Archive for the ‘Beauty’ Category

Sex on the Brain

Sex is more about the brain than about anything else. Photo: Glamour.

Warning: This blog post talks about sex. It’s no more explicit than you would see in a magazine like Glamour, but if you think it would offend you, please don’t read it.

In various blog posts (and in a few drunken monologues on weekends), I’ve already admitted that:

And possibly most embarrassing of all:

  • I read Glamour, Vogue, Teen Vogue, and other magazines that are bad for my self-esteem.

But those magazines aren’t always right. Glamour has an article titled “Six Secrets About His Man Parts” that is completely misleading about what turns guys on.

I can’t read guys’ minds and I’m not the world’s foremost expert, but I think that I understand them pretty well.

The mistake that guys make about themselves — but which is more surprising in a magazine for women — is to think that sex is mainly just physical. It’s not. (The article was written by a guy, so no surprise there.)

Even for guys, sex is mostly mental. It’s his brain that you need to target, not his penis. I’m not saying “hands off,” of course: at the right time, that closes the deal. But there’s much more to it than simply making a grab for his joystick, at least if you want the situation to go well.

A lot goes in in a guy’s brain* when it comes to sex. His “old brain” (the primitive parts of the brain) just wants to find a fertile female, impregnate her, and then go find another one to do it again. But his “old brain” is pretty stupid and doesn’t know or care if you’re using contraception. It just pushes him to engage in biologically programmed behaviors that, in pre-technological settings, maximize the number of his children in the next generation.

Speaking of which, here’s a theological view of the subject. God makes Adam and then says, “I’ve got good news and bad news.” Adam says, “Give me the good news first.” God says, “I gave you a brain and a penis.” Adam says, “What’s the bad news?” And God says, “I didn’t give you enough blood to run both of them at the same time.”

However, a human male is much more than just programmed behaviors. He’s aware of himself as a person. He needs to feel powerful: it’s one of those guy things. He needs to respect himself and feel that he is important in his social hierarchy. He needs to feel that he is desired and desirable. He’s an intelligent being and he thinks (who knew? 🙂 ).

He has also had unique experiences in his life that he associates with sexual excitement. Those sometimes have nothing to do with sex itself, but they excite him just as if they had everything to do with it. They can be objects, words, ideas, or situations that are like “on buttons” in his brain. Guys are often very shy about revealing those things, but if you can guess what the buttons are, go ahead and push them.

So the real way to interest and excite a guy is to remember that sex takes place on many levels: mental, emotional, instinctive, and physical — but mostly it takes place in his brain.

Excite his emotions, make him feel powerful, push his mental “on buttons” if you know what they are. And of course don’t forget to flip the switch on his old brain: Show him something sexy or new to stimulate him visually. Hit him with a fragrance. Do all the other stuff that everyone knows about. If a guy is repressed, even biting him (not there, and not hard enough to draw blood) can help. It stimulates him physically by causing pain, but it also surprises him and breaks up his conscious control. That frees his ability to act on his desires.

I didn’t intend to get quite so explicit, but all of that is true. It won’t be a big surprise to some people, but maybe it will be helpful to others.

(Blog post #194!)


* Of course, here I’m talking about straight guys.

Copyright 2011 by Rinth de Shadley.


I’m Not Fat, I’m Curvy

If Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively is considered too fat, what hope is there for the rest of us? Photo:

If you’re a woman, you just can’t win when it comes to your weight.

Either you’re too fat, or you’re too thin. For a few blessed moments, you might be in the sweet spot where you’re “just right,” but then people start watching to see when you’re going to gain a pound or two.

According to the gossip site

Blake Lively allegedly refuses to wear anything but a size zero, causing the Gossip Girl costume department to cut the tags from larger-sized samples.

Blake Lively?!!! Even she is insecure about how she looks?

Seriously, I would — well, I wouldn’t really kill anyone, but I would speak very harshly to someone if it meant I could look as good as Blake does.

If Jessica and Shenae are healthy, who says they’re too thin? Photo:

At the other end of the unfairness spectrum are 90210’s Jessica Stroup and Shenae Grimes, who are supposedly too thin. reports:

“I’ve never seen Jessica or Shenae eat,” another show source tells Us. So shocking is the situation that their 90210 male costars are contemplating an intervention.

Now, Jessica and Shenae are quite thin: they really are a size zero. If they’re doing it because they feel good, and they’re healthy, then people should stop bothering them about it.

But if they’re doing it because they feel pressured to be too thin, then they are victims of the insane, male-defined standards of beauty that dominate our society.

So what do we do about it?

I admit that I’m as guilty as anyone of falling for stereotypes of what I’m supposed to look like. I read Vogue and Teen Vogue and Glamour and all the others that promote obsessive thinness. And I’m probably not going to stop reading them. But I try to keep those images in perspective.

