Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Women of Thrones!

I adore Game of Thrones. Yes, I was one of those people who saw the show first, and then picked up the books. Yes, I watched the show because it had Sean Bean in the first season. But after gobbling up 3 and a half books (I'm drawing out the last book-and-a-half as long as I can, cause I know once I finish Dance With Dragons, I'll be bereft and listless), I can safely say it's the women who keep me reading intently.

Sure, Tyrion is amazing, Jamie grows on you like a weed, and Samwell makes you want to wrap him up in a big 'ol bear hug. But, more compelling than all of them, at least for me, is the iron-clad will of a cast of richly wrought female characters. Clever, foolish, ruthless, compassionate, all the women of Westeros share that will in common, at least the ones who survive a world that is decidedly not in their favor.

Apparently, author George R.R. Martin has gotten criticism for what he puts his female characters through, for putting them into a world that is so very male-dominated. Rape is commonplace in conquering a kingdom, female nobles cannot inherit even if they're the eldest, and instead are used more often than not as pawns. A woman shouldn't go to war, and even learning how to handle a weapon is considered unseemly. Women, by society's measure, are -powerless-. I think those critics forget though, that fantasy world or not, our own medieval era was exactly the same.

And it makes his women shine all the brighter.

On the one hand, we have characters like Sansa Stark,Catelyn Tully, Cersei Lannister, and Margaery Tyrell. Noble-natured, easily used as pawns in their marriages (though Sansa, at least, has a father who loves her), and, traditionally, with only childbirth as their future accomplishments. But they are far, far more! Love her or love to hate her, Cersei is ruthless, manipulative, and dearly loves her son. Margaery maneuvers and smiles and gracefully dances her way into the people's favor, having them calling for her as Queen while Cersei scowls. And Sansa, beautiful Sansa, possibly the most cliche, romantic and naive character at the start, finds her strength and musters it for all it's worth, while still remaining an essentially good-hearted girl. And Cat, such a mother, and made of steel. She loses nearly everyone she loves, but goes barreling on.

On the other hand, there are the girls who don't play by the rules, who defy what's expected of them, difficult as their lives become. Arya Stark becomes a lone assassin at the age of 12. Asha Greyjoy, at the death or imprisonment of all her brothers, becomes the lead contender for her father's throne, not to mention being a badass hottie who leads his armies! Brienne of Tarth (IS A GODDESS *cough*) is a Knight, being an unattractive, large girl she could have been content being awkwardly dressed up and forced to marry a man who mocked her. Instead, she picks up a sword at a young age and is good, noble, more a knight than any man in the books, save maybe Ned Stark...but is still ridiculed the whole way, and takes it. And then of course Daenerys, The Last Dragon. She starts the story as a terrified 13 year old bride, finding her strength, and becoming the Mother of Dragons, the best, and potentially most powerful contender for the Iron Throne.

There are GADS more characters, and more I adore about this story, and thus far, the tv show that is true to the books. Yes, they're tough to read sometimes, bad things happen to Good People. But the above characters, and those they share the stage with are completely, utterly worth it. You want to see these kickass women succeed, rise above, and take their place in a swiftly-changing kingdom. Get in on the awesomeness!

Real entry soon!

I have a Ladydate with my friends Dena & Kater,

to go see Titanic and have some shopping therapy on wednesday.

Expect pics of pretty girls in pretty clothes :D

~ Amy

Sunday, April 01, 2012

There Is A Light & It Never Goes Out...

Oh Hai!

This would be why I haven't updated of late:
We're in our new place, AND have gotten our things from Japan,
thus things are a bit chaotic around here.
As you can see, though, I've got that GREAT brick wall.
It wants me to take pictures in front of it as soon as
everything is unpacked and set to rights, I can tell.

For now though, some writing I did today!

Stop Blaming Fashion!

No less than three conversations this week have gotten this entry rolling in my brain, thinking about people (especially women) and their complicated and different relationships with clothing and fashion. I'd say half of my readers for this bit of internet have been fashion bloggers who adore everything and anything to do with getting dressed. But one look outside the window will tell you not everyone does, and those of us whose hobby is fabulous garb will often get the comments/excuses, in real life, online, etc.

"I don't have time/money to waste thinking about all that."

