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Doing Good

SB Loves Nuns

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Words I never thought I’d say, being a former Catholic schoolgirl myself. There was Sister Dew Rag – lumbering around, sweating through the hellish throws of menopause, she carried a mini canvas tote bag whose sole function was to house the weary hankies she used to mop her face while her religion lessons about kindness and compassion fell on deaf and mildly disgusted ears.

There was JD Church. Her name was Sister Church (no joke) and she was the spitting image of John Denver. In retrospect, I wonder if he didn’t say to hell with this wild country-boy lifestyle, fake his death and take refuge in the powder-scented bosom of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. It would explain a lot.

I mustn’t forget Sister Leeps – who would pull her tiny head down into her pasty yet ample neck, licking her lips and dishing out pearls of wisdom such as if you can’t sleep, take your rings off. She made me clean windows in detention and then had the audacity to hover around at my elbows and take issue with the amount of paper towels I was using.

What am I saying? I LOVE nuns!

Perhaps it’s my, er, complicated history with nuns that makes me love this story about an Italian nun who basically runs a wedding dress shop out of her nunnery. A former seamstress, Sister Maria Laura is a cloistered Augustinian nun who started collecting donated wedding dresses to help women of meager means find their dream gowns. And it has turned into a THING. Many brides seeking to keep their costs down are making the pilgrimage to St. Rita monastery.

“If you have a dream and we can make it come true, we’ll do our best,” says Sister Maria Laura. Something about a nun taking such pleasure in helping girls find the perfect dress is so wistful, poignant and simply lovely.

Photo credit: Nadia Shira Cohen for the NYTimes

All Hail the Winter Bush

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With most of the country caught in the bony blue grips of a deep freeze, I think it’s high time we address the state of our nethers, and whether weather has any bearing at all on said nethers.

I would argue that a slightly more “au natural” state is perfectly ok during a time of year when our lady parts are more likely to be swathed in wool blankets by a fire than trying to sneak a peek at the sun in a daring paddle board yoga starfish pose.

Also, the New York Times posits that after so many years of chasing a “barren landscape” brought about by the introduction of the bikini in the 60′s and, frankly, porn more recently – “there’s something refreshingly retro, delightfully expressive and confidently grown-up in getting back to nature.”

Bravo, I say. Critical here, is to tiptoe the fine line between slothful disregard and a considered aesthetic choice. It makes all the difference in the world. Why not take it easy on ourselves for a few months? Space out those trips to the aesthetician and let those razors rest. Of course, a wee bit of pruning here and there might be in order, but why not say why not? to what the NYTimes brilliantly coins “the bombshell bush?”

Photo credit: Helmut Newton

Marvel Comics Introduces Muslim Girl Superhero

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To which I say, KAPOW! THWACK! and BRAVO!

The character of Kamala Kahn, a Muslim girl living in Jersey City, is so intriguing to me that I might just turn into one of those comic book geeks to follow her adventures. According to the NY Times, she struggles with a conservative brother, an overprotective mother and an exacting father. The series is “about the universal experience of all American teenagers feeling kind of isolated and finding what they are . . . through the lens of being Muslim-American.”

Cultural diversity, girl power, teen angst. What’s not to love?

Previously on SB: SB Tunes – GIRLS by Santigold

Lena Dunham Interviews Mindy Kaling

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The conversation was commissioned by a third SB love, Tavi Gevinson, for a print publication based on her website, Rookie. Rolling Stone released it online, and not surprisingly, it’s HILARIOUS.

We love these smart, wacky broads around here. They both have uber vivid interior lives and exceptional imaginations, not to mention the full on balls to be who they are and say what they want.

Enjoy.

Previously on SB: SB Loves Mindy Kaling

Honey Boo Boo Child at the "Sparkle and Shine" Pageant
Honey Boo Boo Child at the "Sparkle and Shine" Pageant

France Bans Child Beauty Pageants

The Senate in France voted to ban child beauty pageants for those under 16 on the grounds that they hypersexualize children.

Frankly, I’m surprised that child beauty pageants even exist in France. I’m imagining little girls trotting out in trim cardigans and pencil skirts – Hermes scarves and loose buns tied with equal hurried panache. A chic loafer perhaps?

Surely the French know nothing about how it’s really done. They must have zero clue about the spray tanning, the hair curling, the make-up, the faux teeth (those damn 6 years losing baby teeth? So unattractive), the bedazzled outfits, the thigh high boots and the booty-spanking dance routines. Surely they have no notion of what they are actually trying to ban.

Those French – Don’t they realize how much tender mother-daughter bonding they will be curtailing with this law? Don’t they understand that child beauty pageants are the fertile ground from which spring the most talented and sparkly flowers of our society? How are these children ever going to learn to apply false eyelashes if they don’t start at age 3?

