Beauty Post: Gold to Black Eyeliner

Gold and black are my favorite eyeliner colors. Sometimes I can’t choose just one. Here’s how I make that work.


Start with a freshly washed face. Apply foundation or other base.


I apply a peach or coral blush across my eyes. I used the same shade blush on my cheeks.


Using a point brush I line my lower lashes in brown.


I gently line the crease of my eyelid with the same soft brown.


I use a light taupe beneath my eyebrows, and blend it in going down toward the creases.


I draw another curve across my eyelids in a slightly deeper brown.


I use a blending brush to blend.


I use an eyeliner pencil from Maybelline to fill in the outer third of each waterline.


I use an eyeliner brush with black powder to line just below the outer half of my lower lashes. 


I use an fine point eyeliner marker from L’Oreal to line my upper lashes.


Now I use my gold eyeliner pencil. I start from the inner corners and work my way out, drawing over one end of the black liner but not all the way.


I use the black liner from before to draw just below my lashes, for the outer third of the eye.


I use an eyeshadow brush to apply gold powder my lids.


I gently blend with a finger.


Mascara time. Add some lipstick. 



Benny and Joon: A Disability Love Story

Last week I was reading a blog post about tropes for women’s characters in film, particularly the Sexy Tragic Muse. The author listed a few examples I agreed with,  like Angelina Jolie in Gia. But then said

The Sexy Tragic Muse is Joon in Benny & Joon, a mentally ill woman who, to paraphrase a wonderful review by Carleen Tibbets, turns out not to need professional help so much as she needs a boyfriend. 

I couldn’t disagree more and have to wonder if the author has seen the movie. So here is my spoiler-riffic post about Benny and Joon and why I love it.


Joon is a young woman played by Mary Stewart Masterson who is diagnosed with the amorphous “mentally ill”. She lives with her older brother Benny, a mechanic and shop owner played by Aidan Quinn.

Both their lives are small. Joon spends most of her time at home painting and fighting with the housekeepers her brother hires to watch her. Benny goes to work and cares for his sister but doesn’t feel free to have a social life.

Joon’s doctor recommends a group home for Joon. The doctor thinks Joon might do better with her peers, and might be capable of holding a part-time job with support from the group home. Benny doesn’t want to warehouse his sister and points out “She hates her peers.”

The cousin of one of Benny’s friends Sam comes to stay with them. He’s a semi-literate oddball played by Johnny Depp. He climbs trees, wears clothes from another era, and makes grilled cheese sandwiches using a clothing iron. He’s a socially awkward movie buff who struggles to fill out a job application.

Joon and Sam grow close. She helps him write a letter home to his mother and teaches him how to paint. Sam and Joon awkwardly fall in love and make love. When Benny learns their house guest has slept with his mentally ill sister,  he throws Sam out. Benny can’t conceive of this being consensual or right, just taking advantage of his sick sister.

Joon tries to run away with Sam. They board a bus together. The stress – of running, of fighting with her brother – is too much for Joon and the voices in her head cause her to hit herself.  Sam gets the driver to stop the bus. Joon is committed to the hospital where her doctor works.

Joon feels trapped. She’s never been treated as an adult and fears she never will be. She refuses to accept any visitors, including her brother. Benny realizes that he’s been unfair to Joon and that he’s been making decisions for her that were rightly hers. He and Sam go together to get Joon from the hospital. 

The movie ends with Joon and Sam sharing their own apartment and trying to be more self-sufficient.  Benny is still a supportive part of their lives. Joon still has her doctor. Benny can begin to live his own life.

This is not a story about a woman who didn’t need professional help. This isn’t a story about a woman who only needs a boyfriend.  It’s a story about disabled adults being adults. It’s a story about community support instead of group homes.

Falling in love and having sex may be boring old hat for abled women but disabled women almost never get to see ourselves in film. Certainly a movie where a mentally disabled young woman chooses to consensually sleep with her manic pixie dream boy love interest is almost unheard of.

