Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Today, The Daily Gazette welcomes the class of 2020 with a series of articles written entirely by and about first year students. Welcome to Swarthmore!
Cassandra Stone, class of 2020, is a blogger and app developer. She recently launched Happyface on the Apple app store, a skincare tracking app that documents and visualizes personal routines through individualized graphs. As creator of this application and of a fashion/beauty blog, Cassandra integrates an exploration of beauty and style into her daily life.
Ever since puberty, beauty was something I explored from behind the closed doors of my bathroom. For whatever reason, I felt as if the time I spent primping and preening was something to be ashamed of; I was told that beautification was vain, useless, a waste of time. I approached my face the same way I approached my first tampon: uneasy, alone, unsure. Out of all the things that were confusing about growing up, beauty was something I really wished my mother could have talked to me about. I often felt lost amidst a sea of products, advertisements, and word-of-mouth suggestions; I never knew if lemon juice was actually effective, or where exactly on the eyelid eyeliner was supposed to go.
Cassandra is a role model when it comes to personal exploration through beauty and fashion. She wears bold silhouettes in fashion-conscious styles and carries the confidence of a seasoned model. Through her blog, Posh and Circumstance, Cassandra shares her insights into fashion and beauty in the form of pictures, interviews, and personal reflections. She shares tips on how to dress for summer (light fabrics, crepe pants, culottes), and she plays around with interesting themes such as denim on denim, 90s nostalgia, and contrasting volumes. Her tone remains playful throughout her posts, and she maintains a diligence in documenting her encounters with food, fashion, and politics. She walks readers carefully through her thought processes in making the choices most suited to her personal lifestyle.
In a blog post titled “Cold Case // Fashion Weekend 3”, Cassandra describes the process of organizing an unexpectedly well-received outfit. Her objectives for the outfit include dressing for the freezing temperatures and improving her “layer game”. Cassandra details the different components of the look from the bottom up: a pair of knit pants, a turtleneck midi dress, and a leather jacket to define the waistline. This post is a display of the thought and deliberation that goes into the decisions Cassandra makes. Later in the article, she comments on her surprise in having received many compliments on her midi dress—a dress she bought at Forever 21. She says, “I usually try to avoid shopping there, as they’re no stranger to knock-off designs and cater to an extremely cheap fast-fashion audience I just don’t typically associate myself with.” Nevertheless, the dress caught her eye.
Cassandra deems this experience to be a testament against the brand-obsessed and concludes, “Good fashion is good fashion, no matter what the labels may be.”
When it comes to her relationship to skin and clothing products, Cassandra is surprisingly non-fuss. She uses only four products and does all she can to save time. She says: “I don’t like spending too much time getting ready, I’d rather spend the time doing something else.” Happyface is a perfect reflection of these sensibilities: bold, minimal, direct; it asks you very few questions, and you respond with a sliding scale that is free of numbers.
The Diary portion of the app asks if your skin is experiencing acne, dryness, oiliness, or redness, and if you stuck to your routine. The Profile portion then displays a graph of your “Percent Happy” based on the information you entered. The data is useful without being overbearing, and the graphs give you a visual perspective without being too number-driven. After using the app for a few days, it is satisfying to see a wider scheme begin to appear from your daily entries. The purpose of the app is to give you a tangible way to review your skin, and you are free to use the information however you see fit: whether that is to hold yourself accountable to a current routine that is working, or to determine appropriate products in an emerging one.
Happyface was initially launched at the end of a three-week coding program, and the app is only its earliest stages. In the future, Cassandra hopes to connect users through reviews of products, and to allow brands to promote their products to corresponding users. It will be a database full of consumer experiences, related tips, and easily searchable demographic information. In this way, Happyface goes further than tracking skin—it brings the private experiences of people into the public sphere. It legitimizes the daily practices of its users and connects their experiences with those of their peers.
Featured images courtesy of Graze Zhang ’20 and Cassandra Stone ’20