You Asked It

Damn Girl Ya Look Good

Advice about how to tackle eyeliner, corsets, formalwear, and your “flaws.”

I really want to get a corset. I think they’re really pretty, and I like the look of a nipped waist. But my best friend and my mom keep telling me that corsets are unfeminist because they represent everything women have been and should be fighting against. I am totally a feminist, but I don’t see the problem with wearing a corset, especially if I don’t lace it too tight. Am I a bad feminist because I like the look of restrictive garments? —A., 17, Florida

First of all, as far as whether wanting a corset makes you a “bad feminist”: Certainly not! It’s your body, and you have the right to wear what you like. People will always have something to say about women’s clothing choices regardless of what you wear: You’re either “not sexy enough” or “not empowered” or “not feminist” or whatever. It’s a catch-22.

I love restrictive harnesses and leather, so I’ve thought about this a lot myself! Corsets do have a questionable history—one that you’re going to be confronting every time you lace one on. Corsets and other Victorian-era clothes that we see in the movies were mostly worn by aristocratic women (who else could afford to wear like six layers of clothes and underwear on a daily basis?), so they carried associations of class distinctions. Women belonging to different social classes in the Victorian era wore different kinds of corsets as a way to strengthen and protect the socioeconomic hierarchy. And, as you mention, corsets also speak to a certain idea of the feminine body ideal in many cultures, i.e., a nipped-in waist and an hourglass silhouette. But it’s not like this ONLY applies to corsets—we have plenty of clothing today that’s meant to distort, “improve,” and otherwise reform the shapes of our bodies to fit the ideals surrounding us, like shapewear, boned or darted bodices, bias-cut garments, A-line and babydoll dresses…the list could go on and on. You have to give yourself permission to wear what you like and remember that it’s your choice. Feminism isn’t a rigid set of rules to follow in order to become the “best feminist” you can be. Everyone has different experiences and histories and circumstances and preferences when it comes to clothes and to life in general. If you wanna wear a corset, go ahead and do it—and feel good about it.

I also want to take a minute to to debunk some myths about corsets. First, they won’t mess up your ribcage or anything. Our ribcages are fairly flexible, and unless you wear a super-restrictive corset 24/7 for a long time, your bones will return to their natural dimensions when you take off the corset. Second, no Victorian women ever had ribs removed to fit into their corsets, according to Valerie Steele, my favorite fashion historian, who debunks a bunch of medical myths about corsets in her book The Corset: A History. In fact, when worn correctly, corsets don’t have any long-term bad effects on your health! You can see X-rays of corseted bodies and learn more about corset safety over here if you’d like to learn more.

Getting familiar with the history of the corset will equip you with knowledge that will help you defend your sartorial preferences. If you decide to ignore your mom and your best friend and do you (which is what I’d do, personally), it’ll be good to know the facts about what you’re wearing and to be able to teach others about the history of what you’re wearing—and that’s always fun, I think!

I would suggest reading up on different kinds of corsets to find the type that’ll be most comfortable and low-maintenance for you. My friend Cora lists great resources about corsets and other lingerie on her website that will probably help you a lot! Here are some options to look at in the meantime:

Clockwise from top: Boned corset, Etsy, $231; overbust corset, What Katie Did, $230; black ribbon corset, Corset Story, $109; overbust corset, Corset Story, $109

Clockwise from top left: Boned corset, $231, Etsy; overbust corset, $230, What Katie Did; black ribbon corset, $109, Corset Story; overbust corset, $109, Corset Story.

I want to wear a dramatic cat-eye, but whenever I try to draw one with liquid eyeliner, it ends up looking too scary, dark, and intense, and I panic and wipe the whole thing off. How do you apply the right amount of liquid liner, in the right shape for a classic cat-eye? —Ariel

Freehand drawing with liquid eyeliner is tough as heck when you first set out to do it, so don’t be discouraged—I have plenty of terrifying photos of myself at 15 with smeary, uneven winged lines that may have actually been thicker than my actual eyelids. I’ve since become more precise, but that took a lot of practice (and a lot of nights out during which my style direction might be most appropriately described as “smudged-up sex raccoon”). The frequency with which my friends were maternally licking their fingers and wiping black smears off of my forehead, cheeks, and, in extreme cases, jawline, was at its lifetime high. While that’s sweet at first, a girl can get tired of being covered in a combination of cloudy trails of Wet n Wild Extreme Black Liquid Action Cat Action (or whatever) and other people’s saliva. It was not my greatest makeup look.

