April Stitch Fix Review

After last month’s little box of horrors, I ended up contacting Stitch Fix’s customer service to vent my frustrations. They were incredibly apologetic, offering to pay for my next styling fee, and giving even more tips to ensure my stylist understands my wants and needs – since apparently explicitly asking for pants with real pockets and non-jegging skinny jeans wasn’t specific enough.

Regardless, I complied with their suggestions. I pinned pins to my Pinterest board from boards they suggested. I updated my style profile summary to spell out things that I love (fitted tops, structured dresses, real pockets, earth tones) and things that I hate (flowy tops, flimsy fabric, fake pockets, pastels). They asked me to forward along any styles or aesthetics I prefer, so I shared the link my Pinterest board. For about the sixth time.

They also asked me about celebrity styles I admire, but the only people who came to mind were fictional characters from BBC and the Marvel universe, so I side-stepped that question and instead listed current trends that I like.

Thankfully, all of the extra effort seemed to have a big impact on my stylist this month.

Apr11

In my special instructions for this fix, I entered a final plea for work-appropriate skinny black pants with real pockets (I told them to think twill), and another request for a non-distressed, non-jegging, medium wash pair of skinny jeans. I emphasized the non-jegging part, telling them not to bother sending me any pair that contained more than 5% spandex or elastic. I didn’t have any other specific requests, and pointed again to my Pinterest board and updated style summary for further inspiration.

In her note to me, Jessica — my stylist for the month — apologized for my experience last month, and assured me that she spent lots of time looking at my notes, profile, and Pinterest board. She pointed out that she didn’t send me any black pants because they didn’t have any that fit my specifications, which is fine — I’d rather get no black pants and five things I might love, than a pair of black pants I’m going to hate. Based on her note, I was actually kind of excited about the fix.

Here’s what I got.

RD Style Belem Faux Leather and Ponte Jacket

Black, $88.00

Apr01

Pros: Yay, I love this jacket! The fit is amazing (and the sleeves are actually long enough!), and it goes with basically my entire wardrobe. I was a little hesitant about the mixed-media — the sides and back are a stretchy spandex-like (think yoga pants) material — but I actually really like it. It’s very well tailored and fits like a blazer.

Cons: Did I mention I love this jacket?

Apr02

Verdict: Keep.

 

Papermoon Beverley Lace Side Panel Knit Top

Gray, $54.00

Apr03

Pros: I like this a lot more than I thought I would. It’s a little looser than most shirts I would go for, but is still flattering. I love the stripes, and like that the color isn’t my typical black, but still fits in with the palette of my wardrobe. I also really like the lace detail on the side, which is very different from most things that I own.

Cons: $54.00 is kind of steep for basically a glorified t-shirt.

Apr04

Verdict: Keep.

 

Pixley Tenille Mini Skirt

Blue, $58.00

Apr07

Pros: I really wanted to love this skirt. I’ve pinned several geo-print minis, so this was a great pick. I love the pattern (it struck me as almost art deco), the color is great, and it’s long enough to be appropriate for work.

Cons: Unfortunately, it’s just too big. The fabric on the front also laid kind of funny due to the embroidery, which gave it a frumpy effect.

Apr08

Verdict: Returned, though returning this is how I justified keeping the Papermoon shirt.

 

Market & Spruce Jahana Cargo Vest

Olive, $68.00

Apr05

Pros: I had pinned a couple things with similar vests, so I was excited to see this in my box. I think this is a great piece, and will be very versatile for layering throughout the spring and fall. It has big pockets and a hood, and some really interesting zipper and button details around the shoulders. Additionally, there are internal drawstrings to cinch the waist.

Cons: The drawstrings are a little tricky to get to stay in place, so it doesn’t stay cinched for long.

Apr06

Verdict: Keep. I’m sure I’ll figure out the drawstrings eventually.

 

Mavi Gold Freida Skinny Jeans

Medium wash, $128.00

Apr09

Pros: She nailed exactly what color wash I wanted.

Cons: While these do contain only 4% elastic per my instructions, they also contain 9% polyester and are very stretchy. In short, Jessica thinks I’m going to spend over $100 on a pair of jeggings.

She is wrong.

These are painted-on tight, which makes them incredibly uncomfortable, as well as incredibly inappropriate to wear to most places I would want to wear them. Additionally, they’re way too long — they cover my heels and almost hit my arches.

Apr10

Verdict: Returned, just as soon as I manage to peel them off.

 

All in all, this was a huge improvement. The jeans were a miss, but they were closer, and everything else was spot-on. I’m planning on requesting to stay with Jessica for my next fix, so hopefully I’ll continue to have better luck with my boxes.

If you’re interested in Stitch Fix, check it out! It’s free to sign up, and filling out the style profile is actually really helpful for thinking about what you do and don’t love for your wardrobe.

(Plus, between friends, if you sign up with my referral link, I earn credit with the site when your first fix ships. Win-win, right?)

March Stitch Fix Review

It’s that special time of the month again…

Fix #3!

Fix #3!

OK, it hasn’t quite been a month, but I moved this fix up a week to better accommodate my schedule. Points to Stitch Fix for flexibility.

