Archive for the 'wedding' Category

is makeup good or bad for women’s self-esteem?

A version of this piece originally appeared on Daily Life, and I’m republishing here with some of the original parts. My editor wisely slimmed it down, because I am long-winded and the internet is a faced-paced place. But the awesome thing about a personal blog is that you can keep everything you like about your writing. 

The New York Times had a little debate about makeup recently. Essentially, the question posed went like this: “Is makeup good or bad for women’s self-esteem? Because it seems like it’s probably really important that women wear it all the time.” It’s not the first time this question has been raised in the mainstream media. Attempting to argue that women shouldn’t feel pressure to wear makeup, Thomas Matlack made the case that his wife is stunning without it. Because she’s just stunning. Slate thought this was a counterproductive and slightly obnoxious point, and I agree. Emphasizing that some women look “naturally gorgeous” without makeup isn’t exactly reassuring. Actually, it just feels like more pressure.

The idea of pure, natural beauty has this whiff of cruel competitiveness about it. Some women have “it”, others need makeup. And then we have this dichotomy, where some women “need” the help that makeup gives their faces, and some women, blessed by a God who is on the Victoria’s Secret mailing list, don’t.

If there’s such a dichotomy, then I know which side I fall on. I mean, I get the Victoria’s Secret catalogue, too (because no matter where you hide, it will find you). I am not a “natural beauty.” By which I mean, I would never be asked to play the love interest in a music video about a girl who doesn’t need makeup because she’s so beautiful. I mean, when I wake up in the morning, my face is puffy and weird and my eyes look squinty and confused, and my skin is sometimes cleverly unpredictable, like we’re playing some ongoing game called “Guess where the giant mutant pimple will turn up next?”

(I don’t think they’d want to play…source)

But I don’t wear makeup.

Not because of some defiant decision I made about embracing my inner earth goddess or accepting the hard, bare truth or something. Not because I’m making a political statement about equality and oppressive beauty standards. I just never learned how to do it.

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Kate on January 22nd 2013 in beauty, being different, wedding

stop judging my diamond ring, I already know I’m a bad rebel

I lost my engagement ring. I mean, really lost it. I haven’t seen it in a month, maybe more. I wish I was a robot and I could check my memory chip and replay all of my thoughts and actions, because then I would know exactly what happened, and I would also experience those amazing tortillas we got all over again. But maybe robots don’t like melted cheese as much as I do?


I looked under everything with a flashlight. My dad blamed the cat, but she maintains her innocence. I looked under everything again, with a different flashlight that seemed a little brighter. It was gross under everything and I didn’t want to reach in there, but I’m pretty sure there was no ring.

And I’m probably not supposed to say this, but I don’t miss it.

And at the same time, I definitely want it back.

And while I’m talking about my ring, I should say that I’m defensive only because people keep writing these pieces about how stupid it is to have a diamond engagement ring. How wasteful and bad and selfish and outmoded and generally super duper hugely lame. And also, you’re a bad feminist if you have one.

I didn’t want to get a diamond ring, for the record. Not originally. I wanted citrine. I love the color. I wanted a quirky, graceful citrine ring. And then my mom and I talked about it a lot and she had all these very strong opinions and I didn’t, which is often how it goes and the reason why there were so many cheese platters at my wedding. And she basically twisted my arm until I squealed, “Okay! Okay, woman! I’ll have a friggin’ diamond, for the love of god!”

(here they look a little like lozenges, truth be told. source)

I mean, sort of. It wasn’t exactly like that.

My mom didn’t have a diamond engagement ring. She got married in a bit of a hurry when she was nineteen, and she wore a floral print dress and my dad wore a bright yellow suit with brown lapels that his dad told him was absolutely, seriously stylish. Listening to your parents runs in my family, I guess.

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Kate on October 25th 2012 in being different, life, wedding

can’t clean up good

You know that moment in the movie where the nerd girl takes off her glasses and pulls down her ponytail and steps into a fitted, sparkly dress? She is transformed. She timidly makes her way down the stairs, and the guy at the bottom stares up, open-mouthed, seeing her as though for the very first time. Who is this sudden goddess? It is probably Aphrodite.

That has never happened to me.

Not even close.

Actually, when I was trying on wedding gowns at Macy’s, I was a little surprised at the extent to which that didn’t happen. The saleswoman was pretty sure it would.

“If you need to cry, just do it,” she said. “It’s overwhelming, seeing yourself like this for the first time.”

I blinked hard. I looked at myself in the mirror. I leaned forward, gazing deeply, cushioned by billows of shimmering white gown. It was true. One of my eyebrows really was a little higher up than the other. Weird. And my face looked saggy. Saggy? Seriously? I was twenty-four! How was this possible? The face did not match the gown. I looked stupid.

