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Summer is characterized by its calm yet often exuberant energy. This wide array of music reflects everything from relaxing beach days to exhilarating nights out with friends. From Shawn Mendes to Drake to Stevie Wonder, there is a song for everyone. Download my curated play list here.
Should religious practices aimed at abusing gay children remain legal in a country founded upon freedom? In gay conversion camps--often presented as loving Christian camps-- adults abuse lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex children mentally and physically. These conversion camps pose as a helpful place where children find their “true” identity; when in fact, children are trained to hate themselves, associating their identity with sin. The mental abuse inflicted upon conversion therapy victims lasts a lifetime. With gay conversion camps being illegal in only 16 states, this issue is not only one of morality but represents the institutionalized homophobia in law and government. Gay conversion therapy should be made illegal as its principles, practices, and results are unethical.
Everyday gay citizens are ostracized in the eyes of society and the law for simply who they love. Furthermore, the mental and physical hostility experienced exponentially increases when a gay citizen enters the doors of a conversion facility. Lawmakers must ask themselves if it is truly moral to limit one’s human rights due to their sexuality. Victims -- from 19th century to present day -- have experienced cruel and unusual practices aimed towards eradicating their “disease” of homosexuality. According to History.com, victims experience a wide range of unethical treatments such as talk/hypnosis therapy, electroshock therapy, electrical shocks to the genitals (when sexually reacting to homosexual pornography or images of their loved ones), testical transplants, and in some extreme cases -- lobotomies (History.com). Severe involuntary treatments, in most cases performed on minors, in an effort to treat homosexuality like a disease (the American Psychiatric Association has denounced homosexuality as a disease for over 45 years) are a violation of one’s human rights. Gay conversion facilities should be illegal as they dehumanize people and leave lingering traumatic damage. Moreover, a report by the Journal of Medical Regulation states that conversion victims, “... 8.4 times more likely to have attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report depression, and 3.4 times more likely to have tried illegal drugs when compared to individuals who did not feel rejected.” (Jack Drescher, MD; et al). This depicts how the intense rejection of one’s identity amplified by conversion practices result in a detrimental aftermath. However, due to the secretive destructive nature of such facilities and their victims it is impossible to record all the rates of unfortunate events. In light of this, many victims have come out to share their stories to shift the narrative in the forms of testimonies, interviews, novels, and movies. For example, as stated in the Guardian, Matthew Sherka notes his experiences at four different conversion facilities and said, “I knew that my feelings were not going away. I blamed myself; I wasn’t trying hard enough. My depression was serious. I gained 60lbs. I felt suicidal all the time.” (Chitra Ramaswamy). Sherka additionally was not allowed to talk to his female relatives for several years, including his mother and sister, as the camps claimed that they had an influence over his feminine demeanor and homosexual urges. Sherka is one of nearly (an estimated) 700,000+ reported living victims of gay conversion facilities allowed to practice in 34 states, currently. When one’s human rights are on the line, the law should protect all citizens despite their status of sexuality, as such neglect is a violation of civil and moral rights.
The modern media and pop culture is on the forefront of informing the public of the antiquated and unethical practices of conversion therapy, and as a result, law makers. The media is making the unheard, heard by not allowing society to perpetuate and normalize victims as voiceless. Credible television and online news outlets, autobiographical novels turned popular films, and famous stars have denounced conversion therapy practices through compelling personal accounts accompanied by polarizing facts and/or statistics. Namely, Boy Erased, is a novel about Jared Eamons, an Arkansas college student who is an ardent athlete and passionate writer -- he is also gay. In the midst of accepting himself, Eamon experiences a failed adolescent heterosexual relationship, rape by a male student, neglect from his family, and ostracization from the church. As a result of Eamon’s coming out, his frantic parents enroll Eamon in gay conversion therapy facility. Eamon attends the “Love in Action” program which is gradually abusive through stern dogmatic religious rhetoric and physical action. Jared Eamon finds his own self-love despite the trauma he experienced (Conley, Boy Erased). To attract awareness to the multifaceted societal issues depicted in the Boy Erased novel, a film was released in November 2018 with a star-studded cast. Proclaimed film legend Nicole Kidman, rookie Lucas Hedges, alongside LGBTQ+ activist and sought-after pop vocalist Troy Sivan make up the characters disseminating Jared Eamon’s story. Similarly, the film The Miseducation of Cameron Post adapted from the eponymous novel by Emily Danforth, stars Chloe Grace Moretz, and shares the same goal as Boy Erased -- to call the public’s attention to the immoral prejudicial actions thrusted upon victims of conversion therapy. Moretz calls the film “a piece of art and activism” (MSNBC). Additionally, Hollywood has not stopped in their efforts to eradicate conversion therapy. Recently in the past two months, Imagine Dragons gave a powerful speech condemning conversion practices at the Billboard awards; while Taylor Swift has donated $113,000 in support of gay rights groups after a myriad of anti-gay bills were passed in her hometown of Tennessee -- a state that supports conversion therapy. Swift even posted on Instagram in support of gay rights during the Midterm Elections of 2018 to urge her 112 million followers to vote for Democratic candidates in her home state. As reported by the Washington Post, a surge of nearly 169,000 newly registered voters occurred in Tennessee after said singular post, shifting the prominent red state to blue (Amy Wang). As a result of the progressive push for the abolition of conversion practices from collectively all areas of mass media, 11 states have banned conversion therapy since 2017 out of the current 16 states who have banned conversion therapy (U.S. News). Americans’ values unequivocally align with supporting gay citizens as equals, however; the law lacks the representation of such modern values. When actors, singers, and artists with massive followings influence their fan base to take action with their local representatives -- exponential change occurs.