What’s Stitch Fix? It’s an online subscription personal shopping service that asks you to fill out a style profile, and a personal stylist sends you a package with clothes, shoes, jewelry, and accessories once a month (or however often you schedule to get a “fix” delivered). You’re charged a $20 stylist fee when the fix is put together, which is applied to your purchase if you decide to keep any of the items. If you keep everything, you get a 25% discount. Anything you don’t want can be returned in the prepaid envelope they provide, along with comment cards detailing what you did or didn’t like about the different pieces, which helps the stylists for future fixes.

In my special instructions for this fix I requested work appropriate skinny black pants (again), as well as a new pair of non-distressed, non-jegging medium wash skinny jeans. I also reiterated my prohibition on pastels, fake pockets, and see-through jersey knits, and encouraged her to take my associated and frequently updated Pinterest board into account.

In her note, Elena — my stylist for this month — said my requests were great since it gave her specific pieces to hunt for. After seeing what was in the box, this comment seemed ironic since she clearly didn’t actually hunt for what I requested.

My stylist was wrong.

My stylist was wrong.

Olive + Oak Jaen Chambray Top

Blue, $68.00

Mar04

Pros: The color blocking details of the shirt are really cool, and it fit pretty well in the shoulders.

Cons: The material is very thin and flimsy, which makes the price point kind of outrageous. Additionally, I already have three denim button-up shirts — one over-sized, one with a pattern, and one that has long enough sleeves for my orangutan arms — I really don’t need another one, especially in a silhouette that I don’t like. In Elena’s defense, there are two pins on my board that feature denim shirts. However, I have nineteen pins featuring leather jackets and over forty with skirts or dresses, so maybe any of those things would have been better choices.

Mar05

Verdict: Returned.

 

Mavi Freida Skinny Jean

Navy, $98.00

Mar07

Pros: I desperately need new skinny jeans, so I was excited to see these in my box. They were way darker than the medium wash I requested, but I still like the color. They fit well, though they’re a little on the short side.

Cons: These are jeggings, and I specifically requested jeans, not jeggings. I have no problem paying $98.00 for a quality pair of jeans that will be a wardrobe staple and last for many years. I have a very big problem paying $98.00 for a pair of jeggings that are pretending to be real jeans, while containing the same denim to spandex ratio as a pair of Target jeggings.

Mar08

Verdict: Returned. Seriously, is “real jeans, not jeggings” a confusing request?

 

Brixon Ivy Sylvester Split Neck Blouse

Green, $54.00

Mar10

Pros: Elena clearly listened to my complaints about jersey knits that are trying to be chiffon, and opted instead to give me…polyester that’s trying to be chiffon. Not exactly what I was going for, but points for creativity. The color is similar to the color palette I most regularly frequent.

Cons: I’m just very confused by this shirt’s inclusion in my box. It’s a nice shirt, but 110% not my style, as clearly illustrated by the lack of floaty or shapeless tops throughout my Pinterest board, the fact that my Stitch Fix style profile lists “fitted” as my preferred fit for tops, and after my January fix I explicitly told them not to send me shapeless sheer shirts. I’m all for stepping outside of my comfort zone, but this style of shirt doesn’t look good on my body, which is why I avoid them.

Mar11

Verdict: Returned. The fact that I even tried this on is a miracle.

 

Margaret M Emer High Waisted Trouser 

Black, $98.00

Mar13

Pros: Nope.

Cons: Are you kidding me with this?! These are basically yoga pants. They have no zipper, no buttons, no pockets, no belt loops, nothing. They’re yoga pants that cost ninety eight dollars, and aren’t even Lulu Lemon. This is honestly the furthest away from “work-appropriate skinny black pants that don’t have fake pockets” you can get while still technically being skinny black pants. They’re also incredibly uncomfortable — the material is paper-like and thin, and they seemed confused about whether or not they were ankle length or shorter. The waist was also a bit big on me, which I’d normally remedy with a belt, except the no belt loops makes that a little difficult.

Mar14

“Work-appropriate skinny black pants that don’t have fake pockets” is not an outlandishly difficult request, and it’s incredibly frustrating that this is an actual pin from my Pinterest board that Elena was supposed to be referencing:

Do i have to provide a product number, too?

Do I have to provide a product number, too?

Finally, while I appreciate her taking my “no fake pockets” comment to heart, THE ABSENCE OF POCKETS IS NOT BETTER.

Verdict: Returned. I read somewhere that you should only keep clothes in your wardrobe that bring you joy. These brought me anger.

 

Jill Michael Marianne Triangle Stud Earrings

Gold, $28.00

Mar16

Pros: They’re simple, and pretty, and I could use some more studs to rotate through my everyday earrings.

Cons: They’re too small and too gold for my taste.

Verdict: Returned.

 

So that’s the story of how I paid $20 for a cardboard box. I know I’m kind of picky when it comes to clothes, which is one of the reasons I hate shopping. I don’t expect my stylist to read my mind; however, I do expect her to read my instructions and at least look at the Pinterest board she’s supposed to be using for reference.

I am not shy with any of my feedback, so hopefully another month, another stylist, and one final plea for work appropriate skinny black pants with real pockets will make a positive difference. If not, I need to seriously consider if I want to continue paying for a “personalized” service that doesn’t listen to me.

Spoilers, I don’t.

