Why Sierra Burgess Is A Loser stayed with me (no, it wasn't because of Noah Centineo)

There's nothing I don't love about movie nights. A good film and a bucket of buttered popcorn can keep my eyes glued for 90 minutes straight. Like most, I experience movies with a wide range of emotions like giggles or tears but hours after I've watched the film, it's business as usual and most of the plot has vanished from the corners of my mind. That changed when I watched Sierra Burgess Is A Loser.

Last summer, you couldn't escape talk of Noah Centineo being the Internet's latest crush. I couldn't either so I gave To All The Boys I've Loved Before a watch one afternoon. Of course I adored it, not only for his endearing charm and sun-kissed surfer looks but also because I'm a grown woman who is a sucker for syrupy teenage romance. A significant amount of Centineo stalking landed me onto another of his summer releases Sierra Burgess Is A Loser, where he starred alongside Shannon Purser (a.k.a. Barb, who was tearfully left behind in Stranger Thing's Upside Down) and Kristine Froseth amongst others. A single viewing of the movie was enough to imprint it in my mind, like the visual version of an earworm. If you intend on watching it, there are spoilers ahead so close this page and back away.

Illustration: Leo Alemao / Style File

I've read plenty about how the movie got it wrong with uncomfortable plot points and an all too expected conclusion; which I agree with in some part. But that's not what I'm here to talk about. The movie resonated with me on another level and here's why. For one, Sierra isn't your average protagonist. Previously, most movies with heroines who aren't conventionally attractive like The Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada or Miss Congeniality follow the familiar trope of going through an ugly duckling transformation and ending up traditionally gorgeous, affable and high on self-esteem. Not here, though. With assuring parents and a supportive bestie, Sierra is confident, bold and smart from the get-go and didn't need a makeover to make it happen. Her depth is far deeper than skin and societal standards, she stays above the cruel teenage fray and is aware she's a sunflower through and through, not a run-of-the-mill rose. She is someone me, and I'm certain many others identified with on some level.
Then there are the retro touches. From the stunning golden hue throughout to Sierra's 80s-inspired wardrobe, vintage vibes were infused within the fabric of the movie. It may have belonged to an era that's beyond my time but that didn't stop me from the wave of wholesome nostalgia that hit every time the floral wallpaper came into view.
But what really made this movie click for me was its soundtrack. Over the years, I've developed an ear for seeking out melody and riffs woven into a film. In Sierra Burgess, the music stood out to me while blending into the movie's feel. The synthesised style, poignant lyrics and retro theme added depth to it. 'Sunflower' especially deserves a mention for being a touching anthem to embrace yourself the way you are.

It has been months since I watched the movie but time and again, my mind takes me back. Through its music especially as the album is still part of my current playlists. PSA: If the sole reason you watched Sierra Burgess Is A Loser is because you believe Noah Centineo is your future husband, his upcoming movie The Perfect Date (alongside Riverdale's Camila Mendes) is releasing on Netflix on April 12th. You're welcome.

The anatomy of a big cry

It had been building up for weeks now.

First, it was the rental agreement on the tiny studio apartment that fell through. One look at the sun laden balcony and I could envision myself sipping my morning cuppa there. But apparently you can't argue with landlords on the independent woman clause.
Then it was the guy who said he'd call but didn't. The date went so well and he genuinely seemed like a nice, thoughtful guy. Apparently those don't exist any more.

But every ounce of restraint and patience really came apart today. The expect pat on the back at work (and the cold, hard green that comes with it) landed up on her back, yet again.  No matter how hard I tried to swallow and bury it deep, I couldn't fight it. So unsurprisingly by early afternoon I found myself blubbering like a baby at how things had unfurled.

When Fergie said big girls don't cry, she was definitely lying. At first, it started with a sniffle. Then, teary eyes. Finally, when I realised I couldn't pass of my tears as allergies any longer, I made a beeline for the bathroom and bawled my eyes out while being as quiet as I possibly could.

Big cries are like pressure cookers. Every unpleasant occurrence is a new ingredient in the pot. It cooks, it marinates, it stews within you. And when your very being cannot swallow any more, the cooker whistles with a shoot of steam. You erupt into a weeping fountain of tears, snot and sniffles. Ugly criers, it is times like these I feel you completely. I've never known what is to sob while looking dainty and delicate. Mine include black streams of running makeup, multiple failed attempts to hold it back and racoon eyes.

