Sunday, March 24, 2013

An Unexpected and Kind Gesture

In the midst of some rather arduous circumstances happening in the last couple of months, I was feeling pretty down last week. Halfway through the week, on a particularly difficult day, these beautiful, red roses were delivered to my doorstep. When I answered the door, I was sure they were being dropped off for my next door neighbor. Completely taken aback, I asked the delivery man who they were for. In a thick Russian accent - and a huge smile across his face - he said: "Why, they are for you!"

After finding out a couple of weeks ago that an old client had passed away, I had sent a sympathy card to his family. His parents were extremely supportive, which was something that was quite rare when I worked in social services. I not only really liked them, I had a tremendous amount of admiration and respect for both of them.

I hadn't seen or worked with this client since I left my old job over a year ago. We had worked together for a few years, and he was a really sweet guy with a severe traumatic brain injury. He had a great sense of humor, and a lot of determination to live his life as normally as possible despite all the daily challenges he faced.

Along with the roses was a card from his parents thanking me for all the support and kindness I had given to their son. It made me cry. It's amazing to me that they would do something so generous and thoughtful when they are grieving such a huge loss. It is one of the kindest gestures I've gotten in a long time.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Rock It Like a Redhead

Being a redhead, I grew up always being told I couldn't wear red. It was always "stick with the greens, teals, and turquoises, but never red." Although I've come to really appreciate red, bought some fun red shoes, and painted a few pieces of furniture red in my house, I had still avoided wearing red clothing. It was obvious orange would never work on me, but I'd seen a few redheads wearing red, and it looked great on them.

Of course, I've ignored many of the other fashion rules my mother told me to stay clear of when I was growing up: I wear black a lot, I like shorter skirts, I like higher heels - even though I'm already quite tall - and I wear a lot of rings, bracelets, and big, silver hoop earrings. I've also come to appreciate the fact that my natural red hair is actually quite unique, and I still wear it long and probably always will.
But yesterday was a first. To my guy's delight, I actually bought my first red dress. It's a really chic, color-blocked dress with red through the center, black along the sides, and a flared shorter skirt at the bottom. Really cool, funky - and marked down over seventy-five percent (better yet).

As I came across a post on The Chic Sheet prior to buying the dress, I found the author addressed this issue quite well. And although I've come to be annoyed with the "Keep Calm and Carry On" that you see everywhere (even though I'm very English), I loved the variation on it she put up for redheads. As the writer states:
"Some redheads still may not be into the whole idea of wearing red, but those that do certainly wear it well. The moral of this little story is that there are no fashion rules anymore. All is fair game in this industry, including RED on REDS!" 
Although I'll probably always be a bigger fan of purple and black, sometimes it's nice to shake things up a bit. At least one cool and different dress is a start. Besides, most redheads tend to be a bit rebellious...especially once we're adults and realize that some old rules are just meant to be broken.

Monday, March 11, 2013

There is Such a Thing as Too Skinny!

Many years ago Nancy Reagan repeated a comment originally made by the late Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor: "You can never be too rich or too thin." Not only does that sound incredibly shallow, but it also isn't true. Money really doesn't buy happiness or a great life - it just makes some things a little easier. And, yes, we can be too skinny and unhealthy.

After the most recent Oscars, people went on and on about Seth MacFarlane's performance as host. Were some things inappropriate? Probably. Were some over the top? Probably. But, that's what you get with comedians. They insult everyone and everything - including themselves - and always push the envelope.

I'm a pretty strong feminist, but I personally thought the guy was funny. There were a couple of jokes that made me cringe, but in general, he was humorous and got the exact shock value he was going for. And if anyone has ever watched "Family Guy" or "Ted," the humor shouldn't be that much of a surprise. It's a little frat boy, a little vulgar, very immature, and quite often very inappropriate. It's interesting that people in Hollywood would be shocked that some of his jokes were sexist - especially in a town that spent several hours prior to the show analyzing every outfit the female stars wore on the red carpet, right down to the sequins on their dresses or on too much or too little displayed cleavage. In an industry that bases way too much on appearance, is this really a big surprise?

What was truly bothersome to me were the actresses themselves. With the exception of Jennifer Hudson, and a few others, most of them were so skinny they were gaunt looking. But, unfortunately, the rule in Hollywood - and fashion - seems to be the skinnier the better.

A couple days ago it was International Women's Day. I was pleasantly surprised to come across an article on that day entitled "Gender Geography: Where's the Best Place in the World to Be a Woman?" In the article, it mentioned that Israel has changed their rules on skinny models. According to the article in The Globe and Mail:
"Best place to buy your daughter a celebrity magazine: Israel. Last year, Israel banned the use of underweight models in local advertising, and passed a law requiring publications to disclose when models have been edited to appear thinner than they really are." 
It's one thing to be naturally thin or petite. It's quite another when you seem to be starving yourself, or you look years beyond your age due to such a lack of normal fat in your face. Or how about having plastic surgery in your twenties and thirties to the point that you don't even look like the same person? I guess you can never be too young either. Aren't these actresses actually holding themselves up to a sexist standard?

It's really about time that entertainers stood up to this expectation. The emphasis should be on talent, on being healthy, on being strong...not on being a Size 0 at any cost, even when you're actually very tall. One actress stated that after the awards she planned on pigging out by eating a baked potato with tomatoes. Seriously?

People have a right to their own opinion, and maybe some were outraged by MacFarlane. But, his jokes weren't just about women, his jokes were about everyone else too. Yet, no one ever seems outraged by the actresses who seem to get skinnier every year. They should be able to just be themselves.

Comedians are, by nature, inappropriate. Frankly, that's what's funny most of the time. Sometimes it can go too far, and it often does. But I find it much more disturbing that women weren't more bothered by the overly skinny celebrities literally sewn into their dresses. Actresses are famous, powerful, and rich women. They could have loud voices and actions on this issue. But, instead, what's complained about is a comedian who was just more vocal about it. I mean really, one is silly jokes. The other is actually quite serious.