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Ipsy January Unveiling

  • Posted on February 25, 2015 at 9:44 pm

Alright, so you might not know this about me, but I am a beauty-holic. Basically, I’ve fallen in love with things like makeup, jewelry, hair-and-body-care things, and in general just girly things. This means that I, like so many others, have fallen prey to the Subscription Box charm. Specifically, Ipsy.

Now, for those of you who don’t know (and probably don’t care) Ipsy is a makeup subscription service that you can get for $10/mo, and it sends you four or five makeup-items. It’s rather nice, actually, because there’s a quiz you fill out and then you get makeup based on your profile. Like having a personal shopper do it for you, you get the goods, without all the fuss.

Now, why am I, an author, writing about this on my author-y blog? Because, ladies and gentlemen, if you want to make money in the writing field, sometimes, you’re going to have to do things outside your normal range of writing! It’s a lesson in expanding your abilities. So, in my case, I’m going to provide a review of the items I received in my January Ipsy Bag.

Starting with:

The Glam Bag itself:

 

 

As you can see, this cute pink bag has a lovely diamond pattern to it. It’s made of an interesting material, most likely a poly-blend. The pink and the gray offset each other nicely, and it’s a decent size if all you want to do is carry a small amount of makeup. I have to carry some outside of it, because I am a pack-rat, and use a lot of makeup. The cute Ipsy pull makes for advertising in a cheeky way.  Way to go, Ipsy, for putting yourself out there!

 

 

Cargo Cosmetics Mini-Lipgloss in Anguilla

This lip-gloss is one of the best lip-glosses I’ve ever had. Despite having a stick-applicator with that fuzzy-tip that I hate, it’s still really easy to put on. It does have an odd sort of almost-tacky leftover feel, but it glides on smooth. The color is fantastic as well, when mixed with a Nyx Simply Red Lip Creme (in Candy Apple) it does the most amazing pink-ombre on my lips ever. It does smell a tiny bit funky, but other than that, it’s lovely! Definitely a recommend.

 

 

 

Model co BLUSH cheek powder in Peach Bellini

A blush for the ages. I adore this thing, no doubt about it. This blush gives me the rosiest cheeks, and makes me look five years younger, it’s great. I can’t wait to try out more from this company. It even comes in a nice round container, without being overly large! It fits beautifully in the Glambag, and in my hand!

Luxie Beauty Large-Angled Face Brush 504

This brush is mainly what I was buying this Ipsy subscription for! I had been hoping for an angled eye-shadow brush, but this beauty is just AMAZING. It’s great for applying the BLUSH we talked about earlier. Plus, it is soft as a button! It’s survived two weeks in my purse now, and I think it’s going to survive a lot longer! The pink handle is absolutely darling too. I have NO complaints.

 

Pencil Me In cosmetics Natural Eyeliner in Amethyst

Oh where was this eyeliner when I was eighteen and going through my emo-phase? It’s a lovely purple color, just like the name implies. Although I do find this particular eyeliner breaks at the tip pretty easily, the natural formula really entices. I have to admit, however, this one lives on my dresser, and I rarely use it.

And last, but most certainly least:

Eva NYC Up-All-Night Volumizing Spray

This one was the let down of the whole bag. I honestly didn’t get to try it! It broke open on transit, dousing the rest of the bag. Thank goodness it didn’t damage anything. However, since I had stated that I didn’t really WANT any hair-products in my bag (I have a pixie-ish A-line, as you can see in my photos), it was more a blessing in disguise. I let Ipsy know about the situation, and they were more than happy to send out a replacement. I haven’t received that replacement yet, but I’ll be happy to update this review once I do, if anyone is interested!

 

 

 

 

All in all, I’m really satisfied with the first Ipsy bag. The makeup is nice, the lip-gloss to die for, and I found everything else quite happily living in my purse during the week. Not only is much of it useful for my daily apply-makeup-on-bus schedule, but it looks GREAT on me too!  I am a little disappointed that one of the products was damaged, but I couldn’t really blame Ipsy for that. I blame the postal service! Damn postal workers.

Look at him. That smile is so fake. I’m watching you.

(All pictures (except mr. Mailman) courtesy of the Ipsy website. No offense meant to our fine national postal workers, they work hard, and I couldn’t help making the joke. Sorry!)

