In Defense of Crocs

crochead

I don’t consider myself stylish.

I wear mismatched bowties, fractioned pants, plaid-on-plaid, asymmetrical shoes… I’m actually quite fond of my eclectic wardrobe of aloof monstrosity. Hell, I’m writing this post from within a slanket. But my puffy coats, German pins and Goodwill blazers are nothing in comparison to this. I have a camo hat with my name emblazoned it, yet toward the Croc I have no mercy. No understanding. Down my nose do I now look, for I am stylish fury.

Because these are not shoes. They are foam abominations. They are recycled Fisher Price baby toys, massaged and moistened into a foot-sponge for the foolish. Before they leave the lot, every “shoe” is clearly stabbed repeatedly by the workers as an apology to the universe. With every sickening squish, the mushy cushions claim revenge. They are enemy of life, anathema incarnate.

Also, they’re tacky.

mascot

STAB IT! STABITWITHFIRE!

Few refute my claims. I did my research, I read the style blogs and surfed the Pinterests. Even the most ardent croc defenses begin with admissions:

  • Kat: Renowned as the hideous fashion choice of frumpy soccer moms and the guilty item you hide from friends in your closet, they’re known as clunky, ugly, and gross.
  • Alison: I’ve always been someone who thought they were ugly and couldn’t imagine wearing them no matter how comfortable they were… I think we can all agree it’s not because they’re stunningly stylish.
  • Samantha: It goes with out saying that Crocs should probably be given the most-unstylish-shoe-ever-invented award. They repulse me…
  • Amy: I am the opposite of a Crocs supporter. I hate them. I think Crocs are really, really bad.
  • Akilah: I understand that Crocs are the RoseArt crayons of shoes.
  • The Mistress of the Dark (I assume her real name): The standard issue (crocs) are the most butt ugly creations I’ve ever seen in my life.

I’ll be addressing these brave women, piecing together a defense of this gelatinous foot plague. It’s going to be a long day.

Let’s start with the last, Ms. Of The Dark. As you might be able to guess, Mistress talks about the cute “shoes” outside the horrid standard issue. And here’s an actual, unfortunate screenshot.

Yeah, pic not found because cute crocs DO NOT EXIST.

Yeah, sure, “pic not found..”

But I went to the official Croc site, just to corroborate. I visited the men’s section first, the thought of purchase causing a brief shudder. And I suppose I could wear shoes that looked like this…

alrightHowever, that picture is directly beneath the twice-as-big…

I screamed while screencapping this.

I screamed while screencapping this.

Kat, Akilah, and many others offered similar defenses, saying not all crocs are the icky vision many imagine. And I suppose there are almost-shoes in the Croc line. But I want to defend it all, not just the (still kinda tacky) regular shoe portion. Though I haven’t discussed what I discovered in women’s…

Oh god, for real?

Oh god, for real?

Let’s move to Kat. She, like many of her croc-apologist compatriots, feels guilty about liking them. But she’s also one of the many who, in a time of desperation, tried a Croc and was intoxicated by comfort.

“Oh. My. God,” she writes. “I put them on, and the pain melted away. They were so comfortable and so cushioned, and the little nubs rubbed away my aching pain. I finished the day out with a spring in my step and no throbbing pain at the end of the night.”

She had a mind-changing experience, and found more-normal looking Croc variants. She has since hidden her original pair, which she “refuses to acknowledge*.” Curious about that asterisk? Well…

“*In full disclosure, I do own a pair of the fleece lined gardening Crocs. I wear them dog walking in the freezing cold, because at 5am when it’s 10 degrees out, I don’t care what I look like as long as it’s warm. Don’t judge me.”

"Fleece? Call the baliff."

“Fleece lined? Call the bailiff.”

While Kat is escorted away, here’s Alison:

“So this past summer I was huge and pregnant and hot with swollen feet (and an aching back) that desired a little more support than what my beloved flip-flops could provide… Let’s just pretend I’m wearing (Crocs) ironically, mmkay?”

It’s hard to argue against the comfort of pregnant women. I’d give her a pass, if only she didn’t decide to wear them “ironically.” The use of “mmkay” is also unfortunate. Hard time for her, NEXT!

