My Business

We’ve all seen it: someone posted another picture on some form of social media  claiming they sell amazing products that’ve changed their lives. If you’re anything like me, you are probably super skeptical about how great these things actually work… if they’re so good why aren’t they sold in stores?! Unfortunately, this kind of skepticism is a huge reason behind what I’m going to call “post shaming”. Every day we see celebrities and influencers talk about products that we’ve never heard of, yet we rush out to the nearest store and buy the products with no questions asked. There have been numerous times where I’ve seen a YouTuber try new makeup and an hour later I’m at Ulta with a $200 bill all because some person (who I don’t even know) thinks a product works well.

I’ve been approached by people who sell things on social media before, whether it be to help a company sell jewelry, sunglasses, and the now infamous hair care products. For the longest time I just didn’t want to be “one of those girls”. You know the ones – they post huge claims about life-changing products and how much money they’ve made by never leaving the house… I rolled my eyes at that one plenty of times myself. Then I thought to myself, what in the hell do I have to lose by giving something a try? If someone can get that offended by someone posting a picture of a product then truthfully there’s probably larger problems in their life..

Anyway, it’s probably no surprise to any of you that I sell Monat hair care products. I guarantee you’ve seen numerous posts about “magic shampoo” or “miracle oil” – if not from me, then someone else. However I’m actually here to say GUYS, THE SHIT WORKS. I have literally never been interested in hair products – I just kinda throw whatever I have on my head and leave it at that. There’s been a recent surge of products going sulfate / paraben free and now things are going one step further. Monat’s products are completely naturally based – there’s more essential oils, plant extracts, and antioxidants than you can name.

Just a quick glance at Monat ingredients vs ingredients found in a majority of beauty products:

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Truthfully, if I was so interested in purely making money, there’s no way in hell I’d spend an hour writing this all out – but like I said THIS STUFF FREAKING WORKS. I have incredibly oily and fine hair. After two months of being on this shampoo and conditioner, my hair has gotten thicker, my split ends have completely vanished, I wash my hair every 2 to 3 days, and it’s grown almost 2 inches which is absolutely ridiculous for my hair. I use these products because they work and I genuinely love them – and I will not for a second be ashamed to post about them and tell people how great they are because I believe in them. As soon as I got over my skepticism and fear of being “that girl” I realized that I got my hands on some pretty amazing things and I have the results to prove it.

 

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This picture was taken two months ago. You can see how much shorter my hair was as well as how damaged the ends were. There’s a lot of frizz and dryness going on towards the ends which is something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve always used a ton of heat on my hair which has contributed to that breakage, but now I can just let my hair air dry and it comes out smooth and shiny, even if it never touches heat.

 

 

 

 

This photo was taken today – you can see the color has even improved and it’s a completely unedited photo. This was after I had only blow dried my hair – no styling tools or any products were used. My hair has never looked better and I have never been so stress – free when it comes to getting ready

 

You never have anything to lose when it comes to taking care of yourself – which is exactly what these products have helped me achieve. From all of my makeup posts and random rants, you know by now I LOVE talking about beauty tips and things that I stand by. So, if you’re ever interested in learning about having amazing hair AND possibly making some extra money while doing it, let me know.In the meantime I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing and loving every second of it : )

 

Don’t forget to follow my other social media accounts!

Instagram: @alexisrianna – personal

@riannajamesmua – beauty

Human Experience

This piece was part of a creative project for a class that I just finished taking. Now, before anyone gets to reading this I’ll say a couple things just as a disclaimer. As a heterosexual cisgender woman, I am in no way trying to pretend like I know what it means to be transgender. I had the privilege to learn about transgender history and some incredible literature and I really found a connection and respect to the material that I was reading.  I’ve learned that education is a truly powerful thing that leads to so many amazing avenues no matter what you identify as. Secondly, in no way am I trying to diminish a person’s gender identity by writing as an outsider. This project asked us to write a piece of activist literature, in other words, to display an issue we learned about in a creative way.

I truly believe that whether you are heterosexual, homosexual, binary, non-binary, gender fluid, transgender, or any other identity that is existing on this planet, you can learn so much about yourself by learning about other people. It is important to recognize the great variances we have in our society because at the end of it all, these are all human experiences. By suspending any bias or negative thinking, when we look at people for who they are, apart from the pieces we may not agree with, we are able to appreciate a person for who they are at the core. Identity is something inherently personal, therefore it is no one’s job to diminish or dismiss an identity different than one’s own. My hope for this piece was to bring some kind of attention to something that is different than my own personal experience, and for others gain a respect and compassion for the people who are unlike themselves.

