Do you think this man will adopt me?

The boots! The tights!

Will GOOP be OK?

After receiving the traumatizing news of Gwynnie’s divorce, I raced to GOOP for the full BE newsletter. Unfortunately GOOP had crashed and I had to wait a full night to read the newsletter on “Conscious Uncoupling.” My devotion to the the cultural formation that is Gwynnie runs deep, and if you are a real GOOP defender you need to really put the announcement of the divorce in the full context of the rest of the newsletter, which is basically a guide to enlightened divorce.

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I was very worried about the state of my own marriage when I read the headline about the divorce (if she can’t make it work, who can?), but upon completing the lengthy BE newsletter I feel much better. My marriage might not make it, but GOOP style divorce actually sounds great.

The basic principles of GOOP divorce are: you gain an internal support system through the time you spend with a partner, whether or not you stay with them. With not a bit of snark I can actually fully get behind this. It is kind of a lovely sentiment.

GOOP is not only going to be fine post divorce, I think we have some amazing BE’s, GO’s, and DO’s ahead. Here are some suggestions:

1. BE on how to have all your girlfriends move in with you after you get a divorce. Cameron Diaz, Stella McCartney and Jessica Seinfeld will all be featured in this article, which (fingers crossed) includes a video of them cooking tacos together. Beyonce will stop by for drinks.

2. GO on traveling by yourself with expert advice from Elizabeth Gilbert.

3. DO on how Tracy Anderson and Gwynnie put together the perfect single lady dance play list.

 

The future is bright.

 

-D

 

Three Cheers for JLo

Do we celebrate JLo enough? NO!

I accidentally watched an episode of the new version of American Idol and was blown away by how entertained I was by the new JLo infused version. They have substituted everything that was terrible about American Idol for some lovely ribbing between JLo and Henry Connick Jr., a variety of genres within the song selections, and a general condemnation of runs. This all confirms what I had already suspected about JLo. She has a firm grasp on what is important: treating women of color like human beings, high-waisted booty shorts, expertly applied highlighter, the film Out of Sight, Greek god-level celebrity charisma, and Professionalism.

Without realizing she is the executive producer, I also recently fell in love with The Fosters on ABC Family (the most recent show on the network that seems to now be producing what I can only describe as HBO if HBO was run by John Waters).

JLo is a weird new species of pop star that seems to actually be better now than she was when she was 22. She refuses to wither away into a perfume hawking shadow of herself and thus I will buy all the things she wants to sell me.

-D

No more “accessibility”!

A lady who has a PhD and successfully publishes think pieces on pop culture is leaving academia. Why? Well, Buzzfeed is hiring her. But also, she points out, because academia is broken. I applaud people pointing out the structural inequality of the university and I love when people write critically about pop culture so why do I kind of despise this lady?

Here is why: “Oh man, this is a sensitive subject, and I might burn some bridges with it, but here goes: much of academic writing prides itself on being as inaccessible as possible, and I mean that both literally and figuratively—you can’t understand it unless you’ve had at least five years of graduate school, and you can’t actually get your hands on it without affiliation with a major institution.”

First, her point about the pay wall on academic articles and books is well taken, but . . . on the “figurative” front . . . hmmm.

I strongly believe in a more democratic diffusion of culture criticism, but this is not the same thing as thinking academic writing should be more “accessible” as she argues.

There should be room for many different kinds of writers: people who model critical but accessible criticism in newspapers and magazines, people who write history books that tell a compelling narrative that both college freshmen and the history-curious can enjoy, and listicles that help me remember the best parts of the 90’s. But none of these genres replace the “hard” academic writing that people love to hate on. Just because it takes a graduate education to understand a book or article does not make it useless jargon. Good academic writing is complicated/rich/generative and useful to advancing our understanding of BIG THINGS like language/beauty/domination/materiality.

The good thing about having complex accounts of these ideas is that they are MORE TRUE.

This person did not miss an opportunity to write an accessible deconstruction of Scandal just because he wrote this incredibly valuable sentence:

“Simply put, ‘race’ is the consequence and not the cause of racial ascription or racialisation processes which justify historically asymmetrical power relationships through reference to phenotypical characteristics and ancestry: ‘Substituted for racism, race transforms the act of a subject into an attribute of the object.'”

Let’s stop pretending that getting rid of inaccessible academic writing is the only way to have more accessible writing.