Getting a boyfriend didn’t solve Joon’s problems. Sam wasn’t enough. The bus scene makes that explicit. Joon needs a support network to live independently,  but with that support she can. Her boyfriend,  her brother, her doctor, and her friend who manages the apartment she moves to are ALL needed in her life.
I love this movie and probably always will.  This is my favorite love story, in large part because romantic love isn’t the whole story, and not all that the main characters need. I see my son in Sam and Joon, in their creative quirks and need for routine. I want my son to have what Joon has: indepence,  support, and love.

You Say “Disabled” Like It’s a Bad Thing (3/3)

Final post in a series on disability pride communities.

Just as people outside the Deaf and Cerebral Palsy communities imagine members would universally prefer to be “cured” in some way, they make the same erroneous assumption about the autistic community. Much of the discourse about autism from non-autistic or “allistic” people uses the language of tragedy. A rise in diagnosis is portrayed as an epidemic or tsunami. The best known organization related to autism is Autism Speaks, an organization many autistic people consider to be a hate group. Autism Speaks presents autism as a conscious malevolent force intentionally destroying happy families.

For more than a generation, the standard in autism treatment has been Applied Behavioral Analysis, a type of behavior training originally developed to cure “sissy boys” of perceived homosexuality and later repackaged as a way to make autistic children “indistinguishable from peers”. In response to social stigma against autistic people and therapies they see as abusive, autistic adults started a neurodiversity movement for people with autism, ADHD, or other divergent neurology.

Neurodiversity acceptance means understanding that each person has strengths and weaknesses, and that less common brains may hold insights out of reach of common ones. It also means recognizing that a difference is not necessarily a deficit. As Wired magazine wrote in 2013, “By autistic standards, the “normal” human brain is easily distractible, is obsessively social, and suffers from a deficit of attention to detail.”

Autistic adults formed groups such as the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) to promote acceptance and accommodation of autistic people.  June 18th marks Autistic Pride Day, an annual celebration of autistic diversity; artistic, athletic and academic achievement; and autistic legislative and human rights gains over the past year. Ari Ne’men, the first openly autistic White House aide said:

To me, Autistic Pride Day means solidarity with those parts of our community that have not yet had the opportunity to be proud. It means thinking about how we reach further and farther. Autistic space, community and culture should be available to all of us, early-, late- and un-diagnosed, speaking and non-speaking, with and without intellectual disability, of all races, religions, orientations, disabilities, genders and every other facet of difference. It should be available whatever your politics or views on the controversies that motivate much of our advocacy. It should be your birthright, however you communicate and experience the world.

Social Justice Bullies

Predatory people exist in every social movement. Some, like the men’s supremacy MRA movement, actively promote predation and aggression. Others, like social justice movements, ostensibly reject such behaviors. In this second type of community, an abuser or bully will dress their aggression in different clothing. Language of the oppressed will be twisted to support bullying. They’ll call it “punching up” not bullying. They’ll play the victim while victimizing another. I’ll give some fictional examples of what I mean.

Terry is a vocal feminist and rape survivor. Terry has a moderately successful blog.  Their online petitions gain thousands of signatures and they led a successful protest in their hometown. When Terry is criticized, they inevitably threaten to commit suicide. This keeps the people closest to Terry trapped in fear.

Sam is disabled and from a working class family. Sam believes in a robust social welfare system that leaves no one homeless or hungry. When Sam has an opportunity to steal money from a homeless person, they do it.

Pat makes friends with a lot of rape survivors and people with very low self-esteem. Pat talks often about how evil they are, and enjoys when friends disagree with that assessment. Pat’s friends don’t know their past history with sexual abuse was as the perpetrator, not the victim. When Pat’s secret is discovered, Pat publicly solicits sympathy for being abandoned by friends.

Terry, Sam, and Pat are all good at talking the talk of an activist. Maybe they even engage in activism like Terry. They might genuinely believe in noble ideals while acting on baser desires like Sam. Or they may be an out and out predator like Pat, preying on the good qualities like trust found in social justice circles.

Beware the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Words are tools and they can be misused to deceive. Look to behaviors, conduct and character. Those will tell you better than words who a person is and if they deserve your trust.

