The blues

Cool tones

 

 

It feels a little silly, talking about clothes in light of what’s been happening around the country. I’d like to encourage you to do whatever you can to help–whether it’s donating money, donating blood, or just being there for someone who needs to talk about it and get through it. The small things add up.

I recently started wearing ballet flats again. I took a ballet flat hiatus for a couple years, though I’d worn them all throughout high school and college. I honestly think that sleek sneakers give an outfit a more current, cooler feel, while still being really comfortable, so I often opt for sneakers over ballet flats. But, sometimes flats really do complete an outfit better than sneakers do. I love a good pointed toe flat–it’s comfortable and classy.

Since fall is in full swing (although the weather might say otherwise), I’m all about adding in richer hues into my wardrobe. Burgundy and navy are my favorites, and they all pair well with–surprise surprise–black. I’m not sure who said you couldn’t pair navy and black, but you totally can. In the words of the wise Taylor Swift, “I do it all the time.” Plaid button down shirts are an easy way to add a fall touch to your look–and if there is a nip in the air, add a biker jacket. I love this jacket in gray suede because it’s a familiar silhouette with a different material and color–you often see biker jackets in black leather. The gray suede adds an unexpected touch.

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To be or not to be….like one of the guys

I’m a huge fan of DC comics. Show Arrow and Comic Batman are my favorites. (What can I say? I like the broody types.) I recently came across an article picking apart and analyzing the relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker. In general, it’s pretty widely acknowledged that both the movie and comic relationships between these two characters are unhealthy and abusive (though the movie relationship is less so). However, there is some debate over whether Harley Quinn can be viewed as a feminist icon because, as a villain, she fights Batman and other heroes just as well as the other male villains.

I think this is crap. I’m not trying to discount Harley Quinn’s abilities–but her villain abilities alone, in spite of all her other character traits (most notably, her obsession/addiction to the Joker), is not enough to make her a feminist icon. Just because Harley Quinn can fight like her male counterparts, doesn’t automatically mean this is a step forward for women. While I’m intrigued by the character of Harley Quinn, I don’t think she is a feminist icon, and I don’t think other women should view her as such. She’s interesting, she’s multifaceted, she’s tragic, she’s compelling….but she is not a feminist icon.

I won’t go into the reasons why I think Harley Quinn isn’t a feminist icon. That’s another post for another day, though I’m sure the reasons why I don’t believe she’s a feminist icon aren’t all that groundbreaking and are already known by others, especially DC fans.

The fact that Harley Quinn can hold her own in a fight and be in the same league as other male villains doesn’t make her a feminist icon. Feminism is equality–but when we say a that a character or a person is a feminist icon or a champion for feminism just because they can do the exact same thing as a man–all that does is continue to play into the idea that men set the standard, that men are the example. Which, paradoxically, is anti-feminist.

I sometimes wonder if we need to re-evaluate our understanding of how to achieve equality between the genders.

When we talk about equality between the genders, we generally look at it as women having the freedom to do all the same things men can easily do (and take for granted). It started out as having the ability to get an education. To vote. To work. To work in the same fields. To have the same pay. All of which I completely agree with. Why wouldn’t you want to have all those same opportunities that men have?

Where some of this gets a little muddled is in less concrete aspects. For instance, there is a double standard where if a man has multiple romantic/sexual partners, he’s often celebrated by how much he “scored”–at least among his male friends (not necessarily by women). On the other hand, if a woman does the same thing, she’s viewed negatively. It’s like that lyric in Christina Aguilera’s song “Can’t Hold Us Down.” So, in this sense, does equality mean women having the freedom to have as many romantic/sexual partners as she wants without the negative labels, just as men have? In this case, I don’t think we can define equality using this standard–because these sorts of actions should not be a standard. It’s not something to celebrate. Like, all men have the freedom to act like fuckboys, and we want that freedom too? This is all down to personal preference, but women having this kind of behavior should not alone be considered a win for feminism. An actual win for feminism would be fewer men acting like fuckboys, and more men being respectful towards women. Or, if you prefer the open relationship type thing, also more men being respectful and honest with their partners.