If you’re interested in Stitch Fix, or at least in seeing if you have better luck than me, check it out! It’s free to sign up, and filling out the style profile is actually really helpful for thinking about what you do and don’t love for your wardrobe.

(Plus, between friends, if you sign up with my referral link, I earn credit with the site when your first fix ships. Win-win, right?)

 

February Stitch Fix Review

I still need clothes, and I still hate shopping, so I’m still on board with Stitch Fix.

Fix #2! My stylist for this month, Kari, definitely heard my feedback from the last fix concerning the quality of the clothing for my current climate, and there were no fake pockets in the box.

In my special instructions for this fix, I reiterated my need for Minnesota-worthy sweaters, and work appropriate skinny black pants.

Maru Marilin Fitted Knit Top

Navy, $48.00
Feb01

Pros: I really hate to say this, but I didn’t like anything about this shirt. I guess the color was okay?

Feb2.5

Cons: Except the color was heathered and I didn’t really like that, either. The fabric was incredibly thin and clingy, which is not a combination that I find particularly attractive. In addition to being thin and clingy, the material was ridiculously sheer — to the point that my bra was visible — yet the shirt was too tight to be able to wear a second layer underneath. I wasn’t incredibly surprised though, considering the shirt failed my primary litmus test.

Feb04

COME ON

Verdict: Sent back, with instructions to stop sending me knit shirts that resemble chiffon.

 

Staccato Dolan Open Cardigan

Navy, $64.00

Feb05

Pros: The length and the fit are both great, and I think it could be fairly versatile. I really like the design, and it’s a sweater without an open knit, just like I asked for!

Feb06

Cons: I just got a cardigan from my fix last month, and that was more neutral and goes with a lot more. This is on the pricey side, and the sleeves are bordering on too short.

Feb07

Verdict: Keeping it. I wanted winter sweaters, this is a winter sweater. And it’s pretty.

 

Kut From The Kloth Johnathan Skinny Corduroy

Brown, $48.00

Feb08

Pros: I really could use some new pants (evident by the jeans I’m wearing in some of these pictures). I like the chocolate color, and it would be something new and different for my wardrobe. They fit really well, and the material seems pretty good quality.

Feb09

Cons: I asked for black pants. Black pants, to accommodate my wardrobe that consists mainly of black and gray neutrals and accent colors that look best with black or gray. While I like the color, and it’s nice to consider other options outside of my normal blacks and grays, the fact remains that I asked for black pants because I really need black pants. Corduroys strike me as less of a wardrobe staple, and more of something you get in a fun jewel tone and wear in the fall with riding boots or cute flats. Furthermore, the cord parts of the corduroy material was very small, so the effect was closer to crushed velvet.

Feb10

Verdict: Sent back. I appreciate the attempt for something different, but this isn’t really the different I’m aiming for. Plus, I actually need black pants.

 

Market & Spruce Tommy Pointelle Weave Pullover Sweater

Dark Gray, $68.00

Feb11

Pros: This is exactly what I had in mind when I requested Minnesota winter-proof sweaters. Cozy, slightly over-sized, and dark neutral colors. It fits nicely and the sleeves aren’t too short, which is a big deal for me. It also has an abstract basket weave pattern on the lower half, which I really like. 

Feb12.5

Cons: It’s a little pricey, and it would be nice if it was a bit longer.

Feb14

Verdict: Keeping it. Kari definitely took my Pinterest board into account for this one.

 

Octavia Altura Cable Knit Infinity Scarf

Mint, $34.00

Feb15

Pros: I love the cable knit, and that it’s a great length without being super bulky.

Cons: Pastels make me even more washed out than I am in my naturally freakishly pale state.

Feb16

Verdict: Sent back. I don’t need help looking pale.

 

I’m not really sure if this was an improvement over my last fix. Kari definitely followed my request for Minnesota winter-proof sweaters to the letter, but she also completely missed/ignored my specific request for skinny black pants, and my notes to avoid pastels. Carefully worded feedback pending, but I’m still looking forward to what they come up with for me next month.

If you’re interested in Stitch Fix, check it out! It’s free to sign up, and filling out the style profile is actually really helpful for thinking about what you do and don’t love for your wardrobe.

(Plus, between friends, if you sign up with my referral link, I earn credit with the site. Win-win, right?)

January Stitch Fix Review

I hate shopping and I need new clothes, so I signed up for Stitch Fix.

For those of you who have never heard of it, Stitch Fix is an online subscription personal shopping service. Basically, you fill out a style profile, and a personal stylist sends you a package with clothes, shoes, jewelry, and accessories once a month (or however often you schedule to get a “fix” delivered). You’re charged a $20 stylist fee when the fix is put together, which is applied to your purchase if you decide to keep any of the items. If you keep everything, you get a 25% discount. Anything you don’t want can be returned in the prepaid envelope they provide, along with comment cards detailing what you did or didn’t like about the different pieces, which helps the stylists for future fixes.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect. My mom has had a lot of trouble getting clothes that she likes in her fixes, and all of the reviews I’ve read say you need to be really specific about what you like/what you want. Knowing this, I made sure to describe my general style preferences as best as I could, plus linked a Pinterest board that reflected my fashion inclinations.

