Tag Archives: beauty

#BOAW2018: 10 (Unusual) Things That Make Me Feel Beautiful

Hey Women!

What makes you feel most beautiful? I have a hunch it has nothing to do with what we’re constantly being advertised. Never in my thirty-two years have I, or any of my female friends, said “You know, mascara makes me feel the most beautiful ever,” or “This smooth glide tampon makes me feel so freaking beautiful I can’t handle myself!” Damn, I wish I heard that sentence more often. Most of the time, we’re taught periods are a pain (and they definitely can be), but we’re not taught they make us beautiful.

I’m not knocking makeup or modern conveniences. I enjoy both of them too. There’s a place for them, sure. But what really makes you feel the most beautiful? When I think about that question, the answer has little to do with my body.

Author, blogger, and podcaster, August McLaughlin, is hosting her annual Beauty of a Woman Blogfest. She’s asking women all over the world to talk about what beauty means to them. And since she’s also the fab creator of GirlBoner, (“Where Good Girls Go For Sexual Empowerment”), some bloggers are writing about sexuality too.

The-Beauty-of-a-Woman-BlogFest-VII-1-768x768

I’ve been a participant in both categories over the years. If you want to check out one of my past posts, I recommend Heavy Petting is a No No: Sex Education for the Saint of Heart. 😉

This year, I wanted to talk about beauty as a woman in her thirties. At a time when your body starts changing (like, not bouncing back in ways it once did), it can be a mind shift to still feel beautiful in a world that emphasizes outer beauty and youthfulness so highly. My body changed, and so did my style.

There are some things that remain constant, though. That will always make me feel truly beautiful and empowered in my own skin.

10 (Unusual) Things That Make Me Feel Beautiful

1. Learning something new. 

Is there anything quite like the joy of learning something new? There’s that moment when you’ve really put time and energy and sometimes expense into understanding something that didn’t come naturally, and then…it finally clicks!

Damn, that’s a gorgeous moment.

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2. Reading books out loud. 

What can I say? Words are my love language.

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3. Making art for the fun of it. 

I believe adults don’t PLAY enough. When’s the last time you picked up your ol’ Crayola 64 pack (dating myself there) and just colored? Or used a paintbrush? Or even doodled? I’m not “an artiste,” but playing around is therapeutic and relaxing for me when I remember to leave judgment at the door.

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4. A damn fine blazer. 

I’m a sucker for a power suit. Alas, I rarely get to wear them anymore. But why not give yourself a Try Day Challenge and write about it? I did.

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5. Travel

A friend of mine coined the term “wonderfully uncomfortable” and it has forever stuck with me. Traveling somewhere outside your comfort zone is a great opportunity to meet new people, hear new stories, and gain a bigger picture of the world. I always leave feeling grateful and humble afterwards. Aren’t those beautiful, genuine emotions?

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6. Going for a walk. 

Cool breezes on your skin, your feet pounding the pavement or hiking the trail. I never get clarity like I do when I’m on a solo hike.

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7. Genuine, consensual touch. 

You know people who are huggers? Like good huggers, not creepy uncle huggers? There’s something beautiful and comforting about being with someone who just knows when to give you a hug or reach for your hand. Science even supports that hugging longer has positive effects on the endorphins in the brain! I value a good hug from a friend or loved one.

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8. Recognition

Who doesn’t appreciate when someone finally notices how damn hard you work?! You go, grrrl! I see you!

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9. Eating dessert for breakfast. 

Because I’m an adult. Because I can. Because I’m worth it.

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10. Not buying into all the ageist, objectified patriarchal bullshit. 

Cause ain’t no one got time for that!

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What makes YOU feel truly beautiful? 

***

*This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 9th.

