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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Entries in WIC (3)

Friday
Feb172012

Soft-Core Porn, The WIC and The Youth Brigade

Hey! Guess what I’m going to bitch about today? So many things, so little time, right?

I’m going to talk about how sex sells.

No, wait. That’s not right. It’s not sex, exactly. Maybe it’s youth that sells? Well, crap. Now I’m not even sure what it is I’m going to bitch about. Well, I’ll just start bitching and we’ll see where this goes….

It all started a few days ago when the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated showed up in our mailbox. As preemptive strike, I’m going to share my personal stance on something that not all women will agree with me on: I have nothing against pornography. Playboy, late night movies on Cinemax – whatever floats your boat is fine with me. I’m not personally a fan of the hard-core stuff, but if you’re into it, then what you do in your private time is YOUR business.1 Of course, there are so many negatives associated with that world;  there are very strong arguments against just about every aspect of pornography, whether soft or hard core. We can argue objectification. We can argue how it empowers women. I think both sides would be correct in some fashion.

I believe that people are free to do what they want to do.  Again, we could drum up some arguments the go against that basic human right.

What’s been bothering me lately is how YOUNG the women are in so much of our advertising these days. It smacks of soft-core porn. I mean, it’s one thing to be young, look mature and try to pass yourself off as an adult. I can relate. I was the height I am now (5’10”) at 13. People thought I was older than I was and I could get away with it if I tried. However, it’s another thing to look like a child in a grown-up situation. To me, that’s crossing some lines. It’s creepy. It grosses me out. I think it encourages young women to by-pass their youth at lightening speed and jump into mature situations they clearly aren’t prepared for mentally. 

This bothers me. A lot. I mean, what’s wrong with being a kid for as long as humanly possible? Why is everyone in such a damn hurry to grow up? I do remember being a kid and wanting to be grown up. I wanted to wear lipstick and shave my legs in the 5th grade. I wasn’t allowed a razor for a several more years and my root beer flavored Lip Smackers was a close as I got to lipstick.

I’m so happy for that. I’m happy that I had a childhood. I‘m happy I climbed tress and ran through the woods and that I came home in the afternoon, covered in mosquitos bites, the occasional tick, scraped knees and dirt under my fingernails. I’m glad that the kids on my block were my friends and that I wasn’t forced into some “play group.” I’m happy for my innocence, my naïveté. I’m happy I wasn’t bombarded with advertising filled with half-naked women bouncing around with giant tits.

There was a Twitter conversation I started  a few weeks  ago regarding the Vera Wang diamond commercial. I saw it and freaked out and tweeted something and a bunch of bloggers jumped in on the creep-factor. Here’s what I’m talking about it case you haven’t seen it.

 

Do you see what I see? I see some scruffy boy who has snuck his Dad’s vintage convertible out the garage and has driven to his family’s mansion by the ocean and taken his 16 year old girlfriend along in hopes of getting laid. Her parents think she’s gone camping with her friend Susie and Susie’s parents. His parents are attending a conference on plastic surgery in Palm Springs and are making a long weekend of it, entrusting their teenage son to take care of things as a responsible young adult.

Oops, wait no? That’s not it? Oh, holy sweet mother of God, those are supposed to adults? Committing to marriage? What? The? Fuck?

OK, so it’s pretty. The girl is pretty. The boy is prettier. I get the whole fantasy marketing scheme in that regard. However, what Zales (and perhaps Vera?) is forgetting is the fact that the average age of folks getting engaged isn’t 12. In 2010, the average age for dudes getting married is 28.2, for the ladies it’s 26.1. (source) Does this advertisement speak to those men and women? I just can’t see how it does unless Generation Y is predisposed to this kind of stuff, which I’m starting to think it is.

Bummer.

For the record, the model in the commercial is Rosie Tupper and she’s 20 years old.

So, my panties untwist themselves regarding the commercial. I move on, but the ick-factor is still there whenever I see it.

Then all hell breaks loose this week. Why? The Candyman’s issue of Sport’s Illustrated shows up. Yup, it’s the swimsuit edition. Now, like I said before, I’m OK with the soft core porn, which is basically what this issue has become. What freaked me out was the cover model.

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The first thing that I noticed? Her crotch. Uh. Um. Where do I start? Let’s see….first and foremost: HELLO AIRBRUSH! Their ain’t no Brazilian wax job that’s gonna look that good. Ever. It just ain’t happening. I wonder if they had to airbrush the vajayjay cleft out?2

Second, I looked at her face and nearly choked. The girl still has her baby-face-fat. She’s still chock full of her natural collagen, her face isn’t as defined as it is yet to be. I was nauseated at how young she looked. But I thought to myself, “Maybe she just looks young, Louise. Don’t be a youth-jealous old fuddy-duddy.” So I went on-line and scoped out this cover model, Kate Upton.

