Tag Archives: fashion

S(M)onday Scraps 103


1. HISTORY: Imagine you’re 23 and you’re heading off to WWII as a nurse. What do you pack? Slate‘s new history blog has got you covered with a real recommended packing list. Don’t forget your homemade Kotex!

2. ELLEN: Ellen solves all problems. In this clip, she takes on Abercrombie and their whole “only skinny kids are cool” baloney.

3. ART: Like me, you probably assumed pin-up artistry was historically a male artform. Not so! Three of the most respected pin-up artists were women, who knew?

4. SPORTS: Remember Allyson Felix, the Olympic sprinter? What happens after you win gold and you’ve accomplished all your goals at 26? Grantland finds out.

5. EVEREST: Apparently, Mount Everest is overrun by inexperienced, poorly equipped climbers. National Geographic explores what it’s like to wait in line to hike the summit.

6. MAKE-UP: In this short Thought Catalog piece, Chelsea Fagan explains some of the complex rationales that inform female make-up habits. It’s not as simple, “I want to look hot.”

Related Post: Sunday 102 – Depression cartoons, GeoGuessr, war photos, etc.

Related Post: Sunday 101 – Lean In letters, Colbert’s homphobia song, American Girl evolution


Filed under Art, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sports

Sunday Scraps 102


1. JOURNALISM: This my be my favorite editorial I’ve read in quite some time. From Tim Krieder at the NYT, he writes about uncertainty of stating one’s opinions on the internet: “I felt like the explanatory caption beneath my name on-screen ought to be: PERSON IN WORLD.” This is basically exactly how I feel about everything.

2. STYLE: Ever wonder about Rihanna’s hairstylist? Who is this person? Where did he or she come from? NYMag has got you covered.

3. WAR: In this not at all scientific but very strangely powerful series, soldiers are photographed before, during, and after war.

4. TELEVISION: How to make a good drama that wins lots of awards. Is there a formula for that? Perchance there is and it’s only 13 steps!

5. GEOGRAPHY: Highly difficult, highly addictive, Geoguessr is game where google streetview displays a picture and you try to guess where in the world it was taken. Good luck with Australia vs. Texas.

6. DEPRESSION: Blogger Allie Brosh is back after a long hiatus. This webcomic explains where she’s been, and also does a pretty excellent job at describing depression to those that are not depressed. Play close attention to the fish analogy.

Related Post: Sunday 101 – Dear Daughter, Colbert’s “homophobe” song, Lennon and Maisey

Related Post: Sunday 102 – Why lady looks matter, SCOTUS, Huma + Anthony, football tragedy


Filed under Art, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People

So What Do You Do Exactly? Hair Model Edition

grace hair 1When I was a kid my favorite part of getting my hair cut was paging through those big coffee table books of crazy hairstyles. Remember when those tiny rubberbanded twists were all the rage? I always wondered, who are these people that waltz around rocking these edgy bowl cuts or mint-green stripes? Welp, turns out, I know one of them! This is Grace, and for the latest edition of my jobs series, So What Do You Do Exactly?, she will tell us a little about being a hair model.

What’s your actual job title? This isn’t so much a real job as an adult “extracurricular activity” [ed. note: Grace has a “real” job too], but when get hired for things I am either a “demo model” or a “presentation model”.  I mostly fall in to the category of “creative cut and color”, which tends to mean asymmetrical or severe looking cuts and colors not commonly or naturally found in human hair.

What would your title be if it described what you actually do? I work on event-based contract for a major salon brand as a hair “demo model.” That means I get my hair cut and colored by creative directors of different salons (basically, the top stylists and colorists, who set the tone for the styles that are “in”).

I think the most accurate descriptor would probably be “living doll”– my head and hair tend to be an experiment ground for whichever instructor is playing around with it that day. They know I’m quite open so I’ve wound up with pretty much every hair cut or color you can imagine. For public events that aren’t just in the salon, there is a makeup artist and wardrobe situation going on too.

