Last Standing Pencil

Let's write a story using our lips

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My mom just told me that my elementary school is no longer teaching cursive to its students. “They all have iPads now,” she explained while my face reacted to the curious news in an expression that denoted bewilderment. (Think two raised eyebrows and my “indentations of knowledge” at an all time deep.) But what about preserving a primal instinct to make things with your hands? To put letters on paper that amount to words, and then a story or sentiment that means something far more personal than anything a computer can conjure up. What about that?

I know, I know, in the era of iCanDoEverythingWithThisTouchScreen, penmanship is indubitably a dying–if not already completely lost–art, but won’t these kids ever feel hungry to use their hands, their whole hands–not just their finger tips–to share a story? To write a love note? Hell, to sign a freaking credit card receipt?

After losing the battle in matters of ye old No.2 pencil (“iPads are educational!,” the naysayers argue,) I got to thinking about the last time I used a pencil.

It’s been years.

As a kid, I was obsessed with lead pencils. And not just because of the phenomenon of clicking down on an eraser and seeing a pencil effectively resharpen itself. That grey lead would stain the inside of my dominant hand, dyeing the area from the middle of my pinky finger to the very top of my wrist with a stamp of confirmation indicating that I worked hard, that the hand-written work of my mental objects meant something, damnit. Now I just tap, tap, tap in ease–my fingertips are barely aware that they’re even working.

I long for the days of pen and paper. Of finger cramps.

Only really in retrospect, though, because those cramps were kind of violent, which I suppose helps the newest iteration of pencil (it’s for your lips, not paper) maintain only the sweetest elements of the old ones. (Give or take the ability to chalk yourself up to a regular Hemingway.) And though I’m no longer perfecting a lower-case, cursive “z,” I am knighting myself with a brand of power that only lipstick can anoint.

bMqXo8 on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

Maybe I’ve taken to Nars’ Satin Lip Pencils in a bout of nostalgia because they allow my memory a healthy jog without compromising the circumstances of my previous immigration to the land of many keyboards.

The colors come in a 13-shade variety that range from a rather dark bordeaux to a fairly pale peach (figure the handwriting equivalent a 2,000 word essay vs. a four-stanza poem) and stain the lip long enough to maintain full, creamy color through the course of your day/night. What’s more? This thoughtful Lip Pencil appreciates the importance of an eraser because, you know, sometimes we make mistakes. You will not wake up the following morning looking like your 6-year-old self having spent one too many hours playing dress-up in your mother’s makeup cabinet–stained chin et al–because this stuff comes off fairly easily.

Perhaps what is most fun, though, is that sincere semblance to a now vintage writing pencil. There’s this feeling of comfort and familiarity associated with it, an inconspicuous celebration of older days. And while I know I’m not replacing the visceral feeling of writing (except in matters of my mirror) per se, I can make concessions.

After all, I’m still writing a story, aren’t I? I’ve just decided to use my lips to tell it.

Wearing an Etoile Isabel Marant jacket, Part 1 of 1 in collaboration with NARS.

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Thoughts?
  • Ideal Cheese

    Mmmm this looks lovely and I think I will have to try one to compare to my Nars matte lip pencil. That being said, there is nothing new about lip pencils, my dear… they are practically as old as the sun.

  • Yates

    I have a feeling you floss.

    • Leandra Medine

      Please, tell that to my dentist.

  • http://twitter.com/EileenCWang Eileen

    I have the velvet gloss pencil and it’s lovely! The only thing I don’t like about them is to sharpen them…But all these colors are soo tempting.

  • whendoyousparkle

    Love this post . Kids these days are missing the good ol days of writing and getting lead all over their hands – and those look like colour crayons – yum. (though as a law student I am still battling hand written exams, churning out 12 pages in 2 hours, eff me !)