 

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Wear What You Want

IMG_3537I love seeing people embrace their own beauty. In a world of impossible beauty standards, the role models I want to embrace are the people who celebrate doing their own thing while opening doors, rather than closing them, for others to find what’s right for them too. I follow campaigns like Tess Holiday’s #effyourbeautystandards. I’ve been a user of #StitchFix for awhile and love how detailed their style profile is and that they allow clients to play with fashion. So when Dia & Co. asked me if I was interested in participating in their Try Day challenge, I said yes.

The Try Day challenge is about the clothes in your closet you haven’t found the guts to wear yet. The items you chose to buy, but haven’t worn. The clothes you’d love to try on and try out, but always second guess yourself or change out of at the last minute.

Dia & Co., like Stitch Fix, is a personal styling business that sends five items to your home to try out with your existing wardrobe. They specialize in plus size fashions which is awesome because no one should have to forgo personal style just because of size. Having worked in the retail industry for several years, I know how hard it can be to find as many options in special sizes. Everyone wants to look and feel great in what they wear. Shopping and sporting your style shouldn’t be as degrading or frustrating as the fashion industry, and let’s not forget misogyny, sometimes makes it.

I say, WEAR WHAT YOU WANT. 

I grew up the youngest child of four, so a lot of my clothes and fashion sense came from my older siblings. Acid wash jeans, anyone? This year it dawned on me, I didn’t really know what my fashion style was because I never actually thought about my personal style. I got the same kind of pieces I always got, bought some trends, but didn’t necessarily have a signature look.

To be honest, I’m still figuring that out, and it’s cool with me if it changes over time. Clothes are just another way to be creative. At my core, I’m a jeans and tshirt kinda gal. But I love the feeling I get when I wear a suit jacket. A nice, well fitting blazer makes me feel like a badass.

Still, I have clothes in my closet that I never wear too. Specifically, two leather jackets. So when I thought about the Try Day challenge, I knew I had to incorporate one of them. Another look I love is denim on denim, but since I don’t live on a ranch and professionally rope cattle, I wasn’t sure I could rock that style either. So, there was my challenge. Wear denim on denim with a leather jacket, and rock it.

IMG_3500I styled my look with things that I loved, and paired them with things I wanted to try. I wore dark denim skinny jeans with a lighter denim shirt. I scrunched up my socks on the outside of my boots (because 80s girl). I threw on a leather jacket, a scarf, and some teardrop earrings and went out with the hubs.

I loved my look and felt good in it (until we went outside, because this outfit is not winter weather appropriate for Wisconsin, but hey it’s called a “challenge” for a reason, right?) All wind advisories aside, I loved doing something that pushed me to try a new look. We could all do with a little more self confidence and creativity, don’t you think?

What items are hiding in your closet, begging to spend a night out?

My Reigning Days as Miss Midwest Afro Queen

When talking about a girl’s body image, you have to go back. Waaaaaay back. All the way to the early years. Because a child will remember if people noticed her and whether they said nice things or a plethora of backhanded compliments. You know the ones.

Oh she’s as skinny as a beanpole!”

WHAT THE HELL IS A BEANPOLE???

She eats just like a bird!”

THAT’S CAUSE YOUR EGG SALAD HAS SHELLS IN IT, LADY!

Thankfully what I remember hearing is comments about my hair. I had long strawberry blonde hair and strangers would often comment to me or my mother how beautiful it was. They also commented occasionally on my freckles, which when you’re 6 are adorable. I can’t say the same at 28 because now I only have them on my arms and they’re called moles.

*le sigh*

Back to my hair. On nights before big school days, my mom would often braid my hair in two pigtails. Then one or both of my older brothers would grab hold of the braids, making motorcycle noises as they “drove” me screaming around the house.

The next morning, my mother would help me get dressed in some sort of skort or jumper, as that is all my closet consisted of. Then she would take out the braids and begin brushing my hair.

Then she would brush even more…

and brush just a little bit more…

until my hair was the equivalent of one of those static electricity balls you see at science fairs.

And that is why I held the title of Miss Midwest Afro Queen, circa 1991.

