It was only a few years ago that Myspace reigned as THE social networking site. I joined sometime in my tenth grade year (2006), prompted by my friends’ coaxing. A year later, I reluctantly made a Facebook. I used the sites equally at first until the mass exodus from Myspace. Now I use Facebook exclusively.
Since Facebook took away most of its users, Myspace had to develop a new slant: “Myspace is the leading social entertainment destination powered by the passion of fans. Music, movies, celebs, TV, and games made social.”
Presenting themselves as a music and entertainment site helps them stay alive. In fact, Myspace still gets more traffic than Google+ and Tumblr. Even so, I still laugh every time I get a notification from Myspace, which is rarely. Sometimes I go and look at old pictures I uploaded or poems I posted. The nostalgia is fun, but other than that, Myspace serves virtually no use for me anymore.
Moral of the story: nothing lasts forever, not even on the internet. With that, I conclude my blog for the semester. Perhaps I’ll unsubscribe from some of these “Do Not Reply” e-mails. More likely, however, I’ll continue to delete them, shoving them further and further into the recesses of my inbox.
I confess. Every semester I try to go to the gym. I’ll last about a month until I start making excuses about being too busy, not enjoying it, etc. This year, I think my commitment will only stick because of stores like Urban Outfitters. I never shopped at the store until last semester, when I ventured in to see what all the hype was about. While I’m normally deterred by their high price tags (most dresses are in the $50-70 range), I do like their style. Example: this shirt.
While I know I’m supposed to be looking at the shirt (which is cute in it’s own right, albeit $40), I can’t help but look at her legs: legs the same size as her arms. Now, I don’t whether the girl has a abnormally high metabolism or if she has an eating disorder (as many as 40% of models have anorexia or bulimia, so I wouldn’t be surprised). My beef is with Urban Outfitters itself, who designs their clothes and markets them with these models.
I’m used to taking 5-10 UO garments into their dressing room, knowing I will only like one or two. The main problems are quality and size. UO is sells many things that are thin/see-though/poorly made with jacked up prices. They also tend to sell things directed at their size 0 models; in other words, these garments look unflattering on “normal” sized girls.
The idea for this post came about when I was venturing on UO’s Facebook page. Under virtually every picture is a steam of comments about how the models are too skinny. Occasionally, there will be comments that criticize people who are overweight, say how everyone can achieve this body, and how it’s not the model’s fault she is thin.
Truth: I know people who look this way and eat whatever they want. I also know people who will never be able to look this way unless they develop an eating disorder. There has to be some happy medium where models can be thin but still appeal to the masses. Right now, it seems that most people are focused on the models instead of the clothing.
Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8 percent less than the average woman. Today she weighs 23 percent less” and “most runway models meet the Body Mass Index physical criteria for Anorexia.” (Read more)
No, really. I don’t know how I would ever live without them. Therefore, it’s pretty amusing to receive e-mails from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) every once in a while, even if it’s only from their online catalog. I think this all happened a few Christmases ago, when I ordered my best friend a necklace off the website. As you can see, it’s cute and fairly un-PETA-like. Regardless, they still tacked my e-mail onto their listserv, and here I am.
I have to admit, even for a meat-eater, they have some amusing shirts. I try to just look at the products in their catalog and not their main website, where I can no doubt find a picture of a teary-eyed kitten or a dead rabbit. Now PETA is probably having a field day with the rehashing of the “pink slime” story (you probably saw this picture floating around the internet a month or so ago). I love cheeseburgers (as previously stated), but seriously, I don’t want to see that.
Of course in the PETA catalog e-mail I received, they had to include a blurb about “Canada’s war on seals” where “hundreds of thousands of baby seals are killed for their skin in the most horrific way imaginable. Who could possibly club a baby seal?” Ironically, the whole “don’t hurt/eat animals because they’re cute” spiel was the reason my younger sister stopped eating beef and pork, making homecoming dinners not-so-fun (you get used to the taste of turkey bacon after a while; turkey burgers, not so much).
PETA’s infamy no doubt comes from things like this. Listen to the last thing Olivia Munn says: the organization doesn’t monitor their spokespeople very well. Even though I don’t wear fur, I thought she was rather off-putting (and I’m sure she didn’t do much to convince the fur-wearers they should go faux). On the other hand, Alissa White-Gluz is one of the coolest speakers they have.