She’s the youngest model to grace the covers of SI and she’s NINETEEN! She’s not even legal drinking age. Whoa.

When I was tooling around on-line and found out who she was and went to her webpage, this is what I found:

Whoa. Nineteen. Did you roll around in sexy lingerie at 19? When I was her age, I think the sexiest thing I may have owned was a pair of black (*GASP*) string bikini Jockey for Her undies. This kind of sexuality just wasn’t the norm.

And now it is. And it bothers me. It’s not the sexuality in and of itself, it’s the models who are being chosen and paid to exhibit it. Must they be and/or look so young? I get that the nubile body of a young woman gets the motors running for most men. I get it. I really do. But how young is too young? How are we defining sexuality by encouraging blatant youth in advertising, both in the wedding industry and otherwise?

In this country, we define “adult” at 18. At 18 you can drive and marry  and vote and go to war, but you can’t drink.3 How many 18 year olds do you know who are mature enough to handle what’s happening in that video above? Does that 19 year old girl (yes, GIRL) understand what’s really going on? Does she realize that in a month or two a good portion of these magazines will be in the trash, crusty and nasty from male “private time”; that most issues will simply be a bathroom pass time?  Gross? Totally. But you know it’s true.

None of this is new. I’m sure some woman felt the same way about the super French-cut bikinis from the 80’s. I haven’t even mentioned Victoria’s Secret in all this. So I see this youth-based sexuality crossing over into the wedding world, where it just doesn’t seem to belong. Does anyone else see this? Does anyone else feel the same way?  Am I being too stuffy? Am I just getting old? Do I not “get” the generation under me? Can I no longer relate?

It makes me shudder to imagine that I am any of these things. I’ve never considered myself a prude or a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. All of it just makes me sad. And confused. How does it make you feel?

 

1 FREAK! No, I’m just kidding.

2I had a graphic artist friend in California who worked for Playboy and his JOB was airbrushing Playboy models. Day in and day out, he removed stretch marks, stray pubes, cellulite. Talk about jaded. That dude couldn’t look at a model without shuddering. He had to quit after 3 years or so. He said it was destroying his faith in humanity.

3Personally, I think if you can be killed for your country, you should be allowed to drink in it. However, I don’t think we should lower the drinking age, but raise the age of military service to 21.

Tuesday
Oct182011

Occupy the WIC!

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First and foremost, the shoot for Premier Bride gig went swimmingly yesterday. It was at a local winery and the weather was a surprising 85 degrees and cloudless. More on that later…

So I’ve been scouring the internet these last few days getting all the juicy-juicy on the new gowns from bridal week. First and foremost: Vera Wang has black “wedding gowns.” Um, no. Vera Wang designed some very pretty black dresses and is calling them wedding gowns. Yes,  a bride can wear any damn color she chooses, but can we PLEASE not start calling any ol’ color gown a wedding gown? It’s confusing enough as it is.

*Stepping off soap box.

Anyway, I came across this article on Huffington Post regarding plus sized gowns. Even though the author claimed it was “not another article about how models are too skinny",” it kinda was. But her point was not lost on me. It basically summarized the fact that bridal salons simply aren’t stocking the sizes that plus sized women need when they shop for wedding gowns. I recently saw an episode of “Say Yes to the Dress” (the Atlanta store) where a plus sized woman, clearly with money to spend, could not find a single gown to fit into. The poor thing was in tears. It was NOT her first attempt at finding a dress to try on and you could just see her frustration bubble over.

The author made her points and it was a good article. I scrolled down looking to tweet the article since I found it so interesting and I saw the following comment:

You might be part of the (Ugh) "Wedding Industry" but you obviously are NOT clued into the Fashion Industry. NO ONE wants to see size XXX on their dress, gown, pants, etc. Thin models are shown so women can dream. Bridal, Ready to Wear, Couture, Swim, on and on. We are not proud of our FAT. The fact that these designers make the dresses in plus sizes is enough. We don't need to flaunt our fat. It doesn't matter if you are a size 8 or 18, you do not want it known that your are overweight­. It just makes for a big #FailWhale on the entire process. I am not sample size and am on a constant diet. I will never be a size 2 again. So be it. But I would die if a sales person brought me a size 14 wedding gown and said, "we can take it in" or worse, "they all run small". Who cares what they run? A girl/woman wants to feel like a princess for her wedding and not see a huge white cream puff drifting like a snow storm out of control down the aisle OR Runway. Let the sales people and designers show the tiny gowns, let them measure (discreetl­y) your size and let them order what they must. And for heaven sake, let the girls dream. Size should never enter into the equation. Period.

