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I love Project Runway. Does anybody else love Project Runway? The new season (and final one before the show jumps ship to Lifetime) starts this Wednesday, so let’s talk about Project Runway and how much we love it.
I’ve been reading through the bios on Bravo’s site (warning! The website features “round ups” of future episodes that may be considered spoilers for some folks (for an explanation, see here) but the bio section is pretty spoiler free) and Korto is my clear early favorite:
She is inspired by rich fabrics and textures and says her designs are intended for real, full-figured women.
Heck yeah! She also appears to be the fattest designer ever on the show. And she has fantastic hair.
And if my eyes and memory do not deceive me, this is the first season that Bravo has featured two black women in the competition. Let us all say a little prayer to St. Saint Laurent that Bravo will avoid the reality TV race/sexism habit of editing Black women to appear bossy, bitchy, and mean, and then kick them off to great fanfare sometime in the first two episodes.
My early least favorite contestant has to be Suede because HE GOES BY SUEDE. And because Madonna is his biggest fashion influence. Ugh.
Okay, take it away.
Because what gave you the idea this was a blog about fat and feminism and stuff and junk? It is now a blog about heart-stoppingly cute baby otters.
I sent the link to this video to my friend L who replied:
L: OTTER OTTER OTTER OTTER!!!!! I can’t go for a drink tonight because I am watching TINA FEY in the return of 30 Rock. TINA FEY TINA FEY TINA FEY TINA FEY!!!!!!!
OTM: Tina Fey should make a movie in which she plays a wise-cracking otter rehabilitator.
L: That I would have to watch in the privacy of my own home.
If only I had a dollar for every email exchange with L that turned into a conversation about otters, booze, and Tina Fey…
L: Haha – way to call me out! But I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve done that, too.
OTM: I was calling us both out, actually. If I had a dollar for every time, I’d buy us an otter, get the three of us drunk, and fly us all out to visit Tina Fey.
1. Monday night, as I was dishing up some delicious rice pilaf with black beans and fried plantains for dinner, I put my delicate inner arm directly on that 350 degree pan handle and got this little souvenir of culinary ineptitude:
2. Then yesterday morning while walking to the bus, a bird pooped on me. I did not take a picture of my misfortune, but I did immediately tell myself a story about how Chicago’s pigeons are planning a revolt, and are marking those who will be spared, to console myself over the indignity of starting my day by getting crapped on.
3. Yesterday afternoon, I wandered into Rainbow near my office because there were so many bright colors on display, plus dresses, and I’m already planning ahead for the stultifying heat of the 2008 Pitchfork Music Festival (OMG Dinosaur, Jr.!). Now, I hate Rainbow. The clothes are hideous and cheap and made of cast-off children’s Halloween costume fabric and they smell bad but I have this idea in my head to make a sundress out of pre-smocked fabric, but with some fluffy eyelet layers under it, because I am really into fluffy multi-layered skirts, and Rainbow had some smocked sundresses already made and selling for less than the fabric would probably cost and I had an idea that I would buy two and stick them together somehow. FRANKENDRESS. So I’m poking through the stinky dresses and I recognize a brand label, Mlle Gabrielle, for which label-recognizing ability I absolutely have Live Journal community Fatshonista to thank, and the dress was cute and $14.99 and made of 100% cotton, can you believe it, and is pre-fitted with a fluffy multi-layered skirt so I bought it and I’m wearing it today and I look super cute, if I do say so myself.
4. Too bad I wasn’t wearing this dress last night when I was in the laundromat because who did I see but Steven Rosengard, of Project Runway Season 4 fame, doing his own laundry and thus disabusing any notion I may have had that being on a reality TV program means nothing but drop off service from here on out, baby! I was a fan of Steve’s designs (and thought he was consistently funny in a low-key, dry witted way), but declined to approach him because I was wearing what Colleen has termed a “Brady Bunch dress” and rather than fight the 70s-era upholstry look, I decided to take it to its logical conclusion with bright orange tights and brown flats and really, was it going to make this guy feel any better about getting kicked off PR for being saddled with a wedding dress to have somebody dressed like this accost him while he washes his own unmentionables and tell him that she likes his style?
