Weekend Reads #90

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Last Friday I was at cabi's conference The Scoop.  I had felt under the weather all week, got my period early and with serious intensity, was in a different time zone, and just feeling off.  I showed up to the San Diego Convention Center feeling a bit clammy.  I wore pieces from the latest collection not even available to Stylists – this jacket, this cami, these pants.  Strangers came up asking if they could touch the fabric, rubbing my shoulders and running their hands down my thighs.  Some didn't ask, I would just feel fingertips on my shoulders or tugging on the hem. Individuals I didn't know but knew me extremely well thanks to this blog and Instagram came up hugging me and asking to take selfies with me, I received DMs of candid photos of me from across the room . At first, it was overwhelming and I started feeling as though I was going to have a panic attack.  But I gave myself a moment to drink some water, get my bearings, and the interactions ended up giving me energy. 

We can see social media as a detriment to society, but it can also be a benefit and a way to create community.

I have friends who aren't big on social media.  They have professions that don't require it, don't have kids that are curious about it, don't run in circles where individuals photograph their food, the books they're reading, or their feet on a really interestingly tiled floor.  I feel as though (and with some, outright know) I am judged by them for my “superficial” profession and question why I do this.  Then I meet women who live thousands of miles from me in a completely different community with a completely different culture who say that my social media presence makes them feel not alone, better about themselves, free to try something different.  

We can have an item we see on the internet arrive at our front door in less than 24 hours.  More and more jobs are going the teleworking route, making it so employees never have to leave their home or see one another beyond a Zoom conference call. When we do leave our homes, we experience subpar service due to payroll and training reductions to save funds for online features, distracted driving, and waiting in lines.  A Peleton doesn't require you to brush your teeth or parallel park.  Instacart means you don't have to stop your TV show or can work an extra hour without having to drive to the grocery store. We can criticize these services for destroying the social fabric of humanity… or can see them as a way for individuals to have access, get back time, or pursue that degree or that hobby they missed or a second job to make ends meet. 

Instead of another article about how the internet and social media is destroying our society, I'd like a study where we analyze the demographics of the article authors.  Are they able-bodied upper-middle-class individuals with a college education living in a suburban or urban environment?  Are they 20-somethings straight out of Columbia or NYU with a boss who is an able-bodied upper-middle-class individual with a college education living in a suburban or urban environment? 

At Scoop, a woman came up to me and thanked me for my Instagram.  She had thinning hair like me, and because I decided to embrace my curl she did too and no longer was embarrassed by her visible scalp.  She said she loved seeing someone shaped like her on Instagram, it was like a virtual friend reminding her that she is beautiful right now. It was pretty powerful and we both ended up crying. There are definitely detriments to living a virtual life online.  I know people who have had social media hurt their self-image, their relationships, even their bank accounts.  But just as with other activities we partake in that can veer into addiction or danger, we need to be aware, control and protect ourselves, and seek help or abstinence when we know we are unable to control our usage.  And unlike a lot of other activities, smart usage can make this world a lot more accessible and far less lonely.

Charity of the Month

January closed yesterday, and that means I need your help picking a charity!  As I mentioned in this post, I will be donating 10% of everything I made this month in ad and affiliate revenue to the charity of your choice.  If you can't see the widget for the poll, you can access it at this link.  I will collect entries through Tuesday evening and provide the recap next week.

Weekend Reads

I wrote another piece for The Plum, this time about how my fashion goals have changed since turning 40. (The Plum) . As for the sweater I reference in the piece, here is a link to it and it's on sale for $53.70. (Nordstrom)

My friend sent me this piece about Instagram usage which inspired my ramblings above. (n+1)

Amazon is surely convenient, but you may not be getting the quality of product you expect.  A friend sent me this video and I can attest to this happening and for over a decade.  Several years ago, my family and I were toying with changing our lifestyle and I joined a Facebook group where individuals shared their money-making methods that didn't require a specific address.  Amazon Fulfilment was the most popular and members would share their tips for dumpster diving, thrift store picking, and scouting out store liquidations.  Unless you know you're buying directly from a brand on Amazon, please please buy your groceries from local grocery stores and your beauty products from established beauty retailers. It's not only supporting local and ethical companies, it's ensuring you get the highest quality items. (Wall Street Journal and no paywall to view)

While I'm at this, some food and beauty brands do sell on Amazon.  I learned from an employee at Davines, a brand that sells certified product on Amazon, that to ensure you're buying authorized product, above the product description look for a logo instead of just the brand name or the store name.  You should be able to click on that logo and go to their branded Amazon storefront. 

