Saturday, July 19, 2014

Powder Perfect Lady Is A Vamp Collection Review

Just a quick little post today, in preparation for a MASSIVE picture post tomorrow! I was lucky enough to be asked to swatch a few of the most recent collection from Australian indie label Powder Perfect, Lady is A Vamp. This collection is a celebration of all things femme and fabulous, and the statement for this collection is something I can really get behind!

"Lady Is A Vamp collection is about celebrating what makes us feel good!!
Does getting dressed up to the nines make you feel good? Fantastic!
Does wearing your favourite old faded jeans and a t-shirt make you feel sexy? Great!
Just bought a pair of bright red stilettos that you plan on wearing out tonight? Rock ‘em!
These colours are inspired by those things that make us feel our most vibrant and alive."

The two polishes I got my hands on are With My High Heels On, a stunning classic red creme, and Boudoir, a really interesting cobalt blue creme with gold glitters.

This is two coats of Boudoir, with nothing under it, so you can see the coverage is really great. I'm not 100 per cent sold on the combination of blue and gold, but I'm biased against gold at the best of times.

With my High Heels On is however, entirely perfect. Again, two coats alone for total, smooth coverage, and it's just the PERFECT shade of red.

Indie cremes can be a bit hit and miss - but Powder Perfect's have always been really reliable, and With My High Heels On is no exception. I can see myself reaching for this one a lot!

You can see swatches of the rest of the collection over at The Nail Polish Project, Look What The Bats Dragged In, Polly Polish, Serenity Nails, It's All About The Polish, and of course, at the Powder Perfect website (where you can also browse some of my polish related jewellery).

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I'm A Bad Fatty and I Don't Care - Brainy Femme Repost

This post originally appeared on Brainy Femme - I'm going to be reposting particularly relevant posts from Brainy Femme over here from time to time. 

I have a confession to make, and you might want to sit down for this because it’s kind of shocking. I a fat woman - that much is clear from any picture ever taken of me. But I’m also a fat woman who has no interest in losing weight. I am a “bad fatty”.

"Glutton" by the amaing Natalie Perkins,
available as a print from Fancy Lady Industries

If you’re not familiar with the terminology, this is the best primer I’ve seen on the subject. Even if you’ve never heard the phrase “good fatty” before, if you’re even a little aware of the unwinnable weight war that woman can get locked in, you’re guaranteed to be familiar with the assumptions this terminology describes. Fat people, and especially fat women, are supposed to be ashamed of their fat. We’re supposed to be aware of, and acknowledge, that our fat is a failing - of willpower, of morality, of character. We’re supposed to be either constantly willing to explain in depth, to anyone who asks, our excuse for being fat; or alternatively if we have no “acceptable” excuse, we’re supposed to be doing everything in our power to become a more “acceptable” size.

Me, I don’t have an excuse for the size of my arse, acceptable or not.  I don’t have any medical conditions that I’m aware of that prevent me from losing weight. The women on my mother’s side of the family do tend to be bottom heavy, but my mother is tiny, so it’s not like my genetics are inescapable. I’m not an athlete, so I can’t attribute any of my kilos to muscle. I mean, I’m sure there’s some in there, and I’ve always had big muscular horsey thighs, but I would be seriously reaching to attribute any significant proportion of my weight to muscle.

I don’t actively do anything to reduce my weight either. I have no idea about the calories in anything I eat. I’m knowledgeable enough to know that cake has more calories than an apple, and that more protein than carbs in your diet is generally better, but ask me to get any more specific than that and I’m stumped. You see, I’m allergic to a ton of stuff - gluten, dairy, alcohol, peanuts, fish, and fake sugar - so if I find food I’m not allergic to that doesn’t taste like freeze dried straw, I’m gonna go ahead and eat it. If I find food that I’m not allergic to that actually tastes good, I’m going to eat the SHIT out of it. I guess my allergies could be my excuse for my fat if I wanted, but no one ever seems to really believe someone my size lives on a diet virtually devoid of junk food. In terms of exercise,  I do make sure I have a little walk every day, for about 20 minutes or so. But that’s more to get my blood moving around so I don’t fall asleep at my desk than out of any interest in losing weight. I could exercise more - but I don’t want to. I’d rather be doing other things. I know it’s not great for my health, but I just don’t care enough about being in peak physical condition to do anything about it.

