Review: My First Pink Seoul Box

Isn’t getting stuff in the mail great? It’s like your birthday can happen any time of the year. Well, this week I got a couple of things in the mail, and I’m super excited to review one of them for you!

Behold.

Pink Seoul is a K-Beauty subscription box that lets you choose your skin tone, type, and any skin concerns you might have, and they send you a customized box with all manner of Korean goodies every two months.

Like a spa party just broke out in my bathroom.

Look at that sweet card! Who doesn’t want to see that when they open a present? Please note that some of these products are full-sized. That’s huge, Fledglings. They give you way more product than I expected.

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Behold.
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Legit full-sized products.

Each box comes with a few full-sized bottles of skin care products, some samples, a little bit of makeup, and at least one adorable accessory, this month’s offering being the hair ties with bows on them. The little green container is blush with a little powder puff in it. I don’t wear much makeup, as well you know, but I’ll keep it for a bit and try it out just for fun.

As for the full-sized stuff, there’s a light oil cleanser (score!), some AHA-based acne serum, and a massive tub of aloe vera moisturizer that I foresee slathering on my husband next time he gets a sunburn. Can you tell I ordered the one for oily skin?

There’s a card in the box that explains what everything is and how to use it, which I find very helpful, as I don’t read Korean and that’s what the directions on the products are printed in:


The samples this time were some serums and moisturizers and a travel tube of Laneige sunscreen, which is a really popular brand in Korea that I’ve been wanting to try.

Score again!

And to top off all the fun, nestled in the bottom of this little box of joy were two sheet masks, one of which…wait for it…

Boom.

…Is made with red wine. What?? According to the card, the wine serves to tighten up your pores, so you can bet I’ll be trying that one out this weekend. You know – for science. I gotta make sure that wine thing is legit and report back to you, my loyal readers.

Now don’t think the donkey milk one escaped my notice either, but honestly, after learning about the snails, nothing else fazes me when it comes to K-Beauty. If they say it works, put it on my face, because they haven’t been wrong yet.

So is this subscription worth it? Ohh yeah. It’s $40 every two months, and for all the great stuff you get, I think it’s a solid value (no, they aren’t paying me to write this). There are big-name brands as well as smaller companies, and everything is chosen and explained carefully. Their site is easy to use, and overall I’m really happy with my experience with Pink Seoul so far.

We’re continuing the wedding-guest advice next week, so don’t miss that! And in two months, I’ll have another Pink Seoul box to review for you.

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Wedding Dress Codes

As I learned when I was planning my own wedding, ‘wedding season’ is considered June through October in the US. So we’re right in the thick of it, Fledglings, and I’m sure that you, like me, have been awash in invitations to showers, bach parties, engagement parties, and yes, weddings.

I can feel your blood pressure going up from here. There’s so much to consider: Should I go to these things? How much money should I spend on a wedding gift? What if I run into my ex’s ex whom I hate so much it makes my ears hurt?

And then there’s the clothing. What to wear? How much to spend on clothes? Do I *need* new clothes for this? What if I feel really out of place because I dressed wrong?

It’s enough to drive anyone to drink.

Might as well.

But put down the Pinot for a second, because dressing for other people’s weddings is pretty straightforward, once you know the lingo. And if you’re in doubt, put those social skills to work and ask! Maybe don’t ask the bride, because stress and busy and STRESS, but her maid of honor or one of the bridesmaids will likely have her finger on the pulse of what the bride wants people to wear to various events. Get direction when you need it. That’s the best way to avoid embarrassment.

Here are the wedding dress codes I’ve seen and dressed for, and some suggestions on what to throw on so you feel like you fit in with the other celebrants.

