Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Enthusiasts - Wear your passion and pay it forward

I've refrained from using this blog to shill my crafty creations, but this new collection is just too good to not share in every possible medium I can!

A lot of my crafting designs lately have been...well, a little negative. I got angry, and sarcastic, and while I don't regret those designs, it was definitely time for something new. Introducing, all new from Femmecraft...

This collection came from a simple origin - I love people with passion. I don't care if I don't know the first thing about what you're passionate about. If you're truly, honestly passionate about something, that makes it interesting to me. My friends are an extraordinarily eclectic bunch as a result. I know writers, artists, mathematicians, builders, engineers, and programmers. I know people who swoon over the smell of a musty old book, and people who light up at the mention of RAM cycles. I know people who could tell you the entire family tree of Aragorn, and people who love nothing better than taking macro shots of the hairiest spiders they can find. The object of their passions are different, but that spark of enthusiasm is the same, and it's that spark that lights them up in my eyes.

The age of the internet has been both a curse and a blessing for those of us with less "usual" interests. No matter what you're into, if you can get on the internet, you don't have to be alone. As someone who grew up in a small town with no internet, and no community, the extraordinary gift of this sense of community is something that still amazes me every day. Want to talk about footwear styles in the court of King Louis XIV? There's a forum for that. You want to talk to other people about what type of wood makes the smoothest pipes to smoke from? There are whole corners of the internet devoted to that.

On the downside, being able to pull together huge communities across the globe easily can also create monstrosities like GamerGate. There are some people who think that having more people in a community means you have to be stricter about who can and can't be in their particular "club".

As a response to the amount of negative attention geek culture is getting right now, I've put together a collection of handmade jewellery designed to celebrate the obsessive - no matter what your obsession might be. As a reaction to the awful gatekeeping and rulemaking about who can and can't be a geek, I want to celebrate all sizes and shapes of geek, in the form of themed pendants.

I also wanted to do something with this collection, to actively contribute to the continuation of community rather than just celebrating it. So I've decided to donate 10% of the sale price of every pendant in this collection to a relevant charity. Here are the four pendants that make up the First Wave - these are all available from Femmecraft over on Etsy as of today.

  • Word Nerd - a 30mm round pendant featuring a deep blue glitter polish background and a hand sculpted leatherbound book, under a hand drawn banner designed to represent the ruffled pages of a well loved book, this is the perfect gift for every Word Nerd.

  •  History Buff - A 30mm round pendant featuring a deep plum holographic background and a hand sculpted quill, this is the perfect gift for anyone who can tell you exactly what years the Medieval period of history encompasses.

  • Gamer Geek - 30mm round pendant featuring a bright red sparkling glitter background and a hand sculpted Nintendo Controller, this is an essential for every square eyed obsessive.

  • Comic Fanatic - 30mm round pendant featuring a sparkling teal glitter glitter background and a hand sculpted comic style speech bubble, this is an ideal gift for anyone who has a stance on DC Vs Marvel.
And that's just the first wave! I also have in the works;

• STEMinist (supporting the Ada Initiative)
• Sex Geek (proceeds to ACON)
• Dog Person (proceeds to Monika’s Rescues)
• Derby Folk (supporting the Sydney Roller Derby League)
• Cat Fancier (proceeds to the Cat Protection Society)

Huge, right? This is absolutely the biggest project I've taken on since I started Femmecraft, and honestly, I'm a little worried it will collapse in a pile of nothing. I really want to sell enough of these to make some significant donations, and to do that I need exposure. I've sent out a press release (hah, how official!) and approached some bloggers, but dammit, I want more. And that's where you can help! If these pendants speak to you, if they would suit someone you know, if you could tweet this or link it, or hell, just tell your Mum they're nice, I would be eternally grateful.

With that, I'll end my uncharacteristically shameless self promotion. For now, head on over to Femmecraft and check it all out, and next time it'll be back to the beauty!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Beauty Bohemia - Indie Goodness Emporium

Being a lover of indie cosmetics who happens to live in Australia can really suck. We have our own local superstars, the most well known being Femme Fatale Cosmetics. But there are SO MANY brands based in the US that we just can't access without paying a huge chunk of money on postage for every order.

