Friday, September 19, 2008

Check Your Body Issues at the Door

All of my life I have struggled with body image issues. I can remember being as young as 7 or 8 and feeling very self conscious about how I looked, especially in a bathing suit. Looking back I have often wondered where those ideas came from, especially since my television viewing as a child was strictly limited and I only read age-appropriate books. I don’t believe that my “media exposure” at that age was intense enough to form any body hating images. It wasn’t until I was perusing the book “You Have to Say I’m Pretty, You’re My Mother” by Stephanie Pierson & Phyllis Cohen that I had my little “A ha!” moment.

Growing up my mother was ferociously obsessed with her body. She was never happy about the way she looked and my father often made very disparaging remarks about her figure. My mom was never heavy when I was little but she was striving for perfection and I was witness to it all. My mom was always on a diet or taking diet drugs during my youth. I remember one of the cabinets in our house was filled with a food scale, diet pills, various supplements and powders. All things my mother took on a daily basis to be thin. Whatever messages I was not receiving from the media I was receiving them at home and receiving them loud and clear “thin is good. Fat is bad.”
As I’ve gotten older I have heard the stories from my mother and her sister about their mother and her weight obsessions. I have learned about trips to the doctors to receive diet pills at the tender age of 14. I am often reminded by my mom or my aunt that there were times in their life where their mother ha turned them into “speed” junkies since that was what diet pills were in their youth.

Parents pass down many genetic traits but there are also ingrained issues that can be passed down from generation to generation. In my family it is a negative self image. My aunt recently realized that in her head on a loop are my grandmother’s words “if you are thin you have everything. The only way to have everything is to be thin.” As a rebellion of sorts my aunt gained a significant amount of weight in her 30’s and 40’s. She now sees that in her own way she was trying to buck her mother’s influence but instead she just swung her eating disorder in the other direction.
One of the interesting things that Pierson & Cohen cover in their book is that often times when a mother has had body image issues her entire life she may try to “correct” those problems in her daughter. The authors believe that this is counterintuitive. By pushing a specific body image agenda mothers could unknowingly do more harm than good. That often the message girls get is to feel shame about their bodies and they still receive the same negative image of “thin is good, fat is bad.”

What is scary to me is that child psychologists now believe that a child’s body image is determined by age 6. This is really before there are media pressures and peer pressures. Body image is mostly determined by the parents. Think about the messages that children receive on a daily basis and obviously body shame is quickly becoming something that children learn from the high chair.
I would never say that women need to get over their body issues prior to having children but, what I am saying is that women have to mindful of what they are passing on to their children. So many women struggle with their body image and it seems like second nature to make comments like “that food is bad”, “I look fat”, “I need to lose weight”, ”If only I was thinner”, etc but, we have to be mindful because our daughters are listening. Children learn so much from their parents and eating habits and negative body image is something that is taught on a daily basis. If we could change the way we speak about our bodies we could change how a generation of young women feel about themselves. If women could talk about health as opposed to fat or thin it may make things easier. If the language was changed to stating that certain things were “healthy” or “unhealthy” it may be a better message. After all as adults we know that thin does not always mean healthy and that “fat” doesn’t always mean unhealthy.

I suppose that a lot of this imprinted body image has really come to light for me lately. I have been interested in learning what gave rise to my negative body image. Listening to my mother talk nowadays I see that the same things she struggled with when I was a small child are what she is struggling with as an adult. I know that none of it was purposeful, I would never say that. I know that my grandmother was a woman obsessed with looks and being as thin as possible. She pushed her body image agenda hard on her children. She would punish them for weight gains and reward them for weight loss. If I remember correctly I think that if my mother didn’t lose 20 pounds my grandmother was going to refuse to pay for her to go to college. Obviously, her actions were quite severe and my mother did always try to build me up. But, her words did fall on deaf ears since I was witnessing her do the opposite of what she was saying. While she may have told me that I was not heavy and that I was perfect just the way I was I would watch her strictly control her diet and complain about her body.