Uuuuueeeeghhh...fuck it, let's have lunch.
As a fat woman, when I say these things out loud, a lot of people are shocked. When I tell people that I’ve never been on a diet (apart from a very brief brush with disordered eating in my teens) they look at me like I’m claiming I’m an alien. In my personal life, it’s not a very frequent issue - I know a few people currently trying to lose weight or get fitter, but most of them have medical reasons for doing so, and more importantly none of them seem to judge me at all for not joining them at the gym. But in the workplace, among “normal”, everyday, general public type people, I struggle to find anything in common with the combative way my female co workers view their bodies.

The sheer amount of diet talk that goes on among women in the average office is just staggering to me. When I was younger I used to jump in and try and offer input like, “But you already look great!”, only to be glared down. It took me a long time, but I eventually learned that positive input isn’t welcome in these conversations - not without an accompanying negative statement anyway. It’s okay to say, “You look great! But me, man, I need to lose some serious pounds”. But when I offered positive input without then putting myself down, I outed myself as a weirdo, a freak, a woman who didn’t care about being thinner. I tried to learn the “diet talk” game, in order to get along better at work. I figured out the game is supposed to go something like this: “Have you been going to the gym more, you look great!” “Thank you, you’re too kind, I don’t think my new diet is doing anything. But you look amazing, you’ve definitely lost weight” “No, don’t be silly, I’m bloating like crazy today. But you’re definitely getting smaller!” and so on and so forth: compliment, self deprecation, compliment, self deprecation. However, I quickly discovered I’m a dreadful actor, and absolutely no-one was buying my impression of “normal”. So I learned to stay silent. 

No Diet Talk Brooch, once again by the amazing Natalie Perkins, and
available from her site Fancy Lady Industries

Even when keeping my mouth shut whenever the topic of diet or weight comes up, I’ve still had a ridiculous number of lunch room conversations with co-workers where they attempt to offer completely unsolicited advice on how to make my lunch lower in fat or higher in protein. I used to reply honestly, that I don’t care how healthy it is, so long as it tastes good. The LOOKS I’ve gotten in this situation - seriously, some people respond to my statement that I prefer full fat over low fat milk with an expression like I’ve just confessed to eating babies for breakfast. You can see them biting back the response they desperately want to blurt out - “But you’re FAT! Don’t you want to be thin? How can you not want to be thin?!”

The fact is, I don’t. Well, okay, sometimes in passing, I do idly toy with the idea of being thinner, in much the same way I idly toy with the idea of being taller. In the same way that it would be nice to be able to reach high cupboards without a stepladder, it would be nice to be able to find clothes that fit more easily. It would be nice to be able to make my lunch in the lunch room without people feeling the need to comment. The experience of being a fat woman in current society isn't exactly awesome a lot of the time. But on the whole, I personally don’t actually want to be thinner. Some days, I even look down at my belly and jiggle it happily. Some days I look at my big round arse and just think to myself, “Damn.” Not all days - I’m only human, and I live in a society that likes to tell me over and over and over how awful being fat is. Sometimes I would take up the offer of a magic thin pill in a heartbeat. But the vast majority of the time, the experience of living in a body my size is pretty neat, actually. It’s the way this body interacts with the society around me that makes me unhappy - not the reality of my jiggly arm fat.

Part of my disinterest in being smaller is the simple fact that my fat acts as a barrier between me and people I really don’t want in my life. I don’t get hit on by men who view women as trophies, because in the game of dating, a woman my size is often viewed as the wooden spoon prize. The barrier doesn’t just work against bad dates, but also against unfulfilling friendships. Very few people who are deeply personally invested in being at peak physical attractiveness all the time want to hang out with me socially, because my jiggly belly serves as a reminder of the awful fate that might befall them if they loosen their regime. That’s cool with me, because I don’t really want to hang out with them either. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with peak physical form being your ultimate driving goal - it’s just not something I can relate to on any level, so what sort of friendship would we have with anyway?

