My Face Wants Me to Make Weird Choices (plz send help)

Maybe I just need a glitter facial.

Skin changes throughout life, and while I’d hoped that my smooth and supple post-teenage acne stage would last forever, it hasn’t. I’ve got a skin issue I can’t seem to remedy or find easily online so I started looking at getting a facial. This impulse runs pretty much contradictory to my fairly public stance (twitter-public, anyway) on beauty regimens. I love makeup and now that I’m older I use really nice moisturizers and the like, but I try not to be vain and try not to spend serious money regularly on vanity-related things. But my face is making me crazy.

(Related: Have you seen Dumpster Dog’s post on the cost of women’s beauty regimens? And that most women get a full waxing of their nethers routinely? That blew my mind. Too much pain and so many dollars.)

Now part of my reason for not spending lots of dough on my face is frugality (or, frankly, cheapness), but the other reason is that I don’t think women should worry so much about meeting particular beauty standards. Who cares? And then, of course, I feel like a hypocrite for caring.

Or perhaps it’s time for a citrus soak. A bit too Ophelia for me.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve got all these teeeny tiny white bits on my lower face. They look kind of like dry skin but I think my dry skin only exacerbates what they are (I’ve been using an oil cleanser, cold cream to remove makeup, and an argan oil cream to moisturize, plus drinking lots of water–I can’t do much more there. I tried a serum, made no difference). They kind of look like sebaceous filaments, only they’re not greasy or, as those usually are, in an oily area. Sometimes I can scrub some of them off, but usually even a pore strip won’t peel them away.
I’ve got one of these terrifying-looking comedone kits and still, nada. Pulling them out with tweezers gives me the best results, and that’s not saying much. The worst part about them is that my makeup goes on fine but by midday looks all dried out, primarily around my mouth.

They’re driving me NUTS, and I realize how dumb that is, since I can’t even snap a decent photo of them. I also feel like I’m abandoning my feminist cred by being as focused on my face as I am.

Are citrus soaks just a thing when you search stock photos for “facial”?

I’ve tried lots of moisturizers, moisturizing regimens, I’ve consulted with the fine people at Kiehl’s (my face is too sensitive for their stuff, alas) and at Sephora (tho at Sephora everyone is so young this felt like a lost battle at the start). I feel like I’m being silly, fretting over this, and it’s exactly the advice I’d give others–it’s minor, don’t worry about it. And surely don’t spend more hard-earned money trying to figure this out. No guarantee a facial will solve it and a quick googling has revealed how appallingly expensive those are.


Help a sister out.

What would you do?

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It’s Not Always About You, White Dudes (You’re Just Not Used to That)

So last week some friends and I–women I dub my “feminist fight club” as we argue with people on social media for fun–had a convo about one member’s brother. Said brother is conservative and a frequent sparring partner. In a conversation about something regarding the fight against racist and sexist discrimination, he said, “the fact of the matter is that the middle class white men vote in large numbers and would be on your side if only the message was tailored differently.” This week, kittens, we’re going to tear that quote apart. It’s resonant as it reflects an unwillingness on the part of many people to understand our current historical moment.

TL/DR: It’s not about you, assholes, but you need to listen.

The conversation had gone like this: the brother argued that liberal messages were “exclusionary” in nature and thus, by default, made white men reluctant to take part regardless of whether they agreed with the message (say, that people face racial discrimination) or not. He felt liberals (for sport?) “railed against the white man” and ruined their own missions because such white men wouldn’t get on board…because they evidently feel discriminated against.

Implicitly, the brother’s argument is that messages should be tailored to white men, even if they’re not about white men, and that if they aren’t, white men will (deliberately?) resist, even if those messages make sense. So when we talk about racism or sexism, then, we need to make it about white men; or, at the very least, we can’t suggest white men are somehow keeping this racist/sexist system in place.

Essentially, he doesn’t want us to think about how privilege works and that if we do–and if we challenge what privilege does–we have to do so without threatening those in privileged places.

I have a newsflash for him, as my dad would say: insisting or expecting messages about racism and sexism be tailored to what white men want to read and hear is part of the problem. He’s grown up, as we all have here, in a culture where the overwhelming majority of messages are tailored to white men. Conversations that suggest otherwise–see films about women or by women, or about and by African Americans–are nearly always pitched as niche, because conversations about white people and particularly white men dominate.

Perhaps you’ve seen conversations online about the Golden Globes?

In one corner, we have those who are angry and frustrated to see women snubbed for the eight millionth time in the major category of best director. And in the other, we have those (cough, white men, cough) who insist that the selections are about TALENT, duh, and women just haven’t shown enough. They’re also saying that women are only 7% of film directors because of that reason–certainly not because of systemic sexism and an old boys club that limits women’s access to directorships.

Exhibit A.

That unwillingness to grasp the message and to make it about them–here, “white men are the best directors” is implied as normative fact–echoes what the brother above was saying. A corollary is that men’s stories are normative and women’s are “chick flicks” or “chick lit” (books have the same problem as film in terms of perception and coverage, like in the NYT’s book reviews). Another corollary shifts the lens from sex to race and finds the same thing.