I do recommend the book “You Have to Say I’m Pretty, You’re My Mother” for just about anyone. I think its an interesting conversation about body image. I know that it has made me more aware of how I talk about myself. A few years ago I stopped using the word “fat” when I meant bad (i.e., “do I look fat?” what we always really mean is “do I look bad?”) and I found that my body image got better. I started looking at clothes are fitting well or fitting poorly not making me look thin or making me look fat. I digress, I think that the authors accomplished their goal, they certainly got me thinking about body image!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Weight Loss Help

Is anyone struggling with their weight? Wondering what’s a healthy way to take it off that’s effective? Let me recommend Take Shape. It’s a program that’s safe and most importantly effective. There are no meetings and no measuring. No counting carbs and no starving. You eat. A lot. And the food is delicious. I had the luck of trying out a few of the items and I have to say I was surprised. The dutch chocolate shake taste like an actual shake. There is no gritty or medicinal aftertaste that you sometimes find with “diet” shakes. It was creamy and delicious and kept me full. The real treat was the chocolate mint bar. Hello! The Girl Scouts should be suing because it tastes EXACTLY like a thin mint.

With this program you eat 6 times a day. You eat 5 meals from Take Shape and 1 meal that they call “lean and green.” The cost of the program is incredibly reasonable, again I was surprised. For less than the cost of 5 weeks of groceries you can get 5 weeks of Take Shape meals. The cost equals to be about $9 a day.

What else is great is that the program is formulated so that even diabetics can safely take part of this program. In fact, the program is certified by the Low Glycemic Research Institute. They have a variety of shake choices that include shakes for coronary health, joint health, women’s health and new shakes packed full of anti-oxidants.

I’ve seen what this plan can do for people. It’s incredible. People experience quick weight loss with lasting results. Each person has a health coach that they can call on anytime they need support or help. The best part of this plan is that you don’t have to be in the same town or even the same state as your health coach! Coaching is primarily done over the phone or even over email – talk about easy!

If you would like more information on Take Shape please contact the fabulous Joan Mueller (who lost 40 pounds on this plan). She may be reached at or on her office phone 856-552-0972. She will be more than happy to answer any questions you have or explain the program. Or check out the website at

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Make Up Expiration Dates

Just like everything else make-up expires. Below is an outline of typical expiration dates for cosmetics. Bear in mind that this is just a guideline and not hard and fast rules if your products start to separate, smell, change color, texture or consistency than chances are they need to be thrown out. To get the most shelf life out of your cosmetics keep the products closed tightly and store them in a cool, dry place. Never, EVER store your makeup in the bathroom all of the heat and humidity from the shower will speed bacteria growth and will cause color change.

As a rule of thumb if you have had an eye infection its best to just throw out all of the makeup you have used so you don’t re-infect your eye. The same goes for any lip infections it’s safer to just toss everything and start fresh. The only items that can be saved after an infection are lipstick, lip liners and pencil eye liners however you must cut roughly an inch off of the product in order for it to be safe to reuse.

Mascara 3-6 Months

Mascara will become flaky and will potentially begin to cause itching when it is going bad. I recommend not splurging on mascara because of the short shelf life. If you absolutely must spend the cash don’t hold onto the mascara past 6 months. Some retailers like Sephora are carrying smaller sizes of popular mascaras for a fraction of the cost so you won’t feel so guilty when you have to throw it away.

Concealer 12 months

However the expiration date changes to 3-6 months when it’s a concealer that has a wand applicator. The pumping of the wand will cause bacteria to get inside the tube and spoil the concealer faster. Your money is better spent on a compact, push up or squeeze tube style concealer.

Pencil Eye Liner 2-3 years

Pencils should be sharpened regularly and stored with their lids on.

Liquid Eye Liner 3-6 months

Just like mascara this will start to flake and dry out and will definitely be itchy on the eye when it starts to go bad.

Eye Shadow 3 years

Cream Eye Shadow 12-18 months

Blush/Bronzer 2 years

Cream Blush 12-18 months

Lip Liner 3 years

Lip liners should be kept sharp and stored with the lid on tightly.

Lipstick 2-4 years

If you store your lipstick in your fridge it will last much longer. If your lipstick starts to smell weird toss it.

Lip Gloss 18-24 months

Foundation – Depends on Formulation

Water-Based foundations will last 12 months (you will know if your foundation is water based if the first ingredient listed on the product is water)

Oil-Based foundations will last for 18 months (you will know if your foundation is oil-based if the first ingredient list on the product is oil).

Makeup sponges should be washed weekly and replaced monthly

Makeup brushes should be washed every 2-3 months with a gentle cleanser (I personally love Johnsons Baby Shampoo it leaves the brushes so soft).