The dubious science underlying conversion therapy consists of no substance. Unlicensed therapists and self-proclaimed religious authorities scapegoat gay children in order to fulfill their own nefarious endeavors. Prominent scientific and mental health organizations castigate the empirical reasoning behind gay conversion practices. The American Psychiatric Association, “opposes any psychiatric treatment such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.” Additionally, The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated: “Therapy directed at specifically changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.”, while The Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization, has stated that these practices “lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.” (National Center for Lesbian Rights). The only thing gay conversion therapy scientifically yields is mental trauma. There is no scientific evidence supporting gay conversion practices; exhibiting American government and laws are run by stigmatized tenets. Governance should be based upon moral imperatives and scientific reasoning not unreliable religious-based abhorrent dogma. Federal laws must evolve with the current societal enlightenment of equal human rights.
As social norms overwhelmingly mature from rudimentary ideologies; the law must reflect society’s strides for basic human rights. With no scientific reasoning, unethical practices, and traumatic results, the law should protect prospective conversion therapy victims. As gay citizens are deprived of basic human rights, the law must evaluate if such excruciating circumstances violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as Title VII prohibits no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (House of Representatives). According to the New York Times, “Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann concluded that ‘sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination.’” as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also notes, “Congress may design legislation to governing changing times and circumstances... Words in statutes can enlarge or contract their scope as other changes, in law or in the world, require their application to new instances or make old applications anachronistic” (Adam Liptak) . Treating gay people as second class citizens violates civil rights law while subsequently encouraging damaging outdated doctrine. If the law allows gay minors to be involuntarily harmed, where can the line be drawn for further impairment of marginalized groups? With the Equality Act -- an act that would grant gay citizens equal rights nationwide -- currently being reviewed, social and legal change are closer than ever before. Lawmakers must abolish partisanship in relation to injustices to gay citizens as a whole -- eradicating gay conversion therapy as their first step -- in order to restore public faith in governance. Gay conversion therapy is unscrupulous in every aspect of its entity; laws supporting such practices must be repealed through intensive law reform. Even in states where conversion therapy is illegal, non-licensed religious leaders and faith-based counselors are allowed to continue to perform on minors as religion is used as an untouchable front. Religion-based law is a slippery slope as it is used for advancements in inequitable treatment of minorities. There is no separation between church and state in regards to laws encompassing homosexual laws — fundamentally violating America’s principles. Right-winged lawmakers must favor morality over prejudice and sectarianism to protect gay minors and citizens against unethical antiquated practices.
The law is the framework for widespread social change; in times of great dissolution progressive movements must lead instead of bigotry. Being gay is not a choice and the assertion that children can be structurally changed is dangerous. Society needs to stop designing to hyper-uniformity and heteronormativity by disregarding diversity in all facets. Gay conversion therapy must be obliterated legally due to its iniquitous execution and fundamental creation. Conversion therapy torments homosexual minors mentally and physically with extreme negative corollary. Implementing hate within youth and dividing families are only the surface level issues that conversion therapy presents. The conversation needs to be changed on a broader spectrum. The law views homosexual citizens as unequals to their heterosexual counterparts in society. Even with recent progressions in law reform, gay citizens can still be legally discriminated across the nation in restaurants, places of work, adoption agencies, and in marriage licensing - to name a few. Gay conversion therapy is one of the utmost pressing issues in regard to the oppression of gay citizens as its primitive nature intends to mentally and physically harm LGBTQ+ adolescents. The abrogation of gay conversion therapy nationwide is the catalyst the country needs to defeat intolerance caused by the current and pre-existing political, social, and legal climate.
“Actress Chloe Grace Moretz on New Film: It's a Form of Activism.” MSNBC, NBCUniversal News Group, www.msnbc.com/the-beat-with-ari-melber/watch/actress-chloe-grace-moretz-on-new-film-it-s-a-form-of-activism-1356381763901.
“Born Perfect: The Facts About Conversion Therapy.” National Center for Lesbian Rights, 8 Nov. 2018, www.nclrights.org/bornperfect-the-facts-about-conversion-therapy/.
Conley, Garrard. Boy Erased: a Memoir. William Collins, 2018.
Danforth, Emily M. The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Balzer + Bray, 2018.
Leins, Casey. “States That Have Banned Conversion Therapy.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 11 Apr. 2019, www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2019-04-11/these-states-have-banned-conversion-therapy.
