Monday, July 28, 2008

Consumerism and the Beauty "Ideal"

This post came about for two reasons. First, I was looking to reduce my clutter for the Happy to Be at Home challenge, End '08 Great. July has been "Conquer the Clutter" month, and I've been slowly weeding out a lot of things that I don't use and don't need and are simply taking up space in my home.

The second reason I'm writing this entry is because I was on Crunchy Chicken's blog the other day and she had written an entry about the fighting the beauty ideal in our country/world. There is constant pressure for us as women (and men, too) to keep up with beauty trends, believing if we just get that one perfect lipstick, shampoo, perfume, etc., then we will be as beautiful and successful as the movie stars.

I'm afraid I fall into that trap in a big way. My main addiction is make up. I don't even wear that much compared to the rest of my So-Cal counterparts, but for some reason I buy and hoard all types of creams, powders, pots, tubes, pencils, glosses, and glitters in order to make up my face.

This pile is just my lipsticks!

(I'll spare you the rest of my consumer stockpile.)

After looking on a website called Skin Deep which gives the ingredients and toxicity of the different cosmetics and skin care products on the market, I decided it was time to clean up my act (and conquer my clutter). On the site, I found that many beauty aides contain ingredients that are possible human carcinogens and even linked to neurotoxicity and cancer.

(Some were even found with BHA, a fragrance additive that is in violation of government restrictions - "Banned or found unsafe for use in cosmetics." A lot of bad things have to do with fragrances, which I used to love in my beauty products, but no more.)

In order to reduce the chemicals I'm putting on my body (as well as in the environment), I've been slowly trying to phase out my beauty products. I've already done away with shampoo, and am working on eliminating conditioner as well. I make my own deodorant, and use only coconut oil as moisturizer and lotion. Make up being my big hang up, I'm taking it little by little. With just my lip products, I found I had more lip balm than I will ever need in this lifetime:

And even when I get cold sores, I still don't need this much:

I'll probably keep the abreva though, because it's $17 a pop. Can you believe how much I (and countless other women) spend on products?! Just my make-up box alone has hundreds of dollars worth of crap stuff in it.

Okay, moving on to the lipsticks. Do I really need seven lipsticks that are the exact same shade? And the red one on the end didn't even look good on me when I tried it on in the store. Why am I keeping it around?

Don't even get me started on my lip glosses.

I told you it was bad. This is even after I'd already weeded some out before the End '08 Great challenge started. I finally pared it down to this small drawer:

Still a lot more than I "need," but I'm working on my addiction, people. Baby steps.

I felt bad throwing away hardly-used products, especially if someone else might be able to use them. I contacted my city's clothes closet/donation station and talked with a woman there who works with our homeless population. I asked her if there was a need for beauty products, and she was very happy to hear that I have a ton of stuff to donate. I can clean and sanitize most of my makeup, which can go to women looking to dress professionally for interviews, etc.

Much of my beauty/makeup stuff I will continue to use until they run out, and then search for less toxic replacements. I do feel much better now that I've gone through and uncluttered so much of my beauty regimen. Not only do I feel better about having a cleaner space, but also I feel better about what I'm putting on (or not putting on) my body.

Oh, and one other added bonus: While I was cleaning underneath my bathroom vanity and putting my products in order, I found an escapee. The boys weren't with us this weekend, which is why her absence went unnoticed for so long.

Fat Girl (so named by the boys because she eats so much), is a red-eared slider who resides in the boys' bedroom.

Right here she is sulking because I put her back in her tank:

We had to put a temporary weight on top of the tank until we figure out a better solution:

I'm surprised she was able to make it off the bookshelf without hurting herself. (A friend who saw this picture laughed at the "BUTT" book. It's The Day My Butt Went Psycho, which I mentioned in a previous post. I'm reading it to the boys in order to get them more interested in reading. They love it so far.) I'm glad she's back in her tank, safe and sound. I have no idea how long she'd be behind all my stuff if I hadn't been clearing it out.

For more stories about conquering clutter, head on over to Happy to Be @ Home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I randomly ended up on your blog thorugh a google picture search somehow, and I know you'll probably never read this comment, because this post is from all the way in july...but I'd just thought I'd mention something...

I think the reason your turtle is sneaking out of it's tank so often is because it can't stand it in there! Really that size of a turtle should be in a bigger tank, or at least a longer one. The water is a bit to high. You have to have some space for the turtle to come out of the water and bask in the light, and something for it to bask on.

Anyways, it's not that big of a deal, I'd just thought I'd mention it.