“It’s OK,” said the saleswoman. “I know it can be very emotional.”

“Can you get me out of this dress, please?” I said.

I do not clean up good. Well. I do not clean up well. I do not transition smoothly into a fairy princess. Instead, in fancy clothes, I look a little confused– like my hair didn’t get the memo. Like my face wasn’t made for elegant parties. Like I should work on my posture. In other words, I look like myself– but wearing something nicer.

It’s disappointing. Some women (including many of my friends) are full of womanly mystery. In their street clothes, they are lovely, but their loveliness hints at some greater potential. They might spring into full stunning gorgeousness at any moment, given the right shoulder-baring dress, eye makeup, and hair stylist. Not me. What you see is definitely what you get. And what you get looks like it should be wearing overalls with paint splatters on them.

(oooh, sexy…)

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Kate on November 16th 2011 in beauty, being different, wedding

it probably won’t be romantic

A year ago today, Bear and I got married. It was amazing. And then I threw up. But you all know that story.

A little over two weeks ago, Bear and I remembered, almost simultaneously, that it was going to be our 1 year anniversary. And Bear said, “Wait, I have this conference in Miami–”

And before I could get really nervous about coming up with a good gift and tell him “you just go then!” out of sheer avoidance, he said, “Maybe you should come with me? It probably won’t be romantic, though.”

“OK!” I said. Because I am really more into things that promise to be unromantic than things that are supposed to be romantic. And because I’d never been to Miami.

And here I am, in a hotel in South Beach, where they charge extra if you want to sit on one of the beach chairs. Bear is at his conference.

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Kate on October 17th 2011 in life, marriage, wedding

A Practical Wedding (and a Jewish homeschooler)

I meant to write a post today, but then I got too excited.

Because I’m on A Practical Wedding! CLICK HERE! Thank you to all of the readers of this blog who kept suggesting that I submit something. You guys know what’s best for me.

I did not act particularly bridal during the wedding planning process (which you can read a summary of here). I never shrieked and jumped up and down. And I’m resisting the urge now. But the urge is definitely there.

And I am also in The Forward, with a piece about growing up both Jewish and homeschooled (so, like, weirder than everyone else). CLICK HERE! This is my first newspaper piece (The Star Ledger published a letter to the editor of mine, and actually changed my words. In ways that made me sound like I might not be incredibly literate. We’re not on speaking terms and they don’t count).

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Kate on August 16th 2011 in life, wedding

(finally) a summary of the whole weird and wild wedding experience

Bear and I got married nine months ago. Not to the day, or anything. I’ve never been like that.

Sometimes I feel a little like a wedding veteran, when people are talking about planning one. They always sound so young and ambitious, and I lean back in my chair, fold my hands over my belly, and say, “Alright now…Alright now, kid…But let’s just slow it down for a minute, here…”

No, I would never say that.

But I feel like I learned a lot from planning a wedding. And I realized suddenly that I never really took the time to write a post that summed up my experience into a neat little post with a moral at the end and a set of convenient bullet points for reference. And I’m a blogger, so that’s sort of unforgivable.

Instead, after I got married, I was really excited to not have to think about weddings ever again. A few months ago, I clicked on some fluff piece called something like “The Post Wedding Blues: Are You Feeling Depressed and Down During Your First Months of Marriage? It May Be Because All That Wedding Excitement is Over!”

I was like, “Wait, what? Are you kidding me? THIS is the good part.”

But sometimes I think I’m too hard on my wedding. It was a great day. I wore a stunning gown. I still remember exactly how Bear looked, and how he looked at me.

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Kate on July 19th 2011 in wedding

Looking a little like a boy

One of the best parts of having really short hair is that I look a little like a boy. This was something I was nervous about, when I thought about cutting my hair. I thought, “What if I look a little like a boy? I can’t let that happen. What if someone thinks I’m a boy? What if someone calls me ‘sir’? Then my life will probably be over.”

But a surprising thing happened when I cut my hair. I stopped caring so much about looking like a girl. Maybe it’s all the fussing that long hair demands. I stopped looking in the mirror as much, because I didn’t have to check and make sure my hair was OK. Because it’s always pretty much the same.

Since I already look so different, something in me that was constantly competing to look just as good as or better than other women shut off. It’s like I removed my name from the roster. And when the guy who runs the world is calling out, “Potentially beautiful, sexy women: Molly Aacker! Christina Abbens! Tianna Abbey! Jessica Alba! Jennifer Aniston!” He will never get to my name, because I’m  not even there. My name was scratched out and replaced by one of those smiley faces with the tongue sticking out.

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Kate on January 28th 2011 in beauty, being different, wedding