"Bikini Body": the modern Iron Maiden

Today while browsing my favourite websites I came across this article on the "Bikini Body".  I found the article quite interesting, and wound up reading the linked articles as well from Jezebel and The New York Times.  For those of you too lazy to read the articles, they all discuss the Bikini Body craze, and the anxiety which bathing suit season now induces in women.  As is so often the case, this anxiety conveniently leads to huge (and I do mean huge) amounts of spending on corrective procedures, boot camps, cellulite creams, you name it.

What struck me was how right the articles were.  When I think about it, I realize I can hardly make it through the grocery check-out these days without being faced down by at least five different magazines with some starlet on the cover in an itty-bitty bathing suit promising to tell me how she lost <insert unbelievable number here> pounds.  Each magazine will inevitably have their "Best and Worst" bodies issue(s), where celebrity after celebrity (the majority of whom are women) will have their physiques dissected in obsessive detail.  In these magazines there is no concept of a spectrum of beauty, only one very specific and impossibly unattainable beauty.  Women are either too fat, too thin, not toned enough, too pale, too orange, too flat-chested, too saggy - take your pick.  As if it weren't hard enough reaching our own personal bests, thanks to those magazines we can now see all the ways in which millions of dollars and the best trainers/dieticians/cosmetic surgeons still won't be able to make us - according to the magazines - good enough to sport a swim suit with a little dignity.

While none of us have paparazzi chasing us down at the beach each summer I know we all still feel this pressure to measure up on the sandbar, so to speak.  As a young woman of average height and who fits well within the Body Mass Index, there really is nothing I should be ashamed of.  And yet, each and every spring, right around February or March, that same vague anxiety settles in: time to get ready for bathing suit season.  Much like the articles from Jezebel and NYT describe, I feel a pressure to lose "winter weight" and get toned and svelt.  I'll set goals, make plans, and proceed to drag myself through hot coals whenever I fall short.  I'll confess it, in early spring I avoided hot-tub parties like the plague for shame of paleness and some extra padding I gained during my senior year.  Even now, I prefer sunbathing at home in my backyard because there is so much less stress surrounding judgement.  I would love to know if men experience anything similar to this bathing suit season anxiety.

But really, who is judging all this?  Ourselves, obviously, who are also most likely our worst critics.  But I'm also curious to know how much of our perceived judgement is actual judgement.  The last few times I saw my friends in bikinis I was impressed at what great shape they're all in - granted, a fair few of my friends are internationally ranked athletes, and most of the rest are work-out junkies.  But still, I have a nagging feeling that we're so wrapped up in our own feelings of inadequacy that all we see when we look at others are what they have that we envy.  Am I wrong?

I've been trying to imagine a world where no one was afraid to go to the beach because they didn't look like Megan Fox.  Where everyone was relaxed and happy and loved themselves for their perfections as well as their "imperfections".  If we weren't all feeling so damn inadequate then we wouldn't feel the need to criticize the physiques of others to make ourselves feel better, and so judgement and inadequacy on the beach would be a thing of the past.  Too bad it's so profitable to corporations for us to feel like shit about ourselves.

Rather than wish I had huge amounts of disposable income to spend on personal trainers and dieticians, I think I'd rather wish for greater self-love: it's a lot more permanent than a crash-diet, and I suspect more satisfying as well.

Note: The above photo is of the divine Crystal Renn, an increasingly famous and sought-after "plus-size" model.  Also, if you are only familiar with "Iron Maiden" as a music group, then allow me to enlighten you.  The Iron Maiden was a method of torture.  It was thought to be used in Medieval times but more recently it has come to light that it was not used until significantly later.  It was a human-sized standing box lined with barbs.  Unless you stood perfectly still, these barbs would puncture the skin, and those placed within Iron Maidens were generally left there for long periods of time.