Becoming Brigitte

December 27, 2007: Something just doesn’t feel right. I don’t know what it is; I haven’t been able to put my finger on it. This year for Christmas my parents gave me a G.I. Joe action figure and I tried as hard as I could to pretend like I was excited to open it. I guess all the time I’ve spent trying to bond with my dad over his love of war and weaponry paid off in some kind of way. All I wanted to do was feel like I was close to him. After all, he is the strongest man I know and what guy doesn’t want to grow up to be like his father? I’ve tried everything I can think of to make him like me, to make him picture me as the perfect son he’d always dreamed about. The one time he found girl’s underwear in my room I had to spend hours concocting a lie about how I finally got to third base with this girl in my class. If only he knew the real reason those were on my bedroom floor…

 

December 31, 2007: I guess it’s pretty convenient that my parents have more of a social life than I do. New Years Eve is finally here so I have the house all to myself for a couple hours. I convinced my mom that I was going to a huge party out in the Woodlands, but in reality I just wanted a break from all human contact. I sold my old iPod my mom bought me and used the $70 to buy some cheap eye shadow, lip gloss, and a Halloween wig I found at the costume shop up on 37th Ave. As soon as I heard the door slam and the headlights back out of the driveway, I rushed to grab my secret belongings from underneath my bed. The lip gloss had managed to slide in between some pages of a Men’s Health magazine, which I found quite ironic. I locked up all the doors, turned on my favorite song by Katy Perry, and danced around in the bathroom mirror as I slid the shiny pink-tinted gloss across my lips. Before I knew it, I was in a bleach blond wig covered in glittery blue eye shadow twirling around in an extra large Pink Floyd band tee pretending it was a ball gown. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more beautiful in my entire life.

 

January 26, 2008: In the past month a lot has happened. I finally stopped cutting my hair and it is now hanging delicately at the top of my shoulders. I convinced my mom to let me get rid of all the horrendously ugly button-up shirts she’d made me accumulate over the past couple of years and traded them in for tighter fitting V-necks. Little does she know I’ve been fantasizing about the possibility that one day I’ll have larger breasts to fill up the space where my flat chest currently resides. I’ve tried telling my mom the truth about myself multiple times, but I can’t seem to fit the “Hey mom I’m really a girl” speech in between breakfast and her morning pilates class. Sometimes I go in the depths of my closet, past all of the hidden tank tops and dresses I’ve seemed to steal from the local Goodwill, and I find that G.I. Joe doll. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve tried to connect with the doll’s strong physique and sheer “maleness”. All I can seem to think about is how gorgeous Ryan Gosling looked in his Army uniform the first time I watched the Notebook. That’s not really the kind of conversation I can have with my dad now, is it?

 

February 13, 2008: Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I’ve decided that tomorrow will be the day that I finally tell my parents that I am transgender. It’s kind of funny if you think about it – the day that you’re supposed to spend surrounded by your loved ones is the day I pick to potentially exile myself from my family. This just seems the most appropriate thing for me to do. I’ve been living as Brigitte Adams online now for over six months. I chose my name based on Brigitte Bardot because she exudes female energy and is desired by all – two things I strive to be at some point in the future. I’ve made other trans friends as Brigitte on Facebook, but all I can think about now is how to cross my virtual life into the real world. This Valentine’s Day I’ve chosen to fall in love with myself because I have figured out I am completely deserving of pure love in any form I can get. I cannot wait to introduce my parents to their daughter tomorrow.

. . .

            I won’t ever forget that morning; it was a balmy February day and the sun was barely peaking out from behind the grey clouds. I received the call at 9:32 a.m. When I answered the phone I was immediately overwhelmed with a sense of uneasiness. I did not recognize the voice that was on the other end even though it was coming from my wife’s cell phone.

“Mr. Adams, please go directly to Parkview Hospital. There’s been an accident,” said the monotone male voice on the other end of the line.

I froze in absolute fear, I felt the breath in my lungs dissipate and my heart race to an uncomfortable beat. I knew my wife left at 9:15 a.m. to take Aaron to school and with it only being 9:30 something inside of me knew what I would find once I had gotten to the hospital. When I arrived I was met by a doctor with a grim look on his face. I broke down before he could even mutter the words, “I’m sorry Mr. Adams but your wife and son have been killed in an accident.”

