Walk Like A Filipina

Congrats to Danica Magpantay, first Filipina to win Ford Models’ Supermodel of the World Competition! While researching info for this post, I stumbled upon this gem of news and couldn’t help but be reminded of Samantha Chang’s op-piece in Vogue, Asia Major, regarding the upswing of Asian models in the fashion and beauty industries.

 I, too, remember flipping through Seventeen magazine as a tween, and looking wistfully at White girls swipe on coral and pink shades like there was no science to it. My struggle to find make-up that looked right with my skin tone proved unsuccessful and I spent much of my middle school years copping samples of Covergirl’s Toast of New York and Wet N’ Wild’s Raisin. I wasn’t alone in this, thank goodness; my fellow Asian classmates also bore the marks of a tint that may or may not have been slightly too orange (Covergirl) or gothically dark (Wet N’ Wild).

Anyway, while I’m happy for the 17-year-old Magpantay and the exposure it brings to Filipino beauty, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the first Asian supermodel was Filipino herself. Damn! Who woulda thought, right? Re-introducing Anna Bayle, one of the glamazon supermodels of the 80’s.

Her story isn’t much unlike any other model’s story: started off in Manila, Philippines going to college; was “discovered” while competing in the Miss World Beauty Pageant; realized that modeling was giving her money and freedom…cue superstardom, walking the catwalk for top dogs like YSL, Christian Lacroix and Versace with equally top models Cindy Crawford, Linda Evagenlista and others. But what is different is that this is a story from a Filipino woman’s perspective. Apparently, she coined the Anna Bayle Walk, a stride she created that emulated

the washer women from my country, the Philippines. They would wash their clothes in the river and when they were done, they would balance their wash load on their heads. They had to cross the river, stepping on wet stones, barefoot. They were light on their feet and always had pointed toes in order not to get wet or fall from the slippery surfaces.”

No models walk like this anymore! I miss that vibe, when runways had more personality. I have to agree with Bayle who noted that the newer generation of models appear “robot-like” as they “‘march in’ and ‘march out.'” With all the fashion mags I look at, none of the models really capture my attention, except maybe for Lara Stone. It wasn’t until I started Youtubing the walks for Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell that I realized how much the 90’s have stuck with me. There was definitely a trend toward chiseled cheekbones and womanly features, a trend that has phased out to make way for the youthful looks for the Lindsey Wixsons of today.

Nice Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue-esque shot! Meanwhile, I’m trying to devour as much info about Bayle as possible. It serves as an inspiration for me to embrace the same gung-ho attitude she had that brought her success. No compromises. At one point during her career, it was suggested to her that she change her name to Maria Montezuma to which she replied, “I am Filipina. No matter what they do to me, I will always be a Filipina.” In fact, it’s rather comforting to know that as she was trying to break into the modeling business, she endured hardship, a fact of life that I’m still struggling with at the ripe old age of 30.

Although the fashion industry is trending toward Asians at the moment, “Asian” still means Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean. But, it’s different reading about these rags to riches stories of other models of different nationalities and ethnicities. When I read about Anna Bayle, her stories are rich with meaningful layers. There is communication on a whole new level; levels of validation, understanding, pride, kababayan.

Maria Montezuma. *shakes head* Ay sus! What will they think of next?

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“She Looks Familiar…”

Remember the Dove Evolution vid I posted awhile back? Here’s the layman’s version of a digital transformation.

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I do imagine Photoshopping my face and body to my liking and delight in the fantasy of the immediate gratification –who would need to exercise to take care of themselves? Ever? Bigger boobs (of course), nipped in waist, erase the double chin that is forming, shapelier eyebrows, higher cheekbones, longer lashes, less jowls, thicker and shinier hair, firmer butt, thinner thighs, defined calves, less bony wrists —less bony wrists??? Wow, seriously, if I had Photoshop, I could pick apart all my flaws at the drop of a hat.

But what’s always been creepy about Photoshopped images of people is that it often doesn’t even look like the person it’s supposed to be in real life. It’s like plastic surgery gone wrong, but at least it’s only permanent on the page.

