4 Lessons Learned From My Most Controversial Post

When I wrote Lush and the Unnatural Truth last September, I didn’t expect it to turn into a controversy. In this post I posed that Lush Cosmetics was misleading consumers by advertising themselves as an “all natural” company while being anything but. One year, 12,000+ views and a few  Tumblr fights later, I’m sharing lessons learned from “The Lush Post.”

Lesson One: Don’t Silence Yourself But Be Ready For the Fall Out

I’m no stranger to controversy. I’ve shared my opinion on race and fashion blogging. I’ve criticized Lucky Magazine. I’ve talked about thinspiration. With these posts, I prepared for fall outs that never came.

I wasn’t ready for what happened after The Lush Post.

One of the great things about blogging is that anyone can share their opinion. However, this also means that anyone can disagree. Strongly. I realized that readers weren’t attacking me, but my view. And since I stood behind what I wrote, that was totally fine by me.

Lesson Two: Don’t Obsess Over Where People Are Discussing The Post

In the month following The Lush Post, I scoured my Google Analytics trying to figure out where people were  discussing the post. Don’t do this. It will drive you crazy. Eventually I realized this one posts wasn’t me. It was just a post, which people were entitled to have opinions on,  just like I was entitled to have an opinion.

Lesson Three: Know When To Stop Arguing

It is my  comment policy to reply to every comment left on my blog. The Lush Post was getting comments nearly every week, forcing me to revisit the argument continuously. After awhile, I was exhausted and I realized there was nothing more I could say about it.

So I did something I agonized about for weeks: I closed the comments. To date, The Lush Post is the only post where I’ve ever had to close comments. However, no comments were deleted. To date I have only ever deleted one comment on my blog because it was disparaging to Audrey Hepburn. No one messes with  Audrey.

Lesson Four: People Love Lush. Like Love.

Throughout this entire experience, the most fascinating thing to me was people’s love for Lush. I’ve encountered a lot of brands in my three years of blogging, but never before have I’ve encountered a brand that is a lifestyle as much as it is a company. If anything, the enthusiasm of Lush’s customers is a testament to the company’s products and branding.

In Closing

The most important thing I learned was to take deep breaths, don’t take it personal and know when to walk away. In the end, writing that post and seeing how people responded taught me a lot of blogging and the type of blogger I wanted to be. Would I write another post on this blog about Lush? No, probably not. But hey, that’s OK, too.

How Young Is Too Young To Wear Makeup?

How Young is Too Young to Wear Makeup? | ThoseGraces.com
A few weeks ago I was browsing products at Sephora. While looking in the Laura Mercier section, I overhead a conversation between two teenage girls. One said, “I heard Nars has a really good foundation. Look at this one.” I turned to look their way and saw both girls had near-perfect skin that didn’t need foundation, let alone one with heavy coverage one. I wanted to tell them how beautiful their skin was and that they should consider something lighter. But I stopped myself not wanting to ruin the sale for the employee helping them. So instead I walked to another section, and as if right on cue, saw a father applying lip gloss to high six-year-old’s lips. What should have been an adorable moment instead made me feel conflicted. Between these two incidents that happened in just a matter of moments, I started wonder: How young was too young to wear makeup?

My relationship with makeup started around 13 when I got my hands on my older sister’s copy of “Making Faces” by Kevyn Aucoin. I begged my younger sisters to let me do their makeup and applied Vaseline to their lids like Aucoin direction. You know, to give that editorial look.

Despite an early introduction, by high school my interest in makeup faded away as I became more interested in writing and politics. It wasn’t until college that I found makeup again after buying the BareMinerals Get Started Kit. I was living in New York City at the time and was decidedly more interested in dressing like Mary-Kate Olsen than wearing tons of makeup. However, all bets were off once I moved to South Carolina where women just seemed more made up. Maybe it was part interest or maybe it was part wanting to fit in, but I started to routinely wear makeup.

By the time I started routinely wearing makeup, I had already rooted my identity in other interests and traits. I didn’t feel the need to pull my appearance into the equation of who I was. Instead, I saw makeup as a form of artistry that changed the way I saw myself in the mirror. Ironically, this is how I also saw makeup at 13. Makeup gave me opportunities to take risks and learn lessons. I wasn’t covering up who I was, I was enhancing it.

I don’t know what the right answer is when it comes to the “right” age to start wearing makeup. I would hope that most people would come to makeup after they are confident in themselves because I don’t think makeup should be a mask we hide behind. Makeup should help someone feel like they are the best version of themselves.

What do you think? What age did you start wearing makeup? I’d love to hear your perspective.

My Style Icon: Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani | ThoseGraces.com

For this week’s My Style Icon, my thoughts returned to my teenage years and the styles that most inspired me. I made a list of women I admired in my formative fashion years. There was  gaunt and dreary Fiona Apple and the dress-over-pants-wearing Alanis Morisette. Though both women inspired me then,  neither influences me  today, at least not style-wise. However, one name stood out on my list: Gwen Stefani. For me, Gwen is one of those rare style icons I loved as a teen and still love in my twenties.