Apparently, I'm too fat to ski. (The Cut)

Worried about your Nordstrom returns and whether they are heading to landfills?  Worry no more, now you can shop them! (GQ)

Author Danielle Steele still reigns as Queen of Paris Couture Week. (Vogue)

“I had another dress, and then my boyfriend and I were getting a belt for him at the mall and I saw this and I loved it, so this is a last-minute dress, but I love it!” Lana Del Rey rocking a mall dress to the 2020 Grammys. (Rolling Stone) And if you want the dress for yourself, it's sold out online but you may be able to find it at your local Dillard's

With a child at that age where she is finding her own self and life, I enjoyed this piece about allowing children an inner life. (New Yorker)

What my daughter taught me about mental illness. (Wise Women Canada)

It may seem that younger generations are addicted to their phones, but studies have shown that Gen X-ers are worse. (Wired)

Every week there are new articles about how the fashion industry is killing our planet and discussions about sustainable fashion.  But it seems that most of the “facts” we know about fashion, the environment, and sustainability are based off bad data.  (Vox)

See, Hear, Read

After everyone I know recommending it, I finally watched What the Health, a documentary on Netflix about consuming meat and dairy.  Our family went plant-based in August and in the home we do not have meat or dairy, though my daughter and I will occasionally consume it out of the home.  My husband decided to do it to reduce inflammation and has experienced a positive result of his change in diet.  My daughter's seasonal allergies have diminished, and I stopped getting acne around my mouth just before my period and have also seen a reduction in my allergies, both respiratory and skin. This documentary makes some serious claims, and many have been debunked or clarified, but it did remind me of why I decided to go plant-based with my husband – it can reduce inflammation and will, even if just a small amount, reduce the chance that I will get the diseases that my father and other relatives died from.  Never take one source of information as gospel, but I am glad I finally got around to watching this documentary and after, doing some reading of opposing views to get a balanced result (for example, here is a review of the film from a vegan and here is a claim by claim review by Time). While I did order chirashi for sushi take-out my first dinner after watching the documentary, it did inspire me to consume less meat and dairy, especially pork.  Have you seen the film?  I'd love to read what you thought of it. 

Sale Alert

Shop at Sephora by Monday and spend at least $50 and you'll get 15% off between February 20-24. If you're looking for ideas on what to buy, I recently bought an “I'm pale AF in January” shade of this tinted moisturizer that I've been loving since March and I just got this cream blush in the color “In the Nude” and love the color and consistency (and it can be used elsewhere on the face too).  My mom has been dealing with knee issues and has found this cream to truly help.  I also received a trial size of this perfume and like it so much I'm going to buy the rollerball.

Lands' End has 40% off full-priced items with promo code CHILLY40. Cableknit sweaters are being sold by every retailer; get a classic one that is a better price and better quality.  Here's the same sweater in plus sizes. I discussed joggers earlier this week and Caroline emailed me to say these matte jersey joggers are amazing; she owns two pairs and has inspired several friends to also get them. Spring is coming, do you have a raincoat?  This packable one looks great and comes in amazing colors; here is the link for it in plus sizes. I love their squall jackets and this looks to be the perfect travel/weekend/look cute but also get sh*t done raincoat; here is the link for it in plus sizes.  And if you live in a cold area, this longer insulated raincoat is fantastic; here is the link for it in plus sizes.

For Your Entertainment

U.S. Girls is the project of Meg Remy, a Toronto-based musician.  Formed in 2007, U.S. Girls has its 7th album, Heavy Light coming out this March.  ‘Overtime' is the first single from this album and it makes me excited to see Ramy live, an artist that has been on my band bucket list (FYI, here's her touring schedule for this year).  I love how this video shows the dance and beauty in anguish. 

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. Video of Amazon 3rd party selling was disturbing. But if I think about it I am not surprised. It’s far too easy to sell OK looking items from the trash, etc as new. Even if this practice is against Amazon I don’t imagine it’s easy to police. I never buy any food items from Amazon. Most of what I buy from them is used. At least with the used books and CDs/DVDs I buy, the seller is listed. I’ve done well purchasing used books from various Goodwills across the country.

    The few times I tried to buy clothes from Amazon, I was disappointed and had to send the items back.

    I have mixed feelings about this whole thing. I know tons of new, good products get trashed, but can’t sellers offer these items as used rather than trying to pass them off as new? When folks in my area have yard sales at which they sell storage unit contents, they are honest about the source. “What you see is what you get.” That seems to be a better method than to try to pass off as new an unopened box that has been in storage 10 years.

  2. I recognize the pluses as well as the minuses of modern technology as a whole. I’m asking, begging, please turn your phone off when you are having a coffee date with a friend. Not aimed at you Allie but to people in general. I have a good friend who does this. I am too chicken to ask her to turn her phone off even though it bothers me. It bothers me a lot. It makes me feel like a conditional friend. Yes, I matter, but not more than any phone messages that might come in.

  3. Just read your Plum article on “Man Repellent Fashion.” LOVED IT. Your writing was punchy, acerbic, visual, and riotous, and I look forward to more!