“Here’s the thing, I hate to admit it, but they are kinda the perfect kid shoe,” claims Samantha. “No ties, no velcro, (my son) can slip those bad boys on and we’re out the door. I can credit those shoes to at least an extra fifteen minutes a day… It’s upsetting but at the same time an extra fifteen minutes a day for a mom is like an hour in regular time, so I guess it’s kinda worth it. Although I say that very reluctantly.”

I appreciate the reluctance, and the admittance to being a children’s “shoe.” You sound sane, so I’ll give you a… wait, your blog is called thehipstermom.com? … NEXT!

"Fleece? Call the baliff."

“Hipster? Call the bailiff.”

Whereas Samantha is sane, Amy is a little… weird. She talks for a while about how disliking Crocs is akin to disliking gay marriage, and something about disagreements and consensus and people being people… but she began the post with Croc-hate, so her heart’s in the right place. She concludes with:

“And if you want to wear Crocs, do it. Be proud. If nothing else, be comfortable. I won’t ever like your shoes, but that’s ok. They are your shoes. Your choice.”

I appreciate the empathy and respect. And even with the blog titled “amyhasbangs.wordpress.com,” I’ll give her a pass. Sadly, the gay marriage analogy brought my feeble mind to a logical breaking point. She asked me to stretch my imagination, and I respond with NEXT!

"Fleece? Call the baliff."

“Bangs? Call the baliff.”

So finally we come to Akilah. I wouldn’t say Akilah offered anything the other Croc-rockers overlooked. She mentions the medical profession, and how Crocs are good for medics and lifeguards. She mentions less-conspicuous styles, comfort, the horrifying mascot. But I’ve made her last for a reason. That reason, ladies and gentlemen, is Georg.

Akilah wrote this post on September 20th, 2012. She had no comments until 19 days ago, when… oh just read it:

georgscreen

“Georg mentions shoes, but I can’t see said shoes. I have desperate want to see said shoes,” I said out loud, entranced. And then I downloaded the picture and… oh, here:

georg

OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD.

Georg… I love you, sir. I am not feeling the male ballet flats, but you are a rock star. You are bold. You are life. You are love. But if I just look at your lower half, I’m getting old lady legs. It’s weird, and I love you. But now I must move on.

I found other Croc-defenders. Specifically, three who begin and end with (ick) Croc-love. I’ve relegated them here, post-Georg, since they are legally insane.

Aley likes that Crocs prevent people from talking to her. She calls them a “catcall repellent,” claiming a feminist revolution. Alrighty then:

“Crocs are also something like the sartorial equivalent of Nickelback,” Aley writes. “It’s trendy to hate them. Admittedly, they suck in some ways— they gave me a rash on my foot once— but they’re also kind of endearing.”

Whether the rash is from Crocs or Nickelback is anyone's guess.

Whether the rash is from Crocs or Nickelback is anyone’s guess.

Blogger Litigious Mind writes a screed against Croc haters (she uses the word NEWSFLASH without restraint), saying people who dislike Crocs are crazier than Croc-wearers. But Kimberli steals the show with this partial list of Croc-pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Bright Colors
  • Good for diabetics
  • If you get marooned on an island; you can eat them.

Not to mention, they will shrink if left in the sun. So on your island, you can eat your “shoes” in raisin form. Can you do that with sneakers? I THINK NOT!

I prefer oatmeal with my raisin shoe.

I prefer oatmeal with my raisin shoe.

But you know, I’m taking a page from Kimberli. Here’s every reason I can think of that Crocs are not unholy deathspawn:

  • Some not-ugly styles
  • Alleviates pain
  • Good for pregnant women
  • Good for diabetics
  • Good for kids
  • Good for medics and disaster areas
  • Hating shoes is weird
  • Catcall-repellent
  • Bright colors
  • Edible, in I assume only the most desperate situations where all other options are hopeless and you are willing to give up your humanity for sustenance
  • Georg likes them
georg

The last one’s most important.