Exhibit A:

Afro Hair 1Exhibit B:

Afro Hair 2Exhibit C:

Afro Hair 3Exhibit Holy Friggin D:

Afro Hair 4Thank god there was no such thing as selfies then! My hair wouldn’t even fit in the shot!

 Afro Hair - close upI used Xpro II to make me look tan.
What do you think?

 Tell me your thoughts! What comments did you hear growing up?
What fashion choices make you happy instagram wasn’t around then?

Should my mother be allowed to touch anyone else’s hair?

I’m Enough: Learning Lessons From a Mirror That Talks Back

When you look in the mirror, how do you feel about yourself?

And we’re being  honest here.

Do you believe the only value it shows is what’s on the outside? Does the mirror, to you, amplify your flaws or acknowledge the human being that you are with phenomenal virtues inside and out?

Does the mirror reflect your worth?

This is the question that a group of women from Austen, TX came together to answer. But first, they started a band.

Their group is called The Mrs.

Unable to connect with the songs they were hearing on the radio, well past the years of the teenage heartbreak and club beats, they sought to create music inspired by their own lives as passionate – and busy – wives, mothers, and girlfriends.

The all-female rock band is comprised of drummer Andra Liemandt, lead vocalists/guitarists Mandy Prater and Jennifer Zavaleta, vocals/keyboardist Larissa Ness, and bassist Jenny Mason.

They wrote a song called ‘I’m Enough.’ And from that song, they gave birth to a movement.

They plastered stickers around every mirror and window they came across with messages like “You’re awesome,” “I’m Enough,” and “You’ve never looked better!” Then they took it a step further and concocted what some might dub ‘a magic mirror’, a talking mirror that surprised women all over the county.

At first glance, the mirror on the wall appears ordinary. When you walk up to it, all you see is your reflection.

And then a voice comes on.

That voice greets you, perhaps by name. That voice tells you you’re beautiful. That voice tells you you are loved. That voice tells you you’re enough.

*****

The Mrs. performed at BlogHer live on Saturday, and their talking mirror was in the vendor hall all weekend. My pal, August McLaughlin, and I got to experience the talking mirror firsthand before we even knew what it was!

I went up to it first. I put the headphones on and immediately this friendly voice greeted me, “Hi Jess! Look at that gorgeous red hair!”

MirrorAugust listening to the Talking Mirror

The person behind the mirror told me I was beautiful. She told me I had beautiful, clear skin.

I started crying.

I wasn’t making-a-scene-hysterical, I just genuinely teared up. I don’t tell myself my skin is beautiful.

As my 30th birthday gets closer, I’ve been battling some body dysmorphia. I wrote about it in To Conceal and Carry…My Muffin Top. Besides recent weight gain, I have trouble with adult acne. It began as “teenage” acne, then “college” acne, and morphed into adulthood “I’ve paid thousands of dollars on skincare and make-up” acne. I know my skin has changed and that it has improved. But when I look in the mirror, I see only the bumps, the redness, the scarring.

I knew my attacks on myself were really bad when I nonchalantly made the comment to my sister, “You know how people sometimes ask you ‘If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be?’ Well, mine would be clear skin. That’s all I want. CLEAR skin!”

I immediately felt hurt when I said it. Hurt by my OWN words. I had always been the girl who wanted to fly. How had I let myself get so stuck?

Even on my wedding day, my biggest fear was my face. Not the hundreds of dollars we paid in legal paperwork for an international wedding, or traveling to a foreign country with my wedding dress, or that Joe had not written his vows until the day of (he actually had, but was messing with me for fun). No, I was freaking out over my face. I wanted perfect skin for my wedding day, and that was the one thing beyond my grasp.

I started a mantra, “This day is not about my face. This day is not about my face.” And I said it every morning as I put my make up on for that whole week before our wedding.

So yah. I started crying when the woman behind the mirror told me I had clear skin. And then she told me my writing mattered. That my words brought joy and laughter and insight to others. And I felt – this may sound silly – but I felt like I sprouted wings. Little baby wings that flapped and triggered my brain to say “Go after your dreams.”