Oh, this made me so sad. A little mad, but mostly sad. Here’s why:

I am someone who has struggled with body image ever since I realized that I did not look anything like my friends did in their little Dove shorts. Even though I’ve never been by definition overweight, the internal struggle with body image has been debilitating and exhausting.

Having mostly overcome that struggle (though I trip and fall sometimes) it wrenched my heart to read this comment. The fact that she is constantly dieting is a huge red flag to me. The fact that she laments a size 2 makes me additionally sad and is converse to her “size should never enter into the equation” comment.

And do we REALLY care what the tag says? I mean, for crissake the way things are sized today is a JOKE. In my life, I’ve waxed and waned in my weight with the same 10 pounds, generally bouncing around with the same 4-5 pounds on a weekly basis, depending on whether I had frozen veggie burgers or pizza for dinner. Those 10 pounds on a 5’10” frame are only noticeable to me and my naked self. However, I have sizes ranging in my closet from a 2 to a 10 and I would say that 99.78% of those clothes fit me. It all depends on where I shop that determines the size. I have found that the more expensive the clothes the smaller the size I wear, like a 6. In cheap clothes it’s more like an 8. Jeans, before they started sizing them like guys jeans, were ALWAYS a 10. I’ve owned pieces that were a 12 and a 14 before too. The numbered size on a piece of clothing = BULLSHIT.

And the reality is that wedding gowns run small. They do. Period. Will that tiny piece of nylon fabric sewn into the side seam on the inside of your dress REALLY make you feel THAT BAD about yourself? On your wedding day? On any day? If it does, I say start looking inside yourself versus inside a dress.

And you know what? I DO want to see a plus sized model cruising down the runway. I want to know what kinds of dresses flatter a plus sized figure. On one of those “Say Yes to the Dress” episodes I saw a VERY voluptuous woman demand a mermaid style dress. I though to myself, “Oh no. That will not do well at all.” And  on the first very shiny dress, I was right. But she tried on another one in a matte material and it was va-va-voom HOT TO DEATH. I was dead wrong. And even the stylists were all, “Uh. We got that wrong. She picked the right dress.”

So what is the point to this post? Let’s see:

  • I think seeing plus-sized models on the runway is a good thing.
  • The woman who made the comment? I want to talk to you. I want to shake you gently and then hug you. I want you to love who you are. Don’t hate yourself. Stop dieting and start accepting.
  • I want the inspirational world we’ve been talking about so much lately to incorporate some real-lifeness. It doesn’t have to be every time, but more would be nice. I would like to challenge a photographer to submit a styled shoot with the taste level of SMP with a size 22 model. Or how about the model-thin blonde girl with a minimalistic décor set up at the VFW? I challenge you!

Maybe if we all continue to voice our opinions, wants and desires to the WIC, they will someday start to listen. This may be a pipe dream. Me? I still believe in the Power of the People. Maybe we should all step up and instead of occupying Wall Street, we should Occupy 7th Avenue. Or Occupy the WIC. Who’s with me?

Thursday
Oct132011

Stirring the Pot

*GASP* Stop the blogging presses! There’s controversy in the wedding blog-o-sphere and we can all blame (or thank) Hindsight Bride, Christie and her damning post Dear Wedding Bloggers, You Suck. It’s the best thing I’ve read in along time.

So go there, read it and then come back here. You can find my comment WAY far down, around #158 or so.

Done? Good.

Thoughts? Do you have them? I sure do.

It’s a tough row, this wedding blogging business. I recently met with super-cool-dude-photographer Andy Chen of Indigo Photography here in Charlotte and got totally choked up when he started describing how hard it is to have a successful blog. He talked about the the daily, and really, twice daily posts you need to put up in order to capture attention, stay relevant, stay interesting and to still be different. There are very few people who understand this who are also willing to talk about it in a way that is candid and not laced with a lot of the bullshit that other bloggers say to each other.

Let’s talk a little bit about that bullshit, shall we? So far in my blogging life, I’ve found that there are a few separate camps of bloggers:

1. The Big Guns

These are the bloggers you kind of wish you were only because they are actually making money and have a shit-ton of traffic. It’s not that you/we necessarily want to emulate them. We just want to be as successful, but with our own voice; with the power to advertise people we think are fantastic, not just who pay to play.  The Big Guns are pretty much folks you look at from afar, try not to hate and most importantly: never, ever copy.

