Tattoo Barbie Freaks Everyone Out

Thought this was appropriate to share today since it sparked a lot of controversy among parents.



Beauty Myth

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf explores the issue of the ideal of a perfect beauty to which women are subjected and which women strive to achieve. Culture and society push certain images at women which makes women feel they have to look a certain way. Wolf argues that our culture’s images of beauty (found on television and in advertisements, women’s magazines, and pornography) are detrimental to women, as well as to the men who love them. She demonstrates that the concept of “beauty” is a weapon used to make women feel badly about themselves; after all, no one can live up to the ideal. Wolf agrees that beauty plays a legitimate role in our lives and in our attractions to one another. The problem, she says, is when beauty is defined as thinness, pertness, and youthfulness taken to extremes, extremes that are literally unattainable for healthy women. And I agree. Wolf exposes the unrealistic and impossible standards of mannequin female beauty as a destructive form of social control. She chronicles the history of the beauty myth and the ways it affects every woman’s home, health, and work. Many women suffer from eating disorders because they feel that they do not have a choice in meeting the culturally-programmed obsession with mannequin-like beauty.  Women have finally reached economic and sexual emancipation, only to be locked into a new prison; that of the standard of beauty, which is changeable to suit political and power purposes and has been perpetrated on us by the advertising industry and this society. And it has not happened only to younger women, but to all women. Many women are unhappy with their own bodies, can’t enjoy their sexuality because of that self consciousness with their bodies, and are always waiting ‘until I’m thin’ to feel connected with their own lives.

“But where women are trapped today, there is no door to slam. The contemporary ravages of the beauty backlash are destroying women physically and depleting us psychologically. If we are to free ourselves from the dead weight that has once again been made out of femaleness, it is not ballots or lobbyists or placards that women will need first; it is a new way to see.”

Until women wake up and take begin loving themselves as we are, we will never be really free. Women today have been locked into that cage of being everything to everybody, perfect wives, perfect mothers, perfect housewives, perfect worker bees who struggle only to hit the glass ceiling, perfect beauties, and sexual dynamos. And it’s never enough, because no real live woman can compete with the illusion that pornographic magazines and film present: air brushed, and prettified, enlarged here and made smaller there by computer and placed on a lifeless page or on celluloid where there is no personality or humanity to deal with, no wants and no needs and is no trouble to male fantasy.

Counterfeits, Knock-offs and Britto.

Out of the readings for this week, Bag Man by Larissa MacFarguhar stood out to me the most with the realities of counterfeit fashion and its sellers around the world. MacFarguhar narrates ‘Bag Man’ around Harley Lewin, a lawyer who protects trademarks. When a company has a counterfeiting problem, Harley tracks down the culprits and sues them. He had been flown into Atlanta to raid a house where imported counterfeit bags from China were being sold on the Internet. He was going to raid the house with two of his private investigators, and no matter how dastardly a ring Harley rounded up, mostly he ended up suing them in civil court. In Washington, he assembled a team to raid the house of a woman selling counterfeit dresses. The dress designer, Diane Von Furstenberg, was annoyed because every season her designs were showing up on eBay before they made it into the stores.

Which reminds me of a similar recent experience where Brazilian artist and sculptor Romero Britto sued around 200 local shops and wholesalers that were producing counterfeits of his products in Puerto Rico. Britto was looking to eliminate thousands of counterfeit items bearing his bright and colorful copyrighted designs from the Puerto Rico market through a federal civil lawsuit filed against local wholesalers and retailers for copyright and trademark infringement. In the complaint filed on August 31, the artist seeks millions in damages. The counterfeit products are sold at between $5 and $50, significantly less than what the original pieces go for.

I’ve actually had the sad opportunity to experience the “Britto mania” in Puerto Rico during the summer that I was there. Fortunately, I’ve never had my hands on a Britto handbag or item, since I never was a fan of his art, but all of a sudden I would see friends and family desperately trying to get their hands on anything that had this artist’s designs on them. Whether it was stickers, watches, shirts, cars, you name it – Britto was all over the place. So because of his own fame in the island, Britto actually now has no respect or a good reputation at that. The ubiquitous presence of the hard-to-miss design has been the butt of countless jokes, especially across social media websites. Facebook has a “Say no to Britto purses” group with more than 600 followers who constantly express their disdain toward the brand by posting comments and pictures of people carrying or wearing presumably fake items. Which is pretty remarkable to me because he really only is an artist that all of a sudden became a victim of his art being sold as knock offs and now it became such a big thing that he probably won’t be seen in a good light in Puerto Rico anymore. I, personally, because he was so huge don’t like his designs or anything to do with it. It also reminds me a lot of Louis Vuitton, where it has become one of the most replicated designer bags in the world, and because it’s been counterfeited for so many times, it’s lost integrity. Now, when you see someone with a LV bag, first thing that might cross your mind is the fact that it’s a fake and that everyone has the exact same replica. Which just makes me stop and think about how frustrating as an artist it must be to feel that your craft is being sold around the world unoriginally and illegally. At some point it must be satisfying to see that your brand is becoming so huge that everyone just wants to get a piece of it no matter if they have to get fake ones, but it’s also sacrificing the product that you’ve come to work hard for and built a company around only to see that it’s being sold as knock offs. Or in Diane Von Furstenberg’s case, her dresses were being showed before they were even out on the market, which can be very discouraging for you as an artist and offending as a person. It’s great to distribute art but there’s a line towards showing your appreciation for someone’s craft and another one is illegally reproducing it for a market for your own benefit.