But now there's a new player in town, who aims to bring all the shiny, geeky, cult goodies to us here in the antipodes. It's Beauty Bohemia to the rescue!

Beauty Bohemia is run by Omega, who has been blogging over at Fashion Adjacent for a good long while now. Before she was a blogger, Omega was heavily involved in the Goth scene, and if anyone knows quality makeup, it's a hardcore Goth. The range of brands Omega has collected in the one site is truly impressive, and as well as indie heavyweights like Concrete Minerals and Medusas Makeup, it also includes my personal favourites right now Hello Waffle and Shiro Cosmetics. But the brand that really jumped out and got a hold of my wallet is Victorian Disco Cosmetics. I've heard a lot of really great things about this brand, but unfortunately the owner has recently been struggling through a rather rough growth period. Orders have been rather significantly delayed, and I was absolutely delighted by the idea of being able to get my hands on Victorian Disco without having to spin the roulette wheel of waiting times on orders direct from the company.

To my excitement, my goodies were packaged up and sent out to me in mere days! I've gotten far too used to the extensive TAT's most smaller indie companies have, and I was absolutely blown away by the idea of ordering and having my package show up in under a week. Even better, my goodies arrived in an adorable little polka dot cosmetics bag!

As well as three shadows from Victorian Disco Cosmetics, I threw an Embalming Tube from Detrivore Cosmetics into my bundle. Detrivore Cosmetics went through a similar painful growth period to Victorian Disco Cosmetics a while back, and I haven't been able to get my hands on their incredible lip balm for far too long. However, the owner of Shiro Cosmetics picked up the Detrivore brand, so now I can get this luscious balm back on my lips where it belongs.

The Victorian Disco Cosmetics shadows I ordered are from left to right, Dobby's Socks, Neither Can Live While The Other Survives, and Ice Ice Baby. For once, I actually picked them all out based on the colours alone, since I'm not a huge Potterhead. My one quibble with Beauty Bohemia is that they currently only offer full sizes of eyeshadows. Hopefully this is something they'll be more flexible about in the future, because I've personally never used an entire full size eyeshadow, and I'd much prefer to be able to get more colours in mini sizes. I'm very happy with all the eyeshadows themselves though - the formula is nice and smooth, and they're nicely pigmented with minimal fallout.

Dobby's Socks in a lovely cool leaning brown, that goes on a bit darker than I was expecting from the swatch. These eye pictures are just Dobby's Socks all over the lid and lightly blended, so you can see how it looks on. Cool toned browns are a little unusual in the indie makeup world, so I'm excited to have such a nice one. It reminds me a lot of the base colour in Shiro's Nic Cage Raking Leaves, but without the outrageous amounts of sparkle.

 Neither Can Live While The Other Survives is listed as a duochrome, but I was a little skeptical when I did the swatches. There's KIND of a lighter purple sheen to it, but I really liked the grey base so I wasn't that fussed. But when I put it on, the duochrome jumped right out. I mean, it's not as duochrome as something like Femme Fatale, but there is a definite visible shift.

Ice Ice Baby is, rather suitably, very fun if a little trashy when overused. I wouldn't actually wear this out as a single colour look, because it's SO SPARKLY, but it would be a brilliant highlight colour. The white base is sheer enough that you could wash it over other colours or blend it over the browbone, and the sparkle has enough of a variation between silver, white, and blue to keep it interesting.

Overall, I'm super glad I got to get my hands on these pretties in a timely fashion. I'm sure eventually Victorian Disco will work out their distribution kinks, and my wallet will be ready and waiting. But in the meantime, I'll definitely be chilling over and Beauty Bohemia, building a never ending wishlist.