grace hair 6How on earth did you get into this line of work? Very simply: I got my hair cut one day, and one thing led to another! A friend in college turned me on to this website where you could sign up to get a free haircut from an “apprentice” at a salon who was auditioning to be a full stylist, and one day I went to quite a fancy salon for my free haircut and the head stylist asked me if I’d modeled before, and asked me back to model for an in-salon training they were going to be having.
From there, I wound up doing a photo shoot with the same salon (You know those big pictures of people’s heads and faces up in a lot of salons? I’m one of them!) and some work as a color model for another salon. This was back in 2010 and I’ve been working for them regularly ever since. As I understand it, I am desirable as a hair model because I amiable and willing to pull off very creative work– I have very thick, dark hair that grows in stick-straight, takes color well, and I like to keep my hair short. I can pretty easily wear the kinds of haircuts people want to see as an example of creative work but don’t want to wear themselves– super angular or asymmetrical looks and “circus colors” for the most part.
grace hair 4How many different haircuts have you had? Best? Worst?
I honestly can’t say how many different cuts I’ve had– in fact I’m pretty much sure I’ve only had the same haircut twice since I’ve started (this December and January actually, when a stylist I was modeling for was getting really in to classic cuts “invented” by Vidal Sassoon, and I had the right hair type to show one, the five-point cut.)
I think my favorite was a few days before I graduated from college– I did a show where the stylist asked me what my school color was (maroon!) and what color the gown was (black!) and gave me these amazing angular bangs that were dyed maroon and intentionally super awesome peeking out from under a graduation hat.
The good thing is there’s really no such thing as a bad haircut because the haircut I get on stage will often be completely different than the one I go home with– they let me know when they’re illustrating techniques that aren’t “wearable” (say, chin-length wispy sideburns or bangs that cover the eyes) and are totally not offended if I ask them to change the cut or adjust the color afterwards.
grace hair 3Do you get to go to hair shows like the ones Chris Rock featured in Good Hair?  I’ve actually never seen Good Hair! But, I do a show every year called America’s Beauty Show at the Chicago convention center that is huge and really over the top, where lots of different salons and brands from all over the US show their work. The group I work for tends to be one of the classier ones there– cut and color with makeup and wardrobe, but no wigs, extensions, etc– but you will see girls (and guys) working for other groups with big hair, huge added-in hairpieces, body paint, etc. Shows are actually the best, though, because you get paid the most for doing them– depending on the number of days you work it can be in the high hundreds of dollars.
Sidenote on the money thing since I know I would wonder if I were the one reading this: There is money in doing this, but it’s not a living wage. Sometimes you’re just getting the free haircut (which if you had to pay for it, would be a $200-300 experience, so that’s nice by itself), but for more public events you do get paid a base rate per day or per event; I used my modeling money to pay for my books while I was in school, so it was useful income but not life-sustaining.
grace hair 5What would we be surprised to know about the hair modeling industry? Most people who do hair modeling are not who you’d be looking at on the street thinking, “Wow, that girl must be a model.” Hair modeling tends to be a lot more forgiving in terms of height and body shape/size; I’m only about 5’6″ and I eat food regularly and with much gusto.
You do need to be able to walk in heels comfortably, but the “model walk” that’s actually desirable is not so much a strut and hip-swag as an “I am comfortable walking in heels and can go in a straight line”. While I’ve seen a lot of the traditional super tall skinny model-type at hair shows working for other companies, the group I work for especially tends to just pull people that have the look they’re going for when they come in for hair cuts (like I did) or by standing outside of art schools.
Related Post: So What Do You Do Exactly? Tween Lit Edition
Related Post: So What Do You Do Exactly? T-Shirt Edition


Filed under Art, Chicago

Why is it okay to put 16-year-olds in lingerie ads?

This is Gisele Bundchen at age 16 in a Macy’s catalogue:


(Via Buzzfeed)

This makes me extremely uncomfortable. I think it’s a pretty twisted world we live in when a fashion director dresses a teenager up in fishnets and a velvet bra to try to convince other women (presumably Macy’s catalogue-receiving women in their 30s and 40s) to buy this underwear.

Selling clothes is always an exercise in aspiration. Wear this and your thighs might look slimmer! Wear this and hunky men will drape themselves all over you. Wear this and you’ll want to go to the gym! Wear this and other women will admire your style! Whatever you want to happen will happen if you only for the love of God buy these clothes!

What’s so bizarre about using underage models is that the aspiration you create in the minds of your consumer is impossible to fulfill. 30-year-olds will never look 16 again. Instead of building a vision about looking and being your “best self” (what brands like Dove do with campaigns like Real Beauty, manipulative in its own way), this ad creates impossible dreams. And what strange dreams to have!

See? Ann Taylor uses extremely attractive but age-appropriate models

See? Ann Taylor uses extremely attractive but age-appropriate models

You would never use a 16-year-old to sell a power suit, right? Because women who want to look powerful don’t want to look juvenile. They want to look attractive, and sleek, and put-together, but nobody aims for “junior prom” when they want to rock an interview.

But when you’re trying to look sexy (as anyone who is purchasing fishnets and velvet pushup bras likely is), looking youthful is part of the aspiration. We’ve conflated “adolescent” with “sexy” for so long that it seems natural for a teenager to model underwear the way it would never seem natural to put her in a skirt suit. That’s kind of scary, and we’re still doing it.

I feel like every party here is wronged in some way, the 16-year-old model who’s been tarted up, the rest of 16-year-olds who don’t look like this model and are intimidated, the 39-year-olds flipping through this catalogue and wondering why a girl their daughter’s age is being used to sell them underwear, any men who might catch a glimpse and lust after her, however briefly, not knowing she’s not even legal, teenaged boys who end up with bizarre expectations of what women wear under their clothes (hint, it’s usually not this).

Who wins? Macy’s, probably, if this ad sold a lot of tights. Sigh. They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.

Related Post: But how old is she really?

Related Post: Bras for 9-year-olds


Filed under Advertising, Body Image, Gender, Sex

Monday Scraps 95


1. DATING: Where do “missed connections” happen? In Illinois, on the train (duh), in Indiana, at home. Wait, what?

2. AUTHORS: Ugh. Ender’s Game was kind of my favorite thing for so so long. It still is, but I hate when the authors you love turn out to be raging homophobes. Dammit.

3. EDUCATION: This amazing investigative piece by WBEZ on the South Side’s Harper High School is incredible in basically every way journalism can be incredible.

4. KNOPE: NYMag has the inside scoop behind Amy Poehler/Leslie Knope’s amazing wedding dress.

5. SPORTS: For the very first time, a woman is participating in the NFL regional tryouts. Kicker Lauren Silberman will probably not play in the NFL, but that’s still pretty f’ing cool.

6. OSCARS: I would write about Seth McFarlane’s horribly sexist jokes, but Margaret Lyons at NYMag  nailed it so hard I’d just be paraphrasing. 

Related Post: Sunday Scraps 94: Bey, Connie Britton, Jane Austen and more.

Related Post: Sunday Scraps: 93: Guns, visiting Chicago, Margaret Atwood


Filed under Books, Chicago, Education, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Sports

The Bent Over Cartoon Character That Ruined My Sunday

I’m warning you now that I don’t really have anything articulate to say about the following photo.  This is sign I saw walking through Wicker Park last weekend in Chicago:

photo (70)

I feel vaguely assaulted. This is my sunday afternoon. It’s raining, I’m drinking my coffee, I’m doing errands, I don’t want to have to confront the hypersexual idealized form of this woman that American Apparel seems to want me to want to be. I’m not in the mood to soapbox about body diversity. I’m not in the mood to rant about what I think it does to girls when this is the image they see over and over again. Why am I still surprised by these things? This is not new. This is not different. I see this everywhere and I am bothered by it every single time.

There are kids around and this is not what I want them to think is “how to be sexy.” Wear a bathing suit and high heels. Have long mermaid hair. Be thin. Bend over. This is not how I feel sexy and I don’t think it’s how most women feel sexy (though, as always, if pulling this posture gets you going, be my guest). I don’t even think this is what most men find sexy. I think this is an extremely narrow vision of sexy cooked up by a porn-soaked graphic designer and a brand that picks campaigns that consistently stage women as  objects just waiting for sex:

Google "American Apparel Ads"

Google “American Apparel Ads”

Yes, yes, yes, I know… sex sells. I get that. This is not a plea for modesty or celibacy or anything so extreme. This is a plea for some sense of time and place, for context and propriety. There is room for sexuality in advertising, but there is no room in my Sunday stroll for a bent-over cartoon woman holding her ankles. Put that shit away.

Related Post: American Apparel’s “Next Big Thing” Contest

Related Post: But how old is she really? On underage models.


Filed under Advertising, Body Image, Chicago, Media, Sex

Monday Scraps 89


1. SNOW: This epic John Branch story is a freaking commitment (took me about an hour to read, I think), but one that’s well worth it. With amazing graphics and video, he recounts the avalanche at Tunnel Creek.

2. THIEVERY: Super fun profile of “supernatural” pickpocket Apollo Robbins by Adam Green for the New Yorker.

3. FASHION: Girls is coming back! Yippee! Get excited by reading about how Jessa, Marnie, Shoshanna and Hannah are dressed and styled.

4. MONSTERS: As part of a promotional campaign for the new Monsters Inc. prequel, check out the parody website “Monsters University.”

5. MATT + BEN: Who doesn’t love a good oral history of a much beloved cultural landmark? (Side note: The Friends oral history in Vanity Fair was excellent.) For Boston magazine, Ben, Matt, Stellan, Robin and more recount how Good Will Hunting got made.

6. EDUCATION: I dare you to not get weepy at this NYT video of a very special physics teacher.

Related Post: Sunday 88: Boobs, doubt, the Rockaways, Moloch

Related Post: Sunday 87: Deb Perelman, Amy Hempel, Pinterest for cops


Filed under Advertising, Education, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sports

Gilded Age Pin-Ups

Retronaut has a truly outstanding collection of photos of exotic dancers from the 1890s. Such a treat:

Costumes reigned supreme in the gilded age as well:

Chuckle-worthy? Yes. Guffaws? Quite possibly. What’s really cool for me, though, is the reminder of how unbelievably drastically the definitions of “sexy” have shifted. Damn near seismic shifts when you really look at it.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the pursuit of the latest ideal (see: Kate Upton’s Sports Illustrated cover), and forget two key facts. First, SI‘s “sexy” is in no way the final word on the subject, but merely one well-financed vision specific to the moment.

