Weekend Reads #256

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Weekend Reads #256 | Niki de Saint Phalle Dawn
Niki de Saint Phalle, Dawn (bleue), circa 1993

Weekend Reads #256

Scientists unveil new avocado variety known as the “Luna”. (Axios)

Lucia Tang on “oriental” fragrances. (Dirt)

Katie Ledecky ties Michael Phelps’ record with dominant performance at World Championships. (CNN)

DC valedictorian lived in tent under bridge. (NBC Washington)

What's with all the anonymous posts about divorce? (Gloria)

Barack Obama's 2023 Summer Reading List is here. (Town & Country)

For the first time, new tech enables paralyzed man to move and feel again. (Time)

Toxin-secreting hammerhead worms are invading the D.C. area. How to stop them. (Washington Post – gift article)

Why midlife is so hard – especially now. (Greater Good Magazine)

Where is DeedDa, Jane Pratt's latest enterprise? (Dirt)

‘Am I crossing picket lines if I see a movie?’ and other Hollywood strike fan questions answered. (AP)

Being a Barbie girl in a first-gen immigrant world. (LA Times)

The Barbie movie, Lilith, Eve, and all our gendered hopes and expectations. (Men Yell at Me)

The price of being alive. (The Audacity)

Taylor Swift fans ‘Shake It Off,’ causing record-breaking seismic activity during Seattle shows. (CNN)

Allbirds created the world's first net carbon zero shoe. (Design Milk)

70 years of your National Park photos. (Washington Post – gift article)

Tearfully testifying against Texas’ abortion ban, three women describe medical care delayed. (The Texas Tribune)

If you read that piece in the New York Times about menopause a few months ago, here is a podcast episode with the author. Even if you didn't read it, this is interesting. There is a button to read the transcript if that is a better option for you. (New York Times – gift article)

PS. Last week's Weekend Reads.


Survival of the Thickest on Netflix

My husband was out of town for a few days so I had some time to watch the things that he wouldn't likely want to watch, at any time I darn felt like it. After he and I watching the first episode of Survival of the Thickest, a series on Netflix starring Michelle Buteau, I knew I'd have to finish the series alone. And that I did this week!

Michelle Buteau
The suit is from Wildfang because I know you're wondering. I mean, I was wondering too…

You may recognize Michelle Buteau from her stand-up specials, or being the host of the Netflix reality series The Circle, or her parts in Tales from the City, Isn't It Romantic, Marry Me, Always Be My Maybe, and several others. Or maybe you read her 2020 book of essays, also titled, Survival of the Thickest.

Michelle Buteau Survival of the Thickest
Buteau's jacket and matching joggers are Farm Rio, but no longer available

The Netflix series is very loosely based on the essays from that book. Buteau is a 38-year-old assistant stylist in NYC who is suddenly single and struggling to make a name for herself in her industry. She is emotionally supported by her two best friends Khalil and Marley as she works to get a place to live, clients on her roster, and navigates a lovelife after a long relationship.

Survival of the Thickest costumes
I read the costume designer had to create some look because there were so few plus options. I wonder if both of these looks were made for the show. The belt bag is from The Phluid Project.

Buteau isn't going to be the next winner for Best Actress but she's utterly adorable and so enjoyable to watch. Her friendships are solid, strong, and beautiful. Her relationship with her parents may feel familiar to some, especially those who are children to immigrants. And it's so beautiful to see bigger bodies wearing gorgeous clothing and being pursued without it being a fetish or a joke.

Farm Rio x Adidas outfit
Buteau's look is Farm Rio x Adidas

Seriously, Buteau looks good in every single scene, even when she's hungover. Big props to costume designer Keia Bounds for making every character, of every age and size and style, look phenomenal. It was fun to see brands I recognized, so many Black brands being represented, and to see such fantastic styling on a body I could relate to.

Survival of the Thickest cast | Weekend Reads #256
Her dress in this scene (and in the promo poster) is from Selkie

The entire show is very body positive and be yourself positive. From celebrating trans teens who are struggling with their school's dress code for prom to folks in their 30's, 40's, and 50's (as Marley is played by 52-year-old Tasha Smith) finding themselves and with it finding joy, Survival of the Thickest is a colorful, uplifting series that isn't corny or false and is easy to binge.

For Your Entertainment

Sinéad O’Connor

I know I am not the only one gutted by the passing of Shuhada Sadaqat, better known to all of us as Sinéad O’Connor. The Lion and the Cobra came out when I was in middle school, just starting to explore music beyond the Top 40 radio station. I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got was released at a pivotal time in my high school life, and these albums inspired me, supported me, and made me feel less alone while giving me approval to be bold and strong and go against the grain.

While I never shaved my head, O'Connor empowered me to cut off my mall bangs for a pixie and dye it black. She gave me permission to speak out about issues that mattered to my teenage self: legal and safe abortions, women's rights, and how all citizens on this planet deserve a place to live, food to eat, and basic healthcare. She guided me through difficult times, whether it was losing social standing due to who I dated and befriended, or when I was at odds with parents or other authority figures.

Sinéad O'Connor made me realize how some of the celebrities I admired had nothing to say, even with a large platform and attentive audience. I'd say that a reason I continue to speak up as an adult, even if it affects my career as a blogger, influencer, and content creator is because Sinead O'Connor lead by example when I was a teen.

I know all of you have read more than enough think pieces on O'Connor, so I'll end here. But I encourage you to listen to The Lion and the Cobra straight through, preferably with earbuds/headphones, whether it's been decades or days since last listening to her music. “Jerusalem” is in my ears as I write this.

I leave you with a recording of her time on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1991. I remember watching it live, and rewatching the YouTube video brought me back to my childhood home rec room, sitting on the couch under the afghan, in awe of someone so talented and so dedicated to using every opportunity to better this world even when the world was against her.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I was at the Saturday night Taylor Swift concert in Seattle with my 16 year old, her best friend and her best friend’s mom. I am so glad to hear we contributed to the Swift-quake (though we take seismic events seriously out here on the Pacific Rim). I was a reluctant Swiftie, but she’s won me over. My daughter likes a pretty broad range of music, inc indie, pop, country, and more, but no one more than Taylor who she has loved for a decade. I was happy to share a little bit of this moment at the end of her girlhood.

    Between that show and Barbie, it was an incredible week of celebrating women, girls, icons, feminism and unabashed JOY. It was wonderful. I’m honestly still on a high.

    One of the best things about the Taylor Swift experience was the making and trading of friendship bracelets, which was an idea that came from fans based on a lyric “make the friendship bracelets…” I saw so many creative bracelets, and groups of people making them at the hotel, in the lines, everywhere. My daughter and friend made them the week before after work in the evenings. They traded with older and younger women and girls (and some guys!). It was a refreshing break from the consumerism of merch and an authentic expression of creation, love and community. I did stand on a merch line for almost 3 hours. Yikes.

  2. Thanks. Kinda sorta, I guess. It’s nice to be entertained, but sometimes we really have to think. At the moment I’m thinking “Why is it I live in this country anyway? and I am speaking from a definite position of privilege.

    The Texas women and their horror stories, the insanity of American health care, the “sandwich” generation trying to cope without support…why do we put up with this? Ah yes, the American dream of making it big, getting rich. If it can happen to the 1%, it can happen to me, right? And then I’ll be rich and happy in an all-White, ’50s America where we all go to (Jesus’s only) church on Sundays and women know their place.

    I’m glad my coffee isn’t bitter cuz that’s about all that isn’t at the moment.

    Please continue to include the hard stuff. Still, a pretty dress that can fit a 5’1″ size 14 is welcome too.

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