Stephanie De Jesús

Desire: Aldo

The space of consumption I’ve selected is ALDO, a worldwide chain of shoe and accessory stores. I’ve always been a fan of Aldo stores, and believe they target a good audience because they sell fashionable quality shoes for an appropriate price. The store itself is also set up very decently, unlike other shoe stores I’ve been to where I just feel overwhelmed without knowing where to begin, what to get or they just fail at properly exhibiting their products because they’re all cluttered together. Aldo also has a good reputation, which is probably one of the reasons I keep going back, other than the associates being helpful and I always end up getthing things that I actually need. The kind of social interactions you see within this store is people comfortably looking at the products and associates being helpful in recommending what kind of accessories would go with what you just purchased. The people that shop at Aldo desire to wear nice yet budget-friendly stylish shoes. Aldo is known to balance both of those aspects really well, I believe. So it’s become a store that I know I get a good experience at and good purchases from, personally. I believe you can never have too many shoes, especially being in the city. You need quality shoes for the different seasons, and I believe Aldo achieves this in helping its clients getting the latest trends for a reasonable price and it keeps them coming back for more.

Stephanie De Jesús

Week 4: New York Fashion – Bill Cunningham

I decided to express my fascination for this man in terms of fashion in New York City because that’s all I kept thinking about while I was going through our assigned readings and I believed it was pretty revelant to show. For those who don’t know him, Bill Cunningham is a fashion photographer for The New York Times known for his candid and street photography. I learned about Bill thanks to a documentary film made about him, his bicycle, and his camera titled Bill Cunningham New York (which I strongly encourage everyone to watch) released on 2011 by filmmakers Richard Press and Philip Gefter of The Times.

Cunningham photographs people and the passing scene in the streets of Manhattan every day. Designer Oscar de la Renta has expressed, “More than anyone else in the city, he has the whole visual history of the last 40 or 50 years of New York. It’s the total scope of fashion in the life of New York.” For decades, Bill has been obsessively and inventively chronicling fashion trends and high-society charity soirees for the Times‘s Style section in his columns “On the Street” and “Evening Hours”. Though he has made a career out of unexpected photographs of celebrities, socialites, and fashion personalities, many in those categories value his company. The film includes notable designers and known editors such as Vogue editor Anna Wintour who expresses that “We all get dressed for Bill”. Full of uptown fixtures (such as Wintour, Tom Wolfe, Brooke Astor, David Rockefeller,—who all appear in the film), downtown eccentrics and everyone in between, Cunningham’s enormous body of work documents its time and place as well as individual flair.

My whole point with presenting Bill in this post though, is the fact that he just fascinates me because he doesn’t care about photographing celebrities or famous people necessarily. He just cares about the clothing, uprising styles, cultures and outfits that are out of the ordinary. This is something that can be seen in the film. He has no particular interest in becoming part of this ‘elite’ fashion lifestyle or knowing what ‘fashion society’ you are in. Which is something I’ve always rooted for. People often think the most fashionable are the ones we see on magazines, and we have this sort of mixed perception of it because we are made to believe these are the only ones that CAN be fashionable –  all because they are wearing huge and expensive designer brands. I also know about photographers that will only take pictures of known and famous people, which upsets me as an artist who still hopes for people that just care about their art. But he doesn’t care about designer names – if he sees you on the street with innovative style and have your own individual flair, that’s all he will notice and quickly photograph you and go about his day. Whether you’re Kate Moss or the girl that lives down the block. Because he is dedicated to showing the world NEW YORK and its FASHION, nothing else really. He is a humble man living in his small Carnegie Hall studio dedicated to showing the current style in the city. So hopefully, if you all get to watch this film, you’ll feel just as motivated as I was to look at New York Fashion in a different and inspiring light.


Stephanie De Jesús

Subculture: “Hipsters”

I decided to express my curiosity for this subculture I’ve yet to fully understand. As somebody that isn’t from New York or California, this one was new to me. There was always certain people I would meet at school or around the city that had a peculiar way of dressing – this being vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, thick rimmed glasses, messy shag cuts and asymmetric side-swept bangs. They’d have a distinct type of music and reject pretty much anything that is mainstream. They were all about supporting any uprising indie band and they’d usually have this laid-back, “effortless cool” attitude about them that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Then I discovered that these people had a name: they’re the rising subculture currently known as “Hipsters”. Hipsters are men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. The greatest concentrations of hipsters can be found living in the Williamsburg, Wicker Park, and Mission District neighborhoods of New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers. The urban bohemian look of a hipster is exemplified in Urban Outfitters and American Apparel store ads which cater towards the hipster demographic.

However, hipsters tend to be well educated and often have liberal arts degrees, or degrees that require certain creative analytical thinking abilities despite misconceptions based on their aesthetic tastes. I personally don’t mind having this type of subculture around, seeing as its going to be around us for quite a while. I have noticed, however, a lot of people trying to imitate this lifestyle. Few ones are actually able to pull it off, others just look pretty lame trying to do so. I’ve also noticed how they’re all about emphasizing their use of cigarettes, drugs, parties and ‘artistic’ photography. Being around them for as long as I have, I think I can already tell which ones are actually real “hipsters” and who are trying to exemplify this lifestyle. There are even websites and blogs that draw attention and express their opinions about it, some of these being:

Picture: from a friend’s album on Facebook. (Got permission for it. )

Stephanie De Jesús