So this is a lot of stuff wrapped up into one.
One of the last posts I wrote on my previous site was about how I was spending so much time in the car and it was slowly crushing my will to live. The whole day was broken up into small, barely usable chunks and I was in the car too much, Penny was in the car too much, and I just hated it. I wasn’t getting enough sleep or enough time to do a single gottdanged thing and it just wasn’t a sustainable arrangement. Well, it’s all different now.
Instead of Penny spending 3 mornings a week at an in home care and also 3 hours, 5 days a week in pre-k, she now goes to the daycare attached to the pre-k, 5 days a week. Phil drops her off in the morning, leaving me sleeping (well, it rarely works out that way, but that’s the intent) and she goes to daycare from whenever she arrives – usually around 7 – until 11:30, when they send her in to pre-k. After pre-k, at about 2:30, she goes back to daycare until we pick her up. As a result of this, I’m able to get the 11 hours of sleep per night that I require (I know, it’s a lot, but it’s a whole thing that’s not worth getting into) and I also am able to work a more reasonable schedule as well. I’m happy to be working, we have more money, and she has tons of friends at both daycare and pre-k and is enjoying spending all day playing with other kids.
Of course I’ve had the standard mental crises over the whole thing, alternately being thrilled with the whole arrangement and devastated that I’m going to MISS HER ENTIRE CHILDHOOD because she’s away for the whole day, but it really is for the best. Everything is working much more smoothly, aside from the small detail that a full day of playing is a little much for Penelope, so the couple of hours we do all get to hang out every night are kind of full of tired four year old, and I’m not going to go into any uncharitable descriptions, but you can imagine for yourself a small, hungry, tired person with poor impulse control.
She’s getting to do all kinds of fun things in pre-k and in daycare. She’s gone on some field trips and she has learned all kinds of songs that she sings non-stop, all day every day. Lots of art projects and the like and hey, I’ve found out I’m not sentimental about my kid’s daily art projects, so that’s a positive point in the future of my household and its risk level for saved art avalanches. She also has a Halloween carnival coming up and Phil is going to volunteer to help out with it. Leading up to the Halloween events, they’re having 5 days of themes, you know, the usual stuff. Today was Crazy Sock day.
We picked up some crazy socks for her the other night. They’re knee high Rainbow Dash socks, except they’re for bigger kids, so they’re actually thigh highs on Penelope. Since I like to stay asleep in the morning until I have to get up to work, I try to lay her clothes out the night before. If I don’t, she’ll go to school dressed, but there’s no guarantee she’ll look like a non-hobo. So it’s just easier if I set it out. Last night, I chose an outfit especially to go with the high socks – a straight navy cargo skirt in a heavy sweatshirt material, and a cute lighter blue striped shirt with a little bit of a puffy detail on the shoulders. It was adorable and was going to be super cute with the socks.
This morning, before I started work, Phil messaged me to tell me there was a big spider in the laundry room but he couldn’t get it because it ran under the washing machine. While I was accusing him of leaving me here asleep and alone to die, an email came in from him. As I was opening it, he said, “I saw the clothes you left out for Penny, but I picked out a different skirt instead and then the shirt looked weird so I picked a different one. I sent pictures.” As he was saying that, I opened the email.
I have to tell you, I felt faint. I said to him, but I laid out clothes. And he reminded me how Penelope said that one of her teachers said to always wear shorts under your skirts. I remember her saying that, and that’s one of the reasons we own so many skorts, but I picked out her clothes knowing that. I picked out a straight skirt that doesn’t fly up, and her socks come up to her butt anyway. I don’t know if I was more bewildered by his choice, or aggravated that he second-guessed what I’d laid out, as if I hadn’t considered all the information and Penny’s needs. Obviously, neither a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but I did remind him that the way she is dressed reflects on me, not him, whether that’s fair or not. And I know most kids that age dress kind of nuts, and Penny does do her fair share of dressing kind of nuts, but I wanted to tone it down a little for Crazy Sock Day, so that the crazy could be focused on the socks. Instead, it’s just full on crazy child day.
BUT WHILE I WAS SAYING ALL THIS TO HIM, a second photo arrived. There had been additional changes made to my choices before they got out the door.
What. Phillip. Ok, you know what, fine. Today is just crazy day, full stop. Yes, I do totally understand this is not a big deal. Really. I do. I’ve sent her to school dressed kind of questionably myself. But like I reminded him, if someone’s going to think something weird about it, they’re going to think it about me, not him. And he was in her room last night when I laid out her clothes. I pointed them out to both him and her multiple times, because they’re the exact same person in two different sizes, people who need to be reminded of basic things over and over because they’re just entirely too busy thinking big complicated thoughts about fun things to remember little details like where their underpants are. And that’s just them, it’s who they are and I kind of like both of them just the way they are, so again, fine. But when I’m going to all the trouble (well, “trouble”) to lay things out and create schedules and make arrangements because it’s just not their style (well, his, as he’s the adult and she’s a child) to focus on those kind of details, I kind of really need him to stick with my plan. Like when I was doing all the driving with our one car and had to get everyone to where they needed to be at the right times as well as work around my own inconvenient work schedule, I’d give him EXACT TIMES when he needed to bring the car to me, based on the complete schedule. Say I needed it at 10:45 so I could make a stop before I picked up Penny to take her to school. He would show up at 11, knowing that I had to be at the school at 11:30, and deciding that would be plenty of time. WHY DO I MAKE THE PLANS IF YOU’RE JUST GOING TO FLAUNT THEM If only one person is going to make the plans, YOU MUST STICK WITH THOSE PLANS, PHILLIP, OTHERWISE YOU LOSE PRIVILEGES.
In this particular case, Phil has lost the privilege of patterns and if he wishes to dress Penelope, he can choose a plain, solid color skirt and any blessed t-shirt he wants. But the dots and stripes are now off limits to him. He’s totally fine with this.
