the price of beauty: japan

Tokyo was the next place Jessica, Ken and Cacee visited to look at their beauty customs. I was interested to see it because my parent’s neighbor’s daughter went there for a while after college and spoke so highly of it that ever since, it’s a place I have on my “travel list.” There’s a lot on that list.

The first stop is always to meet the beauty ambassador and this time wasn’t any different. Rio Mori, who was Miss Universe in 2007 and now a model, brought them to the tea house to talk about beauty in the country, but also to learn some Japanese.

She said that while women have more freedom now, there’s a huge pressure for Japanese women to be beautiful because for a long time, women always stood behind the men and were subservient. Cosmetic surgery is big, but not something that’s talked about and the most popular surgery is a double eyelid procedure to make their eyes bigger.

What the other thing is common for an episode? A spa.

The first thing they did was go on a rock walk which is a small pond-like area with rocks on the bottom of it that’s supposed to massage your feet and hit pressure points in your feet. They had a very hard time walking.

They then went to a pool with a bunch of little fish in it. As you put your feet in the water, the fish come up and suck the dead skin off of your feet as a pedicure. It’s funny because I had recently heard something about this a few months ago, but it was so weird seeing it. I can’t imagine how weird it’d feel.

The best part or should I say the most different treatment was the sand pit where they were covered from their chin down by sand. It was supposed to exfoliate and be like a sauna and they just had to lay there for 2 hours.

Something that’s associated with Japanese tradition and beauty is a geisha so their next stop was to learn what it took to be one. They got handed a basket with a kimono, but were asked to strip to their skips to be dressed in one.

Next, the girls got white paint on their face which was traditionally made from nightingale poop. Ken has said this before and I think it’s an important thing to note, but he’s helped many celebrities get ready for award ceremonies and what makes this experience better is the tradition behind  it.

FYI: geishas do not marry. They cannot fall in love.

There’s a very specific way in which geishas must perform tasks. Jessica said the hardest part about being a geisha was the walking.

You must walk very straight and with very small steps, but then there’s also the tea service. You must hand tea a certain way, pour a certain way. Everything has it’s place so it’s not just for fun. And just an added tidbit, did you know that in the 1920’s there were over 80.000 geishas? Now there are about 1,500.

Afterwards, Jessica and CaCee were put to the test of being a geisha for two businessmen.

Let’s just say that the men didn’t want to be served by them again… oh well…

But Japan is not all about traditions and the old world, but the modern day harajuka girls.

It was started to allow women self expression and a free creativity since the traditional women was very oppressed. It was their empowerment.

Before leaving, Jessica really wanted to go to a clinic and meet with a woman who wanted to get the cosmetic surgery Rio talked about earlier in their trip- the double eyelid which make their eyes look more Western.

Here, the bigger the eyes are, the more beautiful.

As an ending, they had a fashion show of all the beautiful looks they had seen during their trip to celebrate. There were all different styles and really showed the girl’s style. CaCee wore a kimono but with nontraditional makeup and hair.

She said it was liberating and fun as everyone in the audience was clapping along to the music and having a great time. Jessica too said that it was empowering when she dressed as a harajuka girl with everyone cheering YOU on no matter how you’re dressed.

“Breathtaking” was the closing adjective to describe Japan but will Rio de Janeiro be the same?

…in other fashion news, here are 8 fashion apps for you to know about 🙂


what’s your favorite color?

I might be the only one, but red roses just don’t get me excited. Now, I won’t complain if a guy brings me them, but I like to be different and if you want to really impress me, I love pink flowers…

No, no one special got these for me. I got them myself, but seriously, how can you not smile?

I love pink fruit. Strawberries, raspberries, pink lady apples (kind of pink, but at least it’s in the name 😉 ) and cherries are all my favorites actually.

Obviously there are pink notes laying around…

Don’t worry though I’m not THAT obsessed as I’m usually a black, brown, white and gray kind of person; however some pink accents to go a long way don’t you think?

However, there is one thing that I love in the springtime that is both pink AND a vegetable…


It originated in Asia over 2,000 years ago where the leaves and the roots were used primarily of medicinal purposes, but don’t try to make anything at home as the leaves are actually toxic if not prepared correctly.

It wasn’t until the 1700’s that the stalks of the plant were used in the kitchen in England and the U.S. It’s about 95% water and contains a fair source of potassium, vitamin C, dietary fiber and low in sodium. One cup of diced rhubarb is only 26 calories and when prepared with sweet strawberries always shows me that spring is here.

I had seen this recipe for poached rhubarb last week by Helen and knew I wanted to make it. Can we just swoon over her pictures for a moment, please?

Ok, I’m done; however, if I could take pictures like that, I’d be a happy girl! Anyway, back to the rhubarb…

Nicely, when I went to Whole Foods the other day, they had put some rhubarb right next to the strawberries that were on sale. Now there’s marketing at it’s best, but I have to say it worked since I ended up making her recipe… with my own twist. This recipe is super simple and was a refreshing topping for coconut ice cream ice cream last night and my usual oatmeal this morning. Some oatmeal with strawberries, poached rhubarb and coconut… it’s like dessert for breakfast! Who said healthy had to be bland and boring?!? Not me!

