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.

Fashion // Yoyomelody + $10 off coupon!

A new sponsor, Yoyomelody.com, recently invited me to share this code for $10 off clothing at their store (excluding only the $29.90 prom dresses). I love the little black dresses at Yoyomelody and the fun prints as well! Here are some of my favorite items from Yoyomelody that you can take home today!

Mini Chiffon Floral Print Shirt Dress

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White Bodycon Knit Slip Dress

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Pink V Neck Chiffon Skater Dress Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 12.57.56 PM

CODE: ym10off

Happy shopping! If you do buy, let me know how you like the items!

Goin' on a Road Trip—Where?

In July, my friends and I want to take a few days and go on a road trip. It’s something we have wanted to do since graduating high school and since they both have just gotten their masters in education and won’t start working until September, it’s the perfect time to do something fun and frivolous. All we need to know is where we should go!

We want to go somewhere with a beach, lots of culture/art, and some excellent places to eat and interesting nightlife. We also would like to go somewhere in the South. So give me some advice! Here are our choices:

1. Savannah, Georgia

Driving time: 14 hrs.

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2. Charleston, South Carolina

Driving time: 13 hrs.

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3. Washington D.C.

Driving time: 5 hrs.

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4. Nashville, Tennessee

Driving time: 15 hrs.

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5. Baltimore, Maryland

Driving time: 4 hrs.

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Have any of you been to these places/live in these places? Where should we go?

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Beauty // Makeup Routine

    The last post of this impromptu beauty series will focus on my never-changing makeup routine and the products I have loved and used religiously. Here they are, in all their glittery, mascaraed glory:

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I’ve reviewed the Missha BB Cream before—I just adore it. I bought this bottle in March 2013, over a year ago, and it’s just beginning to run out. I spent $15—that’s value (I feel like half the time I’m showing off how poor I am on this blog 😉 ). My other must-have beauty item is Sephora’s $10 pot of creme eyeliner. It’s amazing, and also long-lasting. The only downside is its tendency to dry out when the pot’s contents decrease, but that’s normal I’m sure.

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I start with this Magic Perfecting Base as a primer. It has a thick, almost sandy consistency, unlike a lot of other primers I’ve tried which are runny and gel-like. I like this primer better because it really just soaks up midday oil. It also provides this wonderful smooth surface for the BB cream, and I end up using less face makeup and thus looking more natural. Also a necessity is my Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm in “Rose.” I buy this stuff in bulk.

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Eyes: for day, MAC’s “Folie” as a dark color and Urban Decay’s “Virgin” for the light color. Since I started wearing makeup circa 2004, I have always done a thick winged liner. It’s my thing, and I don’t think I ever go a day without wearing eyeliner. Judge all you want 😉

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Sometimes I go without mascara because it’s such a hassle to put on. I also skip bottom liner most of the time, and only use it for night. My last step is blush: BareMinerals’ blush in “Glee.” I make this cheesy smiley face when I do my blush to make my cheekbones show up:

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Seriously, I haven’t changed these colors in years. Sometimes, in summer, I’ll layer some bronzer on top but very rarely, since I feel like bronzer makes my face look a little muddy. Oh, well! I guess it’s a pale girl’s life for me.

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So that concludes this personal beauty series! Thanks for reading 🙂 I’ll leave you with an old blessing:

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Beauty // Naturally Curly

When I was 12 years old I started straightening my hair. I absolutely hated my misshapen, frizzy mane of hair, so the minute I could get my hands on a flat iron, I burned my curls away. After a few years, I couldn’t do anything else to my hair even if I wanted to. If I didn’t straighten it, I would have to braid it or just pull it back because my natural hair was fried and limp, and not even remotely curly—just large.

After high school I’d had enough of straightening. I never had time to do it, and it started to feel silly to me. But that didn’t change the fact that my hair was just gross. So I started researching ways to get my hair to curl again and found a wealth of information about naturally curly hair and how to make it behave, and more important, look beautiful.

I found the website, among others, NaturallyCurly.com. The first thing I learned was that “sulfates,” the detergent present in most shampoos, was very, very bad for curly hair (and all hair). It’s an incredibly harsh chemical that strips your hair and scalp of sebum, that oil that makes your hair sleek and shiny. Stripping away the sebum not only makes your hair dry and frizzy, but it also makes your scalp overproduce sebum, which is why your hair gets greasy the day after you wash it. So I stopped using sulfates.

My hair slowly started to improve. I could let it curl but it still wasn’t behaving and it definitely was frizzy. I tried DevaCurl products, but these also made my hair greasy and weighed down with product, not to mention the fact that three bottles of that stuff set me back $75! After a couple years of trial-and-error (yes, years) I found two products that work for me (most of the time!):

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I love Shea Moisture products. I really like the African Black Soap shampoo, but I’ve also recently tried the Coconut and love it, too. This bottle is $10 and lasts a couple months. I only use a tiny bit of moisturizer on my many tangles, but I can pretty much use any moisturizer now. My hair has become so healthy that I don’t have to use any curling product on it after washing: no gel, no mousse, no leave-in, no frizz-ease. An important tip is to never towel-dry it: just scrunch your dripping wet hair with a t-shirt after washing. Towels absorb all the water too quickly, which makes your hair frizz.