I can’t tell you what I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks. I’ve gone from being completely numb to feeling as if the actual weight of the world was crushing down on me as I silently laid in my bed, my wife’s smell still lingering on her pillow. I couldn’t even bring myself to go into Aaron’s room until that day, the one that changed everything I knew about my family. It was early in the morning, probably seven or eight, and I couldn’t live in the denial any longer. I slowly crept into Aaron’s room, almost as if I were trying to be quiet enough not to wake him. Lord, how I wish that were the case. I rummaged through everything I could find, pulling out t-shirts and shoes, trying to recreate the image of my son. I ended in the closet, all of my son’s memories hanging there on the shelves. I found old toy cars and model trains, pieces of his childhood that I wished I would have cherished while he was still alive. In my frenzy I must have pulled down every shirt that I could get my hands on, trying to burn my son’s scent into memory for the last time.

Strangely, something familiar came over me, but it wasn’t the cologne I know I’d purchased for Aaron just a few months ago. No, it was my wife’s Chanel No. 5 perfume I’d gifted her for Christmas and it was as pungent as her memory was in my brain. There, in the corner of the closet were three dresses, all stashed away as if no one were ever supposed to find them. I moved them out of the way, confused as to why women’s clothes were in my son’s closet. I remembered once finding a girl’s underwear next to his bed so I assumed my son was being a normal teenage boy and fooling around with someone without wanting his parents to find out. That is, until I moved the dresses and found the beautifully tragic secret my son had been hiding for years.

Tucked away under a pale blue dress were four torn out diary pages my son had been hiding. I looked at the last entry, dated February 13, the day before he died. I reread the last lines of the entry over and over again. I cannot wait to introduce my parents to their daughter tomorrow. I was shocked, confused, and disgusted by my ignorance. Here I was, father to a brilliant child and I had no idea that there was more than meets the eye. I gathered up the dresses, pressing them to my nose to try and gain a better understanding of the secrets hiding within the garments. At that moment another great sadness rushed over me, this time having nothing to do with Aaron. I found myself sobbing uncontrollably on the closet floor, dumbfounded by what I was feeling. I had never experienced true sadness like that before, even though I had just endured the death of my wife and child. This was something entirely different, no longer was I mourning the loss of my son, I was mourning the loss of my beautiful daughter, Brigitte, the one I hadn’t even gotten the chance to properly meet. Amidst all of my despair, I felt something poking into my left thigh, something I hadn’t even noticed before. I stood up, looked underneath my legs and found the G.I. Joe doll I had given my son this past Christmas. Taped to the back I found a piece of paper that I still carry in my wallet to this day. In perfect cursive, written in purple glittery ink were the words, “I’m sorry Dad. I wish you would have known then that I preferred Barbies.”

 

 

If you are interested in furthering your knowledge about the transgender and/or queer community, you may want to consider the following:

Transgender History  – Susan Stryker

Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us – Kate Bornstein

Paris is Burning – Film

*there are hundreds of more resources that I would be happy to share, but these are particularly stimulating*

Elixir

So, here we are, my final fall finals week of college (god, even saying that is stressing me out). I have four tests, two papers, and an internship to balance but all I can seem to think about is Chick-fil-a and my incurable Starbucks addition. Naturally, in a way to procrastinate even more than I’m comfortable admitting, I grabbed some new products and decided to play around. I’m sure a ton of you are familiar with the brand ColourPop -ya know, the sister company of Kylie Cosmetics…? I’ve been obsessed with their lipsticks for months now and I finally decided to order some eyeshadows and highlighters & WOW GUYS. Seriously, these things are pigmented, creamy, and probably the most blendable shadows I’ve ever used.

Oh, and they’re hella cheap which makes them great when you’re a broke college student who already spends too much money on makeup 🙂 So, in case you were wondering, here’s what I ordered! eye_shadow_kit-_fall_2016_2_1024x1024

This is called the Zingara pack and it comes with Paradox, Elixir, Seeker, and Jinxie, all for just $18! Honestly this just reminded me 0f a huge glass of sangria so it was absolutely necessary that I purchased this. Elixir, the terracotta shade, is probably one of the most gorgeous mid-tone orange colors I have ever seen. Basically, what I’m saying is that you need to spend the money on these shadows people!!! Separately, they’re $5 each and come in different finishes that go from matte to metallic. Each one has a unique texture thats somewhere between mouse and creme but you’d need to touch one in order to know what I’m talking about.

