Styled by Trendage, a Review — Plus Some Thoughts About Sponsored Blogging

Hi there, today I have a sponsored review of a new app, Styled by Trendage, that claims to recreate the iconic Clueless closet. We all know the one, and we all wanted it when we were kids: software that lets you try on endless combinations of clothing in your closet without ever having to actually change your clothes. Now, I hope that software comes along sooner rather than later (I mean, come on, it’s 2017 and we don’t have this exact thing yet? Seems wrong!) but my experience with the Styled app is that Cher’s closet it is not.

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See, I was given the opportunity to try this out in exchange for a small payment, and when I first started playing with it, I was in shock at how negatively I felt about the whole experience, but I have to be 100% honest with how I feel. One of the things I think is most important about this whole blogging thing is transparency. Just because something was a gift, and there are certain expectations built into the gifting process, doesn’t mean I sacrifice honesty. This is one of those rare times I truly dislike a free product or service.Read More »

How to Save Money on Must-buy Beauty Products

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Dollar” (CC BY 2.0) by Images_of_Money

Have you ever heard of the ‘pink’ and ‘blue’ taxes? It turns out that both women and men are penalised for their gender when it comes to buying certain essential products, from manicure kits to deodorant. Frustrating, isn’t it? But there are ways to beat the inevitable gender price hike, to make sure you’re not being punished for being the ‘wrong’ gender.

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I’m doing the no-buy challenge for April! Here’s how…

Last year was a bad year in terms of saving for me. I tried my hardest to be frugal, but considering I went on several trips, one overseas, the saving thing was so not for me. I was also shopping fairly heavily, which was great for fashion posts, but not so much for the wallet! Enter: the no-buy challenge.

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Bohemian-Inspired Fashion for Spring

Y’all know I love a good boho look.

Spring is just around the corner, which means some of you may already be planning your warm weather wardrobes. And, if you’re into the boho chic look loved by so many celebs, like Sienna Miller and Kate Moss, then you’re in luck. This post has several suggestions for achieving the laid-back and beautiful bohemian style that’s been popping up all over the runways. From fringe to floral and everything in between, these pieces will help you look effortlessly chic all season long.

Birds of a Feather

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Reflections on Rant Chic

It’s been a couple weeks since I started writing for Rant Chic, and I wanted to share some of my favorite articles on here, and some reflections about my experience. I really like having the freedom to write about whatever I like, and since it’s a website specifically geared toward girls and women, the experience has taught me a lot about what I want to read about, versus topics that are stereotypically “girly.” Strangely enough, I haven’t written a lot about fashion; it’s been a lot of culture and more feminist-themed articles. I would definitely like to express my love for fashion and sense of style on the site, but in the meantime, I’m loving these culture articles! I also like the times when I can write about food and Friends.

Here are my favorite articles so far:

A Feminist’s Love for Lana Del Rey

I love Lana, and I really wanted to explore my feelings toward her as a feminist.

ModCloth Signs Anti-Photoshopping Pledge

I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the news, and think it’s a major coup for those who want more honesty in advertising!

18 Organic and Cheap Beauty Methods to Try Today

I’ve spoke a little about my organic beauty tricks here, and I did a little research to uncover a lot more beauty methods! They’re pretty awesome.

JK Rowling Should Never Stop Writing

I’ve been pretty annoyed lately by articles insisting JK Rowling stop writing for various reasons, and I completely disagree.

Olivia Wilde Breastfeeds In Glamour’s September Issue

I loved Olivia Wilde’s September spread in Glamour, and thought about what it means for the so-called controversy of breastfeeding in public.

Let me know what you guys think!
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The Great Makeup Debate

When I was fourteen years old I discovered eyeliner. It was a wonderful year. I was an awkward, pimply, gangly young teenager and when I began experimenting with makeup, just simple eyeliner and coverup, I felt like I could look pretty for the first time. I gained confidence in my appearance and knew that I presented myself well to others. Looking good made me feel good.