  1. Business/Dressy Casual: Same as it is for work, and same as I described in previous posts. Slacks or a skirt, nice flats, nice top. Make sure everything is clean, neat-looking, and weather-appropriate. Boom.
  2. Beach Casual: This one’s generally used for outdoor weddings (duh), so no heels here. Sandals or slip-ons that you can take off if needed – like, if you’re actually on a beach – are a necessity. A big tip here, Fledglings: Don’t wear anything floor-length on a beach. Your skirt or pant legs will just vacuum up the sand as you walk around, and your outfit will be a mess by the end of it. Mid-calf (known as ‘tea length’) or knee-length, please. A sundress or nice capris and a nice, bright-colored top will work fine and not wreck your budget if you do want new clothes for it.
  3. Sunday Dress: I did this one for my wedding. If you’ve ever been to a formal religious ceremony, like a Christian church service or Jewish shuul, wear what you’d wear to that. A dress or pantsuit for the ladies, slacks and button-downs for dudes. Maybe wear a tie, maybe not. If a jacket is your thing, go for it, but if you’re a blue-collar type who doesn’t do the jacket/tie thing, don’t rush out to get one. Look nice, look modest, look put together. If in doubt, ask.
  4. Black Tie: I don’t see these a lot, but they do happen to people who aren’t me. This is your Very Formal Wedding, with Very Formal Dress required. ‘Black tie’ means a dude needs to wear a tuxedo, or a black suit with a black tie. To complement that look, ladies should wear a floor-length evening gown (or a cocktail dress, IF the bride says it’s okay – this is another one of those times to ask for guidance). Oh yeah, you’re gonna go all out here. Put your hair up, put on some chandelier earrings, go be awesome.
  5. Casual: This is your backyard wedding, your jeans-and-t-shirt affair. Go have fun and be comfortable, but don’t look like a slob, please. Nice, non-holey jeans with a button-down or polo shirt for guys, nice jeans or a casual skirt and a cute top for the ladies. You can definitely shop your own closet for this wedding, and good for you!

That’s a quick rundown of what the different styles mean, but next weekend I’ll do an FAQ post about wedding attire. We’ll discuss cost, etiquette, and expectations, because in our super-casual world, this is one of the most structured events you’ll attend, and it’s good to be armed with some knowledge of how to do the thing properly. Have a good weekend!

What to Wear in Hawaii

Hey hey, Fledglings! I’m back to blogging after the honeymoon! I hope you’re all having a great summer and enjoying whatever bodies of water are closest to you.

We honeymooned in Maui, and if you’ve ever thought of going there, trust me on this: Go. There is no reason not to, if you have the resources to get there. The weather is stunning, every view from every angle is breathtaking, the people are friendly, the food is just life-changing…we’re already planning a second trip, that’s how good this is. I’m not normally a fan of repeating trips, because I could travel somewhere new instead, but for Maui? Oh yeah, I’ll go back.

Pictured: Heaven.

If you’re considering hitting up America’s 50th state at some point, you’re probably wondering what you should pack. After all, we’ve already discussed how wasteful oversized-luggage fees are and how we really don’t need them in our lives. Today, you can learn from my experience and minimize your packing, so that you can maximize your snorkeling/swimming/dining/awesomeness.

  1. Don’t stress about looking amazing. We went to some VERY fancy fine-dining establishments, and every one of them had a dress code of ‘resort casual.’ What’s that? It means don’t show up in your soggy swimsuit, but other than that, you’re pretty much fine. It’s an island thing; nobody dresses up. Capris or shorts and a floaty top, or a sundress and flip-flops, are more than fine. For dudes, shorts and a Hawaiian shirt or polo shirt are perfect. There are no suit-and-tie restaurants in Maui – at least, none that we went to, and some of the places we went were hosting wedding receptions. Where all the guests were in the kind of attire I just mentioned. Put your mind, and your wardrobe, at ease.
  2. It’s HOT. Okay, it’s not ‘Texas in August’ hot, but the summer weather in Maui consists of temperatures in the mid-80’s, high humidity, and lots of wind in the afternoons, and you will be out in it. Because of the year-round mild weather, most buildings are open-air to some extent, and the AC in closed buildings is kept mild, not the arctic blast of mainland big-box stores. You’re not going to be comfortable in anything clingy or structured, so dress for maximum airflow with sarongs, sun dresses, and sheer coverups. Learn from me, Fledglings: I went out in leggings exactly once, and I felt like my legs were going to suffocate. Maximum airflow, guys.
  3. Don’t stress about looking ridiculous, either. Are you worried about ‘looking like a tourist?’ Don’t. You’re gonna be surrounded by them, and the locals are going to be dressed fairly similarly. Bright, loud, busy patterns are de rigeur for men and women, so you’re going to feel more out of place in basic black than you will in a bright floral pattern. My advice: embrace the touristy cheese! The brighter the better, who cares? You’re not going to see these people again, and like I said: they’re all going to be dressed like tropical birds too. Oh, you’re sunburned and you feel pudgy? So were we! So was Every.Body. Else. I promise, if you’re doing it right, you’ll be having way too much fun to feel self-conscious, right along with everybody else.
  4. Buy some clothes while you’re there. Don’t bring one outfit for each day. First, you’re likely to spend several days wearing your swimsuit and nothing else, so you can absolutely re-wear your dinner clothes. Second, there are tons of kitschy general stores and tourist stores that sell the aforementioned floral coverups and sun dresses. Go get some of them! Get some Hawaiian shirts and some tank tops that say ‘I ❤ Maui.’ Why not? They’re fun, comfy, and then you can bring them back as souvenirs.
  5. You need fewer shoes than you think you do. Your flip-flops are fine for nice restaurants. They’re fine for the beach. They’re fine for shopping. Really the only things they’re not fine for is jogging and hiking. If you intend to do either of those, bring appropriate shoes, but if you don’t, just bring a couple pairs of sandals! I brought way too many shoes, because I was really ambitious about all the hiking we’d do. We didn’t hike at all. Pretty much all our activities were water-based, and we wore sandals. I had a pair of nicer flip-flops, and a pair of waterproof Teva sandals for the beach, and that’s all I should have packed. Shoes you can hose off are a MUST. You don’t want to track sand into stores and restaurants, but it’s going to cake onto your feet and you will need to use those little beach showers to rinse off, even if it’s just your feet.
  6. Keep one outfit for the flight back. Alllllll your stuff is going to get sandy. Hawaiian sand is like glitter; it just hangs around, no matter how much you wash your stuff. Keep one comfortable, clean outfit in your bag or in the hotel drawer so you’re not sandy on the long flight back.