Liptak, Adam. "Supreme Court to Decide Whether Bias Law Covers Gay and Transgender Workers." The New York Times. 22 Apr. 2019. The New York Times. 03 May 2019 <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/22/us/politics/supreme-court-gay-transgender-employees.html>.
McGeorge, Christi R., et al. “An Exploration of Family Therapists' Beliefs about the Ethics of Conversion Therapy: The Influence of Negative Beliefs and Clinical Competence With Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients.” Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (10.1111), 30 July 2013, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jmft.12040?purchase_referrer=scholar.google.com&tracking_action=preview_click&r3_referer=wol&show_checkout=1.
Ramaswamy, Chitra. “'I Still Have Flashbacks': the 'Global Epidemic' of LGBT Conversion Therapy.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 8 Aug. 2018, www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/08/i-still-have-flashbacks-the-global-epidemic-of-lgbt-conversion-therapy.
Ryan, Patrick. “What Happens in Gay Conversion Therapy? 'Cameron Post,' 'Boy Erased' Show Scary Reality.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 3 Aug. 2018, www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2018/07/31/gay-conversion-therapy-new-films-show-scary-reality/838633002/.
Silman, Anna. “8 People on Surviving Gay Conversion Therapy.” The Cut, The Cut, 10 Aug. 2018, www.thecut.com/2018/08/8-gay-conversion-therapy-survivors-on-cameron-post.html.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 03 May 2019 <https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm>.
Wang, Amy B. “Taylor Swift's Endorsement of Democrats Is Followed by a Spike in Voter Registrations.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 9 Oct. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2018/10/09/taylor-swifts-endorsement-democrats-causes-spike-voter-registrations/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f19f6fcb3da2.
I did 20,000 crunches in 30 minutes. Yup. And that sounds impossible. Because it basically is. But nearly anything is possible when you visit Jeannel Astarita of Just Ageless at 11 Howard.
Astaria is on the forefront of cutting edge beauty technology as she performs everything from laser treatments to silk peel facials to using cool-sculpting machines.
Although, this time I didn't get my regular facial with Jeannel. I tested out the new Emsculpt machine which is placed on your stomach to reduce fat and build muscle. The machine varies in intensity as a 30 minute session can be equivalent to 20,000 crunches.
Recently, I have been working on abdominal strength and achieving the perfect six pack. Even though I am close, I needed the extra push (because I am not ready to say goodbye to french fries). The Emsculpt machine not only eliminates your fat, but aids in strengthening your core, which will allow you to complete your abdominal workouts more efficiently and improve in new areas of fitness.
I relaxed as the machine was strategically placed on my lower stomach where I experience the most fat. The machine subtly jolts your core in intervals then goes in to resting periods. Jeannel described these contractions akin to giving birth.
The whole experience was weird - but in the best way possible. At first I had the giggles from even using this machine to begin with, but as I eased in to it, I felt less guilty for having french toast earlier, and learned how cool and innovative this technology really is.
About 2 days later is when I really noticed the change in my workouts. I was able to complete my regular abdominal routine in longer sets while being able to perform new workouts I could not complete under normal circumstances.
Jeannel suggests to get this treatment 3-4 times to see the best physical and visual results. I definitely will be coming back to Astaria's office to do 20,000 crunches - no sweat involved.
If you know me, I am a very stressed person. Like 7 out of 10 times anyone interacts with me, I am stressed. Ok... more like 9 times out of 10. This is partially due to my hectic schedule and everything it entails. Although, stress is genetic, and a lot of my own stress is self-induced. On my journey to a stress-free life, I learned practices to incorporate into my life to reduce the amount of stress I could experience.
Everything and anything exudes from the classic Sunday Scaries. I hate Sunday more than anything, alternatively, use your Sunday to plan instead of dwelling on your weekend and stressing about the upcoming week.
Know what you have to do for the week and write it down. Seeing it visually helps instead of forgetting or things jumbling up in your brain. One of the most satisfying things for me, is to cross off each priority, once it is finished. A major tip is add small tasks so you feel more accomplished as you remove those errands off your list.
Just do it
If you look up procrastination in the dictionary, my (well-lit and edited) selfie pops up. Unfinished tasks or plans are the worst and that is where a lot of my anxiety accumulates from. Getting over whatever fear that task beholds is key to de-stressing, and the best way is just doing it - there is no way around it.
Take a bath, put your favorite facemask on, light a candle, take a walk through the park, indulge in a donut. These are all ways of practicing self-care. Noticing when you need "me-time" or to pause from reality is integral to leading a healthy lifestyle.
Meal and fitness prep
Working out and eating are important parts of my day, and I like to change things up every once in a while. Doing the same workouts and eating the same thing can get monotonous, instead of stressing out on what to do every day of the week, plan the new things you are willing to try out and how you will revisit your favorite places.