  • http://www.fashionsnag.com/ Fashion Snag

    Never thought a pencil would become vintage. Now I have seen everything.

    http://www.FashionSnag.com

  • rhodawong

    i’d like to say i am obsessed with these pencils too

    http://www.styleandshades.blogspot.com

  • lifeonthesquares

    I just got one of these NARS pencils in “Cruella” and LOVE it! cool collaboration!

    XO, Stefanie
    Life on the Squares

  • http://www.facebook.com/dana.rae27 Dana Rae

    This was an awesome read! I, also, fear for youth with today’s lack of personal interactions and technology takeover. This is why I write handwritten thank you/birthday/just because cards and notes. You feel special receiving one, so why not continue sending them, people of the world?

  • Alessandra

    i love this post.

    long ago, i pledged my allegiance to the art of cursive writing.

    as an adult, i embrace every chance i get to utilize my scripted handwriting, despite constant pleas from those who must read it.
    “why do all your letters look like a capital S?”

    i feel like my handwriting is an inherent part of me – an extension of my creativity – the physical manifestation of the words dancing around in my head in MY aesthetic.
    the idea that future generations may no longer have a have such a personal connection to their handwriting is a terrifyingly upsetting notion. (RIP cursive!) poor children who will never get the opportunity to relish in the excitement inextricably linked to finding a penned style that says so much about them.

    nevertheless, horray to NARS, i commend them on extending the art form. if we are no longer putting pencil to paper, we may as well put pencil to face.

    • Leandra Medine

      I love THIS post.

      • Quinn

        I’m a sophmore in high school, and all of our test and exams are hand written. Like you just said, the war mark I get on the outside of my left pinky is proof that I just nailed that probably pointless chemistry test. And, hell, I like it that way. I have slaved over hand written projects and cursive worksheets many a night all through out my 10 year school career; and I won’t let some laptop make all my blood, sweat, and tears (this one’s literal. My grade 4 teacher was not a nice man) go to waste!
        I have the right to write (which may be a knew rap song) and will do so. Please hire me.

  • http://twitter.com/TripsTreasures Trips & Treasures

    pencil lipsticks just really are very easy to apply, maybe it really is because we are so used to it.

    http://www.tripsandtreasures.net

  • monkeyshines

    stunning lip colors!

    monkeyshines
    http://monkeyshines-monkeyshines.blogspot.com/

  • Chris

    The photos are amazing! You’re so damn cool!

  • http://www.farandwildjewelry.com/ abigail lind

    ipads have replaced notebooks, words with friends has replaced spelling class, sudoku has replaced math class, and angry birds has replaced recess. i fear that future generations will have bold lips and empty brains.

    abigail
    http://www.farandwildjewelry.com

  • http://www.testaholic.ro/ Silvia

    Oh, I could not live without doodling, I think it’s the best therapy ever! Working in IT, I am never required to use pen and paper but nevertheless I always have some on my desk and doodle away all the frustration, each day, every day :D

  • Oliver Lips

    So great! The colors are perfect for you :)

    http://www.lips2lagerfeld.com
    http://www.lips2lagerfeld.com

  • ana romero

    Totalmente de acuerdo. El otro día le dí a mi primita un libro e inmediatamente puso el dedo en la esquina inferior derecha como si de un ipad se tratase, e intentó cambiar la página. Pensé “ESTO ES ENSERIO” definitiamente el colmo, no sé qué va a pasar con la humanidad si seguimos así…besos http://www.rockafollow.com

  • Petra

    Next year my high school gets iPads. I’m happy we won’t have to deal with textbooks and going to our lockers between every period, but I’m sad we won’t be able to flip through and mark our textbooks, and handwrite essays in cursive….

  • Lydia

    great post, love the nars colors… adore you!

