Reflection of the day: on car culture and change

Sometimes I look at people who are incredibly knowledgeable about cars, like my dad, and think: if the US ever manages a shift away from car culture and sprawl toward high-density building, public transit, and walkable/bikable towns, we will be losing so much knowledge and culture.

It reminds me that with any social shift, even positive and necessary ones, we always lose something.

Quote of the day: on uniforms and uniqueness

“When I started my music career, I was a maid. I used to clean houses. My mother was a proud janitor. My stepfather, who raised me like his very own, worked at the post office and my father was a trashman. They all wore uniforms and that’s why I stand here today, in my black and white, and I wear my uniform to honor them.

This is a reminder that I have work to do. I have people to uplift. I have people to inspire. And today, I wear my uniform proudly as a Cover Girl. I want to be clear, young girls, I didn’t have to change who I was to become a Cover Girl. I didn’t have to become perfect because I’ve learned throughout my journey that perfection is the enemy of greatness.

Embrace what makes you unique, even if it makes others uncomfortable.”

– Janelle Monáe via Obvious Magazine

Sunday links, 12/29/13

A purple doorknob in Brooklyn, where I spent Christmas with Steve and his family

Fa(t)shion
-In tutu news, Kiyonna has a tulle skirt that comes in black and dark red, and Tanesha of Girl With Curves is selling black and cream tutus (although sadly they’re both sold out at the moment).
-Philly fatshionistas, check out this clothing swap!
-Marianne reviews the plus size clothing rental company Gwynnie Bee, which I’ll also be reviewing soon, as I recently did a free monthlong trial.
Floral blazers for men = hell yes.
-Two interesting posts on the politics of looking “sloppy.”
Color of the year 2014: radiant orchid.
Fashioning fashion: the pink top.

Fat Acceptance
French women and thinness: “If you are fat, you won’t get that job.”
-Ragen writes about crap she’s sick of hearing. I especially like this point from the comments: “People who whip out the old ‘tax dollars unfairness!’ saw never care that fat people’s tax dollars go to pay for public goods and services they then have no access to because they were only made to accomodate [sic] thin people, or how unfair THAT is.”
The violent side of fat shaming and denying body acceptance.

Climate and Sustainability
-Scary shit: Are we falling off the climate precipice? Scientists consider extinction.
All I want for Christmas is for the youth climate justice movement to seize its full potential.
The fossil fuel divestment movement can succeed where politics failed. This piece also makes the important point that we need to avoid demonizing the working-class people who dig up fossil fuels.
How to build a permaculture suburb. This might not work quite as well in a colder climate, but it’s inspiring nonetheless.

Continue reading

On fa(t)shion blogging, dead conversations, and the potential for transformation

Window display at my favorite jewelry store in Boston, So Good.

I recently came across a great piece by Arij Riahi at The Closet Feminist, Fashion blogging is not dead: our conversations are.

Arij analyzes the critiques of fa(t)shion blogging, which fall into two camps: elitists who look back fondly on the days when fashion was less accessible, and those who are dismayed by the increasing commercialization and depoliticization of the fashion blogging world. (See Natalie Perkins’ critique of fatshion blogging and the conversations it started.)

They note a similar evolution in the world of DIY blogs, including bloggers who sell DIY kits that cost as much as the item itself, and make an important point:

I question…how an idea that grew out of a rejection of mainstream capitalist consumerism could turn so easily into mainstream capitalist consumerism.

Capitalism co-opts everything it touches.

Including resistance to itself.

It’s pervasive and insidious, and incredibly hard to fight.

Arij continues:

I do find that there are a lot of larger, political issues in fashion– I like your camouflage coat, but I’d also like a conversation about the ethics of wearing military apparel. I don’t mind your luxury items, but I want to find out if it is craft(hu)manship or branding. I prefer a full tutorial, because I enjoy the agency that comes with wearing my own skirt. I have questions about second-hand clothing and the effect it has on African textile markets. I want to have these conversations, but I can’t find many spaces for them online.

I think that by narrowing down our fashion conversations, we miss the opportunity of reclaiming the body -the individual and the collective one- and highlighting how its presence, movement, and adornment is as an act of political resistance– not a commodity.