In terms of rights like legal rights, equal pay, equal career opportunities–the standard of equality is the one set by men–because there’s no other standard. Men have had plenty of opportunities that women have not. So, naturally, for men and women to be equal, women should have the same education, career, and financial opportunities as men. It doesn’t make sense to decrease the opportunities granted by men–because what good would that do? But when it comes to things like social conventions, things that aren’t as easily defined–I don’t think we should always define equality as just doing what men do and being able to keep up with them. I mean, it’s one thing to want to have the freedom to express yourself and live your life in whatever way you choose–and that in itself is a vital part of the feminist movement–but I think there should be more emphasis placed on men also being influenced and doing what women do. We often celebrate women who are tough, who can fight, who are strong-willed and independent–because they demonstrate characteristics that are typically associated with men, and because these characteristics show that women are not dependent on men to live a good life and make an impact on society. Which makes sense, because men historically didn’t really need to depend on women for economic opportunities and such. And so, it’s a good thing when women can be independent. It shows progress.

But, how often do we celebrate men who are more gentle-mannered or soft-spoken or emotionally intelligent? Those are characteristics typically associated with women, and having a man display these characteristics would also be a form of gender equality–yet we rarely talk about this. Just like it’s good for women to feel free to be tough and independent, it’s also good for men to feel free to be emotional and sensitive. While it’s great for women to learn to be aggressive, to ask for promotions, to learn to fight or be good at math….it’s also great for men to learn to be a little more patient, to learn to take a deep breath and listen or learn ballet. I think lately, what I’m seeing as “wins for feminism” are women doing things that men have typically done. Which is awesome, for the most part. But an equally important “win for feminism” would be men doing things that women have typically done. Men taking on household duties, or choosing to be a stay-at-home parent during the first few months/years of their children’s lives–while their wife/partner works and takes home an income. (Side note: This is actually what my parents did. My mom worked, my dad stayed home, and it was the best thing ever. My dad is amazing dad…he made sure I knew how to read before I started kindergarten. Seriously, men can do just as great as job as women at being full-time parents. None of this “it’s a woman’s nature” and “men are helpless when it comes to child-rearing and household” bullshit. We’re all human. We all have brains. We can all do it.) Or men choosing to be nurses, or teachers–two fields that are incredibly important and rewarding, yet have always been associated with women. If it’s viewed as progressive when women feel empowered to be engineers or join a male-dominated career field, why can’t it also be progressive when men feel free and empowered to join a female-dominated career field? Equality isn’t just women working their way up to the level where men are. It’s also men working their way up to the level where women are. It’s not about viewing certain fields as “tough” or “girly.” It’s about choosing what’s best for you, and having the ability and opportunity to do so. I think it’s really easy to get caught up in thinking that feminism is all about tough women being able to keep up with the men. But we shouldn’t forget that, just as often, men need to be able keep up with us. That’s equality.

 

A little flare

Flare

 

I didn’t actually warm up to wearing flares again (not since my junior high/high school days) until I saw some pictures on Pinterest of flares being styled in ways that looked a lot more modern and less 70s. I then bought a pair of flares and wore them, and immediately remembered why I still prefer skinnies. At 5’1, I have to make some kind of hemming alteration to flares, no matter what. If I find a pair I love but they have a 35-inch inseam, the jeans will lose their flare and the cut will change if I get them hemmed. So flares have to be just the right length or not much longer if I want to keep the cut the same. And, I have to have specific pairs to wear with different heel heights. Ugh, the struggle.

If you’re up for the struggle, or if you are of normal height–this is my favorite way to style flares. It looks effortless, chic, and a little undone. The oversize sweater makes this look cozy and perfect for fall, and adding a flare jean dresses up the look (and gives a different feel than a pair of skinny jeans would–though skinny jeans are equally great to wear with an oversize sweater). While high-school me would wear flares with torn-up Converse sneakers and would let the back hems of my flare jeans drag and rip as I walked all over them, current me only prefers flares with heels. Heels really are the best shoe to wear with flares–the combination makes your legs look like they go on for days. I’m honestly not a huge fan of wearing flares with any kind of flat shoe–if you’re wearing flats, a skinny, boyfriend, straight, or girlfriend jean is the way to go. So, pair your flares with a nice heeled boot or stiletto–or a marriage of the two, like this Louboutin pair. Add a bag that’s a little less structured and more utilitarian, like this leather messenger, and complete the look with my favorite accessory: a ring that looks like glamorous brass knuckles.

