Tenacious Bling

Three years ago I published a little ebook for mothers about nurturing creativity, an encouragement mostly to explore, develop and play with creative practices in our busy lives as moms.

I listed a few examples, mostly from my own life, of easily accessible creative activities and expressions we can explore, even if we don't feel very artistically gifted. I am truly disappointed that I failed to mention one so glaringly obvious.

If I had written that little book now I'd have a richer understanding of one of the most readily accessible creative outlets for women. Fashion.

I have to smile when I write that because it's taken raising a fashion conscious, clothes loving, and sometimes makeup obsessed pre-teen to show me what many women already know and appreciate in their lives: personal appearance can provide the canvas for a wellspring of creative expression.

Because I am a casual/sporty, spend no more than 2 minutes doing your hair type gal this little nugget of wisdom remained largely buried to me. It took my growing daughters to help me unearth it.

(I think living in Québec around fashionable and incredibly creative women has also helped.)

I have unfairly judged women who are well made up in their clothing, hair and makeup.

I wondered, "are they not comfortable and happy in their own beautiful skin?" Maybe. Maybe not. That's not for me to know or judge.

What I do know is this. My almost twelve year feels comfortable with her physically-fit and athletic body. She loves her curly hair and strong, muscled calves. She is proud of her widely spaced toes and broad feet, healthy after years of being barefoot and minimalist-shod. She marvels at her green and grey tinted eyes, unique in our family of blues. She appreciates her dominant bottom lip. (I guess that's why she could produce such a good pout as a two year old.)

And she loves expressing her appreciation for this body, as it is, by embellishing it. Wearing clothes that are fun and fancy. Using her skin as a canvas for makeup art and design.

While we were hiking people liked to ask our kids, "what do you miss most?" Without skipping a beat Tenacious Bling always answered, "clothes".

Her wardrobe when we started the trail was as utilitarian as the rest of ours. But it soon became apparent she was not happy with the situation (i.e.: she complained a lot) and she spent the rest of the hike devising ways to add bling to the blah.

It's not just contemporary fashion she loves, as contemporary as hand-me-down fancy dresses and thrift store finds can be. She loves dressing-up to play a role. Girl on the town for when she runs errands with us. Peasant or servant girl when she's on meal prep. And the perennial favorite Princess.

As Brienne comes into her own creatively and artistically in a family whose other members are accomplished artists, programmers, photographers, writers, and sewists (and dabblers in a lot more), I can see fashion being a key part of Brienne's creative pursuits, and maybe theatre.

She is sparkle and bling; verbally expressive, persistent, and physically flamboyant. Equally confident on a sports award podium or dressed up to go grocery shopping.

She is who she is, our family's very own Tenacious Bling. And I couldn't love her more.

About the makeup

Brienne is wearing Cheeky Cosmetics on her face and Bite Beauty on her lips. Finding natural and less harmful makeup has been getting much easier in recent years but I'm always on the lookout for better products for my girls' skin.

Céline recently purchased a Bare Minerals foundation kit and tube of mascara for her cosplay makeup needs. At our recent (and first) visit to Sephora in Halifax, we used the EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to help use navigate the labyrinth of products.

If you have any favorite natural makeup brands please share as I'm sure there will be more purchases in our household in the future and I like to be in the know about the best options available.

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  • Ruth L

    Ruth L on Oct. 23, 2014, 12:41 p.m.

    I love this little gal we call 'Bling'!!  She has an innocent fashion flair that enhances her sweetness!



  • Shannon

    Shannon on Oct. 23, 2014, 1:01 p.m.

    Have you tried Arbonne?  I'm not sure what ingredients you are trying to avoid, but Arbonne follows European skincare standards, because Europe has banned more than 1300 chemicals in their skincare, while the US has only banned 9.  Arbonne is vegan, animal-cruelty free, gluten-free, paraben-free, mineral oil-free, artificial color/fragrance/sugar-free.....and many more.  If there are specific ingredients you try to avoid, feel free to ask and I will get you information. But otherwise it seems like Arbonne could be a good fit.  (And not for nothing, I am a Sephora-loving girl myself, and I was surprised to find that I loved Arbonne's makeup!)


    • Margaret

      Margaret on Oct. 24, 2014, 5:21 a.m.

      Arbonne is not as natural and safe as they lead you to believe. Google Meghan Telpner's blog post about Arbonne.



  • sara

    sara on Oct. 23, 2014, 1:48 p.m.

    This post really helped me bridge the gap on how we can be totally accepting and love ourselves for who we are plain, but also love to glamor up with tenacious bling!  Thanks so much for sharing!  I have been struggling with this very idea that past two weeks and you have helped me see how they can coexist!  Your words have freed me in ways you cannot possibly know right now!



  • Nana

    Nana on Oct. 23, 2014, 2:26 p.m.

    Oh, thank you for writing this about our Tenacious Bling. May she always be so expressive and comfortable in who she is (gorgeous and fit with flair) - she inspires this Nana to mix up the practical and "boring" with some pizzazz! 


  • amber

    amber on Oct. 24, 2014, 1:40 a.m.

