Futher boob items for higher boob consciousness

In 2015 I brought you the first boob list installment: three t-shirts and one vase printed with my new and probably forever favourite motif – BOOBS.

It’s 2016 (oh, hey, happy new year…don’t fracture your foot at new year’s and you’ll probably have a better one than I had) and consequently time for a new enviable boob collection to, uh, lust after, including socks, a fancy sheer top, and a shower curtain. See, the boobs have you covered in your varying states of (un)dress.

Your socks cover your feet, and your weird little toes (not sorry, they’re creepy) but who’s to say they can’t be an emblem of yer boob love too?

Enter Etsy shop Coucou Suzette.

At this very moment the boob socks are sold out. You can still buy sassy-as-hell topless mermaid socks or naked man and lady socks, though. The world’s yer oyster.

What might help assuage your boob sockless existence is an enamel pin. Rather, a pair of enamel pins. Of what? You don’t say…

You could wear them on your lapel or your collar. Wear them all punky-like on your jean or leather jacket. I don’t care, just wear them.

Or you might not want to wear some boobages. You might just want to bathe behind them.

This shower curtain is sold by Etsy shop Bermuda, and is a fun and graphic (hehe) take on individual bathing rituals. Droopiness is a way of life, people, and it’s beautiful.

If a practical piece isn’t enough and you really want to display some boob art, may I gently direct you toward Mary Charlene’s Etsy shop?

Mary Charlene (you know, @IamEnidColeslaw of Twitter) is a visual artist, and gives us sad weird (queer) girls some levity with our dumb haircuts, outrageous shoes, and mopey posturing.

You can’t buy the turquoise-bobbed, pink-nippled lady above, because I already bought that one, but her shop is always stocked with curvy latex enthusiasts and beach-goers and the like.

No, I have no idea what you’re talking about, all of these pictures are CUTE and FUN, not DARK and DEPRESSING.

Finally, I may have discovered the Cadillac of boob shirts in Etsy seller Laurs Kemp‘s version.

It’s so good. It’s sheer. It’s elbow-sleeved. It comes in pink! It’s kinda fashion-y. I had resigned myself to a clever boob-printed t-shirt and some good styling, but this takes the fashion quotient up a few notches.

And check it out, I’m Lorze, she’s Laurs, it’s like we’re practically related.

Hey guys, if you see a (chic! it must be chic, or at least cool) boob-related item and don’t notify me of it right away, I will be super sad.

Favourite songs (and music videos) of 2015 – Part 2

AGAIN: in no particular order and almost guaranteed to have songs missing.

Wheeee, here we go again!

“Confetti (In Your Fucking Face)” – Motherfucker

This band is in my top three music discoveries of the year, via my pal Nyala. Their rock/punk/hardcore sound is unlike anything else I’ve heard this year – which is super cool, but also super rare. I unreservedly adore many, MANY of the post-punk revival bands that are working right now, but it’s easier to trace the lineage they follow from: here’s some Gang of Four, there’s the PiL, here’s a bit of Delta 5.

Motherfucker are harder to shoehorn into a specific punk timeline, and all the more rewarding for that.

“Silver Spoons” – Skinny Girl Diet

I’ll just let them say it.

On riot grrrl:

“We feel like some parts of are very vacuous. The ’90s Riot Grrrl movement shouldn’t be ‘revived’ just as an aesthetic. It was more than just a fashion statement: it was a political movement and we feel like some people are forgetting that. We also think that it shouldn’t be revived at all because it is a totally different era and there should be something new, because although the current state of politics is slightly similar to back then, it’s also very different and people should focus less on reviving something from the past and focus more on creating a new movement for the future – one which makes history instead of being some gimmicky fad that fades away.” [source]

“The Big Freeze” – Hag Face

Hag Face (“witch punk from Calgary”) are the biggest treat. They’re bratty and scream-y and scary and messy. They appear chaotic, but it’s a testament to their rhythm section – Kelsie and Lindsay – that everything seems like it might fall apart at any second but never actually does.

And most importantly, they look and sound like they’re having a hell of a lot of fun.

“Carrion Flowers” – Chelsea Wolfe

I think if Chelsea Wolfe were a spooky, scary, one-trick pony, her appeal would have worn off several albums ago. Put another way, her growth as an artist is rather an anomaly in the particular goth-folk genre she works in.

But nope, she has both songwriting chops and a genuinely creepy, unaffected style and delivery. I think it’s the effortlessness with which she delivers the spookiness: this is goth for grown-ups.

“Fool” – Nadine Shah

I keep thinking of all the upcoming possibilities for Nadine Shah’s music career. Two albums in and she’s established herself as an incredibly talented songwriter who takes herself as seriously as she takes her influences. She’s not the canvas upon which her influences play; rather, she takes them and fashions something new and sharp.

“Straight Lines” – Shopping

Shopping are doing the right thing with their post-punk throwback angle: they’re bringing the politics back alongside those familiar angular sounds.

