Welcome! I’m so glad you’ve chosen to stop by! I am beginning this site as a way to share not only my passion for makeup, but how it fits into my life as a college professor, mom of a preschooler, mentor to young students, and in general just a person trying to navigate all the competing ideas about beauty, intelligence, consumerism, activism, politics … the list goes on. I’ve loved makeup since I was a child. Not in an “I want to fit in” kind of way, but in an “I want to try every product and read every issue of Teen magazine ten times over and try out every look and then try theater makeup and maybe be a makeup artist or a doctor or a firefighter or all three” kind of way. When you’re a kid, all options are available to you. When you get older, it’s much harder not to be influenced by what people tell you is appropriate–for your profession, your age, your ability. If you’re like me and need a way to work through all of this in a place of joy–a makeup room–then I hope you’ll keep reading, and stop by often.
Before we get started, you’re probably wondering about the title of this blog. What is a bluestocking anyway? Well, this term refers specifically to the Blue Stockings Society, a group of educated women in England in the 18th century, but it has been used since the 17th century to refer to women intellectuals. Calling someone a bluestocking was often synonymous with calling her frumpy. This derives from (you guessed it) the stockings worn by the Blue Stockings Society, which were not the stylish silk stockings that were en vogue at the time.
I chose to call my blog Beauty and the Bluestocking because this idea of the frumpy woman intellectual is still very much alive today. I am a college professor. I love makeup. These two things should be able to coexist, yet this pairing constantly catches people by surprise. It does not matter how many successful, intelligent women wear makeup or dress intentionally. (I like to use the word “intentionally” better than “stylishly,” since people often use “stylish” to mean conforming to specific–and often limiting–beauty standards.) Many people believe that intellectual life means locking yourself in a dark room, away from worldly concerns, where you can sit and think without the daily distraction of basic needs like food and clothing. Please. On my most chaotic days I may wish for that room if only to have a few minutes to myself, but most of us live in the real world, where we have to be many things to many different people, where we have jobs and families and responsibilities. And somewhere in there we have to find peace and joy.
This is where my bluestocking life meets the makeup world. Makeup brings me joy–it allows me to be creative, to try new things, to be brave and challenge myself and learn new skills. On a recent vacation, my son told me that he was having fun, but he missed his toys. I told him I completely understood what he meant. The day after we came back, I sat at my makeup drawers and swatched eyeshadows and organized bronzers for hours. When I have those precious few moments to myself, makeup is what brings me joy, peace, and clarity.
So I started this blog to challenge this idea that being smart means that you don’t or can’t care about your appearance. Or that enjoying fashion and makeup is somehow frivolous and detracts from your intelligence. These are both myths, and need to be laid to rest now. I also started this blog, though, to cater to the needs we have as professional women (and men) to find products that suit our lifestyles, budgets, and preferences. Maybe you’re a recent college grad who is trying to figure out how to ace an interview or create a style that fits your new workplace, but on a tight budget. I’ve got you covered. I spent years in grad school counting every penny, and even though I have an awesome job now, I haven’t lost my frugal touch. Most of what you’ll find here is drugstore (or drugstore-priced) makeup, or higher end products that are worth your money. I still have trouble handing over $50 for an eyeshadow palette, no matter how much I want it, so I keep a very critical eye on how products perform and if there are similar products (dupes or not) at a lower price point. Maybe you’re just starting out in makeup or you prefer to keep your purchases to a minimum so you want an idea of the basics–what’s out there, what you need, what you really don’t need, etc. I know not everyone is a makeup collector or wants to try every new product that hits the market, so I’ll help you make the best decisions to get the essentials without a lot of hassle. Or maybe you’re like me, a professional person and makeup junkie who is frustrated with that tired old narrative that is disproven by millions of women every day: that makeup detracts from your intelligence.
Most importantly, though, I do not want to suggest in any way that you need makeup to demonstrate self-care, or that makeup is necessary to feel beautiful or attractive. If you don’t want to wear makeup, you certainly should not have to. If you do want to wear it, go for it! Beauty is not the same for everyone, and we should all do what makes us feel the most confident and the most authentic. In my posts, I hope you’ll see that I’m reviewing products so that you can make the best decisions for you. I will offer a variety of options and emphasize wearability–how to make any product or trend suit your needs, be they a night out or a strict workplace environment. But in the end, beauty is all about you: how you feel your best, not what others expect of you. What makes you feel most attractive, not what attracts others. I love makeup because, for me, it is an outlet where creative expression meets critical thinking. But I constantly keep myself in check. If I ever feel like I have to put on makeup because I don’t feel confident without it, I put it away and (figuratively) lock my drawers until I feel good in my own skin. Because that’s what this passion is all about.
If you’re like me and you read what seems like a million blogs, subscribe to a variety of makeup-related YouTube channels, and can’t buy a product without looking up a review, I’m honored that you’ve chosen my site among the many great ones out there to add to your list. If you’ve stumbled across my site by accident, maybe as you were googling a product name or searching for a specific tutorial, I hope you’ll take a look around, and that what you find is helpful to you. You’ll see a variety of posts. Some will be pretty familiar: product reviews (mostly drugstore), what’s new in makeup and skincare, best and worst, monthly favorites. But since the focus of my blog is wearability–for any situation–you’ll also find One Brave Thing, a series devoted to making Instagram trends or bright colors or finishes wearable for every day. You’ll find Inspired By, a series of dupe-type posts that suggest alternatives to high end palettes by helping you think about what you want from that palette–is it just one or two colors, an overall feel, or a true affordable dupe? You’ll also find subscription box reviews. I love unboxings, but I really want to know if the product actually works. I’ll test all of the products I receive and report back–what is worth the price tag, what isn’t, and what alternatives you can find. Finally, you’ll also just find some of my musings on beauty, work, parenthood, life, and how all of these do, or sometimes (okay, often) don’t, work in harmony. I’m looking forward to sharing all of this with you, and I hope to see you back here every few days for a new post!