Example: Style Me Pretty, The Knot

2. The Indie Big Guns

Again, they are making money. They are “different.” They have a voice that doesn’t smack of girls on the high school cheerleading squad, looking down their noses at the girls in the marching band. It’s welcoming, but still a bit exclusionary (in terms of bloggers, not brides) simply because they are that big.

Example: The Rock-n-Roll Bride, The Offbeat Bride

3. Large and Friendly

These are the ones that everyone loves. They are  pretty in a way that doesn’t depress you because it’s coupled with DIY and real life stuff. If you reach out to these folks, there’s generally a response of some kind that at the very least is polite, if not wonderful.

Example: The Broke-Ass Bride, Snippet & Ink

4. Actually Helpful

I believe that this is where a huge chunk of us fall. I put myself in this category. There are a lot of different voices in this realm. Some are super-girly and pretty, others push the envelope.  There’s all wedding all the time with actual advice and tutorials and all that. Then there are lots of folks like me who started out writing a personal wedding blog and then kept that going. We mix wedding stuff in simply because we’re junkies for the eye-candy, but still need a place to put thoughts to page for fear of going bananas in our personal lives.

Examples: Hindsight Bride, Souris Mariage, My Hands Made it

This is where the interaction between bloggers gets a little…weird. Everyone wants to be the next, best and biggest and people play their cards close to the chest.  Many people are afraid to share traffic stats, how much they charge for advertising, how they succeeded or failed at something. It’s kind of ridiculous in my book.

On the flip side, there are many, many wonderful people in this group as well. There are people willing to collaborate, share and lift each other up as a group versus forcing exclusivity. They are outgoing, responsive and helpful. They help create the community that (like it or not) we are all a part of.

The funny thing is that there are these “wedding blogging communities” (and I’m using “community” here very, very loosely) that have seminars and such regarding how to make your blog better, how to make more money at it, etc. Once I requested to attend one of these and was subsequently denied access by my peers. Hello? Slap in the face. I often times wondered if it was because I curse on my blog, or write when I’m angry or sad. After that “access denied” experience, I decided to do MY thing MY way and in my best marching band attitude, flipped the big, fat finger to those same damn cheerleaders. What’s funny is this who’s who of wedding bloggers? Well, there hasn’t been a post on THAT site since December of 2010. Guess that’s going well for you guys, huh? That “by invitation only” gig?

What? Me? Bitter? Pshaw, y’all.

5. Blogging Brides

God love them. I was one. I don’t like the ones that post pictures of their bachelorette parties or engagement parties because it’s like, *yawn*. I like the ones who are stressed and sometimes freak out and who talk about real stuff that people can relate to. And these folks can be wildly popular. I don’t want to imply that since they are last on the list that they are somehow less important or less read. A lot of these folks have better stats than me.

Examples: A Los Angeles Love (though she’s moved on now that she’s married), Inconceivable Life

So when the photographer on Hindsight Bride lashed out at wedding bloggers, I wanted to lash right back. Boo Hoo. You’re not getting featured on the sites you’re submitting to. Join the fucking club. This stuff is hard. There are a million other planners, photographers, bloggers, cake designers, florists, limo drivers, venues, dress designers, DJs, invitation designers, who are all clambering for a spot at the top – if only for the briefest of moments. Get in line. Pay your dues. WORK HARD. Get creative.

Everyone gets a little down on themselves every once in a  while, particularly when like, the millionth door has been slammed in your face (I’ve got my fair share of doorknob bruises, trust me). It’s super easy to blame people around you for not being where you want to be. Don’t do that. It’s a slippery slope that will backfire on your whining ass.

My advice to the photographer? Shush up or own your opinions. Anonymity = chicken shit in my book. Also, look hard at who you are as an artist and photographer. Find you niche and own it. So what if you’re never featured on Style Me Pretty?   If you had owned your own thoughts on Hindsight Bride? GAH! You’d have had more traffic than you could have dreamed of this week! Hindsight Bride’s freakin’ server shut down she’s had so many hits on this post. Bummer for you, eh?

There’s going to be more to talk about the post on Hindsight Bride. It goes along with what I’ve touched on before – The Real vs. The Pretty. I like what’s going on here. I like when the wedding industry gets grabbed by their size 2 shoulders and shaken about a bit. Why? Because it makes The Real, really pretty.