And how about depriving your nation of the likes of Honey Boo Boo Child and moreover, her elegant maman.

If only the French had any clue.

 

On No, Miley. Just. No.

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There are few things on this good green earth more likely to cause the SB to lurch off her floaty raft and sprint, sputtering lake water and Rosé, to the nearest computer, than a performance like Cyrus’ at the VMAs.

This was actually physically painful for me to watch. My teeth hurt, my eyes hurt, my stomach hurt. It’s like someone handed her some notecards with the words: CLASSY, SUBTLE, TALENT and LADY printed on them and she opened her giant mouth and guffawed Y’all, Imma gonna do the OPPOSITE of all these here words at the VMA’s. I’m gonna show erryone Imma big girl now! before spitting in the corner, growling, rubbing the cards on her coochie and tossing them on her spit.

Sweet baby Jesus, it’s almost like she was raised by a man with a mullet.

Deep breaths. Since this blog is about casting sartorial lifelines as opposed to sticks and stones, however, I feel obligated to help this wayward, misguided girl. And also, I’m only human – as much as I hate to admit it, We Can’t Stop is a pretty good party jam. So here goes nothing.

Miley, honey, if you’re listening, please stop sticking your tongue out. It’s abnormally long and that’s seriously saying something considering the size of your mouth. Gene Simmons can pull it off. You can’t. It looks vulgar. In fact, maybe stop short of unhinging your jaw like a python when you want to open your mouth. Basically, tone down the mouth shenanigans.

I was among the few who applauded your foray into faux hawk-ville. And I was even fine with the peroxide blond. Somehow the shorter boyish hair works for you – you have nice cheek bones. But never put it into two little knots on the top of your head again. It makes you look like a hungry teddy bear. Oh, was that intentional? My bad. Maybe don’t dance with bears anymore.

Stop twerking. I know it’s your body and you can do what you want to, but twerking is for girls who can actually do it and do it well. You need speed, you need booty. Your too-slow skinny white girl twerking looks lascivious, unnatural and strained. And those poor people in your rear view mirror. I hope you had a proper wax.

Be aware of who’s around you. If Robin Thicke, the king of schmooove, looks vaguely uncomfortable and Drake is averting his eyes and Rihanna looks confused, maybe you’re doing it wrong.

And finally, if that foam finger was not your idea, then you need new people. ALL new people. Fire everyone you know and start fresh. If the foam finger was your idea, then I fear I may be too late. That was absurd and obscene and next time just ask yourself this simple question. Would Beyoncé simulate sex with a cheap sports souvenir? Oh my God.

That is all. It’s hotter than Hades where I live and I’ve broken a sweat trying to help you. I’m retreating to my floaty raft and hope that you’ll think long and hard about what I’ve said. I know you “can’t stop” and “won’t stop,” but honey, you SHOULD stop.

With concern,
SB

Previously on SB (and proof I’m no prude): Cover Up, Or Else
Previously on SB: Side Boob Do’s and Don’ts

Real Beauty

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Likely you’ve seen this by now, but the latest video which is part of Dove’s campaign focusing on “real beauty” is pretty powerful stuff. Apparently, the company’s research showed that only 4 percent of women consider themselves beautiful. That’s outrageous and sad – and I’m not being an overly generous pollyanna.

The problem is that women get caught in a vicious cycle. If we don’t believe we’re beautiful, we carry ourselves through the world with less confidence and that actually does impact the very things that make women beautiful: good posture, easy laughter, calm strength, breezy openness and contagious joy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we are WAY harder on ourselves than others are – and it doesn’t work in our favor.

Leave it to the French to come up with the term “jolie-laide” – which translates as beautiful-ugly, meaning a woman who is pretty, but not conventionally so. The people who invented soignée, effortless chic have figured out that beauty takes many forms, and perfection is far from paramount. Jolie laide.

Watch Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches here.

Clockwise and completely bad ass and beautiful from the top: Rossy De Palma, Barbara Streisand, Frida Kahlo, Patti Smith, Lena Dunham

Previously on SB: Legs Astride Arms Akimbo

Adidas: All In for My Girls

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Kudos to Adidas for launching this brilliant global girl-power campaign called all in for #mygirls. Adidas aims to give sporty girls all over the world a forum to cheer each other on and share their love of sports (and, of course, buy their shoes). Regardless, this is an example of how corporate profit can (and should) dovetail with social change.

A company who celebrates the pounding hearts, flicking ponytails, sweat, smiles, injuries, sacrifices and triumphs of girl athletes who “eat boyz for breakfast” is a company whose message I buy. And shoes too.

Enjoy and share it with a Spectacular Girl.

Previously on SB: SB Loves Healthy Bodies

SB Tunes: GIRLS by Santigold

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Y’all know I’ve got a lot of love for both Santigold and Lena Dunham’s cringe-y, brilliant Girls. So, of course I’m a fan of this song and video off of the Girls’ soundtrack for this season.

