Tag Archives: life

WHY #ADayWithoutWomen WILL DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD

It is International Women’s Day 2017 today. I love it; I love women and I love being a woman, especially in America.  I owe my many freedoms to the men and women who made it possible here for female citizens to vote, to work more easily as a mother, to reclaim her own reproductive rights and to have a general voice in society. These are merely a few of the glorious rights we women possess in the freest country in the world. So why on God’s green Earth is this phenomenon called “Day Without a Woman” taking place, today of all days, as well?

All across social media the past week, I have been seeing posts encouraging American women, on March 8, to skip work (“paid or unpaid”), to wear red, to eschew social media (oops), and to not spend money anywhere other than at small woman-owned businesses. Is this a protest? A strike? A show of solidarity? Whatever the case, this radical display won’t accomplish anything other than alienating those who have never not supported women’s rights. Here’s why:

1. What Rights Don’t Women Have in 2017’s America? It is laughable in the face of tragedies, of the life-and-death variety, happening to women elsewhere in the world (Sharia Law ring a bell, anyone?) that American women are the ones complaining about being subjugated. No, not laughable– downright, maddeningly offensive.

Part of this protest’s manifesto professes to aim to “stand with women around the world.”  I’m sure the woman who got stoned to death for being a rape victim in [name a country] would appreciate this patronizing, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gesture from those who don’t have to confront such horrors on a daily basis.

You took a day off from your unpaid internship getting Jimmy Fallon coffee? Aww, my mutilated clitoris and I thank you!… Wait, you’re not gonna buy any shoes at Bloomingdales today? Girl power!

If you want to take a stand for women’s rights today, do it in a manner both more direct and effective. Use the time you are off today to volunteer, whether it’s for a women’s shelter here (funny how NONE of the manifesto’s enumerations included this idea) or an international charity helping to empower women oppressed under Sharia Law.  There are areas of England, England, in which I cannot walk down the street holding hands with my male partner thanks to the implementation of Sharia Law.

I’m sure the woman who got stoned for being a rape victim would appreciate this patronizing, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gesture from those who don’t have to confront such horrors on a daily basis:

You took a day off from your unpaid internship getting Jimmy Fallon coffee? Aww, thank you!

You’re not gonna buy any shoes at Bloomingdales today? Girl power!

2. This is So Presumptuously Pompous. “Skip work today.” Okay! I’ll just tell my boss I need the day off… because I’m a hard-working American woman who deserves to skip work! I have too many privileges in this country, which I need to enjoy at my own leisure on this day… because. The manifesto made NO attempt to modify its parameters for the majority of American women, who simply cannot afford to take time off on a random Wednesday… i.e. who can’t afford to lose their jobs because a bunch of celebrities skipped work and tweeted at them to do so, as well.

Do you see how, maybe, this could make many people, who probably have always supported feminist values, roll their eyes so far into the back of their heads?

The manifesto made NO attempt to modify its parameters for the majority of American women, who can’t afford to lose their jobs because a bunch of celebrities skipped work and tweeted at them to do so, as well.

3. Why can’t It Just Be #InternationalHUMANSDay? Look, I love that we are celebrating the good people who are our mothers, sisters, daughters and lovers but these demographic-specific holidays have always come off self-segregating and ultimately detrimental to the cause.

Sure, all holidays are merely symbolic by nature, but is it so radical to ask that, in 21st century’s First World, we celebrate both sexes and their accomplishments at the same time? Or all races simultaneously? Or how about just celebrating those individuals, of any race, gender, or creed, who have contributed greatly to our society?  That way, we are not drawing self-dividing lines that submerge each person’s individual value beneath inane labels, labels that unnecessarily box us in and squirrel us away from uniting as one human race.

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VIDEO: HAVE I BEEN IN TROUBLE WITH THE LAW? And Other “Get to Know Me” Questions Pt 2/2

MY “GET TO KNOW ME QUESTIONS” video sessions conclude today with the following! Watch yesterday’s video answers here: HAVE I GONE SKINNY DIPPING? And Other “Get to Know Me” Questions Pt 1/2

“Lord of the Rings” or “Game of Thrones?”

Does Size Matter?

Favorite Superhero Ever and Why?

Have I Ever Been In Trouble with the Law?

Have I Ever Dated a Black Guy?