  4. As always, when I make time to read your Weekend Reads I am full of new information, thoughts and feelings! Lots to digest; and it is not always easy and simple–which is a good thing.

    In this moment, I am realizing what a lot of conflicting feelings I have about this topic of social media. I don’t want to be one of those old fuddy-duddies who maligns social media; I get how it really does connect people in such wonderful ways. . .Also, I am fully capable of making my own decisions, and letting others make theirs! In general, I am way limited in my social media and general internet use, mostly because I have other “real life” obligations and priorities. .. But even so, here I am, having made the choice this morning to read many of your fantastic links, sitting at my computer when I want to be out on a hike or getting my errands and chores done so that I can focus on my own creative enterprises. . . I hate how often I make this choice, because it is interesting and fun but it doesn’t fully serve how I am striving to live as a human being. Why is this so complicated?!!!

  5. Ali, I met a woman last year (our tables were next to each other at a restaurant) who is one of the inventors of Evrnu, a new technology that takes old clothes and turns them into fiber that can be used to make new textiles. I found it fascinating and sounds like a really great idea. If you are still doing occasional interviews, she might be a great subject. You can find her TedTalk on their website: https://www.evrnu.com/?fbclid=IwAR2xfiBDF0oRwy_jbuPXKjbrx-q250BG5T15jB9NqEAvKvQ4aVkuelL2_GE

  6. Another great round up Alison, one of the few I actually click through almost all the links. The amazon story was disturbing, but not entirely surprising. Also thrilled to see my two favourite on IG collide, with you sharing @marielle.elizabeth’s article from The Cut. Have a great weekend.

  7. Can you you please show/explain what you mean about lookiing for the logo on products purchased on Amazon to make sure you get the real thing? I have hesitated to buy i.e. self care products like shampoo because I was concerned they could be “copies”. I dont’ know where you find the logo on the web page. Thanks

    1. Yes! Here are some examples:
      The Davines has a logo above the description and when you click the logo you go to a branded page about the Davines collection: https://www.wardrobeoxygen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Screenshot-2020-02-03-10.09.49.png
      Then this Garnier one is a good example of one I’d steer clear from. There is no logo or even brand hyperlink at the top. Also the “packaging may vary” is another tip off that this is likely from one of those fulfillment people: https://www.wardrobeoxygen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Screenshot-2020-02-03-10.10.28.png

      Hope that helps!

  8. Do not read the comments on the Too Fat To Ski article. Egads! I had similar frustrations when I was a 14/16 size and wanted bike shorts that were loose fitting (you wear them with biking underwear which has the padding, but these types of shorts don’t have seams in the wrong places). And finding a biking jersey that accommodated G/H cups was impossible. It was so frustrating … heck, even finding a rash guard (when I had gotten down to a size 12) was hard a few years ago. Those comments are toxic, tho, save yourself and do not read them (there aren’t any gems of where to find good athletic wear for larger bodies, you aren’t missing anything).

    1. REI has been making a concerted effort to carry Plus size outdoor gear. Pretty sure Columbia does too.

      1. I think it is getting better, for sure. This was just over 10 yrs ago and I was amazed because at a 14/16 I wasn’t THAT overweight. I was roughly 45 pounds overweight (now I am closer to 25 pounds overweight). I think the industry is slowly making progress but there is still a long way to go.

        On the positive side, there are a LOT of options for plus size sport bras now. It seems like that market has really caught on to the demand for cup sizes larger than DD or bands larger than 38. So maybe it just needs to trickle up into apparel more.

        1. Oh Columbia still thinks a 14 is the limit of size. I’m also heartily disappointed in my favorite brand, Title IX, which does the same thing. Bras seem to have been figured out, as Pam said above, but seriously, I can’t understand why these companies literally are leaving money on the side of the road…

  9. Happy Weekend! I always enjoy these, Alison. Your thoughts on social media were refreshing. It gets exhausting to hear people constantly moaning & groaning about it & about using “too much” technology, all the while the very people upset about it are using their devices to tell us how upset they are (I’m thinking about an extremely conservative relative I have who uses Facebook to do such things. Personally, I’d love it if she’d use her technology to do actual fact checks!)!

    Anyway, I think every generation has something from the current, younger group that they want to bemoan, whether it’s really that bad or not. Seems like there were plenty of people who called television “the one eyed devil” once upon a time. I think it all comes down to how much of something we choose to use. The Wired article was interesting and makes a lot of sense! I’m certainly on my phone & iPad a lot for entertainment, work, child & family stuff, etc., and so is my 72 year old dad! I think he uses his more than I do.

  10. A Matthew 9:20-22 moment.

    It’s a no-no to come up and touch someone without their consent.
    Wasn’t this the event where you were featured in huge posters? Being a SuperModel has it’s good and bad parts. I’m glad you regained your composure and carried on 🙂

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