I cooked the rhubarb a little more than the original recipe because I wanted more of a sauce, but feel free to do it whichever way you prefer 🙂

Poached Rhubarb Sauce

3 stalks of rhubarb

1/2 cup coconut water (or regular water or even wine for a more elegant dessert, but knowing I’d want it as an oatmeal topping, I left this out 😉 )

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon honey

juice of half a lemon

splash of vanilla


1. In a pot, add the coconut water (or water or white wine), syrup, honey, lemon juice and vanilla. Bring to a boil.

2. While that comes to temperature, rinse and cut the rhubarb into pieces.

3. Once the liquid mixture is boiling, add the rhubarb and cook for 2-3 minutes if you want the pieces whole like Helen’s recipe or 5 minutes if you want more of a chunky sauce like me.

can we normalize food?

Yesterday I posted this article with a small write-up about how I got it and some questions I had after reading it like can we truly help our young women or is it a battle we’ll always be fighting? As someone who would love to get into programming for young women (high school and college-aged) on how to make food and nutrition fun while also promoting a healthy body image, after I read the story, I felt discouraged that I could never do that in a successful way 😦 So before getting sad, I felt like I’d open the discussion to you before I talked about my reaction. It was nice to hear what you had to say and also like always, it made me feel better 🙂

For background, it was stated that in 2002, a study showed that more than half of high school students had engaged in some form of disordered eating whether it was from fasting, diet pills, bingeing, purging, laxatives or even smoking. My research from the survey I did from all of you (thank you thank you thank you) actually follows a similar pattern because 85% of you either have an eating disorder, have recovered from an eating disorder or know someone who’s had an eating disorder. While I’m not surprised, it was just sad to see it in plain numbers.

But while so many are worried about the state of obesity in this country (and don’t get me wrong, it is an issue), people are not also realizing that some of the obese are actually eating disordered too. The more we talk about the food, the more polarized we’re getting instead on focusing on a true health. Sounds like the past health care talks if you ask me…

So what can parents truly do to help their children grow up in a healthy environment where there are few “good””bad” labels and where food is a normal, delightful and fueling experience rather then one that brings a sense of guilt and shame? Like Elle said, I’m actually scared too about having a little girl one day. Not because I don’t think I could handle it, but because I don’t want to be so nervous about her eating enough to make it a worse experience.

I think the key is to open up the conversation of food, feelings and body image where it’s a safe and comfortable place. My mom always made me feel comfortable to talk with her, it was sometimes MY perfectionism that thought I couldn’t. Which is a whole other issue. Even if we open up the conversation, who’s to say what her perceptions are or herself and others? But I thought the author’s ideas were interesting to when she decided to model healthy living instead of just talking about it.

I’ve tried to forget all I once knew about calories, carbs, fat and protein; I haven’t stepped on a scale in seven years. At dinner I pointedly enjoy what I eat, whether it’s steamed broccoli or pecan pie. I don’t fetishize food or indulge in foodieism. I exercise because it feels good, and I never, ever talk about weight.

But while that sounds like a great plan, she goes on and says how completely unnatural it is and how it actually makes her more conscious about what she’s eating in this “antidiet.” I think there’s a harm in pretending everything fine too because it shows an air of perfection and no one is perfect.

We’ve come full circle with still no answer. Parents are trying to help their daughters by normalizing, but instead un-normalize it by showing a faux sense of health or concern.

To put the cherry on the top, her little girl at six years old looked up at her and said Mama, don’t get f-a-t, O.K.? and while the author said that at least she didn’t hear it from her, what are we truly fighting against? Society or ourselves? which leads me to another great article here that I’ll talk about tomorrow….

How was food talked about in your family as you grew up? Did your parents have a healthy relationship with food? If not, how did it affect you? I have a friend who’s mother used to measure everything she ate and who’s father over-exercises and still doesn’t think he has a problem even though they recently helped her recover from her own eating disorder 😦

what is food and how do we talk about it?

A dear friend and mentor e-mailed me yesterday with a link to an article in today’s New York Times magazine section. She was given this link by a woman who recently lost her daughter to an eating disorder so that first question still circles in her head to this day.

I think this article brings up a lot of questions and one that I want to ask is can we truly help our young women or is it a battle we’ll always be fighting? If we’re not healthy ourselves, we can’t help others, but if mothers do not have a healthy body image or nutrition choices, how can girls grow up against their mother’s actions? Also, where’s the fine line between healthy and obsessive?

I’ll post some of my thoughts tomorrow, but I’d love to hear yours first without my preceding ideas.

…and discuss!

new day, new job

Good morning sunshines!

I’m sorry I went MIA the rest of yesterday. Unfortunately, I’ll probably be gone most of today too 😦

I started training yesterday afternoon/night for a new job at a local restaurant I love and continue this morning/afternoon so between that and homework, these two days have been busy. The nice thing is my parents are coming down  for dinner tonight so it’ll be a nice break. Aren’t parents wonderful?

However, I do have some fun things coming up… Britney Spears… some findings on my survey…. pomegranate pork chops… barley risotto…

I promise I’ll be back soon!