We should stop letting others define who and what we are. They mostly define what we are, not who, because they’re treating us as things instead of as people. Nice, pretty things that brighten up a room, on which fashions drape perfectly, and which make good trophy girlfriends.

We should be true to ourselves and our own version of happiness. If we are thin and we like it, then we’ll be that. If we’re curvy and we like it, then we’ll be that.

Everyone else should go find their own version of happiness. We’ll be happy with ours.

Copyright 2011 by Rinth de Shadley.

My Top 10 Lies of 2010

This doesn’t look much like me. And that’s the truth.

I definitely do not endorse lying. But I would be lying if I said that I never did it.

The best I can say is that I don’t do it to hurt anyone. If there is such a thing as “white lies,” I claim that mine fall into that category.

Anyway, here are my top 10 lies of 2010:

1. “I’m 21.”

Before I turned 21 this year, I told that lie a few times. Of course, I would never, ever use fake ID to back it up. Never never. Honestly, hardly ever.

2. “I weigh 110.”

Yeah, right. Nobody believed that one, but they were nice and pretended to believe it.

3. “I’m a complete ditz with computers.”

Actually, I’m not. But there was a cute tech support guy at the hospital where I had my summer internship. He showed me lots of moves that I already knew about. On the computer, I mean.

4. “It’s just the right size.”

A guy I was dating asked if the passenger seat of his car was comfortable for me. Actually, it was a little small, but I know how sensitive guys can be about their cars. And if you want to read that as a metaphor for something else, feel free. 🙂

5. “I’ll be ready in two minutes.”

Make that 20 minutes. But there’s a reason. If you make a guy wait a little while (but not too long), the anticipation makes him more eager and excited.

6. “I just wear whatever is in the closet.”

Uh-uh. Not even at school, where our style of dress is very casual. I’m no Serena van der Woodsen, but I do my best to look good.

7. “It was only $50.”

My Alice + Olivia cardigan was really over $200, but it is comfortable, tres sexy, and worth every penny. And I bought it with my own money: I just didn’t want the ‘rents to bug me about it.

8. “I absolutely love basketball!”

When you’re dealing with testosterone, you have to make a few compromises. I don’t care much about basketball but I like the guy. So it’s only fair to do some things that he likes to do. Besides the obvious.

9. “I’m only going to eat a little bit of that.”

A serving of ice cream has no calories if you only eat half, so that’s what I did on Mountain Day. Half of this serving, and half of that one. It ended up being more than a little bit, but it was good!

10. “It’s my natural hair color.”

No, it’s another miracle of modern chemistry. But I’m glad you like it. 🙂

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

A Feminist in a Beauty Pageant?

Attendants of the eyelash! I shall unloose one feather, like the peacock.
–Sylvia Plath

Aileen Wang recently wrote about her encounter with Helen Hua, who is not only a 2010 Smith graduate but is also “Miss Southcoast 2010” and was in the “Miss America” pageant.

Aileen asked the obvious question:

How could one simultaneously be a “feminist” and strut around in a swimsuit on stage for a panel of judges … to promote conformity and the idea of some male-constructed female “beauty” that’s rated in numbers and percentages?

Though skeptical, she found that Helen made some good points in defense of beauty pageants. In particular, Helen said that “a feminist is a woman who does what she wants” instead of conforming to some predefined role. We can all agree with that.

I have conflicting feelings about beauty pageants. Part of it is just the name, which suggests — wrongly — that they’re all just superficial contests of appearance. And most competitions decided by people voting depend partly on superficial factors. Even the Nobel Prize isn’t exempt: President Obama won the Peace Prize mainly because he got elected president and his name isn’t Bush. So beauty pageants aren’t that different from a lot of other competitions.

But of course, everyone focuses on the swimsuit part. And yes, that part is superficial. As far as I know, the Nobel Committee didn’t ask President Obama to model a speedo.

Helen points out, though, that appearance is only part of beauty pageantry. Depending on the pageant, of course. The Miss America pageant is the largest donor in America of scholarship money for young women, and it requires a lot more than just looking good in a swimsuit. It takes talent, and brains, and determination: qualities that we all need to get through life.

Of course, both Miss America participants and the women who write about them tend to be high achievers. Helen is taking a a job with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, while Aileen will probably end up working for Vogue magazine (and I totally envy her for it).

I’ve always been a believer in lists, so here are my lists of good things and bad things about beauty pageants:

Good Things:

  • Beauty is good in itself. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating it. The fact that some people watch beauty pageants for lower reasons doesn’t change the fact.
  • Pageants give opportunities to young women. That applies to participants and to recipients of scholarships funded by the pageants.
  • Pageants usually showcase the fact that we can do a lot more than “strut around in swimsuits.” Good pageants showcase the talents, learning, and personal qualities of the participants.