She-wolf

Getting down to business
If you see me in person (or even in pictures), you’re not likely to get intimidated. I stand at a whopping 5’1, and my RBF isn’t always on point. (On some days, I am actually cheerful. Sometimes.) So, this is a look that’s easy to put together but goes a long way–and it’s perfect for days when I mean business. Start with my favorite base–black skinny jeans–and add a simple black top. When in doubt, I always go head-to-toe black. Not sure what to wear? Head-to-toe black. Feeling bloated and blah? Head-to-toe black. Big date/important function? Head-to-toe black. I don’t care what Anna Wintour says; head-to-toe black is the simplest way to look super chic. Pair the look with some edgy statement shoes, like these Valentino Rockstud stilettos. Add a vampy dark lipstick and throw on a trench coat (I guess the look isn’t entirely head-to-toe black). Then strut like you don’t give a single fuck.

 

Fall is coming

Deep red

Abercrombie Fitch plaid top / River Island tan jacket / Citizens of Humanity skinny jeans / Christian Louboutin black booties / Prada tote bag / Silver ring / La Perla sunglasses

It’s no secret that fall is my favorite season. Halloween, pumpkin spice everything, crisp cool air….I love it all. While I definitely wear black year-round, when fall rolls around, I’m finally able to pull out my favorite wardrobe piece: my black skinny jeans. I love black skinny jeans. (I may or may not have several pairs in different variations. It’s not excessive if you wear them all!) Black skinny jeans instantly make any outfit edgier, classier, and just more put together. They’re the easiest way to look chic. My favorite pair happens to be this one by Citizens. The fabric is super soft and stretchy, but holds its shape throughout the day. They legit feel like leggings. In winter, I’m usually an all-black-everything-everyday girl. But during fall, I love pairing black skinny jeans with warmer, richer hues, like this burgundy plaid shirt and tan suede jacket. (Also, in fall, I’m a huge sucker for plaid.) Add some sky-high stiletto booties (’cause if you’re having a shit day, at least you look good), a snake ring (admit it, you secretly like Taylor’s new song), and oversize sunglasses to hide your RBF.

 

#StateYourUnpopularOpinion: I still don’t really like Ginny Weasley. But not for the reasons you might think. Hear me out.

Ok, so I know I’ve previously written about how I don’t particularly care for Ginny Weasley (yes, even Book Ginny), but recent articles I’ve come across singing Ginny’s praises have brought about a lot of GIF-able facial expressions on my part, so I thus feel the need to regale you with more reasons why Book Ginny is not my favorite character in the books (and I just don’t see the connection with Harry either).

I stand by what I’ve previously said about Ginny and the reasons why I don’t care for her character. She’s underdeveloped, and she’s a more edgily-packaged Mary-Sue. She’s Lily Potter with a little more grit. JKR tries really, really, really hard to get us to fall in love with Ginny and see her as a worthy and compelling love interest for Harry. But, we honestly don’t get to see her character growth throughout the books, so when BAM! JKR introduces us to this new and improved Ginny who kicks ass and doesn’t take shit from anyone, we can’t help but do a double take and check if we missed anything in the past four to five books.

I don’t have a problem with Ginny as a supporting character. Why not make the youngest Weasley sibling grow into someone who gains confidence, who has a place in Dumbledore’s Army, who in some way, does come into her own? I don’t have a problem with JKR developing Ginny the way she did. What I don’t really get is JKR developing Ginny into this awesome, badass character specifically to convince readers that she is a perfect match for Harry. 

I’m not sure if JKR had always meant for Ginny to be Harry’s love interest (though some sources claim she had), so either their relationship (and the hints leading up to their relationship) should have been better presented to us, or Harry should have just ended up with another character.

If JKR had decided that Ginny would be Harry’s love interest, she must have thought of what attributes would suit Harry and give him that sense of normalcy and stability that he really needed. In a lot of ways, Ginny does give him this–and all of those ways have to do with the fact that she’s a member of the Weasley family, which is where Harry truly feels a sense of home and belonging and safety. But marrying Ginny isn’t necessary for Harry to get that sense of home and belonging with the Weasley family–he already has it, because he basically is part of their family, and the Weasleys consider him as such.