Gwen Stefani | ThoseGraces.com

When I was younger, I bought tiny little jewels that had glue on the back. I stuck one in the middle of my forehead and at the outer corners of my eyes like Gwen. I also rocked out in my bedroom, hair brush in hand, screeching out the lyrics to “Just a Girl.” I watched the video for “Don’t Speak” and posed in the mirror, peach in hand trying to look distraught and lovelorn. Though I wouldn’t understand the maturity of either of these songs until much later, I loved them as much as I loved Gwen.

Gwen Stefani | ThoseGraces.com

Gwen is the one of the few celebrities who has evolved within her own style framework. Does she wear exactly what she wore in 1995? No, not really. Today the version of her rocker style is more polished and put together yet still edgy. Though what she wears doesn’t necessarily always look comfortable, it looks like she feels comfortable in her clothes and in her own skin. And that’s what I love about Gwen Stefani.

Cute Camera Bags That Don’t Look Like Camera Bags

Since my teenage years, I’ve carried my life around in my purse. I usually have a book, my phone, headphones, my wallet, a pair of heels, a notebook and a makeup bag. Oh, and usually a snack and bottle of water. (Is this a diagnosable disease?) When I bought my first DSLR (digital single-lens reflex camera), it added a good five pounds of weight to my bag. After a lot of shoulder pain, I’ve come to the realization that I need to finally buy a proper camera bag.

I know what you’re thinking, “Don’t you already have a bag?” I do have a proper camera bag that’s black and clearly labeled, “Nikon,” which might as well read, “I’m carrying expensive things, please mug me!” Needless to say, it doesn’t leave the house much. So now I’m on the hunt for a cute non-camera-bag-y camera bag.

Cute Camera Bags that Don't Look Like Camera Bags | ThoseGraces.com

Jo Totes Missy Mint | Sunmark Studio Leather-Canvas DSLR/SLR Camera Bag | Jo Totes Abby Lilac

What differentiates these camera bags from just throwing your DSLR in your purse? Well, these come with built in foam pockets that create dividers to keep your gear safe and stable. No more worrying about your keys scratching your lens. I especially love that there are so many options that don’t look like the stereotypical camera bag.  No more boring, manly camera bags!

Not into shelling out for a camera bag? Here’s a great tutorial on how to turn a purse into a camera bag. You can also buy a camera wrap to protect your DSLR when you throw it in your purse.

Want to see more camera bag options? Check out my Bags board on Pinterest.

My Style Icon: Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese: Style Icon | ThoseGraces.com

Today I’m launching a series called My Style Icon. Every Friday I’ll be featuring the styles of people I admire and how that person’s style influences my style choices. In this inaugural edition, I’ll be sharing about the amazing Dita Von Teese. Though she’s most well-known as a burlesque performer, Dita is also a model, lingerie designer and actress among many other things. Really, she does everything.

Before going further, I have to venture back to 2004 and my first semester of college in New York City. That year I shared a room with a girl we’ll call Beth. Though I had my fair share of interesting college roommates, Beth was by far the strangest. She had jet black hair, always curled to perfection, red lipstick and porcelain skin. She always wore a hat in the sun and dressed in vintage. I quickly learned this was all to emulate her style icon, Dita Von Teese. By the end of year, Beth was walking around the apartment in lingerie and three inch heels, begging her parents for money to do a pinup photoshoot for her 30-year-old boyfriend.

Needless to say, I was not a fan of Dita Von Teese.

I don’t recall the exact moment where I happened upon Dita again, but it was sometime around 2010. Far removed from my weirdo roommate, I saw Dita with new eyes. I admired her candidness in interviews, her style, her hair, her makeup, basically everything. The more I found out about Dita, the more I wanted to know.

Dita Von Teese: Style Icon | ThoseGraces.com

One thing that stands out to me about Dita  is that she admits and talks about how her beauty is created. In a culture that so admires the natural beauty, blonde with the right curves, there’s something to be said for people who rebel against the beauty standard. Dita embodies her standard of beauty, one that’s a throwback to the Golden Age of Hollywood and Betty Paige.

Dita Von Teese: Style Icon | ThoseGraces.com

I also admire that Dita’s style doesn’t stop once the photo shoot is over. In the street style photos I’ve seen of her, she’s always dressed to perfection even if she’s coming from Pilates. A lot of times, I get hung up on which clothes in my closet are nice clothes and which ones aren’t when really I should just be living my life in my clothes whether it’s to an event of just running errands.

Life is too short to get hung up on other people’s ideas of what’s beautiful or what women should wear. Dita Von Teese is the ultimate embodiment of do what you want. And I will.

Get the Dita Look | ThoseGraces.com

MAC Blacktrack Fluidline, Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture #1, MAC ‘Mineralize’ Skinfinish NaturalNeutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, DiorShow Mascara

Interviews with Dita Von Teese

Here are some really great interviews with Dita that are worth the read: