Archive for the ‘soapbox’ Category

A Designer Disappointment

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

My dad sent me this article from the New York Times yesterday and to say it disappointed me is an understatement. Take a read and then lets discuss….

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You see Thompson, CT is a very near and dear town to me.  It abuts the town my parents’ home is in and is the town in which I married my husband (at the Lord Thompson Manor , which was so amazing that two of our friends married there after us!).  There is a gorgeous, albeit small, main street where some truly stunning historic homes stand and this, my friends, is where we pick up on our story.

As a designer- interior, architectural or the like-we are taught to not only love homes but live, sleep, eat and breathe them.  They are the medium in which we express our artistic talents and the canvas upon which we make our mark. To find out that a designer, never mind an incredibly FAMOUS designer, would treat a historic home with such disdain, such negligence, disgusts me.  He is incredibly successful and has the means to restore this property to it’s historic glory, but if that doesn’t interest him he should simply sell it to someone who does want to.  To hang onto it and let it rot just because “he can” and thinks “no one should be able to tell him otherwise” is repulsive and against everything a designer should stand for. To allow it to fall into ruin, have it affect an entire town and specifically his neighbor’s property values all while becoming an eyesore in a totally charming town is quite possibly the most unflattering display of ego I’ve ever heard of in this business. To allow it to be demolished is thumbing his nose at history AND his own industry. And finally, to threaten to “sell it to a funeral parlor” just to piss off the neighbors proves this man is frankly, a total asshole.  Who would trust their home to a designer so cavalier, rude and self-centered with no appreciation for architecture or other people?

I for one have signed the petition to save this gorgeous piece of history from demolition and send Mr. Buatta a message- GET OVER YOURSELF. I hope you will too and share this story with others.  It’s yet another example of the fact that money can’t buy you everything, least of all CLASS.

 

A New Low.

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Two days ago I was perusing my feed on Facebook when an image a friend/colleague posted stopped me in my tracks. I clicked on it to get a better look and was beside myself to see that this image of what I thought was a severely anorexic or sick woman was in fact an ad from Saint Laurent’s spring campaign.  Before I continue take a look:

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To be honest, I almost didn’t believe it.  I knew that before I could write anything about it I had to confirm it was real first, even though the source of the Facebook image was a trusted one.  I have made the mistake of skipping this step before and learned my lesson from it. Sadly, I confirmed it yesterday by going to Barnes & Noble and seeing it in person in the February issue of Harper’s Bazaar. I don’t even know where to begin to describe my rage and disgust over this image.

But let’s start with this. There is a picture of me taken about two weeks before I was committed to a mental hospital for my anorexia that looks like this picture. Less glamorous, for sure, but the knobby knees, reed thin thighs and sunken eyes are the same. I was about 95 pounds and 5′ 9″ to put this model in perspective (if I could find it I would post it).  I am not saying definitively that she is sick, nor am I “thin shaming” anyone, but I AM suggesting that to portray this image as glamorous and high fashion is brutally irresponsible and dangerous. Yes, there are members of society who are naturally very thin or drastically underweight due to illness or factors beyond their control (like the fabulously inspiring Lizzie Velasquez), but that is not what is being presented here.  This is the kind of image that could (and will) be circulated on the bevy of pro-anorexia sites out there as an example of extreme thinness promoted and accepted by the fashion industry.  Even more heartbreaking is the idea that young girls everywhere, otherwise healthy girls, may see this during a time in their life when they are easily influenced and allow it to make them feel badly about their bodies. It could ignite a dark place inside one of them, a thought, a behavior, a pattern, that could spiral into something devastating. Just as it was ignited in me.

No, one ad will not cause someone to be anorexic, but our society’s  ideals and attitudes towards what is a beautiful body could.  No one could pinpoint what exactly it was that caused me to fall ill- I was never abused, neglected, bullied or tormented- I was just like any other young girl.  But one day I started comparing myself to others and thought maybe I should lose some weight. And then some more. And then even more. Until the prospect of having to eat a single strawberry would reduce me to hysterical sobs of fear. And this was during a time when models like this were not part of mainstream media- in fact, today the girls I admired on TV in the early 90′s would probably be considered “chubby”.  If we allow these kinds of images to become acceptable I am scared of what the future holds for young women- our daughters, nieces and grandchildren. THIS IS NOT OKAY.

Years ago I went to talk by the Council of Fashion Designers of America at Mass General’s Eating Disorders Program in which some famous designers made all sorts of claims about committing to using healthier models in an attempt to promote a more wholesome body image and protect the young models who feel forced to be a certain kind of drastically thin in order to get work.  Well, it seems those statements and assertions were not ones they took seriously.  This image had to go through SO MANY hands to be approved to run in Bazaar- the fashion house, their marketing department, the model management, PR people, the photographer, producers, magazine editors and publishers. This model was lit purposely to exaggerate her breathtaking thinness. The fact that this was PERMITTED to be published is flat out disgusting.  The fact that all these powerful people in the media could look at this and think “Yes, let’s put THIS out into the universe” is baffling.  To be in a women’s magazine is doubly insulting.