Packing for Hawaii is really easy, if you don’t overthink it too much. Keep everything light and flowy, buy some stuff there, don’t pack too many shoes. That’s it. Don’t go to Maui to impress anyone or to look like a baller; you’ll have a way better time if you go there to cheese it up tourist-style, to relax, and to take it all in.

Next week, we’ll talk about wedding dress codes, WTF they mean, and how to be a polite wedding guest by dressing appropriately. We’re in high wedding season, and some of this is going to be relevant to your lives. Stay cool, Fledglings!

A Comment on Native-Inspired Style

This is a little late to the game, because I write posts early and schedule them out for future post dates, but 2016 has seen this confluence of fashion factors that’s led to a lot of Native American-inspired beauty and fashion products hitting the markets. You’ve got Southwestern patterns on clothes, there are accessories that sport feathers and beads, and there are ‘music festival-inspired’ beauty lines that are very clearly pulling from Native American culture (Yeah, I’m looking at you, MAC – get your act together).

So let’s get into this, because it’s a complicated subject. First things first, I can only talk about my own culture here, and I can only give my own opinion. Natives don’t have some hive-mind, where we all share the same social and political views. Our lives and opinions are just as diverse as that of any other group, which is one of the issues with a lot of festival fashion – it views Natives as a monolith, one single people with one single worldview, which couldn’t be further from the truth and is honestly a pretty dismissive take on any culture. Compare ‘all Natives wear feathers’ to ‘all black people like watermelon’ – if the latter sounds really offensive and rude, the former should too. There’s no reason to lump people into groups by race or heritage; there’s too many people in those groups for them to have all had the same lives and formed the same opinions.

My family is Okla Chahta – we are members of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. There are other Choctaw in the U.S., as well as other Native tribes, and all of them have had different experiences. My tribe was subjected to the Indian Removal Act and walked the Trail of Tears. The Southwestern and Pacific-Northwest tribes weren’t subjected to that, although they’ve certainly experienced their own struggles.

Are you getting some idea of the complicated histories of these various tribes now? There are entire graduate degree programs devoted to Native American studies; you can’t just walk up and say ‘Natives do/look like/think this,’ because an informed person’s response would be, ‘which Natives?’

So when I see white festival-goers wearing Native headdresses (cheap, tacky versions of the war bonnets worn by various Plains tribes, like the Sioux), my first thought is, “What an idiot.” Even if they were Native, and a member of a tribe that has war bonnets as a part of their culture, AND had the tribal standing to be allowed to wear one – they wouldn’t wear it to Coachella.

Native clothing is riddled with history and symbolism; nothing we put on our bodies as far as tribal dress is ‘just a thing to cover us up.’ Before European contact, most Native tribes in the southern U.S. didn’t wear much clothing at all, because those tribes weren’t Christian and had no concept of bodily shame to need to deal with. Clothes were for keeping warm in winter, or keeping the sun off. After European contact, and especially post-Removal, when Native kids were taken from their families and raised in European-style boarding schools (and adults were sent to hell-holes like this) where they were forced to wear ridiculous Victorian clothing and forbidden to speak their native language, traditional clothing moved forward as something Native people could claim as their own. Native clothing was something that honored who they were as they continued to fight for better living conditions and to keep their language and culture from being diluted. Nowadays, that symbolism holds strong, and it serves as a reminder of who we are and how we’re connected to our tribe.