To conclude, we have the right to hate things. I reserve the right to hate things. But belittling people because of their… shoes is kinda ridiculous. It took all my strength to not put that word in quotation marks, but I’ll attempt to grow.

I’ll never wear the things, but I can respect people. I don’t want to belittle those who have a different style from me, since doing that’d leave me alone with my slanket. Using all my strength, I can empathize. A mile isn’t too far to walk, even in hypothetic Crocs.

Your, what you call, a “ugly shoed person” is good I think.

mascot

But this thing needs to die.

In Defense of Furries

furryhead

Why are people afraid of furries? Most haven’t even seen one in person. They haven’t been to a convention, or met the human underneath. Heck, most haven’t even watched furry porn.

I join people on most of these fronts… oh God, fronts. For I too have never seen a furry in person. Oh God, furry in person… I haven’t been to a convention. Good lord almighty. Or met the human underneath… nnnnnnnn… a furry costume. But…. nnnnnnnnnn… I am defending them. And in my curiosity… nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn no no no no no no no no no no.

And now I’m very afraid of furries. For good reason. Reasons. All the reasons.

No no no no no no no no no no

No no no no no no no no no no

But I need to defend them. It’s what I do. So let’s get right into it and down to business… ew.

Some of you innocents might be wondering what exactly a furry is. And guess what? These images will not be voided!

furry1

Lupine

furry2

Feline

bovine

Shia LaBeouf

They’re people who enjoy/dress up like anthropomorphized animals. You know, animals with human characteristics, like walking on two legs, talking, dancing, posing… other things a gentleman doesn’t mention. It’s like being a fan of high school mascot costumes.

That devotion goes from like to like, love to love.

I am no gentleman.

Ew. A red leather sofa.

But let’s start with the easiest thing to defend. Which, surprisingly, is most of furrydom.

You see, it’s not as creepy as people like to pretend. Most of the hype is all bluster and hoopla. Let’s start with an article from vox.com, titled “9 questions about furries you were too embarrassed to ask.”

According to author :

  • Only about 30% of furries at a convention dress up in full body suits. Most are there in regular clothes, some with ears and/or tails.
  • It’s not primarily sexual. “Men reported spending 34 percent of their online roleplaying time on sexual content, and women reported spending only 21.4 percent. Nearly half of male furries, and a large majority of women, reported that sexual content played little or no role in their introduction to the fandom,” Matthews writes.
  • Fan art is practiced by nearly 90% of furries, making drawing their most important pastime.
  • “Furries are overwhelmingly male and white, are disproportionately likely to be gay, bi, or trans, and skew younger, with an average age in the mid-20s.”
  • About a third of furries don’t feel 100% human. “(8 to 14 percent) report meaning this in a physical sense, with many more stating they feel not fully human mentally or spiritually. About 38 to 53 percent report a desire to be 0 percent human, if they could be.”
After which it just gets confusing.

After which it just gets confusing.

So people uncomfortable in their own skin, finding community in art and self-expression. That’s pretty much any fandom ever, from comic books to drag queens to Trekkies. And pretty much the entire human race, if our brushes are broad enough. If that’s all I have to defend, this’ll be an easy post.

Unfortunately…

It gets weird.

It gets weird.

And as we all know, no other fandom gets creepy with sexually-explicit material. What’s that link, you ask? Why, it’s a Google search for “Star Trek porno.” About 1,000,000 results. Sure, none have polar bears with strap-ons, but is that less creepy than boinking a green alien with tentacle hair?

Stupid cheap slacks...

I checked. The answer is no. Or more accurately, no no no no no no no no no no.

I’m actually hard-pressed (I hate myself) to think of a reason behind all the furry hate. What could spur the creation of www.godhatesfurries.com, a website so stupid I refuse to link to it?

But I can provide an answer. It’s the petty need to be better than someone.

I fear we’ve accepted furries as the universal butt of an easy joke. “I may be a duct tape fetishist, but at least I’m not a furry,” someone might say. No matter what kind of weird, deviant geek you might be, you can be normal in comparison. Somehow we’ve accepted this thought process, like most “normal” people are united against the furry scourge. Do we need that tribalism in the 21st century? Because it’s petty and, quite frankly, disgusting.