Beauty Bohemia carries AFK Cosmetics, Concrete Minerals, Detrivore Cosmetics, Espionage Cosmetics, Glamour Doll Eyes (who I reviewed here), Hello Waffle, Medusa's Makeup, Notoriously Morbid, Shiro Cosmetics, and many many more. They also offer free shipping within Australia for orders over $25, and free shipping for orders outside Australia for orders over $50.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Blogger Confessions

I recently started trawling the interwebs for bloggers who write about nerdy fashion, in order to get some ideas on how to promote my jewellery. Among a veritable treasure trove of awesome people, I came across The Nerdy Girlie, a very fun US blogger. She started a fun little game where she encouraged bloggers to make a confession post, and I figured I might as well join in. To be honest, there's not a lot I hold back from you guys, but I managed to come up with a few things that might count as Blogger Confessions of note.

Confession One - I don't think of myself as a Blogger

I know this is a completely ridiculous one. I have three blogs of my own, a regular slot at Already Pretty, and I've contributed at Kiki and Tea, XO Jane, The Closet Feminist, and The Lacquerheads of Oz. I am someone who blogs - a lot. I've even been paid for it! But I still can't wrap my head around the idea of me as a Real Blogger. The Nerdy Girlie, Lab Muffin, More Nail Polish, these are REAL bloggers. I'm just a kid in my mum's shoes who clomps around the house pretending to be a Serious Business Lady sometimes. If someone asks what I do I always answer "Administration", because that's my Real Job, even thought I actually spend far more hours of my life blogging.

Confession Two - I'm incapable of sticking to a schedule

I see all these other bloggers showing off their elaborate post timetables, and I feel SO disorganised. I have a running list of ideas I want to write up (more than I could ever possibly write), and reviews I've promised, but I never seem to be able to stick to it. An idea pops into my head, and suddenly I NEED to write it RIGHT now, and everything else can wait. I always get my review posts up in a timely manner - but sometimes other things get shuffled, and shuffled, and shuffled again in favour of newer, shinier ideas. This post is actually an excellent example of my inability to stick to a schedule. I MEANT to spend this week doing a post recapping Oz ComicCon, but this post jumped the queue.

Confession Three - I need to get WAY better at saying no

I was so relieved to see this exact same confession over at Distracted Blogger!  Because I don't think a lot of my own work, I'm always SO excited when someone asks me to do something I feel like an idiot saying no. Opportunities! So many opportunities! Maybe I'll never ever get another one and if I turn this one thing down my entire blogging platform will burn to the ground!? What if I turn this thing down and no one ever asks me for anything ever again and all my effort up until now has been wasted??!!

I'm getting better at this - I said no to two things just this week. But I need to get better. There have been too many times I've said yes to everything and found myself a hysterical mess trying not to let anyone down. I have to get better at realising the world won't end if I simply can't come through on something I promised, and setting up realistic goals in the first place.

Confession Four - I'm awful at reading other blogs

I have a huge blog roll of talented, awesome, fantastic bloggers - that I hardly ever read. I love the idea of supporting other bloggers and paying back all the love and support I get, but I somehow never quite get there. I'm hoping to get better at this once I'm not working full time, but at the moment I am just THE WORST blog reader. I AM however excellent at reading Twitter - anything posted to Twitter gets read right away, but otherwise...I'm sorry, it's really not you, it's absolutely me. 

Confession Five - I totally blog at my day job

I've seen a lot of bloggers who are very proud of the fact they never blog at work, and I admire their ability to resist temptation. But I also think their jobs must be WAY more challenging than mine. Personally, I think I'd lose it if I DIDN'T blog at work in between the tedious things that need to be done. Administration pays the bills, but it really can wither the soul.

If you're interested in reading other Blogger Confessions, there is a whole bunch of them over at the G+ Female Geek Bloggers group!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Glamour Doll Eyes - Indie Shadow Review

Over the last couple of months, I've been spending a lot of my downtime trawling a little Reddit community called Indie Makeup And More, because apparently I didn't have enough places to throw my limited cash at. Reddit as a whole has a pretty bad name for being...well, all around icky, but my experience with IMAM has so far been very educational. I've discovered more indie cosmetics makers than I ever dreamed existed, and I was lucky enough to be asked to review some products from a new-to-me company, Glamour Doll Eyes.