Waitin’ For the Day Heroin No Longer Cashes Out

I first heard about Crystal Renn in the October 2009 issue of Teen Vogue. It was inspiring to see a full-figured model with gorgeous features and a hot attitude. I vowed to pick up a copy of her memoir, Hungry  (but haven’t yet; I’m being fussy with my funds), a first-hand account of her battle with anorexia spurred on by the pressures of the modelling industry.     

 Love the Carmen Miranda-Meets-the 80’s vibe.    

Because of Hungry, she’s known as one of the most vocal models in the name of plus-size women in the world. So it was a little disturbing to see a drastic change in her weight for the Passion for Fashion campaign.     

July 2010

 

 Here’s a timeline of her widely known editorials/runway gigs.     

Harper’s Bazaar Australia, April 2009 – rockin’ the retro pin-up vibe. Pretty ‘n’ plump.      

     

      

      

V Magazine, January 2010 – In some ways, I think the editorial is cruel because it almost feels like one model’s shape is pitted against the other. To be honest, I’m used to seeing the figure of model Jacquelyn Jablonski on the left, but when compared to Crystal Renn’s on the right, Jaquelyn’s figure looks emaciated, “like parts of her are missing,” as KFK put it. When I mentioned that Crystal Renn is a plus-size model, he said, “She’s a plus-size model??” Mm-hm. The fashion industry is a very warped world.     

     

     

     

     

Elle Canada, January 2010 – diggin’ it! Old Hollywood glamour never gets old. In this editorial, Renn gets a little bit more slender.     

     

     

     

      

     

Weight on her body isn’t so much of an issue as the weight on her eyelashes is. I wish my eyelashes would grow wings like that. New Year’s 2011. You’ll see.     

      

      

      

     

Chanel Resort 2011 show, May 2010 – I love the part where it notes how Lagerfeld once said that no one would want to see round women. What. An. Ass. Then he puts Renn in his show. I think he may be just as confused as his models.     

     

     

In a refreshing way, I think Lagerfeld, who looks like a damn monkey himself, was only speaking the harsh truth of the industry. A part of me feels that Renn has made it so far because she is not that big –she’s pretty normal-sized, actually– and her face maintains its model-like proportions; those angled cheekbones are a shoo-in for modeling jobs.     

Given the state of the world, I wonder which direction the ideal female figure will take; will it shrink along with the economy or will it round out to reflect a more optimistic attitude? From a business perspective, it has done a few designer houses some good to cater even just a little bit to the every woman’s lifestyle (and pocketbook). Besides, it’s such a pain to be constrained on every level imaginable –financially, emotionally, creatively. I think it would be a relief to loosen our belts a little, figuratively and literally.

High Tops

Big hair of the ’80’s. Hair bands. Pompadours. Rapunzel. Marge Simpson. No matter how you spin it, hair is weighty with cultural and social significance. They’ve always been an indicator of power; the more of it you have, the more powerful you are. Why do you think male lions sport that gigantic mane of theirs? Or that Fabio gets all the ladies?

This season, runways are embracing powerful women in the workplace, the military and in sports. And although it hasn’t been spoken of in this way, hair is another catalyst for discussions on power. Back in the Queen Elizabethan days, big hair and giant hoop skirts were symbolic of immense wealth and high status. If you could afford to pay for huge amounts of luxurious fabrics, then for damn sure you had money! It’s not much different from those who like to flaunt their wealth (or make it seem like they are wealthy) with imports and designer jeans.

I looked to Studio Marisol for examples of big hair. You’re more likely to see these hairstyles on the runway than on regular people, but frankly, they’re way more fun to look at.

Okay, this chick’s hair isn’t big at all, but the dread-like braids give the romantic look a Rastafarian vibe.

With Fall collections struttin’ down the catwalk, it’s apparent that fur is comin’ back in a big way. A collab between Studio Marisol and CuldeSac introduce the idea of using real human hair as a raw material for socially conscious purposes. 

“Hair is a woman’s most powerful accessory.” – Frederic Fekkai

My cousin and I had a riveting conversation via google chat the other day about hair woes. I come from a family of long-haired divas, a common aesthetic amongst Asian/Pacific Islanders, and cutting our hair is a big deal. B had cut hers chin-length in January and is still waiting for it to grow out to a comfortable length. Although I’ve gotten more adventurous with my hair, I’m style wary of letting it get anywhere near scissors.