As is all pornography, but one thing at a time.

As a side note, my internet search history is fuuuuuuuucked.

As a side note, my search history is fuuuuuuuucked.

Now to why I picked this topic: Last weekend was Midwest Furfest, the second most popular furry-based convention in the country. Midwest Furfest suffered a terrorist attack, an intentional Chlorine gas leak. The convention center was evacuated, and nineteen people were sent to the hospital. To be clear, some scumbucket hated furries so much that he tried to poison thousands of them.

And people laughed.

Most notable was Mika Brzezinski, a host on MSNBCs Morning Joe program. She discovered what furries were on-air, and ran off in an uncomfortable giggle fit. And people found it appropriate, because it’s furries. If you’re not enraged, you should be. Newspeople should be better. We should be better.

If you count Morning Joe as "news."

Morning Joe should be… nevermind, asking too much.

Luckily, I’m not the only one who’s upset by this.

 of the themarysue.com writes, “Forget about the fact that ‘furries’ is such a hot Internet buzzword for just a second. Forget about how their relatively harmless kink might squick you the heck out. Can we at least agree that no one deserves to be gassed while at a convention, and that maybe now is not the time for jokes to the contrary?… Heck, what happens when it’s somebody who hates one of your hobbies?”

duct

“We have ways of dealing with scumbuckets.”

But seriously, furries are people. Interesting people, flawed people, weird people, mostly good people. This article by Patricia Hernandez at Kotaku is particularly enlightening, if you’re interesting in first-hand experience. As I mentioned, I’ve never met a furry. But it doesn’t take much for me to empathize when they’re getting gassed at their gatherings and no one seems to care. I’m immediately and fully on their side.

Can’t we get past the urge to belittle other people for their hobbies? Having a geek hierarchy is just the stupidest thing ever. It’s petty and snooty, which are some of the worst qualities to have as human beings. I’d rather be aroused by Looney Tune cosplayers than to possess either.

"Oh Gossamer, no one can know of our forbidden love."

Oh Gossamer, no one can know of our forbidden love.

I’m not getting into the weirdest stuff, like spirit animal names and fursonas (mine is an elk, according to this quiz). I’m not saying furries are necessarily easy to get along with, or simple to understand. But I do think abject rejection is unfair, and being unaccepted to the point of universal ridicule is tragic. I truly hope we can agree on that.

That said… guys, the pornography is really creepy. Sorry furries. For the porno, it’s just a long string of no no no no no no no no no no.

elk

But something about this elk costume seems so very yes…

In Defense of Sexy Halloween Costumes

costumeshead

A lot needs to be covered this week, both in content and skin. But first, I’ll address your most pressing concern.

I realize my finger is directly in Raphaella’s armpit. What of it? The more important question: why doesn’t Donatella have her staff? Missed opportunity. And it’d make more sense than Michelangela’s nunchaku. Nothing makes nunchucks sexy. They’re like duckfaces, in that way… LeaNona.

But I’ll try to be equal opportunity here. I’d hate to only provide Halloween eye candy to those who like sexy pouts and polyethylene. So here are the sexiest commercial Ninja Turtle costumes for men. Careful, you might get hot and/or bothered.

menturtles

Notice, no nunchucks.

Now you might have other concerns, apart from a Turtlette’s underarm. I’ll get to those. But for now, I need to lay out some rules.

In the past I wrote about pet costumes, which are only adorable and stupid (and occasionally “sexy”). This year it’s time for humans. So ground rules. If any of my pictures are too scandalous, I’ll immediately post the pictorial equivalent of a cold shower. So if the Turtlettes were a little too hot for you…

inflate

GAAAAH!

And with that, let’s defend sexy Halloween costumes. Cowabunga.

I’ll start with the bad. This fantastic Cracked article by Kathy Benjamin addresses some factoids about the sexy halloween costume industry, including how much money it makes by selling repurposed trash bags. However, the most disturbing fact was how young this bullshit starts. Let’s look at the first four costume options for girls, under the “Career” section of Party City’s website.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.15.13 AM

The career path of the average woman.

