Beauty Level-Up #2: The Dark Art of Concealing Your Baggage

a selfie of Heina with visible blush, lipstick, and eye-brightening makeup as well as plenty of less visible make-up

Female-presenting people making themselves look different using facepaints is deception and even sorcery, according to the outrage on the Internet.

Take this image on the right.It’s the selfie that launched a thousand (okay, okay, more like three) questions. My caption referenced a game-changing technique for concealer application that I had recently learned.

The dark circles under my eyes come from my mother’s side of the family. I realized that they were inevitable when I first noticed that my cousins’ babies are born with it. They are always there no matter how much I sleep, hydrate, decongest, and roll in substances.

For years, I thought concealer was mostly useless, especially in the under-eye area. My instinct was always to rub or buff, as one would apply lotion, but I was dead wrong. Not only does rubbing encourage further puffiness in the undereye area, it basically blends away the concealer to levels where it hardly conceals anything. Oops. With poor technique like that, no wonder I thought concealer made me look worse.

Exacerbating matters is the fact that most concealers come in shades even more limited than those for foundations. Untanned, I’m 1Y08 in Pantone+Sephora’s Color IQ system and 3Y08 when I’ve seen some sun. In non-technical beauty terms, I’m medium-brown with neutral-toned skin that leans warm (i.e. a bit yellow). This means that I need to find skin makeup that not only isn’t pink-toned (i.e. cool-toned), but also isn’t too yellow-toned.

In a world where even expensive, fancy-pants brands only carry three shades of concealer, no wonder I thought under-eye cover-up made my bags look ashy and more noticeable.

Thanks to a Sephora employee — I swear, I’m not getting paid to shill for them — I was able to discover a concealer than works beautifully and comes in eight (!) different shades. It costs way more than I’ve personally ever paid for any single beauty item, but only a few sparse, tiny dabs under each eye led to the coverage level you see above (see my totally nude face, for comparison’s sake). It’ll likely last me a great long while. I consider it my personal magic wand. When I wave it over my face, I can deceive people into thinking I look different from the way I do without makeup. Spoooooooopy~

A quick note for my cooler- and/or fairer-toned siblings in beauty: Please, when you can, make an effort to give your money to companies that offer wide ranges of skin-toned makeup. Even if a brand works for you, your darker- and/or warmer-toned colleagues would appreciate it if you voted with your dollars for inclusivity. Chances are, if a brand (barring ethnicity-targeted ones, of course) offers a shade that would work for me, they’ll have one that works for you, too.

Got beauty questions? Drop me a line via the method of your choice: Twitter / Tumblr [anon enabled] / Facebook/ (anonymous) / email

What’s Wrong With Saying Hello?

Content Notice for Street Harassment, Sexual Assault, & Violence

Disclaimer: The 100-catcalls-in-a-day Hollaback video making the rounds has its intersectional (i.e. racial) issues. I think it still serves well in starting a conversation and makes a point about an experience with which very few men are familiar.

Most of these men said seemingly positive things to the subject of the video: compliments and simple “hi”s and “hello”s. So what’s the problem here?

The problem is that, if you are or are perceived by society to be a female person and are walking alone, there’s no good way to react to random male strangers greeting you on the streets.

[Read more...]

The Double Lives of Brown Girls’ Closets

Once they know about my religious and family background, people generally want to know how my family relationships are now. They’re not so bad these days, thank you. After 8 years, even such a dramatic revelation as apostasy loses its ability to shock and agitate. Filial love can, in some situations, overcome anger and pain.

More difficult to overcome than my family members’s distaste for apostasy are their feelings about bodies.

[Read more...]

Open Thread: Social Justice-Free Atheism / Secularism

A note about comment moderation for this post: It will be even lighter-handed than usual, hence “Open” rather than “Ajar”. I will not be responding in the comments except for asks for clarification or warnings about threats. Any responses I have will be given in subsequent posts.

Let’s say that I’m giving up most of what I stand for. Suppose I said the following without any hint of irony.

Let’s stop our mission as the secular community from creeping into issues that have anything to do with anything other than secularism. Let’s prevent the mission from drifting to anything that doesn’t directly pertain to being an atheist promoting a secular worldview.

What would you tell me were the important issues? What is this movement for, and for what are we fighting?

If you believe that secularism should only focus on issues that are purely secular, devoid of anything that isn’t entirely an issue of secularism, what might some of those issues be?

I am genuinely curious as to what people not firmly on the pro-SJ side of things think are the important issues. If you want to respond but not as a blog comment for some reason, you can reach me via TwitterTumblr [anon enabled], (anon enabled), or good ol’ fashioned email.

LGBT Muslims: Past & Present Realities, Not “An Oxymoron”

a person in sunglasses flashing the peace sign. to their right is a sing that says "LGBT MUSLIMS - YES, WE EXIST"

The weekend before last, I gave a talk in Akron at the second annual Sexy Secular Conference on the history of LGBT folks in societies dominated by Muslims. The title was Queerness and Islam: A Longer History Than You Think in deference to the fact that the non-cis and/or non-hetero side of history is often erased in popular discourse. Such erasure is especially prevalent in areas where very little in the way of LGBT rights and acceptance has been achieved, but is hardly limited to such regions.