Second, the range of preferences out there is as wide as the range of bodies. What we see on red carpets and magazine covers is an incredibly thin slice of humanity, and it’s really unfair not only to the women who stare enviously at those covers, but to men who might have preferences that exist beyond those limited parameters. The overwhelming deluge of media convinces us ladies that we need to smoosh ourselves into very particular shapes, and it convinces men who like something other than that shape that their taste is weird or abnormal.

I remember fondly a guy on the red line a few years back who was openly “reading” a pornographic magazine of the XXL persuasion. Probably not the best place for enjoying naked ladies, but I couldn’t help but smile at his brazen disregard for convention. He was so pleased with the content that he kindly flipped his magazine around to share it with me, just in case I was curious. I wasn’t, but now I know he’s into 300lb women in lingerie.

For all we know, there are still guys that are super into the bloomer and kneesock thing. If they can find partners willing to go the extra costumed mile, then more power to them.

Related Post: Is Kim Kardashian good for body image?

Related Post: Ideals. They might surprise you.

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Filed under Art, Body Image, Media, Sex

Sunday Scraps 41

1. EQUALITY: How can we combat the misguided and preposterous belief that allowing gays to marry will someone lead the way to people marrying toasters, dogs, and dead people? A handy diagram to hand out to all your idiot friends.

2. LIBRARY: Flavorwire has a highly subjective list of the 25 most beautiful college libraries. I’m not going to argue though, because Harper is #8.

3. PUBES: Ever wonder about the history of pubic hair? Yeah, me too. The Atlantic takes a historical approach the current trend of ripping it all out.

4. FASHION: Blogger Marissa at New Dress A Day buys heinously ugly dresses and revamps each and every one to make something contemporary and wearable. And she does this every day.

5. ADORBS: Even babies who don’t know any words can mimic the speech patterns of rap music. So freaking cute (and so is the dad….).

6. LEGO: Lego is launching a new line of girls toys called Lego Friends. Businessweek investigates the origins of the new line and Lego’s history with shoving the pink crap in the corner.

Related Post: Sunday 40 = Louis C.K. on daughters, NPR’s imaginary faces, bellies.

Related Post: Sunday 39 = Siri drama, boozing at work, a library artwork mystery of international proportions.


Filed under Books, Chicago, Education, Gender, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sex

Birkins: “They Hold My World Together”

Yesterday, I posted a list of my favorite things I read on the internet. Well here’s one more: “Outfits That Walk Between 2 Worlds” aka The Muffie Potter Aston Fashion Diaries, from The New York Times. The following “colors” are mentioned:

nutmeg-colored, mustard, camel, blush, burgundy, cream, off-white, camel-colored, taupe, taupe, off-white, taupe, loden green (WTF?), saddle-color, camel-colored, khaki, saddle-colored, beige, creamy white, cream, cream, silver

And this: “I have everything in my Birkins. They hold my world together.” And this: “I don’t like a lot of jingle-jangle going on.”

In the spirit of Muffie Potter Aston, whose name I feel requires repeating, my own “What I Wore” for the last two days:

Wednesday, December 14: I rose from my bed sporting the softest, most luxurious dark blueberry sweatpants bestitched with the symbol of the esteemed University of Michigan, an ebony camisole, and a heather and navy striped robe sporting the imprint “pink” across the ass. For the office, I usually aim for a palette of “not jacked up” and this day was like no other. I selected a gray and black knit sweater dress from the brand “The tag was ripped out when I bought it for $14” and chocolate, faux-leather DSW boots with artfully scuffed heels. To top it off, I added a pewter bracelet in the shape of a fork, purchased from one of New York’s most respected illegal street vendors. For the respite of the gym, I changed into one of my many charity t-shirts, this one from WBEZ’s annual phone drive, midnight capris, and a mustard sports bra with only minor fraying.

Thursday, December 15: I rose this morning after a restful sleep wearing the same delightfully mismatched loungewear as yesterday (collected from the floor, of course). I carefully selected an eggplant and cream striped cotton button-down from Target’s 2011 fall line, medium wash denim from Target’s 2011 fall line, and slate gray flats from the red-label (50% off) collection at DSW. I accessorized with a scarlet pashmina, fingerless gloves, and a poop-colored puffy jacket. Oh, and my sleek black laptop bag.

Related Post: In all seriousness, this is whose style I legit covet.

Related Post: Notes on American Apparel’s Next Big Thing Contest.

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Filed under Media