Starts off well enough. The cops are really pushing it, but what little girl wants to be a car hop for Halloween? Does any 8-year-old have working knowledge of ’60s fast food service? I don’t know. Just seems really bizarre to be Option #4 of 6.

Oh, did I not mention there’s only 2 other career options? And both show a lot of leg?

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.15.22 AM

The career path of the average pop star.

Meanwhile, boys have

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.17.21 AM

so

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.17.39 AM

many

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.17.46 AM

options

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.17.52 AM

it’s

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.18.16 AM

ridiculous.

34 in total. And some of them overlap with the girls. Stupid men stealing all the surgeon costumes…

Granted, this is only one of the girl categories (others include Disney Princesses and Colonial, bizarrely), but it goes beyond choice. As Benjamin so eloquently writes, “Boys get to look like tiny versions of professional adults. Girls have to dress up like tiny stripper versions of professional adults.”

So is it any wonder “Halloween costume” becomes synonymous with stripperish? Even the surgeon can’t get away unscathed once womanhood approaches.

nurse

Oh…

... MY GOD WHY?

… MY GOD WHY?

Maybe Party City just has weird groupings. After all, a lot of boys want to be ninjas or superheroes, and a lot of girls want to be… animals in skirts. But I looked at different website categories, across age lines. Take Buycostumes.com, for instance. Categories for men are, in this order, “Funny – Video Games – Storybook – Plus Size.” Make your own conclusions. And way down at the bottom is inflatable ballerina, in case you were curious. I was…

But for Women, we have “Sexy – Historical – Scary – Funny.” So…

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 3.55.33 AM

Sexy

Historical.

Historical

Scary

Scary

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 3.54.28 AM

2 Broke Girls is funny?

Oh, and before I forget…

GAH, WHY?

GAH, WHY?

Seriously, who would buy that? They lose whatever dignity they have, and showcase a tastelessness that should be kept secret. It’s the kind of costume that should earn scorn for centuries. 2 Broke Girls? Ick. Luckily, sexy Halloween costumes are easier to defend than that mess.

Let’s start with Deborah Tolman, director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University. She recently spoke with the New York Times in an article titled, “Good Girls Go Bad, for a Day.”

According to Dr. Tolman, part of this depends on the spirit of the sexy.

Not like that...

Not like that…

NOT LIKE THAT!

NOT LIKE THAT!

Dr. Tolman asserts there’s a difference between feeling sexy and looking sexy, the former creating confidence and the later depending on perverts. For some women, it can be fun to dress up in the spirit of feeling sexy. Trying to look sexy is dangerous, but it’s a weird line and varies per individual.

Tolman added that some women use Halloween as a “safe space,” taking sexuality over the top to make fun of it, similar to men doing drag. She admits it’s not “necessarily so well thought out,” but it’s a start.

She said, “The humor gives you a sense of power and confidence that just being sexy doesn’t.”

But notice the integral word there: Humor.

Not pictured.

Not pictured.

Remember those categories? For men, “Funny” is the first thing. And most of the other costumes are humorous to some degree (mostly sexual or punny, but still “humor”). None of it is really taken seriously.

For women, “Sexy” is first and poisons everything else. But most importantly, there’s a degree of seriousness that’s totally ludicrous. Why do men get to have fun, while women feel the need to be Halloween hot?

For an example, here’s a story of Melissa McCarthy going to a Halloween party, summarized by the Huffington Post.

McCarthy said, “I thought, ‘Oh, this’ll be great. I’ll go as my Aunt Bernice,’ and we showed up and every single woman was in a different kind of bikini. It was like, ‘What are you?’ ‘I’m a cave girl!’ Fur bikini. ‘I’m a medic!’ Just two crosses and there’s, like, a stethoscope around her waist. Every single woman had a bikini on of a different ilk.

“Literally, people were like, ‘What are you?’ And I was like, ‘I’m my Aunt Bernice from Skokie.’ And they were like, ‘Why would you do that?’ They were so horrified that I looked like that. Like, it wasn’t funny.”

mccarthy

I like it. So many likes. Like, so many.