That unlikeliest of things, a post-punk revival band fronted by a queer woman of colour, Shopping make personal the 21st century’s particular economic and social failings, while actually answering their own big questions and carving out space for themselves to speak their minds. The politics don’t come at the expense of fun, though – this was some of the most nimble and sprightly rock of the year.

“Flesh Without Blood” – Grimes

The song I listened to most while dancing around the house pretending to be a Grimes-style urban faerie. This is also true of Art Angels in its entirety. She makes perfect electro-pop seem so easy.

Grimes truly is a phenomenon and deserves every single one of the accolades she’s receiving.

“Helelyos” – Sexwitch

The album that most made me question my no-spirituality-in-any-guise-ever stance, let’s be totally honest here. I had no idea witches were having all this fun without me.

But seriously, I know it’s all stereotype and in-joke. Still, that doesn’t detract from the effectiveness of the six psych covers on offer here from Natasha Khan, Dan Carey, and TOY.

“Bitch Better Have My Money” – Rihanna

Yeah, the video’s better than the song, but the song ain’t exactly shabby. I’d probably help kill a person if Rihanna wanted me to.

“Shake It Off” – Screaming Females

This Taylor Swift cover is almost better than their album Rose Mountain. ALMOST.

Cheers, Marissa Paternoster.

Favourite songs (and music videos) of 2015 – Part 1

In no particular order and almost guaranteed to have songs missing. I’m not good at authority, even if that authority is my own.

Let’s do this.

“Lemonade” – Nicole Dollanganger

This is what Lana Del Rey wanted to convey with “Video Games” and fell short of. Transports you to a pink suburban bedroom and the creep of desperate isolation instantly.

“Figure 8” – FKA Twigs

Is this the best song from the M3L155X (pronounced “Melissa”) EP? Maybe not.

Does it stand out even on the flawless 16 minutes of beauty and perfection that is M3L155X? Yup.

Am I totally enthralled by Twigs, her every breakdown, every manicured flick of her fingers, every sibilant hiss-whisper? Sure.

I mean, why fight it?

“Jellyfish” – Laura Stevenson

Laura Stevenson was kind of known for her gentle (and meticulously crafted) singer-songwriter approach to guitar rock, and then she released an album called Cocksure, and this was the first single from it, and all of a sudden Laura Stevenson was introducing us to a different Laura Stevenson, one that put all of her flaws and asshole-y provocations on display and was upfront about being a misanthropic wretch, accompanied by some of the sunniest alterna-pop of the year, and it worked brilliantly and she never sounded more like herself.

“On Fire” – Angel Haze

Dirty Gold (Angel Haze’s first full-length record, released in 2013) was kind of a mess, but Haze came back three months ago with mixtape Back To The Woods. It reclaims the ferociousness that first caught listeners’ ears at the beginning of their career, and it reclaims and makes powerful what was, by all accounts, a brutal year in their life.

It transfers that power and swagger to the listener. I can’t stop listening to it, anyway.

“Tilted” – Christine and The Queens

I only fell for this song two weeks ago, but wow, did I fall HARD. What catalyzed the process was this video – I had heard the song before then, never listening very attentively, but when I sought out and watched this music video, suddenly it had my complete attention.

Some people might argue that’s the sign of a bad song but a good clip, and up to a point they might be right. However, there are some songs that open up to you by way of their visual accompaniment, and this is one of them. The spare, poetic choreography, for one, but also the minimalism, the suit and loafers as statement of intent/uniform, the spaciousness of the music as reflected in the visuals. This has an impact far beyond the sum of its parts.

“In For The Kill” – Shamir

We all want to hang out with Shamir, right?

Ratchet caught me off-guard with its awesomeness and the sheer fun that Shamir sounds like they’re having. I love the maximalism, the throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks approach, the perfect pop songwriting, the cheeky delivery.

And anyone who declares “…I have no gender, no sexuality, and no fucks to give” is truly a hero in my eyes.

“A New Name” – Pleasure Leftists

Pleasure Leftists caught me by surprise this year too. I was at a La Luna gig, and they were one of two opening bands.

Singer Haley Morris (I didn’t realize who she was at the time) was skulking around the stage between sets, looking a little sketchy, wearing an early ’90s-style windbreaker and generally seeming a bit out of place.

Then she shed the jacket, took the stage with her bandmates, and belted out a set that reminded me of the best late-’70s post punk in the most freshly modern way.

SOLD.

“Hinterland” – LoneLady

LoneLady (aka Julie Campbell) still really flies under the post-punk revival radar, and it’s hard to work out why.

Hinterland, her second solo album, builds brilliantly on the spare grooves of 2010’s Nerve Up. She’s really found her niche here – the music is as funky as the lyrics are exploratory and industrial. And I mean industrial literally – as homage to Manchester’s crumbling, derelict architecture and vacant factory spaces, it’s a walking tour with an addictive beat.