Still. It’ll take more than a cute shirt to convince me ★
I went for over 20 years without piercing my ears.
It wasn’t until the beginning of July, a few months after my birthday, that I walked up to the Piercing Pagoda and picked out a pair of stainless steel stars. (I didn’t know then that you shouldn’t pierce your ears at the mall). The piercing itself didn’t hurt, but I knew what I planned to do for the next six months, would. I wanted to stretch my ears.
The e-mail I received today from Body Art Forms, an online body jewelry company, was about a pair of earrings I had been eyeing: my size had been out of stock ever since I found the website, and I put my name on the wait list hoping they would reappear. The earrings (pictured below) remind me of Tim Burton, and they seem to be the same kind Lisbeth Salander (also pictured below) wears.
Obviously, you can’t just “put” these in your ears. Most people have their ears pierced at a 20g or 18g: this refers to the size of the hole and is typically measured by millimeters in other countries. The size of my holes now are 2g, or 6 mm, in diameter. I usually wear “tunnels,” which are circular stainless steel pieces with holes in the middle.
So how do you make your piercings bigger? Well, you have to stretch them. Stretching is popular in indigenous cultures, and has slowly started to become a trend in the USA. There are several methods to stretch your ears, according to Wikipedia, but I will just quickly go over my process of “tapering.” A taper is a conical rod made of various materials (stainless steel is the most hypoallergenic). I would recommend buying a kit that includes tapers and gauges, since buying them separately can cost you.
This nifty chart shows the time frame I worked with. I got my ears pierced at the beginning of July, and therefore had to wait four weeks before starting the process. Then I waited 2 weeks in between sizes. This is the fastestyou should go (most websites say to wait 4 or 5 weeks between sizes).
Essentially, you’ll be shoving the taper in your ears (check out YouTube if you’re really curious). It hurts a little, but it shouldn’t hurt too much. Example: when I attempted to move from 8g to 6g after 2 weeks, my ears would not budge, so I gave it another week. Same thing when I attempted to move from 4g to my goal of 2g. If you force it, you can end up with various problems, such as a blowout, which is when the piercing hole essentially turns inside out. In other words: not good.
I know there are various opinions flying around about gauges: my mom hates them, my friends love them, and my employers don’t know I have them (yay for long hair). It’s just another one of those little things I like that’s different and me.
Every two or three days, a website called Of a Kind releases a new “edition” or product. Typically clothing or jewelry, these items are unique: that is, they are “of a kind.”
After eyeing this (pictured above) for several days, I decided to take the plunge. I had been looking for a long gold necklace for several weeks, and this wonderfully geometric piece is 100 of a kind, meaning that only 100 of these necklaces exist. Cool, huh? The designer’s other editions came out in smaller batches (50, 60, and 17 of a kind), so they sold like hotcakes. Things on the website tend to go fast: I was lucky enough to snag this hat last winter before they disappeared.
We aim to support and promote on-the-rise fashion designers who get us excited by giving you access to their unique products and stories. We hope to offer something special and rare to others like us: People who want to know the story behind everything, people who are the first to hear about the next big artist/designer/musician/chef, people who shop as much for the experience as they do for the product.
Everything sold on the site comes with a background of the designers, and reading about how they hand make the products is pretty interesting. It’s about the only connection I have to the fashion world. Even so, some of the stuff on the website can get weird/pricey (but I guess that’s how fashion works, right?).
Typically when I title my blog posts, I copy and paste the e-mail Subject to which I am responding; however, when I look at the past twenty-so messages I’ve received from Pacsun (or Pacific Sunwear), they all read the same:
Our sale just got better! 30% OFF THE ENTIRE SITE. Today only.
Don’t wait to get 15% off reg and an extra 30% off all markdowns! Ends soon.
24 HOUR FLASH SALE: 40% off 40 products.
How boring. So I did some googling and found that Pacsun’s slogan is “wear what you like.” A simple idea really, but I can’t imagine anyone wearing things they didn’t like. I certainly don’t.
Now something I don’t like is this: oversized tee shirts. As you can see, Pacsun is littered with them. Seriously. If I wanted to wear a tent, then I would wear a tent. Don’t get me wrong, some girls can pull them off. But not me. Sadly, this fact has caused me to avoid Pacsun for many a month.