Plan your outfits
The worst thing is not knowing what to wear or not feeling confident in your on-the-go outfit. We have all been there where it has stressed us out to the max in the mornings, snowballing into being late and setting a bad vibe for the rest of the day. Planning your outfits can be really fun! Find inspiration online and pull your outfits - grab a polaroid and lay out your outfits for the week so you can visualize them daily.
As much as I love social media and my phone, the best thing to do is unplug. Digital devices are a big source of stress as they prevent us from being in the moment and promote lack of sleep. The best remedy for detoxing is being present and prioritizing YOU!
What do you guys do to de-stress?
Netflix, my supportive friend, asked once again, "Are you still watching?", as I rolled my eyes and reached for another handful of Oreos. The ideal Friday night situation - Netflix and chill.
Although, after a while your body and mind reap the effects of the lack of sleep and 3:00 AM pizza deliveries. In a perfect world, I am someone who gets 8 hours of sleep every night, eats the perfect amount of greens and protein, all while getting in my Netflix binge-sessions (and looking toned and amazing in the process).
This Summer, I have taken many strides in perfecting my #SummerBod and changing my "Netflix and chill" lifestyle. Not only have I physically improved as a result of partaking in a healthy lifestyle, but it is a game-changer mentally, too. The definition of healthy isn't washboard abs and a salad for every meal, but somewhere in the middle between that and your 3:00 AM pizza delivery. As every nutritionist and trainer known to mankind says, "Everything in moderation". In an effort to finding that perfect middle between gym maniac and couch potato, I discovered Shape House.
Shape House, or also known as the "Urban Sweat Lodge", is a 45-minute sweat session that burns anywhere between 800 and 1,600 calories. You chill out (no pun-intended) in a heated sleeping bag wearing a long sleeve tee, sweatpants, and socks. Shape House supplies you with mineral water - to maximize hydration - and even a mini tea session in their relaxation room, post-sweat. But the best part is while laying in bed, you can listen to your favorite music or watch the latest episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, or if you are not a Kar-Jenner fan, you may indulge in any TV show that you desire.
Not only do you get your "workout" in by doing nothing, the aftermath is a zen state for hours. The benefits include improvement in weight loss, sleep, and even your skin. The most prominent result for me was quality of sleep, as it felt as if every sore muscle, caffeine molecule, and ounce of stress was erased from my body.
For someone like me, who is doing cardio for 1-2 hours daily and always running around for work, Shape House is a great place to calm down and detox. On the other hand, if you are really lazy and can't bring yourself to run on the treadmill, laying in a heated bed may be your fitness-calling.
Do I suggest this to be a daily remedy? No. Do I suggest a whole box of pizza to be apart of your daily meal plan? Yes... I mean no. Everything good for you (and bad for you) should be in moderation, and that is when the results will yield the best benefits.
WHAT IS "LOVE, SIMON" ABOUT?
"Love, Simon" is the latest teen romantic comedy in theaters now. The only difference about this rom-com is that the protagonist is gay. The movie is a coming of age and coming out movie, as Simon, a senior in high school, slowly is opening up about his sexuality to his friends, family, and school. There is an anonymous gay teen at Simon's school with whom he connects with and falls in love with via e-mail. The only catch is that they don't know each other's identity. Simon tries to unravel the identity of "Blue", while hoping his own sexuality doesn't get revealed to his hyper-heterosexual high school. With many internal and external obstacles, "Love, Simon", exemplifies a less than ordinary coming out and first love story. And yes, there is a happy sappy, kleenex-worthy ending.
MINI-LGBTQ MEDIA HISTORY LESSON
Now, more than ever there is more LGBTQ representation in film, TV, and media. The past 10 years or so, LGBTQ characters and their love stories have been intertwined into popularized media like Grey's Anatomy, but never as the main love story being portrayed. "Love, Simon" is a fresh perspective on your favorite boy meets girl high school gooey love story, but now it is boy meets boy.
The societal goal of "Love, Simon" was amazing. It is really the first movie (that isn't an Indie movie like Call Me By Your Name) where a gay love story is "the norm". I loved the fact that this is real life, that I can sit in a movie theater and watch a gay protagonist. The feeling is indescribable when you see a boy kiss a boy on the big screen, like butterflies - but in a good way. I am only sixteen, but the rest of my childhood, growing up, was watching my favorite classic 90s movies like "When Harry Met Sally" and "Pretty Woman", although I could never look up at the TV and aspire to have that love story. "Love, Simon" provides a sense of comfort that future generations of pre-teens and teens can see a gay love story and not think it is disgraceful or wrong. Love is love, and it should be that simple.
However, "Love, Simon" isn't my ideal representation of a coming out story. Without spoiling the storyline, Simon was put in the position to chose either his friendships or his sexuality. The writers made it seem like being gay in 2018 limited you to only keeping your sexuality to yourself and that your support system of friends and family wouldn't be of any help. Even though it comes full circle by the end of the film (and Simon learns that mostly everyone is supportive of his relationship), the way they made Simon sacrifice friendships in order to maintain his secret love story, and how he was outed left a bad taste in my mouth. Coming out is a hard thing to do, even today, trust me I've been there. The first person I came out to was my best friend Victoria, and I knew when I was ready that my friends and family were the ones I could count on. Everything from my first crush to kiss was intimate, and I wouldn't have it any other way - but that is a story for another blog post.