Sweet merciful crap!
1. Hi, C & J!
2. I guess I am going to a hooping class… I have never in my life successfully hula hooped and the last time I engaged in any group-based aerobic activity I fell off the step (step aerobics, you see) and sprained my ankle in front of the instructor and the whole class and like, God and the whole world, but the first line of the class description is “Energized by the modern sounds of Chicago Style House music” and really, how can I say no to the modern sounds of Chicago house? I can’t, that’s how. I can’t promise I will be any good at this, but I can promise that I will be very amusing in a “laugh at” way.
3. Remember that time I complained about not being able to wear Lane Bryant Right Fit jeans? Of course you don’t. Why would you? But never mind because here’s the thing: I bought a pair of Red 2s (at the same store and on the same day as Colleen – OMG SISTERZ) and they are truly as awesome as I had been led to believe they would be. I had a hilariously irritating exchange with the cashier, during which she tried three times to get me to open a charge account, asked me if I would like to be measured, asked me if I understood how the Right Fits worked (I assured her that I was familiar with pants), told me that the jeans would not stretch out at all (lies! On day two, I was hitching them up like a plumber on a day hike), told me that I was buying the jeans in “tall” (true – my legs are a wee bit long for average length, and indeed too short for talls, but I hate that thing that happens with too short pants where the cuffs stick out in the back at the heel so I buy tall pants and hem, or cuff, or just walk on the backs of my pants like some sort of sloppy raver kid), told me I had selected “stretch flares” rather than “stretch boot cut” (false – I have no idea where she got that idea or why she felt like that was something she needed to tell me), and asked me again if I would like to be measured so I could be sure I had the right jeans for my shape. I reassured her that I had, indeed, tried on not only the pair of jeans I was purchasing, but four other pairs in various sizes, shapes, and lengths and that I was confident, having tried them on, that I was about to purchase the best jeans for me. I’m not altogether sure why this woman worked so hard to get me to not buy the pants that I was clearly excited about buying, but whatever the origin of her nefarious plan IT DID NOT WORK. Not only did it not work, but I intend to buy yet another pair of the same size, fit, and length in the darker wash. YEAH TAKE THAT, LADY.
4. I know that we are way behind on this one, but we finally sat down and watched a few episodes of Flight of the Conchords and all I have to say about the show is this: ROFL.
A friend gave my husband Rick Bayless’s Mexican Everyday cookbook for Christmas this year. We’ve both been big fans of the man since I first caught Mexico – One Plate at a Time on WTTW shortly after moving to Chicago. For my first birthday in Chicago, my husband and another friend took me to Frontera Grill, which was immeasurably delicious. Unfortunately, given the popularity of the restaurant and their no reservations policy, we’ve not been able to go back since but we eat at Frontera Fresca on the seventh floor of Macy’s once every couple of weeks. And sometimes if we’re lucky, as we were on the night we ate at Frontera Grill, we’ll see the man himself, smiling and just as weird and lovable in person as he appears on TV.
In the introduction to Mexican Everyday, Bayless talks a little bit about his philosophy of eating and health. Apparently a chubby kid who grew into a chubby adult, Bayless took up yoga as “a nice antidote to [his] fast-paced, late-night restaurant life.” Eventually he began to feel that the size of his body was interfering with the progress of his practice:
Which led me, in an uncharacteristically weak moment, to fleetingly consider the question, Is it possible for a person to sensibly get rid of extra weight without going on a diet?
Diets are something I’ve loudly railed against having seen too much hype, too many unrealistic expectations, too many failures. I oppose them on (as least) two grounds–one nutritional, the other social. Most diets, after all, restrict what the dieter eats in quantity or variety, or both. Unrealistic quantity restriction frequently provokes the fear-of-starvation backlash (aka gorging), and narrowed variety not only becomes unsustainably boring, but it can be nutritionally unbalanced, even dangerous–unless you’re treating a serious medical condition, which I’m not. Our species developed as omnivores, after all.
From a social perspective, diets can be isolating. I’d venture a guess that we’ve all known people who’ve used their diets as an excuse for not eating with family, no going out with friends and, in extreme but sadly frequent cases, not partaking in holiday feasts. Food may be the fuel for the body, but it’s also glue for the family, for the community.”
