The Accidental Amazon » Fifty Shades of Pink — and Still No Cure

“It seems to me that the main reason why the public needs to be aware of breast cancer — or any cancer, for the matter — is because people die of it. But awareness of breast cancer is so last century at this point. What we need is cogent, accurate awareness about breast cancer, awareness about its causes; awareness about the continuing inadequacies of mammography, still the most prevalent screening tool used to detect it; awareness about the life-altering and lifelong collateral damage caused by getting treated for breast cancer; awareness about how and why it metastasizes and how to prevent it from doing so; awareness about the financial, physical and emotional toll that all cancer patients live with forever; awareness about what it means to live with metastatic breast cancer and to wonder how long your current treatment will continue to keep the beast at bay. None of this is cute, pink, fluffy, sexy, or ultimately even about losing our breasts.”

via The Accidental Amazon » Fifty Shades of Pink — and Still No Cure.

Why I Got Clean: Imperialism, Animals, and the Pretty

Imperialism might seem fairly distant from my shelf of pots and potions, but lots of moisturizers in particular, though not exclusively, contain ingredients called petrochemicals.  Petro as in petroleum as in oil. I protested the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and I do my best to avoid financially endorsing or passively benefiting from them. Not to mention, that stuff on my face? Ew, no thank you!

It’s not surprising that there’s a lot of overlap between companies that make clean PCP’s and those that don’t do any animal testing. It’s not just that people concerned about chemicals in their bodies and their environment are often animal-lovers too, though that’s certainly part of it. It’s also because the ingredients used in clean products are generally well-known and safe enough that they don’t even need that level of testing.

As for the pretty, the kicker of it all is that my dirty products didn’t even work that well. My hair seemed to have a (bipolar) mind of its own, vacillating from frizzy and dry to greasy with only rare stops in between. My forehead and eyebrows were seemingly inexplicably dry and flake-y while the rest of my face shone with oil. I’m still fighting an ongoing war with my complexion, but since I cleaned up my act the forehead dryness and eyebrow dandruff have disappeared and my hair has basically stabilized.  That’s the thing about our bodies: what feels good to them often looks good to us.

When it comes down to it, clean products are good for me on so many levels that I’ve hardly looked back since I made the switch.  While I sometimes miss the convenience and prices of CVS and it’s ilk, knowing that I’m actively choosing products that fit and support my values is more than worth it. I might even go so far as to call it beautiful.

Why I Got Clean: Environmentalism & Economics

When that chemical-laden shampoo vanishes down the drain, it doesn’t just disappear. Neither do any of the other products we rinse off or spray into the air or otherwise release into our ecosystem. Some of them (nail polish and remover) are even considered toxic waste, technically and, in some places, legally (like California). I try and reduce my impact on the Earth in many different ways, from using energy efficient light-bulbs to buying organic fruits and vegetables. This is just one more.

As for economics, I try and buy local and/or fair trade products whenever I can, and I’m sure it’ll surprise no one that clean PCP’s are a lot more likely to be both. At the very least they often come from small businesses, which are frequently owned by the same people (women, usually) who make or designed them. Female small-business owners are definitely something I want to support.  Also, while the products can be pretty price-y, especially compared to the ones at your local drugstore, part of learning about them for me has meant learning about ingredients and how to make some rudimentary ones of my own (case in point: one of my favorite facial cleansers/masks is raw honey).  So what I do spend on the more expensive, complicated, fancy stuff, I can balance out with what I’m not spending on the homemade stuff.

Why I Got Clean: Feminism

For me, the decision to clean up my act came from a variety of places.  At the core though, it’s about integrity.  It’s about making sure that every aspect of my life aligns with my values and ideals to the best of my ability. It didn’t make sense to ride public transportation to protests against US military actions in the Middle East with petrochemicals smeared all over my face, or to season my organic vegetables and free-range chicken with lipstick full of lead and carcinogens.  I love using clean personal care products because doing so addresses a whole bunch of issues I care about in one fell swoop, all while taking care of myself and my own health at the same time.  I’m going to discuss each of those issues in a series of posts, starting with the one that’s closest to my heart: feminism.