Anyways, the thing about the movie that I didn't like was that they made Simon's coming out everyone's business, where it should have been a bittersweet moment of intimacy, not his childhood burden.
THE FINAL VERDICT
Although I did not like how Simon was outed, the message behind the film and what it means for our society is something that I am extremely happy about. This movie is not only a movie, it is an experience and part of the history of LBTQ media movements. I enjoyed the film a lot, the guy Simon falls in love with is a total hottie, and his first kiss is actual #goals. So unless you are homophobic (which I highly doubt any of my readers are because I am clearly gay AF), I definitely suggest that you purchase a ticket and go with your friends and family because films like these are not going away anytime soon.
You might know Madelaine Petsch as the vindictive Cheryl Blossom on CW's Riverdale, but I can honestly tell you that Petsch has nothing in common with her character besides their hair color and love for the country side.
I met Madelaine a few days before her Bioré event at the Jonathan Simkhai fashion show, so I was shocked when Madelaine greeted me with a hug as I waltzed over to her. Madelaine is arguably the nicest celebrity I ever met.
As we got to talk about her first ever Fashion Week, Petsch confessed that she likes New York and it's buzz, but would never live here because she is a suburban girl at heart. Right after the event, Madelaine was scheduled to hop on a plane to get right back to filming her hit teen drama show, so it is only fitting that she is Bioré's new brand ambassador; a skincare brand that promotes efficiency and the elimination of acne - very relevant to her demographic, and frankly her schedule (or anybody who has quite the busy schedule).
After our photo op, which included a messy face wash battle, I sat down with Madelaine to get the full scope on her own skincare routine and Cheryl Blossom's beauty secrets.
DAVID: "What is one beauty product you can't live without on set?"
MADELAINE: "The Bioré pore strips... I am addicted to them!"
DAVID: "Describe what your skin was like in high school."
MADELAINE: "It was fine in high school, after I graduated high school I had cystic acne for like two years and it was awful. Then, it cleared up again. But it was all stress related, like its all from stress."
DAVID: "What is your beauty secret for great skin?"
MADELAINE: "After I've been on set all day and I've got a bunch of makeup on, I will actually triple wash my face with the Bioré Baking Soda Acne Cleansing Foam just to get all of it out, because one wash and even two washes I think isn't enough to get all of that makeup out of your pores."
DAVID: "What do you think Cheryl's beauty routine would look like?"
MADELAINE: "I mean I do it every morning in the makeup trailer, and it is long. And I feel like between me and you, and the rest of the people who read your blog, I really feel like Cheryl would have a professional makeup artist come to the house every day, don't you think?"
DAVID: "She would!"
MADELAINE: "She honestly would."
DAVID: "What brand of red lipstick does Cheryl always wear?"
MADELAINE: "It's a secret!"
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Let me know what you guys think in the comment section down below! Any feedback, suggestions, tips, and more. Hope you enjoyed this post. Stay Ruff!
New York City is the sought-after commercialized destination of the holiday season, and I like iceskating under the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center as much as the next person, although constant tourist-pandemonium is inevitable in popular New York City landmarks. And after awhile, the cheesiness is, well... just cheesy.
Whether your BFFs live in New York, or you are all out-of-towners, you want to engage in activities and locations that will provide fond ephemeral memories that will give you all the nostalgic "holiday feels" in chic NYC fashion, without all the tacky commotion that tourist spots tend to emanate. As I impart all the esoteric New Yorker holiday traditions and new hot places to attend; take notes and screenshot away in your #bestie groupchat.
1. Drunken Dumpling, East Village
What is a bestie-gathering without an Instagrammable brunch spot? Ditch the cold for gargantuan soup dumplings (or regular sized dumplings) in this little-known dumpling shop. This is perfect for getting in your Chinese food fix (and Insta post) without obnoxious lines and stampedes of people in China Town. Be the first people there when it opens at 12pm - it's like it was made for sleeping in!
2. Yankee Candle Pop-Up, SoHo
Candles make the perfect holiday present, (and the top beauty editors can testify in my one of latest BLOGmas posts, here) and this pop-up let's you take free candles, purchase scents, and so much more! But what really makes this pop-up standout is all of the different fun photo-ops made for memorizing your day on the town. There is a fake forest made out of wood, a mock beach setting, and the coolest of them all... an upside down room! The room is an illusion so you can lay down, make funny faces, and when you rotate your camera it looks like you are falling from the ceiling. Great presents with great pictures make the perfect post-brunch destination.
3. Facials, Massages, and/or Mani-Pedis at Bliss Spa, SoHo
Bliss Spa is the ideal getaway and relaxation location before resuming your holiday bucket list. I love the Steep-Clean facial, perfect for extracting all skin concerns while feeling luxuriously pampered with a glowing radiant aftermath. Or you and your girl-gang, can get classic mani-pedis and restock on all Bliss skincare essentials.