Amen, Rick Bayless. Amen.
As anyone who has seen the episode of Mexico – One Plate at a Time that opens with a shirtless Bayless repelling into an underground cave, he has certainly met his fitness goals (also demonstrated with a photo of him in the forearm balance pose, which I am here to tell my non-yogically inclined friends, is no freaking joke). His approach was to cut out what he called “empty calories” found in beverages, and listen to his body to determine exactly how much he needed to eat to stay at the weight that felt comfortable to him. He then took up weight training because that way he could eat more (no surprises, the man loves to eat) and also get up into that forearm balance.
My favorite part of his philosophy of food, though, is his celebration of feasting as concept and practice. After criticizing “bleak” diets “that lead us to judge everything we put in our mouths as ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ that cause us to say that a break with their dietary prescriptions is ‘cheating,'” Bayless questions our “blind faith in the wisdom of the relatively young field of modern nutrition” that has led us to discard the concept of feasting “into the same dustbin as malnutrition and poor sanitation.” As a result, “many of us just eat defiantly. Willy-nilly and all the time.” Basically:
[C]uisines that have healthily nourished generation after generation have a pretty brilliant–but basic–way of putting essential foods together in the right proportions for everyday eating. Call it their foundation dishes. Yet those same cultures also realize that feating is essential for a culture’s aesthetic development, encouraging cooks to reach for new culinary heights. And that feasting is essential for cultural unity, brining groups of people together around the table to share sustenance, culinary art, related history. And that feasting is essential for the health of our bodies, allowing us the satisfaction of feeling thoroughly, completely full–with no need for midnight Häagen-Dazs raids.
A feast can make our spirits soar for days, while our bodies are regenerating themselves on everyday fare. In other words, no one ever got fat on a weekly feast, but missing that feast can leave you with strong cravings (both physical and spiritual) all week long.
Who can resist a strong craving?
I am absolutely delighted with this concept: eating simply and healthily, listening to and responding to what your body wants and needs, and then regularly gathering together with your community, whether that’s family, friends, neighbors, or a combination thereof, to tear the roof off this sucker with a feast.
It’s resolution time. The gym is about to get wicked crowded. I’ll see a whole host of new faces at my yoga studio next week. Weight Watchers and its ilk are about to increase their membership numbers. I usually don’t bother with resolutions; even when I was in the thrall of all those bleak diets I would usually count among my resolutions a firm commitment to start smoking again, or to read less and watch more TV. But I feel a sense of joy and liberation in the idea of everyday food and feasting that I honestly haven’t felt about eating in years, maybe ever, or at least not since the first time I connected eating with guilt and shame. So this year, I resolve to relearn the joy of eating, to embrace the concept of feasting.
And while the odds of my getting up into a forearm balance are about level with the odds of my waking up one morning with a complete understanding of differential calculus, I might strive toward executing a decent upward-facing dog with minimal grunting and squeaking.
Is it just me or is anybody else noticing this new trend in commercial storylines: a man and a woman are engaged in some sort of joint venture that involves an element of danger. The woman expresses, either expressly or impliedly, fear or apprehension and the man completely ignores her, disregarding her opinion and endangering her life so that he can continue some sort of pleasurable pursuit.
There’s a Bud Light commercial in which a man picks up a hitchhiker holding an ax over the objections of his girlfriend because, hey. The guy has Bud Light! The other commercial is for the Honda Odyssey mini-van in which a leering man is driving fast on a curvy road while the woman in the car clutches the “oh shit” handle and smiles nervously at him in between apprehensive glances at the road.
Women have worked hard to empower ourselves to speak up on our own behalf, and to refuse to shut up until we are heard, and yet both of these commercials make light of women’s expressed sense of danger. The message to men is that it’s acceptable to disregard what women say, because men have superior judgment and reasoning capacity. Plus, these commercials tell us, women’s lives are not as important as beer or being able to drive as fast as you want.