"Pretty clothes aren't made for my body anyway."

"I should be accepted exactly as I am."

"It's restricting to my self-expression! I want to wear whatever I want!"

"Fashion is so ridiculous."

And the old face-palm-inducing classic,

"Ha! Wait until you have kids."

Now, I don't ever expect everyone I meet to be as passionate about this subject as I am. Having the number of issues of Marie Clare and Nylon around the house as I do, and bawling like a dork when Austen Scarlet got sent home from Project Runway is borderline unhealthy! (Austen ;_;) And I bet people like me are just one more excuse those who don't pay much attention to their wardrobe use, if you only judged me by the size of my closet I'd look very vapid indeed.

Here's the thing: Fashion, tastefully attention-getting clothes, and style aren't indulgences. They can be taken to an indulgent level, certainly, but so can anything. However, Looking Good is a key factor in Being Taken Seriously, Being Noticed, and/or Getting Ahead. Why do we wear nice clothes to a job interview? Why do people wear ballgowns to the Oscars? Those are two obvious ones. Dressing well communicates to the people around you that you not only take pride in your own appearance, but have respect for them as well. Yes, in my book, this includes the checkout girl at the grocery store. She doesn't want to see your holey sweatpants any more than the Queen of England does.

Now, to address those excuses!

"I don't have time/money to waste thinking about all that."

Here's a shocker: Nice modern clothes that fit your body well don't have to be expensive. And I don't mean in the "200$ skirt instead of 800$!" kind of way either (I don't think I even own a piece of clothing that cost me 200 bucks, and that includes shoes and my wedding dress!). Once you know your body type, the kind of clothes that fit it, and what colors work with you, you can find 'em at all price levels. Some sizes are harder than others to find, yes, but they're there. Hate going to stores? Not an excuse either, in the age of online shopping. And once the clothes in your closet fit you, work together, and make you feel good about yourself, it'll take you hardly any time to throw them on with a bit of mascara and hop out the door.

"Pretty clothes aren't made for my body anyway."


Yes, certain body types can't wear certain things, and those things are often the ones put on magazine covers on photoshopped bodies. But there are -vast- amounts of styles, cuts, colors and ways to wear things nowadays. Some of my favorite fashion bloggers/adorable friends aren't 'ideal-bodied'. They're short, tall, thick, thin, tattooed, pierced, pale, tan, black, white, curvy or flat. And they all dress killer! Because we all put in the little bit of homework to find out what looks good on us, and where to get it.

Now I know this might sound rich coming from me, tall, pale and a size 4 - 6, with long legs and curves. And isn't that interesting, that I must not have anything to say on the matter that holds water? The thought crossed your mind, and hey, mine as well. In my experience, the above excuse has come from girls of -all- body types. Big or little. Usually it can be traced back to when someone soured us to looking pretty. Oh how the bullying from age ten and onward still rings in my ears!

Horseface. Fugly. Stupid. Special Ed.

I was picked apart for being tall, for having crooked teeth, for my big nose. For not having as much money as my peers, for wearing hand-me-downs and homemade leftovers from a very religious community. The things I liked at the time...Books, Star Wars, The X-Files, collecting dolls past age 12, sewing, music....were picked apart as well, until I hid them inside me for a while, along with not eating. I remember my poor mother enduring my panicky breakdowns at the mall while clothes shopping, desperate to be wearing what the girls who'd tortured me wore. And when I got them I wore them so often that it got me bullied as well, until I did a complete 180 around 14, 15. I wasn't going to be like them -at all-. I'd wear ratty jeans, gothy makeup, and scowl the rest of my way through highschool.

So no, I've never been called fat. I've never had to worry about not being able to find my size jeans at a store. But I was still very nicely scarred by 'pretty girls', and for a long time associated being fashionable and on trend with being a Bitch. Even into my 20s, there were certain looks that would give me emotional hives.

But you know what? Nobody likes everything about their body, and yet every body, every person is entitled to look fabulous, show-stopping and amazing. Don't let anyone make you feel otherwise, whether they're a fashion designer who only styles super-thin girls, or some idiot from your past. Being happy is the best revenge, I can assure you! Which leads into...

"I should be accepted exactly as I am."