4. Gallery Hopping, Chelsea
One of New York's recondite gems are the galleries in Chelsea. While the Whitney and Louis Vuitton exhibit are all the rage, check out some new artist's collections getting on your artistic culture and inspiration, while chomping down on candy canes, of course.
5. The Shops at Columbus Circle, Upper West Side
With a view of Central Park and all the latest brands, treat yourself or get loved ones the present they always wanted from the popular shoe brand they are obsessed with, or an undiscovered accessories line. Grab a bite at Landmarc for carbs that won't disappoint.
6. Hot Chocolate and Madison Avenue Windows, Upper East Side
As you cross the park to another country (just kidding), step into Sant Ambroeus for the best hot chocolate in New York City. With snow falling from the sky and windows' lights seeming almost iridescent, chatting up a storm with your best friends, while checking out the clothes on Madison Avenue is the ultimate Gossip Girl experience you never knew you could have.
7. iPic Movie Theaters, Fulton Market
As you make your way downtown, end the night with iPic; the ultra-luxe movie experience, with reclining leather chairs and blankets, and you can ORDER your own food to your chairs. Holiday movies, truffle fries, and plush blankets - I think I'm sold... I don't think my friends will need any convincing either.
8. HigherDOSE: 11 Howard, SoHo
The best way to eliminate the sleep coma the following morning, induced by copious amounts of Christmas cookies and carb-loading is to SWEAT! HigherDOSE in 11 Howard hotel is an infrared sauna, which helps promote blood circulation, purify your skin, and lose weight - to name a few. Refreshing your body by eradicating toxins is a great way to start your day.
9. The Mask Bar, Howard Street
After all the detoxifying, hydration is key, and I am not talking about drinking water. Stock up on cheap sheet masks to use later that night while binging on all the Christmas movie classics. Brands like Masque Bar make animal sheet masks, like their reindeer one, or holiday scented (or product based) like their egg nog one!
10. Café Brunching, SoHo
Mini cafés feel the most cozy, so what better way to get your holiday on by feeling right at home? Stumble upon Two Hands for exemplary açai bowls, Bluestone Lane for the best avocado toast in town, or Nickle & Diner for an elevated modern diner experience. Double-check for holiday flavored drinks and snacks!
Let me know what you guys think in the comment section down below! Any feedback, suggestions, tips, and more. Hope you enjoyed this post. Stay Ruff!
Laura Brown: Editor-In-Chief, InStyle
Laura Brown is the cheeky Australian editor that has swept the digital world by storm with her bonafide social media accounts showing a hilarious side of the fashion and beauty industry, that frankly no one has seen before. Brown loves to gift her favorite beauty products. She told RoughlyRuff.com that she is obsessed with Shani Darden Retinol Reform from her facialist's skincare line (it is my mom's favorite too), iS Clinical Cleansing Complex, and Jouer Body Butter.
Follow Laura; @laurabrown99
Cat Quinn: Beauty Director, Refinery 29
Cat Quinn shared with us her favorite luxe products to gift to the beauty-obsessed family members in her life. Quinn suggests this Silk Sleep Mask, "These masks are so plush and silky-soft, and somehow miraculously don't budge the entire night without tugging at your hair. It's the closest thing to sleep that you can gift someone — which is why I'm giving them to my sisters (one who travels the world for work, one who's studying for college finals). Hurry, because they're almost all sold out.". For her boyfriend's mom, the Diptyque Bailes Candle (in addition to some face-masks), "I've never met anyone who doesn't love this rosy, black current scent that warms up the entire apartment." Lastly, Cat loves the Sisley Black Rose Infusion Cream, she even claims to have gone through three whole jars since June. Fancy creams are the perfect gift for mothers according to Quinn, "The brightening cream feels silky and luxurious (and smells like heaven) but it's a powerhouse when it comes to brightening, smoothing, and improving the texture of your skin." I don't know about you, but my shopping cart is suddenly filled.
Follow Cat; @catquinn
Jessica Chia: Senior Beauty Editor, Allure
If there is anyone to trust with beauty recommendations, it is Jessica. Chia's skin always seems to be luminous, her hair in perfect beach waves, while swatching the latest lipsticks on the Allure Insta-story. Jessica's picks are all under $40, so you can shop all the best products for your friends and family at an awesome deal, this holiday season. For #hairgoals, opt for Jen Atkin's Ouai Ouaisted Essentials Kit, which contains a dry shampoo foam, wave spray, full size memory mist, and rose gold barrette. Chia praises this kit for it's versatility, "...if you have second day hair, you can use the travel dry shampoo. If you’re air drying your hair, mist in this wave spray to accentuate the natural bends in your hair. If you’re going to do the whole thing and put a curling wand on it, the full sized memory mist will hold that curl for hours longer than it would last otherwise. And the gold barrette that comes with it is so chic—easy to toss in and go." With supermodel hair, you need a powerful lip to complete the look. Jessica's favorite bold lip goes to YSL Tatouage Couture, "Hands down my favorite lipstick launch of the year. It’s this super-thin, super-pigmented stain that gives your lips a bright wash of color—but it doesn’t make it look like you’re wearing wax on your lips. And you can personalize the case with someone’s name, a little message, a special date, it’s something that’s going to be memorable and special." And for the homebody, go for the Incausa Bath and Meditation Soap and Incense Set, as Jessica refers to it as the "total spa moment" with the heavenly scents and essential oils packed into this mini bath and body set.