For me, being a feminist means caring about women.  It means caring about their quality of life and state of mind, their suffering and triumphs, their agency and intellect, and their mental, emotional, and physical health.  If hundreds of millions of women were being slowly poisoned with full government complicity, I would consider it my business as a feminist, and that’s honestly what I see happening here.  The combination of lack of information , misinformation, gender roles and norms, pitiful governmental oversight, capitalism, marketing and outright sexism has proven itself literally deadly in the past, and it’s doing so again.

Sexism because I’m not half convinced that part of the reason cosmetics and personal care corporations are allowed to get away with so much is because their products are aimed and intended for women.  Vain, silly, science-illiterate women who waste all their time with their pots and potions instead of thinking about Important Things, who don’t care if what’s in those pots and potions so long as it helps them catch a man, amirite?  Besides, no one is forcing women to use them (nevermind that we can be fired from our jobs for not using them, as well as face numerous informal sanctions).

It’s pretty much accepted wisdom in the circles I move in that advertising for these products is bad for women’s hearts, minds and souls.  Less well known is how bad the products themselves are for women’s bodies.  Feminists have been doing wonderful things to try and counter the former, but we owe it to ourselves, to each other, and to all women, feminist or not, to refuse to tolerate the later.

The Smart Boy’s and Girl’s Guide Part II

Bodywash:

  • Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
  • Pangea Organics Bar Soap
  • Ren Morroccan Rose Otto Body Wash (also recommended: Ren Morroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish)
  • Jurlique Body Exfoliating Gel

Body Lotion:

  • Dr. Hauschka Rose Body Lotion
  • Elemental Herbology Skin Drink
  • Juice Beauty’s Green Apple SPF20 Antioxidant Body Moisturizer

Sunscreen:

  • Aubrey Organics Natural Green Tea Protective Sunscreen (<$10!)
  • Soleo Organics
  • Lavera Sun Block SPF 20

Deoderant/Antiperspirant

  • Weleda Sage or Citrus Deodorant
  • Tom’s of Maine Deodorant
  • Soapwalla Deodorant Cream

Hair Removal:

  • Tom’s of Maine Shaving Lotion
  • Dr. Bronner’s Organic Shaving Gel
  • Moom Organic Hair Remover

Stretch Marks

  • Dr. Hauschka’s Blackthorn Body Oil
  • Weleda Skin Food

Self-Tanners

  • Lavera Self Tanner
  • Tarte CelluFIGHT Self-Tanner
  • Josie Maran Bronzing Argan Oil

Nail Polish

  • Priti
  • Zoya
  • RGB

Nail Polish Remover

  • Honeybee Gardens Odorless Nail Polish Remover
  • Suncoat Naturals Nail Polish Remover
  • Priti NYC Soy Nail Polish Remover

Nail Care

  • Dr. Hauschka Neem Nail Oil & Nail Pen
  • Organic Vegetable, Jojoba, Olive, or Neem Oil

Hand/Foot Lotion:

  • Jurlique Purely Age-Defying Hand Treatment
  • Weleda Skin Food

Other recommendations:

  • Beautiful Curls Shea Butter Curl Activating Cream by Alaffia
  • A showerhead filter

To be clear, this is only a list of the products recommended in the book, and basically excluding the DIY suggestions.  There are way, way more suggestions at the blog/website. It can all be a bit overwhelming though, so these make a good place to start.