Weasley family aside, it feels like JKR just took a bunch of attributes and formed Ginny’s character that way. To me, Ginny doesn’t read as a carefully thought-out character. She’s a collection of cool-girl attributes. She’s snarky, she’s “funny” (usually at the expense of others, though this often gets glossed over), she’s athletic, she’s attractive, she’s tough and doesn’t cry. These characteristics are what most teenage boys look for in their ideal girlfriend. Most teenage boys don’t want to (and aren’t equipped with the emotional development to) deal with real, difficult emotions that go beyond happiness or attraction. Most teenage boys don’t want to (and don’t know how to) deal with girls who are sensitive, complex, and not always cheerful and easygoing. It’s natural that an ideal love interest for a teenage boy is someone who doesn’t cry much, who isn’t difficult to deal with.

But Harry isn’t most teenage boys. At age 16, Harry has dealt with much more loss, pain, and doubt than many people twice his age. Considering all that Harry has been through, those experiences should have made him more emotionally mature than the average teenage boy. And, I think he is presented this way in the books. While he has his moments (as we all do, and as all the other characters do), at his core, Harry is someone willing to sacrifice himself for those he loves, and for the greater good. Harry is someone who shows compassion for others (freeing Dobby, burying Dobby by hand), and who is completely capable and willing to show mercy and forgiveness (stopping Sirius and Remus from killing Peter Pettigrew). He’s not an average teenage boy. He, of all the other young characters in the books, should be the one able to deal with difficult emotions.

So it feels weirdly out of character for Harry to be attracted to Ginny because of Ginny’s cool-girl attributes. His attraction to Ginny, to me, reads more like a fling or teenage relationship, but not a lasting relationship that ultimately leads to marriage. Who knows, maybe Ginny matures over the next few years?

If Ginny really were a real, compelling love interest for Harry, we should have been shown this. Instead, we’re only told. We’re told how Harry feels like his relationship with her is something out of someone else’s life. We’re told how Harry feels that chest monster of jealousy when he sees Ginny with Dean. What we don’t see, and what we’re not shown, are those tender moments between Harry and Ginny, where we can really feel, as readers, the emotional connection between them and the love they have for each other. The breakup between Harry and Ginny at the end of Book 6 sort of gives us one of those moments, but I don’t really like it because 1) Harry again reiterates how Ginny is so wonderful because she doesn’t cry and 2) it doesn’t have much of a backbone. This is the only scene we have of Ginny and Harry; prior to that, we’re only told how great she is and told how great their relationship is. What would have sold me on the Harry/Ginny relationship is if we actually got to see moments of true connection between Harry and Ginny–not superficial attraction or some scene where Ginny once again shows how badass she is.

If I had to choose a character that would have been a more convincing love interest for Harry, I would actually choose Luna. I honestly think Luna and Harry are a great fit for each other. First off, we’re given plenty of moments between Luna and Harry where we’re shown their connection to each other and their understanding of each other. Where Luna talks to Harry about her mother’s death when he discovers she can see thestrals. Where Harry feels closer to Luna at the end of Book 5. At the end of the Battle of Hogwarts, where Luna senses exactly what Harry needs–peace and quiet–and provides a way for him to get that. While Luna isn’t mentioned in the books as many times as Ginny, as a character, she is far better developed, and we are shown why she’s such a true badass, rather than just told.

Moreover, I think Luna would have been able to give Harry that sense of normalcy and stability he needed–perhaps more than Ginny could, or at least in a different way. I think both Luna and Harry needed those things, and they would have been able to provide it for each other due to how much they had in common and their personalities. Both Luna and Harry experienced loss at a young age, and they’ve had to deal with it and cope with it at a young age. Both Luna and Harry have felt like outsiders. With Harry, who has often felt misunderstood, Luna would have been able to provide him with that empathy and understanding, and thus help him feel less isolated and alone. Luna, with all her eccentricity, would have found the sense of acceptance she needed from Harry–who is one of the most non-judgmental and accepting characters in the book. That’s one of Harry’s core attributes–he looks past the superficial–with Hagrid, with Ron, with Hermione, with Neville. And their emotional maturity, their compassion, their capacity to love and to forgive–would have given both of them the sense of stability and safety they both needed. While Luna isn’t as athletic as Ginny is and isn’t as into all those typical guy interests that Ginny is said to have–that doesn’t necessarily mean a relationship deal-breaker. Couples don’t necessarily have to like all the same things in order for them to be a successful couple. All they need is an acceptance of each other and an understanding of who they really are–and a willingness to make things work. While we’re not shown much of Harry in the context of a relationship–as well as Luna–based on what we know of the characters, of how those characters have been developed–it’s not unreasonable to assume that they’d be able to accept, understand, and support each other and each other’s interests.