  • Sarah E

    ive always been such a huge fan of nars lip products. besides that, iPads?! seriously? I bet the next generation will have just awful signatures :P

    xx

    http://spoonfulofdiamonds.com
    http://www.facebook.com/SpoonfulOfDiamonds

  • dany

    oh i love all the colors!!

    xxo, dany

    http://lovesprettythings.blogspot.com/

  • Cynthia

    When I was in elementary school, we were actually graded on our cursive writing. I’m a teacher and I have high school students who can’t read cursive, but I write on the board in cursive any way. What are today’s students going to do, print their signatures? I do love the lip pencils/crayons the cosmetic companies are making. Haven’t tried the Nars.

    • Ai-Ch’ng Gan-Bhullar

      I used to teach English and English literature to middle, senior students and adults… and I – too – am very sad that cursive – and handwriting in general – has gone out the window. My son can barely write in cursive at thirteen, and because I feels so strongly about him learning cursive (it is actually faster and more ergonomic to write in cursive than it is to print), I’ve spent everyday of two months during his last summer break, helping him with writing in cursive, and basic dictation (which is not done in his private school!). Everyone knows that writing develops and maintains vitally important parts of the human brain, as well as aspects of our fine-motor skills. So, bring the beauty and necessity of handwriting back into your life.

      • Ai-Ch’ng Gan-Bhullar

        And I do aplogise for any typographical errors! (I see one already… grr)… I should wear my glasses when typing.

  • http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ Newborn Fanatic

    I love those lip pencils! I use the Bella Jour color and its the perfect nude!! Definitely want to try out more colors. Nars lip stuff are the best! :D

    http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com/

    • =^..^=

      thanks for the tip re Bella Jour: i’m always looking for a good ‘bare nekkid’ lipstick :D

  • Olivia

    Was I the only one who was excited as all hell when my third grade teacher gave us a packet of cursive letters to practice over Spring Break?

    No, just me?

    • Bird

      You’re not alone! I took all of my mothers calligraphy books too, just to get more practice. As a result, I mail hand written notes pretty frequently to everyone I love who does not live within five miles of me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paula.mcclelland1984 Paula McClelland

    We were never taught cursive in school – but I picked it up through my job as a cake baker “Happy Birthday” looks well flash in cursive ;-)
    I’m super anal with my writing – Having tidy handwriting is the equivalent of wearing clean underwear says this commentator.
    P.s. nice lippy’s – might have to get me a couple.

    ♥ Paula Shoe Fiend.
    http://shoe-fiend.blogspot.co.uk/

    • debbywarner

      If you get into a car accident, will the doctors say, “Nice cursive?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/meli.vas Melissa Vasquez

    are you left handed?!

  • Jacqueline

    Disappointed. I thought this was a genuine, nostalgic post before you abruptly change gears and segue into an advertisement. It felt cheap before I found out it was for a NARS collaboration. If you want to write about make-up, write about make-up.

  • e squared

    i love hand writing things, and to be honest i don’t even know how to properly type! i’m taking a poetry class at my hippie school (hence not knowing how to type), and we were told that all poems have to be handwritten in cursive on parchment paper. i wonder if i can write a poem in lipstick…

  • http://www.delectablychic.com CynthiaC.M.

    Sad that they’re no longer teaching cursive. I love cursive! My mom bought me a fountain pen when I was 9 so I could have “old school” style writing that I couldn’t do with a regular ballpoint pen (though I have to admit, that even at age 33, I know people my age who have trouble reading cursive, even though we all learned it in school). As for “lead pencils”, yeah, they were cool at my elementary school as well. In order to be cool, you had to have one of those pencils, along with a tin pencil case (bonus points if it had Japanese cartoon characters on them), refills and a tiny ruler (six inches or less).

  • Greer Clarke

    COLLABORATION. Aghhh cue controversy break out!!! It has gotten to the point where I am SO sick of people getting sassy in the comments when Leandra collaborates that they should just get off the blog. Click away, no one cares.

    Man Repeller is a unique, successful collection of social and fashion journalism, with an even more unique author. Leandra Medine is a graduated journalist who has found a niche that satisfies millions of readers around the world. Leandra Medine, like any other journalist, needs to make a living.