This isn’t really a huge annoyance. And like I’ve told you before, no real husband and wife fights would ever be posted on this site, because why would I do that? This is just a thing about his personality and I think it’s so funny to see how it’s reflected in Penny and the way her mind works. The two of them, seriously. I’m going to be following them both around forever carrying lost shoes and a meticulously filled in day planner in full on nag mode for the rest of my life, while they just think about… you know what, I have no idea. They’re not detail people, but they’ve both got a lot going on in their heads. I wish they would dedicate some small part of all that brain power to remembering what day of the week it is and what I just said two seconds ago, but you get what you get and you don’t get upset, right? Also, they’re both cute and I like them, so I’ll keep them and keep following them around.
So here’s the last thing. Penelope’s kind of a bit of a class clown, we think. We don’t get to watch her while she’s in pre-k, but we do watch her gymnastics class, and she is really invested in making other people laugh. I think she’s right on the borderline of being a good listener and maybe not being so appropriate in class, but she has a parent teacher conference coming up next week, so we’ll probably talk about that right after I tell her teachers that my husband is the one who dresses her. She’s very chatty and very social and very funny, and it’s possible she might need to tone that down in a classroom setting, but she’s only 4 and there’s plenty of time to work on that if necessary.
One of the things she does – and we think it’s to make people/other kids laugh – is that she smacks herself in the forehead. When she started doing it, we didn’t think anything of it, but she’ll do it over and over, like four or five times, usually laughing or making a joke, and we’ve started asking her to not do it. Well, if you look at those pictures above and you can tear your eyes away from the shoes – oh man, the shoes on top of it all – you can see that there’s actually a little bruise on her forehead. At first it was just a sore spot, and when she mentioned that, we started being a bit more serious in asking her to stop hitting herself. But now she has an actual bruise.
She usually whacks herself with the heel of her hand, but sometimes if she has like a lid or a little plastic plate in her hand, she’ll use that. And even though we’ve asked her to stop, it seems now that it’s become a kind of habit. She does it almost reflexively in certain situations. It seemed harmless at first, but now she’s gone and left a dent in herself. Also, we were pretty sure it was just to be funny and get a laugh from other kids when she started, but then why would she keep on to the point that she hurt herself? Phil especially is on her to get her to stop doing it, but scolding her doesn’t seem to be working. I’m not quite sure how to handle it from here – I feel like if we get TOO mad/yelly about it, she might just, you know, hit herself in response. But if we’re too gentle/laid back about it, we might not be able to help her break the habit. Also, there’s that underlying concern about her hitting herself and why she’s doing it.
If you’ve got any ideas on these topic, I’d love to hear them. Did your kid do it? Did you? How did you make it stop, or do you have suggestions on what might work even if you haven’t dealt with it? Is it something to be concerned about, or just a passing thing? Passing things are my favorite kind of thing.
Every 6 months or so, I end up spending some time at this coffee shop up on the mountain where I live while Phil has minor back surgery. There are a lot of reasons, of course, why he has the same sort of surgery over and over, but they’re dumb and uninteresting. The thing is, though, the type of procedure and how quickly they do it varies between two different sorts each time, and I can never keep them straight in my mind, nor can Phil be relied upon to give entirely accurate information. So I can’t get wrapped up in my normal rambling garbage post about nothing today, because a nurse could call me at any second to tell me to come across the street and collect my doped up husband. Instead, I’m going to tell you about three small things, but knowing myself, I will probably tell you about them at great length, entirely negating my own intention of being brief.
1. I have really enjoyed everyone’s thoughts and comments on yesterday’s post. A lot of people have the same kind of angst and a lot of people have some good thoughts on how to handle it, how they are handling it, or how they might handle it in the future. If you have stuff to say on the topic, I am still interested in hearing, even if you feel like it’s repeating what’s already been said or that I wouldn’t be interested because you don’t have kids or I don’t know what else. I’m deeply into this topic right now and am into whatever you’ve got. Even if you don’t have anything to add, there’s a lot of good stuff in the comments you might find helpful in the future.
In fact, Meredith actually wrote a whole post of her own on the topic, about how she feels about the whole weight and body image topic with her own young daughter, and some situations she’s already encountered. You should check that out here. And if you feel like writing your own post about it, make sure to send me a link so I can check yours out as well.
2. Something I said a thousand years ago when it first started happening pretty commonly is that I would never have a Facebook page for my blog, because, what? My blog is not a person. That is dumb. I will never do that. And yet, here I am, proving past me to be an asshole idiot once again. I did make a Facebook page for this new site, and it’s linked over in the sidebar if liking blog Facebook pages is your thing. I didn’t used to see any usefulness of it, but now I do, since apparently the entire world isn’t on Twitter? And it does seem like a better arena for some of the stuff I like to share. And, I don’t know. Past me is an asshole idiot who says dumb shit and should be stopped, but what can you do. If it’s your thing, the link is over there. If not, well, sorry you read this whole paragraph. Past me was the one who wrote it and we all know she’s an idiot.
3. Okay, everyone had a total fit and tried to hold their breath until everything was returned to normal when Google Reader shut down, right? Not just me? That was INFURIATING. Especially because it seemed to be a move designed to try to force people to use Google+, and I WILL NOT. You can quote past me on this, I WILL NOT DO IT. At first because I hated it and now out of spite, because Google demolished Google Reader and NOTHING has equaled up since. I’ve tried a lot of stuff. I exported my feeds from Google Reader and I tried Feedly, but couldn’t stick with it. I’ve tried Bloglovin, and I do seem some value in that service, but it doesn’t work the way I want it to. I used Old Reader at first, but that one didn’t stick, either. What ended up happening was that I would only end up reading blogs if I ended up being in front of Twitter with time to spare right when someone happened to tweet a link to her newest post, or if it was Swistle, because of course I always read Swistle no matter what. Actually, I usually am alerted to her new posts via Facebook. Take that, past asshole idiot me.
It’s been a couple years now, and while I’ve never believed the whole “blogging is dead” crowd, because blogging isn’t dead until Miss Zoot hangs up her blog, which will never happen because I won’t have it. But I do admit I wasn’t reading nearly as much as I had been, and of course anything I believe of myself, I believe must be a fairly common phenomenon. WELL. The other day, BMayzie on Twitter asked if I’d heard of Bazqux. I hadn’t, and I went and checked it out (link here) and, well, it looked a lot like Google Reader.