While some have argued that Luna is “too weird” for Harry, and Harry needed someone normal to have a normal life, I call bullshit. The Harry that I’ve come to know in the books is someone who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about someone’s weirdness. And what really makes Luna weird, anyway? So she wears radish earrings and believes in far-fetched things (which haven’t actually been disproved!)–so what? She has her beliefs, and she sticks to them, even in the face of overwhelming odds proving her beliefs don’t exist. Sound familiar? Yeah–we really don’t have a real reason to think Luna’s an actual weirdo not worthy of Harry. Luna is strong, compassionate, understanding–and we know this because we’re shown this. Not because scenes of her telling someone off or hexing someone are emphasized over and over again.

I don’t think Harry and Ginny are completely wrong for each other. But I think that the reasons why Harry was attracted to Ginny–she likes sports too, she plays Quidditch well, she doesn’t cry much, she’s one of the guys except hot–aren’t really the traits that form the basis of a strong, lasting, mature relationship. Harry and Ginny’s relationship–at least from what we’re shown in the books–is based on attraction. It may work while they’re young and in school–but based on what we’ve been shown (and told) about Ginny’s character, I’m just not convinced that she’s really the best match for Harry. She doesn’t have the same level of character growth and development that other minor characters (in a lot of cases, characters who get fewer mentions in the books) do, and other than her collection of cool-girl traits (which are only surface level), we don’t really see who she is and how exactly she complements Harry. So yeah….I still don’t like her. But, maybe if her character had actually been more developed (and Luna’s character is proof that you don’t need more book mentions to be a thoughtfully-developed character), I would actually like her. And I would see how she’s a great love interest for Harry. And I would instead be writing about why I think she’s awesome and a great feminist icon in the books (she’s not–that title also belongs Luna. And Hermione, Tonks, McGonagall…) But unfortunately, we don’t get that in the books. Ginny Weasley is just that one part of the Harry Potter books that isn’t really all that great.

Snowbarry

Ok, so I hate having to be one of “those fans” defending their “ship,” but I’m about to do it anyway. Not in the sense of “Snowbarry > Westallen, all of you guys suck!”–but more in the sense of why I think the show characters are better matched for each other.

Don’t get me wrong; I really like Iris. Candice Patton is a great actress (and gorgeous to boot!), and Iris provides a good sense of normalcy and much needed encouragement to Team Flash. However, those pep-talks aren’t unique to Iris’ character–she isn’t the sole person that people look to for that kind of encouragement. Not even Barry. Barry usually looks to his father or mentor figures in times of need–or his friends. When I think of WestAllen, the first thing that comes to mind is Harry and Ginny. They’re both sort of just put together because that’s what they were meant to be–Iris was literally written to be Barry’s love interest, same as Ginny. I typically am not a fan of characters written solely as the lead’s love interest–I like a character to be someone thought up as a sole character, who helps move the plot along in an interesting way, and who happens to be a great match for the lead.

And, I think that’s what Caitlin is to Barry. She’s a character in her own right (and an interesting one at that–Killer Frost, anyone?), essential to The Flash story (she’s a doctor/scientist and helps Barry save the day a lot)–but her onscreen chemistry with the lead shows potential for a great relationship.

I personally haven’t read the comics (I plan to!), but in the show, the relationship between Caitlin and Barry strongly reminds me of Harry and Hermione. I know those two weren’t paired romantically in the books (they should have been!), but what I love about Harry and Hermione’s relationship are the exact same things I love about Caitlin and Barry’s relationship–and why I think those attributes do make for a great romantic pairing. Like Harry and Hermione–Caitlin and Barry keep each other in check. They call each other out on their shenanigans. They’re real with each other, and they make each other better. They trust each other. Remember how Caitlin comes back after being Killer Frost in Season 3? Yup, because of Barry. He literally asked her to kill him, to live up to her name of Killer Frost. He either didn’t care if he got stabbed with an icicle or he knew and trusted that his bond with Caitlin was so strong that it would be enough to bring her back. I’m 99% sure it was the latter. And it worked. What they have is true friendship–but it’s also more than friendship, and more than lust or puppy love–it’s real love. Whether that love is purely platonic or has the potential to be romantic is up in the air–though I do prefer the latter and think they would make a really great pairing. I really hope their relationship is explored in later seasons (but alas, I’m not counting on it).