I also decided to get two highlighters and two Lippie Stix which are also freaking incredible. The best part is that I only spent $42 dollars on all of this stuff…including shipping.

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The highlighter I used on my cheekbone and inner corner in this photo is called Wisp & it’s  probably the prettiest champagne gold/silver I’ve ever seen. It literally makes you look like you’re glowing and I mean who doesn’t want that?

Basically, I just put a light orange color in the crease – I think Orange Soda from Anastasia Beverly Hills ($12) – and then used my finger and put Elixir all over the lid and ta-da! I didn’t feel like doing a wing because 1) I’m lazy and 2) I love the color so much I didn’t wanna hide it at all.

All I did was my normal makeup routine: brows, bronzer, blush, highlight, and lips! Okay, I know that sounds like a lot, but when you’re trying to hide from your responsibilities it doesn’t seem like enough. I could probably do my makeup for 3 hours and still figure out more things to plaster all over my skin, but that really shouldn’t be surprising by now.

And just to be clear: I don’t do this because I hate how I look without makeup. I’ve always been obsessed with creative things ever since I was little and since I have 0 artistic abilities with pen and paper, this is the closest thing I get to art, alright? Of course I have days where I’m insecure and want to hide an annoying pimple, but most days I just love to stand in front of the mirror and create new shapes and color palettes on my face.

People oftentimes think girls do their makeup to impress other people but lemme tell ya what… that’s not the case at all. I don’t remember the last time I wore my favorite grey-toned lipstick and got a compliment from a single person. But you know something? IT’S OKAY!!! Art is an expression of yourself and as long as you’re happy and content with what you’re doing, validation from others kind of just slips to the wayside and disappears. Of course I love when people admire what I do, but I don’t need it in order to be happy with myself. I think that’s a HUGE thing for a lot of girls to understand in today’s society. So many people are in desperation for validation, compliments, or even recognition that they think without it they are nothing. Well, I’m here to tell you ladies that no matter how many times people say your black lipstick looks bad, if you like it then you should wear it however often you want. {I may be biased towards black lipstick, but I mean who doesn’t want to feel like a cross between cat-woman and Avril Lavigne? No one? Just me? Okay, fair enough.}

Anyway guys, if you take away anything from this just know that A) it’s perfectly okay to do things for yourself even if other people don’t like them, B) Yes, it’s also okay to spend 45 minutes taking photos of yourself in order to get the best possible angle for your highlight, and C) Do whatever it is you do with so much passion and love that other people see it and want to become just as passionate as you are.

Until next time xoxo

P.S. It’s also okay to absolutely LOVE parts about yourself and its even more okay to want to showcase what you love. For me, it’s my eyes and lips so here they are in their full glory. Lemme know what you love about yourself!!! Let’s spread the self-love today 🙂

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Let’s Be Real…

Picture this: I’m sitting in an extra-large T-shirt that makes you wonder if I’m even wearing pants, barely matching socks that are practically black on the bottom, and half of my makeup rubbed off from where I got eyebrows threaded, revealing my too-dry and flakey red skin underneath. Don’t believe me? Here you go: DSC_1037.jpgDSC_1049.jpgDSC_1036.jpg

Let’s not forget: I’m in desperate need to brush my teeth from drinking too much coffee, I haven’t shaved past my knees in a couple days, and I’m long-overdue for an upper-lip wax. I’m sorry to break it to you guys, this is what we’re really dealing with today. I haven’t edited these photos to smooth my pores, make the whites of my eyes appear brighter, or hidden any blemishes that are so graciously dispersed across my face.

Today, I’m just basking in my authenticity; what you see is literally what you get. It’s one of those days where I don’t feel like doing much else besides watching that episode of Law and Order: SVU, just one more time, even though I guarantee I can tell you exactly who did it, why, and what their sentence was within the first two minutes of watching it. Really, it’s a problem. Okay, maybe not a problem, just a beautiful addiction. Who else doesn’t totally wanna be Olivia Benson? Talk about a real badass woman right there. Anyway, I digress…

So often I think we, as young girls, feel the need to hide our real selves from the world. For whatever reason we’re fixated on the need to appear “normal” within the context of society. There have been so many times I’ve sat in front of my mirror desperately trying to cover up a pimple on my forehead not because I really wanted to, but because I didn’t want people to see that I wasn’t “perfect”. It’s a lame confession, I know, but I guarantee you all know exactly what I’m talking about. Ever since I was in middle school, people have told me I have perfect skin. So when my face started freaking out due to those lovely little hormones raging throughout my already too emotional body, you can only imagine the amount of pressure I felt to keep up the “perfect skin” facade. Again, lame confession, but it’s a real one.