“Star Trek” or “Star Wars”?

Which Musician Do I Want to Meet the Most?

What’s the One Question I Want to Ask God Most?

What Kind of Music Do I Like?

What Would I Do if I Won the Lottery?

What is the Girliest Show I Watch?

My First Period

Where Would I Travel Anywhere in the World?

Which “The Walking Dead” Character Would I Bring Back from the Dead?

As Whom Do I Most Want to Cosplay?

Will I Return to the East Side Dave Show?

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LIFE: I was Grabbed by the Pussy. Literally… and Not by a Billionaire Mogul.

I was grabbed by the pussy. For real.

It’s no secret Mainstream Media is BFFs with false outrage. Apparently, Donald Trump once said, in private, that because of his station in life, all he has to do to woo women is to “grab them by the pussy.” Now, as someone who has literally had her vagina grabbed on a sidewalk by a complete and utter stranger, all I have to say to the media hoopla over his throwaway comment was, “Soooo F-ing What?”

My story is simple and straightforward… with a touch of irony. A young Latino (the ironic part) man in a red baseball cap and hoodie walked past me on an empty main street. I thought nothing of these descriptive details of my would-be assailant on the day it happened. I was 21, feeling moody, so I thought I would soak in some summery rays by getting outside in my new floral skirt. I turned the corner onto an even quieter side street. Lost in my brooding playlist, I did not sense anything until I felt a hand from behind lift up my skirt and firmly close its grip around my vaginal area. I heard a laugh… a maniacal laugh as I turned around to face my attacker. Too late; he was already fast-running away (while still laughing). All I could do was hurl all the expletives my brain could summon in such a startled state.

I was furious, shaking, and humiliated. The only passive-aggressive victory I took away from the encounter was the knowledge that I was on a heavy-flow period that day and my attacker had grabbed a bloody vagina. Take that.

Over time, the trauma of the event dissipated on its own. I only told a handful of my friends and only when it came up in relevant conversation. I had just accepted what happened. Nothing is repressed. My anger was duly processed. Remembering the assault is like rediscovering an old Polaroid that has since faded to black-and-white.

So when I hear people cry that Trump’s words invoke “rape culture,” I only have one question in response… “WTF IS ‘RAPE CULTURE’?” The real world does not operate on terms of fancy, theoretical concepts of innuendo and implications. The real world just happens. It contains scumbags who grab your bloody vagina (and laugh as they immediately run away for fear of retaliation). You’re either raped and/or sexually molested like I was, or you’re not.

That’s it. Trump’s words have been blown out of proportion, laughably so, from where I sit. They were crude and made in very, very poor taste but I have heard much worse. More importantly, most people have experienced much worse. Real life, like it or not, is much more complicated than what the media tries to sell you in a ratings-friendly six-word headline.

This is not a pro- or anti-Trump post. My words reflect only my personal assessment of the hilarious circus the media has created around, granted, a pretty circus-inviting public figure’s words… Except real life can actually hurt you; words cannot.

LIL GRIPES DASH

Real life is much more complicated than what the media tries to sell you in a ratings-friendly six-word headline.

LIL GRIPES DASH

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HAPPY #VALENTINESDAY, Single or Not! 

 

VALENTINE’S DAY 2016 is tomorrow and Li’l Gripes just wants to remind everyone that whether you have a Valentine or not, the day can go just as bad or as good as you will it. Just like any other day.

So if you’re spending it single, allow me to inform you that last Valentine’s Day, my last boyfriend’s idea of romance was an absolute CLUNKER (I’ve found a Valentine this year who’s much sweeter, let’s say). Couples get their expectations too high and the whole day puts a lot of strain on otherwise-steady relationships.

So take it easy, single or not, this and every February 14. You have to live through it–it’s up to you whether you live it smiling or wallowing.

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 You have to live through Valentine’s Day–it’s up to you whether you live it smiling or wallowing.

 

Lilosophies ~ Part Three

PART 3 of the ongoing Lilosophies series:

Part 1

Part 2

“If I’m older, I better be fucking wiser.”

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“When marketing, never overestimate or underestimate your consumer’s intelligence.”

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“A person who takes no pride in his or her appearance may as well have no soul.”

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“Creativity needs stimuli to further breed.”