-D

Banana Pancakes

The zucchini lasagna (no noodles) of 2012 and the spaghetti-squash pasta (no pasta) of 2013 were harbingers of the no-carbohydrate comfort trend that now dominate Pinterest. Despite the failures of very watery vegetable pasta, I am glad that I did not dismiss the bananas-in-the-place-of-everything trend that it spawned. Banana ice cream (literally a frozen banana in a cuisinart) is pretty great in the summer, but banana pancakes are my new favorite. These are so virtuous you might need to breakout the chocolate sauce just to bring some balance to your life.

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The “Recipe”:

Mash a banana with two eggs.

If you are feeling fancy, add cinnamon, vanilla, and a tablespoon of some kind of flour (I used coconut).

Drop spoonfuls into a little hot oil (I used coconut) and flip according to basic pancake principles.

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I topped mine with a little peanut butter.

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Done.

-D.

Shopping for Other People is Fun

Since D was so kind and deconstructed my taste in fashion for me, I’d like to return the favor and find her the perfect sandals.

Would Danskos be too ceramics-teacher-core? I thought these looked sort of Swedish Hasbeens-ish, but have good support instead of just being straps on a piece of wood. Ooh, and these are pretty bitchin’:

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Also, there are these, which I saw in a catalog today, because, being eighty-five years old, I still receive catalogs in the mail:

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Pretty pricey, though. And maybe too high a wedge for walking around. Are the straps on these too thin?

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Also–and I cannot believe that this is the kind of memory my mind chooses to retain–Sassy Magazine* used to feature Dr. Scholl’s a lot, in an “ugly-trendy” way. ‘Cos if you want orthopedic, look no further.

Love,

C

*Yes, I’ve looked at the Sassy Scans Tumblr for hours, and yes, I remember EVERY SINGLE G.D. PICTURE from 1992 on. I must have looked at my copies literally hundreds of times each. However, I was surprised and pleased as punch to see this feature, which came out in 1990, before I started subscribing.

Orthopedic Sandals

I was an early adopter of orthopedic sandals, even before the Worishofer craze swept Brooklyn.

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Kristin Dunst even ventured into the “slingback” model.

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But after three years of Worishofer summers I need to report that there is a price to be paid for these adorable and affordable sandals that no celebrity will tell you: they are disposable and you will need to buy a new pair every year because if water even TOUCHES them, they start to disintegrate.

So, my quest for the sandal that can withstand one spring shower and still support my swollen arch-less feet for miles and miles of walking continues.

Here are my guidelines for sandals:

1. They cannot be flat.

2. They must be leather and have wide and well distributed straps that do not rub my feet.

3. They must be simple and cute and not emphasize my sturdy ankle girth.

There are plenty of sandals that meet 2 and 3, but not 1. For some reason everyone else seems to be able to walk around the earth with a piece of thin leather attached to their foot.

So far, this pair available on the Anthropologie website looks promising:

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However the prospect of losing the foam cushioning of the Worishofer underneath my overworked feet is terrifying.

Lastly, no matter how many adorable girls adopt Birkenstocks, it is important to recognize that they are capable of Normcore beauty in ways that a real 30 year old woman is not.

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-D

You Are Welcome: Scott Foley in Sheets addition

This ad has it ALL.

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“I washed the sheets, and I’m literate.”

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“I also purchased these new fluffy towels on sale at Marshalls”

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“Isn’t it interesting how these mint green towels emphasize the hazel green of my eyes?”

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“I might be 41, but I know my way around a feed reader.”

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“Are you feeling tired of transcribing your own thoughts? Here let me.”

Economic Beauty Haul

Sephoras are the new Starbucks of NYC . . . they are everywhere. And if you are a vulnerable person who desires BEAUTY this is a very dangerous prospect. But the sheer volume of Sephoras in my life has forced me to adopt new beauty shopping principles:

1. I have accepted that most makeup in drugstores is just as good as incredibly expensive makeup at Sephora and department stores.

2. For the stuff that is better, I retrieve “samples” from Sephora for at least 3 months until I am absolutely sure that it works. More than half of the pleasure of Sephora is the flaneur experience, so just accept that and walk away with something that you did not buy.

3. Beauty blogging and Youtube people can totally help you discern which products you can just get at the drugstore and which ones you actually need from Sephora. Lisa Eldridge, Fleur DeForce, Lilly Pebbles, and Vivianna Does Makeup all have excellent suggestions. A word of warning: “high street” apparently means drugstore in the UK.