“Hell You Talmbout” – Janelle Monáe and Wondaland Records

I’m not actually sure that a protest song belongs on this list, as its gravity and social relevance doesn’t really befit a best-of-whatever style listicle. This format is way too crass for this song.

THAT SAID, I wanted to include this to get people to listen to it and because, even among protest songs, it is outstanding.

Obviously the song that gave me the most bone-deep shivers this year.

“The Answer” – Savages

SAVAGES ARE MY VERY VERY FAVOURITE BAND RIGHT NOW AND I’M SEEING THEM IN APRIL I MIGHT EXPLODE.

If the show is even slightly like the shoot for this video I will die, and die exquisitely happy.

Looking ice-cold for winter: blue/purple lipsticks

A friend mentioned to me in passing the other day that she’s on the lookout for a good royal blue/purple lipstick.

The timing was excellent, because it just so happens that I’m on the same hunt right now. At the risk of looking like some kind of absurd Joker, with my current green hair, a cool blue-toned purple lip is a perfect pre-holiday boost and bright spot to get me through winter.

Please keep in mind that I haven’t personally tried any of these lipsticks at this point, but I thought rounding them up and comparing shade variations and formulas was useful. I know some people don’t, but I do strongly believe in beauty shopping on the internet. The incredible amount of research that beauty bloggers and vloggers do to give shoppers a precise sense of shade, opacity, texture, application, and wear is sooooooo useful.

These are the ones I wanna try out.

By Starlight by Melt Cosmetics

By Starlight is the royal purple I’d been planning to buy. I have Melt’s forest green lipstick, Blow, and the formula is amazing. The colour is rich, the texture is truly matte, it wears forever and resists coming off even while I drink gimlets all night, and the cool and deep green shade is totally bewitching.

However, for as long as Melt Cosmetics have been on my radar, By Starlight has been out of stock at their webstore. I understand they’re a small company and make products on a small, batch-by-batch basis, but I’m pretty ready to take my business elsewhere at this point.

You can understand my dilemma, though, right? It’s the truest, purest, most satisfying purple.

Kontrol by Illamasqua

Here’s a slightly different proposition. Illamasqua’s Kontrol has some of those same purple tones, tempered by a generous dash of blue, made interesting by a subdued grey tone that I keep being drawn to.

It’s like a cool, unusual mauve – I know it sounds weird, but I think it would look amazing on a wide range of skin tones – definitely people with very pale or yellow-based complexions.

This shade is in Illamasqua’s matte formula, which I’m not familiar with. Swatch photos I’ve perused give me the impression it has a slightly more moisturizing, lustrous finish than, for example, Melt’s formula, which can be drying.

Be-Dazzled by ColourPop Cosmetics

ColourPop is another brand I haven’t personally used but have read so many amazing things about. The important things are: the price, the formulas, the shades. Incredible quality and colour range for the price point. Their signature ultra-matte lip product is $6 a pop. Yes, that’s US dollars, but even with exchange and shipping I’m inclined to say it’s worth the risk. And yes, they do ship to Canada. Hey, they’re American but they spell ‘colour’ with a ‘u’ – they’re just that classy.

Anyway, LOOK. AT. THIS. PURPLE. This is the purple of royalty and the tastiest grape candy and probably Prince himself, I won’t rule it out.

It’s a liquid-to-matte formula, so it goes on with a doe-foot wand and dries to a bold and durable finish. For best results, they advise exfoliating your lips first and ensuring your mouth is dry and bare before application. I’d argue that this is good to do anytime you’re using a deep lip shade in a matte formula, but for liquid-to-matte formulas it’s especially important.

I’m Royalty by Jeffree Star

Jeffree Star’s velour liquid lipstick is another liquid-to-matte formula. This one, called I’m Royalty, reminds me of Be-Dazzled, above, but cooler in tone and even more matte in texture. Because of the formula, the same guidelines apply for lip prep and application – you don’t want this one clinging to dry wintery lip skin and then flaking off.

The product’s creator is, of course, Jeffree Star: a musician and glamaholic from back in Myspace’s heyday. He made his name as a sort of internet-era club kid, and has been doing makeup for the rich and famous since before he did music. His makeup range is his most recent venture, and by all accounts, it’s a huge success.

If you’re into the blue tone of this colour, and want something slightly further in that direction, the brand’s Blue Velvet shade is an intriguing option.

Amethyst by NYX

A slightly different take on the liquid-to-matte lipstick, NYX emphasizes the cream aspect of their liquid suede cream lipstick. I see it as something that fits alongside liquid lipsticks and the soft matte lip creams that NYX is known for in formula and purpose.

The product line has been praised for its rich pigmentation and staying power. There’s not a ton of colours to choose from, but Amethyst hits the mark with its cool pure purple.

The best news? NYX recently launched their Canadian webstore. Most of their line has been available in Rexall drugstores for years, but there are limited edition items that are only available online, and which excluded Canadians – until now.