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“Don’t let anything but TV and magazines make you feel less than superior about yourself.”

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“For my fellow perfectionists, our key mantra should be ‘Stop when it’s just enough.'”

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“You’re only as good as your latest selfie.”

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“Life is too short to curb your tongue.”

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Lil’s Favorite Photography of 2015

THEY SAY WE ARE WHAT WE LOVE. If that’s true, these photos I cherished in 2015 comprised bits and pieces of the kind of person I was. Some of these photos I took and some are others’ depictions of empowering moments for me this past year.

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Me and a mini-Predator

All are photos that inspired me, made me smile, and, not to get sassy, made me proud to own me. 2015 was one of the first years during which I have truly sensed a change for the better in myself.

WARNING: SUPER-RANDOM CONTENT AHEAD.

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My Dog and My Work Tools, © 2015 Lillian Gao

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Boyfriend-given Mickey Mouse Bandaids, © 2015 Lillian Gao

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Makeup-less Adele, Photo via Rolling Stone

doll2nd Ave F train Exit Mural, © 2015 Lillian Gao

CUUgdd8VEAAbmc8Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Photo via Entertainment Weekly

IMG_7555Gwyneth Paltrow, aka “GOOP,” as a coaster, © 2015 Lillian Gao

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A Predator/Yautja in the East Village, © 2015 Lillian Gao

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Daisy Johnson aka “Quake” on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Photo via ABC

IMG_6322New York Street Hustle, © 2015 Lillian Gao

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My 1st Encounter with a Teacup Vietnamese Potbellied Pig, © 2015 Lillian Gao

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Bobbi Morse aka “Mockingbird” on Marvel’s “Agents of Shield,” Photo via Comic Book Resources

IMG_7562Mixed Media Artwork by Christopher G. Asberry, © 2015 Lillian Gao

taylorTaylor Swift’s Cat Eye-Side Eye, Photo via Variety

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Stuffed Bunny Wearing a Rosary, © 2015 Lillian Gao

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The Walking Dead Season 6 Collage, Photo via AMC

There is so, so much more, but I wanted to narrow it down to just the favorite of the favorites.

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GET THESE: “HIS AND HERS” IPHONE 6 CASES

LOVE YOUR IPHONE? I SURE AS HELL LOVE MINE. I have a friend who refuses to get a protective case for hers and I just don’t get it. I don’t care how great your insurance is. Drop it in the toilet once–you lose ALL your selfies. ALL YOUR SELFIES! THE HORROR! (We all know iCloud can only back up so much)

So, here are my recommendations for 2 of his and her iPhone 6 cases each (There are iPhone 6 Plus equivalents for all these cases):

FOR THE GENTLEMAN…

1. Native Union iPhone 6 & 6s Marble Case, $80:

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2. LIFEPROOF Frē iPhone 6 protective phone case, £69.99, £62.99:

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AND FOR THE LADY…

1. Kate Spade New York ‘glitter’ iPhone 6 Plus & 6s Plus case, $45:

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2. Boston Terrier Hipster Glasses Transparent iPhone 6 case, $40:

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A CANNIBAL AT WALGREENS

I’LL GET RIGHT TO THE POINT: The Walgreens closest to me sells so many cool toys, including miniature action figures from one of my favorite shows on TV, The Walking Dead (AMC), by McFarlane Toys. You’ve got “Grave Digger Daryl,” a startlingly lifelike rendition of one of the show’s most beloved protagonists, Daryl Dixon:

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“Grave Digger Daryl Dixon” according to McFarlane Toys and as distributed at Walgreen’s (and I’m sure at actual toy stores)
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Daryl Dixon as portrayed on the AMC series by Norman Reedus

Now, here’s the rub: The toys, like the show, are aimed at a more mature audience, ages 13+.

Still, it does not explain why, in the same aisle as My Little Pony plushies and Hello Kitty lunchboxes, Walgreens and McFarlane Toys (and the execs at AMC to a degree) decided to feature a prominent CANNIBAL from the show as an action figure.