My Favorite Post-DOMA Tweets

And then of course there’s this:

Word of the (insert time period here)

Querencia: A Spanish noun with no direct English translation; the closest would probably be ‘sanctuary.’  Definitions I’ve found include:

  • a place on the ground where one feels secure, a place from which one’s strength of character is drawn—a place in which we know exactly who we are—the place from which we speak our deepest beliefs (Robert Lopez, The Rediscovery of North America)
  • an area in the bullfighting arena taken by the bull for a defensive stand, the place he always returns to to renew his strength and center himself (Merriam-Webster)
  • homing instinct (Merriam-Webster)
  • a place from which one’s strength is drawn; the place where you are your most authentic self (John Jeremiah Sullivan, On the Road to Querencia)
  • that little, unspecified area in life’s arena where one feels safe, serene (Stephen Bodio, Querencia)
  • a place where one feels at home (Georgia Heard, Writing Toward Home)

It’s related to the Spanish verb querer, which means to desire, want, or love (as in “yo quero Taco Bell”) and derived from the Latin quaerere, to seek or to look for, and ens (plural entia), an existing or real thing.  Lovely, no?

How is this school violence different from all other school violence?

This happened yesterday.  It’s an all too familiar story: a very troubled white boy brings a weapon to a place of learning and attacks his peers, apparently at random. We all know this tale, and yet we don’t, because this time there is one crucial, crucial, difference.  Nobody died. So far (two people are in critical condition) no-one has lost a child or a parent, a sibling or a partner or a friend, because Dylan Quick didn’t use a gun.  This is a tragedy, just as all violence is a tragedy, but it’s also a screaming, honking hole in the “guns don’t kill, people kill” argument.  If the person in question here had used a gun, that we would have had a massacre is undeniable.  He didn’t and we don’t.

Every time an episode of senseless violence, different from this one only in the choice of weapon, erupts onto the national stage, some people start talking about legislation and regulation, and then proceed to be shouted down by others who accuse them of that most terrible of crimes, politicizing a tragedy. Not just nonsense but dangerous nonsense that, so long as politicians and political processes are the ones deciding whether people like Dylan Quick get to have military-grade murder machines.  Talking about the tragedies that have tumbled into being like dominoes, one after another, doesn’t seem to be enough to convince these people though.  So I think we ought to try talking about the near-tragedies, the almost-tragedies, the close calls and near misses, the but-for-the-grace-of-God moments.  Like this one. Maybe then they’ll finally come to understand that the grace of God really has very little to do with it.

The Smart Boy’s and Girl’s Guide to Not Getting Cancer from Personal Care Products, Part 1

Recently I’ve been devouring a book called No More Dirty Looks (also a blog with the same title) about the terrible, terrible things in cosmetics, hair care products, etc. and it’s changed my life.  That probably sounds hyperbolic but it’s true.  As well as all sorts of scary scientific information put into easily digestible bites, it also includes a lot of product recommendations from the authors, selflessly tested on themselves, and I was typing it up to carry around with me when it occurred to me that other people might like to get their hands on this information without having to wade through the whole book (though if you’re at all interested, it’s a fun and informative read so highly recommended).  The idea kind of ran away with me and this is the result, or the beginning of it seeing as I haven’t finished the book yet.  Enjoy, and live a long and beautiful life!

First a few basics:

  1. Skin =/= rubber.  Stuff gets through, and lots of it.
  2. The more often you use it and the more area it covers, the more of it you’re absorbing.
  3. You’re absorbing more of the products you leave on than the ones you rinse off.
  4. Your scalp is the most absorbent part of your skin so everything that goes in your hair is also going in you.
  5. If it’s flammable or banned[i] in Europe[ii] you don’t want it on (and by extension in) you.
  6. Generally, the fewer and more pronounce-able the ingredients, the better.
  7. The words “natural,” “safe,” “gentle,” etc. are meaningless in this arena.  The only trustworthy words on the bottle are USDA Organic (meaning the product meets the requirements set for organic food) and the ingredients label, kind of.
  8. There are a lot of lists out there of ingredients to avoid, and they make a good start, but even if you adhere to them religiously you’re not home free: a lot of the bad chemicals are contaminants or by-products, which means they’re not on the ingredients label.

A few words about money: safe products have a partially-earned reputation for being price-y and some of the ones on this list certainly are, but others are definitely not, and can be found at your local CVS and (especially) Target.  Also, you know what’s really expensive? Cancer, Alzheimer’s, nervous system damage, an enlarged heart, birth defects – and these are only some of the proven effects of chemicals commonly found in personal care products.  My philosophy is that if you’ve ever done like I have and spent good money on acquiring future health problems, by buying cigarettes or going to a tanning salon or getting your hair relaxed/permed/straightened, then you owe it to yourself to spend a few extra bucks on minimizing your risk from now on.  Just my two cents.