Listening To:

I know, I know.  I promised you playlists and have yet to follow through.  With my departure for Germany looming (flights are booked, July 17 I am OUT OF HERE!) things are exceptionally busy and distracting, and I'm afraid making playlists isn't too high on the priority list.  Be comforted though, soon I'll be updating with all the latest street style and great music news from the good old Fatherland.  Was that politically incorrect?  I don't even know anymore.  Anyway, here we go:

Bon Iver - Bon Iver.  I have been waiting semi-patiently for the latest album from Bon Iver to drop, and he did not disappoint.  Many of you will already have heard Calgary, which was released some weeks back and was totally awesome.  The album retains Bon Iver's signature sound: folksy, mellow, melodic, etcetera.  While I would venture to say he has tweaked his sound just a little, I can't go as far as to say how because I'm not an intensely-trained musician.  So, decide for yourself, but I challenge you not to love it regardless.

Kaputting It Up (Raekwon vs Destroyer) - The Hood Internet.  While I love Bon Iver as much as the next person, I've also been craving some good dance tunes for the summer.  So, while trolling around on HypeM I stumbled across this, which is Hood Internet gooooold.  They've thrown together some vaguely Euro-pop music that could've come straight out of the early '90s with some generic rapping on top: you can never go wrong with that combo.  Anyway, the product is a track you can't help but blast.

Blowin' Money At The Deli (Drake x Birdman x Delorean) - The Hood Internet.  I'll be the first to say it: Drake's Money To Blow has been remixed so many times it makes my head spin, and it's allllmost to the point where I'm sick of the track.  However, in this track it's been laid over some upbeat tunes that do an impressive job of re-vamping the whole sound.  Overall, you don't so much notice the familiarity of the lyrics, but BONUS, it's easier to rap to (yeah I do that).

Marvelous Manicure(s): Twice the Fun

Get ready for it - I have TWO manicures for you today!  While I had given myself a pretty cool one at the beginning of this week, I bought a new shade yesterday and couldn't wait to try it on... so I didn't.  Anyway, let's get started!  Manicure number one started with "Iceberg Lotus" by Nicole, with some "Nicole... Spotted!" on the tips (that's the first pic), but I found this was a little on the boring side, so I used my Sally Hansen nail pens to add some silver and black leopard spots (second pic), which I was fairly satisfied with.  I should also add that with that vibrant green it will absolutely stain your nails, so use base coat!  I use Seche Natural, which did an impressive job of blocking stains.

In the third picture is my latest manicure, where I used Lise Watier's "Fun in the Sun".  I haven't used Lise Watier polish before, so this was something of a test run.  The colour dried just a liiiittle bit more red than in the bottle, and the consistency is on the clear side, but after two coats it looks quite nice.  While I have a Revlon polish that is very close in colour to "Fun in the Sun", I can't say I regret getting it... it's just such a great summer colour!

As a last note, you'll notice a book in the background of the last pic - that's Empire of Illusion, which I am trudging through and fully intend to review as I am almost done and it has been a fascinating read.  Unfortunately I have found over the last few months that I've developed something of a literature ADD.  Once upon a time I was the type of person who chose a book and then read it cover to cover, and only ever read one book at a time (otherwise I found it distracting).  However, since completing my degree (yay!) I have a new-found inability to focus on just one book.  Perhaps my brain is nostalgic for the days where I had 30 different books to read a semester, but regardless the effect has been clear: I am part-way through at least five different books right now, which is why my book reviews have been non-existent over the last little while.  I have finished reading several books (I'm not THAT slow a reader), but they're just not review-worthy.  Anyway, I'm rambling.  The point is, reviews are coming!


Facebook Find: Couldn't Resist

So this should be funny to only a very small collection of my readers who are familiar with Victoria, but I saw it, died laughing, and couldn't resist re-posting it.  I found it on Facebook, and Facebook seemed to have gotten it from an anonymous donor.  Anyway, it is hilariously accurate.  In case you're wondering I lived in the pink section labeled Old People who couldn't afford Oak Bay, and rented from old people who in fact live in Oak Bay.  My lovely landlords happen to be 91 and 80-something (respectively) and live on the divide between Old Money and The Old, Sick and Dying.  How appropriate.  I think my favourite part is the labeling of Esquimalt as Poverty Island, because when isn't economic inequality funny?  Also, for those of you who don't know, there is indeed an "Apocalypse Man".  His favourite topics include Satan's impending world-takeover and how HAARP is really a scheme to brainwash the world.  If provoked he will start quoting Scripture.  Consider yourself warned.


