What Jennifer Lawrence’s Nude Photos Teach Us About…Everything

I have problems on many levels with the way this whole so-called scandal over Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos has played out. (Even made a video on the subject.) The issue has resurfaced in her cover story in Vanity Fair, in which she calls this a sex crime and talks about her quest to bring the perpetrators to justice.

First of all, this needs to be said: I feel for her, I really do, because privacy breaches are always mortifying. I wouldn’t want it to happen to me, or to any of my loved ones, and I do not think she deserves it because she is a celebrity and in the public eye. I understand why she’s upset.

But, there is a but. Several, actually.

1. There is fundamental ignorance about what the Internet is. Jennifer Lawrence is devoting so much of her rage to the fact that her privacy was violated, but who’s fault is that, really? Any personal information that you have on a machine connected to the great many servers that make up the World Wide Web is ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB. Yes, companies that host your e-mail, your chats (or whatever service you’re using to send or store your photos online) build their products with the intent to keep private information private. But that does not change the fact that your information is physically in a server that is connected to the rest of the world.

Basically, that means that allowing your naked photos to be copied onto any of these servers is like standing naked in the middle of Times Square with a barrier around you. That barrier can be really strong, or just a thin curtain–but either way, YOUR ARE NAKED IN TIMES SQUARE. And there is always a chance someone can find a way to peak into your personal space within that barrier, or to knock that barrier down. And they can do so even if it’s not nice, fair or legal.

The person who knocks that barrier down is probably an asshole, and in the case of the hacked celebrity photos, should be prosecuted for all his/her/their crimes. But the world is full of assholes and criminals, and that doesn’t change the fact that YOU are the asshole who chose to stand naked in the middle of Times Square. Consider this, too: if some asshole knocks down your barrier, can you REALLY be mad at all the people walking by for looking at you?

IMO, if they haven’t added this very basic information to elementary text books already, they should. People need to understand what is actually happening to their information whenever they e-mail, Snapchat, Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, etc. to someone. People need to know both their legal rights AND the inherent risk of Internet leaks regardless of whether legal rights exist.

2. What is the big deal here, really? Some photos that were meant to be shown only to one person were shown to the whole world. That sucks. But it’s not like we caught her torturing baby seals or found out that she’s dating a married man. Why is it such big news that a girl sent some nude photos to her long-distance boyfriend?

News should be new, surprising, enlightening, or informative. Jennifer Lawrence’s nudity was none of those things, unless you’re a 13-year-old boy. She isn’t the first, and won’t be the last person to snap sexy photos of themselves. It’s 2014, people, everyone does it. If they say they don’t, they’re lying.

What this really shows is that, as a society, we really need to question our priorities. Why are we still acting like our prudish Puritan ancestors and going nuts over the sight of a naked body? Is it really shocking in this day and age that a young, beautiful single woman is sexually active? Why would a simple biological fact like that be shameful for anyone?

3. The information age may be the age of forced transparency. Before the Internet, it was a lot easier for anyone to keep separate lives–work vs. personal, this group of friends vs. that group of friends, spouse vs. side piece, you name it. But with more information about us accessible on the Web, it is harder to keep those different personas going simultaneously.

This translates to people having to be more genuine. You can’t easily get away with being two-faced anymore. Are you an icy, put-together professional by day and a binge-drinking frat boy by night? Are you a sincere, caring friend one minute and a gossip monger the next? It’s not that easy to pull that double life off anymore, which may be bad news to some people.

Personally, I’ve struggled with balancing work vs. personal, but at the end of the day I’ve had to adjust to a more transparent lifestyle and I think it’s made me a better person. Whenever I do something now, I think it through first–I may intend for something to be private, but if someone ever found out about it, could I stand by my own actions? If the answer is no, then I probably should rethink what I’m doing and whether it is worth it.

4. The good news for consumers is, forced transparency applies to brands, too. If its harder for regular people like you and I to misrepresent ourselves, it’s even harder for brands, including famous people.

