hey pretty

Ceci n'est pas une "dating blog."

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Because Gentrifying Logan Circle Wasn't Enough

What would be do without the astute journalistic minds at the Washington Post to communicate to us breaking developments in the world around us? Today the Post tells us about an up-and-coming neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York called "Williamsburg."

Thanks for the tips dudes, I think you're about seven years late with that one.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Turkey Day in a World Gone Mad

Hey Pretty has come to the conclusion that the world has officially tilted too far on its axis and has gone 100% bonkers. Hey Pretty has seen its role in the lives of others shift into bizarre new forms, becoming one part instignator, one part catalyst, two parts confidant--inadvertently wreaking minor havoc and then being asked to help clean up the fall-out. A mess, but a beautiful one indeed. Perhaps a career in counceling is not such a wacky idea after all.

Random thoughts of the day:

-Is This It by the Strokes is a musical masterpiece, but I can't pinpoint why.

-My ankle is finally healed enough to wear high heals.

-I've scored my very first freelance (pro bono) PR consulting gig--helping develop strategy and message for a friend's community art show. Good practice and a nice foot in the door of the DC art establishment, even if it is on the fringe.

That's all for now.
Thank God we live in a society where we celebrate our imperialisic roots by gorging ourselves on large quantities of cage-raised poultry products before we pass out in front of gigantic glowing boxes that flicker images at us until we doze off into submission.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mean Girls at 17

MTV's latest offering of Reality TV crack is the program Miss Seventeen. The premise is this: stick a bunch of girls in a posh apartment, make them do various teen magazine publishing related tasks, every week eliminate one of them, and whoever is left over gets a spot on the cover of Seventeen Magazine and an internship there. So far, the show has gathered a menagerie of girls of varying levels of ambitiousness, attractiveness, self-centeredness and well-spokeness and set them in a very confined environment while expecting them to display unrealistic levels of solidarity and diplomacy. Not surprisingly, tension has been an issue. Stick a bunch of teenaged girls in any situation and expect competitiveness and insecurity to rule the roost, add cameras and you've created just enough drama to make for your average reality tv program. The details of the conflict aren't significant enough to detail, save for last night's episode.

Last night, Seventeen editor Atoosa Rubenstein, the magazine's youngish editor and the woman holding all the strings on this show invited all the girls to her house in the Hamptons. But before they were allowed on the obligatory "fun outing" of the trip, they were confronted with a bizarre exercise in "keeping one another honest", or as it turned out, cutting one another down and causing further riffs among an already fragmented group. She asked the girls to answer such rediculously divisive questions as "who in this group is the least real?" and "who of these girls would you be the least likely to be friends with?" Hello? What hath this to do with magazine publishing? These chicks are already feeling the pressure of competition, what good does it do to turn the series into a Mean Girls-style slug fest? As one could predict, everyone ganged up on one person, self-possessed Julie, whose only fault as far as I can tell is that she acts and looks ten years older than everyone else in the house. Julie is the type of girl who thinks before she talks and who considers the impact of her words. Not desirable traits in a reality-tv whore, but great skills for the real world. Julie of course is hurt, believes that the wrath of her competitors will cause her to be booted from the show. But her worrying is for naught, and it turns out it was all a ploy to create a compelling narrative arc. Julie is spared and nobody goes home.

Again I ask, what does this have to do with magazine publishing? Why is this show reducing the quest for what is arguably a rather prestigious summer job into a battle of who can be the snottiest? Teen magazines already pit girls against one another with their lame wear-juicy-track-suits-to-get-the-guys articles. But why stake professional opporunities on such a mentality?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Update on AF shirts

Behold the purchasing power of teenaged girls. Neo-preppie teen clothetier Abercrombie and Fitch (remember when it used to sell upscale hunting and fishing gear for the skeet shooting set?) has agreed to pull many of the so-called "offensive" tee shirts Hey Pretty wrote about last week. Reuters business news explains...

Friday, November 04, 2005

Funny because it's not true?