This idea of differing priorities is, however, what’s really what’s at the heart of my stubborn rejection of any effort to get thin. For some people, being conventionally attractive is one of the most important things in their lives, one of their highest priorities. As a fat woman, my lack of conventional attractiveness is supposed to be my highest priority, whether I’m excusing it or working to change it. But it’s not. It’s just not, and it never has been. I’ve been feeling the judging eyes in the back of my head for thirty three years over this shit, and I’m sick of it. I like my big butt, I cannot lie, and I’m sick of feeling like I should be apologising for it.

There are lots of things on my personal list of priorities - trying to be a good friend and a loving partner, not to mention keeping a handle on my mental health so I can be more help to the people I love. Writing and creating is my second priority, after people. It makes my blood pump, and my heart race. It means so much to me it steals sleep sometimes, and I don’t even mind. My weight, and any interest in changing it, is so far down my list it doesn’t even register. Happiness, friends, self expression - these things are my priorities, and I don’t think I should have to make excuses for that.

Your priorities might be different - maybe you prioritise attending church, or eating vegan, or getting another belt in your martial art. You might simply prioritise health above all else, and anything that’s not directly contributing to your overall health comes second. Maybe you’re fat like me, but getting thinner is your top priority right now for whatever reason is important to you. That’s cool, these things are all perfectly fine. It’s your choice, just as prioritising being happy over being thin in my choice. 

I understand that people worry about my health - I’m very familiar with the “my tax dollars go to fund your unhealthy lifestyle” argument, among others. In response, I could go into all the studies that have debunked the idea that it’s impossible to be fat and also healthy; but honestly, I shouldn’t have to. I don’t actually owe you an explanation of how healthy I am or am not, “tax dollars” or no. Are you my doctor? If not, how is my health of any relevance to you? Do you expect thin people to explain their health to you? If someone fits into a size 6 dress, do you give them unsolicited advice on how to lower the fat content of their lunch, because if they have a heart attack it’s your tax dollars that will help save them? How healthy are you anyway? How many of my tax dollars might go to helping you if you have a stroke, or a car accident, or get infected with radiation? Do you drink more than you should? Do you smoke? Do you eat red meat? Do you know those things are all health risks, and you really should consider cutting it out? Oh, you did? And you do them anyway? Then shut up. Just shut. up. And if you're not willing to shut up, at the very least come out from the "health" argument smokescreen and admit fat people make you uncomfortable. Then we can have something like an honest conversation.

All I want is to be able to eat what I want for lunch without comment, to dance in a tight dress without fretting, to be able to love this squishy, funny body I’m in without feeling guilty. I want to be a Happy Fatty, not a Bad Fatty, and just I don’t understand why it’s so important for to some people to try and keep me from that.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Smooshing on Softness - A Lazy Skincare Special

For all the money and time I spend on making my nails and my eyes pretty (ie. glittery as hell), I'm still appallingly lax when it comes to my skin. I've been hanging out in the beauty community a lot more over the last year, and as well as teaching me that I really should do something with my eyebrows, they've also taught me the importance of having a skin care routine. It doesn't have to be a complex, military operation involving dozens of products costing a year's salary per jar - but I've decided I can and should muster at least a little more effort than just soap and water.

( most days anyway)

I've very half heatedly run through a ton of different creams and potions and unctions, trying to find something that made enough of a difference to make it worth my while spending extra time smooshing stuff that's not even glittery on my face. Seriously, I could moisturise a small country with the products I have hanging around my cupboards that I used once and discarded for one reason or another. They're too greasy, they're too drying, they smell weird, they make me itchy, they make my skin burn...for the longest time it seemed like nothing was just right.

My face is very particular about what it does and does not like on it. Any moisturiser heavier than "featherlight" brings me out in absolutely DELIGHTFUL rashes of blackheads, and a lot of random ingredients seem to make my skin flushed and blotchy. Parts of my face are super oily (hello pools of sebum on my nose under my glasses), but other parts are quite dry in comparison. "Oily skin" face washes always seemed to strip the oil off the greasy parts, leaving the dry parts like parchment, and "combination skin" washes didn't seem to do anything at all - not even take off dirt.