It’s refreshing to see females portrayed as fun, diverse and real – dancing, goofing and playing as opposed to posing, preening and pouting. Silly and joyous versus sexy and sad. We need to see more of this in our media culture, so girls can be girls – no matter what age.

And Santigold’s red fur hat? Want it.

SB Tunes: The Boss

brucespringsteen

As you know, we la la love men here at SB headquarters. Anything that reminds our sweet brothers to get themselves checked out and helps our guys stay healthy and strong, is a cause dear to our hearts.

So, in honor of Movember, I’ve decided to throw a little love at the boys for this month’s SB tunes.

To start us out, a manly man. A real man. A man more than a little likely to convince me to hop in and cruise down Thunder Road.

Bruuuuuuce.

Hookers Sponsor Bankrupt Greek Soccer Team

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If this isn’t a Hollywood movie waiting to happen, I don’t know what is. Two Greek brothels called Villa Erotica and Soula’s House of History are sponsoring the Voukefalas club team and in return, the soccer players wear the bordellos’ logos on their pink practice jerseys.

This is awesome. Madame Soula doesn’t need the advertising, she’s just doing it to save the team. “If we don’t help our athletes and scientists, where will we be?” she asks.

Can’t you just see it? The town’s beloved Voukefalas team has lost its funding and is on the brink of collapse. The citizens are in despair and the team crestfallen. Cut to the last home game, with many slow-mo close ups of handsome swarthy soccer players, looking morose and unshaven, but giving it their all. Pan to a bevy of fancy ladies cheering from the stands, clutching their hands to their heaving bosoms and wiping tears from their eyes.

Enter the saucy Soula – the madame with a heart of gold, a head for business and a yen for football. She puts aside her decades-old rivalry with the other big madame in town for the greater good and hatches a plan . . .

The rest, as they say, is history.

Cute and Cheap - Not Necessarily a Good Thing
Cute and Cheap - Not Necessarily a Good Thing

SB Mildy Tormented by: Tri-colored Zara Pump

I think this shoe is gorgeous. It’s bold and yet I can think of a million ways to wear it. The heel is high but not too high. It looks eminently wearable but I doubt I’ll indulge.

There’s the niggling issue of “fast fashion” being bad for labor, our environment and our closets. As much as I endorse mixing high and low and refusing to be a slave to high fashion labels, I am suspicious of trendy clothes that cost too little.

There is no free lunch, right? Clothes should not be disposable. Right?

If we know we need to pay more for sustainably raised beef and locally grown apples (and we DO), then why shouldn’t it be the same for clothes? Isn’t it better to invest in fewer clothes of better quality?

One would think. But then there’s that tiny issue of variety, of fun, of choice, of whim and whimsy. Must we be so earnest and serious about everything all the time? Oy.

And so these pretty shoes are a red, gold and black embodiment of that conundrum. Thoughts? Drop me a line.

They’re probably super uncomfortable anyway.

SB Loves A Peace Treaty

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Ethnic or ethnic-inspired garb can be hard to pull off. Maybe I’ve been scarred by the itchy, smelly Guatemalan poncho I bought at that Dead show years ago, but whenever I wear something too beaded or colorfully threaded, I feel like a batty, bespectacled, flat-footed Latin studies professor out for a wild night on the town which begins with a Zulu dance performance at the student center and concludes with a medium vanilla frozen yogurt . . . at the student center. You know what I mean.

Until now. A Peace Treaty is a beautifully imagined project started by Farah Malik, a Pakistani Muslim, and Dana Arbib, a Lybian Jew in 2008. In their words, “A Peace Treaty is an evolving collection aimed at creating ethically-produced, artisan level accessories and apparel for the luxury fashion marketplace . . . A Peace Treaty creates employment for skilled artisans working in places of socio-political strife, effectively supporting their technique and craft while elevating their products to the level of high design for an exclusive and international fashion audience.”

So if preserving ancient metal working and textile techniques in danger of becoming extinct, and providing above fair trade wages, and lifting up women living in difficult situations weren’t enough, they are also bringing us gorgeous, reasonably priced pieces. Their scarves are bold and chic, as is their jewelry. I picked up these beauties recently and I’m smitten. I love a pointy dangler. AND they have a cool blog. Can you spell girl crush? G. I.  R . . .

Kudos to you, Farah and Dana. Spectacular work, ladies.

R.I.P. Sally Ride

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First woman in space and hero to little girls everywhere, Sally Ride died yesterday at age 61. Spectacular because of her brains, her bravery, her passion for teaching and her sense of adventure and wonder, this is the kind of woman that we should be celebrating as a society.

Dudes! She willingly let herself get shot into outer space. OUTER SPACE! It makes my heart pound just thinking about it.