So rumor has it that Abercrombie and Fitch, the company that has commodified provocation and brought it smack into the mainstream has done it again. According to a piece on Salon.com's Broadsheet, the company has come out with a new line of tee shirts. Having already alienated Asian-Americans and people who don't like soft-core pornography, AF has now turned their attention to the estrogen set. The new tees feature such slogans as "Who needs a brain when you have these?" and the term "The Freshman 15" above a list of boys' names written in a girl's hand.

I know in my heart of hearts that I am supposed to be offended by such a blatant objectification of the female form and female sexuality. But rather than foaming up into a feminist lather and reaching for the latest copy of Bitch while I simultaneously chucked my Venus razor into the trash, I laughed. If we give these shirts the benefit of the doubt (bear with me for a moment) they wittyly articulate attitudes towards women that are prevalent among many people (male and female) yet that aren't as commonly articulated as they were before political correctness taught us to stiffle our less egalitarian beliefs. If I were to wear the shirt proclaiming the fact that I don't need brains because I'm amply endowed, could it be like holding up a mirror to the more chauvinist aspects of our society--those people (usually men) who look at me and think "attractive girl, awesome tits" without giving a lick about what goes on upstairs? The pomo in me thinks that this would be a very clever attempt at irony. But the cynic in me wonders if it would just serve to reinforce such chauvinism.

All this leads me to wonder that when it comes to feminism, where can we draw the line between humor and offensiveness? I know for a fact that some of Hey Pretty's loyal readers are less lenient than I when it comes to anti-feminist transgressions, and that's cool. To each their own. But why do we draw the line where we do and is there any way we can use the differences in our decision-making processes and build on them in any sort of constructive way?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Role Models in Strange Places

Kristin Cavalleri has bleached blond hair, a perfect figure, a perfect tan and plenty of attitude. Naturally, she's a born reality-TV star, and what better place to show case her talents for flirting with boys, backstabbing her frienemies, and perfecting the over-the-shoulder-longingly-wistful-gaze than on MTV's Laguna Beach. I do admit that I have grown a little addicted to this show, probably because it's so different from my own high school experience. Unlike the kids on Laguna, I grew up in woodsy, hippy Amherst, Massachusetts. It snowed a lot there and we never once held a bonfire and hanging out in our parents' hot tubs was the exception, not the norm. Not once was I involved in a stormy love triangle with another girl over a cute surfer boy. I wasn't an outcast nor was a terribly popular. I tended to stay out of the way of those who I sensed would make my life more difficult than it needed to be. My objective was to study hard, get into a good college, and get the hell out of there, a goal that I met successfully. Most of the drama I have experienced has taken place in the ages of 19-28, as part of a stormy extended adolescence. The world of Laguna is not one that I have ever really encountered, so it for this reason that it becomes the perfect Monday evening escape.

This season, Ms. Kristin has done little to win my affections as a viewer. Her voice makes my ears want to bleed and her snotty sense of self-entitlement makes me want to throw things at my television set. It seems unfair that her self-absorbed, Queen Bee behavior should be rewarded with its own show, so I tend to watch Laguna to cheer for the girls who Kristin tries to cut down--the Laurens and Taylors of the world who seem slightly nicer and more sensitive, more attuned to how their behaviors may negatively affect those around them. But Salon.com writer Suzy Hansen has a different take on the matter, one way more generous and thoughtfull. In this article, Hansen applauds Kristin's cynical detachment from her actions and those around her, her unwillingness to conform to the stereotypical girl behavior of brooding over and analyzing her relationships with her hook-ups du jour. As Hansen points out, "It wasn't that she became a more palatable character but rather that she seemed to possess knowledge that her peers did not, namely that: Ten years from now I will probably forget this piddling crap ever happened, and yet if I make a fool of myself, it will be on tape forever. It became fun to watch her savvy: She wasn't just one-up on the boys, she was one-up on the cameras." It seems slightly problematic to applaud such a prematurely developed sense of cynicism in one so young, but kids are experiencing the complexities of adulthood at younger and younger of an age these days and maybe a hard shell is just what they need to survive their teenage years unscathed. What Ms. Kristin can teach young girls is that relationship and hookup drama with boys is par for the course and although it may seem like each little encounter may be worth taking seriously, it rarely is and your own self interests are way more important than anything else. Teenage boys, and indeed most of the 20-something aren't going to be wasting good emotional energy analyzing a fleeting romance so neither should we. Having fun with your girlfriends is way more important.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Way You Do That Thing You Do