You Say “Disabled” Like It’s a Bad Thing (2/3)

Continuing on from yesterday’s post about disability pride in the cerebral palsy community. 

The Deaf community has a long history of persecution and resistance in the United States. Historic inventor Alexander Graham Bell played a pivotal role in the promotion of “oralism” or speech and lipreading rather than ASL or “manualism” for deaf students. His own mother was deaf, and his father and grandfather had developed a system of “visible speech” to aid deaf students in learning how to lip read. Phonetic symbols dictated how the mouth should move as the word was stated. Deaf assimilation into mainstream hearing culture was the goal of oralism, including increased job opportunities working for hearing employers, and desired (by hearing people) decrease in deaf intermarriage.

Bell feared an epidemic of hereditary deafness resulting from such unions. He eventually married one his own deaf visible speech pupils. Bell traveled the nation, visiting politicians and deaf schools, promoting the virtues of oralism and generally discouraging the use of American Sign Language (ASL) among deaf people as a means of communication. He supported putting hearing teachers in charge of deaf classrooms, forbidding students to use ASL in the classroom or on school grounds, and eventually abolishing schools for the deaf and moving those students into hearing schools, where it was presumed lip reading and visible speech would be sufficient for full participation. By 1920, 80% of deaf students were taught without the use of sign language.

Deaf-led organizations fighting to preserve sign language in the classroom and in deaf life emerged, including the National Association of the Deaf. The NAD campaigned against oralism in every available medium, from teacher’s conventions to deaf news outlets. Starting in 1910, they produced a series of educational films, both as a campaign tool and as a means of preserving visual records of sign language for future generations who might be deprived of their “natural language”.  This interpreted quote from the film “The Preservation of the Sign Language” demonstrates the fervent passion deaf activists felt.

“They do not understand signs for they cannot sign. They proclaim that signs are worthless and of no help to the deaf. Enemies of the sign language, they are enemies of the true welfare of the deaf. We must use our films to pass on the beauty of the signs we have now. As long as we have deaf people on earth, we will have signs. And as long as we have our films, we can preserve signs in their old purity. It is my hope that we will all love and guard our beautiful sign language as the noblest gift God has given to deaf people.” – George W. Veditz

Over the intervening years, the NAD has protected the rights of deaf automobile drivers, been instrumental in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and pushed for legislation requiring captioning of film and video media.

Another organization crucial to preserving Deaf language and culture is Gallaudet University, the world’s only university for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. It was there that a hearing professor named William Stokoe published a dissertation showing that ASL is a language with unique syntax and grammar. This led to the national recognition of ASL as a language, and contributed to greater social acceptance of sign language use. A 1964 Congressional report on deaf education pronounced oralism a “dismal failure”.  In the 1970s, Total Communication became the benchmark for deaf education practice. TC allows for a variety of communication methods, including speech, signing, finger spelling, typing, lip reading, etc.

Deaf President Now

In 1988 Gallaudet University became the focal point of the Deaf community struggle, as students and faculty together joined in protest, demanding that the over 100 year old school have a Deaf president for the first time. Two qualified Deaf candidates for the position had been passed over by the Board of Trustees in favor of a hearing candidate. Deaf President Now protesters responded by shutting down the entire campus, blocking entrances and disrupting normal activities. Several were arrested and thrown in jail. These arrests made national headlines and many in the hearing world became aware of Deaf self determination for the first time. After one week of DPN protests, the seventh and final hearing president of Gallaudet University resigned and was replaced by the university’s first Deaf president, King Jordan.

Check back tomorrow for the third and final post in this series, on the autistic community! 

You Say “Disabled” Like It’s a Bad Thing (1/3)

Disabilities are numerous and diverse, ranging from illnesses to impairments to differences discriminated against culturally. Disabilities are experienced in different ways by the people who have them, and a person with multiple disabilities may want accommodation for one and a cure for another. Under the social model definition, a difference or impairment becomes disabling when it is not properly accommodated. Society disables some people. In my culture, having trouble with numbers is a serious challenge while failing to keep a drum beat is of no dire consequence. While society

Most societally abled people imagine they would not like to be disabled. They see disability as inability, impediment, and barrier. I confess, I have no love for my arthritis or my IBS. They do not make me a better person, or give me special artistic insight, or bring me closer to purity. They mostly just hurt. So it can be very confusing or even offensive to abled people when a disabled person suggests that, all things considered, they’d like to keep their condition just get better accommodation. Today I’m going to look at three disabled communities with members who say they like being the way they are.