Since I’ve always held out a sad pathetic hope that one day Google would see the error of its ways and bring reader back, I still had my exported feeds file on my computer. I loaded it up in Bazqux and it IS just like Google Reader. It’s fast and intuitive and works just like you feel like it should with nothing extra. The only thing I see that’s missing is the ability to share articles and posts with people you follow, but I don’t know if it actually exists or not because I admittedly haven’t looked around too much yet. But even without looking around all that much, I already know I’m sticking with it. I knew it within 5 minutes of using it. I am SO PLEASED.
Now, there is a catch – it’s not free. There’s a 30 day trial, and then you can choose from $29/year, $19/year, or $99 for life. I’m not sure if there are other options, because like I said, I haven’t looked around a ton. Too busy actually reading blogs. I decided I’d happily pay for it immediately.
I’m not at all associated with Bazqux and there’s no referral links or anything involved here. I just wanted you to know that if you’ve been lamenting the loss of Google Reader this whole time, this is the absolute best replacement I’ve found and I am REALLY EXCITED that BMayzie brought it up.
It does have kind of a dumb name, but I’ve decided to be okay with that.
All right, bye!
Oh ho ho, see what I did there with the title? You don’t yet, but you will in a second, and you’ll understand why I hate myself.
If you follow me on Twitter or you followed my old blog, you know I’ve been on a diet for a while. It’s been pretty successful. I don’t really want to get into the hows and whys of the success, because, I don’t know, it was just a combination of health stuff and just hitting the point of ready to be on a diet. Kind of like quitting smoking. I halfheartedly tried to do it a bunch of times, but one day I was just actually ready to do it, so I did. So now I’m a non-smoker (6 years now!) and I have also lost 40 lbs over the last 6 months.
I haven’t found it difficult to lose the weight – that is, the diet that finally clicked for me isn’t one I find super challenging and it doesn’t make me sad. I don’t feel starved or deprived and I’m generally doing all right with it. It’s called keto, and there’s tons of information out there if you’re interested, but basically it’s super low carb, which automatically means it’s not for everyone. I absolutely do not think extreme low carb is sustainable for everyone or even most people. For me, though, just a week or two into it made it very clear how my body deals with carbs: poorly and in huge amounts. It’s worked well for me, and that’s that.
So here’s the thing. I have a kid, right, like a ton of you do. And I’m conscious about her health. I’m aware of the childhood obesity crisis. I’m also aware of how fraught weight issues can be for young adults and adult adults and how much of that can start from what you see and hear when you’re younger. I’m not concerned about Penny’s actual weight number right now – she’s a healthy weight for her age and size, she’s super active, gets plenty of running around every day along with organized physical activity. She eats a standard four year old diet – not exactly what a nutritionist would assert is necessary, but it’s not entirely candy and air. She’s got good eating habits, too. She stops when she’s full, no matter what she’s eating, and drinks plenty of water throughout the day. As far as feeding her goes, I’d say we’re doing solidly average as parents.
For a long time, I was really careful not to say the word “diet” around her. I don’t think it’s wrong for her to know I’m on a diet to lose weight, but she doesn’t see my body as anything but her mother’s body, so I didn’t know quite how to frame “mine isn’t okay but don’t worry about yours and if yours ever looks like mine it’s not anything to feel bad about except maybe you might want to lose weight because my body is not an exactly ideal situation but whatever happens you are still an absolutely fine person with no moral failings related to food because that is not actually a thing even though I kind of feel like it’s a thing for me but you’re a blank slate on this front so let’s not put ideas in your head.” Basically, overthinking it entirely to the point where I just said nothing.
She is a nice kid, so she offers to share her food a lot. “Look, Mama, I have two M&Ms, one for me and one for you.” And I’d say, “Oh, no thank you, I’m not hungry right now, but that’s nice of you.” Or she’d say, “Mama, look, Daddy got pizza for all of us, come have some with me,” and I’d say, “I don’t feel like eating pizza right now, I’m going to have this chicken.” And I’m fine with the chicken, I really am. My lack of pizza is not the issue. Sometimes I’d say I don’t like this food or that food, or I don’t feel like eating right now, or that I try not to eat when I’m not hungry but maybe later.
I think, though, at some point, Phil told her “Mama isn’t going to eat that because she’s on a diet.” Or she heard me say something to him, or something like that. Now she has questions. Not super deep ones or anything. Just like, “We’re having pizza, are you having some?” No, I’m not going to have pizza. “Is it because you’re on a diet?” I just don’t… I don’t want pizza. “Do you like pizza when you’re not on a diet?” No — I mean, yes — I mean, I DON’T KNOW.
STOP ASKING ME ABOUT PIZZA.
She said something the other night like, “I don’t have to be on a diet like you because I’m a healthy girl.” And I said something stupid, probably, and half-stuttered in response like, “Right, you’re very healthy, and I want my body to be healthy, too.”
The thing is, I know it’s my responsibility to teach her about making healthy choices and all of that, but the whole thing is so fraught with kids. I mean, they don’t know it’s so fraught, yet, but I do, and it’s been on my mind a lot. It’s very possible – very likely even – that I’m entirely over thinking this. And I think part of my issue has to do with the fact that my diet is so extreme. I don’t know when I’m supposed to start talking to her about maintaining a healthy, active body. I don’t exactly know how to do that in a way that doesn’t place a value on weight, or in a way that won’t make my words stick in her head if she does put on some pounds through puberty or as an adult. I know a lot of us can remember the exact words and phrases and expressions of our own mothers in these situations, and even knowing full well it wasn’t meant to be something mean or that stuck in your head forever, you still hear the exact tone and inflection whenever something to do with your own body comes up.