In the special instructions for my fix, I relayed that I’m incredibly pale and try to avoid colors that wash me out, as well as the fact that it’s January in Minnesota so I’d love to see some sweaters.

Then my fix arrived – three days earlier than scheduled, which was awesome – and I excitedly opened the package to see what was waiting for me. Standard of all fixes, there were five items and style cards with suggestions on how to style each piece, as well as a note from my stylist, Ines.

For a first fix, she did a pretty good job.

Liverpool Anita Skinny Pant

Black, $78.00

Jan01

Pros: I actually need a new pair of black skinny pants, and was planning on requesting some in my next fix. These fit really nicely, despite looking tiny, and they have the potential to be very versatile and get a lot of use.

Jan02

Cons: They’re more jeggings than actual pants, and are too tight to really be appropriate to wear to work, which makes the $78 price tag hard to justify. Additionally, the front pockets are fake, which I take great offense to on principle. Seriously, why with the fake pockets? Why would you do that, Anita?!

Jan03

Verdict: Sent back, with a more specific request for what I’m looking for in a pair of black skinny pants, and instructions to never send me anything with fake pockets ever again.

 

Pixley Greenich Striped Knit Top

Burgundy, $48.00

Jan04

Pros: There was so much that could have gone wrong with this shirt. Horizontal stripes can be unflattering. As a ginger, I tend to stay away from reds in my clothing. I have freakishly long arms and can almost never find sleeves that are long enough for me. I also have a long torso so t-shirts tend to ride up on my midriff.

However, there is nothing wrong with this shirt. I love it.

I really like the pattern, and the red is deep enough (it’s described as “burgundy”) that it doesn’t clash, and it’s something different for my wardrobe. The fit is fantastic, actually long enough in all the right places, plus the jersey material isn’t the cheap or flimsy stuff I’m used to from Target or Old Navy. The faux leather trim is a fun feature, and I adore the elbow pads.

Jan05

Cons: It’s white so I’ll probably spill something all over it, and it’s cotton so I’ll probably accidentally shrink it, but those are both on me.

Jan06

Verdict: Keeping it. I’m actually wearing it right now with skinny jeans and a black blazer as I type up this review.

 

Skies are Blue Brilla Open Cardigan

Black, $58.00

Jan07

Pros: I asked for sweaters. The color of this is a nice salt-and-pepper gray that could be worn with almost anything else. The length of the sleeves are good, and I like the general silhouette. Plus, it has pockets (take note, Anita).

Jan08

Cons: I asked for sweaters because it’s January in Minnesota. As I write this, it is twelve degrees below zero with a wind chill of -45. This sweater is beautiful, but it’s not particularly functional. I need sweaters that will actually be warm, not sweaters that have an open weave to show off the clothes underneath. It will be great for spring and fall, and even summer in my intensely air-conditioned office, but it really doesn’t cut it for the winter.

Jan09

Verdict: Keeping it because I know I’ll get a lot of use out of it, but I’m also sending more explicit instructions of what I need to survive the winter.

 

Market & Spruce Annabeth Faux Leather Trim Sweater Tunic

Dark Green, $68.00

Jan10

Pros: I asked for sweaters. I really like the emerald color of the sweater, the keyhole feature was interesting, and the faux leather trim is right up my alley.

Jan11

Cons: Hate is a strong word, but this came close. Again, I asked for sweaters because it’s January in Minnesota. This one didn’t have an open weave like the cardigan, but when I took it out of the box and held it up, I could see right through the fabric. Tip for success, if the fabric is thin enough to be transparent, it isn’t thick enough to be called a sweater.

I don’t really like boat necklines, and the trim on this one made it stiff and uncomfortable. Additionally, while I’m a huge fan of the oversized-sweater-with-leggings-look, the silhouette on this piece was horrendous. It was too long, far too baggy, had absolutely no shape, and the sleeves were too short.

Jan12

Verdict: Sent back with notes to avoid sheer shapeless sacks in the future.

 

Romolo Genevieve Stacked Chevron Pendant Necklace

Gold, $28.00

Jan13

Pros: It’s an interesting statement piece that wouldn’t be annoying to wear, like I imagine those chandelier/bauble statement necklaces are.

Cons: I’m not really sure if it’s my style. I’m kind of weird about jewelry, and I’m not always sure what I would like/consistently wear, so it’s hard for me to make a $28 commitment to a necklace that may never see the light of day. Also, I was wearing it around the house while I was taking pictures for this, and that sucker is heavy.

Jan14

Verdict: Sent back.

 

All in all, not terrible for a first fix. I feel like Ines has a pretty good handle on my style and color palette, it was just the little details that were off. The sweaters were probably the most disappointing part of the fix simply because neither of them are functional for Minnesota winters, but when the stylists are located in California, I can see where there might be some disconnect.

Feedback can only help, so I’m looking forward to February.

If you’re interested in Stitch Fix, check it out! It’s free to sign up, and filling out the style profile is actually really helpful for thinking about what you do and don’t love for your wardrobe.

(Plus, between friends, if you sign up with my referral link, I earn credit with the site. Win-win, right?)

#FeministFriday No. 34

Attention all Disney Darlings, we have a new princess.

moana

Meet Moana Waialiki, the Polynesian princess and heroine of the upcoming movie Moana, set for release in November 2016.