Just today I was trying on clothes at the mall for an interview when I absolutely lost it inside the fitting room stall of Forever 21. I’d tried on about five different pairs of pants, six different shirts, and I could not for the life of me find a single thing I liked. Let’s add the fact that I’m on my period (it’s 2016… if a girl can’t talk about biological processes going on with her body then we have a whole other host of real issues to tackle) so naturally I feel bloated beyond belief and practically the size of a whale. I’m not kidding when I tell you I was slumped over half naked with crumpled up clothes surrounding me frantically texting my best friend to explain that I was in a real crisis. Luckily, she came through with the pep talk I needed saying, “Find a high waisted pencil skirt and blouse and rock the fuck out of life like I know you can.” *Ladies, this is where I tell you to find a best friend like Sara and never, ever ever let them out of your sight.*After getting that text, I kid you not, I went back out there, found a pencil skirt and shirt, and felt like a brand new person ready to take on the world.

We all have days where we feel like crap about ourselves. We have moments that seem so dark and miserable that we forget just how incredibly incredible we are. The point of all this is simple: so often we favor the bad thoughts over the good ones. Truth be told, I know I’m the same person whether or not I’m wearing my favorite pair of fake eyelashes. The fact that I don’t have on an hour and a half’s worth of makeup doesn’t change who I am internally, yet we see all of the little things that we perceive to be “bad” and let them overwhelm us to the point that we end up crying in a public bathroom (yep, that’s happened to me multiple times). How incredible would it be if we could spend twice as much time praising ourselves than we do putting ourselves down?!

Now, let’s switch gears a little bit and look at instances where I spent the time to actually do my hair and makeup…15271272_1373417772670382_1563889980_o.jpg15302362_1373408096004683_1859864032_o.jpg15303815_1373408162671343_1534777171_o.jpg

I will not lie to you…I am probably WAY too proud of my highlight and the fact that I got those dang lashes to stay on for as long as they did. I’m happy that it only took me seven minutes to apply that liquid lipstick as opposed to the twelve it normally takes.

While makeup continually gives me a way to express myself, boost my confidence in my appearance, and allows me to show of what I like to think is my only talent, it doesn’t change who I am internally. Deep down I know my value is not based on the fact that I vainly spent an hour in front of the mirror to make myself look “presentable”. I understand that my physical appearance doesn’t make me a better person. I have a grasp on that reality…most of the time. But at times I still find myself loving me just a little bit more after I smear expensive products all over my face.

As a girl in 2016, I can say that life can be mentally exhausting. We have the tendency to attribute our worth to our appearance. This, in my opinion, is largely due to the society and social structure we live in, but there are other contributing factors. Why is it so hard to love ourselves but give out compliments like Oprah gives out free cars? I can’t tell you the amount of compliments I receive on my skin, the exact thing I find myself hating every day. This is not to be conceited, it’s to show that because of our internal monologue, we are so blind to the beauty that others see in us. I challenge you to accept your faults and recognize that those are what makes you unique and what makes you gorgeous.

To be honest, I don’t even know if anyone besides my family reads the stuff I decide to put out into the world. The things I say probably don’t make it to 1/20th of the people I’d like to reach. But that’s okay. Just today I read a quote a friend wrote down in her notebook. It said “Just make your dent in the universe.” And today, that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m not trying to overhaul the world and have everyone know who I am. If a single person reads this and it makes them smile or feel anything at all, I’m happy with that. I truly believe that everything starts off small; we only have to do something seemingly insignificant in order to begin the chain reaction.

So, I leave you with this: know your worth. No one is going to be perfect, not even you. We need to remember to live our lives for ourselves and not to achieve an ideal set out by some elusive idea. It doesn’t matter if you have on the most expensive dress, or if you’re sitting in yesterday’s pajamas with third-day hair. As long as you are you, completely and unapologetically, that is all you’re ever going to need.