She's Enough

And remember I’m enough.

Do you need to be reminded?

Follow more of the movement on Twitter using the hashtag #ImEnough.

 

 

 

To Conceal and Carry…My Muffin Top, That Is

Flickr Creative Commons - Smileycreek

Flickr Creative Commons – Smileycreek

I’m making a confession today. I have a muffin top.

*phew* There, I said it.

I feel better now.

It started about a year ago when I quit my job. Don’t get me wrong, that is STILL the best decision I ever made. But I didn’t account for what would happen while transitioning from a 50-60 hour job where I was on my feet doing laps inside a mall…to sitting at a computer working, then coming home to…sit at a computer writing.

My diet habits changed drastically. While in retail, I worked so many hours and had interrupted breaks that I didn’t eat much at all for the 9-10 hour days I was there. But sitting at either my work desk or home desk, both conveniently right next to the kitchen…it’s a lot easier to snack throughout the day.

Without working out to balance my new lifestyle, my weight has fluctuated between 4-12 pounds in the past year. Now, I’m a rational person, and on a scale, that still has me at a perfectly normal and healthy weight for someone my size.

The problem is that it all sits on my middle.

I’m only 5’2″. I need all the length I can get, so adding width to my torso, not only isn’t working with my current wardrobe, but it’s affecting my self esteem.

Congratulations-Its-a-BurgerI might have been able to nip the weight gain in the butt tummy, if all I had to do this summer was lose a couple pounds. But I’m planning a wedding! And I’m on deadline to submit my book to potential agents.

My downfall has been that I want to go work out, but then I feel guilty that I’m not writing or working on wedding stuff, so I go home, but then I’m so stressed out I don’t know where to start and I end up moping around and wallowing the night away, making poor food choices on top it.

It’s tough to admit I’m still in transition. A whole year later and I haven’t magically “figured it all out.” As women, we grow up believing that on our wedding day we’re going to be the most beautiful woman in the room.

But I don’t feel beautiful.

All I see right now are my flaws. When I look in the mirror, I see my gut protruding over my pants and I see blemishes on my face.

And it makes me so sad and angry.

Sad, because I know deep down I’m pretty. And I hear my fiance tell me so. But I don’t listen, and worse, I’ve started countering him by pointing out my flaws.

Angry, because I have a degree in women’s gender and sexuality studies, so I know I’m suffering from body dysmorphia and yet, I don’t know how to turn that off.

But requiring two people to zip you into your wedding dress is a sure-fire way to put that doubt into hyperdrive.

I am a perfectly healthy and talented woman. But I’m struggling with doubt.

I am really struggling with doubt right now.

Is it just me? Is it the wedding? Is it the looming date of my 30th birthday and saying goodbye to the resilient body I had when things were good and I was still 25?

Is it potato chips? I have a hard time saying no to potato chips.

And what about society’s role in all this? My low body image issues have made me angry at society. Why have we invested so much energy into praising women for their looks rather than their brains? Why are more pages in women’s magazines filled with products for me to buy that will change my appearance “for the better” than there are articles about women making real strides for gender equality?

Aren’t we doing ourselves a disservice? Why does something as small as 4 pounds make a woman question her worth? Imagine if we spent half as much time renovating our education or health systems as we did staring in mirrors, avoiding mirrors, picking at our faces, being insulted by cat-calls, being insulted at our lack of cat calls, and only wearing open-toed shoes when our toenails are properly painted?!

We’d have solved the fucking issues by now! But instead, if you’re like me, or if you’ve been there before, we are too busy concealing that extra bit of weight we’ve gained.

 ~Sincerely, Miffed and Muffin-topped,

Jess

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty of a Woman Blogfest: 1 Billion Rising

Happy Beauty of a Woman Blogfest Day!