The animated musical will tell the story of Moana’s epic journey to meet demi-gods, and will be directed by the creators of The Princess and the FrogAladdin, and The Little Mermaid. Dwayne Johnson has signed on as the voice of Maui, Moana’s father, and rumors for the voice of the titular character include Hawaii-native Makamae Kailani Auwae, as well as Dinah Jane Hansen of Fifth Harmony.

Fans are beside themselves, particularly with the design of the character.

To quote tumblr user cronuseatsbabies, “JUST LOOK AT HER, LOOK AT HER WAIST AND BUST AND CALVES AND ANKLES SHE’S SO REALISTICALLY PROPORTIONED…DISNEY HASN’T HAD A FEMALE LEAD WITH A BODY THIS REALISTIC SINCE LIKE???? NANI??? CONCLUSION: I’M SO HAPPY”

Another user, clubhousemouse, commented, “Moana’s design is: not a straight copy and paste clone of Rapunzel, Elsa, and Anna; not tiny waisted; a woman of color; different and somewhat new; hella cute; that is all.”

This may seem like an odd reaction to an animated character, but they have a point. Disney faced a lot of scrutiny after the huge success of Frozen, with many people pointing out the lack of diversity in their female characters.

Particularly in the facial region.

Particularly in the facial region.

The Disney Princess brand is one of the biggest media franchises aimed specifically at young girls, so many parents have been glad to see more forward-thinking characters like Merida, the tomboyish heroine of Brave to balance out the passivity of the more traditional princesses like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. In fact, when Merida was given a more feminine makeover as part of her official induction into the Disney Princess pantheon, there was public outcry to return her to her original design.

The relative feminism of recent Disney princess movies is not the only thing modern viewers are concerned about. Most notably is racial representation — or rather, the glaring white nature of most of Disney’s animated output.

Because they’re directly marketed to be role models for young girls, the Disney Princesses come under a lot more scrutiny than other cartoons. The last three movies have featured four white princesses, and failed to include any POC in even secondary or background roles — including Frozen which included indigenous Scandinavian clothing and music from the Sami culture, but no actual Sami characters. This has led many fans and parents to accuse Disney of failing to represent people of color.

The Official Disney Princesses (according to the Official Disney Princess Wiki) are:

  • Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937)
  • Cinderella (Cinderella, 1950)
  • Aurora (Sleeping Beauty, 1959)
  • Ariel (The Little Mermaid, 1989)
  • Belle (Beauty and the Beast, 1991)
  • Jasmine (Aladdin, 1992)
  • Pocahontas (Pocahontas, 1995)
  • Mulan (Mulan, 1998)
  • Tiana (The Princess and the Frog, 2009)
  • Rapunzel (Tangled, 2010)
  • Merida (Brave, 2012)
  • Elsa* (Frozen, 2013)
  • Anna* (Frozen, 2013)

* Technically Elsa and Anna are Princesses-in-Waiting as they have not yet been crowned in an official ceremony at Walt Disney World. I’m told this is a big deal. 

Other female Disney characters like Lilo, Esmeralda, and Meg are not considered official princesses because they don’t meet qualifications set by Disney. There are very specific rules for this, which I’m told are also a big deal.

Here’s where it gets dicey, though. The following graph is the population of the United States by race, according the the 2010 U.S. Census:

US Population by Race

Here are the same demographics of the Disney Princesses:

Disney Princess Race

The lack of representation is disgraceful (“Other” in this case refers to Princess Jasmine, whose Middle Eastern descent does not currently have its own designation on census forms). Our second largest (and fastest growing) racial group doesn’t have their own princess, and while the debut of Tiana as the first black princess drew excitement, the character spent 80% of her screen time as a frog, and the movie contained some pretty unflattering racial stereotypes. Furthermore, while Mulan is arguably one of the better princesses in terms of independence and badassery, the Asian demographic includes 20 subgroups — the six largest of which are Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese. As a Chinese war hero, Mulan technically only represents about 23% of all Asian Americans.

The lack of diversity seems even more ridiculous upon further breakdown. For instance, despite making up approximately 2% of the United States, red heads account for almost a quarter of all Disney Princesses.

Disney Princess Hair

 

Here’s my wishlist of Princesses that should be added to the Disney lexicon:

  • Hispanic Princess
  • Latina Princess
  • Black Princess that stays human for the entire movie
  • Indian/South Asian Princess
  • Muslim Princess
  • Mixed Race Princess
  • Physically Disabled Princess
  • Mentally Disabled Princess
  • Little Person Princess
  • Overweight Princess
  • Transgender Princess
  • Non-heteronormative Princess
  • Alto Princess
  • Any combination of above the above traits would also be acceptable

Obviously it’s a little unreasonable to expect Disney to create a feature length movie dedicated to every single diversity in existence. However, it’s not unreasonable to expect them to be more inclusive to their audience.

As tumblr user everything-is-broadway wrote, “As a person of Polynesian descent, I got extremely excited when Disney’s Moana was announced, and didn’t really know why…and then I realized, THIS is what representation feels like.”

Everybody deserves to feel that magic.

Leave any questions or comments below, and see you next week!

