Category Archives: Fashion

New Dove campaign flashes attention on camera shy women

As someone who takes candid pictures for a living, it is amazing to see the amount of people who are camera shy in this world. The majority who spy me with my long lens or decline my request to be photographed and give their name are women.

I find this very unappealing. I understand if you don’t want to open you heart and life up to me so I can write it all down and display it to the community on the front page of the town’s local paper.

But what’s a picture?

What’s a picture of you and your child having fun at the Strawberry Festival?

What’s a picture of you and your friends cheering at a football game?

What’s a picture of you at a socialite event in your formal best?

It really makes me sad. Sure, us women don’t always look dolled up. But just because we look natural, organic, doesn’t mean we should live in shame. Don’t ever be ashamed of your appearance.

Pictures, videos- they capture a moment in time. They’re immortal. And you are immortal in that space.

Dove’s newest campaign seeks to point that out. Sure the video is cute and playful. But it pinpoints a dark truth: When did you stop thinking you were beautiful?

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PHOTO GALLERY: History of the female body through art, fashion and life

The Venus of Willendorf is a 4.3-inch high statuette of a female figure estimated to have been made between 24,000 and 22,000 BCE. With a bountiful breasts and a large stomach, the figure is meant to show fertility. Her head is covered by a headdress or traditional hair style.

The ancestry of the female nude is distinct from the male, an fantastic article from the Met said. Where the latter originates in the perfect human athlete, the former embodies the divinity of procreation. Naked female figures are shown in very early prehistoric art, and in historical times, similar images represent such fertility deities as the Near Eastern Ishtar. The Greek goddess Aphrodite belongs to this family, and she too was imagined as life-giving, proud, and seductive. For many centuries, the Greeks preferred to see her clothed, unlike her Near Eastern counterparts, but in the mid-fourth century B.C., the sculptor Praxiteles made a naked Aphrodite, called the Knidian, which established a new tradition for the female nude. Lacking the bulbous and exaggerated forms of Near Eastern fertility figures, the Knidian Aphrodite, like Greek male athletic statues, had idealized proportions based on mathematical ratios. In addition, her pose, with head turned to the side and one hand covering the body, seemed to present the goddess surprised in her bath and thus fleshed the nude with narrative and erotic possibilities. The position of the goddess’ hands may be meant to show modesty or desire to shield the viewer from too full a view of her godhead. Although the Knidian statue is not preserved, its impact survives in the numerous replicas and variants of it commissioned in the Hellenistic and Roman eras. Such images of Venus, the Latin name of Aphrodite, adorned houses, bath buildings, and tombs as well as temples and outdoor sanctuaries.

The Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife, dated 1434 by the Early Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck,  It is considered one of the more original and complex paintings in Western art because of the iconography. One of the icons is the way she is dressed. She is not actually pregnant, but the clothing of the time and art was made to make women appear more fertile and robust.

The Birth of Venus is a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli. Botticelli was commissioned to paint the work by the Medici family of Florence. Venus is characterized by her slim figure and perfect “s-curve” stature which showed correct muscle contrapposto. In contrast, the women next to her was robust and possibly pregnant-looking.

Sir Peter Paul Rubens was a prolific artist. His commissioned works were mostly religious subjects, “history” paintings, which included mythological subjects, and hunt scenes. But unlike what the Greek and Roman athletic depictions might be, Rubens  painted The Three Graces, 1635, in his larger than life style. This is where the term “rubenesque” figures comes from.

An Etsy user is selling a full length cabinet photograph portrait of a Victorian era woman standing rather incongruously next to a fake boulder with a woodland background. The lady is wearing a typical dark dress ensemble from the 1880’s: corseted jacket with brooch at the throat, pleated underskirt and probably a modified bustle. The corset is only a hint at what the expectations of the female body were at the time.

Dropped waists and baggy clothing were meant to hang on the 1920s flapper like clothing on a hanger.

A stark contrast from the 1920s, a more voluptuous figure emerged. But their waists were still meant to me smaller. In some models, waist training was used to synch the waist to unnatural levels. The hips and the bust still remained full.

A resurgence of the 1920s was made when model Twiggy came on the scene. Since then, models have upheld the skinny expectation.

Like Twiggy, models like Kate Moss continue to posses the “heroin-chic” ideal. Although Moss is only 5’7, other industry models are much taller at the same weight. In essence, they are walking clothes hangers.

Companies like H&M, who have recently recruited Beyonce as a model, are starting to make larger clothing and even larger mannequins. But despite the plus size revolution, the industry standard hasn’t changed.

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“Fat Barbie” making reappearance on Pinterest

It’s been 15 years since the rubenesque Ruby made her debut in The Body Shop’s ad campaign directed at teaching women to appreciate their bodies.

Since then rumors have swirled about how Barbie toy maker Matel sent a cease and desist letter to TBS, claiming that Ruby’s plastic body offended Barbie and threatened her sales. Whether or not Matel took TBS to court or even sent the letter has not been investigated into thoroughly.tumblr_m1xo43UZ5l1r7xas6o1_500

However, the image of Ruby has been circulating around Pinterest as of late.