Today, women and men of all ages are posting around the country on the topics of women’s beauty and sexuality. It’s a celebration of what each individual connects with, be it their favorite body part, a life changing epiphany, a female mentor they have, their desires for the future, and more!

The blogfest’s creator is August McLaughlin, a writer, dear friend, and founder of the #GirlBoner movement – in which she blogs and hosts a radio show surrounding women’s sexuality.

She’s amazing. You can follow her on Twitter @AugstMcLaughlin or check out the conversations around Girl Boner or Beauty of a Woman at the following hashtags: #GirlBoner & #BOAW3.

You can read all of the posts in the Beauty of a Woman blogfest by clicking here and seeing the full list of participants on August’s blog! Guest bloggers and readers are eligible to win gift card prizes between $5 and $50!

For my part in the blogfest, I wanted to share with you a movement called 1 Billion Rising that I’ve been involved with. It stands for 1 Billion Rising for Justice, and it’s partnered with the V-Day organization. The V-Day organization was started by author and playwright, Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues. As a women’s studies minor in college, I took part in the annual Monolgues show to raise money for our local women’s shelter every Valentine’s weekend.

The goals of both V-Day and 1 Billion Rising are to end violence against women. Now, every February 14th, these organizations host events for victims of violence and those who support them to gather in public spaces and seek justice. The events include everything from meeting with city officials to the more emotional release of artwork and dance.

This year 1 Billion Rising is also hosting a challenge on Instagram. Using the hashtag #instaRISE, they’re calling for photos that demonstrate your inner activist – showing off the quotes, body parts, artwork, dance moves, friendships, and more so the movement keeps on rising!

It’s not to late to get involved!

Here is the #instaRISE photo challenge:

instaRISE

For this year’s Beauty of a Woman blogfest, I thought I’d share my #instaRISE photos because being a part of a national movement that celebrates women and stands up against violence is important – and beautiful – to me!

Day 1: Justice – Show off your inner activist! – We sold these t-shirts when I president of the Women’s Studies Student Association in college. 

feminism

Day 2: JustSPEAK – Share a phrase that inspires you. – Adrienne Rich’s collection of poems, The Fact of a Doorframe, was my Bible for years. 

Adrienne Rich quoteDay 3: My Short Skirt (from The Vagina Monologues story, My Short Skirt)

My Short Skirt

Day 4: V-Day – Show off your Rebel Red

rebel red

Day 5: V-Girls – Power Pink – A shade for every mood you’re in: sophisticated, flirty, sporty, confident, girlie?

perfume

Day 6: JustUs – Friends – Me with the cast of The Vagina Monologues, 2006 – I performed ‘The Vagina Workshop’ which is one of my favorite stories.

vagina monologues

Day 7: JustMe – Selfie

Rise

Your turn! Get involved! Today’s post is JustBe – a shot of outdoors.
Share your own #instaRISE photos; I’d love to see them! You can connect with me on Instagram here or twitter: @jesswitkins.

And don’t forget to check out the other Beauty of a Woman blog posts!
What makes you feel beautiful?

I Might Need An Intervention: When Brand Loyalty Becomes a Problem

Hey Friends!  I’m beyond thrilled to welcome my special guilty pleasures guest today for her debut on the Happiness Project!  Please give a warm welcome to Renee Schuls-Jacobson and her guilty obsession with HAIR! 

*****

Since the 8th grade, I have had a love-hate relationship with my hair.  I love being able to hop out of the shower and just towel off and go, but I never feel I really look polished enough when it counts.

Over the years, I have stretched and pulled, given myself deep conditioning treatments and slept in bandanas: each curl pressed flat and curing overnight in V-05 in an attempt to give myself straight, swingy hair: the kind of hair I always saw girls toss across their shoulders and catch in one hand before they laid down on their towels in their bikinis. I wanted Farah Fawcett’s hair. Or the hair from the “Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific” commercials.