Though it’s more personal, the fact is that celebrities are their own brands. And what the Internet has shown us over the past couple of decades is that everything we thought celebrities were was a constructed image, much like the image of Nike, Toyota or Fisher Price. A faster flow of information=more gossip=less control over branding, which results in things like the exposure of Tom Cruise being nothing like any of us thought he was for most of his career. And, thanks to social media, we now know how dumb some of our favorite celebrities are. And don’t get me started on the train wreck that is Justin Bieber. We have a front-row seat to the truth.

Jennifer Lawrence is no exception. Her brand value doesn’t come only from her role as the star of Hunger Games, it also comes from a persona her publicists and managers have built around her.

I’m not arguing that she asked to be in the public eye and therefore deserves to have her goodies out in the open. I’ve said it already and I’ll say it again–on a personal level, that just sucks. But in respect to the shame or worry she feels that her career will be affected because people have discovered that she is that kind of girl, she gets no sympathy from me. If she is THAT kind of girl, but wants her father and everyone else to believe she is an angelic virgin who would never do something like that (a.k.a. lie), that’s not really our problem.

Moral of the story for Jennifer Lawrence and everyone else: Be real, people. Go into everything you do with both eyes open, it’ll make for fewer unpleasant surprises. If you sincerely love who you are and feel you have a right to be doing what you’re doing, never feel like you need to apologize or be ashamed of it, even if the wrong person/people hear about it.

Three Transitional Fall Looks

Early fall is every fashionista’s favorite season for good reason. Which look would you wear?

Look 1

Ready for fall look

 

 

Look 2

Stripes on stripes Saturday early fall look

 

 

Look 3

Crop top transition

Is there racism in Brazil?

Is there racism in Brazil?

It depends on who you ask.

This girl has become one of the most recognizable faces in Brazil, and not for a good reason: she was caught on video yelling a racist slur at a black player of an opposing soccer team. (video is in Portuguese)

First, some background: Brazil shares some parallels with the U.S. but race relations have developed differently here. It imported the most of all slaves brought to the Americas in the transatlantic slave trade, and was the last country in the region to fully abolish slavery. (Most Brazilians don’t know that.)

It didn’t abolish slavery in the context of civil war we we did, and didn’t undergo the kind of violent segregation we went through in the U.S. It also didn’t have our civil rights movement, our landmark lawsuits, etc. But like in the U.S., slaves were freed with no resources, and so many became part of an underserved and marginalized lower class which still exists today, and is actually more exaggerated than in America–the upper classes of Brazil are almost exclusively white.

Meanwhile, Brazil has barely acknowledged its history with slavery and racial inequality until very recently. (They have not required black history to be part of education until several years ago.)

So if you’ve met a Brazilian, especially if the Brazilian you met was white and wealthy enough to travel outside of Brazil, you may have been told that Brazil is a country where the races mix and everyone is happy in a raceless-paradise. That’s a common myth among Brazil’s mostly white elite, and used to be widely propagated among black Brazilians as well, and it’s half true–while the U.S. and other countries tried to separate the races, the Brazilian government encouraged interracial marriage.

But it wasn’t always with happy intentions–Brazil’s miscegenation policies were developed with white supremacist principles. In 1911, they sent a representative to a race conference in London to present a paper on how “sexual selection” was going to eliminate the black race in Brazil and turn it into a superpower within 100 years. Yup. Most Brazilians don’t know that either. (Link is in English.)

So anyway, I’m writing today about this girl because she is a sign that things are changing. She is not the first, and probably won’t be the last, to shout “Monkey!” at a black soccer player. But what’s different is that now, people are increasingly calling racism out in Brazil. People are recognizing and speaking out about obvious inequalities in education, economics, politics, and media. And it’s about time.

This chick has become a national pariah, to the point where she felt compelled to go on TV and “apologize,” begging tearfully for forgiveness. You almost want to feel sorry for her watching it, until you listen to what she’s saying, which is that she is NOT a racist. She gives the classic “Sorry if I offended you apology” which, for those of us who follow race issues in America and who are anti-racism, is not an apology at all, it’s a cop out. Like, ‘Oh, did I hurt your feelings? That’s not my fault, so stop picking on me!’