I'm such a sucker for a good pun
Glamour Doll Eyes are based in the US, and like so many other indie cosmetic brands are a one-woman show. They're very active in the beauty blogger community, and even have a whole sponsorship program in place! I love this kind of community building on the part of indie companies - it's such a great way to promote themselves without just spamming everyone endlessly.
Having such a great impression of the company off the bat, I was pretty impatient for my goodies to get here! Considering the perilous trevails of international shipping, the turnaround time was great, and everything was beautifully presented in perfect condition.

All my pretties in a neat little row!
I'm trying to do this thing with my eyeshadows at the moment where I at least ATTEMPT to balance out the brilliant purples and inky blacks with something resembling neutrals, so I requested a couple of shades I wouldn't normally have gravitated towards, as well as my favourite blue palette. Glamour Doll Eyes sent me (from left to right) RoxxCandy, Dusk, Celestial Crow, Heedless Heart, Undercover, and Brown Eyed Girl. Now, I'm not nearly as skilled as the bloggers Glamour Doll Eyes usually have to show off their products, but I put a few looks together anyway to show you what they look like in the hands of an enthusiastic amateur.

This is Heedless Heart all over the lid, with a touch of Brown Eyed Girl in the crease just to darken it up a bit. I honestly didn't think I'd like Heedless Heart that much, given that it looks rather pink in the jar. It's still pretty pink on the lid, but there is a delightful gold shimmer to it that really tones down the girlishness and makes it look rather sophisticated.

Swatch of Heedless Heart over Femme Fatale Shadow Magic
I also noticed that unlike a lot of lighter shadows I didn't need to put a pale base under Heedless Heart to get a nice, bright colour. It reminds me a lot of Hot Cross Bunnies from Hello Waffle, except slightly pinker and less gold.

This is an astonishingly worksafe look for me, but I actually kind of dig it. I used Undercover all over the lid, with Brown Eyed Girl in the corner and crease again. Undercover is a quite grey toned taupe, so I wasn't sure how it would look with my skin. But it also has a very slight golden sheen that helps warm it up a little bit, and while it doesn't suit me quite as much as Heedless Heart, it's still very easy to wear.

Undercover swatch over Femme Fatale Shadow Magic
Unlike Heedless Heart, I can't think of any other indie shadows I've seen that are quite the same as Undercover, so I'd definitely recommend this as a must have if you're trying to branch out from the Naked2 palette into something a bit more interesting.

Brown Eyed Girl swatch over Femme Fatale Shadow Magic
Brown Eyed Girl is a warm, sparkly mid brown, and it blends out really nicely. It has a slight pinkish sheen in it, that reminds me really strongly of chocolate milk. But there are at least five dupes I can think of for this colour off the top of my head - three of which I own. If you've been looking for a mid toned brown, and you're headed to Glamour Doll Eyes anyway, by all means pop it in the cart - but it's not really original enough to inspire a special trip.

RoxxCandy, however, as seen here with a little Dusk in the corners and crease, is ABSOLUTELY worth a special trip over to Glamour Doll Eyes. It's got all the sparkle and icy blue shimmer I was hoping for when I got Diamond Dust from Geek Chic Cosmetics, but with none of the irritating downsides. Diamond Dust was falling in my eyes in noticeable clumps within an hour of applying, even if I used a sticky base, but RoxxCandy on the other hand stayed put perfectly all day over just a normal primer. As with Heedless Heart, it also shows up nice and bright without the need for a white base.

RoxxCandy over Femme Fatale Shadow Magic

It barely even creased, and my eyeshadow usually creases as soon as I blink! It's probably too sparkly for ordinary everyday, but I don't even care, I've worn it three times to the office already. It's just too darn pretty to save for a rainy day!

Dusk is, like Brown Eyed Girl, fine but not exactly mindblowing. If you're getting RoxxCandy (and you should), it's a perfect match in terms of putting a look together. There's a veeeery slight shimmer to it, but it's more or less just a nice navy blue.

I did notice this colour goes on rather more sheer than I was expecting, given it looks extremely dark in the jar. For me, this was a little frustrating because I had to go back a couple of times to get the depth I wanted. However, if you're more colour shy than me, this could be a huge advantage for you - you can smoosh it on quite generously and not end up looking like you've been punched.