The battle of the bods isn’t a recent phenomenon. It seems that the ideal shape for a woman has fluctuated since the beginning of time.

From the constraining Victorian corset to the skeletal posture of model “Twiggy,” the pressures to fit a mold have always been present. But as we all know, women come in many shapes and sizes.

So where do these pressures come from? A male dominated society that is teaching women they need to be something they aren’t in order to sell products to women they don’t need?

Or is there a legitimate health concern on the horizon- a rising rate of obesity?

I embrace women of every size, but even to me, Ruby seems to be labeled obese, unhealthy.

However, the idea to teach women to be self confident trumps all. In order to be healthy, one must be mentally sound. If she is happy with more meat, then I am happy for her.

What do you think? Are campaign ads like TBS teaching women it’s OK to have unhealthy habits, or is it teaching women self confidence?

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Abercrombie’s plus-sized risk: Clothes not for large people

These shoppers have the right look. (October 24, 2012 - Source: Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images Europe)

These shoppers have the right look.
(October 24, 2012 – Source: Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images Europe)

Abercrombie brings another definition to who the “cool kids” are. In 2004, the company was sued for giving positions to white applicants versus minorities. Now, the “lifestyle concept” shop is at it again, this time attacking weight.

According to business expert Robin Lewis, co-author of The New Rules of Retail, CEO Mike Jeffries “doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people.”

This comes as no shock. The retailer is widely known for its exclusivity, toting “casual luxury” as a wearable way of life.

Jeffries told Salon in a 2006 interview, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t carry women’s sizes over large. But for men, they do stock XL and XLL  (to appeal to the “cool jocks” perhaps).

With scantily clad employees and naked models with bods of gods at the entrance of metropolitan stores, there’s no doubt A & F makes a certain statement.

In the Salon interview Jeffries goes on to explain “that’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”

A & F targets the all-American girl-next-door or prom king. Targeting teenagers with their brand, is A & F falling behind in the times? In the past 30 years, obesity in adolescence has tripled. One-third of adolescence and children are obese.

Their prime target market isn’t far behind the older cliental. 37.5 percent of adults are obese with  25.1 percent of white adult Americans being obese.

So is it a smart branding decision? Or is A & F alientating a large chunk of his customer base? After all, a sizable 67 percent of the apparel-purchasing population fit the “plus-size” label.

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Bridezilla; How far will you go to fit in your dress?

Brides-to-be often follow this old wedding custom:

Something old, something new
Something borrowed, something blue
And a silver sixpence in her shoe.

Nowhere in that rhyme was there a mention of rapid weight loss. But brides tend to buy dresses too small to motivate them to lose weight (another custom I don’t understand). With the stress of planning a wedding, because it really is stressful to spend your parents’ and fiancée’s money for a giant party glorifying yourself, brides often don’t shed the pounds to fit into their beautiful ball gowns.

A 2007 Cornell University study by Lori Neighbors and Jeffery Sobal found that 70 percent of 272 engaged women said they wanted to lose weight, typically 20 pounds. Crash diets, liquid diets and just not eating for 72 hours before your big day have all been tactics deployed to help the brides zip up. But now the K-E Diet is starting to take off in the U.S.

Think it’s your typical diet? Think again.

The diet involves having a nasogastric tube, feeding tube, inserted through the nose and down into the esophagus for up to 10 days. A slow drip of protein and fat mixed with water, totaling 800 calories per day with no carbohydrates is your only subsidence. This solution is put in a bag and allows you to carry it around in your purse. For those undergoing the diet, no hospitalization is needed. The diet is said to leave you feeling full.

Invented by Gianfranco Cappello of the La Sapienza Hospital at the University of Rome, the diet works in cycles to control hunger. Despite its method of starvation, the K-E Diet does not result in the loss of muscle.

Some still think it is a dangerous technique.”If you lose the weight too quickly your mind is not going to be able to catch up with a newer, skinnier you,” psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall of Beverly Hills, Calif. said in a yahoo article.

Is this $1,500 diet too extreme or will it become just another common wedding tradition added to the budget?

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When makeup and burgers collide

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Reebok’s offensive ad and others like it

It never ceases to amaze me how many terrible advertisements are out there.

You would think that out of the loads of writers, creative directors, CEOs that are in the chain of creating a terrible ad, at least one of them would stop and say, hey this might not be such a good idea afterall.

The  latest in advertising debacles is Reebok. They printed an ad in Germany with the copy, “Cheat on your girlfriend, not your workout.” Last time I checked, cheating on anything isn’t noble, nor a positive message to athletes. And once again, another ad is derogatory towards women.

Another ad that is equally insensitive to women and really irks me is the Dr. Pepper Ten. Their slogan, “It’s not for women,” completely alienates half their potential buyers, if not more since many mothers do the grocery shopping. I just don’t get it. Who thought it was a good idea?

And since I am on the topic of women and advertisements, there has also been an increase in the number of ads, especially in the fashion world, using domestic violence as an edgy theme. I wrote a whole article about the topic. Many of the ads depict women with made up bruises on their eyes. Once again, who thought this was a good idea?

Photo of Glee's Heather Morris by Tyler Shields

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