Check out this exerpt from a Q&A she gave in which she says even more eye-rolling things:

Você se considera racista?
Não. Eu sei que não sou racista. Já fiquei com um cara negro. Eu estava levando muito em conta o fanatismo pelo Grêmio, só que nunca fui de ofender. A torcida do Grêmio não é racista, não é.
Translation:
Do you consider yourself a racist?
No. I know that I’m not racist. I’ve been with a black guy. I was taking into consideration the fanaticism for Gremio (her soccer team), I never meant to offend. The fans of Gremio are not racist, they’re not.

 

I have two things to say about this. First, for those of you who are new to this topic, this needs to be said: if someone ever calls you a racist, get over the fact that you’re being called a racist and consider what you actually think, said or did. You could be the nicest person in the world with 100 friends from all colors of the rainbow who never means to offend anyone, and guess what? NONE of that is relevant to the question of whether or not something you did was racist. You yelled a racial slur at someone, so you are a racist. So stop whining and start thinking about what are you going to do about it.

Second, as ridiculous as she sounds, and though I’m glad people are actually reacting to and speaking up about racism in this country, I really do not think that bashing her mercilessly and torching her house (oh yes, someone did that) are going to make Brazil a less racist place. People like this woman need to be educated–after this whole thing blew up, someone needed to sit her down and explain to her why what she said was not ok, even if she was just expressing passion for her team, and even if she’s “been with a black guy.” (still SMH at that comment.) Though I understand the anger, and feel anger myself, her thinking is not uncommon and I think the problem starts with elementary education and the tendency of some demographics of Brazilians to act like racism does not exist in their country, when it clearly does.

This whole incident is part of a learning process, though. And the first step is acknowledging that there is a problem.

Next Mission: Stylish Ski Gear. WWRD?

So if you saw my last favorites video, then you know I completed my mission to find the perfect camera bag (“perfect,” as in functionable and something so beautiful that I’d want it even if it weren’t a camera bag). It wasn’t easy … camera bags are one of those things 99% of people/companies have failed to make fashionable.

Well I might go skiing when I visit home for the holidays, and I’m on a new seemingly impossible quest to find cute snow sport clothes, specifically ski clothes. I ski and snowboard, but this time it will most likely be skiing and anyway, snowboarding gear is already pretty awesome looking. I think it’s because snowboarders like to wear colorful, loose-fitting clothes for movement and their boots are 1,000 times more comfortable and attractive.

Let me clarify here–I don’t want something that’s “cute for ski clothes.” I want something that’s just cute, period, and obviously waterproof and warm and all kinds of functional. If you don’t believe me that ski clothes are just plain ugly, look at this collection of photos of celebrities in ski gear. These are women who make you want to buy and wear basically anything that they put on, women who make you wonder if you can pull off pajamas and slippers in public because they look so damned cute when they do it … and yet they all look, at BEST, boring!

Just read the captions and look at how OK Magazine struggles so hard just to make it sound like these ugly, shapeless black, grey and red ski jackets and pants, plain old beanies and chunky fleece layers are actually flattering and attractive. I don’t blame them, there really is not a lot to work with here.

The only celebrity who’s managed to make skiing look fashionable has been Rihanna, as far as I can tell–and guys, if you didn’t worship her before, look at these photos and consider how she has pulled off what NO ONE ELSE ON THE PLANET has been able to pull off, which is make ugly-ass ski outfits look sexy! When you look this good, will anyone else on the slopes really judge you if you’re wearing bright lipstick and smokey eyes to go skiing? Probably not.

Too bad she’s basically decked out in Moncler from head to foot so each of these outfits would probably cost several months’ salary for me.

 

 

And here I thought two WWRD (What Would Rihanna Do?) blog posts were already maxing out the limit of my Riri fandom. Nope. (more photos here)

So here are some thoughts on these outfits:

1. She goes for COLOR. Conventional wisdom would have you believe that ski clothes = bulky and therefore black is the way to go, because it’s slimming right? Well black is what made Kim Kardashian, above (another one of my favorite celebrities with style), look drab and frumpy. And if she can’t pull it off, I probably can’t, either.

2. Note, also, that it’s not just that Rihanna uses color, but she goes for rich, luxurious looking jewel tone colors, not the bright primary colors that are most common on the slopes. I’ve been to a lot of ski shops in my life, and truth be told, this is not easy to find, especially if you’re on a regular person budget. But it is definitely something to strive for.

