#droptheplus – I AM A MODEL

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I have been working in the fashion industry for over the past 5 years and I remember the first time I saw a model in the catwalk in Paris was a John Galliano show. I was shocked on how skinny (and bonny) she was. After the 2nd show, my eye got used to it and my mind to those ‘standards’ of beauty.

Last term when I had the pleasure to take the Intro to Feminism class at the New school, I learned how it is important to empower young girls to feel happy and confortable with who they are since the early stages of their lives; otherwise it becomes very difficult and too superficial for them to reach an ideal of beauty which is unattainable and dangerous in the long run.

When I saw about this campaign, I was extremely happy and pleased to see that someone who is suffering from this discrimination (because that’s what I would call it) stands up for it and try to change the situation.

The idea behind the project is as follows:

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With +3,000 followers and +2000 hashtag shares on instagram, this project has been taking more voice thanks to Australian model Stefania Ferrairo, face for Dita Von Teese’s lingerie line and who also has been working on the industry for years. She wrote on he stomach the line: “I am a model.” sharing it on her instagram and with more than 10,000 likes on it, the image continues taking importance with articles from different magazines sharing it and supporting the movement.

As she describes on her caption:

“I am a model FULL STOP. Unfortunately in the modelling industry if you’re above a US size 4 you are considered plus size… I do NOT find this empowering… I’m NOT proud to be called ‘plus’, but I AM proud to be called a ‘model’, that is my profession!”.

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The purpose of this movement is to:

  1. The labels “plus” and  “plus size” removed from the fashion industry and removed from the media reporting on it.
  2. Retail stores to follow suit by dropping the “plus size” label and becoming more inclusive. Clothing lines should cater to a broad size range and be made to flatter different body shapes.
  3. Models of all sizes to be used consistently, without misleading labels.

Most of the reaction have been very positive:

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I personally believe that empowering women while trying to achieve gender equality is a task for our generation and the next one. We need to focus on what’s important here and how we can create a higher social value by re-shaping our current values. This action by Stefania reminded me of what Bell Hooks says:

“Awareness doesn’t bring change but rather take action”

It’s imperative to try to achieve change by being proactive and have a voice in the matter, otherwise we are never going to change the status quo.

Luckily there has been more room for change and the industry is listening. With new government laws and also by creating a new aesthetic on whats considered beautiful; we  can find more diversity on body types in magazines and even runway shows. For example ex-editor in chief of Vogue Paris Carine Roitfeld started using model Lara Stone or Kate Upton for her different shoots and creating awareness that the female body is beautiful and photogenic in different sizes.

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Magazines like ElleDaily and ID have been supporting Stefania’s cause by writing articles about the movement but there is still not much buzz around it. This is sad news, because either people don’t care enough for it or they feel confortable with the current situation and this is the real problem to tackle.

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Ai WeiWei Never sorry

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There are some key words mentioned by Ai WeiWei in this documentary, one of them is transparency. What he is trying to reach is just to tell truth about meaningful events, such as the earthquake which killed over 70,000 people from which he could find more than 5,000 were children. He put himself the task to search for their names and ages and when he made his discoveries public one year later after the disaster, his blog was shut down by the Chinese authorities.

He is a game changer, a rebel-as seen from others-, fighting for the common good of his country. It was very inspiring to see someone who has the courage and will to continue his journey. He has a sense of duty to tell the truth and to find social significance for each individual. That’s the key of it. As he says, if nowadays, we have all this innovation and connectivity,  such as social media and internet, why not take advent of it for a real purpose.

MISS-REPRESENTATION

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According with this documentary we consume 10:45 hrs of media per day. This is huge amount of information begin processed and learned from outside sources. We are constantly bombarded with implicit and explicit messages on what to do, what to wear, how to act, what you should be, never allowing you to take a moment to think for yourself and actually decide on whats best for you. It’s sad to see how our current society works and the expectations others have over  us. We are supposed to be living in a more progressive society where gender is not an issue, yet we still have a huge gap in salaries between men and women for example. For example, according with some data find in Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean in”, out of 197 heads of state in the US, only 22 are women; also, of the top 500 companies by revenues, only 21 are headed by women and in politics, women hold just 18% of congressional offices.

What image is this media portraying on how women should be? Miss-representation walk us through this issue where Hollywood portrays these stereotypes over and over but people keep falling for it. In the end, what we need is a better understanding on the issue and for this, we need to fight for our rights to have honest information available for us. Also it would be encouraging to keep educating women and children in the matter, teach them how to be analytical of the situation and in the end boycott the bad media out there. Get rid of what is toxic for everyone’s welfare as a whole.

“You can’t be what you can’t see” Marian Wright Edelman

Street Art in Miami, Wynwood district

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A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Miami for work and took some time to discover the city’s art district, Wynwood. The streets of what used to be an immigration zone for Puerto Ricans are filled with street art and over 70 galleries. This area suffered a gentrification over the last years and has become the cool and hipster spot in Miami.

The project of development was started by Tony Goldman when over 30 artists from around the world travel to Miami to expand on the already existing graffiti murals. Also known for their fashion presence, this neighborhood has gained international recognition and is in continuos development all the time.

One of my favorite murals, is the one above by MTO and Obey titled Death of the neighborhood which makes me think if this continuous exposure of Wynwood as a hot spot will take away its initial appeal and uniqueness. IMG_6323

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I think that by giving support to artist and encouraging them to keep creating, we are developing a new type of mindset in our current culture. One where there is more freedom to express one self and keep developing new ideas and where we can combine art with socio-political ideas and express them in a more creative way.