In addition to being an astronaut and a physics professor at UC-San Diego, she founded Sally Ride Science, a company dedicated to motivating girls to pursue learning and careers in math, science and technology.

Read up on her staggering accomplishments and for a taste of what that Challenger flight in 1983 meant to her, in her own words, check this out.

Photo credit: National Archives

Public Service Campaign re: Side Boob

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Summer is heating up and it’s high time we discuss side boob. There is A LOT of misinformation and confusion regarding side boob and before we delve into the intricacies of whether, how and why we need to discuss the what.

What you see above is NOT side boob. That is cleavage. Side boob only refers to the area on the (out)side of the boob. Not the inside. The internet is wrong. Do not listen to it. Listen to me.

Neither is side boob what you see below. That is simply posing topless, turning sideways and halfway covering/smushing the breast. I do not want to google side boob and see this. And also, when did Jennifer Anniston get those cans?

Class, I think we’ve made some real progress today and I’m exhausted. I’m going to put my feet up and rest my eyes. Tomorrow we press on.

SB Loves: Kissing Footballers

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I suppose now I understand why guys enjoy watching girls kiss as they do. This anti-homophobia in soccer campaign by German gay advocacy group, Maneo, hits all the right notes for me. Mmm. I can’t help but wonder if there might not be room for one small SB to slither her way in there.

What? It could happen.

SB Loves: Healthy Bodies

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Vogue editor and Spectacular Bitch, Anna Wintour, used her June letter from the editor to celebrate the fact that 18 other International Vogue editors have co-signed a letter that furthers the goals established by the CFDA in its 2007 Health Initiative, which were meant to turn the industry’s tide toward more healthy and realistic portrayals of beauty.

I think it’s a lovely sentiment, but query whether they’re making much progress as Wintour writes: “At Vogue we’ve just finished a commemorative book that will come out later this year to celebrate our 120th anniversary, and I was startled to see how many of the wonderful models we’ve worked with over the years—the super era included—would be considered far too big by today’s standards.”

The irony of rising obesity and rising incidence of eating disorders is a symptom of just how sick our cultural relationship to food has become. How can we be so obsessed and still be so fat? Or how can women look so great, but feel so shitty? Or how can young girls be trying to shrink when their bodies are supposed to grow?

It’s good that the fashion folks have acknowledged this issue, but we can hardly rely on an industry based on outward appearances to be the cure.

To my mind, being a Spectacular Bitch comes from the inside and simply manifests on the outside. It is about mojo. Swagger. Confidence. But that comes from feeling happy and whole. If I were the queen, I would decree a diet of books and sports for growing Spectacular Girls, because it’s about what we think and do, not about how we look.

Photo credit: Annie Leibovitz for Vogue 2009

SB Loves Bob Marley

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I do. His music feels as good as a cold beer, sun on bare shoulders and dancing in the sand. Slow and easy, now.

This documentary, by Kevin MacDonald, to be released later this month looks dynamite. And who doesn’t want to look at that face for an hour and a half.

Stir it up, little darling,
stir it up.

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Message for the MPD of the District of Columbia

Eeek! George Clooney was arrested outside of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington for protesting Sudan’s blockage of food and aid to its starving citizenry.

Here’s a message for the D.C. Police from the SB:

1. Watch the face!

2. What’s with those cheap plastic cable ties? Would it have killed you to use a proper pair of handcuffs on George?

Photo credit: Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

dessa

Dessa Lays it Down

Ever wonder what female rappers think about all the” bitches and hos” languishing on the hoods of cars and behind the VIP ropes of a hip hop song?

Minneapolis-based essayist, rapper, and member and CEO of Doomtree, Dessa, writes a smart, incisive op. ed. piece that not only challenges the role of misogyny in rap music, but the presumption that you can’t be a real fan, without, at least, a tacit acceptance of the “rough talk.”

Poetic and fierce, as is her way, she lays it down: If your conscience wouldn’t let you say it, don’t buy it. Leave your wallet in your pocket and keep your money off a mic you wouldn’t put your mouth to.

photo credit: Kai Benson

Fabrizio Constantini for The NYTIMES
Fabrizio Constantini for The NYTIMES

Helping Motown’s Homeless

Here’s a little something from The New York Times to warm your cockles.

Fashion and design students in Detroit are using their talents and energy to create products that will help the swelling homeless population by both keeping them warm and giving them jobs.

Veronica Scott, a student from the College of Creative Studies, designed a brilliant parka that turns into a sleeping bag. She now has a factory in an abandoned warehouse in Detroit and industrial sewing machines thanks to Deaborn-based, work-clothing manufacturer Carhartt, Inc.

Others are making shoes out of old tires and survival bags that can be turned into waterproof boots. I’m so impressed.

And they say fashion-types are craven . . .