9 Ways to Fix your Stereotyped Character – A guestpost by Cindy Grigg

  • Posted on August 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm

So You Wrote a Stereotyped Character…9 Ways to Fix Your Story

 

I’ve recently been doing a blog post series on How to Write Well-Rounded Female Characters, which included a list of 19 Female Character Stereotypes to Avoid.

Since Nicohle and I are swapping blog posts today, I would love to take that list one step further and show how I would fix a stereotyped female character (but the same concepts apply to any character).

Why You Don’t Have to Start Over

If your female character falls into a stereotype, it’s not so much that you’ve written her wrong as that you’re just not done writing her.

Writers revert to stereotypes or tropes rather than fully articulating what makes a character unique. It’s tricky because you may not feel lazy as you write a stereotypical character. You’re still sitting in the writer’s chair fulfilling your daily word count or time quota, but essentially you’re being creatively lazy about who you are writing about.

1. Rearrange what you’ve got. A lot of creativity is a matter of how you arrange the disparate parts of something to make a whole. Which aspect of your character is the focal point? By restructuring which personality traits are pivotal, you could create a more fresh character.

2. Add something to the character that scares, stretches, or otherwise challenges you. If writing about a certain characteristic your character possesses makes you think about the world in a new way, it likely will do the same for many readers.

3. Change how long your character stays a stereotype. Maybe your character can start out as a character but be changed by a new event. Maybe reveal they were hiding their true nature for some good reason. Think: Scarlet Pimpernel.

4. Look around you. Think of the most unique people you know and add some part of their personality to your character.

Rarity gives you an example reaction.

5. Add more weaknesses, flaws,  fears, and losses! I like the trick of thinking, What is the worst thing that could happen to my character? Then consider adding that to your plot so your character has to really solve and struggle.

6. Put your character in strange situations. Brainstorm several seemingly unrelated scenes and put your character in them. Consider crossing genres with this exercise. Put your fantasy heroine in a murder mystery and see how she behaves, etc. You may stumble upon an interesting nuance to add to your story.

7. Change your character’s past or future. If the character seems flat or one-dimensional, hook the audience into caring based on something terrible or wonderful they went through or will go through.

8. Give your character a unique motivation. Most of humanity is motivated to some degree by love of family, romance, personal gain, or moral/spiritual paradigms, for example. But what if you made your character also motivated by something kooky like a love of snails, and wanting to save those snails from extinction, for example?

9. Create personality contradictions. I love giving a character two characteristics that seem paradoxical or at odds with one another, then showing why they are this way.

Both fixing characters or scrapping them will require a lot of editing, so I figure you might as well refurbish your stereotyped character rather than starting from square one.

While it takes more effort, it’s more fun and interesting to write well-rounded characters. For me, this comes down to asking, But who else is she/he?! By consciously steering clear of stereotypes, writing becomes more adventure. More fun.

Cindy Grigg

Cindy Grigg writes speculative fiction and instructional non-fiction. She is the author of the HULDUSNOOPS series, a middle grade mystery and fantasy adventure about Icelandic Huldufolk or “hidden people”. As About.com’s Office Software Expert, Cindy also writes about technology and productivity (www.Office.About.com). Find her writing advice, blog, and other projects she’s working on at www.CindyGrigg.com.

Beauty and her Beast

  • Posted on April 2, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Beauty and the Beast Vs. Taming of the Shrew

Both iconic tales, although for very different reasons. Long, well-known, articulate, and fascinating, both tales are considered love stories, usually of the romantic variety, with sweet connotations, underneath everything else. The humor in Taming of the Shrew is considered a finer point of William Shakespeare’s works. The “song as old as time” of Beauty and the Beast is famous for it’s sweet romance, persisting through the ages as a love story to be emulated.

However, both stories have deeply troubling issues within them that few enjoy looking at. Truthfully, I don’t enjoy looking at it. Like any little girl, I absolutely adored Beauty and the Beast, wanting nothing more than to find that kind of adventure and love so easily. And my teenage self really enjoyed Ten Things I Hate About You, which is roughly based off of Taming of the Shrew. Both were funny, quirky, beautiful stories that made me think that maybe, just maybe, love was out there for everyone.

Now, break it down, by role. Let’s start with the women of each example.

Beauty, whose name literally describes her both inside and out, is a sweet, dutiful girl, who is obedient, intelligent, and (in the original tale) respectful. The disney version added a firey backbone, which was quite nice, actually. Her role in the story was to meet and be enslaved/captured by the beast, and then, despite being cruelly abused, verbally, and physically (he occasionally throws her around even in the disney movie) is supposed to fall in love with the Beast, once he exposes his true, good heart.