I agree 200%. I’ve found a few blogs that take on the ethics and politics of fashion, but not enough. I want more of these conversations. I’m thankful Arij is starting one.

I also I wonder if the commercialization of blogging is partly a symptom of our post-employment economy: people are trying to make ends meet however they can, including monetizing things like blogs that used to be non-commercial. And professional blogging can seem like a glamorous alternative to dead-end jobs, although it’s ultimately unsustainable for all but a small minority.

Of course, this commercialization is driven by corporations–but maybe they’d be less successful at co-opting everything if people had better job options. Maybe more people would be content to use their blogs for personal reflections if they could rely on well-paying, secure jobs to pay their rent.

And so the system replicates itself.

How do we break the cycle? How do we keep these important conversations going in a system that wants to co-opt and neutralize them? How can we, as fa(t)shion bloggers, get back to our radical roots?

I don’t know exactly how we can do it, but I hope we are on the brink of a transformation, a tiny part of the Great Turning that’s gathering steam throughout the world.

I’ll be right here, waving my sparkly pom-poms for the revolution.

Sunday links, 12/22/13

Merry almost-Christmas to those who celebrate it, and I hope you are all having a warm and festive season!

Fa(t)shion
-On fashion as armor.
-So apparently Torrid is rebranding itself to be less alternative and more trendy–didn’t that already happen like eight years ago? Torrid hasn’t been alternative in a long, long time.
Bangladesh factory fires: why brands are accountable and should compensate victims now.
-The Closet Feminist questions the meaning of quirky style in a three-part series here, here, and here.
Why “12 Years a Slave” star Lupita Nyong’o should be your new fashion idol.

Fat Acceptance
Memo to Michelle Obama: fat shaming is not ok.
-Sadly, there will not be a NOLOSE conference in 2014, but people are planning local fat events all over the country. If you’re in Boston, check out the Boston area fatties meetup group for updates!
-If you’re looking to make a holiday donation that promotes body positivity, check out the Girls Rak bellydance and body image program.
Just no, Jennifer Lawrence.
Tyra Banks, please say no to Special K.
The HAES files: examining the so-called “evidence.”
-If you’re in San Francisco, check out Marilyn Wann’s Movement of the Month Club.
-Yet another way that diet culture is harmful to people’s health: spike in harm to liver is tied to dietary aids.

Climate and Sustainability
-Bill McKibben’s latest: Obama and climate change: the real story.
Renewable energy, education, and economic development combine at Philadelphia Solar Schools Initiative.
Sink tank: in Miami, climate scientists ask, “how soon, how deep?”
The entire IPCC report in 19 illustrated haiku.

Jobs and the Economy
This new conference on transition economics looks potentially awesome.
-I love the idea of Write A House, a new organization that gives houses to writers in Detroit. They’re raising money by IndieGoGo for their first home renovation.
An open letter to Sheryl Sandberg from a 20-something woman in tech.
“We don’t have a marketing budget”: the dirty side of blogging.
Surviving rent: why artists can’t afford critical neutrality.

Everything Else
I don’t want Tim Wise as an ally. No thanks.
-Melissa writes about how the way Beyonce is sexy with her partner feels safe to her.
On defending Beyonce: black feminists, white feminists, and the line in the sand.
Hot sauce over humanity: on Sriracha.
Notes from the urban/rural divide: romance vs. reality.
-I really like this piece, which ties in with my recent post on the complexity of hope: Hope, power, and how Occupy invigorated our generation’s fight for survival.
On gender diverse parenting vs. raising a gender creative kid.
On depression, and the toll academia extracts.
A female author talks about sexism and self-promotion.
-Lindy West’s takedown of Love, Actually is perfect and hilarious. “Cock-blocktopus” = my new favorite word ever.
How to be less of a jerk to students with anxiety disorders.
Sensitive Santas, who are specially-trained to work with autistic children, are a huge win for families.
20 last-minute black feminist gift ideas for girls.
Calling IN: a less disposable way of holding each other accountable.
-Tori writes about many of her students losing their food stamp benefits.
-Angi writes about her big polyamorous wedding.
A personal look at #NotYourAsianSidekick, and an interview with Suey Park, who started the hashtag.
On long-term travel as running toward, not running away.
Darcy the hedgehog’s Instagram pictures are adorable!