For all the progress that the fabulous pro-women ads from Dove and others out there have made, one like this can set us so many steps back.  I have no idea how we can affect change in the fashion industry, but I certainly hope that small efforts to stand up to things like this are a place to start.

Burnout.

Monday, December 16th, 2013

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I woke up this morning in Chicago and remembered that I am an hour behind my normal schedule here, and kind of freaked out.  I was busy yesterday and last night and didn’t have time to prep a post for today.  And I woke up completely exhausted to boot.  Between finishing my book, other random shoots and projects, keeping up with client work, writing this blog, taking care of the dogs, Christmas preparation craziness and attempting to maintain friendships and a marriage I have to admit, I am burned out.  In Blogland I feel like everyone seems to do everything perfectly in perfect outfits with hair and makeup done to Pinterest perfection, but my truth right now is this: I feel and look like hell because I’m so freaking tired.

Really, really tired.

I love being busy and I thrive under the high pressure environment I create for myself, but I’ve gotten to the point where I have lost the understanding and ability to truly relax and shut off. And that isn’t good.  I cannot remember for the life of me a day in the past 7 years where I just laid on the couch and read a book.  Even when I try to sit down and watch a movie with my husband, I find myself get anxious if I don’t check my email and typically end up turning on my computer to start working again.  I feel like “down time” is “wasted time” and I know that’s not healthy.   The constant feelings of guilt are something I live with daily. I ask myself to do more, more, more and when I don’t get an absurd amount of things done I berate myself for not “living up to my potential”. I really need to tell that little perfectionist voice in my head to give it a f*cking REST.

On top of the work pressure I put on myself, I pile on the stress and guilt of not being able to get pregnant as of yet. And I know that these things are probably linked- stress is no good for babymaking. All aspects of it!  And I approach it like I do my work with tons of research and action plans and to do lists.  I’m doing all the right things technically, good doctors, acupuncture, eating right but the key for me, I think, is going to me learning to give myself a break. About everything- about work, pregnancy, wanting to be the perfect, wife, daughter, sister,  friend, blogger, writer, dog mom, etc. etc…. I can’t help but see this one thing I cannot manage to do as a failure, and I DO NOT deal well with failure. No, sir.

So this comes a bit early, but I am determined to take a massive chill pill this year as my resolution.  To give myself more breaks and attempt to alleviate the guilt and pressure just a little. To make time to go to yoga or take an afternoon to just drive somewhere new or just take a walk without my damn phone. Or maybe even sit on the couch and DO NOTHING, which is such a foreign concept to me. This will not make me lazy, but rather a more productive creative force.  The brain needs a rest in order to be at it’s best, and so does the body. Instead of operating in constant panic mode, I want to do things slower, more deliberately and with more depth.  This doesn’t mean I’ll do less, in fact I already have tons of ideas for more projects, books and such for this year, but I want to enjoy the process more. I need to remember that not everything has to be done RIGHT! THIS! MINUTE! I need to say no more but also yes more, and be able to discern what’s truly important from what’s something I’m just doing so I can say I’m doing MORE.

I need to breathe.  I need to reboot.

How about you?

Let’s Talk: Teenagers.

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Late one night last week I was woken up by the screeching and guffawing sounds of teenagers outside my window.  Standing in the middle of the street was a gaggle of over a dozen, all yelling and being generally obnoxious. This has become a regular thing, as the family across the street happens to have a teenager, and she likes to invite what seems like our entire town over for parties, and apparently the parents are “cool” with it. Fed up with yet another noise incident, I shot out of bed and yelled out my window for them to move it along.  I was wholly ignored, the continued loudness reverberating off the pavement, and with my ire now raised I screamed “Are you guys serious? I will call the cops in 5 seconds if you don’t shut up!”

To which, one of them- a girl- started snottily counting down from 5… and I nearly lost my mind. Andrew woke up and held me back from jumping out the window.

Perhaps I should just accept that I have become the crotchety old neighbor and saddle myself up to a Go-Go and start eating dinner at 4 p.m.- or perhaps I should voice my concern over the absurdity that had befallen a chunk of today’s teenagers and general teen culture. As I was thinking about this topic I saw this story and thought, I want to discuss this.

(Pardon me while I pull up my soapbox. *Scraaaaaaaaape.*)

I am not a parent. You know this. But I was a teenager and I cannot fathom ever talking back to an adult like that. And while I barely feel like an adult, I do own a house, wear a wedding ring and chronologically speaking, am of “adult age”.  Had I been in that teenage girl’s shoes outside my window, I would have been freaking out that I had not only pissed off someone over 25 but that the cops might be called.  I was no saint growing up, but I was raised to be respectful of adults and absolutely NOT get arrested. Two kind of important life lessons in my book.  I was as miserable, difficult and self-centered as any teenager, but I can count on one hand the times I ever yelled at my parents (Mom, back me up on this).  And I need NO hands to count the number of times I yelled at someone else’s parents.  Since moving to the burbs I can tell you about several incidents in which I have witnessed teenagers swearing and screaming at their parents and treating them with blatant disrespect.

It absolutely blows my mind and sends my ovaries cowering in fear. Perhaps a third dog is a better idea?