If you use the applicators that come with drugstore cosmetics I would recommend changing them monthly. Drugstores carry replacement applicators for a few bucks.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Basic Beauty Tips

The Basics:

I realized that maybe some of you coming to us are totally clueless about not just clothes but beauty as well. It only seemed to make sense to pull together a guide to make-up and beauty.

-Always start with a clean face. Find a cleanser that is gentle and is compatible with your skin type. Cleanse your face gently, never scrub or rub hard doing so will aggravate your skin. Never use plain soap to wash your face it will be much too drying.

-Choose a moisturizer that is compatible with your skin type. You will need a day cream that is a lighter formula that contains an SPF and for evening you will need a night cream that is richer and more protective.

-Eye cream!!! This is so important the skin under your eyes is very delicate and needs to be moisturized gently. Find an eye cream to suit your needs and apply it gently to your eye area in the morning and in the evening. You may find that you need a thicker formula for evening and a lighter one for the day. I really recommend that all women use eye cream as soon as they hit their 20’s its great protective care.

-If you don’t have sensitive skin you can safely treat your skin to a scrub on a weekly basis. This will help remove impurities and keep skin looking clear.


Choosing the right foundation:

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get good quality make up. Most drugstore brands are great and provide wonderful coverage.

-Test foundation on the jaw line and see how the foundation looks in natural light. Try on several different shades than walk outside and see how the foundations look in “real” light. The perfect foundation will blend into the jaw practically perfectly.

-Now there are several different types of foundation to choose from there are liquid, powder, mousse and you can even purchase “air-brush” style make-up at stores like Sephora. Your skin type and age will help you figure out which product is best to use. If you are totally lost you could get help at a store like Sephora (if you can afford the makeup). However regular ol pharmacies like CVS now have a Beauty Advisor on staff who can help you select skin care, foundation and make up.

Applying Foundation:

I have a personal belief that using brushes provides the best coverage but there are others who swear by make up sponges and others who swear that using their fingers gives the best coverage. Clearly the sort of foundation you are using is going to dictate what product would be the best to apply the foundation with though when I used to wear liquid foundation I always used a foundation brush.

-Apply foundation to your forehead, cheeks, nose and chin with a makeup sponge, brush or fingers.

-Blend the foundation in light upward strokes towards your hairline. Blend well at the jaw line to avoid a makeup line.


If you have blemishes or dark under eye circles DO NOT cake on foundation to cover them instead utilize a concealer. Concealer can be used under or over foundation or on its own. It is a heavier makeup and a little goes a long way.

Choosing Concealer:

There are a few different formulas of concealers available there are solids, liquids and powders. Again the formulation is going to depend on your personal preference. I also do not believe that your concealer must be the same formulation as your foundation. For example I use powder foundation but typically use a solid concealer.

When choosing a concealer chose a shade lighter than your foundation this will help hide darker spots.

Applying Concealer:

-If you are applying concealer under your eyes use a gentle patting motion again you may use a makeup sponge or a brush – I would not recommend using your fingers when applying concealer.

-If you are trying to cover a blemish apply the concealer to the blemish than press with a makeup sponge.


Dusting powder over your face will help set your foundation and concealer all day long.

Choosing Powder:

You can choose a translucent powder or select a shade that is a few shades lighter than your foundation.

Applying Powder:

-Simply dip a large powder brush into the powder, shake off excess and apply all over face

To control oil all day invest in either oil blotting papers or oil control powder (this powder is typically blue). Using these oil control products is better than applying more makeup. If you have a buildup of oil on your face and you keep applying powder throughout the day your skin will look cakey. However the oil blotting powders and papers will remove the oil and refresh the makeup.

Okay so now we know how to create a clean canvas so what about everything else on your face, you know your eyes, cheeks and lips? Well let’s cover those next.


Eye makeup is a matter of trial and error and how you apply your makeup is going to depend on your personal style and taste. If you need help choosing eye shadows and eye liners don’t be afraid to try that beauty advisor at the drugstore or get help from the nice folks at stores like Sephora and Ulta.

Eye Makeup:

-Apply a light shade from your eyelid to your brow bone

-Accentuate your eyes by applying a medium shade to the crease of your eye, be sure to blend. Also the darker the shade the more dramatic the look.