Follow Jessica; @jess_chia
Bee Shapiro: Author of Skin Deep column and book, New York Times
Interviewing the biggest celebrities and brands in the beauty industry, Bee knows a thing or two when it comes to products. Shapiro loves the RMS Luminizer Quad, "I'm a sucker for anything shimmery for the holidays (or really any time of year). The RMS Luminizer is just so easy to use and I like that this has a variety of undertones to match your outfits to." No Kira-Kira app needed. From Bee's fragrance line, eponymous to that of her daughter; Ellis, Bee is obsessed with the Ellis Brooklyn Pseudonym Terrific Scented Candle, "It makes me want to take a luxurious bath and then cozy up in cashmere." I can testify to that, as I burn my Ellis Brooklyn candle, quite obsessively. An editor favorite, the Slip Silk Pillowcase, "I was recently sent a Slip pillowcase as a gift and now I'm a total convert. My hair wakes up with a lot less frizz and I like to imagine that it's tugging less at my crow's feet. " silk pillowcases are great for your skin, and are cleaner than your average pillow case due to it's hypoallergenic properties, plus who doesn't love anything silk?
Follow Bee; @beeshapiro, @ellisbrooklyn
Faith Xue: Editorial Director, Byrdie
Faith Xue understands the concept of "Doing It For The Gram", as she advises gifting products that will be aesthetically pleasing, yet effective. Because if you didn't post your beauty product fave, do you even use it? Faith loves the Tatcha Starter Ritual Norm, "Tatcha wins for packaging all-around, I love that this skincare set comes with everything you need to start an indulgent self-care ritual." This Dear Dahlia Special Package definitely takes the cake for most aesthetically pleasing, I mean the whole exterior of the products are infamous white marble! Faith says, "I just discovered this vegan, cruelty-free and Instagrammable Korean makeup brand and can't get enough. These lipsticks were meant to be photographed and displayed on your vanity." Now that you have your skin and makeup gifts down, you can't forget about hair. Xue suggests purchasing the Dreslyn Hair Essentials Gift Set, "Dreslyn always has the most excellent beauty curation. I'd gift this gorgeous Playa haircare set to the best-tressed friend in my life." I couldn't help but notice the subtle beauty pun; take notes for your next Instagram post, just saying.
Follow Faith; @faith_xue
Jessica Matlin: Beauty and Health Director, Teen Vogue, Co-host of Fat Mascara podcast
Jessica Matlin always thinks of organizations to give back to, especially when they go hand-in-hand with beauty. I remember falling in love with her writing when she wrote about the stopping the Yulin Dog Festival in China on TeenVogue.com. I found it so cool that a beauty editor can do justice with the platform she is given. Matlin picks the Disney x Kiehl's Creme de Corps Grapefruit Whipped Body Butter, the proceeds help secure 355 meals for Feeding America, a organization that works with food banks across the U.S. Plus, as Jessica said, "What better time than the holidays to treat someone to THE MOST LUXURIOUS BODY CREAM ON EARTH?". As you are getting into the Christmas spirit, Matlin isn't one to deck out her apartment, the Nest Holiday Candle is all she needs "Light the wick, and it's like you're standing in the middle of a Christmas tree farm. Pop on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and we're off!" And now... bath time! Jessica loves a Christmas Lush Bath Bomb as much as the next person, "Christmas Eve Bath Bomb, which is laced with sleepy jasmine and ylang ylang. So relaxing!"
Follow Jessica; @jessicamatlin, @fatmascara
Kathleen Hou: Beauty Director, The Cut
Kathleen loves Sisley Paris creams just as much as the rest of the world, or maybe a tad more... "I hope my mom never reads this, otherwise she'll find out I have been hiding this moisturizer from her. At one point, I had two jars of this cream in my apartment and I had all the best intentions to bring the second jar home to my mother. But before I knew it, I finished the first jar and opened the new one. It feels like a super-luxurious rich cream that just glides like silk over the skin. It's so good. It's so expensive. But my skin feels so soft and I swear, it looks more lifted, the morning after using it. I like it more than La Mer (don't tell anyone). I swear if I get a third jar, I will give it to my mom. Or at the very least, we will share it.", and honestly we can't blame her. Don't have the money to have your own private island to jet off to for Christmas, as most don't, Hou says this Coqui-Coqui candle's smell is akin to that of a beach, "All the perfumes evoke a sense of warm temperature and ocean breezes, without feeling cliche. I particularly like the Coco Coco scent, which smells a bit like fancy sunscreen without any of the waxiness. " And now for the signature red holiday lip. Hou selects the Pat McGrath LuxeTrance lipsticks, "Give me every shade of Pat McGrath lipstick and I may never need another lipstick again. The reds are fantastic and so pigmented that they just saturate your lips with color. I love that you can apply the lipstick with just your fingertips, and instantly get a version of the lips seen at Prada from the previous four seasons." Looking like a Prada runway model on a Monday morning on the subway to work or school is the gift that keeps on giving.