Katherina, the infamous Shrew, is an obstinant, firey woman with a temper. She is determined to have her way, and will not be told what to do. She chooses not to marry. During the course of her play, she is psychologically tortured by her soon-to-be-husband, through various methods such as removing her clothing and food, by saying it isn’t good enough for her, and deliberately misinterpreting what she says. She, in the end, also falls in love with a rude, obstinant man, whom has proven to be a rather cruel fellow.

Both women seem to be intelligent, well-thought out women, for all that they’re a little… one dimensional. Beauty is beautiful in all that she is, and Kate is well… a shrew.  But both women are forced, quite against their will, to be in the company of a man who is downright brutish.

The Beast is just that, a monstrous beast both outside and in, with claws that have rended the entire castle. Belle must have lived in fear, for I know I would, were I surrounded by stone gauged by such talons. Not only that, but he treats her as though she were a servant, a slave. He yells, demeans her, and as illustrated before, throws her a few times. He is brutish, boorish, angry, frightening, and supposedly, deep down, has a heart of gold. Belle just has to endure until it begins to show itself. Meanwhile, Beast is just waiting for the right woman to come along and teach him proper manners. How demeaning is that, as an allegory for the male gender? Hear that guys? You have no choice but to be an ass until the right woman comes along and *FIXES* you.

Petruchio, meanwhile, had the benefit of being raised in Italy. Meaning he’s an ass too. Also, he’s psychologically manipulative, and uncaring of Katherina in a personal sense. All he wants, as is stated in the play, is to marry a bride. He too is cruel, wooing a woman who obviously doesn’t want marriage, and basically talking her into marriage with the most backwards sweettalk in existance. He knowingly enters the relationship set to break down Katherina’s spirit and make her docile, accepting, and obedient.

Both men are the worst sort of examples of mankind one can think of. I personally am embarrassed to even call them men, for I’ve MET good men, and they do not act this way.

Now, you ask, at what point do these two stories even coincide with each other? Well, think about it. Beauty and the beast is a story about a woman taming a man. Taming of the shrew is about a man taming a woman. They’re the same story, only with the genders reversed.

What’s worse is, instead of the man showing the woman kindness, as Beauty showed Beast, and finally revealing the heart of gold inside, in Taming of the Shrew, Katherina is instead browbeaten, psychologically tortured, and in general treated as a problem, something to be beaten down and changed.

Both stories have problematic elements, Beauty with her stockholm syndrome and Perchutio with his cruelty, however, when looked at, it is clear what the commonality is. In both stories, women are clearly a means-to-an-end. Nothing more. Katherina is refused her personality, changed by the man in order for him to gain a bride and her sister to be eligible for marriage. Beauty exists for her father to trade off, for the Beast to gain back his humanity. Nothing more.

THIS is the problem with these two stories. When you are writing, consider the women in your story. Consider what they do, who they are, WHY they are in the story. If they are nothing more than a means-to-an-end, then you are doing them, and yourself, a disservice. After all, Misogyny is often internalized, and it’s time that women became women, and not just a catalyst.