And I’m just a voice among many, many people who have made this argument particularly in the last couple of years: we’re asking men like the brother above to listen to our points and our stories, and they then make it about them. We argue it’s always been about them, let’s hear it be about us, and they flap their wings like startled chickens:

“How could such a thing be? We mustn’t tolerate it! How confusing for us!”

And you’ll forgive me for being glib there, but here’s the thing: maybe these messages, white men, aren’t ABOUT you or FOR you, but you need to hear them so that you consider how you operate in the world. We need to work for a world in which white and male are not the default, normative assumption about quality in anything–stories, acting, directing, teaching, leading the nation, you name it. You need to believe us that that world will be better, because white male mediocrity isn’t inherently the best.

And to that end, white dudes STFU about Oprah.
Exhibit B.

Just stop. Her speech wasn’t for you. Whether or not she runs for office is her business at this point, and putting the focus there minimizes the incredible words she spoke at the Golden Globes. It was for women. It was for people of color. White men need to hear it, but they don’t need to offer running fucking commentary. PARTICULARLY, we don’t need the comparisons of what she has that Hillary Clinton didn’t: stop pitting women against each other. If mediocre white men by the hundreds can all be part of leadership and power, then guess what? More than one woman can, too. And those women are two of the best.

{here’s a link to a transcript of Oprah’s speech, which inexplicably has a photo of Meryl Streep at the top and no photo of Oprah…wtf… }


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2017: A Financial Reckoning

As 2017 mercifully ends and 2018 dawns, I’ve busted out the TF budget spreadsheet I’ve used all year for a final reckoning. In short, here’s what I learned from tracking nearly every purchase all year.

  • As I anticipated, we eat out a lot. We get takeout, eat in restaurants, and I occasionally grab cocktails with friends. I’d allocated $400/mo for eating out but we ended the year nearly $300 in the red in that category. This isn’t the end of the world, but it’s worth noting. It’s also worth noting that this category’s use is mostly my doing: the other night, for example, I texted the Mister to please get Chinese food on the way home. I have a cold and didn’t want to cook. I’m the one who usually petitions to get out of the house, and I’m the one who rarely says no to a request for pizza. So, uh, yeah. This would be the easiest category to cut back in, if we choose to.
  • However, we don’t spend that much on other stuff, like entertainment. Our “stuff” category–budgeted at $5k–came in enough under budget that it covers the overrun in dining out and some of other categories. “Stuff” includes movie tickets, hair cuts, parking in town, Sephora visits, and things like tissues and laundry detergent.
  • The gym is one of our great expenses but usually it’s worth the investment. We’re both gym rats when the stars align; problem for me was that this last term, the stars barely got together. Considering how much we spend there (we have more than a basic membership), we need to use it regularly. I have no qualms about spending our money on the gym, so long as it’s used well.
  • We don’t spend much on clothes. I budgeted $2000 for both of us for the year (I had no idea what we spent in general, so it seemed a figure with which to start) and we well under half of that, including a dreaded bra replacement purchase. Those things are godawfully expensive.
  • We budgeted $5200 for groceries and came in under budget. This might be a mixed blessing, though, since it’s likely hinging on high dining spending.
  • We over-budgeted for heating oil and house expenses, though the latter included an unanticipated purchase of new dressers (ours were from my husband’s childhood and busted). Money left in those categories went to the next one…

    Good thing she’s cute.
  • The great budget breaker, as most of you know, was the cat category. Good god. I didn’t budget in January anticipating a lot of things that happened: we tried to adopt a cat, and that was a bust–the adoption fee was never refunded (it was about $200, unheard of for an adult cat!) and the vet fees were a couple of hundred for the results of that cat’s attack on our resident cat. Then, the cat that had been injured unexpectedly died a few months later–cremation fees were over $200. Then, because I am an idiot, I convinced my husband we should adopt kittens. Two. Which are expensive–their adoption fees are high, their initial costs (think baby vaccinations) are high. And, as it turned out, both of our kittens were quite sick at adoption, and then diagnosed with chronic illness. So! We adopted special-needs kittens who are damn lucky to have us and super cute when not hellions but which have also led to a $3000 overage in that budget category, and that’s not including adoption fees–those count as charitable donations and can be written off on our taxes (which meant we exceeded our giving budget as well). I’ve moved all the under-budget amounts over to cover a bunch, but we end up $1900 in the hole there. Talk about a reckoning. I’m hoping that that category will be much quieter next year.

We are remarkably blessed that we could cover those overages and still have money to save in our emergency fund, replenishing a dent made over the summer. Further, we were able to pay off the end of my husband’s student loans, making us student-loan-free for the first time since my grad school deferments. We only have the mortgage and my car we’re paying off now. Assuming things continue as they are, we’ll likely be able to add more to my retirement account this coming year as well as take care of things like replacing our worn-out mattress and my beat-up, sometimes malfunctioning phone, and consider replacing my husband’s car–it’ll be 10 next year–in the nearer future.

Tracking spending for a year was eye-opening, if a pain in the ass, and because I’m one of those people who likes to do things religiously I’ll probably stick with it this year, too. If you, like me, have no idea where your money is going, it’s a great exercise that allows you to truly see where your expenses are, and what you’re spending in addition.

Happy new year, dear readers.

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