As 2017 rolled into 2018, I found I had two modes of operation — angrily scanning the news and writing political screeds or binge-watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
Psychologists will tell you that the human mind isn’t able to spend 100% of the time focused on subjects that cause us misery.
That’s why you’ll be in the throes of grief but find your mind wandering to more mundane, or even pleasant topics. You’ll crash back into reality and wonder how you could have forgotten your pain long enough to ponder what color curtains to buy for the guest bathroom, but you somehow did. It’s probably some evolutionary pressure release valve that forces us to hide from our problems long enough that they don’t overwhelm us.
2017 was one big problem. Ever since the 2016 election, those of us who consider ourselves part of the resistance have been bombarded with all of the worst kinds of news imaginable. I’m not going to recap any of it here because…I don’t wanna. I don’t want to think about. I need to hit my pressure release valve and think about something else entirely. What I knew was I needed a new escape in 2018.
I don’t know what you escape into when you’re overwhelmed these days, but for me? It’s makeup.
That’s where the Kardashian binges come in.
In fact, I sometimes joke that I want to move to the Land of Kardashia, an alternate reality where everything is light and pretty, and we’re all free to linger in our walk-in closets and consider the merits of these shoes or those sunglasses. I like the idea of a world where designing the packaging for a line of eyeshadow is a serious issue. I want to devote time to thinking about colors and shapes and how to make things more beautiful.
(This is not to say these are the only things the Kardashian family thinks about — mad props to them for giving airtime on their show to groups like Planned Parenthood and Everytown this season!)
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The pursuit of beauty, for ourselves or our surroundings, is sometimes dismissed as vanity or shallowness but I consider it a valuable facet of self-care. In the same way exercise is a mood lifter, putting on a pretty shade of lipstick can bring me a smile. An occasional break to watch makeup videos or read articles about which drugstore brands are basically duplicates of high-end label products gives me a much-needed breather from the stresses of both my regular and political lives.
The ritual of sitting at my makeup table and swiping on mascara and blush is one that centers me a little for the day ahead. It’s like I go into a quiet bubble for a few moments and prepare the face to meet the faces that I meet, as TS Elliot would say. I find that time calming and just indulgent enough that I don’t begrudge the physical and emotional energy that I’ll spend on the world at large. Sure, there’s a new dumpster fire around every corner, but at least my eyebrows are on fleek.
And this is not a habit that’s going anywhere. I’ve been taking such pleasure from paying attention to beauty trends that I’m going to continue to up my game all year. Stick with what works, you know?
For starters, I’ve subscribed to some cool beauty podcasts.
I’m a big fan of Fat Mascara, which features two magazine beauty editors chatting with pros in the beauty field about whats hot and new. I also enjoy listening to Full Coverage, a podcast hosted by an author and a makeup artist. Both of them are British which makes me feel awfully posh.
I’m also dabbling in subscription boxes.
I like to scan My Subscription Addiction for deals and coupons on boxes of beauty products. There’s something so exciting about getting a pretty little box filled with samples of skincare and makeup. I even found one that makes you a custom fragrance. Hello! Yummy smells please and thank you! Subscription boxes come at all price points and you can easily cancel if you end up not liking them. It’s a fun way to treat yourself to a surprise.
Facebook groups are another way I get my beauty fix without having to drop major money.
I love talking hair and makeup online. It’s like living in the comments section of the Sephora website. You can get feedback on products in real time from people who have already tried them out. Lots of times people post pictures and videos of themselves trying out new products or techniques so you can see how it all works when regular people are using it, as opposed to models and pro makeup artists.
Giving yourself over to constant despair won’t save the world or feed your spirit. We all need our moments of pure pleasure, be that watching kitten videos or learning how to do a perfect cat-eye flick with eyeliner. Take a little vacation to your own personal Land of Kardashia. You deserve the break.