Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Miley Cyrus Scandal

You didn't need to watch the VMAs last Sunday to hear Miley Cyrus scandalized the nation with a sexually-provocative dance -- the story was ubiquitous this week.  Every news organization covered it and dozens of articles were written feverishly debating whether her musical performance is a sign of The Decline of Civilization.

It's valuable to actually watch her performance before judging it.  You can see it here.

Personally, I'm surprised that people are surprised.  Performers who seek attention have been transgressing cultural boundaries for generations and using sex as a tool to attract attention is nothing new.  In my youth, Madonna became a star by outraging parents with overtly sexual dances, songs and outfits.  I don't understand how the new performance by Miley differs from what Madonna did three decades ago.

How do you feel about this story?  Is it Miley's past as a wholesome Disney child-star that upsets people who can't see her in an adult light?  Is it that we believe sexual display is inherently wrong or degrading to women?  What explains the social attention this got?

My favorite aspect of the national uproar is a satirical piece in The Onion which captures the cynicism of CNN in its reporting on the controversy.  You can read it here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Not-A-Man's Jacket

When I have the chance to wear women's clothing, I rarely pick pants or jackets.  The reason is obvious -- why would I wear the same drab clothes I have to wear as a man?  Dressing up is a treat for me and I want to savor the opportunity with feminine frippery.

There are, however, exceptions to every rule, including this one.  Browsing the racks of my favorite thrift-store, I spotted a jacket that spoke to me.  "Ally!  Over here!", it called.  I gamboled over and saw what the fuss was about.  Not only does this beautiful jacket have striking polka-dot design, it sports hot pink piping along the edges.  It may be a jacket but it could never be mistaken for a man's jacket.

The Not-A-Man's Jacket makes its debut here, with matching dress and peep-toe pumps.  Whatever you think, this is not something you'd see in a Men's Room.  Then again, what are you doing in a Men's Room??




Saturday, August 24, 2013

Carried Away With Color And Love

When people give me clothes and jewelry, it's more than just a gift.  They are giving me emotional support.  Compassion and concrete encouragement.  The depth of those gestures are profound and reach me at my core.  I can't express to you how grateful I am for such kindness.

There are people who read my blog who don't have blogs of their own.  I usually learn about them when they surface and say hi.  Jazmin is one such friend.  She announced her presence two years ago and, since then, we've been corresponding by e-mail and letters.  Jazmin is a sweet, lovely woman living in Boston.

Without warning, Jazmin just sent me a bag of goodies -- jewelry that's festive and bright.  The pieces were the impetus for today's outfit.  I want to honor the intent behind Jazmin's gift so I tried to create an ensemble full of affection, bursting with color and life.

The bracelet, necklace, rings and belt came from Jazmin.  The cute crocheted top is from my local boutique ($10) and my red bra thingie makes another appearance.  The skirt was a gift from a friend two years ago and the wildly-attractive flats are new ($15 at Nordstrom Rack).

I wanted this outfit to reflect my warm feelings toward my friends.  Can you see that?  I realize now, looking at the pictures, that this outfit has way too much color.  But sometimes our emotions trump aesthetics.  Sometimes how we feel matters more than how we look.  Sometimes we just want to express our love for friends and life and go wild.  This is one of those times for me.

Do emotions ever affect how you dress?



Friday, August 23, 2013

The Cost Of Living Poorly


How we age is affected greatly by how we live.  For example, people who smoke often look a decade older than their real age because of smoking's effect on their facial skin.  Living poorly takes an undeniable toll.

When I was growing up, all the girls were in love with David Cassidy, a teen heart-throb who sang on a popular TV show ("The Partridge Family").  Like most boy-idols, he was cute in almost a feminine way.

The picture above is from David's prime.  Unfortunately, David's been drinking heavily for the past thirty years and is now showing the effects of that.  He was just arrested, for the second time, for Driving While Intoxicated.  Here's his mugshot...


Do you remember David Cassidy?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hiding In The Closet

From the time Chely Wright was a little girl, she wanted to be a country music singer.  Growing up in a small town in Kansas, Chely clung to this dream as a way to escape her unhappy family life.

Chely worked hard at her goal.  She learned how to sing and groomed herself with conventional beauty techniques.  As a teenager, Chely moved to Nashville and labored in the country music business.  Eventually she caught a break.  In 1997, she broke through with a hit song ("Shut Up And Drive"), followed by a number one hit ("Single White Female").  It appeared Chely had achieved her dream.  Her eight albums sold over a million records.

But Chely was miserable.  Deeply, profoundly unhappy.  Despite reaching the top of the country music world, Chely wasn't satisfied with her life because she was living a lie. 

Chely Wright is gay.  She believed the country music world wouldn't accept the truth about her, so she hide her orientation for twenty years. 

Chely knew she was different when, in the third grade, she fell in love with her female schoolteacher.  Chely tried to suppress her attraction to women but to no avail.  It is part of who she is.  You can't pray that fact away.

At one point, while on top of the world, Chely put a gun in her mouth and contemplated suicide.  Years of hiding in the closet will do that to you.

I don't follow country music and had never heard of Chely until my close friend Jen alerted me to a new documentary about her ("Chely Wright: Wish Me Away").  I saw the film last night.  It is compelling and tells Chely's story from a close perspective.  Chely also wrote an autobiography ("Like Me").

In 2010, when she was 40 years old, Chely came out publicly.  She revealed to the world that she's gay.  She was the very first country music performer to acknowledge that.  Chely worried that her career in country music would be over because many of her eight million fans are deeply religious and conservative.  The country music establishment has never accepted a gay performer.