Follow Kathleen; @kathleenhou
Gwen Flamberg: Executive Beauty and Style Editor, Us Weekly, Vice President of Beauty and Style, the Style Group
Gwen is literally like my second mom, and as the old saying says, "mother always knows best", especially when it comes to beauty products galore. Although Gwen could pass as twenty-five. Every red-head needs the perfect red lip; that is Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet No2. " I’m #obsessed with the limited edition red tube (the first time this formula has ever been packaged this way!) – it’s just drop-dead chic and the matte shade kisses lips in a wash of universally flattering ruby.". To achieve a glowing ambiance, Gwen suggests Man Ray x NARS Overexposed Glow Highlighter in Double Take, "Who wouldn’t want a highlighter that not only gives skin an other-worldly glow, but has Man Ray’s surreal lips imprinted in the powder? So fabulous!" Fabulous, indeed. And lastly, Flamberg's favorite scent, Baccarat Rouge 540 candle "This gorgeous candle diffuses my signature scent (created by my favorite perfumer Francis Kurkdjian) and the pillar is practically an objet d’art, a bit of home décor with a decidedly personal touch." The brass exterior of the candle is ultra-chic.
Follow Gwen; @gwen_beauty
Didi Gluck: Deputy Beauty Editor, Shape
Didi treats her giftees to products that can be used for an at-home spa day from candles, to soaps, to body washes! Gluck loves to give Fresh body soaps according to zodiac signs, "My personal favorite is the Patchouli scent, but if I know my recipient's star sign, I often go for the appropriate zodiac soap." Now that is really cool, if you are a beauty junkie like me. Molton Brown is known for their superlative body washes. Gluck is obsessed with their Cypress & Sea Fennel scent, but any Molton Brown scent is, (as Didi puts it), "delicious". And as for Diptyque candles, a classic holiday favorite, Didi goes for the intriguing Oud fragrance, as the Baies scent is overrated. Spa a la Gluck, excuse me while I sign up.
Follow Didi; @didigluck
Holly Carter: Contributing Editor, Oprah Magazine
Holly Carter is the epitome of a beauty expert; reporting the latest and greatest trends in makeup, skincare, hair, alongside the classic beauty tips and tricks to live by. Holly knows her sister would love an all-encompassing eyeshadow, "The Moschino + Sephora Limited Edition Collection has the most adorable golden teddy-bear shaped palette with 21 great-looking shadows. Creating day and night looks is a cinch with this baby." Now that you have displayed your opulent eyeshadow for a night out on the town, when winding down, Holly is obsessed with body oils and candles, as one typically is. For your bestie, Holly recommends the Diptyque Six-Piece Candle Set, " Everyone’s home is a little merrier and bright with a great-smelling candle. Diptyque’s custom six-piece candle set allows you to create your own mix of the iconic candles to give to a loved on—my BFF would love it. I’ve always been obsessed with the wood-burning scent of Feu de Bois." The perfect winter skin treatment according to Carter is Frédéric Malle Portrait of A Lady Hair and Body Oil, "it’s rich and warm with rose, patchouli, sandalwood and frankincense.".
Follow Holly; @hollsbeauty
Lindsey Metrus: Managing Editor, Byrdie
Lindsey Metrus is a big Sunday Riley fan, just like me. Metrus is obsessed especially with their Power Couple Duo, "I credit both Good Genes and Luna for reviving my skin when it's seen better days. The latter is super brightening, and the former is immensely hydrating and glow-inducing. I love that they come in this literal power duo so you can give the gift of good skin for much less than buying them separately. No doubt the giftee will be thrilled." Now that your skin is glowing and not dull anymore, amplify your game by applying a bold lip. Tom Ford Boys & Girls Lipsticks are the essential personalized beauty holiday gift, "These little lippies are not only pretty to keep on your vanity (or in your bag), they're cute to give as a gift when they match the name of the receiver (or the man/woman in their life)." Not sure what exactly your loved one wants? Atelier Bespoke Fragrances is the answer to your frantic worries, "The brand has a genius quiz on its website to find your perfect notes, and once you get your results, you can dress it up the bottle(s) with a special engraved leather case. Ambiguously send the quiz questions along to your loved one and surprise them with a new scent wardrobe." Metrus also mentions the notable scent and packaging.
Follow Lindsey; @lindseymetrus
Let me know what you guys think in the comment section down below! Any feedback, suggestions, tips, and more. Hope you enjoyed this post. Stay Ruff!
Cover Credit: Karen Rosalie