Bad things:

  • There is that swimsuit competition. It reinforces the idea that a woman’s main value is her appearance in conventional, male-defined standards of beauty.
  • And the pageant itself is a competition, meaning that it can be superficial and sometimes brings out the worst in people. We are made for cooperation, not competition.
  • It reinforces the idea that we always have to be pleasing other people. It’s the idea that we should say, do, and look like what’s popular instead of what we really believe in. Not every pageant participant falls victim to this: Helen obviously didn’t. But the danger is there.

I don’t know. Maybe I worry too much. Or maybe I shouldn’t stay up so late on Friday nights. 🙂

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

Gossip, Girl, but Don’t Think Too Much

One thing I’ve learned about “Gossip Girl” is that you just have to let yourself enjoy it without thinking about it too much. Kind of like chocolate, except without the calories.

Tonight’s episode, “Easy J,” was like that.

At the end of last season, Blair banished Jenny Humphrey from Manhattan for the crime of sleeping with Chuck, who Blair still loves.

Banishment worked fine for Blair, who hates Jenny. It also worked fine for Taylor Momsen, who plays Jenny but wanted time off to work on her music career. And it worked fine for fans like me, who have always disliked Jenny.

But Blair and Chuck have been fighting, so Chuck brought Jenny back to the city, knowing that it would upset Blair. Blair did some mean things, Jenny did some mean things, and Jenny left again at the end of the episode.

The other main storyline was about Serena getting involved with Colin, a gorgeous guy in her building.

After they spent the night together, it turned out that Colin was going to be her new business professor at Columbia. He’s also a billionaire, so Columbia must pay its professors a lot more than MHC. 🙂

Serena wanted to break up with him, but Colin persuaded her just to put their relationship on hold until the end of the seven-week class. However, she agreed to go with him to a party where he was being named “available bachelor of the year.” She had an embarrassing moment when her mother showed up at the same party.

Meanwhile, Juliet, a Columbia student who appeared out of nowhere a few episodes ago, conspired with her brother, who is in prison, to get revenge on Serena for some unspecified offense. It’s implied that the brother is in prison because of Serena.

And at the end of the episode it’s revealed that Juliet is really working for Colin, who is masterminding the whole revenge scheme against Serena.

Uh, okay. It was frothy, silly, fun, and didn’t make much sense. The fashions were to die for, as usual, and several famous designers (such as Tim Gunn and Isaac Mizrahi) made cameo appearances at the party.

I’m not going to think too much about the storyline because it would just make my head hurt. Like how Juliet and Colin both want to get revenge on Serena but she has absolutely no clue about it. And how until last week’s episode, she had no idea who Colin was, though he hated her enough to create an elaborate plot against her. And how Blair, for all her status as a Queen B of the Upper East Side, could “banish” Jenny from Manhattan.

Yes, it’s silly, but that’s actually part of the fun. Sometimes, thinking is required. Watching “Gossip Girl” isn’t one of those times. 🙂

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

What I’d Do for a Million Dollars

Blake Lively as Serena van der Woodsen. Photo: The CW/Patrick Harbron/Landov.

What would you do for money? A lot of money?

George Bernard Shaw, who was an English satirist, once asked a woman at a party if she would sleep with him for a million British pounds. When she said yes, he asked if she would do it for one pound. Angrily, she asked, “What kind of woman do you think I am?” Shaw said, “We’ve established what kind of woman you are. Now, we’re just haggling about the price.”

I’m still trying to figure out what kind of woman I am. Sometimes, I think I’d like to be the kind who

is going to win over all our teachers, wear that dress we couldn’t fit into, eat the last olive, have sex in our parents’ beds, spill Campari on our rugs, steal our brothers’ and our boyfriends’ hearts, and basically ruin our lives and piss all of us off in a major way. (Gossip Girl)

But in the meantime, anyway, here is my price list.

For a million dollars, I would

  • Kiss Justin Bieber. No tongue. And no, he doesn’t get anything else, not even for another million. What is he, like 12?
  • Become Chuck Bass‘s trophy wife. Though in all honesty, he can probably do better than me if he wants a trophy wife.

For a thousand dollars, I would

  • Wear a Winerack bra. For another thousand, I’d let a guy drink from it.
  • Dance around a stripper pole for a music video. Just dance. Nothing comes off. If Miley Cyrus shows me the moves, it’s free. Don’t read anything into that. Unless you want to.

For free, I would

Never, for any amount of money, would I

  • Kiss Rush Limbaugh.
  • Trade places with Lindsay Lohan.
  • Show my parents the very small tramp stamp I got last year (though they probably know about it).
  • Tell my younger brother that I’m proud of him.

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

Eating Healthy at McDonalds

My Mom is a very smart woman, though she got smart only recently.