How do you balance blogging with your job and/or school?


I never thought I’d be in a sorority. I was seriously against it during my freshman year because I thought I wasn’t going to change to fit in with a group of girls. Growing up I had my group of girlfriends, but most of my friends were guys. I was used to talking with my best friend Ryan and hearing “mmhmmm” “yea” “ok” on the other side because he was playing Madden. I was used to a no-drama policy which also meant I was used to a say-it-how-it-is mentality too so how could I fit in with hundreds of girls?

Well when I was back at Elon for my sophomore year, I couldn’t deny the fact that about 30% of undergrads were in greek life. One of my friends, Jenn, knew my aversion to sorority life, but had rushed the semester before and invited to go to an ice cream social at her sorority’s house that fall. At the time, I thought why not? and also yum, free ice cream! so I went and  actually knew more girls than I thought. It was a great time. What I didn’t know at first was that it was an event for the beginning of the informal rush process.

The next week I was offered a pansy and an bid to informally rush that fall semester. After thinking about it, I decided to rush not only because it was informal and not as intense, but also because I had really loved the girls.

That sorority and the one I’m so lucky to be apart of is Delta Delta Delta.

Known for their work with St Jude Children’s Hospital, Tri-Delta also has developed a program called Reflections that is designed to prevent eating disorders among sorority communities. Ever heard of Fat Talk Free Week?

That’s the main communications campaign during the year from this program and has gotten a country-wide response not only from the Tri-Delta chapters, but body image advocates and universities that still have the program without a Tri-Delta chapter on campus.

I’ve been wanting to get involved with the program since I learned about it late last year, but even though I’m a Tri-Delta, there isn’t a chapter on campus and because I’m not apart of another sorority on campus, I’ve had to wait it out. Imagine my happiness though when I was contacted by the Executive office a few weeks ago to write a guest post for their fan page and their blog🙂

I turned it in today and will let you know when it’s up for you to view it, but in the mean time, I suggest you watch this year’s Fat Talk Free Walk video. It’s so moving and gives a great message.

Is there a program or organization you disliked before and then you joined? Were you a part of a sorority and if so, what was your experience? I loved my experience with Tri-Delta for what it stood for, but also because it was a new chapter on campus (I was in the beta class) so we got to make new traditions.

the price of beauty: morocco

This week Jessica, CaCee and Ken discovered Morocco with it’s veiled women, mopeds and of course, camels.

Their first stop, as always, was to meet their beauty ambassador, Khansa Batma, who’s a famous singer there. Jessica immediately said she felt that she had such confidence and asked her what makes Morcoccan women feel beautiful? She said that there it wasn’t about the dress or the food you eat, but how you act and carry yourself.

After talking, Khansa Batma brought them to get a traditional dress and and veil. While it’s also for covering up, the veil helps to protect the face from the wind and sun. As Ken said, this makes you talk with eyes which CaCee actually enjoyed.

When they went to the market next, she said they men would actually be looking straight into your eyes and not at your butt or chest.

What they didn’t care for so much at the market was sheep brain. It’s a delicacy in Morocco and a great source of protein and iron, but while it’s great for your hair and skin, Jessica did not like the texture and said it was like an eyeball.

I do have to say though that I was happy she tried it and didn’t spit anything out like her first show in Thailand.

Next, they met up with a family to talk about beauty. There were three generations of women with the youngest, Leila, being the most liberal with her dress of jeans and a 3/4 length shirt.

A big thing about the Moroccan culture is to preserve and respect themselves for the right man. Because of this, the married women didn’t shake hands with Ken. Covering up is another way that they to protect their beauty for their partner.

What was interesting though was that Leila actually thought that the way Jessica was dressed was inappropriate and too revealing- she was wearing shorts- because of the amount of leg she showed.

Jessica’s response? I like my legs, just like you like your cleavage, and that might sound harsh, but I do have to admit, I would have stuck up for Jessica in that situation too. Leila was attacking her and our culture when they were just trying to talk with them and see how they live. The good thing though was that because of that experience, Jessica said that she felt more comfortable to wear what she wanted to and own it. Yay!

Because of that “stressful” experience, they next went to a spa which is called a Hamman and models the older Greek and Roman spas.

They had a scrub (which was none too soft) and then a mud wrap before having a water fight while rinsing off the wrap.

Afterwards, Khansa has arranged a surprise for them. The surprise was to learn how to dance with a tea tray dance which is when you dance and swirl your hips while balancing a tray with a tea kettle and lit candles.

The seduction is posture and balance.

Lastly, they rode a camel to a party with all the women they met during their stay- including Leila, who liked Jessica’s dress for the evening!

I have to say that Ken gives some of the best comments and summaries of the whole show at the end. He said that he thought that Jessica had more confidence covered up. As CaCee said, sexy is a lot of different things, not just skin and in Morocco, it IS more about who you are and looking into the person, not AT. It’s about the self and the way they respect themselves and value themselves that makes the difference.

Be ready for Japan next time! I can’t wait to see the geishas!

I have to say that this was one of my favorite shows. Which place has been your favorite? Thailand, Paris, India, Uganda or Morocco?