My hands...well, let's admit it, I'm pretty darn hard on my hands. I change my polish a LOT, and use acetone remover for that. I've also been crafting with resin a lot lately, and guess what is the only thing that'll get that stuff off your hands - that's right, more acetone. Of course, I tend to only take photos for you guys when they're looking their best, so you'll just have to take my word for it that they can get pretty manky and gross sometimes.

I really want my face and my hands to look...well, nice. It seems a shame to have such nice cosmetics to put on them, if the shiny is sitting right next to blotchy, pissed off skin. So I've kept at it, and after much trial and error (and occasionally reverting back to straight up soap and water in frustration), I finally have a couple of products I like enough to actually recommend.

I know, I'm sure you're all absolutely shocked that I've chosen entirely indie products.
From left to right we have; Purify Facial Cleanser from Rhasdala Beauty, Cuticle Cocktail and Rub-A-Dub Scrub from Help Me Ronda, and Clay Block for Face from Corrynnes Natural Soaps

Let me start in the middle with the two tins of softness from Help Me Ronda, a relatively new Sydney based indie business. I take my hand creams and cuticle balms and various potions VERY seriously - as I said above, I put a lot of noxious stuff on my hands, so I need seriously good stuff to repair the damage. After ludicrous amounts of dissatisfaction, I've actually given up on manufactured hand cream, and started making my own - but that's a whole other post (it's coming one day, I swear.) The point is, I take my hand stuff seriously, so you should take me seriously when I say the products from Help Me Ronda are The Shit.

Check it out, I actually remembered to take a photo BEFORE I used something for once!
The cuticle balm is a little different to my all time favourite (Powder Perfect) - it's a little harder, and takes a little longer to warm on your skin. But it does the trick, and the smells....oh lordy, the smells. I have the Pina Colada scent, which smells exactly as delicious as you would imagine. I just..I want to eat it. I want to eat it so bad. Lush products are the only other products to have made me want to eat something totally inedible so badly. I really want to go back for all the other scents as well, even though I'd be stocked for cuticle balm for the next ten years, just so I can line them all up and smell them happily.

And again! I'm on FIRE
The Rub-A-Dub scrub doesn't have any particular smell to speak of, but it's seriously hardworking stuff. I tried it after I'd been swatching polishes all morning, because I figured that was the ultimate stress test - after dousing my hands in acetone for a couple of hours, they NEED MOISTURE, and this scrub absolutely delivered. I've tried other scrub recipes before - a lot of people recommend a sugar and castor oil mixture, but I always found them a bit too rough, not to mention messy. I'm the sort of person that WILL get a slightly damp, crumbly mixture like that EVERYWHERE, and it's a pain in the behind. But the Rub-A-Dub Scrub is solid, before melting into your skin, so no dropped bits to find later! It's also incredibly hydrating - after I'd washed it off I was so excited about my baby soft hands I went and rubbed them all over Mr.Reluctant Femme, and even he conceded they were indeed noticeably softer than usual. It feels ooky while it's on your hands, because, well, it's a big moisture filled oil bath for your hands, with a smattering of scrubby bits to make sure all that goodness gets into every nook and cranny. But once you wash it off, there's virtually no reside - just hands so soft it's like you're wearing gloves made of baby skin. Help Me Ronda actually sells the cuticle cocktail and the Rub-A-Dub Scrub in a combo pack, and I'd highly recommend giving them both a try.

So that's my hand skin taken care of - but what about my poor neglected face skin?

The Purify Facial Cleanser from Rhasdala is just PERFECT for my fussy, oily-but-sometimes-not skin. I discovered it when checking out the nail polish from Rhasdala, and as soon as I ran out went out and bought another tub - which I then started using immediately, hence why the tub in these picture isn't exactly pristine.