So here are my recent winners based on this strategy:

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From the top (clockwise):

1) Maybelline’s Fit Me Concealer–this stuff is nice and silky and if dabbed lightly does not crease in your eye wrinkles. It does not have a ton of coverage, but I think the ghoul look is overrated. The problem with all drugstore concealers is that there is a limited color range, but for under-eyes you can deal with a shade that would be tad too dark for your face. (My shade Fair has pink undertones, while Light is the lightest color with warm undertones)

2) Revlon Lip Butter–Pink Truffle–These lipsticks are totally moisturizing, easy to apply, stay on for a while, and the colors are all great. I am a big fan, as is the internet.

3) Maybelline Eye Studio Gel Eyeliner–This stuff is so easy to apply, especially with a angled eyeliner brush. It glides on and stays all day. And unlike all the liquid liner pens I have tried, it actually makes a winged liner look possible everyday. With an angled brush you can just press it on the outer eye, with the angle pointing towards the end of your eyebrow, then press into the rest of the top lash line. In brown, this looks a little softer and calls less attention to my old lady eye problems.

4) Tarte BB Amazonian Clay tinted moisturizer–I did three whole months of scamming samples of this from Sephora before I purchased this. It costs $40, which seems crazy expensive to me. But it has passed the most difficult test of all: my husband mentioned that my skin looked great and when I explained that this was because of my new foundation, he said he couldn’t see it on my face! He has been giving some very important makeup wisdom for a long time that I have been refusing to accept: if people can see your foundation/concealer it only adds attention to the problems. I am thrilled that I finally found a foundation that passes his exacting standards (for the record, I FORCE him to engage in this conversation–his views are always solicited). The other reason Tarte tinted moisturizer doesn’t “show” is that the color range is giant and thus allows you to get a perfect match, even for super pale people like myself! This is another reason you should get samples and bring them home even if you are not being thrifty–there is no other way to get a color match than to test them out at home in natural light. Also it has an SPF of 35 so it minimizes the endless steps in my morning routine. It gives beautiful sheer finish that does not emphasize fine lines and pores and it helps keep me moisturized all day.

Maybelline Eye Studio Color Totoo–in Tough as Taupe–I have some seriously oily eye lids and this stuff stays put all day. With an eye shadow brush you put it all over the lid, add a little more to the crease and blend up and out. Boom, contoured eye. Bad to the Bronze is also an easy works for every one shade in this product.

Finally in the hopes of not buying a $50 replacement for my Bobbi Brown eyebrow product (another wedding haul item), I am perusing drugstore options, and this Revlon Brow Fantasy Pencil and Gel in the lighter shade is okay. It mainly passes my #1 test of being ashy enough. You don’t want a warm brown on your brows. But it isn’t waxy and the gel is not that great. So basically I am going to keep using it until I can afford Benefit’s Gimme Brow. Unfortunately I have not yet figured out how to con Sephora into giving me free brow gels or mascaras.

Most importantly, I think that arranging your makeup in a space where it is visible and organized is the most economic strategy of all. If you can’t see it, you won’t use it, and then your money is wasted anyway.

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Tracy Anderson’s Ex-Trainers: a Review

There are a few things that make living in NYC really exciting: the cheap and excellent shoe repair, the prolific doughnut and cupcake bounty, and really fancy and expensive fitness classes. Lately, in the depth of winter, my ability to achieve an approximation of the Tracy Anderson fitness lifestyle has been really keeping me afloat. The tendency of Tracy Anderson’s trainers to leave and start their own businesses makes her despair for humanity, but it allows me to walk the Tracy path. A dream that was rekindled by my recent butt-grabbing experience. Especially now that many of these fitness outlets are part of my Classpass package (a model that is now spreading to Boston and will surely thrive everywhere else).

So here is what that the Tracy apostates have to offer (*updated):

Body by Simone: For non-fancy people Simone has a lot to offer because she lets normal people into her temple of celebrity and wealth. You can walk into her studio and sit with Matt Damon’s wife while you sip cucumber infused water and wait for your class. Then afterwards, they let you take a shower! Really smelly face and body products from Red Flower were strewn around the gorgeous counter top and the lady next to me watched in horror as I applied them ALL.

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Level of Tracy-ness: Simone’s workouts are mostly indistinguishable from Tracy’s except that you will do less repetitive leg lifts, take more breaks between movements and do more conventional movements (like pulsing your leg on your side). The dance is where they really shine. Like Tracy they do it separately from the strength training and the choreography is super basic with an emphasis on bouncing up and laterally while doing sassy hand movements. There is always a lot of skipping backward and forward, which in a class with a dance-crew of fellow ladies is possibly the most satisfying thing you will ever do. It is the Reservoir Dog walk of dance cardio. Simone also offers bands ala’ Tracy but they are hung on the walls instead of the ceiling, for which I deduct -5. It means you can’t really use them to support your body weight/de-stablize you while you do other movements.