Forgive the momentary lapse into self-absorption, kids. For days now I've had this crazy feeling that the universe was conspiring to throw some heavily weird energy my way. Not that I'm a total devotee to astrology or anything, but having grown up in the woods and raised by a lapsed Jew and a lapsed Catholic, without any sort of formalized religion, I've cobbled together a personal cosmology of sorts. It sort of represents a patchwork of environmental and cultural forces. Half-hearted paganism meets the daughter of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. Anyway, the universe. Things just didn't feel right last week. I entered the end of the week with an ever-growing sense of dread and curiosity. Exactly what odd encounters would befall me this weekend? What were the yet known quantities in the equation (Kate+weekend) (alcohol) (x)=y ? By Sunday the answer was clear, albeit slightly hazy. The universe tossed me one devil of a predicament and rather than politely declining I fell for it hook line and sinker. Further evidence of the fact that if there's any situation on earth that I shouldn't buy into, I will embrace it with open arms and even throw a parade for it. I have no idea what the term for it is, but I am huge believer in life forces and the fact that some manifest in a stronger manner at certain times of the year. For me, Autumn always = total freak show. If anyone can tell me why this is, I'd really appreciate it.

next portion edited out. it seemed rediculous at the time and a week later, even worse. life is still a freak show, i can promise you that.

Speaking of laughable, this week's Sunday New York Times Magazine featured more of the journalistic stylings of Maureen Dowd, complete with retro-glamour girl photo shoot. I know that as a female liberal, I'm supposed to like Dowd, but I can never help but think that 1.) her ramblings make little sense and 2.) Then when they do, they're articulations of really obvious sociological or political trends that really didn't need to be pointed out, let along opined over for seven pages. To be fair, the article begins well, celebrating all that I love about being a girl--madcap adventures, girly girl fashions, trading wise cracks with the men around you like an intellectual equal, nay superior, referencing Dorothy Parker. She speaks of her apathy towards late-sixties cookie cutter bra-less hempfest feminism, that equality was a matter of fact to her, not a movement truly in need of cultural reinforces like Ms. Magazine. For a brief moment in time, muses Dowd, feminism did manage to achieve a certain dynamic wherein opposing genders acted as if everything was indeed equal and fair. But now, as Dowd points out for those of us who haven't noticed, cultural tides seem to be sliding back just a bit, for as Dylan might paraphrase, "These times they are a changin'" and perhaps not for the best. Women are eschewing high-powered careers for the idyll comforts of Life On Wysteria Lane, asking men to pick up the dinner tab, committing the Rules to memory as if it were some kind of post-modern religion. Dowd concludes that these developments are evidence of the need for a reinvigorated approach to feminism, and I couldn't agree more.

But what lacks, or is at best subjugated in her essay is perhaps the most significant relic of the first-wave feminism, that elusive thing called choice. As women of the new millennium we've been raised to believe that we can do whatever we want to do--become doctors, race car drivers, rock stars, sluts, junkies, what-have-you. The world is our oyster and we're sucking it down with Jager chasers. As difficult as it can be for some to believe, a tenant of choice is the possibility that some will embrace choices that seem wrong or misguided to you. If a woman believes it's her life's role to nurture and educate the next generation, who can begrudge her desire to stay home and be the perfect mom? Seriously, the 80's ideal of the kick-ass chick who power walks to work in white Reeboks to spend 8.5 hours at work to power walk home again to make dinner and entertain her family is totally overwhelming and in all honesty, not completely fair. When did it become okay to assume that women wanted to do everything? I personally have come to believe that I reserve the right to excel where I please and slack off on what doesn't matter to me. Why do I have to do everything and why is my desire to follow an (unknown) but more narrow path such a tragedy?

A dear friend of mine circulated the article to a lot of her friends. It was interesting to discover just how many guys we know secretly subscribe to the belief that women exist to please and entertain them in this 50's house wife meets Sam Jones automaton. My friend's reaction to these revelations: Maureen Dowd ruined my life. A great statement, and perhaps a bit of an exaggeration but the perfect acknowledgement of the mass media's continued persistence to make us be all that they want us to be.