Cerebral palsy is the most common disability in childhood, resulting from brain injury around the time of birth, often due to oxygen deprivation. People with CP may not speak verbally, may use wheelchairs some or most of the time, or may walk with a pronounced limp. Fine motor skills may be harder to develop or may never develop as fully as in others. Someone without CP may look at these symptoms and rightly imagine they are challenging. However, some adults with CP think those challenges were crucial to making them who they are and helping them develop the skills and perseverance they have.

Writing for United Cerebral Palsy, Daman Wandke asked “Where would I be today without CP? I wouldn’t be consulting with large companies on how they can improve their IT accessibility.I wouldn’t be advocating side-by-side with national leaders for the disability community.  Yes, my body works differently but it’s not broken, nor sick, nor does it need to be cured.” Writing at her own blog for World CP Day, Ila’s Crazy Thoughts blogger had this to say:


“CP made me who I am, it is a part of me and the challenges I face make me a stronger person. The days in the hospital and the hours of therapy taught me to appreciate the small things in life. Without my disability, learning to put my shoes and braces on by myself wouldn’t have been such a big accomplishment. I think that is one of the reasons why I am always so happy.”

World Cerebral Palsy Day was created by people with CP, with a goal of “[p]utting an end to ignorance and the stigma it can create, by building a true understanding of what CP is (and is not). The objective is nothing less than to create cultural change so that everyone in a society embraces people with CP as brothers, sisters and full citizens.” Proper medical prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of CP was another stated goal. A cure for the people already living with CP wasn’t.


Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of this post series, on the Deaf and Autistic communities.

I Love You, Stop Talking

We were in the middle of a fight. He’d implied I was lazy and my disability faked, I’d called him a bastard and an asshole. My face was red with rising blood and my heart pounded angrily in my chest.

“I love you,” he said.

“I love you too” the words came out automatically. Something inside me recoiled. I wasn’t feeling loving in that moment. I was angry and I was hurt. We’d been shouting at one another for an hour, and my repeated attempts to physically escape had been met with relentless pursuit. He followed me from room to room, enumerating my sins and repeating himself with every breath.

Months later, after making me cry by spending the better part of an afternoon demanding silence from me as he detailed everything he disliked about me, he did it again.

“I love you,” he said.

“I -” I bit my tongue, held back the treacherous words. I had told him I loved him dozens of times since the fight before, but I had meant it then. I didn’t mean it now.

That led him to accuse me of being an emotional bully, of intentionally withholding love and affection to hurt him and control him. I didn’t feel like that. I felt like hiding was safe, and I took to spending most of the day in the bathroom, playing with makeup and listening to music and pretending I didn’t live with him.

“I love you” should be a beautiful sentence. Any reciprocal “I love you too” should be freely given and genuinely felt, not reflexively offered in supplication to an angry partner. “I love you” should be meant and felt, not coerced or demanded or sulked over.

He said “I love you” and demanded I say I loved him too. At first he said “I love you” while doing loving things, and I loved to say “I love you” back. But as time went on, he grew more accustomed to me and more resentful of me. Familiarity bred contempt in both of us. As time went on, I didn’t love him. I stayed with him for a lot of reasons that seem ridiculous now. I can admit now I did not stay out of love.

It was hard to realize I didn’t love him, when I was telling him I loved him every day. He said to me, I said it back. The words replaced the action and love became something we just talked about, a lie he asked me to participate in. I feel like the sentence has been poisoned for me. It looks and sounds and feels like a trap. Like an excuse. But love should never be an excuse to treat the one you love badly, and love is never enough to erase the harm from hateful words and aggressive pursuit. “I love you” should not mean “Stop talking about how much I’m hurting you.”