Snapchat Dysmorphia

If you follow the news like I do, there’s been some recent coverage on a rising problem in the age of social media, and it’s called “Snapchat Dysmorphia”. Basically, it is when people are going for cosmetic surgery so they can resemble the filters on Snapchat and other social media apps. In other words, people want to look good on their selfies so badly they are willing to go under the knife for it.

Yikes. It’s really sad that social media and its fun – just for fun! – filters are contributing to people’s insecurities. I think social media is meant to be fun, and to share ideas with, and be social with people in every corner of the globe. Maybe that is just me. But I do find it sad that social media is driving people to spend thousands to look like filters.

I mentioned before that it takes a lot of guts to do a lifestyle blog and Instagram account. It puts you out there for criticism and even ridicule if you are not perfect. I am not thin; I have some weight on me. I know it is only a matter of time before someone calls that out in a mean-spirited manner. Who knows how I’ll react to that. But I hope it won’t lead me to totally hate my appearance. Snapchat Logo

But what is perfect? Does perfection exist? Isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder, and even the beheld? What is beautiful to one person is not to the other. Beauty is subjective. All these people getting surgery just to resemble their filters may not be so beautiful to someone at all. They are spending so much money and energy toward perfection when in the end, perfection does not exist.

And really, true beauty is found within. I confess it has taken me over 30 years to figure that out. When I was a teenager, I thought I was the ugliest thing alive. When I got contact lenses for the first time at age 18, I wanted cosmetic surgery because I felt awful after seeing my face sans glasses. For much of my early 20s, I was upset my parents wouldn’t get me a nose job.

But eventually, I outgrew all these worries and insecurities. Why? Well, part of it is because I found other things to worry about. They include: work, paying bills, making enough money, having good health and a good set of friends that have the same values as I do. Really, when real-life problems come along, I mean real problems, the way your face looks takes a back seat.

Another reason why I outgrew my insecurities is because I began to gain self-esteem and self-confidence in my 30s. With that, I began to feel better about myself and that also means what I saw in the mirror. Granted, I feel self-conscious about my face sometimes, especially as I edge closer to age 40. I am self-conscious about my puffy eyes, the wrinkles beginning to form on my forehead and so on. But what saves me is that I realize that I have more to offer the world than just my face. I have a good personality, good values, a good sense of humor, and so on. To be short, there’s more to me besides my face.

And that is why I find Snapchat Dysmorphia so sad. It’s true our society puts a heavy emphasis on what we look like on the outside rather than on the inside. But no one is in charge of your life but you. You are the most important person in your life; you’re your own boss. Don’t let the words of others get under your skin. OK, OK, easier said than done, I know. I may be talking out of my a** now, but I am just sharing what I’ve learned. Hopefully, it help someone out.

But trust me on life’s real problems. They do make you forget your physical insecurities. Believe me.

How I Choose My Earrings

I’m a total earring addict, and have been since my early teens. I especially got more into earrings as I increased the number of piercings in my ears – 4 in each ear! I am picky on how I decorate my ears, even if no one really notices them but me. Since I am such an earring addict, I consider these to be part of my everyday outfits and part of my personal style.

I have three holes in each lobe, and one in each upper cartilage. For the latter, I always choose the larger stud earring since it needs to stand out, being alone up there in my ear.

For the lobes, I usually go by a hooked earring in the middle or a hoop earring, with a medium sized stud on one side and a smaller stud on the other side, normally the one closer to the face. In fact, it is always the one closer to the face. I rarely break from my earring styling, and find no reason to do so.

7.19.18 earrings 2
How I wore my earrings recently

In the past, I used to randomly pick earrings, usually trying not wear the same ones over and over. But recently, I started paying close attention to which earrings go with what. Call it an obsession, but to me it is like putting together an outfit. Everything must go with the other and the colors should also blend together.

To do that, I usually go with the most important earring of the bunch – the middle earring in the lobe. I choose that one first, and everything else mus match well with that one. Note the photos I have here; the earrings blend well together, for the most part.

I am also careful about which style I choose. I wouldn’t put two floral or two pearl or two zircon studs together for the day. That would mean there’s an overload of that particular style. I try my best to not mix ball studs on the same day, but since I have so many and sometimes not too many studs to choose from (more about that later), I just have to go with it. Then I tell myself very few people would notice my earrings, so get a life, LOL!

I also try my best to have everything match, including colors. Not easy, since I have more “middle” earrings than I do compared to the others. But I do what I can.

The reason why I don’t have too many studs to choose from is because, well, I do have more “middle” earrings than stud earrings. Sometimes I try to make an effort to buy more stud earrings, but then I wind up buying more bigger earrings for my middle hole.