Immortal by NYX

Here’s the outlier of the bunch – a shimmery blue-purple lipstick that’s lustrous, glossy, and full of sparkle. Part of NYX’s Wicked Lippies collection, the shade Immortal lies right between a royal purple and a cobalt blue. The base colour skews violet, but there’s tons of electric blue shimmer thrown in. It’s got a dimensionality that’s really fun, especially given the trend (and demand!) for matte, long-wearing lip products.

If the shade appeals, there are lots of beauty bloggers and vloggers who’ve covered formula and wear. People who’ve reviewed it like it a lot – the opacity and wear are excellent for the price as well as for a shimmer lipstick…it’s never going to perform like a matte, and that’s to be expected.

Among the Wicked Lippies range, if your taste runs more toward the pure, deep purples, there’s a beauty called Betrayal that looks amazing. If pure cobalt is what you’re looking for, check out the shade called Envy.

The lust list, I’m still alive edition

Well hello there! I suppose I should be welcoming myself back to Lorzeland.

Hey Lorze, welcome back, how goes?

Hey thanks for asking Lorze, I’ve been DJing a bunch of gigs lately and in between that I’ve had a persistent head cold, so, you know, business as usual.

I can tell you’re thinking about clothing and that’s why you’re back – to share the things you want to buy but haven’t the resources to.

Shut up.

Anyway, here’s the current favs rundown.

Vintage Comme des Garçons structured velvet top

LOOK AT IT.

It’s what a ’90s-does-’20s deco androgyne would wear.

Also, my favourite colours.

Via dot.COMME, who has the coolest collection of vintage CdG and other avant-garde Japanese designers.

Motel x Grace Neutral Vince slip dress

I had no idea who Grace Neutral was until a couple days ago when she was profiled for i-D to promote her capsule collab with Brit brand Motel. She’s a London-based tattoo artist and Instagrammer who, as I understand it, has been a big influence in alternative and body mod scenes for years, but is just now hitting the edge of mainstream fashion.

I’ve never cared about body mods, but look at her violet eyes! The print fabric used for her Motel collection is a reflection of the art that’s resulted from her signature stick ‘n’ poke tattoo work. It grabbed me right away.

Yeezy x Adidas boucle sweater

All of Kanye West’s Yeezy season 1 collection is sold out all over the world, I assume, and probably did so within the first day of being on sale October 27. Obviously it’s fine because I’m a dirtbag who won’t pay $200 for a sweater, never mind $1,500.

(Yes, it certainly does depend on the sweater, but let’s be real here.)

Regardless, this nubbly wool sweater was my favourite piece from his first collection. I love the voluminous direction Kanye’s style has taken over the last several years, and I love texture, especially in knits, so I appreciated what he and Adidas premiered last month.

Honestly everyone else is so skeptical but I am pumped to see where Yeezy’s fashion career goes from here.

Ohhio chunky merino sweater

I like sweaters, okay? I like them particularly when they transform the wearer into a soft chunk of cotton candy swaddling.

This one’s by Etsy seller Ohhio and makes me dream about being eaten by clouds, which is maybe the most soothing thought ever.

Outtakes from Two Living Female Rock Fans on The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic

A little while ago my friend and fellow music obsessive Nyala Ali and I sat down and chatted about Jessica Hopper’s recent book, The First Collection of Criticism By a Living Female Rock Critic and wrote about our responses for Shameless Magazine‘s blog.

Because we wrote about eight million words and had about as many thoughts, we had to scale back the piece for publication, but we still wanted to air the rest of our discussion that the book and its essays prompted.

Here are the bits that didn’t make it into the final publication. It’s probably best if you read the Shameless piece before you read this one, but I won’t hunt you down if you don’t. I won’t do anything; I can’t even force you to read our brilliant and, uh, rather irreverent work.

• • •

Jessica Hopper’s essay on David Bazan (“The Passion of David Bazan“), formerly of Pedro the Lion and a former Christian, is a moving piece on the role of the musician and the musician’s authority on such delicate life-or-death matters as faith. Bazan recounts his career before and since he became an agnostic and reflects on how his role has shifted in the eyes of his fans.

Nyala: That statement about one right version of a thing and how narratives can get collapsed makes me think of religion, which can cause similar kinds of pressure and have the same kind of constraining effects on narrative as gender, or genre do.

Laura: That David Bazan/Pedro the Lion piece (“The Passion of David Bazan”) surprised me with its awesomeness. I don’t know if it had any right to be that good. Hopper’s definitely invested in this one though – I wonder if it’s because she used to work as Bazan’s publicist? [She mentions this in the piece]. I have no idea if she is or ever was a Christian.

Nyala: I think it’s successful because it equates music fan indoctrination with religious indoctrination. And yes, you can tell she’s emotionally invested in it.

Laura: Yes, and then the loss of faith. It’s like, if you’re going to be a Christian, and if you’re going to continue being a fan of Bazan’s music, you have to be in denial to a certain extent.

