Serena Williams Hits Back At Those Pesky Things Men Say

Aug 6, 2016

Serena Williams is a legend. She's talented, hard working and highly accomplished.

Sadly it comes as no surprise that even a powerhouse like Williams gets those pesky unthinking comments from time to time ("you know, you should smile more" - ugh!) and happily she's decided to do something about it.

There are many wonderful men out there (I'm married to one of them) who are helping change the stereotype. But for all my ladies who've dealt with the catcalls and suffered through obnoxious unthinking insults hurled from behind the safety of a tv... as Serena says, this is for you.

Want more Serena? Cheer her on at the Rio Olympics!

Photo credit: By Edwin Martinez [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Dry/Clean Initiative - Old Dry Cleaning Finds New Life (With Help From Kate Middleton)

May 23, 2016

Have you ever left your clothing at the dry cleaners?

As it turns out, 15% of clothes brought to dry cleaners are never picked up. Now they can go to a good cause.

Dry/Clean is an initiative of the Action on Addiction in collaboration ad agency Leo Burnett London. The initiative takes clothing left at dry cleaners and donates it to people getting back on their feet after suffering from alcohol and/or drug addiction. The clothing is much-needed interview attire, allowing former addicts access to the types of jobs they might not otherwise be able to secure. The UK National Institute on Drug Abuse says that having a job can increase the chances of "long term recovery" by nearly 80%. That's pretty incredible.

The ad above tells the story of Debbie, a former addict working hard to break free of the vicious cycle of pain to drugs to alcohol to pain. In less than two minutes we learn how heartbreakingly difficult a life of addition can be, and how much difference a simple piece of clothing can make. As Debbie says, "I can walk into that room with my head held high and make sure I get that job."

As if this wasn't enough, HRH the Duchess of Cambridge (aka Kate Middleton) is a patron of Action on Addiction. At a recent visit to one of their programs, she said "I was reminded today how addictions lie at the heart of so many social issues and how substance misuse can play such destructive role in vulnerable people's lives."

This is the kind of fashion story we love to hear. Want to help the cause? Donate to Action on Addiction and make a real difference.

The Mysterious Case of Benjamin Ashton Cooper's Clothing Size

May 16, 2016

Benjamin Ashton Cooper is a size small. Sometimes he even wears a youth large to work. But about a week ago, Mr. Cooper discovered a superpower. He was able to to grow three sizes by putting on his girlfriend's shirt!

While helping his girlfriend clean out her closet, Benjamin Cooper noticed something odd. Much of her clothing was a size XL. Interestingly, Cooper's girlfriend is not an extra large person. So out of curiosity, Cooper had an impromptu fashion show and discovered he could rock that XL tank top. He took to Facebook to show off his new style.

Despite the #distractinglysexy photos, Cooper illustrates an important point. As a man who wears a size small, why is he fitting into a woman's XL? What is this mysterious phenomenon?

The only answer: Cooper is a descendant of the Grinch (after he got nice, obviously) and has inherited the ability to "grow three sizes that day."

(Or if you think this might be a deeper issue regarding women's sense of self, consider giving to or volunteering with Body Gossip - they help people "rock their own brand of gorgeous.")

Annie Leibovitz's "WOMEN: New Portraits" And The Un-Objectification of Women

Mar 26, 2016

Annie Leibovitz has an exceptional talent for highlighting truth and beauty, and that talent could not be more present than in her new exhibition WOMEN: New Portraits.

Annie_Leibovitz-photo credit Robert Scoble Wikimedia Commons

WOMEN: New Portraits is the next iteration of Leibovitz's iconic WOMEN series. This show gives Leibovitz the opportunity to express her own thoughts and opinions, rather than staying behind the journalistic wall of unbias. The exhibit includes:
  • Misty Copeland - you know her as the American Ballet Theater's first African American principal ballerina
  • Jane Goodall - anthropologist
  • Amy Schumer - comedian
  • Sheryl Sandberg - Facebook CEO
  • Gloria Steinem - author (and friend to Anna Kendrick)
  • Taylor Swift - singer
  • Malala - Nobel Laureate
  • Leibovitz's mother
And many more, including both the famous and the unsung. Leibovitz says, "In the new work, I don't want to separate one person from the rest. It's like they need the sisters around them to sorta tell the story."