So when I see white people put on random beads and feathers and run around at a music festival getting drunk and high, or when I see a massive makeup brand like MAC going, ‘Noooo, this makeup TOTES isn’t Native-inspired!’ I get annoyed. The drunk festival-goers could have worn literally anything else to watch 21 Pilots perform, and MAC could have brought in a Native designer like B Yellowtail to consult on their line, rather than making a bunch of fake-Native makeup and trying to claim it isn’t that. The problem isn’t that the makeup is ugly or that it’s not Native-looking – it’s that ‘Vibe Tribe’ is makeup made by white people, and marketed to white people, with Native-looking designs and names on it to make it more appealing…to white people. We Natives are left completely out of the equation here, but these products are clearly Native-inspired! Are we seeing the problem yet? Either don’t make products representing other cultures, OR bring those other cultures into the production process so that we benefit from you using our culture. That’s the issue with appropriation: one group of people co-opts another group’s culture, AND the other group doesn’t get any input or benefit from that co-opting. This is OUR culture; it’s not for other people to profit off of. We had quite enough of that in the 1830’s, thanks.

So how to wear Native-inspired clothing respectfully? That is the question, because all these geometric patterns and bright colors are speaking to my heart, and I hope they’re speaking to yours. There’s no reason not to wear beautiful clothing that has ethnic designs on it, but be aware of a few things while you’re shopping:

  1. Don’t accidentally wear sacred clothes for everyday stuff. It’s like the war bonnet thing: those are ceremonial, and really important to the tribes who wear them. They’re not decorations for your sweaty head. B Yellowtail makes some stunning scarves, and much as I would like one, I wouldn’t wear it because I’m not from a Plains tribe. I might put it up as art, something to talk about Native culture with people who see it, but I wouldn’t wear it, because it depicts a sacred ritual for a tribe I don’t belong to. It would be rude of me to look at that and go, ‘This is purdy!’ and then wear it around like the importance of the design doesn’t matter to me, when if you read the description, it’s clearly important to the designer and the people she’s representing. This dress, on the other hand, is a gorgeous pattern that was designed by Native designers specifically to make dresses out of – it was designed to be a fashion piece, not to represent a sacred ritual. Do you see the difference? There’s nothing wrong with wearing Native-looking clothes, but make sure they’re meant to be sold and worn as fashion, not as part of an important cultural event.
  2. Avoid costume/joke clothing. Nothing makes you look stupid faster than slapping on some leather fringe and saying, ‘Look, I’m an injun!’ It’s not funny. It’s definitely not clever. And it’s really not worth supporting the people who make jokey, stereotypical costumes making fun of Native people (or any people). So maybe just skip that entirely.
  3. If you really appreciate a culture, learn about them. Slapping on some clothes or jewelry with no understanding of the influences behind them is just lazy. Instead of taking the clothing at face value, use your purchases as an opportunity to learn more about other cultures and their beliefs and values. Being a more-informed person never hurt anybody, and if you have pretty clothes that now have more meaning for you because you understand and appreciate the cultural influences behind them, then you’re just winning all around, really. And then you can shut down other people when they spout ignorant BS about cultures they don’t understand. We need more people like that in the world.

Please notice that I’m not telling anybody to avoid any of the gorgeous Native-inspired or Southwestern clothing going around right now (although that ‘Vibe Tribe’ thing still annoys me). I’m saying don’t use it as an excuse to act like a moron, or to co-opt something that’s supposed to be sacred and make it your latest fashion find. I’m saying learn about other cultures and appreciate their differences. Own the fact that these designs are, in fact, inspired by Native tribes and cultures, and you the non-Native are borrowing those designs from someone else’s culture because you think they’re pretty. That’s okay – not acknowledging that fact is what’s not okay.

Success Backlash

What is this thing that happens when a person gets or does something great, and the people around them decide to be hateful about it? I’ve seen it when someone loses weight (“You’re *too* skinny now, you look sick”), when someone buys a house (“You’re stuck up and think you’re better than me”), even when someone gets in a serious relationship (“You’ve *changed* and you spend too much time with them”).

Why can’t we be happy for each other, Fledglings? I see this more among women than men, so I think it bears asking. Why can we not be excited when people achieve good things for themselves? I see that burning resentment on people’s faces, and I definitely read it in Facebook comments, and guys, it’s a problem.

I have some theories here, but please bear in mind that none of these are excuses for rage-quitting a friendship because the other person became successful at something. They’re more like jumping off points so that we can collectively ponder how we can stop shitting on our friends’ accomplishments like jealous, bitter middle-schoolers.