Nyala: And faith in god and faith in music/your favourite band can be very similar. They can both save you.

Laura: Yes, they can both save you. In that way I associated this piece with the opening essay in the collection, called “I Have a Strange Relationship with Music”, about music and its lifesaving power to Hopper.

I also think this one was effective because of the fan engagement angle of it. I think that’s what hooked me. I found that Bazan’s views on his own music and his own faith were insightful, but that particularly in comparison to the fan responses were hugely resonant.

At least to me…I am unfamiliar with Pedro the Lion and I’ve never been a fan, but I could have been. I was a Christian teenager and I was on that path or whatever. That realization felt weird.

Nyala: I had listened to this band, was a fan around the time of their last album [2004’s Achilles Heel], and I didn’t even realize they were Christian. Although now that I think about it, the person who introduced this band to me did have really strong ties to Christianity.

Laura: I found it strange and touching that the fans believed in Bazan like they believed in any other god figure. He almost filled a prophet-type role for them.

Nyala: …but also they thought of him as infallible, even wrong about his own doubts.

Laura: It’s like a tiny little encapsulation of the Christian faith and the people who break away from it: if you have doubts but are surrounded by people whose covenant it is to, like, keep you in the fold. Forgive you. Keep going.

Nyala: As not having grown up particularly religious, I also aligned this piece with the idea of seeing your favourite punk band or whatever sell out. It’s so damning to fans because they feel like the band doesn’t belong to them anymore.

Laura: Yeah, but in this case the fans are in total denial about it! And there’s so much drama, yet subtlety, in the lyrics that are included as part of this essay. Many of them summarize thoughts I’ve had about being a Christian and not being a Christian anymore. The songs are about those first realizations of doubt, before anything is public, where you first start to admit to yourself, “Oh, I’m about to wreck my whole life.”

Nyala: I honestly thought this story was being set up, was going to lead to the fans being really brutally let down by their favourite musician’s loss of faith, but they refuse to be. It doesn’t go there at all.

The problem with faith shows the fallibility of both – when a person’s faith in a thing is bigger than the thing itself.

Laura: Going back to the “I Have a Strange Relationship with Music” essay: Hopper writes about getting into music criticism and being a fan in order to have “…a language to decipher just how fucked up I am.” I definitely equate that with Bazan’s faith and subsequent loss of faith.

First his faith gave him that language to speak about his own fuckedupness. Then his agnosticism gave him that language, and a more accurate one. The difference between acknowledging your own fuckedupness as a Christian and then again without that faith, is conceding that you are quite literally irredeemably fucked up – there is no savior anymore.

Christian rock, in my opinion, is pretty notorious for sidestepping how fucked up and messy life is. Rock music is about how irredeemably messy things are. I don’t know if Christian rock can even be categorized as rock by that reasoning. But even before his loss of faith, Bazan focused on the messy and fucked up – his critical thinking skills were clearly well-developed even as a Christian, which makes him an outlier to begin with.

Nyala: It becomes clear that some of the fans have positioned him as a god figure, and maybe they think that his loss of faith is a test for them? There’s a lot of contrasting real/fake stuff going on here too, in addition to the whole chapter with that title and its focus on authenticity/artifice.

• • •

One essay in particular in Hopper’s collection – about Suicide Girls and its cultural impact – struck us as out of place. Not being about music and without a clear connection to an issue that Hopper felt strongly about, it didn’t have that personal investment that made many of her other essays so successful. Ostensibly about women’s media and its role, Hopper shies away from taking a firm stance here, undermining what could have been an effective piece.

Nyala: Ugh, so this Suicide Girls piece (“Nude Awakening: Suicide Girls”, co-written with Julianne Escobedo Shepherd).

Laura: Seriously, why the fuck is this here? Okay, I get why it’s here, but you know what I’m saying. This is probably the piece that annoyed me most in the Strictly Business chapter.

Okay, so at the time [2003-06, roughly], there was a template for what “alternative” girls and boys were supposed to look like. For girls it was Suicide Girls…

Nyala: …and for boys it was Warped. It’s true. I felt so outside of the emerging feminine version of alternative glamour or whatever.

Laura: I knew that I felt outside of it and had little interest, but I was aware that it was positioned as some kind of ideal. I didn’t have that critical thinking apparatus yet at that time, so I just felt shitty about myself. In hindsight the marketing behind it is super transparent, though, but I couldn’t really see it for what it was.

Nyala: Its harmfulness was definitely percolating for me.

Laura: I know it also has to do with the fact that I was very much on the periphery of popular/internet culture at this point, so I think that also contributed to me feeling like an outsider to this thing that was positioned as a “phenomenon.”

Anyway, I love how Hopper is juuuuuust shy of being openly disdainful of the Suicide Girls phenomenon.

Nyala: That’s the issue I have with this essay. It’s supposed to be positioned as an exposé but it comes across as super rote.

Laura: It’s weird that she comes to no firm conclusion, that also seems to undermine it as the exposé it’s positioned as.

