Posts in Life
How To Deal With Unhappiness

I am not good at making lists. When I see “How To” guides, composed of listicles, part of me always rolls my eyes. One half of me thinks nothing is ever as simple, and the other half goes “and who the hell are you to tell me what to do?”

No, I will not present you with a list. No list will solve your unhappiness, nor will this post. And no list has ever solved mine. I won’t tell you what to do, either. Yes, yes, do do yoga, and yes, eat healthier, and yes, get out more, but ultimately, unhappiness and depression are much more complicated than an amped up exercise routine and a change of diet.

I am simply telling you here, in case you are curious, how I deal with it. How I, sometimes, embrace it. And also, how I know when it’s time to ask for help.

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For You I Tried: RocksBox

The concept it nothing short of (in)genius: For just under $20 a month, you get a box of three personally selected pieces of jewelry, picked by a stylist who determined your taste profile from a questionnaire you fill out upon signing up. You can add jewelry featured on their site to your “wishlist,” with the expectation that at least one of those items will make its way into your box. If you like them, and want to keep them, you can purchase them at a discount (and you get an extra 10 dollars off every month). If you don't, you can return the box and a new one will be sent to you.

When my friend Nicole came to visit me over New Year’s, I peered at her jewelry and asked her where she had gotten them. Broke, but drunk, I nonetheless immediately signed up for the subscription box-service after she revealed how she had acquired them. I added about 20 items to my wish-list and mildly forgot about my (small, but irresponsible) dent in my wallet until a cute little package showed up at my doorstep. Here’s what I got:

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My iPhone Breaking is the Best Thing That's Happened to Me

I know the year has just started, but I’ve already found the highlight of 2016: my iPhone breaking. Though initially really angry and bummed out for breaking it by dropping it literally 2 inches from the ground—resulting in a cycle of doom: battery logo and then apple logo coming on, repeat—something strange began to happen to me while I was phoneless: I became more productive. I suddenly found more time to do things; I read an entire book! I wrote a song! I played the piano for the first time in months! All my creative energy that had recently felt flattened suddenly emerged again. While stuck at a hair appointment for nine hours (I wish I were joking…) I read just about every magazine at my disposal and began a book that had been in my bag for months, instead of mindlessly browsing through my iPhone.

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LifeColineiPhone, phone
The Year in Review

1. I STARTED A BLOG

In February of this year, Conflicted Beauty came to life. It started with this product review, and it's now grown into a space I'm proud of, though I am still hoping to get it to where I truly envision. I was finding the lack of critical, feminist perspectives on the beauty blogosphere really frustrating, and wanted to delve a little bit deeper into women’s relationship to makeup and beauty (and define the term “beauty”). Beauty is a sort of religious imperative for women, due to cultural and societal structures requiring women to be beautiful. As Ambrose Bierce once wrote, “To men a man is but a mind. Who cares what face he carries or what he wears? But woman’s body is the woman.” Being aware of the pressures to wear makeup, then, and of the customs surrounding our beauty rituals as women, is an important factor in being a knowledgeable consumer and makeup indulger. I wrote here that you can absolutely wear makeup and be a feminist, but I am nonetheless still very weary of the “beauty industry” and conflicted about my own relationship to an activity that is steeped in patriarchy. Hence the name: Conflicted Beauty.

So where do I plan to take this blog? I really want to interview more women (and men too!) about their beauty routines and their understanding of the word. I want to offer more body-empowering content, like this love letter I wrote to my stretch marks. I also want to offer more posts on women-centric issues and interests (or items) that don’t get much mention in the beauty world. My review on period underwear is a start. Notice how the words vagina, pussy, blood, etc, are often expunged from the beauty blogosphere? I would like to change that as much as I can. In this post, I talked a bit about my thesis I wrote in grad school, where I analyzed the language of the top 5 U.K beauty blogs. As you can see, the discourse of beauty quite often reflects society’s expectations and constructs of beauty and womanhood (dewy skin, subtle makeup, a routine with beauty products- i.e, a relationship with consumer products). One of my biggest beliefs is that the power of the blogosphere can uproot that discourse and turn it on its head. 

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For You I Tried: Period Underwear

THE UNDERWEAR

When I saw the ads for these, I immediately knew I had to try them. First of all, the fact that the ad had been banned from NY subways, while this one had been allowed to run no problem, had me fuming... which only added to my curiosity for the brand. Second, I wanted to try an alterative to pads and tampons (apart from the cup, which I’m testing next), or be able to wear it in conjunction with them (leaky faucet, anyone?). So, three weeks ago, I placed my order. And then I waited for my period…

I decided to purchase the Hiphugger (which offers the most protection out of the 5 other options) because I don’t do things half-ass here. And also, I wanted to push the underwear to its limit.  And because, of course, I’m #happytobleed and #PeriodPositive and wanted to be free to do so with the most protection.

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I Peer Into: Maureen

Welcome to a new segment on Conflicted Beauty, I Peer Into, in which I open up women's makeup bags or beauty cupboards and discuss what these items mean to them: why they like them, what their routine looks like, how makeup makes them feel... Seeing what the "every day" woman uses always fascinates me, and these sort of posts are always some of my favorite to read. On a deeper level, I also want to explore other women's relationship to makeup: How it quite literally makes-up their lives, how comfortable they are, or not, with or without makeup, and how it shapes their everyday routine. With so many of us owning bags full of ink, powders, and colored creams that will dress our face, how do we come to choose a specific beauty arsenal? What do the contents reveal, and can they?

It felt right, then, to start with Maureen: she exudes grace and elegance, and always looks so effortlessly put-together (though she'd be quick to disagree). She also has the insight of an old soul, and her advice and outlook on the world is always perfectly polished. Maureen and I met our freshman year of college (we were roommates) and she's now become one of my closest friends. By some beautiful serendipity, she also happens to live one block away from where I live in Brooklyn, so it was no surprise that I came knocking at her door with my camera and a few questions ready. As she served me tea, I nosily emptied the contents of her makeup bag, sifted through each items, and swatched various products on the back of my hand. Observing from her balcony, smoking her cigarette, Maureen answered my questions.

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