It’s especially difficult because if I talk about my diet with her, I want it tied strictly to health, because justifiably or not, I am totally all right with myself otherwise, as a person and as a parent (well, you know, as much as you can be all right with yourself as a parent) and all kinds of other things. I am basically my favorite person. So in talking about what I eat for my health, I run into the particular problem of my diet – just about everything I turn down or don’t eat or say “no, thank you” to is stuff she enjoys the hell out of. It would be one thing if it was cookies and cake and ice cream, and I could say to her that I’m just not having those once in a while treats that you have. But it’s bread and potatoes and corn and pizza and bananas and tons of stuff that she loves to eat and there’s no problem at all with her eating them. I don’t want her to think her favorite foods are something negative she should avoid if she wants to be healthy. And that’s not even really getting into the whole thing about talking to a four year old about weight in a way that doesn’t give her a negative self-image or a negative attitude toward weight in general.
I said this isn’t a heavy post up there because I don’t think it has to be. I think if this is on my mind, plenty of parents are running into the same issue or have run into it and dealt with it before. I don’t really know if there are any answers that work for every situation and every kid, and it’s more something you have to come to on your own, so really this was just a pointless meandering ramble like most of the stuff I put here, but my own pointlessness aside, I’d kind of just like to know if this is something that’s come up in your home now or in the past, how you’re dealing with it, or generally just what you think about the whole issue of raising healthy kids, both physically and mentally, when food and diet issues are alive in the household. Even if it’s this same kind of rambling baloney about your own ideas or situation. It’s been on my mind a lot lately, and I just feel like talking about it.
Fridays are a good day to talk about Penelope, right? I don’t know, maybe she’ll do fun stuff during the rest of the week, but I feel like we’re past the age of daily check ins for her. There’s less “oh god oh god oh god am I doing this right?” from minute to minute and more of the unchanging every day slog of trying not to fuck it up. Not that I’m calling parenting a slog or indicating at all in any way whatsoever that I do not cherish every single moment because of course I do. Just look at me. I am filled with cherish.
Also, just look at Penelope.
Just look right at her. Do I expect you to believe that’s really Garlic Bread? Am I pulling some kind of elaborate hoax where I’ve replaced my tiny baby with a full grown adult? No, and I’ll tell you how you can tell. One, that’s a four year old right there, not an adult. And two, it’s been just a bit over four years since she was born. If you remind yourselves of these things, you’ll see that it is indeed the same loaf.
On a not related note, that picture is by Brittany of Wibbly Wobbly Photography and I’m going to have it put on a canvas to hang in my kitchen because how could I not.
I told these two stories on Twitter yesterday, about this thing Penny has been doing.
Story one: I was getting Penelope ready for bed the other night. We were in the bathroom together, doing teeth and face washing, etc. We’d just gotten started when Phil called up asking if I’d taken his phone. Why would I take his dumb iPhone? I wouldn’t.
“Why would I take your dumb iPhone?,” I yelled down the stairs.
I didn’t hear his response, but I assume it was acknowledgement of my fine point. I kept getting Penny ready for bed, doing final potty and getting her changed. Phil yelled up the stairs again to ask if Penny had taken his phone upstairs.
“Why would she take your phone? It’s not up here.”
We yelled back and forth a few more times and I suggested he look in the couch again, because our couch just swallows things, and also, I’d seen it in his hand just a little bit earlier.
I kept getting Penny ready for bed, and I assume he kept looking. Then after a couple of moments of silence, Penny suddenly says to me, “I slid his phone weally far under the couch.”
I just looked at her for a minute, then walked out of the bathroom to the top of the stairs to yell down to Phil. “PENNY SAYS SHE SLID YOUR PHONE REALLY FAR UNDER THE COUCH.” Then I went back to getting her in bed. Later, I asked Phil if he’d found it. He had. It was really far under the couch.
Then yesterday morning, I was trying to do Penny’s hair for daycare/school (whole other thing, solved the driving problem but introduced an entirely new self-questioning crisis, standard stuff). I was trying to get it done quickly because I didn’t have to be up for another two hours and I need the full 11 hours of sleep I allot myself (another whole other thing, I still sleep a lot. A lot.). She asked for pigtails – wait, did I tell you Penny CUT HER HAIR? Not like kids cut their hair, I mean at a salon. I don’t know if you say it that way for a 4 year old. She got her hair cut. That’s what I should have said. Anyway, it’s short, her request, and it’s adorable. Here she is making a real angry face, but she was pissed at me, not her hair.
I was looking for the one where she was angry at me, and I also found this one exhibiting how hard she has to concentrate to do a thumbs up. Oh, also one of her smiling. Anyway, that’s the hair. She’d been talking about how she wanted it short, and I have to say, I was really against it. I spent a long time waffling between “BUT WHAT IF IT’S TERRIBLE? I WON’T ALLOW IT” and not, you know, crushing her spirit and her individuality and her right to do what she wants with her own appearance. Eventually, as you can see, I did give in and she really likes it, though we found out after the fact that the haircut she actually had in mind was a buzz cut. Which, no. Send your kids over if their spirits need a little squashing because I am totally ready to do that.
Right, anyway, I was putting pigtails in her hair, and there was this black… stuff all over her scalp. Like black grit all over. The more I looked through her hair, the more alarmed I was because there was a ton, right up against her scalp. No idea what it was. I was thinking all kinds of stuff like, I don’t know, lice poop or something. She just started going to full time care. That kind of stuff can happen, right? I called Phil in to look at it. I asked him what he thought it could be. I asked how her head could possibly be so dirty between washings. I mean, we wash Penelope, but her hair is fussy and we don’t wash that as often, so I guess I could see something happening, but this was extreme.
I eventually decided I had to get out of bed and wash her hair before we could send her to school. I mean, she’s gone to school dirty before, but not visibly dirty. I do draw a line somewhere. And apparently that line is visible head dirt. So I got up and I got in the shower WITH her and used real adult shampoo on her head, TWICE, all the while wondering what the hell was going on. Flesh-eating brain chiggers? I was rinsing it out the second time, and she says to me, “I put wood chips in my hair.” Totally casual. Just letting me know.
I just. PENELOPE.