Instead, I got long, curly hair that morphed into a frizzy pyramid if combed or touched. The rules were clear. Never touch my hair once it dried.

Seriously, sometimes it looks like this!

Seriously, sometimes it looks like this!

I’ve posted pictures of myself on my blog.

Usually, I am wearing a hat.

But occasionally I have shared other photos. Confession: these pix were usually taken immediately after I saw Michael, my hair guy. Because Michael knows how to make my hair behave. But I can only afford to look like a glamour-girl once every nine weeks.

The rest of the time, I’m on my own.

Many years ago I fell in love with a hair care product. You know the good ones? The ones that are on the top shelf? Or at eye-level? Yeah. Well, now drop your eyes about two shelves down.

Now go lower.

My senior year in high school, I discovered paradise in an aerosol can. In 1985, a magical white foam gave my hair manageability. After just two {maybe three} dollops, my hair was perfect. And by perfect, I mean it did not move. Sometimes my hair was crunchy. I didn’t care. It never frizzed again.

A few months back, I noticed my mousse had been out of stock for a while.

Eventually, I got jittery and decided to inquire.

“I don’t think we’re getting that brand anymore,” replied a heavy-set woman at the front desk, her hair knitted into tight braids.

Hurrying home, I parked myself in front of the computer, prepared to conduct my own Internet search.

By then, I was getting low on my stuff.

I found my junk mousse at drugstore.com marked with a red asterisk.

I scrolled down to figure out what that bit of red meant.

Ohmyholyno.

I didn’t think it could happen again. They did this to me in the 1970s with “Pink Lilac in Love” fingernail polish. It was the best color in the whole world. Don’t even try to Google it. It won’t come up. It isn’t even on Wikipedia. But I remember when my favorite color disappeared. You know what happened? I stopped wearing nail polish.

Years later, Gabriel Cosmetics discontinued their ZuZu Luxe lipstick in Uber. You guys, I bought the last 10 tubes; that’s how much I loved that stuff. I rationed carefully so as to make sure I had one tube left to use for my son’s bar mitzvah back in June of 2012. I have long since finished that tube and continue to search for the right lip color. I haven’t found it. Not yet.

But we are talking about hair now. How could they discontinue my mousse? I actually made an appeal to the makers of Condition 3-in-1 Maximum Hold Mousse. I begged them. Please, I’ve been using it for 30 years.

Please, don’t screw with my mousse.

I was instructed to purchase as many cans as I could afford.

I ordered 20 cans. And then I ordered 20 more. When my friend came up to visit from Florida, she brought me another 10 cans. Can you imagine? She checked a bag filled with mousse for me, you guys. Because she has a curly-haired daughter, and she understood my plight. She knows I have tried eleventy-three skillion other brands and that nothing else works.

So it’s official: this former clutter consultant is now a hoarder.

IMG_0860

About 47 more to go. Is that wrong?

I plan to hold onto my remaining bottles of mousse for as long as possible because I have yet to find an alternative.

And here’s the worst thing. I kill about two cans of this stuff a month. That’s 24 cans a year. I’ve got two years’ worth of product stashed here.

Unless the chemicals inside break down, which I’m told, they might.

It’s looking grim, people.

Eventually, the jig is going to be up.

And then where will I be?

Why do manufacturers do this to us? Make us fall in love with their products and then discontinue them?

What items have you loved and lost? And seriously, if any of you curly-girlies out there have suggestions about what to do about my impending frizz, please let me know.

• • •

Catch more of Renee on these Social Media Sites!  She’s one of my favorite writers to stalk follow!  I heart you, Renee!  Thanks for being a part of the Happiness Project!

@rasjacobson –  on Twitter

Blog: http://rasjacobson.com

What Makes a Woman REDHOT?

Hi Everyone!  It’s another episode of The Redhots, and we have something a little different in store for you!  First, I must sadly say I’m flying solo this month because Shhh – Marcia’s writing/sleeping/writing/sleeping!  She’ll be back next month and we have a FABULOUS blog planned for you all!