Suddenly, relief washes over you. Like a calm after the storm, you're overcome by a sense of peace. Your sudden geyser of emotions has dried up and so have your tears. This feels cathartic. Since it isn't a magic trick, your problems may not have disappeared at the drop of a hat but you're feeling...dare we say, better? Of course you can do this. From bad dates to missed promotions, you really do have it in you to take it on. It may have been a messy, wet few minutes but damn, does it feel good.

Why we keep making resolutions every New Year

Depending on what kind of person you are, the advent of a spanking New Year can mean different things to you. If you look forward to it, then you're sure to be bounding with excitement at the clean slate with new planners and promises for the rest of the 12 months. If you fall on the opposite end of the spectrum, the beginning of the year and excitement surrounding it can seem unnecessary and silly, especially when it comes to making resolutions.

Come the end of December and the ritual of goal-setting is expected by almost everyone. They can be dedicated to self-improvement or additional fulfilment; there's no restriction on what a New Year's resolution can actually be. The most common one is that of getting fit, which is also why gym memberships see an increase in January every year. There's also the usual bag of eating clean, travelling more and staying motivated. They may be mentally vowed for the 12 months ahead but come February and already willpower begins dwindling. Lives start getting in the way and before you know it, it's summer, which translates to having fun in the sun, damn everything else. Before you know it, we've crossed the mid-year mark and all those resolutions we've pledged to ourselves have faded to a distant memory. Admittedly, it's a story we've lived through many times; for me especially.

Like a proper cliche, I always make resolutions every New Year. Admittedly, I've been setting similar resolutions for years now because I can't seem to see them through so it's an annual ritual, really. As cliched as it sounds, mine revolve around getting healthier, eating better and being more mindful. But year after year, why does the rest of the world and me insist on making resolutions we probably won't pay heed to in another month?

You could argue it's because we consider it unfinished business from the previous year. The missed workouts, skipped salads and unnecessary clothes with their tags still on are guilty reminders of our failures in the past year; which we try to rectify desperately.

Or it could be because every New Year is a beacon of hope. It's a crazy, frustrating, sometimes fulfilling and often unfair world we live in. Ever single day, there are calamities and tragedies; sometimes personal, sometimes in the world at large. I don't mean to sound depressing, just realistic. So when a brand New Year rolls around, everyone wants something to work towards, a goal that's bright and shiny; basically something positive to look forward to. Sure it's idealistic but hey, we're human.

So we waltz into each New Year, bright eyed and fresh faced. We repeat it with regularity like an annual tradition regardless of the results, brimming with hope, excitement and anticipation of what could be.

xo Dayle

Life | 7 things I won't be getting enough of even in 2019

The end of a year means two things; looking ahead at what's to come and looking back at the year that was. It has been a memorable year but I'm not here with a think piece on setting resolutions and pressing replay on its best moments.
What I'm here for is a round-up of the best items I've used in 2018 which are good enough to take with me to 2019. Through my job and ever-willing spirit to try something new, I've experienced a plethora of makeup, skin and lifestyle products. While most have been good, a select few have gone on to outshine the rest. These are 7 things I've enjoyed using this year which delivered amazing results and ones I'll definitely be using more in 2019.

1. Smashbox Pore Minimizing Primer

At the start of the year, I decided that it wasn't worth spending hours applying makeup if the base beneath didn't stay put. After a few samplings, I settled on the Smashbox Pore Minimizing Primer. It goes on as a super soft formula that gives a powdery-blurry finish. For oily skin like mine, it has worked wonderfully to hold makeup firmly in place, even on the greasiest areas like the lids and cheeks. It's pricey but you only end up using a smidgen for each application. My only regret is purchasing the pore minimizing variant, which I got talked into buying by the store person even though pores aren't a concern of mine, oiliness is. You can purchase the Smashbox Pore Minimizing Primer for Rs 3100 for 30ml.

2. Fitbit Versa

Frequent visitors on Style File may remember that my Fitbit journey began more than 2 years ago and has only been getting stronger. Through the years, I've upgraded models, sported various straps and always found the brand's customer service to be the finest I've ever dealt with. This year, my loyalty and adoration went a step further when I bought the Fitbit Versa. It satisfied my itch for a smart watch that paired sleekly with all my outfits. As this isn't a tech review, I'm not dwelling on specs but in a nutshell, it's the simplicity and beauty of tracking my runs, sleep cycle and even the weather on my wrist that makes this a winner. You can purchase the Fitbit Versa Smart Watch for Rs 21,999.