So normally I’d have some shame about telling the same story twice in 24 hours, but after I’d told it on Twitter and been away from the computer for a bit, I came back to find Maureen’s interesting question – what exactly is going through her mind during the time she’s watching us try to figure out what the hell is going on? And these are just two examples of what’s been happening frequently.
I should note that she doesn’t really do this with things that would actually get her in trouble or that she at least thinks will get her in trouble. Those things, she can’t stop herself from fessing up immediately. (“If I tell the truth about something, will you not be mad?”) This smaller stuff, though, she seems to be able to hold in her secret for just long enough to see her parents completely baffled, then it pops right out. I need to know what’s going on in that lag time.
I don’t actually have an answer. I’ve been thinking about that all day. It’s alternately cracking me the hell up and making me question the vastness of the preschooler brain and just what all kinds of calculating is going on in there.
This is something I’ve talked about before, which makes it a simple post to write, because everything I want to say will come easily to me, and I’ll be really impressed with how freely all of my ideas are coming out just the way I want them to, conveniently completely ignoring that fact that I have expressed these exact thoughts in this exact way several times now. If originality was required on the Internet, most of us would have to pack it up and go home, and I have no intention of doing that, so reruns it is.
From the title I think it’s pretty clear what this is going to be about. You’ve definitely heard someone say they’re “bad at being a girl” before. I get that it’s supposed to sound self-deprecating, and I suppose some people really do think they’re being self-deprecating, but it doesn’t always come across that way and maybe you – if you’re one of the people who says it regularly – should stop it right now. It rarely comes from someone who feels genuinely bad about their own femininity or lack thereof, you know?
Obviously I talk a lot about makeup, because it’s a thing I like to do. I like to buy it and own it. I like to use it. I like to arrange and rearrange the collection I have. I like to know about new releases and limited edition products. I read articles about makeup. I watch videos about makeup. It’s a hobby. I do all the same things with makeup that anyone else does with their own hobby. I spend time on it, I enjoy it, and what I lack in skill, I make up for in enthusiasm. Like anyone at all does with something they really like doing.
There’s this thing, though, about talking about something so distinctly feminine publicly. Like on Twitter or something – it’s always Twitter – when you get 450 responses deep into a discussion about various holiday season makeup set releases. IT’S THE BUSIEST SEASON. You will end up with someone who joins the conversation to let you know that she doesn’t understand anything you’re talking about, and the specific reason she doesn’t understand is because she’s “bad at being a girl.”
No, the reason you don’t know anything about makeup isn’t because you’re bad at being a girl. You don’t know anything about makeup for the same reason I don’t know how to knit. I don’t care to. I tried a couple of times and wasn’t good at it. I didn’t enjoy it enough to keep working at it to get good at it. I’m not good at knitting because I’m not interested in knitting. It has nothing at all to do with my vagina or my gender.
There are a lot of stereotypically feminine things that I’m not good at, not interested in, or both. I don’t wear jewelry because I don’t actually know how and have never cared enough about my inability to wear jewelry to do something about it. My house isn’t decorated because I don’t really have a knack for it and have never felt any particular need to figure out what I liked and how to make it work in my home. I don’t dress very well – I know it’s possible, but I know it requires effort I prefer to focus elsewhere. I’m not a very good cook. I was a terrible cook, but I kept at it til I got to a point that I wasn’t throwing multiple dinners a week into the trash, and that feels like a good spot for me.
You’d think this would be kind of like a pep talk – hey, you, sad lady! Even if you don’t like makeup, you’re still plenty girly! And maybe it would be, if girly (and stereotypically feminine interests) didn’t still carry such a negative connotation. Especially something like makeup, that’s not only usually a female habit but also a frivolous one. It seems like very few people who say they’re “bad at being a girl” are truly lamenting their inability to properly function as a female person, but are instead separating themselves from a “girly” stereotype.
It usually sounds like this: “Wow, you spent how much? I think I only own mascara and it cost $3! I guess I’m bad at being a girl.” Or like this: “I’ve never taken more than 5 minutes to get ready, because I’m bad at being a girl.” Or something like this: “I wish I had time to sit around and play with makeup, but I’m too busy. Just bad a being a girl!”
It’s not everyone, it’s not all the time, and it’s subtle, but it’s there. It’s a devaluing of the way someone else spends her time and money specifically because the way she spends her time and money is feminine and frivolous. I feel like this doesn’t happen with other hobbies as much. I mean, I don’t understand at all why someone would spend $40 on a functionless shelf decor doodad. It makes zero sense to me. I would never do it, because decorating with doodads is neither something I enjoy nor a priority in my life. I have a set amount of time and money and it’s hard for me to imagine dedicating any part of either of those to something that has no meaning to me. I imagine many other people are the same way about decorating, but you rarely see someone conflate their lack of interest or skill with home decor to being bad at being a girl.
When you think about it, how many ways do adult women spend their time that you’d classify as “girly” pursuits? Not feminine, but specifically girly. That word. Is knitting girly? Is cooking girly? Is decorating your home girly? Maybe, but would you ever really use that specific word to describe it? No. Because there’s being a girl, like with a vagina or otherwise female gender identifying, and then there’s being girly. One is just a thing, and one is a negative thing. You know as well as I do that when a woman takes the time to point out that she is not that girly, it’s not as self-deprecating as it’s meant to sound, because most of us still pretty much don’t see girly as a positive trait.
There are probably people who really do wish they were better at doing makeup, but spending the time and money required isn’t a priority. There probably is some place that time and money does go, though, and if the situation was reversed, it would probably seem strange to have someone into a different hobby say, “You know, I wish I could ride a bike, but I’m just terrible at it. Guess I’m bad at being a girl.” Because, what? No. That has nothing to do with being a girl. But it’s just as ridiculous as saying the same thing about makeup. Or hair. Or clothing.
“I guess I’m bad a being a girl. Not like you. You’re clearly very good at being girly, what with the way you spend your time and money on this girly thing.” This is what it comes down to for me. This is what it sounds like. I’m sure there are a few people who still, as adult women, fall back on that little conversational crutch of “oh, just bad at being a girl,” and I know that it really is intended as self-deprecating. And I know there’s an even greater number who know full well they are not being self-deprecating when they say such a thing, and will defend saying it til they’re blue in the face, and I don’t know who they’re trying to fool, me or themselves, because you all know and I know why people say that line and it’s not. cool.