3. She makes it look even MORE lux by wearing the colors in contrasting textures–One of the Moncler pieces she’s wearing in the top, though you can’t tell, is a puffer with knit sleeves and pocket detailing. The darker-colored lining is also a nice touch, plus that beautiful fur bomber hat bring the whole outfit to life. She looks so fabulous that this is probably one of my favorite outfits I’ve ever seen her in, period–and that’s saying a lot. The second furry outfit is also BEAUTIFUL but completely impractical … I think it’s safe to say she didn’t get much actual skiing done.

4. She didn’t fight the bulk. If you notice in the OK Mag slideshow, a lot of the world’s most beautiful women seem to try their best to get the slimmest possible ski gear, probably because they have bodies they work hard to maintain and normally like to flaunt. But let’s face it — you can’t exactly go skiing in skin tight clothing. So what they end up with is yawn worthy body-hugging padding. Rihanna was basically like PHUQ it, and just layered it all on all over, EXCEPT in the waist area. The result is a sexy–albeit bulkier than usual–snow-friendly hourglass silhouette. and she doesn’t seem to have had to sacrifice any warmth at all. Well played.

5. I know I made fun of her makeup, but it is as much a part of the outfits as the gear. I don’t care what anyone says, the next time I take to the slopes I’m gonna do it, too.

So with these observations in mind, I am now on the hunt for hot ski gear (that will not cost me thousands of dollars). I will document my findings, of course, or if you guys have any suggestions please do send them my way. There’s still a few months to go and most of the latest lines are not yet out, so there’s plenty of time. :)

 

Making the perfect work tote

I really wanted a large, white saffiano leather bag earlier this year and my mom got me this one (the Newbury Lane Cadene  from Kate Spade for my birthday in June:

The sides of the bag look more winged in person than in the photos, so it’s not just a square, and I love the stiff feel of the saffiano leather. It has two zipped compartments on each of the front and back panels. I’ve been using this as a work bag, and it fits all my notebooks, papers, my tablet etc. perfectly.

My one gripe about the bag though has been the lining. This is an older Kate Spade model (still available from some sellers, like on Amazon and in the outlet if you’re interested) and it has this colorful striped lining:

I don’t know if it’s just a seasonable preference thing and I’m just over these colors, but I don’t think I would ever enjoy neon-pink, electric blue, apple red, and that bronze-ish color together, ever. What I usually love about Kate Spade is that their collections always feature beautiful, vibrant color combinations and they’re usually really on point with these things. But this lining is so jarring, even more so since the tote itself is a stark white color.

Basically the bag stands beautifully and luxuriously upright on my desk and I love just looking at it when I’m sitting down and it’s at eye-level. Then when I stand up these neon stripes peaking through nearly blind me.

I’ve done some research on my options and I think what I’ll do is have the lining replaced by a good cobbler, like this one, which I’ve never used but seems to be recommended including by Kate Spade itself. I’ve gone to cobblers before to repair leather damage on bags, but never to replace the lining on a bag that’s practically new.

If I can get a really beautiful dark–maybe black or navy blue–lining in this bag, I think it’ll really be worth it. It’s really a great bag, and if you see it in person you’d see it LOOKS like it was made to be paired with a solid, or very subtly printed, rich muted color … not candy stripes.

I’ll let you guys know what happens!

New Video (edited): Nudes and sex tapes

Jennifer Lawrence nudes? Iggy Azalea sex tapes? It’s almost a non-event these days to hear about this stuff because–and I think it’s safe to say this–pretty much everyone strips for the camera, which includes regular non-celebrities, too. Don’t lie!

If you’re going to join in, though, be sure to be smart about it; remember these five tips:

How to style: a white shirt + denim

A white shirt paired with denim is a combination that is always in, in some shape or form. Two ways to wear it:

1. Harden the look a little with black leather, and add some fun and color with iridescent details:

End of summer 3 - reflections

 

 

 

2. Let the classic combo peek through a light and flowy short-sleeve coat, and spice it up with statement accessories while keeping the palette neutral:

Fall camo sleeve peek