3.  L'Oreal Series Expert Liss Unlimited Masque

After a great salon treatment this year, I tried to replicate the results at home with the L'Oreal Series Expert Liss Unlimited Masque. The thick shimmery paste is to be applied on damp hair and needs only a few minutes to sink into the cuticle. I leave it for a tad longer to thoroughly penetrate the hair shaft. Even with consistent care, thick hair like mine tends to get rough and dry. This mask is a great fix with results and an incredible scent that lasts for days. You can purchase the L'Oreal Series Expert Liss Unlimited Masque for Rs 780 for 250ml.

4.  Plum Skin Clarifying Concentrate

After unsatisfying results from a clarifying potion by an award-winning beauty brand that cost thousands, I was wary about products with similar claims. When Plum sent this one across, my hesitation was natural but short-lived when I actually began using it. As someone who has experienced the ravaging effect acne can have on one's skin (versus someone with already clear skin), I witnessed the Plum Green Tea Skin Clarifying Concentrate working wonderfully on my skin. It has a lightweight formula, doesn't irritate the skin and showed an improvement on dark spots and dullness over continuous usage over a month or two. If the almost-empty bottle pictured above isn't proof enough, I don't know what is. You can purchase the Plum Skin Clarifying Concentrate for Rs 1,175 for 30ml.

5.  Foreo Luna Mini 2 Skin Cleansing Device

Skin cleansing gadgets have always fallen in the 'will they, won't they' category for me. As in, will they actually do more than a face scrub or won't they be an expensive purchase that doesn't yield results. When the brand sent me the Foreo Luna Mini 2 Skin Cleansing Device all the way from their international HQ, I arrived at my verdict. You can find my in-depth review on NDTV Lifestyle but simply put, it gives my face a deeper, more hygienic cleanse without traditional bristles, hasn't troubled my skin and left it smoother and softer from the first use itself. With a steep price, it's definitely a skin care investment but one which I now can't do a day without. You can purchase the Foreo Luna Mini 2 Skin Cleansing Device for Rs 14,430.

6. Aroma Magic Lavender Essential Oil

After adoring the fragrance of lavender scented beauty products, I went a step ahead and added the Aroma Magic Lavender Essential Oil to my routine. Known for its various skin and wellness benefits, this little bottle has a neat dispenser and doesn't break the bank. Even a drop or two is enough for a relaxing whiff and has found itself in many of my masks and hair packs. You can purchase the Aroma Magic Lavender Essential Oil for Rs 300 for 20 ml.

7. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 10th Gen

As a child, I spent many summers poured over ghost stories and mystery novels. Unfortunately, it's a habit I fell out of as an adult and never picked it back up because of how hassling it can be to purchase books and lug around paperbacks. So the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite E-book Reader seemed like a natural choice for me. I purchased the newest edition of the reader which is waterproof, thinner and lighter with a backlight and slowly but steadily, I've found myself picking up the habit again. I'm no reading purist so I didn't miss the feel of paper between my fingers.  The ease of finding books at my fingertips and reading in the dark before I sleep without straining my eyes has made this a clear winner for me. You can purchase the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 10th Gen for Rs 12,999.

On a separate note; for those who have noticed, I haven't been posting much on Style File and even when I have, the tone and nature of my posts have changed significantly. It's a deliberate choice that I've made for the blog; not only to explore my skill and thought process more but also because content about pretty outfits and new launches have kind-of reached peak saturation in the current digital climate. My intention when starting Style File almost 8 years ago was to write about what mattered to me, regardless of whether it got me followers or went viral. As I slowly get back to more regularity on Style File while balancing my job and the rest of my life, I'd like to thank you for reading what I have to say. Every single reader matters to me and I'm glad to have you on my journey.

Cheers to a year that I don't think I could possibly forget and to the one that is to come!

xo Dayle 

Style Files | The big Bollywood wedding has never been more private

The clock struck 7. Me, and almost everyone in India (and the world, to be honest) who has even the slightest interest in Bollywood glanced anxiously at their home screens. A few refreshes later, it arrived. And by that I mean, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh's first official photos as a married couple. After years of shipping and weeks of waiting, it wasn't a surprise that the coveted pictures went viral within seconds. But why? Marriages happen every day; even in the celebrity world. So what made this one so special? Apart from the fact that they are currently India's most loved celebrity couple, what further heightened the anticipation was that most of the affair was kept under wraps.