One of my favorite artists is JR, a French artist whom not only has challenged the status quo on how we can perceive street art but also into taking it into a global level. In 2011 he won the TED prize which helped him sponsor his “INSIDE OUT” project where different groups in certain cities around the world create different pieces focusing on social, political issues. The most recent images where unveiled in NYC two weeks ago.

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LEAN IN book review

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Lean In written by Sheryl Sandberg (current COO of Facebook) is a National Best seller where she describes how women have been holding themselves to join the conversation towards gender equality while sharing current data on it. For example, she speaks on how even if USA claims to be one of the most progressive countries in this matter, there is still so much work to be done in order to create a true gender equality, particularly inside the work place, but not specifically. She focuses more on the fact of how the majority of the positions in power within the biggest companies (i.e Fortune 500) are held by men, and she describes the experiences she had gone through during her journey as this powerful and influential business woman (as perceived in this capitalist era we live in.)

 One of the points I find particularly interesting whiting Sandberg’s experience, is when she talks about the beginning of her career and how she was afraid to be associated with the term feminism because of the negative implications this word have in our society. While reading and listening a talk by Bell Hooks, she also agrees on how this word has been usually associated with lesbianism and relating this to personal experiences, I had the same thought in my mind while identifying the movement back when I was living in Mexico.

I personally find very inspiring and encouraging reading this types of experiences, as Sheryl Sandberg said:

“We stand on the shoulders of the women who came before us, women who had to fight for the rights that we now take for granted”

And I feel this is what she is doing by sharing her experiences and vulnerabilities at Lean in, showing how even if you are afraid since the beginning because of social pressures on what is expected from you (as a men or woman) you can always try to change the status quo and move forward in any area you want. Equality should be a given and not a privilege for certain ones. But its important to re-educate society as a whole system if we want to see a real change on this.

Overall it was a great book to take in and I feel really inspired to keep learning from strong and successful business woman such as Sheryl.

YES PLEASE book review

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In this book, Amy Poehler takes us through a journey of her life. From the moment she realized she wanted to be a comedian, up until now where she finds herself as a mother, producer and activist.

The book is divided in a series of events which marked Amy’s life along with self reflection and self growth. Every chapter is infused with her personality and sense of humor making this book a very personal journal.

One of the aspects I enjoy the most, is how she portrays an image where she doesn’t take everything  too seriously, even herself and this is the way she enjoys life the most. For example, in Chapter 11, ‘Treat your job as a bad boyfriend’ she explains how your job is very important for your personal satisfaction, but in the end, what is more important, is to cultivate your personal relationships and take care of your loved ones for a more satisfactory  and in the end happy life.

I personally enjoyed reading about her different phases in life, from going through her divorce to leaving her work at SNL, encountering herself in difficult situations where finally she can learn from them and grow into the person she is today.

There is one particular chapter where she speaks about embracing yourself and learning how to love you with every single flaw because that is what actually makes you different and special. This was refreshing to hear from someone who works in an “all looks” environment. She is witty in her way of expressing these issues and it makes you feel like you can relate to them immediately. It is  like having a conversation with another real women and it is here that we can find the success for her book, the relationship between women to women in a more empathic and honest way.

After reading her book, I googled Amy and it was a surprise to see that she doesn’t have almost any social media presence. She hasn’t opened any twitter, nor Facebook account dedicated to her. The only account I could find on Facebook, is one called Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls which is an space dedicated to the education and therefore empowerment of young girls(and boys) everywhere.

As they describe themselves: “Founded by actor and writer Amy Poehler and producer Meredith Walker, the Smart Girls organization is dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves. Our motto is: Change the World by Being Yourself. What began as an online show for young girls and an excuse to host spontaneous dance parties, has become a place for information, comedy and community. When we use the word “community” we take that very seriously. Therefore, our intention is to be a safe place where those who make up that community may be heard and offered a response. We are finding that Smart Girls is the first community where many young men and women are able to express their own concerns. Through our “Call to Action” campaigns we encourage smart girls to volunteer and to be more curious about the world they live in. Our goal is to provide a healthy alternative to so much that is being marketed to young people on the internet. We emphasize intelligence and imagination over “fitting in.” We celebrate curiosity over gossip. We are a place where people can truly be their weird and wonderful selves.”

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Overall it was interesting to follow Amy through this project and discover more from her. She is a good source of inspiration for a real woman trying to cope with her own life and making it fun  through the way.

Favorite celebrity Do Gooder

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For my favorite celebrity do gooder I chose Salma Hayek Pinault. She is a Mexican actress and producer who has been involved in the empowerment of women by co-founding International programs such as Chime for Change by Gucci foundation. As described in the site:

“I am an actor and activist, mother, member of the V-Day Association’s Board of Directors and the Kering Foundation for Women’s Dignity and Rights, and co-Founder of CHIME FOR CHANGE, a new initiative joining the growing international movement on behalf of girls and women around the world. I believe that by working together we can change the course of history to ensure that girls and women are empowered to realize their potential and thrive.”

Have been an avid follower and supporter of this program in particular, I feel a deep respect for this woman who not only surpassed cultural barriers (coming from a masculine dominated society such as Mexico) but managed to take them to an International level where action and change are begin done.

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