DanceBody:

Katia Pryce doesn’t have her own dance studio, but she rents the most satisfyingly-FAME esque dance studio. It is completely lined with windows and thus has actual natural light. Katia is also pretty orthodox in her Tracy-ness: no quad or hamstring work at all, and she tells you to only focus on your butt and abs. She does the most Tracy-esque arm flapping of all ex-Tracy trainers. Her real strength is that she has different choreographed dances for every song, so that if you went all the time it would not be boring or repetitive. Her dances also range from low and funky, slinky and slow, and peppy and jazzy. I kept hoping we would transition to Modern Dance floor-work, but maybe that’s coming later. Do yourself a favor and follow her on Instagram where she posts videos of her dances.

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AKT in Motion:

AK in AKT is Anna Kaiser and she is the most successful of all the Tracy sectarians. She is also an original apostle of Tracy’s so she might have actually created all the Tracy moves in the first place.

AKT has a super fancy studio of her own, but alas unlike Simone she does not encourage normal people to enter, so I take the classes that are open to non-members at a rented Soho studio. Sarah Wolff is my trainer there. I say MY trainer because often people do not show up for my class and I am the only one there. This is intense because the AKT method is the most committed to SCIENCE, and that means that the class uses dance as part of a “High Intensity Interval Training” routine. Starting with 10 minutes of planks, then going to 5 minutes of dance cardio, then 5 minutes of arms, 5 minutes of dance etc. The dances themselves are complex, by the AKT method has perfected the art of keeping your heart rate super high while breaking down the steps.

Body Conceptions:

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Body Conceptions does not have its own studio, but Mahri Relin and her trainers work out of a nice dance studio in midtown. Their spin on the Tracy legacy seems to be the recognition of quads as a legitimate muscle. There are some barre-flavored pulses and lunges that really burn, which makes sense because Mahri also used to work for Flybarre. But the butt work is total Tracy ala’ Perfect Design and Meta (including no breaks!). The nice twist with this method is that the cardio is much more like Tracy’s Meta dvds with no choreography, so if you hate choreography, this is the class for you.

Bari Studio:

Apparently Brice Andrew Hall is the apostate here, but there are other ex-Tracy trainers that work here like Yin Yue who is almost TOO pretty.

Bari will satisfy many of your Tracy yearnings. They frame the studio as a “membership” studio, although you can take a la carte offerings, but that means if that if you love the all-encompassing Tracy cult experience Bari is ready to deliver it with nutritionists, blogs, constant supervision.

Bari emphasizes some of my favorite Tracy elements: bungees from the ceiling and rebounders.

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Although, if you have ever used the rebounders that Tracy sells at home or Body by Simone’s variety you are not prepared for the unbelievably difficult Bari rebounders. Unlike the Tracy variety they are super loose which means it takes more effort to jump.

Everything about Bari is like the ruthlessly efficient version of Tracy, with less choreography (which means less fun jazz hands) and more difficult jumping during dance cardio. More tricep pulses and less flapping.

But, like Body by Simone, you get lots of free towels, free water (in cool reusable water bottles) and showers.

MOVE at The Movement:

Katherine Greiner used to teach dance cardio at SLT, but she has now developed her own class at the confusingly named boutique studio The Movement. MOVE is their full-on Tracy approved dance cardio and toning workout. The studio does not have showers, but they have a pretty and open changing room and they are located next to City Bakery. So I will deduct 5 points for lack of fancy body products but add 8 for proximity to whole wheat croissants.

If you have been an at home client with Tracy, you have been training for this class for years and the sense of top-student-in-class will be so overwhelming that you might need to wipe the grin off your face. Or keep it while you do half an hour of totally reasonable dance cardio that is basically the perfect balance between choreography and follow along (think that elusive first Tracy DC video where she has the spangly green top). Then you go to the floor for totally Tracy-approved moves that, Tracy style, will ignore your quads and inner thighs. There are no intervals, and the cardio and toning are totally separate, which makes this both kind of easy but also reminds you why that aspect of Tracy is fun. By separating the two, you can really get your runner’s high dance cardio experience.

 

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I cannot emphasize enough that the greatest thing about this class is that it is heavily air-conditioned. If you are going to break with Tracy on one thing, have it be this.

 

-D

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