I can’t stand that skin color is used by so many (and no, not just white people) to judge other people’s character and worth. I hate that skin has become (or always has been) a political and personal tool for demoralizing and tearing other people down. It isn’t even just skin color but skin reveals things like who’s been working harder with their hands doing physical labor – something that in the past at least, was an actual barrier in society. Rough hands could keep you from taking any place of prominence in society.

What the ever-loving-goddamn-idiotic-fuck?

Humans can be so adamantly stupid.

I am declaring this the year of SKIN. What I would like is for everyone to take better care of the skin they’re in. Stop trying to significantly darken or lighten it. Don’t accept standards of beauty you can’t naturally fit into. Ruddy skis is NEVER going to be IN as far as beauty standards go, but this year, more than ever before, I will not only embrace my own skin but endeavor to take better care of it. Incidentally, most pictures of me don’t reveal my ruddiness. That comes and goes depending on temperature and lighting and exertion levels. I go red very easily and it isn’t generally with embarrassment. When I’m not flushed I’m medium pale with so many freckles that some people* claim I’m not even freckled.

I would like everyone to embrace the skin they’re born with. Care for it like the incredible organ it is. Care for it and love it and nurture it. If it’s naturally really dry, moisturize it. If it’s naturally really oily, wash it with gentle cleansers that offer more balance. Use sunscreen. Take care of your skin like it takes care of YOU.

Don’t bake in the sun like you’re a fucking pastry.

Don’t bleach your skin like it’s a fucking bathtub.

Love the skin you’re in and then love the skin everyone else is in too. This isn’t going to fix the world. It won’t make wars end. But seeing and appreciating everyone’s skin in all its shades is the first step to appreciating the precious spirits and hearts skin works so hard to protect.


Exit the Reign of the Retroussé Nose

wig store 4th and Clement

I’ve been thinking a lot about standards of beauty, especially as it is applied to women fictional characters.  Just the other day I was talking about how I want to build new female archetypes in fiction and represent the under-represented: women with no interest in having children.  But I want to do more than that.  I want to build heroines that deviate from the standards of beauty that I’m really tired of seeing everywhere.  I want to build heroines who embody all the different types of beauty that I personally admire.

The standard  being something like this: white, tall, super thin, narrow hips, really large breasts, flat stomach, long hair (most often blonde), small retroussé nose, at least slightly tan (for bikini wearing), and white straight teeth.

Now, if you happen to BE a woman who fits this description, I’m not dissing your beauty.  I promise.  What I want, though, is to see a lot more variation in the beauty that is represented in entertainment and in fiction.  I want people to see what I see as beautiful.

A retroussé nose is fine, but the noses I love best are more substantial and my very favorite kind of nose on a woman is an aquiline nose.  But a hawk (or hook) nose can be just as gorgeous.  I enjoy a crooked nose.  Or a wide flat nose can be really cool and lend beauty to a face.  When it comes to hair – why are people always favoring the blonde?  Blonde is okay, if you’re blonde, but if you can build fictional characters why not use redheads more often or black hair, or ash-brown?  Why are so few women heroines freckled?  Teeth that are straight and white are a snooze.  I want a crooked incisor or one tooth in shadow, or maybe the tooth shapes are a little unusual.  Gaps in front teeth are charming.  Hair – why do so many women in entertainment have long boring hair?  I want to see more short haired heroines – and not depicted as being manly either – give me some short hair or more bobs or how about more afros?  Why are we stuck on the mid-back length hair that has just a bit of curl or wave to it?  What about different ethnicities?  Brown skin is beautiful.  Olive skin is beautiful.

When it comes to my own heroines I have thought a lot about this and chosen their physical attributes thoughtfully.  I have several heroines that none of you have seen yet.  The only one I’ve presented is Cricket.  So what did I do with Cricket?  What makes her different from the usual standard of beauty?

She has red hair.  Not auburn.  Red.  And it’s in a bob.  She is small breasted, what others like to call “flat chested”.  But she has hips.  So she’s “pear shaped”.  She has freckles.  Not just a quaint sprinkling across the bridge of her nose, but all over her face.  She’s freckled.  I think freckles are beautiful.  She’s very fit, because of the life she leads but not model skinny.  She has clear grey eyes.  And she’s of average height.  She has never worn a pair of heels in her life.  She dresses in simple practical clothes for hunting and doing her work in.

I based her partly on my friend Sharon and partly on a composite of others of us who share similar attributes that are definitely not much represented by most heroines in fiction or other forms of entertainment.

Jane Bauer, from my unfinished book “Jane Doe”, is tall.  She’s curvy with both ample boobs and hips.  She doesn’t have a miniscule stomach.  She has green eyes and dark brown medium length hair with some curl/waves to it.  Very pale skin.  Straight long nose.  I wanted her to be tall but not particularly thin.  Her style is an eclectic mix of 40’s vintage and peasant.  She wears heels sometimes but never those ridiculous 6″ strappy numbers.

Tess Patton, still just a seed of a story called The Phlebotomists, is completely different from either of these other two.  She’s very short.  She’s got large breasts but though she’s got some curve to her hips her figure is what many refer to as “top heavy”.  She’s pale as chalk with dark brown eyes that aren’t large but are very prettily shaped.  She has straight almost black hair which she wears somewhat short and disheveled and often with a few brightly died colorful streaks in it.  She has high cheekbones and a straight slightly flat nose.  She’s part Native American.  She wears tortoise shell glasses.  She only wears black and white clothes because she doesn’t like having to choose colors.

In a recent online discussion with my friend T’Hud and some of her other friends about her style of beauty and how she felt her looks would be more appreciated in some other country besides this one I realized, with some amusement, that I had basically made Tess more or less in T’Hud’s image.  Not really on purpose.  But when I realized this I decided to make the resemblance closer.  Because she’s one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met, so why don’t we see more main characters that look like her?  If we see really short women characters they are always represented in waif-like form OR as fat humorous characters.  T’Hud is neither waify nor fat.  She has cheekbones you can hurt yourself on and a wonderful nose.

I haven’t yet come up with any African American heroines or any Asian or Indian main characters and it’s because I’m afraid of bringing down a firestorm of criticism on myself as a white woman trying to bring authenticity to main character with a different ethnicity than my own.  Even as I say that I realize that I don’t feel any qualms about writing a main character that is part Native American.  I will think a lot more about this.  I think the important thing that all writers have the potential to bring to the table are universal themes that transcend ethnicity.  Here in the American culture there are millions of women having the same experiences as I am having being a woman in a world that is still struggling with gender equality.  That’s just one example of common ground and it’s there that we can all meet both in life and in fiction.

How to build a better heroine.  That’s what’s on my mind.  All aspects of it.  How to build new archetypes of womanhood.  How to invigorate and shake up our cultural standards of beauty that bizarrely reflect only a tiny portion of our actual population.  I want to be part of this.

Here’s what I keep thinking: if I write books and those books are made into movies and my main characters can’t be played by: Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Michelle Williams, Naomi Watts, Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Jane Seymour, Blake Lively, Jennifer Aniston, any supermodel, or anyone who’s had plastic surgery, then I will have succeeded in bringing something new to fiction and entertainment.

Next time I will discuss the tedious stereotypical female personalities that have been done to death and how I want to be part of that changing too.