The first theory that comes to mind is that our friends’ successes throw our own failures and insecurities into sharp relief. Wedding season has been a hellish one for me in years past; seeing my friends get the happiness and love they so richly deserved came with a twinge of self-reproach, because I wanted that too and couldn’t figure out why I didn’t have it. That hurts. It’s a deep, crushing, soul-level hurt that took years to get past. I was blaming myself for not being in a relationship that was going anywhere, and in hindsight, I should have been more gentle with myself. I met my fiancé at the exact perfect time in my life – but if you’d have told me that five years ago, I’d have told you to stuff it. My current misery blocked out any hope of future contentment, so all I could see as my friends walked down the aisle was that they were happier, farther along in life, and more ‘together’ than I was.

I can’t tell you why that feeling of being a giant screwup in the romance department didn’t coalesce into a bunch of sneering resentment toward my lovelorn friends – hell, maybe it did for a while and I didn’t notice – but I’ve maintained all my friendships that were worth maintaining, so I’m thankful I didn’t sabotage myself too badly.

The thing I’ve taken away from that dark time, and subsequent (substantial) improvement, is that it was never my friends’ intention to hurt me by being so obviously happy in front of me. For one, they’re not responsible for my happiness. For two, expecting them to pass on love or success to keep me from feeling crappy about myself, is not an act of friendship. That’s an act of selfishness, expecting someone to hold off on succeeding until you’re ready to do so yourself. I wouldn’t be friends with someone like that, and I sincerely hope (maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to ask) that I wasn’t That Guy in my deeper points of ‘why me.’ That would be pretty embarrassing in hindsight.

Don’t invent a villain just so you have something tangible to be angry at.

Listen, Fledglings, if you’re feeling that nasty resentment that’s telling you how awful you are because you have to stand by and watch your friends be happy while you struggle, it is okay to take a step back. Better to put some distance and be with your thoughts, than to lash out at someone and wreck a friendship because they’re happier than you. That’s not their fault. Don’t invent a villain just so you have something tangible to be angry at.

Here’s another thought I’m having about this issue: do we feel like we’re in competition with our friends? Because my therapist would say that’s unhealthy. Are we thinking that our friend has ‘won’ and therefore we’ve ‘lost’ when they close on their gorgeous house in the ‘burbs?

Our friends don’t take anything from us when they succeed – unless you’re that other guy who helped found Facebook, I guess – so why do we feel that sense of loss when our friends embark on something new and great for them?

Maybe it’s because those big milestones often come with a lot of change, which any business manager will tell you is a hard thing for humans to grapple with. When I got engaged, I chose to move four hours away from nearly all my friends, and it’s definitely shaken my friendship tree and shown me what fruit needed to fall. But a friendship is like a business, Fledglings – if it’s too flimsy to handle change, it’s probably not supposed to exist. That’s harsh, but I’m sticking to it.

I think it’s human nature to worry what kind of changes our friendships will go through when one party makes some huge change, like having kids or starting a new career. Obviously, they’re going to live differently after this, so how do we friends fit in? Are we even a part of this new life they’ve gotten, that seems to make them so happy? Tell me that wouldn’t keep anybody up at night.

Like Billy Joel says, it’s a matter of trust. Don’t assume your friend intends to leave you behind – that’s feeding that fear and telling it that it’s real again, like when we talked about packing. Don’t do that thing, you’ll go all Don Quixote over it, chasing windmills thinking they’re Giants. There’s no need for that, when you could just ask your friend for reassurance that you’ll still be friends through all this new Life Stuff. Yeah, you have to be vulnerable to do that, but aren’t we all vulnerable, like, all the time? You asking your friend what this means is just you introducing that vulnerability and acknowledging its presence. Be brave, I know you can do it. Isn’t it better to know where you stand, even if the answer isn’t the one you’d prefer? Rejection fucking hurts, not even playing. But realizing ages later that you were more committed than they were, hurts a lot more. Odds are, your friend will have every intention of still being your friend (maybe with different schedules or conversation topics), but if they don’t, you will not physically die from it. You will move on from that weak friendship and find strong ones. And that’s you becoming successful.

Let’s be kinder to ourselves, Fledglings. We’re not competing against our friends. They’re not achieving things to spite us or to hold it over our heads (and if they are, why are they your friends?). Strive to own your own life and your own happiness, no matter where you’re at right now. That’s the best way to make sure other people’s wins are cause for celebration.