Shampoo[iii]:

  • Aubrey’s Rosa Mosqueta Nourishing Shampoo
  • Dr. Hauschka with Apricot & Sea Buckthorn
  • Ctonics Passion
  • John Masters Organics Zinc & Sage
  • Alaffia Coconut & Shea Butter
  • In a pinch: Burt’s Bees, Jason, Yes To, Alba

Conditioner:

  • John Masters Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructor
  •  Aubrey’s GPB Glycogin Protein Balancing Conditioner
  • John Masters Organic Lavender & Avocado Intensive Conditioner
  • Amazon Beauty Rahua

Styling Products:

  • John Masters Organic Shine On
  • Aubrey’s Mandarin Magic Ginkgo Leaf & Ginsing Root Hair Jelly
  • Intelligent Nutrients everything
  • Aloe Vera everything

Soap/Cleanser:

  • Whole Foods Market Triple-Milled Organic Soap
  • Ren Mayblossom & Blue Cypress Balancing Facial Cleansing Gel
  • Evan Healy Blue Lavander Cleansing Milk
  • Patyka Organics Face Cleaning Milk & Foaming Face Wash
  • Raw honey that hasn’t been heated (sounds strange, works great, I also use it as a mask)

Moisterizer/Serum:

  • Evan Healy Rosehip Seed Oil
  • Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Plantidote Mega-Mushroom Face Serum
  • Juice Beauty Organic Facial Moisture Concentrate
  • Ren Hydra-Calin Global Protection Day Cream
  • Kahina Giving Beauty 100% Argan Oil

Toner:

  •  John Masters Organic Hydrating Mists
  • Evan Healy Hydrosols
  • Elique Organic Pampered pH

Exfoliant/Peels:

  • Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream
  • Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel
  • Arcona Cranberry Gommage

Facial Sunscreen:

  • John Masters SPF 30 Natural Mineral
  • Jurlique Purely Age-Defying Day Cream SPF 15
  • Soleo Organics

Blemish Stuff:

  • Organic Apoteke Active Face Hydrating Gel
  • Jurlique Blemish Cream
  • Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions
  • Arcoma AM Acne Lotion

Masks:

  • Jurlique Purifying Mask
  • Elique Organic Skin Food
  • Evan Healy Clay Mask

Foundation/Tinted Moisterizer/Concealer:

  • Lavera Tinted Moisterizer
  • Lavera Makeup Fluid
  • Nvey Eco Organic Liquid Foundation
  • RMS Beauty “un” cover-up
  • Jane Iredale Dream Tint Moisterizer
  • W3LL People Narcissist Mineral Cream Foundation

Mascara:

  • Couleur Caramel Mascara
  • Tarte Lash Hugger
  • Josie Maran Mascara
  • Jane Iredale Purelash

Lipstick/Balm/Gloss:

  • RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek
  • All the Better to Kiss You With
  • Couleur Caramel
  • Josie Maran
  • Burt’s Bees Balms
  • Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmers
  • Juice Organic Lip Moisterizer
  • Intelligent Nutrients Lipbalm
  • W3LL People Nudist Lip Shine
  • W3LL People Universalist Multistick

Eyeliner/Shadow:

  • Jane Iredale Eyeliner Pencil
  • Jane Iredale Liquid Eyeliner
  • Suki Triple Cream Eye Definer
  • Alima Pure Luminous Shimmer Eyeshadow
  • Josie Maran Eyeshadow

Bronzer/Luminizer:

  • RMS Beauty Living Luminizer
  • Josie Maran Bronzing Argan Oil

Blush:

  • Vapour Organic Beauty Aura Blush
  • Dr. Hauschka Rouge
  • Alima Blushes

[i] See a full list here

[ii] Why Europe? Because while Europe has banned 1,329 substances, the US has outlawed a paltry 10.  Their standards are a bit more stringent.