Film Review: Thor

Alright, so I wasn't planning on throwing up any film reviews, but tonight I saw Thor and couldn't resist.  While I've seen a few movies in the last month or two that I could have reviewed, Thor wound up being so all over the place that it was genuinely surprising - something you don't often encounter in cinema these days.

To start, after the first twenty minutes of the film I was convinced I was in for a shit-fest.  The beginning of the film deals with the back-story of the gods and it is painfully hokey and melodramatic.  It takes itself too seriously and someone in the project got way too enthusiastic about the CGI, which comes off looking cartoonish, obvious, and distracting.  To boot, the dialogue and acting were nothing special.

However, when Thor is exiled to Earth the whole tone and quality of the film does a complete turn around.  Suddenly the writing became clever, eliciting laugh after laugh.  The film stopped taking itself so seriously and there were some great tongue-in-cheek moments, some witty dialogue and some admirable situational comedy.  The characters developed in amusing and likable ways, and things in general were looking way up.

Then, as abruptly as the film became awesome, for its concluding act it reverted back to its melodrama and cartoonishness.  While there were still some funny moments, the tone swung too far back toward seriousness and gravitas.  Furthermore, the character of Lokey, Thor's brother, was completely... schizophrenic, for lack of a better word.  His motivations were not remotely understandable and so his behavior just came off as arbitrary.  I found Thor's sidekicks (whose names I don't remember) as distracting and pointless.  While the intention seemed to be for them to be a form of comedic relief, they instead came off as slightly awkward and verging on ridiculous.

Seeing as Thor was directed by Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello), a Shakespeare veteran, I was expecting a little more in the way of finesse from the film and better handling of the more complex characters: character motivation shouldn't have been the challenge it appeared to be for him.

Overall I would still recommend Thor.  While the beginning and end were mightily flawed the middle of the film was funny enough that I still came away having enjoyed it, and I might even watch it again when it comes out on DVD.  Also, Chris Hemsworth (who played the title character) shirtless is an impressive sight indeed.  Until next time!


Listening To: Beginners' Classical Playlist

As it turns out, creating my Summer playlists is taking forever, so in the meantime I thought I'd offer up something a little different.

While Western classical music has always been a part of my life, I didn't really take to it until my teens, when a well-put-together album sparked my interest and introduced me to some of the Masters of classical music.  Since then my interest has grown, and I now have a rather large collection (about 500-600 pieces) that encompasses musicians from the medieval era up until the 20th century (while I do love Stravinski I decided to leave him out - he takes some getting used to).  I wanted to offer those of you who are unfamiliar with classical music a selection of my personal favourites in the hopes that it might change your mind.  If, on the other hand, you are a long-time classical music lover, then hopefully I'll be able to introduce you to some new material.

I decided to kick things off with some good ol' church music, then cheated a little by including a piece I became familiar with via my favourite childhood film, Ever After.  I tried to break up the longer Mozart pieces with some arias (songs from operas), and then switched gears into some piano concertos.  If you are an avid film lover then you may recognize: Elgar's "Nimrod" and "Night of the Long Knives" as they appeared in Elizabeth (1998); Schubert's "Piano Trio in E Flat" from The Hunger (1983); "Vide Cor Meum" taken from Hannibal (2001) and Kingdom of Heaven (2005); Wandrers Nachtlied II from New Moon (2009); Richard Wagner's "Liebstod" from Romeo + Juliet (1996); "Figlio Perduto" from The Fall (2006); Puccini's "Tre Sbirri, Una Carozza... Te Deum" as it appeared in 2008's Quantum of Solace; (also) Puccini's La Bohème arias, "O Soave Fanciulla" and "Che Gelida Manina", both of which appeared in 2007's Atonement; and finally, Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.2 was used in the Swan Lake scene of Center Stage (2001).  As for "Claire de Lune", it's from pretty much every film ever made (just off the top of my head: Atonement, Ocean's 11, Twilight).

For a final bit of music trivia, you may find "When I am Laid In Earth" from Purcell's opera Dido & Aeneas somewhat familiar.  This is because Elton John used the particular sequence of notes for parts of "Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word".  Just in case you were curious.