#FeministFriday No. 33

In the news this week, Target has announced that they will eliminate “boys” and “girls” on their signs in the toy and bedding departments.

Good.

“We know that shopping in some departments like Toys, Home, or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary,” says a statement on the Target website. In recent years, more and more parents and corporations have started to understand that gendered toy segregation can make children feel needlessly ashamed of their desire for toys that don’t fit their gender stereotypes, such as chemistry sets and monster trucks for girls, or play kitchens and dolls for boys.

Toys are toys. They’re a source for entertainment and joy, and companies like Target that are encouraging children to pick a plaything that will bring them joy — even if it may not enforce traditional gender roles — should be the norm, not the source of controversy.

Because of course there’s controversy over removing obsolete and meaningless signage in a retail store.

Notably, Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the famous Rev. Billy Graham, and president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Graham is calling for a boycott, and like many conservatives has grounded his complaint in his evangelical Christian beliefs, marveling, “They won’t be using pink and blue colors to identify sexes. What’s next? Are they going to try to make people believe that pink or blue baby showers are politically incorrect? I have news for them and for everyone else — God created two different genders.”

Except no, He didn’t. I’m not starting a “where did we come from?” debate, settle down, but the fact is there are more than two genders. Like, a lot more. Gender itself is a social construct, and relatively new in terms of recognition, but to assume it can just be simplified into a binary is wrong and kind of ridiculous. Gender, much like sexuality, is a spectrum, and not everyone falls into neat categories.

gender

Additionally, Graham’s remark of color coding is kind of strange when you put it in context. Everyone knows that “pink=girl” and “blue=boy” because marketing and society are super effective at ingraining these constructs into our brains from a young age. However, it’s a fairly modern phenomenon with absolutely no biblical roots. In fact, historically, the reverse was always true: many religiously devout parents felt blue was feminine due to a long history of association with the Virgin Mary, and pink was considered virile and masculine. Baby boys were dressed in pink until the 1940s, at which point a certain German leader started using little pink triangles to identify gay people (in the same way he used yellow Star of Davids to identify Jewish people). After World War II, pink was considered an effeminate color and designated for girls.

That’s right, the whole of western society decided that pink was girly because Adolf Hitler associated the color with homosexuality.

Infuriatingly bigoted history aside, Graham complaints continued, stating that “gender-neutral people out there” haven’t made Target strong. Others — like Tom Kersting, an actual psychotherapist — expressed concern that the lack of boy-girl labels would lead children to “question what their gender is.”

Contrary to many conservative’s beliefs, gender-neutral marketing doesn’t mean an attempt to make males and females exactly the same, or that Target is going to ban traditionally gendered toys like Barbie and G.I. Joe. It simply means organizing products that children already love according to interest or theme, rather than by boy or by girl. This isn’t exactly radical; gender-based marketing only really became popular in the 1990s when companies realized they could get parents to buy twice as much stuff by introducing products with gender segmentation.

Furthermore, wild accusations of gender confusion don’t square up to the science. Developmental psychologist Christia Brown, a professor at the University of Kentucky and author of Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue, has about 30 years of social science on children and gender-labeled toys to back her up.

consider the following

“We know kids know their gender really early — they know it by about two years old,” said Brown. “The gender-confusion thing is not something parents need to worry about.” She goes on to agree that the decision to remove gender labeling on toys is, in all likelihood, a very good idea. Most research suggests this, as well.

“Social scientists really agree pretty wholeheartedly on the effect of these kinds of gender labels on kids’ choices,” Brown said. “What they find is that the girls don’t want to touch it if it’s labeled a boy’s toy. When the exact same toy is labeled as a girl’s toy, however, the girls are interested.” Similar patterns have been observed in boys, including a study that involved purposely confusing visual cues — for example, when handed a monster truck that had been painted pink, boys were interested as long as it was labeled “for boys”.

Carol Lynn Martin of Arizona State University studied the effects of labels on preschool-aged children. Two sets of children were presented with a variety of gender-neutral toys, like flip-books or magnets, and asked to rate how much they enjoyed the toys. For one set of children, half of the toys were taken from a box labeled “Boys” and the other half from a box labeled “Girls” — all of the boys were more interested in the boys’ toys, and the girls in the girls’ toys. However, the other set of children were presented the exact same toys without labels, and no clear trend emerged concerning the toys the boys liked versus the ones preferred by the girls.

Further research found that not only does gender labeling impact the toys that children like, it impacts the way they play with the toys, as well. In one study, American children were presented with a Canadian toy they’d never seen before, which involved throwing discs into a target. Half the children were told the game was meant for boys, while the other half were told it was intended for girls. The result was boys scoring better at the game when they believed the toy was for boys, and the girls doing better when they thought it was a game meant for them.

Where this becomes an issue is when the toys labeled for specific genders are toys that mimic traditional gender roles and are deemed the only appropriate or acceptable toys for children of that gender. Another study completed last year by Dr. Maria do Mar Pareira of the University of Warwick found that raising children to adhere to rigid gender roles can be detrimental to their physical and mental health.

Pereira drew her conclusions after spending three months observing a class of teenagers in Lisbon, Portugal. The teens knew they were being observed by Pereira in all aspects of their everyday lives — attending classes, eating lunch in the cafeteria, playing on the playground, and joining them on trips to the mall after school — but they didn’t know her specific area of focus.