Illustration by Leo Alemao / Style File

Last December, Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli made a quiet escape to Italy and returned as a married couple with the only intimation being pastel toned Sabyasachi clad wedding pictures on Instagram. This year started off rather differently in Bollywood with updates of Sonam Kapoor and Anand Ahuja's summer wedding being readily shared online. But days later, maybe Neha Dhupia's surprise wedding to Angad Bedi should have been a telling sign that the secret shaadi was here to stay. Even Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas' union, which saw numerous ceremonies marrying Eastern and Western rituals, came to life in a select spread in People Magazine.

For as long as I can remember, celebrity weddings in both Bollywood and Hollywood have had a reputation for being glitzy, larger-than-life and most notably, public. In 2012, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor's regal wedding spanned across days with the country's finest in attendance. Two years later, Kim Kardashian married Kanye West in a lavish Italian wedding that included multiple designer gowns, a flower wall and 7 tier cake, all of which costed cool millions. In what could be considered a parallel universe, many quieter celebrity weddings have taken place since then. Lisa Haydon's 2016 hushed wedding to Dino Lalvani as well as Preity Zinta's vows to Gene Goodenough in the same year are proof. So was the surprising hush-hush marriage of Justin Beiber and Hailey Baldwin that took place months ago.

It looks like Bollywood took a note out of their book to make their weddings incredibly opulent and luxurious but even more private. On one hand; exotic locations that have only been seen in movies, couture crafted by the world's most talented designers and close pals staying in posh suites. On the other handthe one which we can seea handful of pictures on social media that look like something out of a magazine. It's resplendent and magnificent and we're privy to only as much as they choose to show us. No paps or livecasts; just pictures that are worthy of being turned into a coffee table book.

By no means is this a grouse or complaint; just commentary on the shift of the big celebrity wedding in Bollywood. The paparazzi may be unhappy with the trickle of precious wedding content and so may be the rest of the media. But at the end of it, the celebrity couples are making their wedding their own and driving up their following, who keep hitting refresh. Now all that's left is the anticipatory wait to see if the trend continues. That all starts by checking your mailbox to see if the next wedding invite has arrived.

x Dayle

Style Files | Why the hustle is highly overrated

The first time I heard the word hustle probably dates to a decade ago. It originally meant something of a swingy dance and found inclusion in rap lyrics at the time. Today if you look up its meaning, you'll have to sift through thousands of entries which have nothing to do with music. In millennial speak, hustle is now commonly known as a synonym for working extremely hard.

I've never actually used the word in my vocabulary but it has found favour in inspirational-positioned Instagram captions. More often than not, hustle is used in a positive context. For example, "she's really hustling by working day and night" or "you've got to hustle if you want to earn the green". Hard work is an exemplary value but when it's in the guise of wearing yourself too thin, that's where the problem lies.

Many of us are on almost 24 hours a day. I sometimes check my email first thing in the morning from the crack of my eye, even before I get out of bed. Jobs have the accessibility of being done at home in your pajamas, which is great; but not always. It means you can't switch off; so to-do lists always have tasks, meetings are always scheduled and your phone is constantly buzzing. After tending to all of them, you're left with blurry eyes, decreased focus and a full night's sleep that is more worthy of being called a nap. Most of us who work in careers that can be done remotely have experienced this at some point or another. Egged on by pseudo-motivational words on social media, we push ourselves and we try and we push ourselves even harder, just because hustling is what we're supposed to do, right? I mean, everyone else is doing it.

The challenge is knowing where to draw the line until the hustle starts affecting your personal life and health. When your phone is beeping off the hook, you can't afford to take a day off or don't have the stamina for a leisure activity, that's a telling sign that you've crossed it. As Nigel popularly said in The Devil Wears Prada, "Let me know when your whole life goes up in smoke. Means it's time for a promotion." Many sacrifice so much in the journey to be a part of the phenomenon known as the hustle; which is worrying. With the value of mental health growing increasingly important, it's about time that changed.

Working hard is essential but when you're doing it to compete with others, prove a point or post a motivational picture on Monday, you're doing it wrong when you should be doing it for you. The hustle is nothing more than an extremely overrated digital trend. It can make you feel invalid if your buddy is clocking in overtime on Friday night while you're out getting cocktails when you should be enjoying your evening. Create a wholesome life for yourself, not one spent running on fumes to keep up with what everyone else is doing. Hustling may go out of style but living well certainly won't.




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