Truth be told, long hair does have it’s drawbacks, especially in this growing-out phase where the layers are less visible and it just looks and feels heavy. I usually end up pinning it back into a loose chignon twist with strands of hair framing my face quite nicely and nothing weighing on my shoulders (literally and figuratively).

In other words, I often dream about having short hair.

But how hard is it to literally cut yourself off from all that power? As a long-haired vet, it’s very hard. Perhaps the fantasy is also triggered by my current mood: heavy, weighed down, stuck. Whereas long hair implies the burden of power, short hair can mean freedom. However, I’m willing to compromise. Inspired by one of my favorite style bloggers and Vogue’s recent photoshoot with Amber Valletta, I’ve made the conscious decision to purchase a short-haired wig.

Hair does have transformative power. Even without the sets and the costumes, Amber would look like totally different people just based on her hair alone. For me, the power to transform is what makes fashion so alluring. We are in hard times which makes it difficult to escape realities of the day-to-day grind. My only way out is through my appearance. If I can just feel like someone else, or influence changes in my mood through the clothes I wear, then let’s hear it for playing dress-up! Hurrah!

Lashing Out

Now, I’m not a beauty expert by any means; in fact, I’m the exact opposite. My idea of getting ready for work is matting my hair down with water so it looks less like I just rolled out of bed and smearing on copious amounts of Burt’s Bees lip balm. Ta-da! Mascara, what? Eyeliner, huh? Seriously, I look at pots and creams of eyeshadow and foundation and I’m completely clueless. 

So when I saw these false eyelashes by Paperself, I seriously considered buying myself a pair (or two…or three) cuz they are just so wonderfully wierd! I love the quirk. It’s a wonder I’m even considering making these purchases. For my own wedding, I nixed the MAC eyelashes in favor of the real deal cuz I didn’t really wanna walk down the aisle and scare KFK into never wanting to marry the rug covering my eyes. Can I get a face with those eyelashes? Haha! 

Anyway, here are the variations of paper lashes that I would love to maniacally decorate my peepers with. Apparently, they have three main styles you can choose from in full-length and in partial lengths. From left to right, we got peach blossoms, peonies and horses, each one representing a different Chinese symbol: peach blossoms are for love, peonies for happiness and horses for success. Designer, Ting Yu Wang, created these accessories not just to contribute to beauty and fashion, but also to utilize and pass on the Chinese art of paper-cutting. 

The shopaholic in me would love to buy all of them

And in the spirit of surrealism, I felt it was only appropriate to showcase these clock hand jewelry by EJP Creations. If worn simultaneously with the Paperself lashes, they’d really bring out one’s eyes, wouldn’t they? 

 

To round off this quirky-ass surrealist ensemble, a backdrop with clothes from Gilles et Dada’s Between campaign is in order.

Only clown-like figures posing eerily in mythical-like forests (why am I seeing triangles?) would understand the relationship between horses prancing on one’s eyelashes and wearing lethal clock hands around one’s neck. Voila. 

Boo-yah. Stylist 101.

Weight Up

When I first viewed Karla’s Closet, I did notice that her body figure was bigger than the typical fashion blogger. But what really caught my attention was her style, and that made me an immediate fan. So it surprised me to see while I was researching her entire blog from the beginning, that she was actually pretty thin. I guess readers had been making comments about her weight gain that she finally responded:

By the way, it is a bit silly to me how random people have decided to blatantly state that I have huge thighs or look like I’ve gained weight. If you’re super skinny, then people assume you’re anorexic and if you’re a little curvier or whatever you’d like to call it, then people think you’re fat. I don’t believe in society’s “beauty standards” because obviously everyone has their own opinion on what they consider beautiful or not. As far as my legs/weight goes, whether I’m fat or skinny, I accept my figure the way it is because it’s how I was made to be.”

It was pretty cool cuz her blog probably reaches a younger audience and hopefully her message that weight and style aren’t synonymous comes across.

The good thing about personal fashion blogs such as Karla’s Closet is that it features “real people” so readers can relate to them in some way, unlike print or online fashion mags who are paid to set beauty standards. I’ve critiqued a severely Photoshopped ad of Twiggy for Oil of Olay, but I think it’s interesting and worth mentioning other celebs who’ve been touched by the digital fairy godmother.