While I do think that Barry and Iris make a solid couple on the show, their relationship feels too manufactured. It’s like the show writers are trying really, really hard to make us root for Barry and Iris as a couple, instead of just showing, organically, how the two really are a perfect match. With Caitlin and Barry, we already see this–which is why fans ship them. A romantic pairing between characters should feel effortless, and the chemistry shouldn’t have to be oversold.

At the beginning of the series, Iris made her choice–she chose Eddie Thawne (and I loved Iris and Eddie together) over a future with Barry (“Screw the future,” right?? #neverforget). As Barry’s girlfriend though–I don’t see Iris inspire Barry to be better the way Caitlin does. Yes, Iris gave some good pep talks that did inspire Barry–but throughout three seasons (season 1, Iris wasn’t even aware of Barry’s feelings for her), Caitlin was there for Barry, and vice versa. At the beginning of the series, they formed a bond over their shared loss. Barry sensed when Caitlin was uncomfortable going into the particle accelerator (since it was where Ronnie died), and he instead asked her to come back to his lab at CCPD. They understood each other’s pain in a way others who haven’t experienced loss could not, and that led to…”the start of a beautiful friendship” (sorry, I had to. Thank you, Humphrey Bogart). Also, let’s not forget that amazing karaoke scene, and the scenes that took place after, where Barry took care of Drunk Caitlin.

On the other hand, Barry’s connection to Iris started as a young boy’s crush, and the bond that Barry and Iris have is that of some “star-crossed lover” deal or being “destined to be together.” I can see how that’s appealing to some, but personally, that doesn’t really sell me on the strength of a relationship. There isn’t just one person in the entire world meant to be with you–and even if there is, there should be more sustaining your relationship than just “we were meant to be together.” While love (and romantic love) are important aspects in a successful relationship, it cannot be the only thing that sustains a relationship. There needs to be love, but there also needs to be mutual respect, strong friendship, shared interests, a sense of comfort just being with each other–all of which I see with Barry and Caitlin, but not necessarily with Barry and Iris. Sure, you could argue that Barry and Iris have been best friends since they were kids (they practically grew up together, in the same house), but Barry’s romantic feelings were one-sided, and Iris didn’t really look at Barry in a romantic way. Even after Barry professed his feelings to Iris for the first time, she didn’t reciprocate, and things between them were a little awkward for a while. Iris even said at the beginning of the series that they were like brother and sister, and she was there for him whenever he needed relationship advice. (You don’t just start dating and falling in love with someone you’ve regarded as a brother figure for almost your whole life….that’s just weird.) While Barry and Iris were friends, Iris didn’t really look at Barry in a romantic capacity, and it showed. On the other hand, while Barry and Caitlin were just friends, the audience could see that there was chemistry and potential for something more.

I really, really want to stress–this is NOT a race thing for me. I’m not biased towards one character because of race AT ALL (also, I happen to be a woman of color myself). Whatever race Iris would be, and Caitlin would be–if those characters were played in the exact same way with the exact same chemistry with Barry, my opinion would be no different. Me preferring “SnowBarry” over “WestAllen” (though I sort of hate “ship teams”) is purely personal preference over who I see has more chemistry, and also my own biases over what constitutes chemistry and a strong relationship. It has absolutely nothing to do with race.

With all that said, I do know that SnowBarry will probably never be explored on the show (first world problems – and WestAllen is actually canon). And I’m fine with that–it doesn’t make me like the show or comics any less. Just like with Harry and Hermione, Caitlin and Barry are still best friends on the show, and that’s great–they have an amazing friendship. And Barry’s friendship with Caitlin (and with Cisco, and the rest of Team Flash) is just as important as his relationship with Iris. Barry may have said that there would be no Flash without Iris West, but I also think that there would be no Flash without his friends–Team Flash.