Unfortunately, a picture can't capture the delightful lavender and
eucalyptus smell, but trust me, it's good. 
Rhasdala sell a toner and moisturiser that are supposed to go with this as well, but since the cleanser alone does a super job of keeping my skin clean but supple, I've just never bothered trying the matching products. The combination of clays, aloe vera gel, eucalytpus essential oil and lavender just works with my skin, so perfectly and effortlessly. I just smoosh it on, rinse it off, and my skin glows. I've actually started forcing it on Mr.Reluctant Femme I like it so much, and it's done wonders for his skin as well. And best of all, it's so damn affordable - like, seriously, twelve bucks? Considering a tub lasts me four or five months? BARGAIN.

I discovered Corrynnes Natural Soaps on a trip over to Perth, where they sell at the Fremantle Markets. While I was there I picked up a bunch of soaps, because I'm a sucker for things that smell nice, and decided to chuck the clay block in more or less on a whim. While I probably wouldn't pay the postage required to get the soaps across the country to Sydney, I will absolutely be coughing up to get another block once I've finished this one.

Image courtesy of Corrynnes Natural Soap website, because my block is
kind of manky now from being used so much. 
About once a week, I like to give my face a proper scrubbing, just to make sure I've gotten all the glitter off, and the clay block from Corrynnes is MARVELOUS for this. I tried using it every day for a little while, but it was a little too cleansing for that frequency of usage. But once a week, or every couple of days, this really gets all the gunk out without making my face unhappy. I know a lot of people are super into face masks, but I've found I just never get around to using them. It's such a PRODUCTION - and I know that's part of what people enjoy about them. You have to go and specifically decide to put one on, and then make sure no-one touches your face for a certain amount of time (and my cat LOVES touching my face), then go wash it off and uuugh, I just don't have the motivation. However, if you keep this block by the shower, you can grab it and rub it on while you're waiting for your conditioner to soak in (or whatever), let it dry a little bit, then wash it off and it does a lot of the same work as a mask without the production. As with the Rhasdala cleanser, this is also an incredible bargain - even if you factor in postage, the same amount of money won't get you a lot of face masks. But I've been working away at this baby for at least six months now, and it's still going strong.

So that's my skincare "routine", such as it is. What's yours? Are you a dedicated soap and water washer, or do you have a cupboard full of delightful potions?

Disclosure: Help Me Ronda products were provided for review, which did not effect my opinion. All other products were purchased myself. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Aussie Indies Presented by Femme Fatale Cosmetics

I'm starting to think I should really just hand over a chunk of my paycheque directly to Femme Fatale Cosmetics every time I get paid, to save myself the silly game of pretending that I'm not going to give it to them anyway. Every time I wander past their site "just for a look", I find more and more gorgeous things that I really absolutely must have. As well as their ever growing range of stunning eyeshadows (which are incidently on sale right now), Femme Fatale polish remains one of the most consistently amazing indie labels in the country. In case you have any cash left over once you've finished perusing the Femme Fatale goods, they also stock a wide range of other Aussie indie labels, like Love Thy Polish, Alanna Renee, Emily de Molly and Lilypad Lacquer. If you've STILL got money left after browsing all those (how!?) Femme Fatale Cosmetics also stock a huge array of hard to find international indies, like Takko Lacquer, HARE Polish, and Rainbow Honey.

The variety is kind of overwhelming, but lucky for you Femme Fatale Cosmetics were kind enough to send me a little sample pack to review this month, to help you narrow your choices at least a tiny bit. 

From left to right, we have; Love Thy Polish - Space Ghost Reloaded, Femme Fatale Cosmetics - Apothecary, Lilypad Lacquer - Seasong, and Rainbow Honey - Hellfire

Rainbow Honey is a brand I hear a lot of positive buzz about, but I've personally found their polishes to be a bit hit and miss. The great ones are, well, great, but I've come across a few that are merely meh, and sadly Hellfire falls into that category for me.

There's nothing particularly wrong with it - it's fun, and the mix of stars, bar, hex, and micro glitter makes for a riotous, interesting finish. I just feel like it doesn't quite come together enough for me - but I'm getting rather particular these days, and it takes a really super freaking exciting glitter topper to get me worked up. If you, on the other hand, are into glitter toppers, this is a good one. The consistency is not too thick, not too thin, and the glitter concentration is CRAZY dense. These swatches are just one coat of Hellfire over the base colours, so if you're looking for something over the top to really spark up a plain colour, Hellfire might be for you.