At 22, I still struggle with acne and uneven skin tone, and I have become irrevocably addicted to winged eyeliner. I love watching makeup tutorials and trying out new products. Eyeshadows and liners are my favorites; with a few simple tricks you can transform your entire look. I wear makeup on a daily basis and even if I sometimes forego my standard BB Cream and blush combo, I almost never leave the house without eyeliner.

Because of my devotion to makeup, I’ve cultivated a certain image and persona. When I am wearing makeup I feel like I’m more myself. I like to look a certain way. My own family says that I look so young when I’m makeup-free and scrubbed at night (and when I look like a rabid cat in the morning). So this leads me to the point of this post: is wearing makeup a form of deception?

I know that for most women, having others “see them without their makeup on” is kind of a big deal. It’s like a deep level of intimacy. Makeup becomes a mask that others can’t see past. For other women, makeup is the enemy. They pride themselves on eschewing the entire practice of wearing makeup, dismissing it as shallow and superficial. Some men have preferences about the level of makeup that they will tolerate their girlfriends wearing, and many men judge women they meet based on how much makeup they wear.

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Like it or not, appearances matter. The way you dress and look certainly change the way others see you. How you choose to present yourself to the world is a choice, and it’s a choice that influences others’ opinions. Personally, I wear makeup because I feel more polished and put-together, more like myself, and more important, more like I want others to see me. I’ve never hidden my love for makeup, nor have I ever pretended that I have perfect skin. I take advantage of the freedom of makeup to boost my confidence and allow me to look on the outside the way I feel on the inside.

I think there’s a definite stigma about “wearing too much makeup,” as if a woman is duping the world about her appearance. While I agree that makeup is best used to enhance your natural appearance, I think there’s something fun and creative about transforming your look with makeup. Experimenting with an image helps people find their comfort zone, how they want to express themselves, how they want others to perceive them. I don’t think it’s duplicity; I think it’s akin to wardrobe or hairstyle, ultimately a creative choice and an expression of who you are.

I think the stigma against makeup stems from women feeling like they aren’t pretty without wearing it, which is an attitude that can shatter self-esteem and cause the opposite effect that makeup is supposed to have. Each woman has a natural beauty that exists separate from the enhancement of makeup, and that’s something more women should embrace, but that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with wearing makeup. The problem arises when makeup becomes a mask.

I also find issue with others, be it men or the general influence of society, telling women how much makeup is “acceptable” to wear, whether it be in a work atmosphere or daily life. If wearing makeup helps a woman feel more secure, then so be it. If wearing no makeup is an expression of a woman’s identity, then she should not be criticized for it. It seems like everyone has an opinion on how a woman should or shouldn’t live her life.

Writing for Rant Chic!

I’m happy to announce that I am now a contributing writer for the website RantChic.com. I’m so happy to extend my love for writing beyond this blog, even though this is still my favorite place on the Internet. I’ll be writing about beauty, entertainment, fashion, arts and current events, and maybe a bookish post thrown in there when I can 🙂 . I may be posting my favorite articles here for you guys to read, but if you’d like to follow along with my published articles, you can always follow me on Twitter @lisaloparo.

Check out my guest post on "Jill Of All Genres"

Photo Jul 21, 9 40 22 AMI recently had the honor to write a guest post on “Jill Of All Genres,” a wonderful literary blog run by Emilie Staat, a multitalented writer and blogger. She approached me to write a piece on re-reading a book that has been influential to me, and I chose A Room With A View. Some of you may know that this book is on my Top Ten Books of All Time list, and that it continues to be a source of inspiration and comfort to me.

I snapped at the chance to re-read it and reflect on the book, what it meant to me when I first read it, and what it means to me now. I was surprised and elated to find out that I responded to this book in more emotional ways the second time around! Check out the full piece at this link: The Re-Reading Project Guest Post: A Room with a View.

And follow Emilie’s blog here!

Happy August, everyone! I hope your summer has been relaxing and exciting so far.

