On Feminism, Social Justice and Beauty Standards

TW: This entry may inadvertantly sound racist, sexist, or discriminatory in some way because I’m trying to talk about a sensitive topic. Please skip this if you are a regular reader of my beauty articles.

Recently, many people have been discussing social justice and feminism. Slogans ranging from Black Lives Matter, to All Lives Matter, to Men Going Their Own Way, have been ranging throughout the country. I’ve heard criticism of beauty standards ranging from stating that a certain ideal of beauty is Eurocentric, to stating that it’s patriarchal, and more.

On the surface, I support feminism and the modern anti-racist movement. There are things that I understand as a minority woman. There are also things I am learning to understand and be an ally about, such as gay rights, disability rights and socioeconomic class issues. I am upper middle class, raised secular and speak standard English, however a lot of people around here do not have these privileges.

But on a deeper level, there is a lot of anger and pain in the SJW movement. Many people in the feminist movement make statements that are fraught with other issues. For example, I have heard “Asian and Hispanic men are (more sexist) than White Anglo men”, but also that Asian men are “beta males”, immigrant families are “super strict to where it’s detrimental”.

This sounds like a put-down toward men from other cultures, more than an accurate statement, since there are aspects in which Eastern cultures are more advanced in gender equality. For example China and India have a higher percentage of women in engineering than the US. Moreover, some people who only know of their heritage from hearsay (the author Amy Tan is a big example) perpetuate these myths.

Beauty Standards (Allegedly Eurocentric and Patriarchal) and This Blog 

People also ask me: how can you say you are a feminist, pro social justice, when you adhere to Eurocentric (blonde and red hair) and patriarchal (booty enhancing exercises) beauty standards instead of just the ones that originate from your heritage (such as fair skin, v-shape face, certain nose and eye shapes), or are not explicitly sexualized (like sleek and professional clothes)?

Aren’t you selling out women of color by buying into the idea that blonde hair extensions and colored contacts are hot, instead of expressing your creativity through say, a purple buzz cut? Aren’t you selling out musicians by buying into a sexualized image of female musicians so that you are not taken seriously? Aren’t you attention whoring by trying to appear sexy to men which disrespects your relationship, even though you do not typically date white men, but you are buying into what they consider hot?

Consider the business suit. Sure it’s a sexist, Anglocentric construct. However, you put on a business suit because you want to convey a certain image whether you’re black or white, a man or a woman. That image is one of professionalism, it doesn’t matter where it comes from, if you want your idea to get out there you want to dress a certain way. In my mind it’s the same in terms of the arts. Certain hairstyles and a sexy image are part of presenting yourself as an artist, and to me, going on stage and having a purple buzz cut, not being in shape, etc is okay but it’s not as professional.

People are going to look at the entire artist in a performance, and some of the audience is going to pay more attention to the music if the artist is sexy. They are not going to look for a redefinition of sexy, people who do not fit into the beauty standard are not going to get as many chances because the idea of “hot” is defined for most people at the subconscious level. Some of the easiest things to change about your image are your weight, your hair, and skin texture. These are the things that I focus on in this blog. That is not to say that people who do not fit the image aren’t able to make it, but it’s much more difficult. Even if you can’t lose the weight due to biology, you can still get a favorable hair cut and color, wear makeup or wear waist trainers in order to look slimmer.

To me, beauty standards are not a tool of oppression but a tool that an average person can use to work with in order to improve his or her lot in life. Also, not all beauty standards are sexist since many of them apply to men, such as muscularity, low bodyfat and tan skin (West) / fair skin (Asia). If someone says to me, you can’t use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house, to me it’s not about using the master’s tools but becoming the master. Moreover I do not feel that minorities are so disadvantaged that the only way to become successful is to “fight the power” or that some “power” is keeping people down en masse.

When you’re talking about white discrimination against POC, such a thing only applies when a majority of power players in society are WASPs which is increasingly not the case. If you are for example African American, and a CEO, and you wear a suit to become an executive, and use that as a platform to speak out against discrimination, you contribute more to taking down racism in the US and therefore worldwide, than if you wear Afrocentric clothes, move to Africa or even go the other way and dress punk-rock with a purple buzz cut.

The Schizophrenia of Capitalism 

A quote jumped out at me today from a feminist site: “private property is violence”. I recognize this from Soviet communism, a historical phenomenon. I do not see this as really relevant to either women’s or minorities’ rights. In fact, I see it as a direct attack upon minorities, who tend to be small-business owners. But upon closer inspection, I do see a point to it.