Celestial Crow however, is the exact opposite in terms of intensity. I was pretty excited by this one, given that I have a terrible weakness for teal and duochromes, but it just didn't live up to my first impression.

Celestial Crow swatched over Femme Fatale Shadow Magic
Initially I tried using it as a crease colour, but the results were honestly so awful I'd feel bad sharing them here - it went EVERYWHERE, and yet somehow ended up patchy at the same time. So I went back and did another look, using Celestial Crow mixed with water as an eyeliner instead.

This look is RoxxCandy all over the lid, a TINY bit of Celestial Crow in the crease, with eyeliner made from Celestial Crow mixed with sealant. You can see the green duochrome sparkle comes up pretty nicely when you apply it this way. When washing the mixture of shadow and sealant off the back of my hand though, I did notice it left a rather prominent green stain on the skin. Makeup remover and a couple of soap washings more or less got rid of it, and I didn't notice any major discolouration on my eyes at the end of the day, but something to keep in mind especially if your skin is prone to staining.

I'd heard a lot of good things about Glamour Doll Eyes, and I was really glad not to be disappointed. Heedless Heart, Brown Eyed Girl, and Undercover offer an excellent indie alternative to mainstream worksafe mainstays like Urban Decay's Naked palettes, and Roxx Candy is an absolute must have for anyone with blue eyes who wants to make them really jump out. Celestial Crow would probably look much better in more skilled hands, and I will probably pick up a full size of Dusk at some stage to go with all my lovely light blues.

You can get Glamour Doll Eyes from their site, and shipping to Australia is very reasonably priced and quick.

Monday, August 18, 2014

XoJane and Already Pretty Guest Posts

Can you believe XOJane were kind enough to have me back AGAIN so soon? If you were excited by my Polish Jewellery 101 guide, you'll love my Polish Jewellery 102: Advanced Pendanting. 

Of course, if you're too lazybusy to DIY, there's always my Etsy store for all your premade sparkly needs.

In an amusing co-incidence, my monthly post at Already Pretty has also gone up on the same day, so take a mosey on over and join the conversation about hair, age, and respectability.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Self Esteem, Selfies, and Teenage Monsters

I was asked last week to weigh in on the apparently endless debate about selfies. This time it was a blessed change from the "are the selfies feminist" discussion; instead the issue at hand was The Children. "Selfies are ruining our children's self esteem" was the main gist of the discussion, and I'm sure you can probably guess where my opinion fell. But it got me wondering how differently I might have viewed myself if I'd had access to digital cameras, beauty apps, and Instagram when I was growing up. I can safely say these things didn't effect my pubescent self esteem because I simply didn't have access to them. But what if I had?

I was an enormously self conscious teenager - I'm sure this is hardly a shock. I've met very, VERY few people who didn't feel like some sort of hideous monster for most of puberty. Being self conscious and concerned with your appearance is just something that comes with being a teenager for a lot of people - I don't think technology created that, and personally I don't think technology is necessarily making it much more prevalent. I've meet teenagers now who insist on wearing makeup all the time so they'll look "acceptable" on Instagram - but there were plenty of girls in school with me who insisted on wearing makeup all the time to be "acceptable" just for showing up to school. I don't have children, so I wouldn't presume to tell anyone how to raise theirs. But I can offer my own experience as someone who grew up during the transition from film, offline photography to the digital, share everything age. I'm sure there are some people who have been adversely effected by the increased availability and focus on selfies. But speaking for myself, as photography became more flexible, dynamic, and all pervasive, I found my acceptance of my own image evolving right alongside the technology. Far from making me more self conscious or self loathing, taking a metric shitload of selfies has made me more comfortable in my skin than I've ever been.

As with pretty much any rapidly changing technology, the "rise of selfies" has been trumped as something to panic about in recent years. The fact is though that selfies are not a new thing. At all.  Even assuming we're limiting the definition of "selfies" to photographs rather than paintings, the very first one was taken in 1839, by an amateur photographer named Robert Cornelius.