My parents raised me with a healthy fear of disappointing them. I seriously wanted to (and did) cry when I felt I let them down in some way.  Therapists have told me that this has lead me to have boundary issues and care too much what they think as an adult, to a semi-debilitating degree.  Hey, we all have our problems. But I would rather be saddled with that then grow up with a lack of respect for them and a carelessness about living up to expectations of fairness, hard work and honesty. And I think I turned out okay. At least I’ve never been arrested (to date- who know what Thursday will bring).

And while I think that good parenting (as I’m sure all of you blog readers practice) can quell much of this kind of arrested development, I’m most concerned about the world around these kids affecting them and making them into…well, jerks. To back up my concern are the celebrities they are looking up to, or not even, simply looking at because they get so much press: friggin’ Miley Cyrus, the Kardashians (made famous by a sex tape, remember), Chris Brown and this whole Teen Mom (turned porn star) culture, and I think- well, this can’t be good.  When I was a teen I was busy losing my shit over the fact that Donna Martin got DRUNK. AT. THE. PROM. Drunk! Can you believe it? Will she graduate?????  It was such a different world, even in the 90′s. Cut to current day when there are girls like this one, tweeting about how she blew a .341 in public, went to jail, and, well, #yolo.  Cue massive twitter following and people saying she’s “awesome” and “my hero”.

UGH.

I am sure that parents of teens in the 60′s felt the same way.  There are ebbs and flows to social culture and I am probably just seeing a small portion of it.  I know there are many, many wonderful, productive teens out there- I just wish I saw more of THOSE kids and less of the Justin Beiber’s of the world. I specifically want young girls of the world to know that smart is sexy, classy is cool and being involved and engaged in the world makes you interesting. Sex tapes are not the springboards for fame. Men don’t need to see you half dressed and duck-faced in “selfies” to think you’re pretty. Being rude is not awesome.  You have to work your ass off and pay your dues to find success. Be more. Do more. Think more. That’s what will make you special in the eyes of the world. I know that if I had a daughter I would do everything in my power to present that to her, but would the world just undo it all? I just don’t know.

Am I totally off base here? What do you parent’s think? Are you encouraged or discouraged by teen culture today? Do you worry about what the future holds? Are puppies a safer bet?

Let’s talk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UGH.

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

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I like this image from photog Michael Lee better than the original.

Even though I find it hard for me to believe, some would consider this blog a legitimate media outlet.  As a participating member of “the media” I have to add my voice, as meek as it may be, to cacophonous roar building in Boston over the heinous Rolling Stone cover I’m sure you have already heard about.  Nothing I can say will be earth shattering, or even original, but I feel so strongly about this disgusting display of bad taste that I can’t NOT post something.

When I first saw the cover I thought it had to be a joke.  And then when I realized it wasn’t my emotions went from disbelief to horror to pure, unadulterated anger.  After all this city has been through- all this NATION has been through regarding horrific violence and the glamorization of death, murder, terrorism, horror and hatred- the choice to put this evil individual in the same ranks as musical geniuses like Springsteen, Dylan and the BEATLES is the biggest lapse in judgement ever made in the publishing world.  Yes, let’s make this murderer look like a fucking JONAS BROTHER so that the troubled youth of our country have more of a reason to think that killing people brings stardom and fame.  Let’s show them that blowing up a crowd of people is akin to bringing a crowd to their knees with a beautiful song from a brightly lit stage. Yes, this will be good for the country. Let’s use our power to do that.

JESUS.

Now, on a much, much, MUCH smaller scale I have posted images or words before that offended others but threw up no red flags to me personally before clicking “publish”.  Upon later review, I typically can see that perhaps it wasn’t the smartest thing to share and admit when I’m wrong (or let it slide when I feel others are being a bit too sensitive).  But there is NO way that the art department mocked this up and thought “Yeah, this isn’t offensive- this looks great!” and then sent it to the publishers,  a whole other group of editorial veterans, who then reviewed it and said ” Let’s go to print!”  I mean, seriously??? Are the people running these huge magazines THAT heartless? And have you heard their “explanation” that because this image has been used before many times by the New York Times and other big media outlets that they feel their use of it is no different??? Yes, yes it has been seen a million times over, but they, above all others, should know that it’s about the CONTEXT in which the photo is used, not the quantity in which it has been seen.  I am no Mensa member and even I know that!

The front page of the Times is for news, the front page of Rolling Stone is for STARS.

End. Of. Story.

I absolutely love the response that various stores have given of choosing NOT to sell this issue. And the letter that our own mayor sent to Jan Wenner made me even more proud to call this city home.  No, we are not “hiding our heads in the sand” (thanks for that genius comment TMZ- but really, I can’t expect more from you), we are attempting to protect our own- those hurt and maimed by this horrific act- from seeing their torturer’s face when they go into CVS to fill a prescription, likely for their injuries sustained in the blast.  We are better than you, stronger than you and smarter than you, Rolling Stone.  And because of that, I predict your magazine will implode from it’s own inflated sense of self-righteousness.

Blogs are where it’s at anyways. :)