On this page I encourage readers to use products like Retin-A, hydroquinone and corticosteroids. These products are technically heavily regulated in the US, but are sometimes available at stores geared toward people who don’t necessarily adhere to US norms. Beauty lines such as L’Abidjanaise and La Bamakoise, whose names evidence their international origin, contain these ingredients.

I understand that the reason people technically need to buy these products through a doctor is because they can cause skin damage when used in the long-run, and Retin-A should not be used in pregnancy. But the problem is that if you want to get (Triluma) by prescription, it’s not covered by health care plans and they can charge you much more for it. However, L’Abidjanaise costs $3 at the hair store. Moreover, if you want to get rid of spots on your face there is no reason to seek the services of a doctor.

To me this is schizophrenic capitalism. Who is shamed for their choices? Working class women of color who buy “dodgy African fade creams”. Who is seen as legit? High income, usually older women who buy “legitimate pharmaceutical products”. When in fact they’re pretty much the same.

Men’s and Women’s Roles in the Mating Market

When it comes to the feminist and MRA movements originating from men’s and women’s roles in the mating market, I have to kind of step back here because I have no pony in this race. As an Asian woman I am about as much of a stakeholder in Anglo-Scandinavian gender relations as an average white male is in discussions of black women’s hairstyling. A huge part of the roots of the feminist / MRA divide in the US was pretty much “baked-in” to much of Northwest European society by 1500 AD. It doesn’t apply to everyone but on a society-wide basis, it’s as deeply embedded as the filial concept in much of East Asia.

I don’t want to cause offense but if I say anything about this, I have a feeling that I’m going to be slotted into this “non-Western” box and held up on a pedestal that will worsen the discourse on gender in society in general. “Look at those Asians, Latins and Eastern Europeans, their women are women and their men are men! Unlike you *goes at each other’s throats once more*.

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Ultimately, the general idea of social justice is about learning about life, helping yourself, and helping others. It’s not about pushing others around. The truest, deepest social justice is about taking responsibility for your own life and moving forward in a meaningful, positive way.

Total body transformation

Right now, I’m looking at a lot of total body transformations and really liking what I see. Some of my body type goals are top glamour / pin up models such as Miracle Watts, Talia Shepard, Jenna Jameson, Yaya Han, Jessica Nigri, and Kim Kardashian circa 2005-2006. The thing is, they were all way younger than I was when they transformed, but they do look older in a way.

But going into my later 30s, I feel that this is more of a realistic body type for a mature woman than the “teen thin” image. The bone structure does change as you go into your 20s and 30s. Even if I am not a mom, I guess this is called a “cougar” or “milf” look.

After losing weight to BMI 16 / 17, I have begun to give up on achieving a body type that is considered a beauty standard in my Asian heritage and / or high fashion. It’s just not working. I can see ribs on the back of my body, but my rib cage is not getting any thinner. I look like a strange robot with big hip bones. Right now my body is a similar, if inferior type to Katy Perry, Dita Von Teese, or a bit smaller (butt) than Jennifer Lopez in the 90s. This is not considered to be curvy enough for the modern day where the booty or bust shape has to be very extreme to appeal to the public.

The Kate Moss look does not really work for me, due to the stockiness of my build. It’s not even a long torso and short leg issue; after losing weight I discovered that this isn’t actually true. I’m going to go in a bit of a different direction now with my fitness journey, and picked up some books on working the glutes and pecs. Keep up with the updates.

Current skincare stack, and thoughts on the world of hormones

My current skincare stack is for getting rid of residual acne scars and preventing acne. I am no longer in the active skin lightening game since I was able to fade out all dark marks, dark spots and dark elbow issues. The products I have marked with a * are only available on the internet where I live. Some of them are restricted where I live, for reasons I don’t want to go into here.

The rest of them are available at brick and mortar stores. The “Up and Up” line is available at Target and many of the beauty items are available at Beauty Supply stores.