Turns out Mr. Cornelius was kind of a fox.
By the time I was attempting to navigate the twisted morass of "growing up", photo technology had come a fair way since Mr. Cornelius ducked awkwardly in front of his camera. There were technically digital cameras around, but I didn't have access to one until I was well into my 20's. There were, however, plenty of film cameras around. Disposable cameras were available everywhere, and relatively cheap, so I had a fair few opportunities to fool around with these as a teenager.

I still have at least one of these hanging around undeveloped..
Something about film photography that's hard to explain to people who've never done it is just how  painfully slow, rigid, and unforgiving it is. You only get 24 chances on a roll to get a picture right, and there's no way to preview the results before it's developed. You'd just have to wait and see. Assuming you take the roll to a photo shop to be developed the very instant you finish taking the pictures, it would be a 2 hour wait to see your results at the VERY least. More likely you'd be waiting a couple of days, even a week to see how any of the photos came out.

Once the picture was developed, for the average photographer, there was no changing it. Photo manipulation is, technically, as old as photography itself, and there have always been certain techniques available to alter photographs after developing.

An example of tools used for these early photo manipulations
However, very few amateur photographers would have been getting out the gouache and charcoal sticks. Most people using film cameras, especially to take selfies,  just took a picture, crossed their fingers, and hoped for the best. This process didn't exactly encourage a great deal of experimentation, especially if you didn't have a lot of money to spend on developing endless rolls of unusable pictures. However, the rigidity of film photos did give them an air of undeniable truth - if it was in a photo, it was assumed to be true. There was a perception that cameras don't lie (even though there are actually hundreds of examples of film photographs being complete bunkum), an idea that they could only capture what's really there. The physicality, the difficulty for the average photographer to change a photo once it was taken, gave film photos a certain authority.

The authoritarian perception and extraordinarily slow process of film photography, could be pretty unhelpful for a developing young teenage ego. Any photographer will tell you that the same person can look VASTLY different depending on poses, lighting, expressions, outfits and makeup. The camera might not lie outright, but it only ever shows part of the whole, and sometimes not the part you'd prefer it to show. It takes time and experimentation to figure out how to take a photo that highlights the parts of you that you like best. As a teenager, I would sometimes only get my picture taken once or twice a year, because it was a pain in the backside to pull out the camera, get the film developed, get the pictures back.  It was also super awkward to try and take them of myself, when I couldn't even tell if it was in focus or not until I got it developed. Taking photos was largely something saved for "occasions", and I only played around with photos of myself for fun every now and then. As a result, there are maybe 20, 30 pictures in existence of me between 14 and 18. How could I possibly figure out what poses, what lighting, what expressions worked for me with a data pool that tiny? I had no idea what suited me, so naturally the majority of the photos taken when I was a teenager were dreadfully unflattering. To my malleable teenage mind, this meant that OBVIOUSLY I was hideous. I mean, there was undeniable proof, in those photos, right there! The camera doesn't lie! I believed that film photos showed the "real" me, and the "real" me was ugly.

Good grief, that was appalling hair. Lookit my wittle button nose tho!
The arrival of digital photography changed so much about how people take photos in general, and definitely changed the whole way I personally viewed photography.  As someone who began taking photos with film and later moved to digital, I can tell you that simply being able to see the photo immediately completely changed the way I approached photography. Not sure if that shot came out in focus? No worries, check it out, delete if need be, and take another. There's always another shot available, you can always try one more time. The pressure to make every frame count is completely dissipated, and  suddenly I felt free to experiment, try new things, to play around. The rate at which you learn what does and doesn't work for you in a selfie is sped up exponentially when using a digital camera. Instead of having to wait a couple of days to learn new things (positive or negative), you can see the results and adapt immediately. The ever expanding storage capacity of each new generation of digital cameras encouraged me to take more and more photos, and with every photo I learned more.