It really all comes down to the bigger problem of why feminine or girly pursuits are considered “less than,” even to the point that women themselves feel the need to vocally separate themselves from being considered girly. That’s getting into deeper thoughts than I’m really capable of. Maybe some of you are. For now, though, I can say, no matter your intentions when you say, “I guess I’m bad at being a girl,” it’s not a cool thing to say. At best, it perpetuates the “girly as lesser” trope. At worst, you’re deliberately being kind of a dick.
Ok, as the title says, I’m going to talk about eyebrows and eyebrow products today. Actually, eyebrow products is likely more accurate, because I am not going to tell you what to do with your personal eyebrows. I want to note a few things before we start: I know some people don’t do anything at all with their eyebrows, and that is fine. When I express concern about my own eyebrows, my concern is limited strictly to the eyebrow area on my own face. I don’t judge anyone for what they do or don’t do with their eyebrows. I will not look at you and think, “What is she thinking with those eyebrows?” Just because I do mine does not mean I think anything negative about what you do or don’t do with yours. I know that can sometimes be a sensitive point because the fact that I put so much thought into mine may naturally lead to the thought that I care a ton about eyebrows in general, and may think poorly of yours. I don’t, and I promise.
That said, if you don’t normally put a lot of time into makeup – which is also so fine – but do occasionally do the lipgloss-blush-mascara routine, daily or once in a while, I would definitely suggest considering adding an eyebrow routine into there, too. It can be quick and easy, and it really does a lot to pull a look together. It’s not necessary, but it’s a minimal-effort step that gives maximum-effort style results. I’m just suggesting you consider it. I don’t know how to more carefully tiptoe around this whole thing. I don’t intend to hurt anyone’s feelings. I am not looking directly at anyone’s eyebrows right now. I am carefully averting my gaze away from all eyebrows.
So, if you’re interesting in knowing the different ways you can groom them up a little bit, I’m going to break down all the different types of brow products here, and maybe you’ll see one that works for you. Let’s do this.
1. The brow pencil.
I think the brow pencil is the most common option. Tons of brands have them, from high-end to drug store. They come in a decent range of shades and can be sharpened to keep a fine tip. They’re similar in style to eyeliner pencils, but they’re usually a bit waxier. Some are very soft, making it easy to put a kind of diffuse color through sparser patches, while others are very hard, which makes it easy to draw hairlike strokes in certain places, like if you’d like to fill out your arch a bit more. Which type you like depends on personal preference.
One brow pencil I’ve used is the Benefit Instant Brow Pencil (link $22). It’s available wherever you can buy Benefit products, like Sephora, Ulta, or some Macy’s. And other places, probably. I don’t know. Internet, I bet.
It’s got an all right range of shades, and it comes with a spoolie on one end. That’s fairly common/standard with the mid-range to high-end pencils in this style, but drug store brands may not have one, or may have one of those brush-style ones on the cap. Either way, you can find these in just about every makeup range, though you’re probably going to be more limited in colors on the lower end.
2. Automatic brow pencils.
Automatic brow pencils are probably my go-to eyebrow product, though not the only one I use. These automatic pencils don’t need to be sharpened. Instead, they twist up. The point is really fine. These are really great for drawing in those hair-like strokes that look natural, and the formula is usually quite hard, which makes it easy to avoid overdoing it. For a long time, my go-to was Anastasia Brow Wiz (link, $21), and I still think you can’t go wrong with that option.
3. Brow powder.
Okay, these are easy to find and probably really easy for most people to use. You don’t even have to buy a specialized eyebrow powder. If you have an eye shadow that works for your eyebrows, go ahead and slap the shit in there. There’s no law. So what I’m going to talk about instead is the different kind of brow powder kits you can get, aside from just single powders. One style is the kit that has both a powder and a colored or plain wax in it. You use the powder to fill in your brows and the wax to set it in place. Benefit has this kind of kit and it’s called Brow Zings (link, $32). However, elf has one, linked here, that’s nearly identical, and costs much less (link, $3).
In addition to these kits and the single powders, I also want to mention Anastasia Brow Powder Duos (link, $23).
These are just powder, no wax, but what I like about them is that they’ve got the two colors in one compact. For a lot of people, it makes sense to use a lighter shade near the inner corners of the brows, and a darker shade near the tail. These duos pair perfectly together and it’s easier than trying not to hamfist the front of your eyebrow. Not that I know anything about that. A lot. Every day. Anyway, a benefit of powders – whether single, in the kit, or these duos – is that they look pretty soft and natural and it’s easy to fix/hide mistakes, as well as difficult to overdo it.
4. Brow fiber-gel-tube-things.
Okay, I don’t know what to call these, but there’s probably a name. The first product I personally saw and used in this category would be Benefit’s Gimme Brow (link, $24), and I raved about it up and down to anyone who would listen. I guess they call it a volumizing fiber gel. This particular one, the Benefit one, comes in two shades: light and dark. I’ve used both without issue, so if you fall in the middle of normal people with just… brown eyebrows… you won’t have a problem with either. This has a tiny, tiny spoolie at the end of the wand, and you kind of sweep it through your brows to plump them up and fill in sparse spots.
I believe both Maybelline and L’Oreal have similar products now, and it shouldn’t be hard to pick one up at the drug store if you want to give this type of thing a try. The main selling point about these, for me, is that they take about two seconds to use. No drawing in little hairs, no creating an arch with a pencil or powder. It builds on what’s already there, and you’re really done in about two seconds. A drawback, though, is if you don’t really have much there at all to start with, these fiber gel type products don’t work so well. With no hairs to grab onto, the concept falls kind of flat, so while this one is awesome and I will never be without Gimme Brow (or something similar) (though right now I am without and need to get a new one), I don’t think it will work for everyone out there. Still, with drug store versions available, it might be worth giving it a shot.