So here’s my super-simple nighttime haircare routine (I always shower at night): shampoo/condition my hair, scrunch my hair with a t-shirt and then clip it up halfway. Go to sleep. (Get used to sleeping with dripping-wet hair). I wake up, unpin my hair, shake it out, and just arrange it a bit. Here’s what my hair looks like when I wake up:

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It’s a little nuts but I love it. According to the Naturally Curly guide, I have “2B Wavy Curvy hair,” which means my curls form S-waves and sort of stick to my head. After years of learning to train my hair, I finally have the curve and curl I want. And I never have to straighten it again.

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Beauty // Food On My Face

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Pictured are all the items in my facial routine…and nearly all of them are food items and things you can find right now in your kitchen. I have the weirdest skin texture: oily yet flaky and dry, with large pores and the tendency to get marathon blackheads, and major sensitivity. I’ve struggled with acne and acne-prone skin since I was 12 or 13, and aside from a brief spell in high school where Proactiv actually worked (before it abruptly didn’t anymore), I tried so many products to combat this sensitive combination skin. Nothing truly worked until I decided to go super organic. Food on my face level of organic.

I first read about this “food facial” method on CrunchyBetty.com. Check it out to read more about this awesome skincare method! I read the CrunchyBetty bit on the website about exfoliation with nutmeg and decided to try it out. The first time I did it, I couldn’t believe how smooth and clear my skin instantly looked afterward. It was also moisturized and supple. After that I was hooked and tried nearly every tip on the site. Finally, I found a routine that worked for me: a baking soda and honey wash at night, followed by an apple cider vinegar astringent. Once a week, I’ll do an at-home facial steam and follow it up with exfoliation with nutmeg.

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So here’s my basic daily routine: in the morning I just rinse my face with water and moisturize. At night, to take off my makeup and do a gentle scrub, I mix a quarter-sized amount of baking soda with a dollop of honey and work that into my face. I rinse, sometimes using a wet paper towel to make sure it’s all off. Then I put just a two tiny drops of apple cider vinegar onto a cotton ball and use that to remove any traces of makeup from my pores and disinfect. Apple cider vinegar has lovely disinfecting properties.

Once a week I’ll do a ten-minute, at-home steam facial and follow up with a gentle exfoliation with nutmeg—nutmeg can damage your skin if you’re not gentle—and then the vinegar again. If my face is feeling stiff, sometimes I skip the vinegar and let the nutmeg moisturize my skin without clogging my pores. It’s like magic.

Photo Jun 11, 12 53 11 PMI can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved using this method, apart from the fact that it’s truly an acne buster. The vinegar is over a year old and it’s less than halfway through. The honey lasts three months or so, as does the baking soda, and the nutmeg lasts about six months before I have to replace it. I can’t remember the last time I bought any facial cream in a drugstore. I’m totally converted.

The only non-organic/food items I rely on are the St. Ives collagen moisturizer, simply because it’s $5 for a tub that lasts over a year, and I really can’t beat that value. It’s got a smooth, thick texture that absorbs nicely into my skin. The other non-food item is the Neutrogena Blackhead Eliminating wash that doubles as a mask. I use this when it’s an emergency or I’ve made the horrible decision to sleep in my makeup. It’s a quick fix that smooths my skin with no effort. I just slather it on and watch television for thirty minutes.

I recommend this method to anyone who is either trying to go organic, looking to save a buck, or has tried everything else to get rid of your acne. I’ve seen a huge difference and I’ll never go back! I made my sister try it and she’s hooked too!signature

One Kings Lane // My Dream Vanity Set

I call this dream vanity set “If Marie Antoinette Were a Flapper.” I found all these items on One Kings Lane, and disclosure: this post is part of their Reflect Your Style campaign! This is a pretty fun assignment where I got to browse the beautiful items on One Kings Lane and put together a dream vanity set from the items they sell, both new and vintage. Needless to say, I found myself gravitating toward the more expensive, vintage items. My favorite piece of this whole collection is that set of nutty 1920s sunbathers. They look jolly, don’t they?

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As my favorite statement mirror, I chose the Sardis Baroque Mirror, which has a nice plum hue to it. I thought it would work well with the very elegant other statement pieces in this setup and add a touch of whimsy! Check out the entire collection and the links on my Polyvore page.

I don’t have much of a vanity in my home. I do my makeup in the bathroom and in my room, my mirror is basically a fixture, not really something I necessarily need. I spend much more time at my desk, which always has to be perfect. But looking at this setup makes me ache for a vanity set like I’m in an old-Hollywood movie! I would have a gorgeous gilt cup with my brushes all fanned out, and my makeup organized in fabric-lined drawers. Instead of the mess I have now:

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Old crap and a plastic fold-up makeup bag. This is so my personality.

This post is the beginning of a week of beauty/hair/makeup posts! A blogger recently asked me about my beauty routine, and while it’s not something I change up very often (I get very stuck in my beauty routine and hardly use new products), I do have some interesting anecdotes I’d like to share. So follow along to read more!

Thanks to One Kings Lane for picking me to participate in this fun activity!