"Maleficent" and the Complex Villain

I thought Maleficent was magnificent. Angelina Jolie’s cheekbones were a revelation, and it made me forget, for two hours, that Brad Pitt once broke Jennifer Aniston’s heart (no I’m still not over it). I loved the fantasy elements, the character development, and the way they matured the story of Sleeping Beauty, but most of all I liked the way that Disney is taking common fairy tale tropes, used ad nauseum—albeit effectively—in the past, and placing a new interpretation on them. Chief of these is the idea of “true love’s kiss,” which we already saw reinterpreted in FrozenMaleficent takes this a level further, but more important, it offers a new, true idea of a villain.

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In the beginning of the movie, Maleficent the character is a young, powerful and kind fairy who falls in love with a human, a poor boy named Stefan. As she grows, her relationship with Stefan changes as he grows power hungry, but she becomes the cherished protector of her realm. She’s strong and selfless, loving and intimidating. Plus she’s got these enormous eagle wings and cheekbones so sharp they could slice diamonds.

Maleficent’s transformation from humane protector to deadly villain occurs when her childhood love Stefan, desperate to become king, cruelly saws off Maleficent’s wings after he drugs her to sleep. Maleficent wakes up and touches the bloody wounds on her back and hyperventilates in anguish and heartbreak, cries reverberating through the atmosphere and throughout the theatre. It was every bit as raw as Anne Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream.” I felt her heart breaking and then turning dark.

Stefan’s utter betrayal of Maleficent had the emotional power to transform her into this devious villain, who takes power over the realm she was once entrusted to protect. At the birth of Stefan’s daughter, now King, Maleficent places upon Aurora the infamous curse. Consumed with hatred for Stefan and for Aurora, Maleficent nevertheless has humanity left in her, for she frequently saves Aurora from the bumbling protection of her three fairy godmothers, despite her hatred. Eventually Maleficent meets Aurora and against every effort, Maleficent grows to love the headstrong, naive girl and allows herself to be called Aurora’s fairy godmother.

Angelina Jolie has said of the role:

It’s about the struggle that people have with their own humanity and what is that that destroys that and kind of makes us die inside.

What I loved most about this story was what Jolie points out: the loss of humanity, how we lose it, and how we get it back. Maleficent lost her innocence and her selflessness when Stefan betrayed her, but she gains it back through loving Aurora and repeatedly saving her from death. Maleficent thus becomes both hero and villain, but both categories fail to encapsulate the whole of Maleficent’s emotions and experiences. I loved this movie because it allows for each person to have both villainous and heroic properties, and promises that no person, however “evil,” is ever beyond redemption.

It’s a huge departure from the previous version of Maleficent, from Ursula the Sea Witch, and other clear-cut villains of the previous Disney movies. Maleficent is what Frozen‘s Elsa could have been, full of both dark and light, good and bad, flawed yet likable and admirable. Dare I say it even strikes a blow for female empowerment? No longer are female villains demonized in the world of Disney.

But I suppose the real question here is, why must we explain evil? This new trend begs the question: to what cultural phenomenon are we responding when we try to sympathize with villains? What do you guys think?

 

In Defense of Kendall and Kylie, YA Authors

There’s something about literature that’s sacred. Authors are special people with a special purpose and their stories attain the status of a holy text to their fans, for good reason. And then there are the Kardashians. When I first heard that the young Jenner sisters had written a dystopian YA novel, my first, knee-jerk response was, “Oh God, really?” And then I sat back and thought about it. It’s really not that bad. And I’m not just talking about the book itself.

The virtual avalanche of Internet and official criticism engulfing the release of Rebels: City of Indra takes the form of several different arguments:

The “They hired two ghostwriters; they didn’t even write it themselves!” argument. 

So many other film stars, performers, and musicians hire ghostwriters to tell their stories. In this instance, the only difference is that Kendall and Kylie’s “story” happens to be a work of fiction and fiction, as we know, is perceived differently than celebrity memoirs, for example. However, Jason Segel recently sought a collaborator on his children’s book, Nightmares!, to be released in Fall 2014. When asked about his decision to work with a co-writer, he stated that he “wanted the book to be good” and that he “provided the template in the script and [Kirsten Miller] provided a description of the world with the prose the way a director would do visually.” Hiring collaborators shows a level of insight and humility; the Jenner girls knew they didn’t have the talent necessary to give their story its literary legs.