Newsweek: "Kate's body was transformed by a Photoshop tool that allows a retoucher to elongate the body, making it appear slimmer and more lean." Newsweek: "The many shades of Beyonce as evidenced by (from left) a 2008 L'Oreal ad, a 2007 cover show from Joy magazine, and a 2009 image on the cover of Russian Glamour."

Jessice Alba: This is probably one of the most unneccessary retouching jobs I've ever seen. She already looks fine to begin with and even with the retouching, she looks practically the same.

I knew she didn't look that good.

Demi Moore: Newsweek identified her "missing hip" as a result of someone getting Photoshop happy, but they neglect to mention the rest of her alien face.

And these images are witness to one of the most fucked up firings due to being "overweight." Newsweek: "This magazine ad for Ralph Lauren, which spurred protests outside Lauren's Manhattan headquarters in 209 features 23-year-old model Filippa Hamilton looking positively non-human. At 5 feat 8 and 120 pounds, Hamilton (pictured in another Lauren ad left) later said that the brand -which ultimately apologized for the image- had quietly fired her for being overweight."

And just to show how much of an influence the media has on people, I found pics of Heidi Montag taking Photoshop to the next level. Presenting plastic surgery at it’s creepiest. Not cuz the surgeon did a bad job, but because she looks like a completely different person. If I were Spencer, I’d feel guilty cuz it’d be like sleeping with another woman.

Heidi Montag's "Before"

Heidi Montag's "After"
Her mother’s reaction? “My mom was looking at me like I was a circus freak.”
My questions is, what was wrong with her before??? I have a landlord who looks like a horse after all the silicone in her plastic surgery curoded. Now Heidi looks more like every other blonde in Hollywood: plastic. And is, quite literally, made of plastic. She could star in her own Stepford Wives reality show.
In contrast, Zink Magazine uses model, Nichola, to poke fun at the use of Photoshop in creating the perfect image of a woman in the media with exaggerated shoulders, limbs, and booties.
It reminds me of the Filippa Hamilton’s scandalized ad, only this was meant to be artistic instead of grotesque. If anything, I just wanna learn how to use Photoshop. Good job, Zink!

Tell Me What’s Real

I swear, Europe is always ahead of the game when it comes to the social consciousness of fashion. Of course, with Paris at the helm of fashion capitals all over the world, it’s no surprise that its neighboring countries are more sensitive, as compared to the US, to the way the media influences the standards of beauty.

England has recently banned Olay ads of 60’s icon, Twiggy. In her heyday, the model was famous for being Warhol’s muse and her “twiggy” sature put waifs on the map (hello, Kate Moss). Now, as a muse for Oil of Olay’s Definity cream, her mug impishly boasts, “Olay is my secret to brighter-looking eyes.”

If it were only true. Her “secret” is nothing more than the wiley skills of a Photoshopping savant. With the clickety-click of his or her finger, the digital re-master wiped out nearly all her crows feet, undereye circles and bags, giving consumers the impression that it is Definity cream that makes her look like she’s in her early 40’s rather than her true 59-year-old self.

In this day and age, you’ve got to be living in a cave and not realize that her face has been completely retouched. I found this article on the LA Times arguing that these retouchings aren’t meant to be destructive. In fact, it’s meant to enhance the person’s features and eliminate blemishes that may distract from the person’s beauty. People opposing retouched photos argue that the purpose of Photoshopping ads is to “to make women feel bad about themselves — also making them buy more beauty products.” In other words, it’s all business, baby.

But what I found interesting was this:

What the brain perceives in a still photo is vastly different from what it perceives in real life, according to Dr. Dale Purves, director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University in Durham, N.C. Up close and personal, “every second you’re getting a series of images of a person that you’re kind of blending together, and that would be a little more forgiving.” What we’re taking in, he adds, is a load of stuff, including clothing, personality and smells — elements that can evaporate in two dimensions.”

It’s almost like an argument for Photoshopping images: when you’re seeing someone in person, it’s easy to blend all senses together to get a cohesive sensory “picture,” if you will. And because that can’t happen in two-dimensions, Photoshop merely does the blending for you by eliminating what would’ve been discarded in three-dimensions. So when people are photogenic, does that mean not a lot of blending is needed to begin with?

Some pictures of photogenic people:

Sophie Marceau

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