The Gender Binary – A Myth

  • Posted on March 21, 2014 at 2:59 am
In Northern Colorado, a *transgirl was refused access to the girl’s bathroom, because the school board did not understand that she was in fact female, despite what genitalia her body was born with. This is a sad state of affairs, and also the current norm for our societies functioning. Those who do not fit into the Gender Binary are often shoved to the wayside, and told to conform. Instead of being allowed to determine their own autonomy, they are told what to be, male or female. This is not only damaging to the individual, but to our society as a whole. And while there are those who view these people as dangers to society, as deviants and people to be ‘fixed’, this is sincerely not true. One can no more fix those who choose to live outside the gender binary, than one can fix those who have different shades of skin.
Now, to explain what the Gender Binary is. This is the belief, however mistaken, that there are in fact only two genders. These two genders being Male and Female. However, studies have proven that many times, a person, usually between the ages of 12-25 find that they do not, mentally, fit into this gender binary. Often, someone born with male organs will wish to indulge in feminine ideas, such as wearing pretty skirts or painting their nails. Sometimes, someone born female will feel more at home with shorn hair and pants than the traditional female garb.
These are of course, not anything to actually be afraid of, although often the idea is met with revulsion, or violence. The rates of violence against transgender or gender queer individuals is almost equal to that of the violence against gay individuals, or even African American individuals. Often this idea confuses people, and for those raised in heavily traditional homes, this often means that they feel threatened by this lack of traditionalism. There are those who even believe that there is something inherently wrong with those who feel this way, and that in order to correct this behavior, one must strictly adhere to one’s gender roles.
There is a mistaken belief that gender roles exist for a reason. That women are inherently better at caring for children, cooking, housecleaning, and various other homey activities. Men are often touted for strength, and logic, and various trough qualities as well. The problem with this is, it is too general. Too narrowed. In this day and age, there are women who have proven to be just as adept at logic as men, scientists, doctors, lawyers. There are men who have proven to be more capable of caring for children than the women who birth the children. There are kindergarten teachers who are male, and their children love them. So holding to these mistaken gender roles does nothing but refute that people are in fact people and capable of being good at things not because of their gender, but because they work hard at it and try.
This ties in, just as much, to the scientific studies that children without male and female gender role models will grow up somehow lacking. Even in most human sexualities classes, we are taught that without a female role model, women will somehow be unable to relate to other women. Without a male role model, men will become weak willed and unable to stand up for themselves. This is just simply not true. There are numerous single-parent households where the children come out with healthy outlooks on life, and the ability to decide for themselves whether they wish to adhere to these roles society places upon them. Even more so, there are children who grow up in households with two mothers, or two fathers, and they too are quite capable of providing good role models for their children.
In fact, by denying that these individuals, these gender fluid people exist, we are setting a very bad example for our children. By saying, no, it is not alright for boys to wear dresses, we are saying that boys cannot be free to choose their own clothing. By telling girls that they are not allowed to be rough and loud, we are telling them that their opinions, and beliefs should not be upheld however they need to be upheld. A long time ago, there was such a thing as segregation. At this point, we have segregated the genders. They are so separated that boys playing with girls toys are made fun of, and girls playing with boys toys are called ‘tomboys’, as if it is better to be a boy than a girl.
This is saying to our children that to feel other than what WE feel, is in fact, unnatural. That if you do not conform to what society tells you to conform to, you are wrong, and need to be ‘fixed’. This is not a healthy outlook for children. In fact, this sort of parenting has lead to massive suicide rates in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender queer teens. Instead of embracing, and allowing our children to change as they need to, to learn about the world, we lock them down, force them to conform to our ideas of the norm. This is no better than locking a bird in a cage. Safe that bird might be, but never happy.
The most radical views upon our gender-non-conforming populace say that they are unnatural, that ‘God does not make mistakes’. These are the same sort of people who will refuse a transwoman her hormone treatments and force her to dress as a man. These are the sorts of people who will say that prayer and bible camp can fix a child of his homosexuality. These people have been proven wrong, time and time again. Hiding away someone under false clothes will only lead to depression, to pain and possibly to suicide. And the camps they send homosexuals to, to cure them, have been proven dysfunctional, and often cruel. There is no reason to consider these people deviants or unnatural. Those who do not fit into the gender binary are in fact to be celebrated. They add new life to the world around us, new perspectives to enjoy it from. It is one of the most natural things in the world, and diversity is required for a species to thrive and live.
Often, the final question is “How are we supposed to act around them?” or, “How are we supposed to treat them?” These questions can be answered with an old idiom. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If the one asking wishes to be treated with respect, treat the gender fluid individuals with the same respect. If one wishes to be allowed to be accepted for who one is, others have the right to expect the same acceptance of who they are. If it’s confusing to know what pronouns to use with someone, ask. If something said might be offensive, bite the tongue. Just treat them with all the respect that they, as a person, deserve.
It really comes down to basic decency. Just because someone has chosen to live outside what is the norm for society doesn’t mean that we must shun them, or that they are wrong. It simply means that they are different, and we must accept them. The gender binary is something we as a society created in order to feel more comfortable with ourselves. It is a construct that is outdated, and tired. No longer are there only two genders, but a whole spectrum. Those that feel male some days and female others, those that choose to be female when born with male genitalia, those that choose to be no gender at all, and those who do not choose, but instead know; they are, all of them, beautiful people, just as those whose genders match their genitalia are beautiful people too. Be kind, be respectful, and care for those around you, no matter how different from yourself they may be. That’s the simplest rule one can follow, and the oldest commandment in any religion. It is time Society accepted it, and began to live by it.

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