While I’ll also give you tips about how to get better at liquid eyeliner in just a second, I’d like to first recommend that, in order to avoid a spit-covered raccoon scenario similar to my own, you try something a bit less labor-intensive and harder to fuck up (and, trust me, just about every other kind of makeup is harder to fuck up than liquid liner). Has anyone suggested gel eyeliner to you? It typically comes in a little pot, is applied with an angled eyeliner brush, and is somewhere between a solid and a liquid, formulation-wise. It goes onto your lids smoothly without going all over the place like liquid eyeliner is prone to do. You can learn how to put it on in the second video here at around the 3:50 mark. If you want to make things EVEN SIMPLER, use gel liner in conjunction with this amazing five-second Scotch tape template dreamed up by Rookie contributor Jane Marie for the Hairpin. Her tutorial is a total game-changer and makes attaining cat-eyes almost as easy as it would be if you were born an actual feline:

If you’d like to master liquid, too, which has its benefits (the colors tend to appear more intense, and your lines will look super-polished when they’re done correctly), you can check out the fourth video in this Face-ics, where I take you through the careful application of liquid liner at the three-minute mark. Some additional tips: Choose a product with a super-fine brush as opposed to a felt tip so that you have more control over where the liner’s going. In terms of how to shape your wing, look at the outer corner of your lower lash line and imagine if it extended further up your face—that’s where you’re going to put your first line of the cat-eye after drawing liquid liner as closely as you can to your lashes along the rest of your upper lid. Do a continuation of your lower lash line with your brush, then connect that with the line on your upper lid like you’re filling in a skinny little triangle (because you are). Here’s a diagram I found that shows you what I mean.:

Photo via Cocorosa.

Photo via Cocorosa.

Now go snack on some fish skeletons and shit in a box! I mean, go feel like Audrey Hepburn or whatever! X ARS ♦

If you have a question for Marie’s Fashion Club (what we would call DGYLYG contributors if they were the leads in an ’80s book series for pre-teens), send it to beautyandstyle@rookiemag.com and let us know your first name (or nickname) and where you live.

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32 Comments

  • kathryn-s December 17th, 2013 11:19 PM

    SO GOOD SO GOOD

  • coralgirl December 17th, 2013 11:22 PM

    Woah! The answer for the corset question was awesome— I’ve been dying to know more about the history of corsetry and you provided some really helpful and interesting resources. (I couldn’t figure out who wrote the reply, but many thanks!)

    For the girl who asked, if your interested in historically based corsets (for the Marie Antoinette obsessed) check out; https://www.etsy.com/shop/redthreaded (sooo swoon worthy)

    or just search for medical corsets in the vintage section (they are usually cheaper and so fun to lace up, plus they look awesome over flowey 70′s dresses)

  • greycameo December 17th, 2013 11:30 PM

    A note about corsets– please don’t buy from Corset Story! The boning is cheap, often scrap material, and they sell rip-offs of other designers without consent. You could hurt yourself in one of their corsets. I can’t speak for Etsy, though What Katie Did is a good option but rather pricey for a beginner.

    The best price and quality for a beginner corset can be found at Orchard Corset. Typically their CS 411 is the model to turn to for a beginner, I love my black pinstripe! It’s recommended to pick a size 4-5 inches smaller than your natural waist.

  • hillarydee December 17th, 2013 11:37 PM

    Loved the answer to the first question! As someone who struggles with accepting a giant nose, I just want to share this blog with all my fellow big nosed ladies:
    http://fuckyeahbignoses.tumblr.com/
    SERIOUSLY it has made accepting my nose so much easier!!! :)

  • soviet_kitsch December 17th, 2013 11:39 PM

    amy rose you are ON FIRE. your answers made me feel all weird and cozy inside, and really set my mind at ease. i too, have weird, crooked, bumpy, yellowed, sensitive teeth, but i take excellent care of them, and honestly they’re great for eating apples. you’re so right–we have better shit to do than worry about our teeth <3 (and as per usual marie, you are also awesome as fuq)

  • julalondon December 17th, 2013 11:49 PM

    Well, i already confessed my love to you today, Amy Rose, but once again, OMG you are so funny and lovely and just seem like a great person, haha! I especially loved the first answer!=)

  • Emmie December 18th, 2013 12:04 AM

    I have to take issue with the winter formal advice- those dresses are all mega $$. High schoolers aren’t rollin’ in dough. Also, that $48 crown that is easily DIY-ed (you can even buy german glitter glass for, like, $6.) And $20 nail polish?? Come on, there are insanely cheaper options out there!