Personally, I find their desire to write a novel commendable, especially given that these two girls were born into privilege and are paid to be filmed continuously. They’re models and have been in the public eye since they were just children, but despite being accustomed to making money from their looks (and let’s face it, they’re beautiful), they’ve taken it upon themselves to do something creative and different.

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The “These girls should stick to what they know: shopping and taking selfies” argument. 

Criticizing Kendall and Kylie for wanting to writing a book is tantamount to saying that just because they’re pretty, they can’t possibly be smart. Pretty girls who like to shop can’t be interested in books. While there is no evidence to assume these girls read a lot, there is also no evidence proving they don’t. Kendall’s now-infamous comment of “I’m the worst reader” really referred to her public speaking ability. In fact, both girls are self-proclaimed lovers of YA dystopia, like most teenagers. Basically, they’re fan-fiction writers with a famous family, but judging by the level of hatred directed at them, you’d think they’d been caught burning banned books.

Are they spoiled and privileged? Very possibly. But at least they’re doing something more creative than stumbling drunkenly out of LA bars. In fact, with their show, modeling careers, clothing lines and now a book, they’re kind of teenage workaholics. And they’ve channeled their energy and influence into a medium more substantial than a reality show. Where’s the bad?

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The “There are so many people out there working so hard, with so much talent, trying to get published and then this happens? It’s a travesty” argument. 

While I am utterly sympathetic to the struggling writer trying desperately to get published, this argument is as invalid as the author who asked J.K. Rowling to stop writing books. Kendall and Kylie’s book does not sap the talent from lesser-known or unpublished writers, nor does the fact of their publication bar others from being published themselves. Their book is marketed to a vastly different audience than most authors would wish to sell to. Comparing the marketing of an author’s debut novel, for example, to that of this work is illogical.

Whether this work is good enough to be published I cannot say, but if it’s not, then blame the publishers, not the authors. Publishing houses exist to sell books and they have obviously bet on a proven money-maker. Time and again, the Kardashians have proven they’re an excellent investment.

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So is the book itself really that bad? I haven’t read the whole book yet, but from reading it sporadically and reading about it pretty diligently, it’s clear that Rebels: City of Indra shows some pretty sophisticated themes. The setting, Indra, is a small biosphere salvaged from the remains of the earth, and split into two drastically different social spheres: the super-rich and the very poor. Strict standards of beauty are enforced on women through their Governesses, and extensive plastic surgery is the norm to adhere to these standards. Women are second-class citizens judged entirely on their looks. They are even forced to take birth control pills to limit their childbearing.

Set against this rather chilling backdrop are the Jenner girls’ alter egos, Livia and Lex, the former wealthy and the latter dirt poor. In the course of the story, they recognize the faults in their system of government and join a rebellion. Livia declares early in the novel: “I’m breaking the rules, and I absolutely refuse to care.” It’s a common YA trope, but in the case of this particular novel, the quality of the writing and plot are irrelevant compared to the messages of the book and its intended audience.

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The truth is that Kendall and Kylie Jenner of Kardashian-reality-show fame have put their names on a work that denounces the ubiquity of plastic surgery, roundly criticizes standards of beauty that oppress young women, and makes some scathing commentary on wealth disparity and the rape of the earth. Even if they didn’t put pen to paper themselves, they have collaborated on—and more important, endorsed—a work that makes positive political statements. Their characters may be dystopian versions of Kendall and Kylie themselves, but their characters’ decision to rebel against their image-obsessed, sexist government has the capacity to inspire positive reactions in their impressionable female readers. I’d say Kendall and Kylie are using their konsiderable klout for the powers of good. And that’s something to be grateful for.

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Most of the venom directed at these girls stems from mean-spirited, senseless Kardashian hatred. And I don’t care who you are, how talented, how smart, how worthy, if you hate someone that much without knowing them, reevaluate your life.