We started as a little surf shop in Newport Beach in 1980, and we’re now one of the top names in teen fashion with over 800 stores in 50 states and Puerto Rico. As we’ve grown, our focus has remained: stay true to our roots in youth culture and offer what’s next now.
The part about youth culture is certainly true, and I’ve watched Pacsun move from colored jeans to “jeggings” in the span of six months (now they have a combo, but at least they’re still made out of denim). Unfortunately, this is another reason I’ve reduced my shopping at the store: their pants just don’t fit “normal” people (by normal I mean size 8, which is still far below the average women’s size). So, ironically, I’ve following Pacsun’s slogan.
Regardless of the trends now, I’m sure I’ll be back later this year when dresses are in season. Who knows what Pacsun will be selling then. (Lady Gaga predicts mint will be “very big” in fashion this spring).
At some point, I started receiving Planned Parenthood newsletters, probably after I endorsed a petition asking Congress not to defund the organization. Half the time, these newsletters ask me for money, but today, it sent me a “news article” about recent happenings in Washington. This picture was included in the bulletin:
These are the witnesses at last Thursday’s opening panel of the House hearing on the birth control coverage requirement (starting August 2012, health insurance plans must cover all government-approved contraceptives for women, without co-payments or other charges.) Surprise: no women. Now, maybe it’s just me, but I worry about men making decisions about female birth control. Have they ever taken it before? I hope not.
There was one women invited to the panel: a law student from Georgetown University who was going to testify about the role birth control plays in women’s health. According to anti-birth control lawmakers, however, she was not “qualified” to discuss the issue, and therefore did not present. I can already smell the political agendas.
Resentments over the birth control coverage requirement resurfaced last month, after the Obama administration announced that religious-affiliated employers, except houses of worship, had to cover birth control free of charge. After outcry from these employers, Obama offered a compromise:
Church-affiliated universities, hospitals and charities will not have to provide contraceptive coverage to female employees, nor will they have to subsidize its cost. Women will still get guaranteed access to birth control without co-pays or premiums no matter where they work, but religious universities and hospitals that see contraception as violation of their faith can refuse to cover it. Insurance companies will then have to step in to do so.
Sounds reasonable. Yet, for some reason, the battle still rages. It doesn’t make sense for a woman to be denied access to contraceptions based solely on where she works. What if she doesn’t share the beliefs of her employer? I can see this argument is becoming less about religious freedom and more about religious control. The same thought process is already rampant in the gay marriage debate. (Can you form an argument against gay marriage without invoking religion? I didn’t think so.)
99% of all women use contraception at some point, but 50% of these women have difficultly making the copays. I pay around $130 a year (I take generics: brand names can run up to $600 a year, which I would not be able to afford). Why not give women the option of birth control? What is the worst that could happen: reduction in teenage pregnancy rates? Fewer instances of ovarian cancer? I could continue.
Maybe I should have mentioned at the beginning of this post that I’m a socially liberal agnostic, but would that have made a difference? This is about more than political agendas and religious views: this is about about health. This is about woman. But more importantly, this is about freedom of choice.
Every so often Ticketmaster sends me an e-mail with information about upcoming and current concerts/events. When I finally got around to cleaning my inbox today, I found the American Idiot The Musical was featured in their newsletter. I saw the show this past Thursday (February 3) in Raleigh, and, well, it rocked.
This is just a preview: I think the whole thing is better witnessed in person. The musical is an adaptation of Green Day‘s 2004 album by the same name; it focuses on three best friends–Johnny, Will, and Tunny–living in Jingletown, USA. Fed up with their mundane lives, Johnny convinces his friends to follow him into the city. As they are about to leave, Will’s girlfriend Heather reveals she is pregnant, and Will decides to stay behind.
Following each of the three friends, the musical comments on their tumultuous lives. Tunny is seduced by a television ad for the army and enlists; he is soon deployed to a war zone and loses his leg in the process. Back in Jingletown, Heather takes the baby and walks out on Will after his continued pot-and-alcohol-fueled apathy.
Meanwhile, Johnny conjures a rebellious version of himself called “St. Jimmy” and starts using heroin. Johnny finds that St. Jimmy has given him everything he’s ever wanted, and he spends the night with a girl called “Whatsername”. Even though he falls in love, Johnny leaves Whatsername, saying that he has chosen Jimmy and his drugs over her.