In addition to one-on-one interviews with each teen, her observations allowed her to track the ways they interacted with their ideas about masculinity and femininity, and noted that both boys and girls were regulating their behavior in potentially harmful ways in order to adhere to gender norms. For instance, even girls who enjoyed sports often avoided physical activity at school because they assumed it wouldn’t be a feminine thing to do, they worried they might look unattractive while running, or they were mocked by their male peers for not being good enough.

The girls also put themselves on diets because they believed desirable women have to be skinny. “All of the girls were within very healthy weights, but they were all restricting their intake of food in some way,” said Pereira. “What we’re really talking about here is 14-year-old girls, whose bodies are changing and developing, depriving themselves at every meal. In the extreme, that can lead to things like eating disorders, but even for the women who don’t reach the extreme, it can be very unhealthy for them.”

Meanwhile, the male participants in the study all faced intense pressure to demonstrate the extent of their manliness which led to everyday low-level violence and destructive behaviors: slapping and hitting each other, inflicting pain on other boys’ genitals, encouragement to physically fight each other if they were ever mocked or offended, and feeling like they had to drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol because that’s “what a man would do”. Additionally, they were under certain mental health strains. Many were struggling with anxiety about proving themselves and suppressing their feelings, all while lacking a strong emotional support system.

Pereira ultimately concluded that, “this constant effort to manage one’s everyday life in line with gender norms produces significant anxiety, insecurity, stress, and low self-esteem for both boys and girls, and both for ‘popular’ young people and those who have lower status in school.”

genderrole1

Although Pereria’s observations took place at a school in Lisbon, she believes her results have widespread implications for Western nations that are subject to similar cultural messages about gender. In fact, previous research in British and American schools has reached many of the same conclusions as her study.

Sociologists agree that children “learn gender” from being subjected to society’s expectation, despite the fact that pressuring children to conform to rigid gender roles can result in serious mental health consequences for the children whose parents try to “correct” their behavior. Additionally, there are countless examples of schools being environments where gender stereotypes are strongly enforced and strictly policed, and children can be sent home for wearing the “wrong” type of clothing.

The findings of these studies could serve as hope about the possibility of creating a different kind of approach to these issues. Children and teenagers are still shaping their attitudes about what it means to be a man or a woman, and while some adults may think it’s impossible to change gender norms, it’s important to remember that such norms are much more entrenched in adults than they are in young people.

Change is slow, however. Cultural shifts happen in stages, which is why there’s been such backlash towards Target. In the future, gender stereotyping could be eradicated in other areas, such as clothing departments, which are currently starkly divided into “boys vs. girls” colors, themes, and styles — sending the same limited messages as toy labels about what boys and girls are supposed to like and who they are supposed to be.

I look forward to writing about the blowback from a clothing department that contains both sparkly dresses and football jersey.

Bottom line: if your child is happy and healthy, does it really matter what their favorite toy is?

Leave any questions or comments below, and see you next week!

#FeministFriday No. 32

The Teenage Girl is possibly the absolute stupidest, most materialistic, and shallow kind of human there is, and by definition the easiest to make money off of.

The Average Teenage Girl wears a general uniform that included leggings, Uggs, NorthFace fleece jackets in winter; extremely whorish costumes (police, nurse, cheerleader, school girl, etc.) on Halloween; and in summer, extremely tiny shorts and skirts with sunglasses wide enough to hide her entire face. Of course, all of these outfits must come from a wide variety of different brands which also provide a wide variety of accessories that she clearly doesn’t need.

Teenage Girls tend to travel in herds of 5 or 6 as they have nothing resembling independent thought or character and are totally subservient to the herd mentality, which decides who they can date, what they eat, where they go, what they wear, and what they do.

In her free time, The Average Teenage Girl likes to listen to mass produced idiotic music by the likes of One Direction or Five Seconds of Summer. Within the herds, this is usually accompanied by screaming the lyrics very obnoxiously to make sure everybody knows what idiots they are.

The Average Teenage Girl is of very low intelligence. She talks in a very high pitched voice and if she is literate, her favorite book is Twilight. Movie preferences include the “rom-com” or “chick flick” genre, which any idiot with basic writing skills could make.

The Average Teenage Girl is an idiot and will probably amount to nothing more than trophy wives, models, or actresses in really bad movies, assuming they remember how to breathe.

The above, vomit-inducing description is the definition of “teenage girl” provided by Urban Dictionary. Incidentally, it’s the second thing that comes up if you Google “teenage girl”; other search results included diet and exercise pages, and blogs dedicated to making fun of things like leggings. By comparison, Googling “teenage boy” brings up links for parental advice columns, news stories about academic and athletic excellence, and medical research about the effects of (cis) male puberty.

Teenage girls (and even preteen girls to a large extent) have long been the punchline of society. They are reduced to simplistic, stereotypical beings whose thoughts, interests, habits, and emotions are endlessly and needlessly mocked. We trivialize their mental health, laugh at their pain, and minimize their behaviors as illegitimate angst, ridiculous overreactions, or PMS.