    She kicks convention and even when she needs to write something serious it’s cripplingly hilarious, irreverent and intelligent. Her taste in fashion and her style is both the icing on the cake and the basis of her appeal at the same time. Now because she has done so well for herself by means of a career that by definition can only be pioneered from scratch, I can only imagine brands and companies and people are throwing themselves at her for collaborations (or you can use other dirty words e.g. sponsorships, advertisements). From the ones she chooses, you can be sure she actually believes in them. The fact that this post started with a typically hilarious reflection is just a tribute to the fact that even the gal getting paid to do this will never be all about the product placement.

    So appreciate that fact that she does these collaborations in order to make a living, people often forget how bloggers do that. She has her pick of the pool so you can actually respect what she’s saying, and her collaborations are no less entertaining than her other posts. I for one loved hearing a little about what cursive has come to from Leandra’s literary voice, I’ve got that high-schooler trademark of a retarded right hand middle finger nail to prove it.

  • Jen

    I’m an elementary school teacher in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and we still teach cursive! We also teach typing, but to no surprise, the kids LOVE learning cursive. It’s a 3rd grade right of passage. Typing, they hate.

  • Kate

    Beautiful colors!

  • Manohar Singh

    This is a good posting, I was wondering if I could use this write-up on my website, I will link it back to your website though. If this is a problem please let me know and I will take it down right away Mens linen shirts

  • http://twitter.com/oxfordshoe Perry

    The second paragraph has longest run-on sentence – ever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/izzzzzzzzyyyyy Izzy Cole

    Beautiful post, bland lip shades. I expect too much from Nars I guess. But when Revlon’s Just Bitten is more enticing I would think they’d step up their shade game. Regardless it is saddening to read about the decline of pen & paper in the classroom. I remember truly agonizing over those lower case z’s myself. I will also never forget discovering my signature. And how much of a let down it was to finally get a raised signature on California state IDs only to find that to represent my signature, the one I had agonized over for years, I was rushed (with only once chance) to scribble it onto a touch screen with a stylus. My signature, my true self, will now forever be shown to the world as a jagged edged line with no resemblance to actual initials. Shame. This is our future.

  • Manu

    amazing photos ;)
    love your blog !!!!

    http://www.manuwears.blogspot.de

    xoxo manu

  • http://twitter.com/evilrona Rona Shainer

    Great post! I Love these pencils!

    Dress To Cook Blog

  • egosuperegoid

    Girl. I am a doctor and I have to say that these Nars Lip Pencils are the bombdiggity. I don’t care who you are collaborating with or blah blah blah. I put them on in the morning and they make it through a day of Starbucks-ing and interviewing patients and the like. Great post. To quote Shania Twain (in a PG-13 way):Dang. They make me feel like a women.

  • Manon

    I had to look up what “cursive” means! Across the pond we simply call it “joined up writing” – I think schools stopped teaching it a long looong time ago :(
    Well at least I know what Nars lip pencils are (my faves are cruella and dragon lady)

    Manon
    http://fromtokyotoparis.wordpress.com/

  • http://twitter.com/bulkmarketplaz1 bulkmarketplaza

    Love love love

    kiddicare

  • http://www.fancyalterego.wordpress.com/ Heather P.

    As an English teacher, I’m never far away from a no. 2 pencil, but I do agree that there is something to be missed with the clicking and tapping away all the time. Even in what I do, I find that writing notes and grading on a computer just isn’t the same…it’s less personal…too easy to write a small novel to each student when a “good job, but go back over commas in your textbook” will do. As for cursive…I’m indifferent to it. I like it just fine, but my handwriting is such a hybrid of that and print, that I really hold no allegiance to either. :-)

    Oh, and I’m totally tempted to try one of those lip pencils now. They look easy enough to use, and won’t make me look like I’m using lip liner a la 1996…unless I want it to. ;-)

  • Addison Cain

    What a great article! As a girl who still writes in cursive everyday when taking class notes, I was really disappointed to here about the decline in handwriting classes. I totally agree with you when you ask “won’t these kids ever feel hungry to use their hands, their whole hands–not just their finger tips–to share a story?” Technology is wonderful, but can we not have the best of both worlds?