Hmm, if I tilt my head to the side, it makes my cheekbones really stand out...
Whoops, that's too far. Less tilt needed!
I could see in these photos proof that my image was fluid, changeable. With film photos I always seemed to make the same face, and stand in the same way, probably because I had so little practice I just automatically snapped into "photo mode". But when playing with a digital camera of my own, I had the flexibility to try a million different things, to see just how different I could make myself look. Sometimes my experiments went well, and I thought I looked good in the results. Sometimes I thought I looked awful, and deleted the pictures just as fast as I could. Sometimes my selfies turned out not "pretty" as such, but interesting all the same.

At this stage though, my selfies were still relatively isolated. I was one of those people that refused to get a mobile with a camera in it until the very last possible moment, because I didn't see the point in discarding my trusty Nokia 2210 until it was literally falling apart. This meant my selfies were all taken on my stand alone camera, and had to be transferred to my desktop for resizing and possibly a little tinkering before I could share them. It also meant my online presence was relatively small - it was kind of a pain to have to sit down and specifically "be online", so I mostly hung around small, sheltered online spaces where I already knew everyone.

Then I got a net capable phone, with a camera, and seemingly in the blink of an eye - well, a blink of my ancient, slow eyes anyway - my social world exploded. Taking the leap from a stand alone digital camera to a net enabled mobile phone camera meant my self portraits could now be taken literally anywhere, at any time, with no forward planning required. With a tap of the screen, I take a picture of my lunch, share it across five different social networks, and see people's responses without putting my sandwich down. With the explosion of photo manipulation apps available now, I often don't even have to stop walking to touch up or resize a photo anymore, let alone transfer it to a desktop computer. I can take a photo, review it, manipulate it and share it all in a couple of minutes from the one device. Some of you probably think that's totally normal, but I'm sure at least some of you are old enough to understand what a staggering development this is.

Back in my day, we could "run out of film"!
Naturally, since it's so ludicrously easy to take selfies and share them now, lots of people are doing it, and some are doing it quite a lot. Self portrait photography is no longer a specific activity requiring specific equipment for a lot of people - it's just a part of their everyday lives, as is the inevitable feedback that comes from sharing anything in a public place. About here is where a lot of concerned parents groups start getting a bit panicked. Phrases like "camera ready generation" start getting thrown around, and people fret that now they're taking photos of everything all the time teenagers will be obsessed with always looking as attractive as possible. Parents (understandably) freak out that their teenagers are posting pictures and being told they're ugly, and that this will ruin their self esteem forever.

I can't honestly say that I think parents are wrong to worry. There is some nasty fucking shit, and some dreadful fucking people out there, who love nothing better than pissing on other people's self esteem. Bullies and assholes are not a new phenomenon, and being picked on as a teenager is hardly new either, but sharing selfies online does open you up to an extraordinary volume of assholes. It used to be you only had to worry about the bully at your school - now you can be attacked by someone on the other side of the world without even leaving your room. It can be enormously dangerous, and very possibly harmful to squishy little teenage minds and their baby soft self esteem.

It's not all assholes and nasty comments out there on the Big Wide Internet though, and I think the positives of sharing selfies are often brushed over in favour of focusing on the potential negatives.
Since getting a net capable phone with a camera, and especially since starting this blog, I've shared approximately a million pictures of myself online. I'll often take five or six pictures of myself before I even get to work at the moment - although to be fair that's largely so I can capture my makeup before I forget I'm wearing it and rub it all over my face.  I've taken so many photos of myself, both for fun and for this blog, that I know what I look like from pretty much every angle, under every light - and some of these angles are not pretty.

Ack, I'm all forehead!
Wait, now I'm all chin
Agghh, ENORMOUS cheekbones!
In addition to learning my bad sides though, I also know now there are angles from which I look rather pretty indeed. I've even practiced enough that I can recreate the most flattering ones at will. I've played around with the so-called beauty apps, and had a glimpse of what I would look like with airbrushed skin, or ludicrous manga size eyes.

I gotta tell you, the size of my eyes in this picture kind of creeps me out
Do I have flawless skin, or is the saturation so blown out you can't see anything?
You'll never know the truth!