  • nikkiduck December 18th, 2013 1:54 AM

    to add to the eyeliner discussion – I picked up some e.l.f. cream eyeliner at Target for like $3 and it’s amazing! It comes with its own little angled brush and goes on perfectly every time for me. I had gotten pretty okay at liquid eyeliner, but if you don’t want to spend an agonizing 20 minutes doing your eyeliner, I highly recommend the e.l.f. one!

    • Ruby B. December 20th, 2013 1:27 PM

      elf makeup in general is the best cheap makeup in the world. their gel liner rocks!

  • vicktoi December 18th, 2013 2:04 AM

    I feel like the pressure to have “perfect” teeth is such an American thing. When I visited Europe, I was so surprised how everyone was so lax about the body in general. Pit hair? Whatever. “Bad” teeth? Nbd. Even when someone farted they would just make a joke about it and then move on with their lives as if it was no big deal.

    Also I think that irregular teeth are so charming and really add character, so go you. ^_^ Plus let’s not forget my personal girl crush Lea Seydoux whose less than perfect teeth add to her mystique and beauty.

    • Flossy Mae December 18th, 2013 6:11 PM

      Hey, I’m from Europe (London) and i’ve always wondered why us British are stereotyped as having bad teeth!! But the 1st question Kinda explained it to me….I agree with you, I’m not unecessarily bigging up the uk or anything but it’s so true what
      you said! Ironic how stylish it is to hve less-than-perfect teeth here, like Georgia may jagger and Kate moss with their gaps :’)

  • lotusmarina December 18th, 2013 2:11 AM

    four words:

    tape.
    genius.
    thank.
    you.

  • emlyb December 18th, 2013 6:22 AM

    omg THANK YOU so much for the teeth q&a, i was honestly thinking about sending a nearly identical question in.
    my teeth are really yellow naturally and i HATE them so much. (also does anyone else feel like teeth are seen as a-okay bash? like even with some feminists it kinda seems to me like they’re the one thing that is allowed to be critisized and judged) and my family can’t afford dental work, esp. because my therapy and medical care are costing so much (also in the uk you can’t get your teeth whitened if you’re under 16:(() so THANK YYOOOUUUU amy rose. i will work hard to love my teeth. i REALLY needed to hear my yellow crooked teeth are worthy of love and acceptance <333

    • ArmyOfRabbits December 18th, 2013 2:44 PM

      To be honest, I don’t think pearly white teeth look that great anyways. I have a warm-colored skin tone, and I think I like my teeth having that slight natural yellow tint. Teeth whitening doesn’t equal healthy teeth, instead it could do damage to them. That’s why it’s considered cosmetic instead of medical.

      My teeth have always been slightly crooked; when I was growing up, a few individuals had made me feel bad about having imperfect teeth. I then realized that I do my best to keep my teeth clean. Plus, it’s not like I have a hard time eating, flossing, and closing my mouth– my teeth function well!

      My boyfriend thinks my teeth make me look hot, but he’s not a superficial person, which is why I love him. I don’t need everybody to accept the way I like to look, but I have friends who love me for the way I am, and that is good enough for me.

      Lara Stone, Anna Paquin, Magibon, and Madonna are beautiful people with “imperfect” teeth. I’m sure there are a lot more out there!

  • izzywayout December 18th, 2013 10:56 AM

    i loved this!
    just one thing: the photo of georhia may jagger is actually a picture of ashley smith (my fave model ever) :)

  • Krista December 18th, 2013 11:03 AM

    WHOA WHOA THE TAPE THING OMG MY LIFE IS DIFFERENT

  • Haleyhaley2w December 18th, 2013 2:59 PM

    THE EYELINER TAPE TRICK JUST CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER. Seriously, that is revolutionary!