The fact that LGBTQ people exist and always have existed seems to miss many. I found out just how much my talk was needed in the weeks leading up to and following the event. The response to the topic of my talk from the atheists of non-Muslim backgrounds to my talk was often, “Isn’t that an oxymoron?”

Whether meant in earnest or in jest, saying that there can be no such thing as an LGBT Muslim is to be complicit in harmful erasure that supports the hateful message of religious fundamentalists.

[Read more...]

Search Term Round-Up #2

Remember Search Term Round-Up #1? In the grand tradition of other bloggers, I’ve decided to share some more of the funnier and/or more bizarre incoming search terms that have led people to my blog.

I have noticed a change since I did my last round-up: People are searching for me by (sometimes misspelled) name and by search term strings directly related to the titles of my pieces. Gulp.

Content notice for the last of the lists.

[Read more...]

Beauty Level-Up #1: Confidence

This is post 2/4 of an October Friday series leading up to Halloween.

As I simply adore writing about beauty, I figured I could do an occasional (weekly, if it works out that way. #FemmeFriday?) post about it called Beauty Level-Up.

I used to be fairly uninterested in cosmetics outside of eyeliner and maybe some quick eyeshadow and mascara if I was feeling fancy. As I’ve gotten older and more femme, I’ve been enjoying setting little beauty goals for myself and working towards them. It’s very RPG-like for me: I enjoy attaining the goals, but I know I will never quite run out of them. Also, I like finding good bargains — or at least products worth my dollar — and I love finding ways to startle myself with my own face. Everyday cosplay, if you will.

Without further ado, the matter of the week.

How long have you been doing the make up thing? I’ve only recently started, and I’m curious how long it took you to get confidence. [Read more...]

Feminism 101: Objectification & Sexualization vs. Sexual Desire

Merely experiencing desire upon beholding someone is not to necessarily objectify. To wit:

I’ve been objectified by men when I’ve worn frumpy sweatshirts and baggy straight jeans: my butt was groped when I was arrayed that way at a hole-in-the-wall eatery. I’ve been objectified by men while I was wearing long, loose tunics and skirts topped by carefully-draped headscarves: I was asked if I was a “total freak under that thing”, the last word punctuated by an unmistakable gesture towards my scarf. Hell, I’ve been objectified by men for being a virgin who mostly stayed at home: a much-older man online told me that he found it titillating to think about me “locked away” and insinuated that if we got together, he’d rescue me to a liberated life of constant sex and nudity at his apartment.

Notice a pattern here?

[Read more...]

In Defense of Clickbait: We’re Doing This to Ourselves

When I attempted to start discussion about Facebook’s troubling Real Names Policy, I called my piece “Mark Zuckerberg Hates Ex-Muslims”. I could have called it “Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Care About Ex-Muslims” but that’s longer and less provocative. People are far less likely to click on longer and less-provocative titles.

Furthermore, I don’t think my word choice was a misrepresentation. Utterly disregarding the concerns of a group, pompously declaring anyone who can’t use their legal names on Facebook to be “lacking integrity”, and deleting their profiles is hateful, in my view. However, thanks to my choice in title, the discussion was derailed into “but the title is misleading!” debates. In the hopes of a more germane conversation, I changed the title.

I fear that, in appeasing people those who took more issue at my implying a powerful person might be hateful than at the hateful policy he is implementing, I might lessen my impact. Clickbait only exists because it works.

[Read more...]

It Wasn’t Sexual Until White People Columbused It

Columbusing, or the art of [white people] “discovering” something [people of color do] that is not new, ought to be declared the term of 2014. It probably will in 2015, if it manages to get itself Columbused by next year. Something that did recently get Columbused is twerking. Those who only pay attention to mainstream white culture associate it with Miley Cyrus, erasing its long history among those of African descent.

As Christiana Mbakwe says in The Origins of Twerking: What It Is, What It Means, and How It Got Appropriated:

The roots of twerking are rich. Variants of the dance exist in most places where there’s a high concentration of people of African descent. Its current iteration is commonly associated with the New Orleans bounce scene, however growing up in London I immediately associate it with the Dancehall scene.

If people took the time to explore the root of what’s been dubbed as the “twerk,” they’d realise its origins lie in West Africa. It’s strikingly similar to the Mapouka dance from Côte d’Ivoire, a dance done by women that focuses on the buttocks. It’s existed for centuries.

The similarities between twerking and another dance of non-white origins gets downright eerie around here:

If we view twerking through a Western prism, we’ll interpret it as being sexual, scandalous and controversial. However when you place it in its original context you’ll realise it’s a cultural expression of joy, with its function being primarily celebratory rather than for sexual provocation. Growing up, I saw it most frequently performed during joyful occasions — family gatherings and weddings. There was nothing scandalous about it, it was simply dancing.

What happened to bellydancing is what is happening to twerking.

[Read more...]