-Apply a thin (or thick whatever you want) line of eyeliner along the lash line to accentuate your eyes

-Finish with a few coats of mascara (black mascara looks great with all eye colors). Never pump the wand inside of the mascara tube it will cause air to get inside which will dry out your mascara


If you have never had a professional eyebrow waxing I highly recommend that you splurge. At most places you can get an eyebrow shaping for anywhere from $5-$15 it is well worth the cost. What the waxer will do is shape your eyebrows and get them to be the proper shape for your face. Your eyebrows really shape your face and getting them cleaned up makes a huge difference.

Now you could of course continue to have them waxed but if that’s not your thing use their shaping as a guide for you to tweeze. However I think that you may get addicted to the waxing. I never thought I would be the person who would go get her eyebrows waxed but I’m hooked. I can never get them to look as good as the girl who does the for me.

Eyebrow Makeup

If you have sparse eyebrows gently fill in with either an eyebrow pencil or eyebrow powder. Blend the pencil or powder with a mascara brush (you can purchase them at a drugstore) then set with eyebrowshaping gel (it looks like clear mascara).


Again there are several formulations of blush available there are powders, liquids, stains, mousse, and creams. The formula you choose will depend on your skin type and how much control you want to have over the product. I personally feel too spastic to use stains, liquid or cream blushes. I always feel like I put too much on or put it on wrong so I personally stick to powders. But feel free to explore wearing makeup is supposed to be fun.

Choosing Blush:

Besides blush there are highlighters and luminizers that can be used in conjunction with blush. If you are new to blush it best to start with the basics than move into playing around. You can get help in selecting the right color with help from that handy Beauty Advisor at CVS or from the fine folks at Sephora and Ulta.

Applying Blush:

- Regardless of what formulation of blush you choose you will apply blush to the apples of your cheeks. In order to find your apples smile the part that looks like the side of an apple is the apple of your cheek. You will apply blush at the apple than blend out

-If you want try using a highlighter, luminizer or contour shade you would apply that in the following fashion: highlighters/luminizers should be applied along the top of the cheek bone. What this will do is accentuate the cheekbone and make it seem more prominent and make your face look slimmer. If you want to apply a contouring shade (which would be darker – close to a bronzer shade) you would apply it underneath the apple of the cheek. This will contour the face and will make the face look slimmer and more defined.

-Blend the whole thing well. Remember cheek color is supposed to accentuate not overpower.


Choosing Lip Color

There are many formulations of lip color there are lipsticks, lip gloss, lip stains, sheer lipstick, matte lipstick, tinted lip balms, whew there is a lot. Coverage choice here is really up to you and how much of a lipstick kind of gal you are and your age. I personally believe that anyone under 40 should steer clear of lipstick/lip liner type of look. I think it looks too harsh. Younger girls look better with a sheer lipstick, a lip gloss, lip stains or tinted balms. Women over 40 can opt for whatever floats their bloat and works for their style.

I think a good way to select a lip color is to find one that is just a little darker than your natural lip color. This will create a little pop of color and will accentuate your mouth. However you should feel free to experiment and try darker shades or whatever floats your boat. I think by now you know where to go if you need help selecting shades.

Applying Lip Liner

- Begin by applying lip liner at the center of your upper lip. Follow you natural lip line. Extending beyond your lip line is a little too “blow up doll” looking.

-For the bottom lip start by applying the liner at the center of your bottom lip line and spread out.

-When choosing a lip liner select a shade the same color as your lipstick or a shade that is close to your lip color for a more natural look.

Applying Lip Color

-Start in the center of your lip and fan out to the sides, Rub lips together and re apply.

-Remember to keep your daytime lip color light for evening you can of course vamp it up and go a few shades darker.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

News That Rocks

Just to show how much power purchasers do in fact have I wanted to let you guys know about this little tidbit:

“TOO SKINNY FOR MY CATALOGUE: Simons department store has pulled its back-to-school catalogue from seven stores in Quebec after complaints the models in the book were too thin. The family owned company, which dates back to the 1840s, received more than 200 complaints from consumers denouncing the rail-thin models wearing the Simons Twik brand. The 36-page catalogue with a print run of over 450,000 copies produced in-house, was also inserted in English and French newspapers last week. Company president Peter Simons, speaking in front of his flagship store in Quebec City, explained he was on vacation and didn’t see the catalogue until complaints began to roll in. He said the images were “unsuitable” and don’t match his company’s values.” From

This to me is absolutely amazing. Only 200 complaints got the catalog pulled. Maybe the fashion industry will start to listen and actually hear what consumers are saying. This gives me great hope for the “Show Our Beauty” campaign.

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