Playing with apps, and Photoshop in general, has given me a much clearer understanding of what's behind the curtain of the airbrushed photos I see in the media around me. We all know intellectually that they're retouched and altered - but there's always a little part of you that wonders how much. If you don't know what sort of enormous changes can be achieved with photo manipulation, it's hard to really visualise how models can look before retouching. There are a lot of before and after demonstrations around on the net, but speaking for myself, doing it to my own face was so much more compelling than seeing it demonstrated on a stranger. I would like to think that running their selfies through a beauty app could demonstrate the same thing for a teenager.

I've taken photos from every angle, good, bad, and indifferent. I've tinkered with my image until it's unrecognisable, then put it back together again. Digital photography and selfies have allowed me to collect such a huge pool of data that it's became impossible for me to define myself as truly "ugly" anymore - I no longer believe believe that photos show the "real" me, because I've captured so much variation I don't think there is such a thing as a definite, "real" me. There's only how I look right now, and I find that enormously comforting and reassuring. If I don't like how I look right at this second, it's okay because in five minutes I'll probably look different. If I don't like how I look then either, I can tinker with the photo until I do like it. I can create my own image, exactly how I want it, and that sort of control is absolutely thrilling.

Sharing my selfies has also been enormously comforting and reassuring, for me. I know that not everyone is so lucky, and as I mentioned previously, there is a big wide pool of assholes out there who are all too ready to put in their two cents. As much as they would hate to admit though, the assholes are not the whole of the internet. There is enormous good that can be done, and comfort that can be shared by sharing images that counter popular media. The way people, especially women, are depicted in mass media doesn't look like any person I've ever seen, but sharing selfies is a way for everyone to help fill the gaps left by advertising and movies. This is particularly relevant for teenagers trying to get a sense of who they are and how they fit in the world.

As I said previously, I thought I was a grotesque monster when I was a teenager. Comparing yourself to people as they're portrayed in mass media is always a losing game, but I did it anyway. I didn't look like any of them, and I thought I was the one that was wrong. Comparing myself to the people I knew in meatspace didn't help either. There were only 40 kids in my year, so let's say there were about 20 girls my age in my town that I could compare myself to. Unsurprisingly, given the enormous variety humans are capable of, I didn't look like any of them either. I thought I MUST be the one who was misshaped, malformed, because I couldn't see anyone who looked like me. But now I can open Tumblr and see 20 people who look just like me go scrolling past, in outfit posts or makeup shots or just plain "I feel cute" selfies. I know it's not just me who's made like this, and that makes me feel so much better about this funny squishy body I'm in. Having access to so much more data has changed the way I view myself for the better - I don't feel like a monster anymore.

An enormous dork, for sure. But not a monster.
This potential effect of sharing selfies is one of the reasons I make a point of sharing unflattering photos of myself every now and then, especially if they're funny. I don't want people looking at my blog or my Twitter and thinking I look perfectly poised all the time - because I most certainly don't, and neither does anyone else. Just because you haven't brushed your hair today is no reason you That  can't join in the sharing too! I was inspired to share unflattering pictures by other (braver) people who did it first, and I hope that by joining in, I can help inspire other people to keep the cycle going and see just how much of the wstaggering variety that is human beings we can capture.

Keep in mind when I talk about how much sharing selfies has done for my self esteem that I'm white, cisgender, and have no major physical disabilities. I did essentially look like everyone else in my town as a teenager, as much I didn't think so at the time. I was essentially playing the self esteem game on one of the easier settings. If being exposed to the diversity of images that widespread selfies offers changed my life so much, imagine what it could do for teenagers growing up in places where they don't essentially look like everyone else - for teenagers playing on a much harder setting than I did.

So are the positives worth the negatives for teenagers trying to navigate puberty and come out the other side with some sort of self esteem? I can't speak for every teenager, but speaking for myself, I wish I'd had access to the net and selfies and all the good that comes from sharing and viewing them as a teenager. I think it would have taken a lot less time for me to realise that I'm not a monster, and that I never really was.

What do you think? Would you, or do you approve of your children sharing selfies on social media? Do you wish you'd been able to do all this yourself as a teenager? Are you a teenager currently wishing photos were much less easily shareable? Do you think the good outweighs the potential negatives?