AM:

Alternating: Biore Pore Scrub and Up & Up Oil Free Acne Wash

30% CE Ferulic serum by Beauty Everlasting  *

Up & Up Dual Effects Moisturizer 

Aziderm 20% Azelaic Acid *

Alternating: Bioderma Photoderm MAX Fluid SPF 50+ * and Yes to Cucumbers SPF 30+

Clarins Lift-Affine Visage Eye Cream or MyChelle Magnolia Fresh Eyes

Diane 35 pill *

 

PM:

Same facial wash as AM

Stridex Pad

Acnelyse 0.1% Tretinoin (Just upgraded from 0.05) *

Any generic V-Line Serum

Up & Up Dual Effects Moisturizer

FEG Bimatoprost Lash and Brow Serum *

Occasionally: IKB 4% Hydroquinone Gel or SkinLite (Triluma)

Occasionally: Malie Sheet Mask (assorted)

I just ordered Dalacin T (clindamycin) to use with the tretinoin. *

Starting in 2 months I will get a connection for Accutane 10mg. I will take 20mg every day. Since I am around 45kg that means I’ll take it for a year to get to my body weight rated dose. I am doing the low dosed method used in Asian cultures. I am also going to Tazret soon because it is stronger, and will reserve the Retin-A for my neck and other non acneic areas of the body.

For hair: Infusium 23 Color Protect mixed with Lottabody Setting Lotion and water, in a spray bottle before blow drying.

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HRT for Life with your Retin A? 

Much has been made about AndroGel and other forms of HRT for men. Guys all over the political and fitness websites are raving about ‘steroids’. Not the vast quantities that bodybuilders consume, but just enough to replace what goes down with age. They get warnings, and some of their products are illegal (like the “Gay Lube Oil” scandal) but it works. There’s also a local company, Cenegenics, run by guys like Jeffry Life (pictured in inset).

        Lately I’ve noticed that HRT and the birth control pill are similar. Angeliq is highly similar to Yasmin, just like Prefest and Activella are similar to other BCPs, and Vivelle Dot is similar to the patch. Low-dose Angeliq has 0.25 mg drsp and 0.5 mg of estrogen Yasmin has 2mg of drsp and 0.03 mg of estrogen. The only difference is that HRT has more estrogen to replace what goes down with age and BC is mainly progesterone, the pregnancy hormone.

Growing up in the ’90s, I read about many scandals regarding HRT brands such as Premarin allegedly causing breast cancer and other diseases. Moreover, I was disgusted to find out that Premarin stood for “Pregnant Mare Urine”. My mother did not take mainstream HRT as she went into her late 50s, due to this fear-mongering she stuck to traditional methods like dong quai.

I know that some of the herbs are horrible. When I took black cohosh to bring down my period I was warned that it was toxic to the liver.

Many other people have cut their HRT journeys short in favor of stuff like soy extractives which could actually be worse. But as I get older, I don’t know. I’m the first racetam user in my family. Intrepid people like Jeffry Life are taking HRT forever. We’re like, the first guinea pigs.

In a similar fashion, many people quit Retin-A after their teenage acne went away, only to use those ‘rosa mosqueta’ oils that proliferate in beauty supply stores. If they had stayed on Retin-A while taking breaks to have kids (since it affects both the sperm and the eggs) they might have been better off. The main problem, for most folks, is price.

With my sources, I can get Retin-A for a low price. But this is not considered legal where I live. Many people around here pay upwards of $80 for a bottle of R.A. Is this fair to every social class?

So I’m actually wondering – would it be possible for both men and women, under monitoring for cancer, running blood pressure meds, anti-DHT meds like propecia, and statins, to take HRT for life? I don’t know. There’s been talk of people using BCP for peri-menopause instead of stopping at a certain age and going to sterilization, which is the traditional way. Putting two and two together, it goes to follow that HRT use (similar to BC) is possible for life, regardless of your gender.

 

Waist Training

Today I’m going to see if the corset store is open so that I can get a waist training corset. The main thing I’m trying to do is reduce my floating ribs and rib cage in general because it looks abhorrent, like I have 4 boobs. Honestly, I should have started this in my 20s rather than my 30s but if wishes were fishes, we’d all have wings.

Right now my waist is 22-23 and I am trying to get a typical reduction. But I don’t really care about soft tissue morphology so much. It’s the bone that is the real problem, otherwise I’d stick to the stretchy waist trainers I grew up with as a fat kid which are now popularized by Kim Kardashian.

I don’t have a massive amount of fat protrusion anymore, my main concern is getting a vertical bellybutton while sitting down, which probably can’t be helped by any sort of girdle. I’m going to start with 18 hours a day then move up to 23. Also I’d like to improve my posture since it isn’t budging with my workout regimen.