That’s right. Gareth, the cannibalistic antagonist from the TV show (the box specifies that all toys are based on the television series, and not the graphic novels on which the show itself is premised), is featured as a pretty-boy, heroic-looking action figure alongside toy models of show protagonists. He is not only the sole antagonist in The Walking Dead toy section but he is packaged exactly the same way all the protagonists’ toys are. Nary a dark border to insinuate that this dude’s evil. The box neither denotes nor connotes anything about Gareth being “bad,” let alone the chilling, human-eating monstrosity he turned out to be on the show (LEGIT: he ate a protagonist’s roasted leg in front of him while the victim was still conscious).

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Gareth

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Gareth as played by Andrew J. West on AMC

One who does not watch the show would think Gareth was “one of the heroes.” Which is harmless, I suppose, to kids who do not watch the show. We, however, know no teenager (or younger child) is playing with a toy he or she does not recognize.

The very existence of this bizarre “toy” is basically suggesting that marketers think Americans are stupid and shallow. The average American consumer, in their eyes, is so blinded by materialism that he/she cares not the origin of the stuff they buy, as long as it is stuff.

And to be fair, they are probably right. We are Americans. We like stuff. Whatever, right?IMG_7347

My Favorite– Secret (ish)– “Fab Four” iPhone Apps

Warning: This post is iPhone-prejudiced. I am sure any app recommended here links to some murky equivalent in your world, my beloved Android-using readers (get an iPhone, please).

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This photo collage was made with an awesome app not listed here, “Pic Collage”

I WAS STRUCK BY A CAR a few summers ago while crossing the street with my toy poodle, Caesar, on a leash (long story short: 100% the driver’s fault/my sweet, gentle soul decided not to sue/also, I was too lazy).

The second I rolled onto the hood of that car, I did two things in this order:

  1. I screamed, “CAESAR!” (He was fine, thank God. His reflexes are faster than mine, as it turns out.)
  2. I checked my iPhone, which had spilled out of my purse, along with my wallet, keys and a few other bare necessities. Now, by “checking,” I mean I thoroughly examined every inch of my phone for dirt, scrapes and cracks. Likewise, THANK THE LORD, not a scratch on my baby.

This is definitely the order in which I love things in this world:

1. My dog

2. My iPhone

3. Others.

Whether it was the iPhone 4 I had back then or the 6 I own currently, I adore my Apple smartphone first and foremost for its plentitude of handy apps. Apps make my world go round, whether they are allowing me to alter my selfies to the fullest potential a telephone can or check bus schedules with just a single downward swipe upon my screen. My photo-filtering apps (hint: not Instagram) shall remain a well-guarded secret, so I’ll simply share my four other favorites that make me appreciate sooo much my existence in the 21st century. The following apps are all either free or, at worst, have killer extra features that require only a very inexpensive upgrade. In no particular order:

 1. “NORDSTROM” by Nordstrom, Inc.

App Category: Shopping

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I HATE SHOPPING–but I love buying stuff. I only recently discovered the enlightening addiction of online shopping that grants this predilection the permission to proceed.

The physical action of browsing through sections of products, be they clothes or cosmetics, is nauseating. I get easily overwhelmed by choices and shopping is filled with those.

To find out one of my favorite department stores, Nordstrom, had its own 5-star iPhone app was a game-changer. Once you log into your store email-registered account, you can add (and remove) multiple items to your wish list before your shopping cart as you browse, effectively narrowing your choices down further and further. The app enables you to sort products according to standards like item category, pricing, and customer rating. Even after you directly purchase with the app’s shopping cart, there is a Saved for Later section of the cart that holds un-purchased items so other stylish jackals can’t get their paws on it… Heaven on Earth.

In addition to practicality, the app’s home page offers Daily Style Scoop, official Instagrams and digital video content. OH! Did I mention–Nordstrom ALWAYS has free shipping and free returns? Download before they start charging this app. Do it. Now.

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2. “TV SHOW TRACKER 3″ by Pixel-Perfect Widgets

App Category: Entertainment

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I WATCH A LOT OF TV. Why? Because I am an American human being currently living and breathing in the Golden Age of Western Television. Network dramas like The Blacklist are, at the very least, aspiring to be HBO-smart. Basic cable shows are so rich in substance that they are spawning spin-offs running at the same time as the original (i.e. The Walking Dead begot Fear the Walking Dead on AMC). Let’s face it–even late-night programming is GREAT again–Jimmy Fallon dominates NBC nightly and Stephen Colbert has now invaded CBS with his particular brand of quirky and intelligent funny.