5. Brow gels.
So, brow gels come in two different styles – tinted and clear. A brow gel is what you use to set your brows in place if you tend to have a nice shape, a nice fullness, but maybe a little wildness or hairs that wander around throughout the day. A tinted brow gel is just what it says – a gel that sets your brows but also tints them a little darker or redder or whatever you’re looking for. I’ve got to say up front, I don’t use brow gel, so I’m not a big expert here. I kind of think it’s not a big deal, especially if you’re using clear brow gel to set your brows – clear brow gel is clear brow gel is clear brow gel. In fact, I have a double ended item from elf (link, $2) that’s supposedly clear brow gel on one end and clear mascara on the other end, and they’re just both the exact same thing, I swear.
However, I have heard from people who do set their eyebrows that there is a hierarchy of clear brow gels, and that Anastasia clear brow gel (link, $22) is at the top. Whatever, I think that’s kind of baloney, but like I said, I don’t use brow gel, so I suppose I should defer to those who do.
6. Brow pomade.
Okay, so, brow pomade. So hot right now. These are a sort of cream – or, okay, pomade – that you apply with a brush. Most are waterproof, which is a big selling point. I’d say that Anastasia Dipbrow (link, $18) is probably the most well-known at the moment, though other brands are getting into this arena now, too.
This is the type of product most people are using for that “Instagram eyebrow” thing that’s all over… uh, Instagram. Tarte has one that’s a sort of brow mousse (link, $29), and NYX has one now, too, called Tame and Frame (link, $7).
So, these brow pomades. They can produce some really nice, polished, sharp results. If that super sculpted, flat, sharp-cornered eyebrow look is what you’re going for, these are probably going to be your best choice to achieve that. There are tons of tutorials all over websites and YouTube, so you can find the method you like and perfect it. I will say that I have owned a couple, and the results are nice, but gottdangit, Bobby, are they fussy as shit. I just. They’re good products and absolutely have a place in my collection of everything ever, but for me, personally, not an everyday thing. Not an every week thing, even. I know a lot of people have a routine nailed down that takes two minutes and looks natural and fabulous, but coming from someone who lives to sit around and fuss with makeup, I rarely want to fuss with this stuff.
So here’s some stuff that doesn’t fit in up there.
Stuff 1: You’ll notice I mentioned Anastasia Beverly Hills a lot. That’s because when it comes to brow products, Anastasia is just the best and always in the lead. I don’t know if that’s going to last forever, and she has branched out into other makeup products lately, but I am pretty comfortable in saying that for me, at least, Anastasia just about always nails it first. She has more products, more options, and the color range cannot be beat. If you’re a hard to match color, go right to Anastasia products. You can tell her I sent you, but she has no idea who I am and also probably won’t be there.
Stuff 2: Speaking of color matching. Matching your eyebrow color can be a bitch, because it has a lot to do with undertones. If you’re warm-toned, it will probably be easier for you. Even if you’re neutral-toned, you’ll be able to find something fairly easily. However, if you have cool undertones, you might have to spend a bit more time finding a good color. A lot of brown shades have warm undertones, and it may look like a good match in the package, but as soon as you put it in your brows, even the slightest hint of red shows up like a fire engine on your FACE. The cooler toned you are, the more this is true. This is why I end up with so many Anastasia products despite the higher price – she actually has some real, true, cool-toned colors in her range, and it doesn’t seem as common to have true ashy shades in the less expensive lines. It’s not impossible to find, though, I’m sure.
Stuff 3: As far as actual eyebrow grooming, I always always always recommend visiting a Benefit Brow Bar if you have one nearby, even just one time. They are really good at sorting out a great shape for your face, and if you like, you can maintain it at home from there, just plucking and trimming in line with the shape the Brow Lady gave you. If you don’t have access to a Brow Bar, that’s no big. I get mine done at a nail salon these days. It’s cheap and quick. You want to make sure you see someone who does take some effort with the shape, though. Waxing and then sending you out isn’t good enough. They should also pluck and trim as needed. There’s also threading, which some people will tell you hurts less than waxing, but that is a LIE put out there by BIG THREAD. That shit hurts like a bitch. However, a lot of those ladies are the best at creating a nice shape for you, so 6 of one, half dozen of a face of pain.
I think that’s about it. That’s a lot to say about eyebrows, but, you know. Eyebrows.
So if you know me at all – and some of you do and some of you kind of do and some of you don’t, but that’s fine – you know that I’ve never been entirely amused by short jokes. It’s not that they hurt my feelings, it’s just that I don’t get it. I’m not very tall. How is that hilarious? I do understand that sometimes it’s funny to see a shorter person try to get something off a high shelf, but I think that’s equally funny as watching a tall person bang their head on something. It’s just a thing. It hardly seems like a humorous thing in general, more only funny situationally. But whatever. Some people like to make short jokes. Fine.
I can tell you I am just not especially sensitive about it. Even I find this picture of me and some of my friends from last weekend hilarious. (Hello, friends!) Hilarious enough that every time I am with them, I take a similar picture. I’m just saying, I’m not uptight about not being very tall any more than they are about being especially tall. Which they all are.
And here is the thing I have been thinking about. Have you ever gotten in a short battle? Battle is probably the wrong word, but this is the Internet and it’s made for exaggeration, so just run the word “battle” through your Internet hyperbole filter to come up with something more appropriate on your own. So you’ll be on Twitter or something – it’s always Twitter – and talking about, maybe, pants. Pants is a good one because Twitter was made for helping others shop. And you – or me – offhandedly mention, “Well, it’s a little hard to find pants in stores, because I’m short, but a lot of retailers carry extended sizes like ‘extra short’ online.” (They do! That’s a thing!)
And you think that’s nothing, because it’s just true. You’re (I’m) short. It’s just a thing. It’s a fact. It’s not really up for debate. There is average, and then people who are above average are tall and people who are below average are short. It’s just numbers. But there will always be someone who wasn’t even involved in the conversation at all who will then jump in and say, “Well, how short are we talking? Because I’m eight and a half inches tall.”