So this month, I teamed up with the endearing August McLaughlin for her

Beauty of a Woman Blogfest! 

Since I believe we all need a little REDHOTness in our lives, I challenged several of my favorite bloggers to share their thoughts on What makes a woman REDHOT?  Here’s what they had to say!

I’ve spent a great deal of time in the fashion world and can’t tell you how many of the so-called hottest women around are tepid, sad or apathetic on the inside. We feel and appear hotter when we pursue our passions. When we do what we love and go after it with gusto, our hotness grows and radiates outward, making us feel and appear more attractive. We can’t diet, stylize, fake or buy our way into that kind of beauty—a great thing, in my opinion. – August McLaughlin

Independence.  A woman who can stand on her own two feet AND stand her ground when the situation calls for it makes her Redhot in my mind.  Or at least that’s what I tell myself since I tend to have a very outspoken and stubborn personality. 🙂Tiffany White

A RedHot woman has confidence in her talent, the courage to take risks, and compassion for others in need.  – Jolyse Barnett

Then I asked the guys to way in!  Cause wouldn’t every woman want to the ability to read a guy’s take on beauty?!

Redhot sexy is a gleam of clever intelligence in the eyes. It is an aura of self-confidence rippling out from a woman like voluminous silken robes. Physical appearance is but an accessory, accentuating the true Redhot woman’s inner luminescence.Gene Lempp

There are many traits that make a woman redhot, but none of them have to do with physical beauty. There’s intelligence (smart is sexy!) and self-confidence and a great sense of humor. The ability to laugh at yourself and never take life too seriously. Practicing joie de vivre each and every day, without even thinking about it! Not surprisingly, these are all traits that my fiancee possesses – and she is the hottest woman I know!Mark Petruska

To me a Redhot Woman is someone who knows her own mind, embraces her humanity/success and failure, practices compassion, and never ever wants to stop learning. I was reading something recently about the double standard women face when it comes to “natural beauty” e.g. look beautiful but make it look effortless, and it got me to thinking that beauty is really in the eye of the holder. A woman that can answer the question of what makes her beautiful in a meaningful way is as Redhot as it gets. Oh and weird, too. Weird people are great.Joe Cardillo

In terms of looks, I think the fashion magazines have it wrong. It’s not being stick thin that makes anyone hot, but muscle tone (and I’m not thinking body builders here!). I know plenty of women who aren’t stick thin but are very beautiful because of this. The other thing is confidence. Confidence and the willingness to work at things (get your mind out of the gutter at this point) makes all the difference.Nigel Blackwell

Thanks everyone for weighing in!  What do I think?

I think a woman’s sexiest attribute is her ability to laugh!  To laugh with one’s gut, to be ok with laughing at oneself, and to always, always laugh with one’s friends! 

How would I sum up what makes a woman REDHOT and beautiful?

Women wish to be loved not because they are pretty, or good, or well bred, or graceful, or intelligent, But because they are themselves.

What are your thoughts?  What do you think makes a woman REDHOT?  Who’s the most beautiful woman you know?  

And be sure to click over to August’s blog on Friday where she’ll have all the Beauty of a Woman blog posts linked up and ready to read!!!  Thanks August for hosting this fun blog hop!

Redhots

The Things We Do For Beauty

For this Guilty Pleasures Friday, I was inspired by the most unusual of things.  Beauty phenomenons.  Um, have you all heard of the “Bagel Head” beauty craze of Japan?

Beware:  this video might gross you out.

Is that not the craziest thing you’ve ever seen tagged as a beauty craze???

I’m beyond words to describe how that makes me feel.  I find it waaaaaaay stranger than the flesh-eating fish trend that swept so many countries just a few years ago.  Yah, remember that?

We have a lot of different ways of expressing ourselves.  Tattoos, piercings, scars, dyed hair, shaved hair, make up galore!