I'm not ambivalent about this next polish in any way - Lilypad Lacquer's Seasong is STUNNING. In the bottle it looks a little flat, but on the nail a gorgeous sea foam green flare turns the baby blue holo into something really special.

Lilypad Lacquer have made a name for themselves as creators of some of the best holos in town, but the duochrome in this polish takes it from, "pretty" to "must have" in my books. These swatches are three coats alone, but you could get away with two coats. The consistency is smooth as a babies bottom, making this not only gorgeous but very easy to use.

Love Thy Polish's Space Ghost Reloaded is, unfortunately, not nearly so easy to use. Crelly polish (creme finish with glitter in it) is a very tricky thing to get just right - the base needs to be opaque enough to cover the nail line, but transparent enough to let the glitter show through; too far either way and the polish is a bust. I swatched this over a plain white base, because crelly polish is usually easier to manage if you don't have to worry about getting the opacity just right, but I still needed three coats of Space Ghost Reloaded to get a decent amount of glitter on to the nail.

I quite like the overall look of this - the colourful, almost neon hexes contrast nicely with the white base. But the polish itself is really very thin - you couldn't wear this without white undies, unless you were willing to do approximately a million coats. It might be because I was using a mini bottle, which are notorious for being "sticky", but I had real issues getting the glitters out of the bottle and on to the nail. There appeared to be plenty in the bottle, but the brush kept coming out with only one or two glitters. After three coats however, I do think it looked pretty good, and you might have better luck with the consistency than I did.

And finally, saving the best till last, we have Apothecary from Femme Fatale Cosmetics. I freaking LOVE this polish so very much. It's really fascinating to see Femme Fatale transferring their complex, layered style of polish from jelly based disco ball glitterbombs to subtler, but just as dense polishes.

Apothecary looks to be based on a similar baby blue holo formula as Seasong, but with a very generous splash of green foil flash, as well as some tiny glassy green hexes. Like Seasong, Apothecary is totally opaque in two coats, but you can do three for depth if you like. This is definitely one of those polishes I would warn against wearing while trying to drive - I'd hate to see anyone swerve because they're too distracted by a random flash of grassy green shine in the deep blue sea of holo. I could have taken a MILLION pictures trying to capture this baby, but I'll content myself with just two for today.

All these polishes and many, MANY more are available from the Femme Fatale Cosmetics site - be sure to like their Facebook page as well, to keep up to date on new additions and releases!

P.S Don't forget my competition, where you can win some discontinued Femme Fatale polishes and much, much more!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Hi, my name is Cassie, and it's been 2 years, 6 months, and 27 days since my first blog post.

Since then, I've published 213 posts here, and my writing has featured on The Peach (sadly, now defunct), Kiki and Tea, The Beheld, and Already Pretty. I couldn't actually tell you how many people have read my words, since I first tottered into the public arena, tentative and clumsy. I remember looking up to bloggers like Michelle at Lab Muffin, who is ridiculously stylish and also ridiculously brainy, and thinking I could never pull that off. I remember looking up to people like Autumn at The Beheld, and Garçonnière at à l’allure garçonnière and thinking I could never match the sharp insight they offered into things I'd only begun to think about. To be perfectly honest, I still look up to all these people, and amillion others I've discovered since. I don't consider what I've done anything close to what these talented writers do. Maybe in another 2 years, 6 months, and 27 days, I might be a little bit less self deprecating - but I wouldn't hold your breath.

I remember the first time I met a "fan" - technically, it was some friends of friends who I kind of knew anyway, but they were the first people I met in meatspace who knew more about my blog than about me. I remember how startling it was to realise that there were actually, seriously, people out there who didn't know me, but who knew my blog. That was the first time I really understood The Reluctant Femme as someone at least partially distinct from me, Cassie, and it spun me out for a good long time. I still have to remind myself it's actually a real thing every now and then. Eventually, once I stopped freaking out, I started to learn how to use that separation to give me more freedom in my writing - by creating a "brand", I guess, to speak my words for me, I felt safer speaking into the great dark abyss that is the internet. If people don't like what I have to say, having that deliberately constructed facade between my insides and the internet can come in SUPER handy.