Nyala: Yeah, I wish she had written about the impact that these events had on the other girls observing and participating in it.

Laura: Totally, and we don’t know what happened to all of these sketchy people involved. If she’s mature enough as a critic and as a writer to be disdainful of these events, or probably more accurately to establish herself as an authority on these kinds of issues, then she needs to take a stance on them.

Nyala: I absolutely think that not taking a stance here is borderline harmful and I really don’t trust it.

Yeah, I wish she had written about the impact that these events had on the other girls observing and participating in it.

Laura: Totally, and we don’t know what happened to all of these sketchy people involved. If she’s mature enough as a critic and as a writer to be disdainful of these events, or probably more accurately to establish herself as an authority on these kinds of issues, then she needs to take a stance on them.

Nyala: I absolutely think that not taking a stance here is borderline harmful and I really don’t trust it.

Laura: YES. Like the tone of the Jim DeRogatis and R. Kelly piece.

Nyala: It’s like the Jim DeRogatis and R. Kelly piece is near the beginning of the book and established that she’s absolutely capable of effectively doing an interview on a moral/ethics issue like this and taking a stance. So why didn’t she do it with the Suicide Girls one?

Laura: Maybe the stakes are higher? I don’t know much about Jim DeRogatis, but he seems like a really good guy. I don’t doubt that he actually is a good guy, but part of that is due to her writing too. Honestly it’s a bit weird how this piece really ends up being about two men: the good guy and the bad guy.

Nyala: Absolutely, it’s a reflection of the types of people who have the power to shape dominant narratives. It’s about the truth-teller role.

Laura: She attempts to take on this role for the Suicide Girls piece but never gets around to doing any definitive truth-telling. It’s really an unfortunate wasted opportunity.

Towards an inclusive beauty industry

(That title sounds drier than I meant it to sound.)

Remember the This Girl Can campaign video that was launched by Sport England right at the beginning of this year? The campaign marked the beginning of a concerted effort from Sport England and a bunch of associated organizations to get more women doing physical activity, despite the naysayers – you know, ourselves and everybody else who says our bodies aren’t (yet) good enough to bare to the public in exercise or fun or a combination of both.

I actually had to look up what the video represented right now to write that paragraph. All I remember from watching it at the time is how I felt while viewing it. For a lot of women, including me, it marked a major turning point in the way we saw women’s bodies depicted doing sports and physical activity onscreen.

In it, we saw ourselves depicted in a wide array of sizes, shapes, gender expressions, abilities, races, ethnicities, classes, states of (un)dress, and – very importantly – sweatiness levels.

For the minute and a half duration of the clip, it occurred to me how absurd in comparison the marketing is for mainstream companies who are trying to sell their workout products to me. Or, more accurately, not to me – I don’t work out regularly and have an overdeveloped antipathy towards depictions of flat, smooth, sweat-free bodies in exercise scenarios, particularly when I smell a huge corporate marketing scheme.

My body will never do that, my body is fine the way it is, I don’t need my body to do that, and most of all I don’t care about how my body looks in these clothes that I’m supposed to want – and want to fit into – at all costs.

Still, I’m unused to fitness marketing that I don’t have to fight against to be included in.

While the This Girl Can campaign is certainly a piece of marketing, it’s a different kind. Possibly for the first time in my life, I wasn’t being told how to look while exercising. We’re being told that whatever we look like, however we feel, and however we do it, is good. The clip aimed at inclusivity, and it succeeded.

(If you define success as motivating me to get off the couch and exercise, then…perhaps it’s less successful. THAT’S NEITHER HERE NOR THERE.)

Similarly but in a much more fun (at least to me) vein, I was stopped in my tracks today by a video that premiered on i-D.

Look, you may not care about makeup or beauty or anything like that, but I want you to watch it, okay?

Made by i-D in collaboration with Sephora and lots of really cool-seeming models and media personalities, not to mention crew and technical personnel, the A-Z of Beauty Together clip amalgamated a whole bunch of scenes, social media movements, socio-economic classes, cultural happenings, and sites of resistance as viewed through these groups’ beauty rituals.

Like the This Girl Can vid, it had an immediate and emotional effect on me. Like the This Girl Can vid, it’s not perfect, but right now it looks like the future. If this is what being marketed at can feel like, then I am game for a bit more of it.

The beauty and fashion industry has been playing catch-up for the last five to ten-ish years, or since Instagram and alternative beauty and fashion blogs taught media-savvy fashion types that they could be the creators and high priestesses of their own dream looks and influence big media, instead of the other way around.

As a teenager I dabbled in reading fashion mags. As a young adult I swore them and high fashion off altogether, believing it all inaccessible and non-inclusive to the many, many different kinds of people who wanted to be included in fashion, who wanted to see themselves reflected at least a little bit in the industry’s hairpin twists and turns.