I have three jewelry box drawer-full of earrings, and I see no reason to slow down. Yep, I am pathetic and need to chill.

So, that is how I dress my ears. I am earring obsessed and there is no sign of slowing down on it. Perhaps I’ll burn out with this obsession. One day. Someday. Yeah, it may happen.

 

The Joy of Almonds

I’m trying to eat more healthy these days. It’s not easy, given I have such a sweet tooth and also its summer, so bring on the ice cream. But really, I need to watch what I eat for a variety of reasons.

Almonds
Munching on some almonds one fine summer day.

Lately, I have been eating – or rather, indulging in – almonds! I’ve always liked them, but never made them my go-to snack until this past week. I choose Blue Diamond’s Lightly Salted almonds for my fix.

I don’t like too much salt on my almonds, and besides, too much salt on anything is never good. I think this brand’s almonds are just perfect. I’ve tasted the kind you get at Starbucks (I don’t know the brand), but Blue Diamond seems to be on target with its lightly salted nuts.

Now, I have to be careful when I eat almonds – because there is too much of good thing. Since one of the best things about almonds is that they are high in fiber, which is great, too much fiber could lead to problems in the bowels. I am not going to go into a lot of detail here, of course, but yeah, I did at one point eat too much almonds. Let’s just say I now ration my almond intake per day.

So although almonds are the almost perfect snack, there are two things to watch out for: salt/sodium and fiber intake. Remember, there is too much of a good thing.

Happy eating!

Loving The Skin I’m In

I have to admit doing a lifestyle blog takes a lot of courage. Not only are you putting yourself out there to random strangers worldwide, you also are showing what your body looks like, even if it is not supermodel beautiful. It makes body issues arise, especially if they are there to begin with.The-Dark-Pearl-Blog7.8.18

I measure 5’8″ and weigh somewhere around 185 pounds, which is a lot. I’m not thin; I have a bit of a belly along with heavy thighs. Somedays I do not care, other days I accept my body, and other days I feel upset about the way my body looks. It is especially not easy to fully accept my body as it is because I used to be thinner. Only two years ago, I was wearing a size 6 and weighed about 165 pounds. But a combination of side effects from lifelong medication and overeating due to stress, I am a bit pudgy now. Sigh.

I used to compare my body to that of the lovely Kate Upton. Like her, I have large breasts, love handles and a nonexistent butt. But since my weight gain, I wonder if we really do have similar bodies. Because if she’s still hot, then so am I !

Some say love the skin you’re in. Others say embrace body postivity. I follow some lifestyle bloggers like Noelle Downing who speak about having a positive attitude towards your body, no matter what it looks like. Her posts give me strength to post photos of myself, despite not being slim.

So, again, being a fashion/lifestyle blogger takes bravery. I guess that is why I took time off from this blog. Besides being busy with life, I also felt insecure about how I looked in my photos. Making sure I took the right angles and positioned my body well took the fun away. But I am hoping with this time around, I will be more confident and courageous enough to show my body as it is. Hey, perhaps I can talk about how to dress when you have a few extra pounds!

We shall see…

 

 

Why I’ll Always Wear Black

Hi there,

Yes, I went on a hiatus after life got in the way,It's me again! and I went into a bit of a funk that led me to doubt whether or not I should do this blog or my Instagram account. But things changed the other day when I went shopping, and it inspired me to start The Dark Pearl Blog all over again.

See, the reason why I call this The Dark Pearl Blog is because of my penchant for wearing dark colors, particularly black. I started dressing this way a few years ago during a dark period in my life. But in recent months, I began to feel like something lifted from me, and a light appeared at the end of the tunnel. My confidence came back and I had better self-esteem. So it made me wonder whether or not I still should wear dark clothes.

However, when I stopped by H&M earlier this week, that all changed. I picked out a few items, one a white top with black floral designs, a simple dusty pink top and a shift dress that was white with blue floral all over it (I adore flowers). At that moment, buying that dress was a step towards lighter clothes, thus a lighter view on myself and life.

But when I came home and tried on that dress, I knew instantly I made a mistake buying it. In no way did it reflect me. It wasn’t me at all. I felt awkward and uncomfortable in it, like I was trying to be somebody I wasn’t. Luckily, I saved the receipt and will return the dress soon.

That made me question what colors should wear and why. However, maybe it is not worth overthinking. Dark clothes, particularly black, suit me. They fit me. Yes, I did buy that dusty pink top, and you see me in a bright red top in the photo for this blog post. Certain colors suit me, especially when mixed with black. That dress had no darkness to it, so it didn’t go with me.