So… I am sure many fellow Americans (and citizens around the world) face this dilemma:

How do I even keep track of all the awesomeness?

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We have our DVRs and TiVos to tell us which recorded episodes of our favorite shows are unseen, but we would need to actually sit and manually scroll up and down/left and right with the clunkiest modern device out there: the remote control. (Site-note: why do we still have something like the remote control in the same era as iPhones and Google Glasses?) ENTER “TV Show Tracker 3.” It allows you to organize all seen and unseen episodes of favorite shows and alerts you to the number of unseen episodes left in your cache:

My very own show-tracking list (Go ahead… judge my choices):

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Check off new episodes as you watch along and keep track of future and past episodes!
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I GOTS TO GET TO THESE 9!!!

3. “MIRROR” by Contrast

App Category: Tool

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HOW MANY PEOPLE carry a compact mirror around with them at most times? Not many–certainly not more than those who clutch their smartphones with them even to the toilet:

“Oh sh*t! I have a meeting with this big shot. No mirrors in this bathroom. Need to check my teeth for spinach in a pinch!”

OR, SIMPLY: “Let me check my lipstick before my date shows up!”

What do you do? You open this app and it immediately transforms your screen into a mirror reflecting, well, you to the depth of your desire. You can zoom in to an extraordinary degree and tap once on the screen to freeze it and snap a selfie if you are liking what you see. Surrrre, you can use the iPhone’s front-facing camera as a mirror substitute, as well. To access that, however, you have to manually select the front-facing camera. Even with a selfie-catering app, you must tap on the camera icon to activate this feature. The mirror app is as simple as it gets–tap to open and see yourself. Tap again to take a selfie. Then, save the selfie to your camera roll with literally two more taps. The app embodies what the iPhone has emphasized about itself from the start: user-friendly.

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HashtagNoFilter: No mirrors in your bathroom? Powder your nose using this app!

With a $0.99 upgrade, the Mirror app will automatically adjust to your environment’s lighting and turns on a Flash setting as needed, as evidenced below (the Flash is incredibly bright–it only looks reddish below because of the pink walls of the room I was in).

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“I AM THE DEVIL.” – My thought every night before nodding off

4. “HANGOUTS” by Google, Inc.

 App Category: Social Media/Communication

IMG_1001LET’S FACE IT–FaceTime remains one of the iPhone’s most primitive built-in applications. Let’s also face it–Skype, even on a fully operational computer (laptop or desktop), SUCKS SO BAD.

The iPhone Skype app is horrid. It, like its computer counterpart, is known for a lackluster connection signal enabling you to miss Instant (ha!) Messages from acquaintances at the time they were meant to be seen. Its poor signal also allows for many dropped Skype video chats and phone calls. And just like FaceTime, one cannot alter the size of the thumbnail in which one appears.

You could have a booger hanging out of your nose during a Skype video chat and never know because you can’t see yourself (and because your friend’s an asshole).

IMG_9429The “Google Hangouts” app is almost as flawlessly versatile and reliable as its computer counterpart. It does not crash like Skype and its signal is strong as the connecting Wi-Fi will allow it. Its greatest thrill, personally speaking, is that you can adjust your own thumbnail without having to switch your side of the video call to the main screen. Adjust how? With filters almost as diverse as Instagram’s, goofy special effects such as Fish Eye and Vignette and the ability to enlarge, minimalize, and even drag around your thumbnail.

Oh yeah, its IMs never get lost, either.

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Skinny Shaming: Just Say No

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I AM SICK AND TIRED OF PEOPLE SH*TTING ON SKINNY WOMEN. Here’s why:

Recently, I met up with a friend of mine for an outdoors event in Bryant Park. I was donning a midriff-baring bandeau top with Daisy Dukes and a low-hanging medallion pendant swinging around my neck. I looked like I was super-stoked to be attending Coachella for the next few days.

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Karlie Kloss

My friend, on the other hand, was sheathed in a striped button-up blouse–buttoned up–and knee-length shorts. “I’m dressed like I’m tripping at some concert, and you look so preppy,” I quipped, laughing. Expecting a reply on natural differences in sartorial tastes, I was instead acquainted with a shocking reason for her dress code that day.

She said, “Whenever I show skin in the summertime, people always stop me on the street and ask me if I’m OK because they think I’m anorexic.”

