Sunday, May 31, 2009

Research Party!

Today I'm doing research for my costume history project.  I chose a pretty ridiculously broad subject, this being the transition (19th-20th century) of Western women's dress from the extremely "feminine" corseted, gowns/skirts-only to the much less gender-specific trousers/tops, etc.

There is SO much information and I spent about an hour in the library photocopying books with reprints of old Sears catalogues from 1909 to 1969.  When you think about it, the change that happened in sixty years is really fascinating.  Anyway, what I find even more fun than looking at ads for store fashions are pictures of real people living their lives. is like a vortex of visual information.  Here are some of my favorite photos from my shorpy-viewing today.

I think if he were speaking he'd say, "You are NOT on my dance card, Miss.  PARDON ME."  Or maybe, "I said I was allergic to walnuts.  What do these look like to you??!!"  He's certainly striking.

And those punks today think they invented something NEW when they wear "girl jeans." (shake of the head)

Have I mentioned that I am drawn to pictures of women and their dogs?  Because apparently, I am.

Note: I'm sorry I haven't included Shorpy's information on these people.  I highly recommend looking around the site.  It's truly captivating.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Things that Men Should Wear More Often

According to a wise authority, aka yours truly.

Old fashioned sailor uniforms.  Meeeeeeooooowww.

Look at the lad on the right, with his slicked hair!!!  

If I saw a man dressed like this, I think I would inadvertently attack him.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Letter to Walt Disney, or Another Post on Female Body Image

Dear Mr. Disney, 
Please come back from the dead so that Disney can make another good movie again, without relying on Pixar or live action.  Disney hasn't made an animated film that wasn't computerized in Ages.  Now, they ("they" meaning the internet) tell me Disney has a new animated film called The Princess and the Frog.  It's cool that the company is trying to be ethnically diverse, but I'm a little confused.  I've watched the preview and the princess is African American, is wearing a slightly more provocative version of something Cinderella wears (in your version) and has a tiara.  I guess it's silly to notice or comment on these things, as the story is a children's fantasy, but I'm just not too intrigued by the looks of it.  It doesn't look original or funny, like some of the older Disney movies.  It just looks like a pale, shadowy echo of an era of Disney movies that has seemingly  moved to the cemetery. 

The Princess and the Frog

What I Really didn't like about the preview, and the thing that gets my goat to some extent is the way the princess looks in the movie.  In the movies that were made when you were still around, the women looked natural to some degree.  However, the films that came out around the time I was born and when I was a small child featured animated women who seemed to be modeled after Barbie dolls.  I make no exaggeration.  Their bulbous eyes, ten inch waists and large breasts make them absolutely absurd depictions of human beings.  The men might be comically muscular (ex: Gaston in Beauty and the Beast) or short and round (ex:Belle's father in Beauty and the Beast), but this isn't something seen in the hero of the tale.  These are supporting characters.

I think the best example of the preposterous representation of the female body can be observed in The Little Mermaid.  Pardon me for being crass, but Ariel sort of looks like a doll (please catch my drift as I'd rather not explain what sort of doll she looks like).  Women are sexualized in our culture and sometimes it's fun to play up sexuality to a degree, but I wish women didn't have to be shown an unreachable, unnatural pedestal of feminine beauty, even in children's films.

Ariel in The Little Mermaid

In the News: Emaciated mermaid devours sea horse friends after five-month long fast.

Mr. Disney, I remember Your movies.  I remember Snow White and Peter Pan.  Tinkerbell was sexy and had a Large bottom (I think she and I are distantly great great aunt was half-pixie). Snow White was an itsy bit cherubic, but she looked healthy and pretty. Please, please reconsider coming back to earth.  I don't expect you to wear a "This is what a feminist looks like" t-shirt or anything drastic.  I'd just love it if you got some funny, talented people to work for you, along with artists who draw based on real-live women and their real-life beauty.  I miss you.  Hope you're resting easy.


PS Are you really frozen somewhere or did they make that up?

PPS I'm truly sorry if the last question was out of line.  I was just curious, and I thought since I was writing the letter, I might as well ask.  Again, I'm sorry.  Have a nice day.

In the news: Snow White says a gooseberry pie now and then will not hurt your figure.

Sure, Tink's clothes have to be custom-tailored, but who wants to fit a mold, anyway?

Monday, May 25, 2009

I don't like the modeling world, but I kind of like this girl.

What I mean by not liking the modeling world is Simply that I dislike the fact that all the models have to be Amazonian women.  The average woman (last time I checked) is about 5'4".  Fashion shows today seem to be more  about art than practicality, and it seems most models are around 5'10''.  Now, trust me, I am Very into arty, irrational things.  You might say I am the very definition of arty, ridiculous nonsense, however, it's hard for me to look at models and celebrities and not compare.  Personally, I feel better about myself when I think I look "nice", and I admit there have been times in my not so distant past when I did silly things like search for the measurements and/or weight of anybody from Grace Kelly to Ingrid Bergman to Keira Knightley and so on and so on and so on.