You should indeed! However...don't you want to be presenting the -best- version of yourself to the world? Not you pretending to be someone else in makeup and heels...YOU in makeup and heels! I find this one on par with women AND men who say, go into the dating scene thinking they should be accepted exactly as they are. Sure, the right person will love you if you put on a few pounds, leave the toilet seat up, and like collecting anything TARDIS-shaped! But you'll still probably scare them away by showing your full capacity to be mean, judgmental, addicted to a substance, or possess a quick temper.

My husband loves me without makeup, in my pjs, squealing over Harry Potter fanfic. But my mean sense of humor can hurt his feelings, and he's made me WANT to work on that, make myself a BETTER me. As in life, so in fashion! Sure, people might accept you professionally once you show them your amazing work as a graphics designer. But walking into the office in your sweats probably won't allow you to even get that far into the conversation.

"It's restricting to my self-expression! I want to wear whatever I want!"

Wroooong! Even classics (The Little Black Dress, Trenchcoat, Suit, Dark Jeans) come in every flavor of your personality. My trench is a classic cut, I've had it for years...and it's BRIGHT HAPPY YELLOW! All those band t-shirts I collected during that goth phase? Still wear 'em, only now with dark jeans and under a leather jacket or my black tuxedo jacket (30 bucks, kids).

I understand though, and it was my hangup for a long time in my late-teens too. SO many stylish adults I knew looked...nice, but not very exciting, at all. But then I got out of my own little bubble in the middle of nowhere, and looked long and hard at how people dressed, in the city, or outside of glossy editorial pages. Fashion blogging was just starting, and it helped open my eyes. As did the occasional What Not To Wear episode, I admit it! Because while many women end up looking a little clone-y by the end of an episode, this is because they hadn't much imagination to begin with, and Stacy and Clinton set them up with classic basics. I love when they get a gal who's creative-minded though (and so do they, I think), who really wants to keep her personality and self-expression. The results were always inspiring!

"Fashion is so ridiculous."

This one came up today, and yeah, if you're not a fashionphile, couture editorial looks on runways and in Elle are pretty silly! As are many of the gag-worthy, puzzling trends, such as crocs, leggings-as-pants and Ed Hardy (I love tattoo art dearly myself, but....seriously?! You look like a shop threw up on you after being filled with fruity pebbles...but I digress). But the main thing to keep in mind is that the former is meant to inspire, and to exaggerate an idea, while the latter is simply a trend, and can be taken or left, without making you look clueless at all.

Personally, for all the interesting things in my wardrobe (especially since Japan!), I generally like to stick to classic lines and cuts, with a big dose of my personality to them, as I mentioned! I'll see an element on the runway I think is neat, and it might get tossed in if I think it'll work on my frame. And yes, sometimes trends come along that are up my alley, like all the gothy lace that's out now! And fringe, man, I don't even care if it's not of-the-moment, I'll wear my black fringed leather jacket until it falls to pieces.

I never spend a ton of money on a trend, though. Trends are why places like H&M or Forever21 exist, to get me my possibly-throw-away bit of shine for under 20 bucks. If it falls apart after a year, fine!

"Ha! Wait until you have kids."

Ahem. I addressed this very thing once on this blog before, and most of my response can be found here. But to add on, in a purely fashion-related way? This goes back to the not-having-time thing. If the things in your wardrobe are already there and look good on you, match each other, and didn't cost an arm and a leg, it's a non-issue. My sister, sisters-in-law, and mom never in my memory have left the house with their kids looking like a tornado went through the house. Sure, things might not be glamorous every day, jeans might get spit up on, etc. But when the clothes fit, are effortless, and say you're a confidant person, that's all you need. I may not want kids at this very moment, but losing my sense of style isn't even on the list of reasons why, it's not even a fear!

Honestly, this rambling is meant to encourage and inspire folks. Highlighting yourself isn't frivolous, doesn't even have to be selfish, or something to get stressed about! When you look your best, your best YOU, you're a happier person. You're a more confident person, and the people around you benefit from this. It's sappy, but it's true, a smile is contagious, inspiring, and worth having. Spend a little time on yourself, and it reflects on everything and every important person in your life.

Plus, it's really fun.

Til Next We Meet,