What beauty extremes are you willing to go to?  Tell me your craziest spa stories, the most expensive beauty product you’ve agreed to buy, your fantasy luxury that’s all about looks?

I’ll share you with you one of my most unique experiences in return!

The Jimjilbang:  AKA Korean Bathhouse

Though I did get a smidge lost on my way there, I eventually found the Dragon Hill Spa, located just off the train station depot in Seoul, South Korea.  It’s the largest bath house in Seoul, entertaining and relaxing up to 4,000 people a day on the weekends!  Check it out, it’s insanely large and gorgeous and strange all at once!

So the jimjilbang is a combination spa, sauna, salon, arcade, cafeteria, and lounge!  No joke, it has it all.  You enter, pick up your spa shorts and t-shirt and are released into this magical playland of relaxation and fun.  The jimjilbang, which translates roughly as “steam bath house”, has one large hang out room where several saunas are located, TVs, lounge chairs, a manicure station, and this is just off the cafeteria where you can recharge after sweating out your toxins.

Dragon Hill Spa
(image courtesy cptravelblog – Creative Commons)

The upstairs is the actual bathhouse, and by riding the appropriately gender labeled elevator, you’ll reach the locker room.  From there on all ages are in their birthday suits!  The bath house section has a ton of different pools, different temperatures, minerals, etc.

I was informed by a friend that if I was going to experience the jimjilbang, I had to get a scrub down by the ajummas.  An ajumma is an older korean woman.  So I found a sign in english, or mostly readable konglish, and selected what I thought was an exfoliating massage sans placenta, which was an option…

Ok, so I’m naked, hanging out with this ajumma who strips herself of her housecoat and is walking around in her bra and panties.  She puts on these rubber mitts, and uses them to exfoliate everywhere, and I mean everywhere, on my body.  It’s actually kind of gross how much dead skin these mitts get off you!  After I was de-skinned, I showered again, and came back for a massage that involved the ajumma climbing on top of me and beating and slapping my back and limbs!  After she pounded all my muscles, she’d work her magic fingers on all my knots.  With warm towels all over my body, she put some kind of green mask on my face and then shampooed my hair.

I left feeling so good!  It was a totally different experience than anything I’d ever tried, but it was great.  In fact, it was so relaxing (despite the few stares at being the only white person there – *shrug*), it’s one of the things I miss most about Korea.

And then THIS happened…

The youtube video that has swept our nation, Gangnam Style, found its way to my laptop thanks a very dear friend, and in my giddy excitement I demanded that my Korean friend, Lin, tell me what it means!

Turns out, it’s all about being super trendy!

Take it away, Lin!

Gangnam, the name of a specific district in Seoul, is considered the most trendy, chic and rich area here in Korea. So, if someone says he/she is (in) Gangnam style, that means he/she thinks that himself/herself is a sort of trendy, fashionable, or cool person. (Kinda ridiculous actually..)

In the music video, he first describes the typical behaviors of Gangnam style women, then, with some hilarious lyrics, behavior and dances that don’t look that stylish, he sarcastically declares that he is also in Gangnam style.

‘Oppa’ is originally the appellation a woman calls her elder brother, but, it’s generally used for women to call their older male friends as well. Like, Naomi sometimes called me ‘Lin Oppa’. Especially when she was drunk. 🙂

Guys also use the word to call themselves when they talk to their younger female friends, especially kinda greasily.

“Oppa (is in) Gangnam style” ==> yup, the singer is calling himself ‘oppa’ to ‘sexy Gangnam style ladies’ and telling them he is cool or sexy as well.

IT ALL MAKES SO MUCH SENSE NOW!

And Lin is completely awesome, so he also sent me the link to this video which translates the whole song.  He said it may not be a perfect translation, but it’s pretty close.  Thanks, Lin!  #YouRock

Have you had the pleasure of viewing this guilty pleasure dance video yet?  What do you think about Gangnam style?  Think it speaks to the lengths we’ll go for beauty and trends?

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