I know my friend and I know her body. She, while built with the thimble-like waist and slender, slinky limbs of a ballerina (to my friend who shall go unnamed–these are words of pure love and appreciation), does not even approach the standard for what is medically considered anorexic. My jaw dropped at the audacity.

It’s called “Skinny Shaming” and I’m sad to announce that it is now a “thing.”

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Joan Smalls

These faceless people are active participants in a newfangled social trend as insulting as if they pulled a curvy woman aside and asked if she felt OK because they thought she might be overweight… That would be “Fat Shaming,” wouldn’t it? Well, why isn’t the same principle as cruel when applied to the skinny?

Can you imagine if people pulled a curvy woman aside and asked if she felt OK because they thought she “might be obese?”

Over the course of one autumn in college, I had lost five pounds due to overworking. My skinniest of jeans would sag at my waist and  drag at my hips. I was a size 0 trying and failing to convincingly wear a size 2. I couldn’t snugly wear jeans that used to make my small-but-bubbly butt look amazing. Hundreds of dollars spent, now for naught.

I know how that sounds. Oh, boohoo, right? When I posted this lament jokingly on Facebook, someone commented, “Do you expect anyone to feel sorry for you?” No, I don’t. I just don’t think I should feel sorry for a size 14 no longer able to fit in her size 8 jeans. YET, SOCIETY EXPECTS ME TO AND I WON’T ANYMORE. Picture me posting on someone’s Facebook, “Do you expect me to feel sorry for you for being too fat?” My skinny ass would be cast out from modern Western society.

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Du Juan

Enter Cacique, the lingerie line from plus-size women’s clothier, Lane Bryant. Cacique intimates is just like every other lingerie brand–it carries bras, panties, shapewear, sleepwear, loungewear, and swimsuit sets.

What Cacique also does is Skinny Shame. It has definitively declared that it is not for skinny women, in a way simultaneously derogatory to a company as well as to a whole demographic of women. That company is Victoria’s Secret (V.S.) and the diss is an ad campaign broadcasting Cacique’s new slogan: “#ImNoAngel,” a clear shot at Victoria’s Secret’s famous affectionate nickname for their model ambassadors. The campaign is seemingly ubiquitous, bearing multiple prongs:

  1. The television spot with several plus-size models speaking to the camera in black-and-white, describing various parts of their bodies in flattering terms and then each chiming in, one by one: “I’m no angel.”
  2. Lane Bryant’s Fast Lane page invites visitors and potential customers to be part of the anti-“Angel” sentiment via social media by stating:

“The women who wear Cacique know that sexy comes in many shapes and sizes. They’re no angels—and they own it. Join the women who are redefining sexy by posting your personal statement of confidence using the hashtag ‘#ImNoAngel.'”

…”REDEFINING SEXY?”

I’m sorry, Cacique-slash-Lane Bryant, but it doesn’t sound so much as an embracing redefinition as an abrasive omission of an entire category of women. Women you claim pronounce themselves Angels. Women who might shop at V.S. or La Perla or any number of non-curvy-only lingerie retailers. God forbid… Skinny women.

By showcasing only plus-size women in your TV spots and saying that curvy women “own” their sexy, you are really  sending the degrading message that they are the “only sexy.”

True, the ultra-thin have been the standard of sex appeal in fashion, especially in lingerie wear, for many decades now. Revising that standard to include plus-size women, however, doesn’t have to mean the defensive exclusion of non-plus size ones…Which seems to be exactly what is happening if one goes by Cacique’s web display of the participants in their #ImNoAngel social initiative.

“ALL WOMEN. ALL KINDS OF SEXY.”

  I ONLY see plus-sized women here, women who are not ALL kinds of sexy. Not all of them.

I understand Lane Bryant is a business that caters to shapelier women. They need to fluff up their consumers’ confidence. It’s just good marketing on their part. So… they Skinny Shame.

BUT…what if a business selling petit menswear decided to launch a national ad campaign claiming, “Shorter men are sexy, too”? I never hear shorter men complaining that more women found taller men more attractive and that “it’s not fair.” At least not in a commercial. Not yet.

You cannot force any one aesthetic upon an entire civilization. It’s not up to any brand or group of people to decide that for everyone else. That would be bullying, now… wouldn’t it?

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