And they’re not saying that because they have a hot pants tip for you! No, they just want you to know. Like, “HOHO, IN YOUR FACE! You think you are short? WELL I’M ONLY VISIBLE UNDER A MICROSCOPE, so what do you think about THAT?”
There’s that person, right, who needs to jump in to let you know that even if you thought you were X, they are MORE X, therefore… ?
And that’s where I get lost, because what exactly is the point there? Am I suddenly NOT short because you drink your tea from a thimble? That’s not a thing. I am still short. You being much smaller does not suddenly make me 5’10”. And they wait! They wait for someone to mention being short – WHICH MANY PEOPLE ARE, IT’S NOT A THING – so they can jump in to tell you what short actually is. What am I supposed to do here? Acknowledge your tininess? Present you with a medal for shortness? I guess this probably happens to tall people, too. You’re a lady and you’re 5’10”, maybe 5’11”, and you say, well, I’m tall, and some other lady snorts at you and is like, well, I’m 6’2″, so you’re actually not tall at all. BUT YES A 5’10” WOMAN IS QUITE TALL.
I feel like it’s kind of related to pain olympics, you know, where one person says I don’t feel well and the other person says, “I DON’T EVEN HAVE KIDNEYS” and you’re kind of supposed to be shamed into thinking actually you don’t feel so bad at all because at least you could pee your pants if you wanted to. And the winner of the pain olympics is the one who feels the absolute worst, so worst in fact that everyone else is forced to acknowledge that they actually don’t feel terrible at all. I guess it’s something like that. But no matter how short another person is, it can’t make me not be short anymore.
Or maybe it’s that there are people who need you to know that they are the very most of something. I am the most sick, I am the most weird, I am the most short. Which is now leading me down this whole path of wondering what’s wrong with just being normal? Because isn’t there always going to be someone sicker and someone less sick, someone weirder and someone less weird, and someone shorter and someone less short? I guess maybe it has a lot to do with people who haven’t ever really been able to totally shake the phase of feeling that being average or normal or standard is absolutely the worst thing that you can be, and I get that, but I don’t get it because I don’t feel that way.
This started out with me being annoyed about those people who always want to jump into conversations out of nowhere to make a pants discussion into a battle (“battle”) about who is the very smallest, and now it’s gone into a whole new thing I’m not prepared to think about this early in the morning, so I’ll just stop here.
Ok, let’s not bother with any explanations right now and just jump right back in to business as usual.
I get asked a lot of makeup questions on Twitter and other places and while I really enjoy going on about different products at length, there are a couple of questions I get asked fairly often and I thought I’d try to tackle some of them here so the response is less disjointed than the 140 character limit allows. One question I get a lot is about LORAC palettes vs Urban Decay’s Naked palettes. I don’t own all of either line, but I think I own enough of each to break it down a bit for those on the fence.
You should first know that my first suggestion is to buy both. Let’s just establish now that my prime advice is always to buy everything. Realizing that some people consider that impractical, let’s move on to advice part two.
Another thing to note is that I’m not going to go into which LORAC Pro palette or which Urban Decay Naked palette you may way. Just the differences between the two brands.
Let’s start with LORAC. I own the LORAC Pro 1, the LORAC Pro 2, and the LORAC Mega Pro 2.
Each Pro palette has 16 shades: 8 matte and 8 shimmer. Both Pro 1 and Pro 2 are permanent to LORAC’s collection. The Mega Pro 2 has 32 shades: 16 matte and 16 shimmer. The Mega Pro 2 is limited edition and is available now at Ulta. There’s also a Mega Pro 1, but it was limited edition as well and sold out very quickly.
I didn’t clean these up before I took the pictures because this is real life. Also, if I go down the road of keeping my palettes clean, no one will ever see or hear from me again.
As you can see, all the palettes – the Mega Pro 2 especially, of course – have a really wide array of colors. They all have the same shadow formula, as well. The LORAC formula is very soft and will kick up a lot of dust, even if you just tap your brush into the pan. With cheaper eye shadows, that’s usually a sign of poor quality and a difficult to work with shade, but that’s not the case here. The color payoff is very good on most shades, though there are a few that just don’t look as vibrant on the eye as they do in the pan.
Pros of the LORAC Pro palettes
Cons of the LORAC Pro palettes
Now, Urban Decay’s Naked palettes. Again, I don’t have all of these. I have Naked 1, Naked 2, and I did own Naked 3, but the shades didn’t work for me so I sold it.
Again, if these palettes look beat, it’s because they are. I’ve had Naked 1 longer than Naked 2, but both are in pretty consistent rotation.
Urban decay does have several other palette “lines,” like the Vice palettes and other special edition palettes, but I’m just going to talk about the Naked palettes here. All of them – 1, 2, 3 and the two Naked Basics palettes – are part of the permanent collection. Unlike the LORAC palettes, which have a variety of shades in each, each Naked palette has it’s own “feel” and the shades all go together.
Pros of the Urban Decay Naked Palettes
Cons of the Urban Decay Naked Palettes
Anyway, that’s just a quick rundown of both brands. As for what I personally think, I will tell you that I end up pushing the LORAC a lot when people ask me which to choose. For those less experienced with makeup, the soft formula makes it easy to do pretty washes of color, the wide variety of shades gives a lot to play around with, and the price isn’t a small factor.
However, I actually use my Naked palettes all. the. time. Yes, they’re more shimmery. Yes, not all of it is appropriate for every day. But it’s really easy to pull together a quick look without thought. The shadows are consistent and blend together well. Naked 1, and more and more lately, Naked 2, are my go to “I don’t have time to mess around, gotta get out of the house” shadow palettes. They’re easy to use if you’re not so great at coming up with a “look,” and on top of that, the Naked palettes are so popular that there are tons of tutorials out there for all of them. They may look more limiting than the wide shadow variety in the LORAC palettes, but you can do a ton with them.
In the end, of course, it comes down to your personal preferences about how you like shadows to perform and what kinds of shades you like. My personal preference is to buy them all. Just saying.
It’s all going to be all right. I promise.