There’s something dangerous yet mysterious about black clothes. There’s something beautiful yet intimidating about black clothes. There’s something strong yet depressing about black clothes. I love that. That is what I like about black clothes, and even gray, purple and other dark colors.

Colors mean something to me, so I can’t wear just random colors like some people do. It appears I will always be drawn to black, no matter what. It feels so natural on my skin. It just suits me.

No, I am not trying to get in touch with my inner goth like I used to. Perhaps I am, to some degree. All I know is black is my color. And that is how it will stay.

 

Coffee Shop – Coffee Rx

Believe it or not, Bay Ridge has a good number of great coffee shops. Even though that neighborhood is kind of isolated from the rest of Brooklyn, thanks to the lousy R train, this area boasts plenty of good places to grab coffee and other snacks. The first I am going to review is Coffee Rx.

Formerly known as The Coffee Lab, Coffee Rx’s prime location is at 6903 3rd Avenue, right off the R Train’s Bay Ridge Avenue stop. There’s a good selection of basic coffees, from drip to lattes to cappuccino. However, you also have the option of having rose lattes – which is literally a latte with flecks of rose petals in it! It tastes amazing! Coffee Rx

Then there are the other drinks including the popular Nutella Monster (a latte that speaks for itself) and eight teas to choose from. And yes, this place has matcha drinks as well.

And then come the sandwiches, waffles and other thing to chomp down on. I recommend their Nutella and Ricotta cheese waffles, as well as their strawberry and ricotta cheese waffles. I think there’s even Nutella and banana waffles. In addition, you have your variety of wraps and sandwiches to choose from.

The place is clean, has an outdoor space, and even has Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, there is no Wi-Fi outside. As for the bathroom, it is also clean and spacious. It also has a toilet and a urinal together in the same bathroom! Talk about being gender neutral!

Overall, I give Coffee Rx great reviews. If you want, you can try its other locations, such as its stand on 88th Street in Bay Ridge. You may also want to try its latest opening at 1504 86th Street in Bensonhurst. Clearly, Coffee Rx is expanding and more of Brooklyn should enjoy their great coffees!

Removing Your Eye Makeup on a Budget

Even though there are so many ways to remove your makeup these days, I stand by using Vaseline. Yes, it may get greasy but it so effective. It is also good to buy when you are on a tight budget like me.

I used to use those Neutrogena makeup wipes, but I had to buy a new pack every six weeks or so. It also did not fully remove my eye makeup, particularly my mascara. I would wake up to black smudges under my eyes every morning.

Vaseline_Opened
Image via Wikimedia Commons

That is, until I started using Vaseline. When I decided to tackle my budget more, I bought a large tub of Vaseline – and I’ve been using it for nearly two years now! (Don’t worry, it has not yet expired). And it is really effective! Just use cotton balls, rub the eyes as much as possible, and the eye makeup comes off. It even works well for lipstick.

Some may disagree, and say that makeup wipes are best for the eyes and lips, but I say nay. Since resorting to Vaseline, I’ve rarely woken up to black smudges under my eyes. I also have maintained my budget by not buying new wipes every month.

So there you go: effective eye make up removal and saving money. Killing two birds with one stone. What more can you want? Now granted, I only wear eyeliner, mascara and lipstick, so I cannot speak for full facial makeup. But I do think if it ever comes to that, I will use Vaseline because it has always been a faithful makeup remover.

If you want to check out other cheap, DIY ways to remove eye makeup, click here for a Bustle article. 

 

Growing Because I Must

“Well I’ve been afraid of changing
‘cuz I built my life around you.
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too”

We all know those famous lines from “Landslide”, Stevie Nicks’ all-time greatest song (IMO). It speaks to a lot of us who have to make serious changes to our lives in order to grow, develop and mature into well-rounded human beings. Sometimes it can be fighting alcoholism, drug-addiction, eating disorders, depression or even personality disorders. Other times it could be bad personal habits we have that prevent us from being mature enough, to be developed well-enough and to be an actual “grown up”.

This past week, I decided to finally confront the fact that I am not exactly an emotionally mature person. I’ve always been aware that I do not take care of myself in an emotional sense. I tend to keep my emotions locked up, my vulnerability safely secured behind a thick, high wall. I’ve been that way since I was a teenager, and now, after spending 20 years like this, I’m confronting the fact that this is not healthy for me.

How did I come to this point? Well, I’ve always been aware that I can be robotic and don’t allow myself to be emotionally vulnerable at all. I don’t display in-depth emotions. Any emotions I do display are surface-level, therefore immature. The results are having difficulty controlling the in-depth emotions, such as anger, anguish or anxiety. As my therapist pointed out, it is as if I am stuffing my emotions into a tight suitcase. But because they are packed so tightly inside, the suitcase bursts open. I’ve experienced that a lot in the past few years, where my emotions burst open. And it wasn’t pleasant! IMG_4435

I’ve been trying since November to feel more in-depth emotions, but with little success. It is not easy because it is like flexing new muscles I do not know how to use. And I have this long-held belief that being vulnerable to whatever degree is a recipe for pain and hurt.