Models are so skinny and giraffe-like, and I can't help wishing that the fashion world valued diversity in models.  I understand that my saying that is somewhat preposterous, since the reason they're the same size is so they can throw them down the catwalk efficiently, etc, etc, etc.  My most recent search?  The model, Lily Cole.  She's an English, 5'10"readheaded model with a round face.  I saw some photos and I really liked the fact that her body has curves.  Not all women are naturally curvy, of course, but it's so rare to see shape in a model.  The funny thing I found was that she and I have nearly the same weight and measurements...except I weigh more now that all I do is stress about school and bake chocolate cakes that I eat by myself.  Oh, and I'm really not trying to brag about this.  The girl is five or six inches taller than I am, therefore, whether or not I'm the officially "healthy" one between the two of us, next to her, I would look like a bloated dwarf woman.  Still, my point is: I like that she looks more human than a lot of the other models.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New movies I am actually really excited (or moderately excited) to see

I have a thoroughly ridiculous crush on Robert Downey Jr. He's a great actor and I've liked him since prepubescence when I saw him in the movie, Chaplin (he's fabulous in it, check your library/youtube/netflix/video store). Also, my mom and I loved watching him on Ally McBeal, when he was on for a couple seasons. The man has charisma, and probably if you at least saw Iron Man, you know what I'm talking about. Now, they tell me he's playing Sherlock Holmes?!!?!! Period piece mystery/adventure!!!! Old fashioned boxing!!! I AM SO IN.

Colin Firth in a movie that looks good?? Yay!!! I knew you'd rise again! Noel Coward!!! And Kristin Scott Thomas, who is one of my all-time favorites! My only gripe is that Jessica Beil makes me insanely jealous (as does any young actress who gets to glide around in these GORGEOUS little period films...le sigh...maybe I should lose weight and look perfect all the time and go hang out at a soda fountain like Grace Kelly or Lana Turner or whoever, and just sit there, and then I'll get discovered...hmm, where is the nearest soda fountain? 1963?? Damn).

Also the 1920s. Also gorgeous. Also Stephen Frears. And Rupert Friend!!! The adorable Englishman I've been telling people about since I saw him in Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont with Joan Plowright.

I also want to see Star Trek since everyone has been raving..and The Brothers Bloom.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'm saving my money for Paris, but.....

If I were covered in excess money, here are some things I might snatch from Etsy.

Oh Johnny, oh Johnny oh....

Speaking of silent film, I recently saw Benny and Joon (1993) for the FIRST time (I can't believe I spent so many years unaware of the awesomeness of this movie) and Johnny Depp is an amazing, quirky Buster Keaton/Charlie Chaplin reincarnation. If this person existed in real life, I too would fall in love with him.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gypsies, Vamps and Thieves*

I've been reading Our Hearts were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough. It was published in 1942 and basically contains the memoirs of the two friends' trip abroad after they had just graduated from Bryn Mawr in the 1920s. My great aunt recommended it to me ages and ages ago, and my copy actually came directly from her dusty bookshelf. Anyway, it's fun to read something that refers to so many cultural items of the past. So often I have no idea who or what is being mentioned. Skinner refers to Theda Bara at least three times in the first forty pages. The name did sound familiar and I guessed she was an actress. If you asked me to name silent film stars, though, only four come to mind right away: Louise Brooks, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Those are the ones we probably see the most of, today. Anyway, I love having my eyes opened to the fun, everyday pop culture world of the past and this book is sort of like reading a twenty year old girl's personal newspaper.

Here are some photos and a film clip of Theda Bara, one of the first vamps and sex symbols of silent film.

*I miss Cher.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Chasin' the Blues Away

How do I chase my blues away? I huddle in the dark, watching hours and hours of "Lost" episodes, cover bananas and apples in chocolate syrup, play the ukulele, get some sleep and proceed to wear my most femme fatale outfit and make-up so that I can spend an hour in the presence of humans, feeling better about things. Hey, at least I make an interesting picture, right? Oh, did I mention I also take pictures from the bathroom, doing silly poses in an attempt to channel Carole Lombard? Because apparently I do that, too.

Top: Banana Republic, thrifted, Buffalo Exchange
Skirt: Lushhouse, purchased at a shop in Melbourne

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Reading for Fun!

It was a regular old spring day at Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon.  I was in the Blue Room (also known as the literature section) aimlessly browsing the shelves when I saw the cover of a book that simply said, "Maaaaargaux!! Reeeead meeee!!!"  This book was The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy.  I love avocados and the title was quirky. There was an art photo of a naked woman on the cover and she didn't look seductive or provocative, she was simply lying stomach down, her head up, eyes staring into the camera, like a thinking human being.  When I read the back cover, I KNEW this book was for me.  I read it and realized just how right I was.  

 "The Dud Avocado follows the romantic and comedic adventures of a young American who heads overseas to conquer Paris in the late 1950s. Edith Wharton and Henry James wrote about the American girl abroad, but it was Elaine Dundy's Sally Jay Gorce who told us what she was really thinking. Charming, sexy, and hilarious, The Dud Avocado gained instant cult status when it was first published and it remains a timeless portrait of a woman hell-bent on living."