Six years ago, when I was 15, she was the most narrow-minded, tyrannical, and prudish person I knew. But since then, she’s grown a lot as a person. I fully expect that by the time I turn 21 later this year, she will be one of the most awesome people ever. She already is.

But she does have a blind spot.

She hates McDonalds. She thinks that it only serves junk food: Fried stuff. Sugar. Trans fats. Awful, awful, awful. Someone even made a movie about how awful it is.

“I think I’d almost prefer it if you used drugs,” she said. I chose not to enlighten her about a little experimentation I did in high school.

It’s true that some of McDonalds’ food is a little iffy. Red meat burgers, fried. French fries. Even the chicken and fish are fried, though you can also get the chicken grilled. Milk shakes whose ingredients, I suspect, resemble those of a high school chemistry experiment except with chocolate flavoring.

But that’s not true of everything McDonalds sells. There are lots of healthy food items on the menu. Most of them even taste pretty good. Here are some of my favorites.*

My New Favorite: Fruit Smoothies

Strawberry Banana Smoothie made with yogurt. They have other flavors too.

McDonalds fruit smoothies are new this year. They’re thick and cold like milkshakes, but they’re very low in fat and are made with fruit and yogurt. A small strawberry-banana smoothie has 210 calories, compared to 580 calories in the same size of milk shake. It has only half a gram of fat, compared with 17 grams of fat in the milk shake. It has 44 grams of sugar, which is a lot but still much less than the 77 grams in a milk shake. Finally, it’s got 70 percent of your daily Vitamin C, compared to no Vitamin C at all in a milk shake.

The one area where a milk shake is a little better is that it has 11 grams of protein, compared with 2 grams in the smoothie. But overall, the smoothie is healthy and delicious.

Orange Juice

Orange Juice. What could be healthier than that?

You can get it any time, not just for breakfast. Okay, it’s made from concentrate, not freshly-squeezed, but this is fast food. Very few mainstream restaurants have freshly-squeezed orange juice. It’s Minute Maid orange juice, so at least it’s made from a name brand concentrate. It tastes great and is healthy, too. A small orange juice has 150 calories, no fat at all, and 140 percent of your daily Vitamin C.

The only down side, if you’re doing low-carb, is that it’s absolutely loaded with sugar: 30 grams, probably one of the reasons it tastes so good. I’d say, have an orange juice and then hit the elliptical to work off the sugar. Or not.

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

This is another favorite of mine. It’s a yogurt cup with strawberries and blueberries. The granola comes in a separate little bag to keep it crunchy. The ingredients speak for themselves: lowfat yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, and granola. If you include the granola, it has 160 calories, only 2 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein as well as 21 grams of sugar from the fruit. If you leave out the granola (which I don’t do, because I like it), it’s only 130 calories and 19 grams of sugar. A fruit and yogurt parfait is a wonderful light meal that’s delicious and very cheap, too.

Grilled Chicken Salad

Grilled Chicken Salad

Because the fruit smoothie is a little low in protein, it’s a good snack but not a meal. You can have it with a grilled chicken salad, which has 320 calories and only 9 grams of fat. It’s got a huge 30 grams of protein, which is probably all you need for the whole day, and it has 50 percent of your daily Vitamin C. But it has only 11 grams of sugar. If you’re going low-carb, don’t have it with a fruit smoothie (44 grams of sugar). But otherwise, enjoy it! It’s healthy, filling, and it tastes good.

One suggestion: For salad dressing, get the lowfat balsamic vinagrette, which has only 40 calories and 3 grams of fat. If you choose the Creamy Caesar Dressing instead, you’re getting 190 calories and 18 grams of fat from it. That cancels your nutritional advantage from having a grilled chicken salad.

Fruit and Walnut Snack Salad

Fruit and Walnut Snack Salad

It’s not really a salad, but it is a great snack! Separate compartments hold apple slices, grapes, sugar-coated walnut pieces, and yogurt. It’s got 210 calories, 8 grams of fat (mostly from the walnuts), 4 grams of protein, and 170 percent of your daily Vitamin C! It also has 25 grams of sugar, which isn’t great if you’re doing low-carb. But overall, it’s quick, tasty, and healthy.

I’m not sure if it’s intended that way, but I dip the apple slices in the yogurt. And the sugar-coated walnuts are my favorite part.

The Point Is

The point is that yes, you can eat bad things at McDonalds if that’s your choice. But there are also a lot of good things to eat. They’re tasty, healthy, fast, and cheap.

Someday, I’ll even get my Mom in there for lunch. Then she’ll see.

*Just for the record, I get no money or any other kind of payment from McDonalds. Not even a free fruit smoothie. I’m also not a nutritionist and am not giving medical advice, blah blah blah. This is just what I think.

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.