But what really woke me up was this guy I met on a date last weekend. It was a really good date, where we laughed, shared parts of our lives, shared our values, thoughts and opinions on just about everything. It was the best date I had ever been on in a very long time, and I was really looking forward to seeing that guy again.

Unfortunately I haven’t heard from him since. And I think I know why.

He told me I was difficult to read, that he couldn’t figure me out.

Now, that could mean a number of things. But I interpreted it as a sign that I was not emotionally open enough, that I was too robotic, the walls were up too high.

That was when I decided to finally make the effort to emotionally mature, and join the rest of the world.

It’s been hard since, as I said, I am flexing new muscles. I also have to undo the belief that being vulnerable means being weak. But I am determined to be develop emotionally, because I want to be more in control of my emotions, instead of having them burst out of me in self-destructive ways. It won’t be easy to develop like this, but I must do it.

Basically, I’m emotionally like a teenager. I stopped emotionally developing when I was 16, and from there became an emotional robot/mess. That means picking up where I left off. Which is probably why I am going through a semi-goth phase. Like I mentioned once before, I had an interest in the goth subculture in high school, but never went through on it for a variety of reasons. It may seem immature for a 35 year-old to go through such a phase, but I am being honest with myself in terms of music and fashion. That doesn’t mean I’ll start dressing and behaving like a teenager. I’ll just incorporating where I left off to my current self. I’ll be combining the two.

I have a lot of self-awareness, so that will help me through this developmental stage. I’m mentally mature, but not emotionally. So, put it that way.

Hopefully, whatever the outcome is, I’ll be a better and healthier person.

There’s a saying from the Akan tribe in Ghana: Sankofa. It basically means going back to move forward. That is what I am doing now.

 

Coffee Shop – Konditori

I am a huge fan of coffee shops. Even though I have a coffee maker at home (LOL!), nothing beats going to a shop to grab a coffee, and possibly a snack, in order to do whatever work or meetup you are doing. At least for me!

konditori

Konditori is a chain of coffee shops throughout Philadelphia and New York, though in NYC, they’re mostly in Brooklyn. They can be found in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Prospect Heights and Park Slope. My favorite spot is in Cobble Hill on Smith Street. I go there often, mainly because it is easy to get to and it is spacious. But Greenpoint and Park Slope’s locations are also targets of mine.

Overall, I give Konditori high marks. I usually get a regular coffee (large) with milk and sugar. Occasionally, I get a hot chocolate or hot black tea. In the summer, I’d get an iced coffee (of course). All four drinks are top notch, and I have no complaints.

For snacks, Konditori offers bagels, crossaints, doughnuts, cookies, coco balls and others. They even offer vegan snacks! I recommend their coconut flake doughnut, their spinach crossaints, and their whole wheat bagels. Plus, their chocolate chip cookies are pretty good.

Usually, the staff is friendly and helpful. I never had any complaints. The Wi-Fi at all the Konditoris I go to functions nicely.

Best of all, Konditori offers stamp cards, where if you get 10 stamps, you get a free drink! And you could use it at any Konditori!

So, Konditori is an awesome coffee shop and I love going to their locations.

Hopefully, you would too!

 

 

Fashion Review: Elie Saab & Zuhair Murad Haute Couture Spring 2018

This week is Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris, and I love it when these shows happen. That is because it is likely someone is going to wear one of the gowns at these Haute Couture at the upcoming Academy Awards.

It is also a good chance to take a look at two of my favorite designers, Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad. Sometimes I think these two never fail. Other times I think they could’ve done better. This time it was in-between for both of them.

Let’s take a look at Elie Saab…

Click on link to see more at Zimbio

This season’s collection featured a lot – and I mean, a lot! – of bows and fuzziness. It appeared that Saab was experimenting with something different, which is fine, but I felt it was too much this time. There were a few gowns that I really liked, the one on the left is among them. But overall, I wasn’t too enthralled with the feathers and bows for this collection.

Now onto Zuhair Murad…

Click here to see more at Zimbio.

I liked this season’s collection a lot. Plenty of red, jeweled dresses and pure beauty. The one thing I am concerned about is Murad may be accused of cultural appropriation by incorporating Native American designs and styles into this collection. If so, then whoever wears one of these gorgeous dresses may also be accused of such, and there will be a lot of controversy going on. Even so, I feel Murad topped Saab here this time around.