Which is not to say I haven't thought about giving this up. Quite seriously, on occasion. I remember when I first started blogging, and looking for other similar blogs, I came across SO MANY abandoned blogs. Just blog after blog of amazing, interesting, intriguing content for a year or so then...silence. It was deeply discouraging, and I came very close to calling it quits before I'd even really begun. I looked at all these amazing writers, who'd just burnt out, wandered off, or otherwise given up, and I wondered how long it would take until I hit that point. I still do.

But over and over, I gather the motivation to bash out the words, take the pictures, publish the post, and you amazing, endlessly generous people just keep coming back. How could I possibly abandon this project now? How could I live with myself if I let you all down? Again and again, it's my wonderful audience that keep bringing me back to blogging, and giving me the motivation to push that publish button. Every time I think of quitting, I remember all those sad, lonely abandoned blogs, and I know I need to keep going. I might not ever be the best there is at blogging, but I'm determined not to abandon the wonderful audience who have given me so much of their time. 

Reluctant Femme is a strange blog - I always knew it was going to be, and most days I'm pretty proud of that. Even now I've migrated my more text heavy posts to Brainy Femme, this blog still features a hefty dose of feminism, fat positivity, and general politics - far more than your average beauty blog. This was a deliberate choice, right from the very start. I didn't want to write just another beauty blog. I wanted to make a blog that was different, write content you wouldn't find anywhere else. I'd be lying if I tried to tell you guys I hadn't considered giving that up in the name of popularity. The fact is, people in general like easy things, familiar things - and Reluctant Femme is not familiar or easy a lot of the time. Sometimes I look at blogs like Temptalia, and I'm SO jealous of how smooth and safe, and freaking POPULAR they are. I want that many readers, I want that kind of reach and influence. But safe and easy isn't me - I'm a weird person, and my blog is always going to be weird. So I try to work what I've got, and give you content that you won't see many other places.

Which brings me to the CELEBRAGANZA part of this post! 

As a thank you for sticking with me while I figure out this whole blogging thing, and your kind, encouraging, and supportive words over the last two years, I've pulled together two prize packs stuffed full of things you can't get anywhere else - just like my content! Not only do I have three custom polishes created just for this contest from Sayuri, Celestial Cosmetics, and Shades of Phoenix, I also have a couple of discontinued polishes I've been scooping up and storing away for just this occasion!

First up, the customs! From left to right we have;  The Glass Ceiling from Celestial Cosmetics, a gorgeous purple to gold duochrome with holo flecks floating in a sea of shimmering purple; Glittermob from Shades of Phoenix, an eye scorchingly holographic teal glitterbomb; and How Long!? (a reference to my alleged tendency to ramble) from Sayuri, a lush foil finish purple microglitter.

 When these arrived, I have to admit I thought twice about running this thing at all, because I want to keep them ALL. But, because I am a kind and magnanimous blogger (and because these three labels very generously donated their delightful goods), I've decided to actually hand them over to whoever the lucky winner happens to be.


The Glass Ceiling by Celestial Cosmetics

Glittermob by Shades of Phoenix

How Long!? by Sayuri

Next up, the discontinued, can't-get-these-anywhere-else polishes!

I have retrieved from the deep dark recesses of my stash these two wildly under appreciated Femme Fatale polishes, which are now both discontinued. These are from my personal collection, but they're brand new and unused. The one on the left is Planar Anomalies, a deliciously dark black jelly base filled with black and holographic glitters. This one has a delightful pinkish purple duotone flash in just the right light, and IHO is one of the most complex glitters Femme Fatale has released. On the right is Glinting Lodestone, which is probably my favourite Femme Fatale polish of ALL TIME. It's a deep blue jelly base, with an absolute riot of blue, turquoise and purple glitters in all sizes and shapes, and it's GORGEOUS.