It appears her fear was warranted.  Since her announcement, Chely has not been invited to a single country music event.  Where previously she received multiple awards and recognition, she's now snubbed by that business.

Chely has become active in promoting gay rights and specifically trying to protect gay children from bullying and suicide.  It looks unlikely she will ever be able to return to country music.

Have you heard of Chely?  What do you think of her story?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Retro Vibe

I put together an outfit that I believe has a retro feel.  The clothes are not vintage, but their style recalls the Sixties.

The impetus for the ensemble was simply my attraction to its pieces.  I like the dress (bought Sunday for $10 at my local boutique).  I love the shoes which were a gift from a friend.  And I'm a big fan of colored tights.

Normal dresses look perilously short on me because of my height (6') and I've discovered that colored tights make those dresses acceptable.  In pantyhose or bare leg, short dresses look provocative -- which is not always the perception I want to create.

What do you think?  Do you see these items as having a retro look?





Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Day In The City










A Saturday In August

Are you having fun today?  I hope so.

I'm taking Robin into NYC today for our twelfth anniversary.  Among other treats, I'm going to show her the fabulous ice bar -- which will be soothing relief in 80-degree heat -- and visit the unusual High Line Park.  The High Line was built four years ago on an *elevated* railway track.  Fallen into disuse, the city converted the track into a park with plants, flowers, benches and a walkway.  I'm eager to explore it because you see the city from a high angle up in the air that is previously unknown to me.

I appreciate your feedback and suggestions on my last "outfit" post.  Granted, there was very little outfit in it!  I put a lot of effort into that post, much of which went unnoticed.  For example, I spent an hour doing makeup -- but I guess when you're not wearing any clothes, people don't look at your face. :)

I've since played with your favorite image in that collection and tried to enhance it, ironically by removing color from it.  Here's the result...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Building Courage

We all fear something.  For many, it's the judgment of others.  For some, it's being found unattractive or unintelligent.  For a few, there are phobias about spiders or germs.

It's important to be courageous in life; otherwise, we miss opportunities for joy.  The good news is, no matter where we start out, we can build more courage than we have.  Maybe you won't be jumping out of an airplane but you can be stronger tomorrow than you were today.

I've learned two important facts in life.  First, feeling fear is not a reason to refrain from action.  Fear is natural; it's nature's way of making us cautious about danger.  You can feel fear and *still* move forward.  Acknowledge fear and push past it.  Go ahead with your plan even while experiencing anxiety.  Once you do this, you learn it's possible to survive fear and you can engage in future acts of bravery.

Second, take small steps.  If you worry about public speaking, talk to just one or two friends, not a big crowd of strangers.  Work your way up to bigger challenges.  Psychologists call this "behavior modification" and it works.  We can achieve small victories which train us to have confidence to tackle bigger ones.

Are you fearful?  About what?  Have you found ways to overcome anxiety?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Art Of Femininity

I'm exploring new territory here.  Please view these pictures in that light. 

If you have any feedback, I'm eager to hear it.  The photos differ in subtle ways.  For example, some have shoes, some don't. 

These pictures represent the complex alchemy of my interests in femininity, photography, sociology and art.  What do you think?





Sunday, August 11, 2013

Vintage Valor

Prompted by my last post on a time-capsule, I've been thinking about the past.  And how fun it is to resurrect earlier fashion.  That contemplation led to today's outfit.

I own seamed stockings which create a wonderful vintage look.  I also have an adorable retro-style dress, given to me by my sweet friend Gracey.  (Thank you, Gracey!)  Together with the stockings, the green dress evokes the 1940's, which was an interesting period in fashion.

What do you think of this outfit?  Do you ever use vintage pieces or style in your outfits?




Saturday, August 10, 2013

Looking Back In Time

A hundred years ago, a "Ladies Aide Society" assembled and buried a time-capsule in Oklahoma.  To protect it, they poured 12 inches of concrete on it.

A hundred years passed and they decided to dig it up and open it.  Everything was intact.  What I find interesting about the story (here) is what the women chose to include in the capsule -- it's an indication of what they considered important back then:

"The chest was full of treasures. Among the finds: a newspaper from the day the capsule was buried; a dress; a telephone; a flag; a pen used by President William McKinley; a camera; and a pair of women's shoes that still had their shine. Perhaps most remarkable was a phonograph record featuring voices of citizens from the era."

Cool, huh?

If we were to assemble a time-capsule today to be opened in a hundred years, what would you put in it??  Cellphone?  Jeggings?  iPad?

Join me in building a virtual capsule online -- toss in anything you believe reflects our time.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Karen Black

Karen Black was an exotic beauty from my youth.  She acted in literally hundreds of movies over the past half-century.  She just passed away at 74 from cancer.

I was initially drawn to Karen by her face -- she had a very unusual face.  I was entranced by its oddity and couldn't stop looking at her.

Karen was nominated for an Oscar for her role in "Five Easy Pieces," a classic Jack Nicholson film (1970).  She later appeared in dozens and dozens of TV shows and movies.  My favorite film of hers was a little known Robert Altman movie called "Come Back To The Five And Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" (1982) starring Cher in her first good performance, Karen Black and Sandy Dennis.  In the film, Karen plays a gorgeous woman who returns to her rural hometown in a flashy sports car.  Everyone wonders who she is, especially since she greets everyone by name and seems to know who they are.  It's later revealed, to the shock of all, that she was a pudgy boy who they used to make fun of who changed her sex during her time away.  Thirty years ago, that was startling.

Have you ever heard of her?