  • Jackie

    I prefer writing by hand, it´s more personal and gives everything a special, lovely touch. If I someday (far away from now!) will have some children, I would never send them to a school with iPads or too much computers.
    I can´t see the sense behind this.

  • Ditte

    The only time I write in cursive, is when I’m writing fake funny letters to two friends of mine. I have done it for 14 years, and they don’t know it’s me.
    I love cursive. But I think I would love Nars a little better…

  • Natashia

    I can’t believe schools aren’t teaching cursive!! I use a pencil everyday, it’s my preferred method of writing.. that said I am obsessed with typography so constantly trying to write neat and pretty. Also, I make lots of mistakes.

  • meow mix

    What color lip pencil are you wearing in the photo? Loveeeeee.

  • Molly O’Brien

    Graduating from grey lead pencils to receive my ‘pen license’ when I was 10 is actually a life highlight for me. Seriously though.

  • Christina Catechis

    I believe my handwriting embodies my creative being, and I will always embrace its awkward extensions in cursive. At the university I attend, everyone is clad with a jelly-covered Macbook pro in classes where they take advantage of the time saved by typing to engage in the social phenomena of ‘stalking,’ or the occasional cultured student scrolling through pinterest. (Pinterest, in my opinion, is inspiration for the weak) I always type my notes. Somehow, for me, it enforces that I am in an academic environment, and I take pride in hand cramps from writing, because they give me a sense of accomplishment. Like being sore from the gym. Anytime I write on a computer/gadget, I feel as though I’m not fully present. There is something discomforting about a bright white light attempting to highlight your words, or lift your spirits, or keep you awake. It almost feels..corporate.

    anyway, my recent lip products have begun to resemble my elementary school toolkit of crayola crayons and colored pencils. The satin lip pencil is looking a lot like my next purchase. I love the shade in the center of the napkin pictured above.

  • Lorna England

    What a clever article! Kudos! You totally drew me in with the anti-cursive bit (major hot-button; along with the ousting of the Latin language programs = dumbing down of America!)
    But you took me away to the wonderful world of makeup with the lip liner comparisons.
    I really enjoyed your creative writing style and wit!

  • Casey

    I enjoy writing by hand. I just recently picked up journaling again just for my current trip in Europe and bought a new Moleskine notebook just for the occasion. I’ve missed the hand cramps and most of the time enjoy how my handwriting looks on the page. I agree with what some users have said that there is something about your own handwriting that converts something about your own personality that the words themselves sometimes lack.

    As for the collaboration with NARS, I adore your collaborations. The Tarte lipstick you chose for your collaboration with Glossybox was the first thing I put in my suitcase for this trip!

  • Lisa

    Cool ! :)

  • http://thepoppie.com/ Poppie

    As a historian this non-teaching of cursive is horrifying! Also after reading the book Matched and the girls horror at not being able to write with her own hands. I cherish my messy penmanship. I once wrote my husband Jason a love letter and laid it on his bedside table and went to sleep. When I woke he had written me a letter back in his glorious cursive.

    Poppie
    http://thepoppie.com

  • fullyinspired

    Absolutely obsessed with everything you do, Leandra. Totally, 10,000% inspired. Which lip are you wearing in the photos above? Jardin de Plantes? Thanks! x

  • fullyinspired

    PS. My children WILL learn cursive, if they hate me for it- at least they’ll hate me in a gorgeous form of writing!

  • Avery

    Smeared the Yu all over my face, now I cant figure out how to sharpen it.