  • elliecp December 18th, 2013 5:31 PM

    I have to make a corset for textiles and its interesting that people still try to constrict and constrain their bodies to fit something that they are not. I personally believe you should love what you have, as long as you are comfortable and healthy then you shouldn’t have to put yourself through pain and effort to be something you’re not just for the pleasure of others <3

    http://roseandvintage.blogspot.com/

  • Eryn December 18th, 2013 6:38 PM

    OH MY GOODNESS THANK YOU, as someone who has spent their whole life having the notion that my life will be drastically improved by braces drilled into my mind by friends and family (‘oh, but think of how pretty you’ll be when you get braces!’), I’ve always had a hard time loving my smile & the crooked teeth that come with it. But lately I’ve had some moments of, wait, why do I need to put money and discomfort into fitting someone else’s idea of ‘perfect’? And why do my ‘friends’ care so much about the straightness of my teeth? The people who I want in my life don’t care if I have crooked teeth.
    I really really appreciated that response, and I am growing to appreciate my very crooked smile. Thank you!!

  • die_mad December 18th, 2013 6:56 PM

    for eyeliner, i like to use an angled brush and wet it, and then dip it in regular eye shadow and paint it on! its like using watercolors.

  • hallecat December 18th, 2013 7:45 PM

    http://m.asos.com/mt/us.asos.com/Cheap-Monday-Cape-Sleeve-Dress/10ts33/?iid=3138571&SearchQuery=cheap+Monday&Rf-700=1000&sh=0&pge=3&pgesize=50&sort=-1&clr=Silver&r=1&mk=na&mporgp=Lw..

    I just got this today. It’s shimmery in person and at a decent price. I thin not would be perfect for a winter formal.

  • suriKatka December 19th, 2013 12:25 PM

    Hey, Olivia, if you have no other problems with your teeth, trust me, you are a lucky person. I happened to break my front tooth when I was ten. My teeth weren’t totally perfect before, set too far apart for that Hollywood smile, but since then, it has really sucked. Fake teeth never look the same as the real thing, they tend to be a rather short-term solution, and what’s the worst, the treatment bloody hurts. It all used to make me quite angsty and self-conscious, and once I complained about it to my new dentist. She looked at me and said: “Girl, you are young, apart from this thing, you don’t have any troubles with your teeth, you are healthy, all organs in place and order – seriously, you don’t have any problem at all, so be grateful for that.” And that kind of helped.

  • honorarygilmoregal December 19th, 2013 5:47 PM

    Now I feel better about my imperfect teeth as well :)

    http://perkstobeinginfinite.tumblr.com

  • mangointhesky December 20th, 2013 2:23 PM

    This is BEYOND THE BEST, and I especially love the picture of that dress (I’m a kind of visual person), but the rest is also really good!

    http://thebluepapaya.blogspot.com

  • FlaG December 21st, 2013 6:38 AM

    So today I learned the name for those bumps on my teeth! Mamelons! Go figure!

    But seriously, I’m 25 and those mamelons are still there for the most part. I was curious why I have them and others don’t, but I always pegged it down to me just being different. Don’t let it get you down, Olivia :)

  • blueolivia December 24th, 2013 12:10 AM

    thank you so much for answering my teeth question! i’ve read your answer at least fifteen times already. i definitely agree with some of you guys too, i always feel like i’m just waiting until i get braces someday, which is totally silly! i just need to work on feeling comfortable with the way i look, a big challenge, but one i’m up to! thank you so so so so so much ✿

  • e1znekcaM January 3rd, 2014 12:08 PM

    Regarding the subject of teeth–I feel you! My teeth are all sorts of screwed up. But what those of us with “weird teeth” need to realize is we’re totally babe-ly. There’s nothing wrong with teeth that aren’t perfectly straight pearly whites, so long as you are taking care of yourself. Our teeth just make us more unique. And anyone who discriminates against someone without perfect teeth isn’t worth the time anyway. If you want to pay the money to get braces, that’s up to you. But don’t do it just because people make you feel crappy. It’s not worth it, then. The only person who should be deciding if you get braces is yourself. Only you.

    Here’s a post I made on Tumblr about my teeth (I’m thinking of making a zine, too!) : http://mentalmyst1cs.tumblr.com/post/68113133873

  • January 8th, 2014 2:17 PM

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!

  • zoesunicorn January 11th, 2014 12:39 AM

    WOW that video tutorial doe!

  • UnconventionalPsyche February 8th, 2014 1:31 PM

    Oh. My. God.
    Eyeliner genius!!

  • Lauren Rosa February 18th, 2014 11:25 PM

    That final comment about the cat was hilarious! you girls know how to brighten a mood! :)