Planar Anomalies
Glinting Lodestone
My swatch of Glinting Lodestone
I'm also giving away two of the most sought after Australian indie polishes from last summer - Powder Perfect's amazing microglitters Kevin and Decorate a Palm Tree! As with the Femme Fatale polishes, these are from my personal collection but are brand new and untouched.

These polishes are so sparkly it's kind of unbelievable

Decorate a Palm Tree
My swatch of Kevin!
My swatch of Decorate A Palm Tree

Phew. That seems like a lot now I write it all out. BUT, I have one more exciting and unique thing to throw on the prize pile....

The very last, never to be repeated, one of a kind, final mini available EVER of the polish Loki's Lacquer created called The Reluctant Femme. Since Loki's Lacquer has now closed, and I have the last full size bottle in my stash (and I will never EVER give it up) this is your absolute last chance to try this deceptively complex polish.

You can see just in the bottle the rainbows and holo fire dancing across the surface.
My swatch of The Reluctant Femme

FIRST PRIZE will be: All three custom polishes created for this giveaway, PLUS your choice of two polishes from the Femme Fatale and Powder Perfect duos.

SECOND PRIZE will be: The remaining two polishes from the Femme Fatale and Powder Perfect duos, PLUS the Last Reluctant Femme mini.

Winner will be drawn by the Rafflecopter random winner generator after four weeks, and this competition is open internationally. So what are you waiting for? Get entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Indie Feminism

Last Sunday, an amazing hashtag sprung up on Twitter, in the wake of the horrific killings in Santa Barbara (allegedly) committed by loud and proud misogynist Elliot Rogers. One brave woman (who's now predictably had to go into hiding) started an online conversation talking about how widespread male violence and harassment of women really is, using the hastag #YesAllWomen. Stories poured in, much faster than anyone could possibly read them all. @RahRah wrote a deeply moving piece that I think captures the sheer overwhelming volume of this outpouring, and naturally, I got good and involved.

At first it was thrilling to be a part of a conversation so huge, to know that there were so many other women out there with experiences just like mine. But then the trolls arrived, and it quickly turned from exciting to frustrating, to stressful, to distressing. By Friday I was just DONE. I couldn't handle one more man telling me how I should do feminism better, one more asshole calling Mr.Reluctant Femme names for defending feminism, one more cowardly deadshit telling my friends who've been assaulted that they deserved it. I usually put a great deal of effort into remaining reasonable when I talk about feminism. I don't actually think saying things like "Kill All Men" is all that helpful. But I was burned out, angry, hurt, and just DONE. I was really starting to feel like killing all men. So I made this, because it made me laugh and I needed a laugh.

In case you can't read it, the little label says "Male Tears"

Friday, May 30, 2014

Trove of Celestial Treasures

One of the problems with being obsessed with indie nail polish (apart from the ever present threat of bankruptcy) is just how fast the indie scene is exploding right now. On the one hand, it's super exciting that the number of labels putting out polish in Australia alone has literally tripled in the last year; on the other hand, this exponential expansion also makes it really difficult to keep up with all of them!

I've been aware of Celestial Cosmetics pretty much since I started this blog, and I picked up some of their very first collection way back in the way back times. But since then they've been kind of dropping on and off my radar - not because I don't like what they do, but because there are just SO MANY labels to keep track of! After answering a call I put out for labels to help me with a Super Sekrit Project, the lovely Nikki from Celestial Cosmetics offered to catch me up on the beautiful things she's been creating while I was occupied elsewhere, and I'm DELIGHTED she did. While I've been distracted, Celestial Cosmetics has grown into a booming little hive of creativity, and today I've got a TON of swatches to show you the latest and greatest from this label.

From left to right, my little bundle of joy contained; Celestial Sphere, Comet Lulin, Aurora, Meteoroid, and In The Navy. The science nerd in me is pretty delighted Celestial has come back around to their astronomical naming conventions! While I loved the Game of Thrones collection as much as the next person, there's a surprising lack of space inspiration in indie polish, and I dig it.