    I am so excited about this post!  It is rare that a woman who doesn't find the same passion as others for makeup and fashion approaches the subject with so much acceptance and even takes joy in seeing how this can be a form of self expression.  I am with Brienne!  I love wearing makeup, and I love how I feel when I express myself that way.   Often, when I am with my mostly un-made-up friends, I feel like the odd one out.  When they actually talk about how they think that wearing makeup is for people who don't like who they really are, or that they don't want to give in to the pressure to look a certain way, I often feel like I am the one they are referring to.  Like I have a weakness, and that is why I wear makup.  This just isn't true.  I enjoy makeup and fashion.  It's fun, and it makes me feel put together.  I like to feel like it's a red lipstick (or pink or coral) day and go with it.  That expresses how I feel.  Sure, it makes me feel pretty.  It boosts my self confidence a bit, but I don't think that's wrong.  I love how you captured Brienne's personality and talk about her love for these things as a strength and her way of expression artistically.  Thank you for your honesty about how you have transitioned into this way of thinking after watching someone you are so intimately close to grow into a beauty and fashion loving girl.  You know her heart.  That is what has formed your opinion on the matter.  

    I love how you emphasize that it's not for you to judge whether someone wears makeup because they aren't comfortable in their own skin.  It's so true.  We never know others' motives.  I have had acne since I was 12.  That's 24 years!  Now that I am done with pregnancy, during which time my skin was gorgeous compared to my usual broken out self, my acne has returned.  So, yes, I wear makeup partly to hide my breakouts.  I wear it partly because I love to wear it.  I don't see anything wrong with either reason.  

    Thank you, Renee, for your non judgemental approach to this subject.  I knew I really, really liked you already, but this just tops the cake. :)


    I am an esthetician, which is something I got into, because I wanted to help people like myself to have healthy skin.  I have done a lot of reading and research about products for skin care and makeup to switch over to more health conscious brands.  I have even thought about starting a blog about it :)

    Here are a few basic recommendations:

    mineral makeup:

    https://www.everydayminerals.com    free (plus shipping) samples to get your color right.  I really like the look and texture of their makeup.  It suits my skin much better than bare minerals. Though bare minerals is good as far as ingredients go.  good pricing.  compare the cost to the amount in the container, though, as this varies greatly. 

    http://www.alimapure.com/  another good brand, though I find it too matte for me, which ends up looking chalky.  Good sampling via mail also

    http://www.rejuvaminerals.com/store/  has a different approach to ingredients.  Worth reading about on their site.  I would be using them right now, but my color is being reformulated.  A little lighter coverage, but a beautiful finish.

    I am with you all the way on the bite lipstick.  It's pricey, but the ingredients are great and they are competitive as far as their look and color selection.  Often, the alternatives to mainstream brands fall short, this one has great colors!  

    http://www.colorganics.net/organic-cosmetics/organic-lip-tints/  I love these lip tints which I buy at my local health food store.  Not a full on lip color, but for the price, they are a great every day balm with more color than most.  

    I tend to be more lenient with blush and eyeshadow, especially eye shadow, since it goes over my base makeup and is on a smaller part of my skin.  (and I am not eventually eating it like I know I do with lipstick.)   I have found that most healthy brands of pressed eyeshadow don't last or stay and they just crumble in the pan.  Many of the loose eye shadows such as bare minerals are great with a huge color selection.  I still tend to choose to cheat with eye shadow.  My favorite is MAC.  It stays all day and is formulated really well for the price.  No redeeming value in the ingredients, though.  The loose blush samples that I have tried from Everyday Minerals and Alima pure have been great.

    As far as skin care goes, if you have any skin care questions, please feel free to email me.  I am always happy to answer questions and help you figure out what might be best for you girls' particular skin type. I don't sell any skin care products right now, so that isn't my intetion.  I would just be happy to help, if you want.  

    Whew!  That was long.  I love to make recommendations and share great finds.  I'll let you know if I fond anything else worth sharing.




    • renee

      renee on Oct. 24, 2014, 12:46 p.m.

      Thank you so much Amber for this comment. I will be coming back to it to re-read your advice. I need women like you in my life since I am challenging in the makeup department when it comes to helping my girls :)

      xo, Renee


  • Paul Bennett

    Paul Bennett on Oct. 25, 2014, 12:59 p.m.

    What a great post. Your acceptance of Bling as different from you, and your increased understanding and love is quite beautiful, and a salient lesson in acceptance in a world that is increasing less accepting of difference. But the real killer for me is the fact that Bling can combine that 'girlie-girl' side with the tenacity and strength to walk 2,000 miles. You go girl!


  • kyndale

    kyndale on Oct. 26, 2014, 7:14 p.m.

    She's a gorgeous young lady and I think she looks really pretty with a little make-up!  Amelia isn't into make-up and it doesn't matter to me either way, but I'm not sure I'd be able to give her advice if she was!  It's been so long since I wore make-up and when I did, it was minimal.  A bit of mascara, a light foundation and mascara.  Never lipsitck for some reason.  I did do lip gloss.  


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