For Japan With Love

Tomorrow many bloggers worldwide are taking part in a day of silence as part of For Japan With Love. Please take this time to consider donating to help out those recovering from the recent natural disasters in Japan. You can visit the The Huffington Post for various organizations accepting donations.

I, for one, am worried about what will happen next. My fiancé’s brother, his wife and her family live in Tokyo and they are being told to stay inside due to radiation from the nuclear power plant in Sendai. It’s hard for them to find news about what’s going on and they have to find over via e-mail from family in the States. Food is running out and they may have to fly to the United States.

I don’t know what to do other than to give.

I Am Not What I Wear

In a consumer driven society, many come to believe that what they buy represents them. So, does my fashion represent my feminist beliefs?

Before we answer, this post is part of a project started by a group of Feminist Fashion Bloggers focused on starting discussion that infuses feminist beliefs into fashion and beauty blogs.

To answer the the question: The short answer is no. Come to think of it the long answer is no, too.

I have no bold statement on why what I wear is a reflection of my beliefs. I wear what I think looks good on me. My wardrobe represents little else.

The fashion industry is certainly representative of how people view women. But, when I am standing in front of the closet getting reading in the morning, my first thought is never, “What represents my beliefs in social justice and equality today?”

Who I am, what I believe and how I choose to live my life has everything to do with my everyday actions rather than what I wear. Reflecting my beliefs through clothing is a consumer-driven lie that whispers, “We are what we buy.” I respectfully disagree.

Michelle Obama in Converse Sneakers

Michelle Obama in Converse Sneakers

While flipping through Kate Betts’ new book Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style, I stopped unexpectedly on a photo of The First Lady wearing a pair of simple Converse sneakers, walking her dog and listening to an iPod. Something so everyday about it moved me. Into buying shoes.

I’m not a sneaker person outside of the gym. I owned a pair of knock-off Keds, wore them into the ground and left them un-replaced after their inevitable burial. The time for a new pair of classic sneakers was a long time coming.

Converse Sneakers from Target

After some shopping around, I settled on a nice, semi-patriotic pair of beige Converse sneakers from Target for about $30. Now in any normal blog entry on any other blog, this is where the story would end. Not here.

I took a closer look at the box after purchasing the shoes and found myself rather dumbfounded at the name for the color of the shoe. While the majority of the shoes had simple names like pink, purple, navy, my shoes were labeled Natural.

I hadn’t expected to see similar branding issues as with makeup where a color resembling Caucasian skin color is often called “Natural” or “True.”

When I started discussing makeup branding with my friends, many said it was hard to find something to compare white skin to that was found in nature. I wasn’t prepared to find the whitewashing of makeup in a shoe brand. What about calling these shoes beige, cream or tea colored?

What do you all think?

How to Blog When Life Gets Crazy

Balance, prioritizing , sanity and blogging. That’s what we’re talking about for this week’s Friend Friday. So let’s get on with keeping it real.

When it comes to prioritizing your life, in what place does blogging fall?
Blogging for me is a habit as much as it is a hobby since I’ve been doing it for about 11 years now. I think it’s a great way to write pieces with editorial integrity and touch on subjects I feel passionately about. That being said, it’s an outlet and an escape for me from my everyday life. That doesn’t mean it takes priority over work, wedding planning or job hunting, but it may fall before reading magazines or watching television.

We all wish we had more free time to dedicate to blogging and all it entails. What are your tricks for taking advantage of the time you do have to be as productive as possible?
First off, I’ve seen really great bloggers do their thing, and I’m not so sure I would want to dedicate that much time to blogging. I’m constantly impressed with how many go over and beyond the typical blogger routine.

As I write this, it’s about 1:15AM on Saturday night (hello to the future!). At 6AM, I’ll wake up, get my things together and head out on an Alternative Spring Break trip. That being said, this is just one instance when the “schedule post” option is a lifesaver when it comes to productivity. Though I’ll have less posts this week than usual, I think it’s important to stick to a schedule.

Have you discovered any short-cuts that makes blogging easier or more time efficient?
Definitely learning how to schedule posts and also edit them over a period of days. Taking two or three days to write, edit and put the finishing touches on posts is incredibly helpful (which I won’t be doing for this post, so there’s always an exception to that short cut.) It may seem like it takes longer, but in the end you’ll have better streamlined content.

I also like editing photos in bulk to use later in posts. Oh! and also writing down ideas and taking notes about content for posts.

Do you have an editorial calendar or something similar that helps you plan ahead?
I bought a planner with the specific purpose of writing down a schedule for posts though I haven’t really stuck to it. I usually think of ideas as I’m walking to or from work and write them down as they come. I also build off post ideas that interest me. In the past, I’ve done at least two series with two to three posts on a particular subject within a month of each other.

If time wasn’t an issue what you would be doing on your blog/for your blog that you aren’t doing now?
Definitely more research on issues I’m interested in exploring, without a doubt. I love writing and I love interacting with people so I would probably increase time spent on other blogs as well as social media.

That’s that! Hope you all have a great weekend!

Feminist Baby Conumdrum: The Natalie Portman Edition

Last week I watched Natalie Portman waltz across the stage to accept the Best Actress Oscar for her portray of Nina in Black Swan. As a longtime fan, I was elated for her and that’s where my thoughts on this subject ended.

Untill I read Amanda Hess’s The 6 weirdest gender moments of the 2011 Oscars, which includes Portman’s acceptance speech as reiterating gender roles. Hess writes,

While accepting the Best Actress Oscar for her punishing role in Black Swan, Natalie Portman thanked Benjamin Millepied, saying that her ballet dancing fiancee “has now given me the most important role of my life.” By impregnating her. What, not Garden State? (Kidding!) Portman is obviously proud of her and Millepied’s forthcoming human production, but she’s also at the very height of her career as an actor. It feels a little icky to use that moment to reinforce the primacy of a woman’s gender role. (Emphasis mine)

Did Portman’s comments really put women back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant?

At 29-years-old, Portman has been acting for 18 years. Not to mention Portman also has a degree from Harvard with a degree in psychology. All that and 35 films under her belt. By the time she was 29.

Anywhere But Here (1999), one of my Portman favorites

Black Swan isn’t the beginning or end or even middle of Portman’s career She was also nominated for an Oscar in 2005 for her role in Closer. So to say she is “at the very height of her career as an actor” is in itself wrong.

Let’s say that perhaps Hess is right, that Black Swan is the pinnacle of Portman’s career and that she has no staying power whatsoever. Along with all the other people she thanked from camera operators to makeup artist, yes, she also mentioned Benjamin Millepied, the father of her unborn child. Is that any better or any worse thanking husbands and 8-year-old kids watching late at night?

Reviewing Portman’s acceptance speech, notice Portman never says, “I’m pregnant, this is great!” Here’s exactly what she said on the topic of “babies,”

My beautiful love, Benjamin Millepied, who choreographed the film and who has now given me my most important role of my life.

Glorifying and basking in the gender stereotypes? I Think Not.

Natalie Portman and Fiancé and Co-Star Benjamin Millepied in Black Swan

It’s time we accept that being a mom is an important role that should not be written off to gender norms. People want to have babies. What’s so wrong about making an adult decision at the age of 28 or 29 to have a child? Seriously, I want to know.

To say women Portman mentioning that in a few months she’s going to be a mom is anti-feminist. To say that smart, talented and respected women cannot only have babies but also define those babies as their most important role is not about gender roles.