Water pill and life after herb weirdness

So I started popping Diane-35 a few days ago, taking my blood pressure every day and making sure to pop piracetam on the regular. I got saw palmetto and maca out of my life and noticed an immediate difference, even though it’s supposed to build up in your system for a while. I started deflating, bloat went away and my pimples went down.

Especially the real painful ones that come with dry skin, which is messed up (pimples and dry skin). What’s weird is that these kinds of meds are supposed to raise your blood pressure, but it actually lowered mine. I didn’t get nausea or anything either. I took an herbal, uva ursi water pill just in case.

It has come to my attention that a lot of herbal pills have stronger effects than pharmaceutical ones. One of the most notorious ones is pueraria mirifica, which people take to increase the size of their chest / butt and, if you’re trans, to become more feminine. But saw palmetto is another one to watch out for. The thing is, these things cost way less than pharmaceutical pills and are easier to get, which is a major reason people use them.

Diane 35 is over the counter in most countries (for example Thailand) but it’s considered controlled in the US. This is bizarre to me and smacks of undue industry influence. I bet more people would take this stuff and have fewer issues if it were deregulated. They could sell you a finger prick test for genetic thrombophilias so that you don’t get a blood clot. For example Factor V Leiden, which is common among people of Anglo Saxon descent.

Journey into supplements and peels

I am going further on my journey toward clear skin. Having used Retin A and a variety of other products, I have ordered the following products which I have not used before in my stack. Right now I am still chicken shit about it. However, I had only known a few people who used Retin A and hydroquinone before, and nobody who used Latisse, yet these products are staples in my diet today.

– Diane 35 and Marvelon pills (I don’t know any Americans who use them, and I will be taking them with a blood pressure med because I’m almost 35 years old. I’ve never taken anything like this before, it’s not for sex, yes I know the stigma. Wish me luck.)

– Spironolactone

– Lactic Acid Peel Series (40 / 50 / 60), then glycolic and TCA series

– Making my own CEF serums and stuff like that, since I roll in it in the morning like a chinchilla rolls in dust

– Possibly adding Dermarolling in the future

My Journey toward Fitness

I might not talk about my fitness journey that much on this blog, which is focused on skincare. But I can fit two of me into the dress I wore to prom over a decade ago. This was achieved by eating between 600 and 1000 calories a day for the past 3 years. After dieting and exercising all my life, I came to the realization that 1200 /1500 calorie diets were not restrictive enough for people of all heights and bodytypes – and that excessive exercise can be counterproductive – as I unfortunately learned when I used to do weight training. Very low calorie diets can be healthy and lead to long lives.

Throughout my life, I’ve always had a major problem with personal discipline – insofar as I have very little of it. It has been a long, difficult haul. Coping with body hair and acne was bad enough; my eyebrows used to grow knit together in the middle and fan out toward the ends. But hearing about weight loss stuff like your set point, fixed number of fat cells, and feeling socially pressured to eat much starchy food from my heritage, created a psychological barrier that was difficult to surmount. Therefore my weight loss journey has also included spurious diet pills and cleanses, many of which do work to jump start fat loss .

My goal is the “taut, teenage” type of body as exemplified by celebs like Taylor Swift, Natalie Portman or FKA Twigs, not a more “adult” body since I can’t carry the hourglass look off without a waist trainer. This is a personal choice that I am making. Not an unrealistic one borne of beauty standards or attracting men. Even if my bust and hips may not get so small, that’s the kind of leg, arm and waist size that I am going for. After reaching a healthy adjusted BMI level, I still feel that I have a bit of bodyfat to remove. It was difficult to cope with being built different at a young age since my parents were ectomorphs.

One thing that continues to bother me is the loose skin situation. As I did not lose weight in earnest until after age 25, I have a significant amount of loose skin. I have mitigated some of it by using tretinoin on the affected area, but it’s still not enough. But this is a long journey. Just like my fight against acne, keloids, and hyperpigmentation took about a year and went above and beyond the usual treatments like Clean and Clear, standard skin whitening products in Asian beauty, and mainstream drugstore products, to the steroids and high strength hydroquinones.

This is going to be difficult, but it’s going to be worth it. Join me on this path toward fitness. Perhaps I’ll be able to wear a bikini next year, even.