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It’s not easy, being teens. Nearly all teenage girls suffer from poor body image, or think they need to lose weight. It’s estimated that one in every 200 girls aged 13-19 regularly cut themselves, but estimated that one in twelve will self-harm in some way before they turn 18. Suicides among U.S. females between 10 and 24 years old have nearly quadrupled since 1994, but it’s socially acceptable to belittle them because, why? They’re wearing riding boots and scarves, and drinking pumpkin spice lattes?

Grow the hell up.

It seems like every other week there’s some news story or breaking article that revolves around the “fact” that teenage girls lack self-esteem: “As their teen years approach, many confident girls turn into sullen shells.”

It’s almost like it’s stressful to have all of society constantly telling them exactly what perfect mold they need to fit into, and are then told they’re unacceptable if they don’t fit, but told they’re shallow if they do. Everything that teenage girls do is meticulously criticized, from the way they speak, to the way they style their hair, to they way they act in groups of their peers. Regardless of what it is, there is always someone, somewhere commenting that they should do it differently.

All the while, teenage boys are just sort of expected to behave the way that they do. Teenage boys eat a lot, they think about sex a lot, they wear basketball shorts and flat billed baseball caps, and make homophobic comments on Xbox Live. That’s just teenage boys, that’s just what they do. Nothing they do is ever really addressed as an issue, and I’ve never read an article anywhere detailing how consuming endless Pizza Rolls and Mountain Dew makes a guy “basic”. Granted, these are broad generalizations that in no way represent every 13-19 year old male in the country; there have even been recent studies that suggest popular stereotypes of males are, on the whole, inaccurate.

Meanwhile, let’s keep assuming that all teenage girls are vapid and are more interested in selfies than current events.

That's their reaction to Donald

They’re watching the latest Donald Trump press conference.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, teenagers are considered a “golden goose” of sorts by marketers in terms of disposable income. They’re at the age where they’re old enough to work part-time, but young enough to still receive birthday money and allowances. According to a Harris Poll, the 42 million teenagers in the United States have over $100 billion at their disposal. Furthermore, teenagers typically have less financial responsibility than adults, and are less likely to respond to economic factors as much as older consumers.

If only there was a target market with such disposable income that could be easily convinced by companies to buy their products on account of the target market’s perennially low self-esteem and need to be seen as “good enough” by society.

Marketers thrive on society’s treatment of teenage girls because it allows them to capitalize on the fallout. They manipulate girls through advertising to believe that these exact jeans, or this exact shampoo will enable them to overcome any insecurities and be accepted, all while feeding into the bigger picture of perfection that undermines their confidence in the first place.

Immoral? Absolutely. It’s modern capitalism at its finest. The best example of this is Dove, which launched the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004. Their website states, “The Dove brand is rooted in listening to women…The campaign started a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty after the study proved the hypothesis that the definition of beauty had become limiting and unattainable…In 2010, Dove evolved the campaign and launched an unprecedented effort to make beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety, with the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem.”

This all sounds amazingly positive and female friendly, until you realize that Dove’s parent company, Unilever, also owns Axe. While Unilever has promoted one brand by pointing out how terrible women feel about their bodies and trying to convince them otherwise, they’ve been promoting the other with sexist and objectifying portrayals of women, telling men they should be focused only on the appearance of women — which, of course, is represented by the limited and unattainable standard of beauty Dove is trying so hard to abolish.

I could probably write a separate post about everything wrong with this ad.

I could probably write a separate post about everything wrong with this ad.

I digress. Let’s look at a revised version of that definition from earlier:

A teenage girl is a female between 13-19 years of age, and is very likely to be targeted by marketers, as well as people who have nothing better to do than make fun of young girls because they feel bad about themselves on the inside.

Teenage girls have a wide variety of styles that express their unique personalities. Many choose to wear clothing like yoga pants and leggings because they’re awesome and hella comfortable. Some stick to basics like jeans and t-shirts because those are awesome and what they like. Others choose to follow current trends, such as shorts and and crop tops in the summer months, which are awesome and adorable on anyone who chooses to wear them. If you disagree and think they should wear something else, you should take a long, hard think as to why you care so much what teenage girls are wearing.

Some teenage girls like to travel in groups of friends because it’s nice to spend time with friends. Additionally, there is safety in numbers and females who travel alone are often blamed for any misfortunes that may befall them.

Many teenage girls enjoy listening to music by groups like One Direction. Incidentally, the individual members of One Direction each have a net worth of £15 million, which is much more than what anyone making fun of these girls will ever be worth. This “fangirl” behavior towards One Direction is also reminiscent of another British boy band, which almost certainly would have never enjoyed commercial success in America were it not for the support of screaming teenage girls. You may have heard of them, they were a group from Liverpool called The Beatles.

The average teenage girl has a GPA of 3.1 and composite ACT score of 21. In their free time, many teenage girls tend to favor books and movies with more than one speaking female character, which often fall under the romantic comedy category. Despite a lack of female representation, teenage girls also show a strong interest in the science fiction, fantasy, and action-adventure genres, making up a sizable portion of the fanbase for popular franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, and DC.

Teenage girls are amazing and many will grow up to do incredible things. Anyone who tries to limit them is an idiot and will probably amount to nothing more than a bitter Redditor, assuming they remember how to breathe.

Much better.

Leave any questions or comments below, and see you next week!