Wait, rewind. What story?

This show is about women. Real women, not the objectified versions of ourselves we see on Carl's Jr. ads. As Liebovitz says, "We're not just the three or four or five clichés we see." The story in WOMEN: New Portraits is the uncliché - the representation of women who are shaping politics, entertainment, education, and business.

WOMEN: New Portraits is about women as we are, in all our diversity and strength. Is this a new perspective? Leibovitz seems to think so. She says, "There isn't enough imagery of women just as people, you know? And I think that's what was what was so surprising when the original work came out... I don't think we had a very clear idea what we looked like, and there was a lot of clichéd imagery of women."

The good news is that we're beginning to recognize and change this. The objectification is still there, but it's beginning to be a part of our national conversation.

Remember when Terry Crews (of Brooklyn Nine-Nine) came out about his porn addiction? That was amazing. He stated the problem with objectification perfectly, "People become objects, people become things to be used... You start to think that, you know, you're the man, and they're just, you know, whatever." When his wife told him she was leaving, Crews realized that the objectification had real-world consequences. He had the courage to change and to speak to others about it.

If you look, you'll see these changes creeping up in your daily media consumption. Like that tear-jerker #LikeAGirl video. Or the Pantene commercial that calls out how we use "like a boss" for men and "bossy" for women. The Dove Campaign for Real BeautyNike's #BetterForIt... we're starting to see a movement.

So why is WOMEN: New Portraits important? Because Leibovitz has removed the objectification, yes, but it's more than that. Because she's able to show us as people. The photographs aren't about who we're hoping to be. They're about who we are.

This exhibition is financed by UBS in a lovely example of a profit-driven business doing good. You can see pictures from the exhibit here. The show is free, you can visit through April 17th at Crissy Field at the Presidio in San Francisco.

Photo credit: Robert Scoble from Half Moon Bay, USA (Annie Leibovitz at her SF exhibition) [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

No More Fur for Armani

Mar 25, 2016

Great news for fashion! Armani has announced they will go fur free.

Armani No More Fur - Milan Fashion week 2013 photo credit Giorgio Montersino Flickr 9896933634

Thanks to new technology, the Italian fashion house sees no need to continue using real fur in their products. Here's the statement:

"I am pleased to announce that the Armani Group has made a firm commitment to abolish the use of animal fur in its collections. Technological progress made over the years allows us to have valid alternatives at our disposal that render the use of cruel practices unnecessary as regards animals. Pursuing the positive process undertaken long ago, my company is now taking a major step ahead, reflecting our attention to the critical issues of protecting and caring for the environment and animals.” - Giorgio Armani.

The announcement was made in collaboration with the Fur Free Alliance, a partnership of more than 40 animal protection organizations. In the announcement, their chairman stated, "this latest announcement is proof that compassion and innovation are the future of fashion."

Armani runway 2011 photo credit Payal Jaggi Flickr 5395009291

In case you're wondering, here's Armani's definition of fur:

"Fur means any animal skin or part thereof with hair or fur fibers attached thereto, either in its raw or processed state or the pelt of any animal killed for the animal’s fur. 'Animal' includes, but is not limited to mink, fox, rabbit, karakul lamb and raccoon dog

'Fur' shall not include 1) such skins as are, or are to be, converted into leather or which in processing have, or shall have, the hair, fleece, or fur fiber completely removed, 2) materials clipped, shorn, or combed from animals, fleece, sheepskin, shearling, 3) leather or hair attached to skin that is typically used [a]s leather e.g. cowhide with hair attached, 4) synthetic materials intended to look like fur.

NOTE: the fur free policy includes a ban on rabbit fur. The fur free policy doesn’t include fur products from certain types of animals that are understood to typically be a by-product of the meat trade, or another industry. However if the Group obtains information that the animals are being killed primarily for their fur (in general or in specific fur products) we will choose to avoid these products where possible. The animals covered by this section are:

• Sheep ('shearling', 'Mongolian lamb') NOTE: we will not sell the fur of newborn or fetal sheep ('broadtail', 'karakul', 'swakara', 'astrakhan', etc.)
• Cow ('calf hair')
• Horse ('pony skin')
• Goat
• Alpaca"

You can read the full announcement here.

Photo credits: Giorgio Montersino via Flickr, Payal Jaggi via Flickr.
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