[iii] Don’t expect these to foam the way Pantene does; the stuff that makes it foam is, guess what, bad for you.  Also, you’re probably washing your hair too often, and when you do do it, do it backwards – conditioner first.

Liveblogging The Doctor – Season 7, Episode 6 – The Bells Of Saint John

1:10 So far, totally on board conceptually.  The concept is suitably creepy and close to home, the sort of thing that just might give me nightmares of the most delicious kind.

2:06 Ooo, new credits! Pretty! And the Doc’s face is back! I like, even if it does look a bit like a screensaver.  It always has anyway.

3:22 Oh no, the Doctor is going to need a horse.  This does not bode well.

4:45 An Amy Pond reference, already? Subtle.  Not at all smug and self-satisfied. (Sarcasm).

6:54 Clara, you’re tech skills are not impressive.

7:16 Women are evil spirits, haha. Very funny, Stephen Moffat.  Why do I get the feeling you’re only half joking?

8:15 Why hasn’t Clara’s soul been sucked into the internet? What makes her so special?

9:37 When your conscious is telling you to kill people, you might want to get that checked out.

11:45 Creepy children, a classic.

12:10 OKAY that is actually creepy, and on multiple levels.

13:03 Enough with the bloody bow-tie and things being cool.  Way over-used.

14:28 The Doctor, hacker extraordinaire!

15:30 I wonder if Clara gets to keep the “spliced in” tech skills? Is she going to be a hacker extraordinaire too now?

17:45 Who eats half a cookie and then walks away? (The Doctor, apparently).

18:55 I bet websearchs for “quadracycle” went way up just after this episode aired.

21:40 I don’t think you need to know much about the internet to know about the existence of Twitter.

22:15 If he would just open the TARDIS before telling young pretty females who don’t know him to get in it this would all go a lot smoother.

23:30: Ooo, new TARDIS! Not at all like a screensaver! Hmmm, not sure how I feel about this. I like the blue light but it’s much more tech-y.  Reminds me of a cyberman actually, very old-fashioned robot.  Think I preferred the coral.

24:00 A good old-fashioned high-tempo crisis complete with accompanying music, very good.

25:20 Is it just me or have we been having a lot of middle-aged female villains with lesbian haircuts lately?

25:40: “It’s a time machine; you never have to wait for breakfast.” If I didn’t already want to hitch a ride in the TARDIS that would totally seal the deal.

27:10 People are uploading their photos awfully quickly.

29:45 Has the Doctor never heard of babysitting?  Or au pair-ing? It’s really, really not strange or notable for a young women to work for widower taking care of his children.  I’m not sure if the insistence that it is is coming from the Doctor as a character, and is supposed to show how culturally alien (hehe) he is, or Stephen MoffatI’m worried it’s the later, and really hope it’s not going to be an important plot point, because no.

30:35 Rape via mind-control, fun.  Just in case we didn’t realize who the bad guys were I guess?

31:13 Silly villain, don’t you know impossible situations are the Doctor’s favorite?

34:05 Oh, fudge.  Must say, I like this new coat.

35:44 I take it this is supposed to be the Bond-like bit? Maybe I haven’t seen enough of the movies.  Does Bond usually travel by motorbike?

36:30 DO WANT

38:14 There’s the Oncoming Storm we all know and love <3

39:38 What, where are you going? No, go back! That’s not nice!

39:50 UNIT! So good to see you, old friends!

44:07 Those symbols on the new TARDIS are Gallifreyan aren’t they? Wonder what they mean.

44:30 And so it ends.  Well, that was much better than I’d feared it would be. Clara continues to be not nearly as annoying as she could be, which sounds like the least complimentary compliment ever, but is actually high praise given the general outline of her character and my expectations.  The monster was very cool and there was good set-up for a longer arc.  It wasn’t anything fantastic or mind-blowing but a solid B+, maybe even an A-.  I’ll definitely be watching next week.