At the end of the play, the three friends meet up back in Jingletown, all having lost something. It’s not a particularly happy musical (my best friend described it as “rough”), but it’s definitely a must-see for any Green Day fan (even those who aren’t crazy about the American Idiot album).
As someone who saw Green Day on tour back in 2005, it was great to relive the album that made me fall in love with the band. And while the musical has left Raleigh, it will be back sooner-or-later.
(Alternative Images, Part 2: Mainstream Counterculture)
I wrote my first paper at Duke about Hot Topic. How did I manage this? Simple. My freshmen writing course was called “Writing About Real Things,” and for our first assignment, we had to analyze a store and the image being sold. For me, no one sells an image like Hot Topic.
(Yes, that girl is wearing a Justin Bieber hoodie.) From my essay:
“In other words, a person can hold a certain persona without believing the principles of that culture. One can buy a pre-packaged identity from Hot Topic, complete with everything but true convictions. It is not possible to buy these alternative ideals, since buying into something is a mainstream practice. Therefore, while customers hold mainstream values, they try to purchase a counterculture, cumulating in the inherent contradiction of Hot Topic.”
Truth be told, I think I was a little angry (teenage angst, anyone?). But at the same time, I was realizing that I, myself, was a contradiction. Did I really uphold these “alternative values?” What were these values anyway? More importantly, did I care? Once I answered these questions, I packed up most of my HT clothes.
I still have the purple hair, 2g gauges, and silver combat boots, but in the end, I’m just like any other Duke student: intelligent, motivated, dedicated. Do I get comments? Of course. Usually from well-meaning professors who think the way I dress is “cool” and “refreshing;” however, I’ve heard of some students referring to me as “goth” or “emo,” which makes me laugh. As the old phrase goes: labels are for soup cans, not people.
As promised last post, I have some thoughts about creating an alternative image, something companies like to package in studs and plaid paper. For example, Urban Decay‘s tagline is beauty with an edge: the edge being its vibrancy and “groundbreaking” color names.
Today, I received an e-mail from Hot Topic, a store that (I’m embarrassed to admit this now) helped me develop my identity in high school. We all had those stores; for me it was Limited Too in elementary school, Aeropostle in middle school, and then Hot Topic. Nowadays, it’s whatever. I’m not picky (mainly Urban Outfitters, Pacsun, Forever 21, and H&M: all of which will probably be subjects of later posts).
I picked this because it was the least atrocious clothing video on HT’s YouTube. Most of their channel contains interviews and features with bands, half of which I like, half of which… well. That’s part of the reason I stopped shopping there. Let’s hold up a second and go back to the beginning, after all, this is a two part post.
“It all started in 1988. A ton of teen retail accessory stores littered the malls, but there weren’t any cool, music-inspired accessory destinations for both guys and girls. Enter Hot Topic.”
And enter 14-year-old me. I was about to see Green Day (my favorite band at the time) in concert, the night before my first day of high school. Of course, I wanted a shirt to properly showcase my punk rock love, and there was only one store in the mall where I could find one. Thus, I was sucked into the black vortex that is Hot Topic.
In 2005, HT was a different animal: many people will tell you that. Back then, you couldn’t walk into a store without a barrage of Tripp Pants (pictured to the left), black-colored shirts from rock bands, and studs everywhere. It was the epitome of goth, emo, and every other alternative label; as such, my friends and I shopped there religiously. Then, a few years ago, HT sold its soul to the pop culture devil, as noted on their About page.
“As we expanded, we also discovered that customers were equally drawn to the underground cartoon, cult movie, and comic book scenes. It was a unique culture fans could call their own, so we brought the world of South Park, Care Bears, Superman, SpongeBob and tons of other pop icons right to them!”
Enter Twilight, rap music, and bright neons (pictured to the right). Tripp becomes nonexistent, now reduced to a small section of “online exclusive” items, many of which don’t even capture the original nature of the brand. Around that time, I entered Duke and made the transition into a muted version of my old style (while still retaining the purple hair). My changing tastes are complicated, however, and are best discussed in Part 2.
In the end, do I think Hot Topic sold out? Of course. They’re a business and businesses sell; the problem is, HT was supposed to sell a counterculture, something that should (and can never be) commercialized.