In 2015, much of this has changed. Fashion bloggers and Instagrammers post their daily outfits for thousands of followers/viewers, some of them designer and costly, many of them inclusive of everything from designer to vintage to Forever 21, and lots and lots of them built from trawls through bargain racks and big box stores. Yes, that’s its own evil, but as far as accessibility goes, social media has spread out influence from the tycoons to the little guys too, meaning that a way wider variety of people have been able to gain success in an elitist industry than ever before.

The industry has started to change in accordance with this. Slooooooowly. (Too slowly.)

Appropriation is still rampant, people of colour still can’t find makeup in shades made for them, differently abled people are usually nowhere to be found, femme shaming is still a thing, men who are feminine and use makeup are questioned about their sexuality and credibility, plus size people don’t have the same clothing options as their straight size counterparts, trans people want to find clothes that fit both their bodies and their genders.

Futhermore, some scenes and subcultures get more credibility and mainstream acceptability than others. People who don’t identify as feminine or masculine struggle to find styles they feel at home in. Queer invisibility exists because of assumptions made based on appearance.

In the A-Z of Beauty Together clip, many of these serious industry problems collapse in the face of subculture takeover. Everyone gets their moment. Diversity finally gets a series of real faces and bodies, all lovely, all different.

It gave me a bit of hope, you know? I mean, I know that these girls and boys exist and are making themselves look exactly as individual as they feel, but this signals that the industry might be paying more attention.

In some peoples’ eyes it’s superficial and of no consequence, but the ability to present yourself exactly as you feel you are at any given moment is a privilege that many Western straight-sized, conventionally abled, white, gender-normative consumers aren’t even aware they rely on for their individuality, even for their mental health.

So even if it’s at the hands of a big corporation like Sephora, the acknowledgement of difference feels nice. It feels like a resistance.

Let’s skronk

I have been listening to a whole bunch of saxophone-featuring punk-ish bands lately, and I wanna spread the joy.

And not all the bands are old, either. (I love you, X-Ray Spex, and I’m sorry I just called you old.)

Newer bands like Melt Yourself Down, Bill Mountain and Pill (featured previously on this blog because I love them so much) and Coughs from about ten years ago have incorporated that distinct honk into their chaotic sounds.

Alto sax was the instrument I was half-assigned and half self-elected to play (because it was cool, you see) as a junior and senior high-schooler, so the familiar sometimes-dingy, sometimes bright skronk of a saxophone is also near and dear to me.

Okay, not that dear to me: I quit the instrument the second I graduated.

Sax is still good, though. Add one to your punk band today.

Latest from Lorze

A couple pieces that I’d been working on earlier in the summer were published online recently, and if you haven’t read them, please take a look!

I wrote about coming up with outfits inspired by my favourite punk bands for Bustle, which was super fun. Some of these clothing combinations I don’t wear on a daily basis, so it was awesome to put these looks together. And who doesn’t want to channel their inner Mish Way sometimes?

You can read the piece here.

And today, Shameless ran a music-related piece I did for them, this time focusing on trans and genderqueer bands. Against Me! are definitely far from being a new band, but Laura Jane Grace’s activism has meant that more trans and genderqueer bands are getting mainstream exposure, which is exactly what prompted me to discover their music in the first place.

You can read it here.

Don’t YOU remember when you were young and wanted to set the world on fire?

The conundrum of rocking horse shoes, or the concerns of a culturally-conscious fashion nerd

Image credit: Vivienne Westwood

I’m a white person. (It’ll become relevant in a second.)

These (above) are rocking horse shoes. First designed and introduced by Vivienne Westwood and since adopted and beloved by devotees of the Lolita fashion subculture, originating in Japan. I am 100% not qualified to write a history of Lolita fashion and culture, nor would I want to, as there are millions of girls and women totally committed and immersed in it who’d be able to tell you its draw, its appeal, its beauty, its wonder. Look them up. They’re pretty badass.

The rocking horse name refers to the style and construction of the sole of the shoe, as opposed to the styling of the upper portion, which can take a number of forms, including ballerinas, ankle boots, sandals, and golf shoes complete with fringe. The sole slopes dramatically in front so the wearer can rock gently back and forth on her feet, like a rocking horse. The cutaway section at the back of the heel is to balance the shoe and make it lighter.

A young woman in Lolita fashion, including rocking horse shoes. Image credit: Vysanthe S. on Lookbook.

Currently, and since about the early to mid ’90s, they’ve been a largely Japanese style phenomenon. Because they are so strongly associated with Lolita style in its many variations, I actually initially assumed they were a design of Japanese origin. (Certainly Westwood had some Japanese influences in mind when designing the shoe – that’s clear just from looking at it.) That assumption is what prompted my anxieties about buying and wearing rocking horse shoes, but it’s not an invalid query whatever the origins of the style. The fact is that they are synonymous with Japanese Lolita fashion, and as a fashion enthusiast (not to say a total platform shoe obsessive) with a lot of sensitivity for appropriation and cultural thievery disguised as “discovering” the new cool style, I wanted to find out more about their history and whether my anxieties were legit or an overreaction.