It’s not a big leap from the pursuits of fast driving or beer drinking to sexual gratification. In the Honda commercial, the camera cuts from tight shots of a woman’s hand grasping the handle to tight shots of the leering man’s face, lending a vague odor of sexual predation to the plotline. Picking up hitchhikers is the quintessential “don’t” for women travelers; rape or murder, we are told, are the logical consequences for women who extend assistance to strangers. Once you internalize the concept that it’s okay, even desirably masculine, to disregard women’s voices when driving fast or getting your hands on some beer, it’s pretty easy to apply it to a sexual context and justify disregarding a woman’s protestations of a man’s sexual advances. What these commercials are telling the largely male audience (they air during sporting events) is: “Women’s opinions don’t matter, so even if she says no, it’s totally okay to keep on doing whatever it is that you want to do.”
Rape culture, anyone?
A couple of episodes into season two of Project Runway I decided my life would be much better if I scorned my own sub-par biological father and declared that my new father was Tim Gunn. Imagine! Tim Gunn as your dad! He’d be loving and supportive of your creative endeavors while gently guiding you back into the flock if you happen to wander astray by staying out past your curfew, picking up a drug habit, or making yet another bubble skirt.
And so it was with great glee that I read that Bravo is playing the Jenny Jones to Papa Gunn and my currently distant relationship by enabling a beautiful father-daughter reunion before the November 14th premier of season four of Project Runway in the form of Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style.
The show is a little fluffy, but generally enjoyable. I am dying at the look on Tim Gunn’s face as he observes Veronica Webb paw through guest Rebecca’s underwear drawer, though. Oh and also his “purely visceral” reaction to Veronica’s leggings suggestion.* However, I’m not entirely sure that putting women in garbage bags is actually a good way to build self esteem. Also, instead of Carl Kassel, I think I’d rather have Catherine Malandrino‘s voice on my home answering machine. No offense Carl.
But wow. The guest, Rebecca, is beautiful and totally Hoboken, NJ awesome. And thin by anybody’s definition. Yet one of her biggest gripes is her big hips. Tim repeatedly tells her she looks great, but then he also helps her pick out empire waisted silhouettes to hide her body. At one point she refers to herself as being properly classified as one of the “girls who are heavier on the bottom.” As if we needed any more proof, this just demonstrates how pervasive and insidious and harmful and deeply internalized the messages that our bodies are imperfect, wrong, bad, unacceptable, no matter how closely they match the societal ideal. Even when you’re right there, it’s still not perfect enough.
Next week’s guest, according to the teaser, is a fat woman who has lost a considerable amount of weight over the last two years and doesn’t know how to dress her new body. Now, I don’t know how to dress my new body, either. (I didn’t know how to dress my old body, for that matter, but that’s neither here nor there.) But my new body, which is really my actual body, isn’t a new thin body. It’s my very own fat body that I am learning how to really love, and how cool would it be for my own adopted father to teach me how to make it work? Alas, I don’t think prime-time fashion television is ready for that particular jelly.
* I quite like wearing leggings. I am confident that Papa Gunn would, Christ-like, forgive me for that sin.
I post this because it happened in Delaware, where I’m from. Those unfamiliar with the state often think of it as a giant suburb, or a New England state. But in reality it’s an agricultural state that is south of the Mason Dixon and three-quarters white. It’s a state in which racism can fester, unexamined, because the white people live largely in a vacuum of privilege where their perceptions are rarely challenged. (True fact: I never knowingly met anyone Jewish until I went to college. I’m sure I knew Jews, but being Jewish just wasn’t something you admitted to, at least not around my racially-insular WASP ass.)
Delaware Senator Joe Biden, as much as my neo-con Republican family members might hate to admit it, is actually quite representative of Delaware’s population. As a matter of fact, calling her “clean” is one of the highest compliments my grandmother believes she can pay to a person of color.
The article highlights another fascinating fact about Delaware: we have no state-native television station. We have to piggy-back off Salisbury or Baltimore Maryland in the southern half of the state, and Philadelphia in the northern half. I’m guessing that’s why Action News couldn’t be arsed to actually report where in Delaware the beating took place, other than at a 7-Eleven. I mean shit. The state is small, but it’s got more than one convenience store.