Basically, appropriation happens any time a Caucasian person or individual who is white and takes advantage of the privileges of whiteness takes one or a several elements of a style of dress specifically invented and worn by people of colour, especially in a traditional or sacred context, and wears it in order to position her/him/themself as exotic, free-spirited, edgy, cool, hip, etc.

Cultural appropriation can take many forms. In the fashion world, it’s most often seen when Western women’s fashion “experts” tout their discovery of cool “new” styles – you know, the dashiki or the afro – that in fact have been worn by people of colour for decades, if not centuries.

Image credit: SiShi Yan

It’s also seen when white people use the traditional, sometimes ancient or sacred, cultural dress of cultures other than their own as little more than costuming. This was on particular display at this spring’s annual Met Gala party and its theme China: Through The Looking Glass. Encouraging a bunch of white actresses and models to channel China in their sartorial picks for an evening of high fashion red carpet walking? Seems like it could turn sketchy quickly. But these are fashion people, right? Surely they know Chinese designers and stylists and could consult with professionals of Chinese origin in the fashion industry to put together looks both extravagant and non-appropriative.

LOL NAH.

It was a cultural appropriation firestorm, this time sanctioned by modern fash godmother and arbiter of all things chic – to the sheeply masses, at least – Anna Wintour.

The exception of the evening went to Rihanna, who wore a magisterial yellow gown/cape (two years in the making and weighing in at 55 pounds!) by Chinese designer Guo Pei. Rihanna’s a particular favourite of mine in her fucking-take-the-reins-and-do-it-for-yourself feminism and her media mastery, so I might be a little biased. But her respectful and jaw-droppingly beautiful interpretation of the Met Ball’s Chinese theme was really the only suitably high fashion and deferential look of the night. It seems obvious to consult with Chinese fashion professionals for an event like that, but Rihanna was the only person who did it and made it count.

What’s more, her look channeled contemporary Chinese fashion more than any traditional or regurgitated kimono-on-a-white-lady looks ever could. Pei, a couturier whose work features elaborate beading and embroidery, has been designing high couture for over 25 years. Rihanna apparently came across the designer’s work online and reached out to Pei about wearing the gown. Instead of dealing in stereotypes – chopsticks and fans and dragons – the look sought out what Chinese fashion has evolved into and how contemporary designers interpret it. It doesn’t rely on stultified assumptions of what Chinese looks like, or what a small, marginalized, and little understood subsection of it looks like, more accurately. It also doesn’t rely on a mashing-together of a bunch of Asian stereotypes (Chinese and Japanese kimonos are not the same and interchangeable, for example).

People who persist in wearing these styles: nope, you are not honouring their culture. You are rubbing your white privilege in the faces of many people whose freedom and whose lives have been threatened because of the way they look. You’re taking clothing-specific sites of resistance that marginalized cultural groups used as ways to assert their autonomy, their power, and their struggles, and you stealing these items to flaunt your own freedom and supposed good taste. It’s gross. Don’t do it.

Original Vivienne Westwood shoe advertisement.

This basically summarizes why I’ve been nervous about buying rocking horse shoes. Here’s what I’m come up with so far in the for and against categories.

The shoes, well, they’re a contemporary style. There’s nothing spiritual, traditional, or otherwise sacred about them. They’re a symbol of late-capitalist globalization in their cross-cultural and youth-oriented sweep, if anything. But then, so is the ease with which white people have access to styles that aren’t theirs to wear or claim.

They were originally designed by a white person. However, Vivienne Westwood and her personal and creative partner at the time, Malcolm McLaren, are known for their cultural thievery and from drawing on many marginalized cultural groups for their art while taking full credit for it.

I’m also aware of their provenance and their history. I don’t get into this assuming that what I’m wearing wasn’t popularized by fashionable Japanese girls. I know where it comes from, and I readily acknowledge it.

The shoes have definitely had moments in the spotlight when they weren’t so strongly associated with young urban Japanese fashion. NaNa famously manufactured versions of the style for underground punks ‘n’ outcasts of ’90s L.A., so while they weren’t as hugely famous as they are now, they had a window of association with North American street style too.

On the other hand, I don’t want to come off as trying to be cool or edgy at the expense of someone else, especially someone else more vulnerable. To be fair, Lolita culture has been written on and documented extensively and positively. But that doesn’t excuse me from taking cool elements of a culture that’s not mine and ignoring the not-so-equal bigger picture.

Anyway, the big picture is important to me. I think it’s good to be asking these questions and having discussions over the grey areas of privilege and appropriation. There are some questions that have cut and dry answers, and there’s many more that don’t. The last thing I’d be into is making a decision and not accepting criticism or dissent on it.

SO, my contemplation has led me to think that it might be okay if I wear rocking horse shoes. Do you disagree? Do you have thoughts about this? Please share them and let’s discuss.