Isn’t that sad? McCarthy had a fun idea, and it’s ruined by ladies who take Halloween seriously for absolutely no reason.

I don’t know how to fix this. But the first step’s admitting Halloween is stupid, in a good way. Being serious about it is stupid, in a bad way. Rules 1 and 2.

And on the sexy topic: If you want to be sexy, be something ridiculous (but act fast, sexy Olaf the Snowman already sold out). Also, make sure it’s for yourself, not the expectation that you have to be hot for Halloween. Because, again, Halloween is stupid.

And finally, if you’re a kid, don’t be a car hop. Oh, and adults, don’t do anything with nunchucks. Or duckface. Scratch that, Rule #1 should be no duckface.

Whether or not it’s sexy, let’s make Halloween fun for everyone. No more serious. Equal opportunity.

Oh my...

Oh my…

... And now I'm just confused...

… And now I’m just confused.

In Defense of Miss America

missamericaheadPerhaps it’s fate. The week I reopen my blog just happens to be Miss America week? Aren’t I just… lucky. But it’s okay. Great. Fantastic. Gotta get back in my peculiar swing, and what’s better than a shallow reality competition celebrating traditional beauty ideals? My… favorite.

But I guess I can get it out of the way. Miss America has been in my backlog since my magnum opus on Honey Boo Boo, a comparison I’m sure I’ll pay for. I always knew I’d be murdered by pageant queens, why not sooner than later?

Luckily, I’m not the first stop on the murder promenade. This past Sunday, host Chris Harrison claimed Miss America is “the longest running reality competition in TV history.” Hoo-ray? What a proud lineage? He even told some losing contestants “See you on the next Bachelor.” To even fleetingly compare Miss America to the likes of The Bachelor is worthy of a pump to the skull.

Fear Factor

Miss America meets Fear Factor, though, would be awesome.

Luckily, Harrison’s reality factoids were completely overshadowed by bizarre animal encounters.

Speaking of, did you see that Miss Florida slapped a freakin’ shark? I like to imagine her yelling, “Well, I NEVER” and bitch slapping that apex predator. Not making accusations, but if I go missing… Sunshine State.

Soon, Justin. Soon.

Soon, Justin. Soon.

So if Florida wins Miss America Fear Factor, Miss Virginia would certainly lose. When asked for a factoid, she apparently just screamed “TERRIFIED OF FROGS!!!”

frogs

“AND MY TALENT IS SCREAMING AT FROGS!”

And to round out animal weirdness, Miss Massachusetts was…

cheetah

She was also…

You’d think the cheetah attacks would make her better at Kickball.

You’d think the cheetah attacks would make her better at kickball.

In other weird news, we have… oh no, not you again! But I defended Waffle House!

waffle

Don’t care. Soon.

Other than those gems, it was mostly corporate synergy.

Let me run through these. Miss District of Colombia was introduced as “from the home of ABC’s hit TV show Scandal, it’s handled.” Miss Tennessee was “from the home of ABC’s hit show Nashville.” Miss Wisconsin was “from the frozen tundra, where the cold never bothers us anyway.” Kudos for not ending that with “See Anna and Elsa from Frozen this fall on ABC’s hit TV show Once Upon a Time!” NBC would have jumped on that like a cheetah on Miss Massachusetts.

So we have reality weirdness and corporate interest. What else? Oh yeah, puns. Lots of puns. Which I just love.

The official queen of puns is Miss North Carolina. I might hate puns, but this is fantastic. The fine wine of punnery. The kind of pun that takes a lifetime to prepare. Seriously, this is epic scale. Prepare for this.

“Hoping to be the best of all… I’m Miss North Carolina, Beth Stovall.”

beth

When the intro writer saw her name, he must’ve pooped himself.

So what do I have to defend here? Miss America can’t be that bad, right? 

Cue Taylor Marsh of the Huffington Post, in an article titled, “Miss American Pageant Shaming: A Feminist Trap.

A Huff Po Women’s Blogger? Aw, this’ll be good. Marsh is gonna highlight all my feminist feelings, like how the patriarchal judging panel institutes rules for grading women on the traditional basis of feminine traits, thereby treating them like cattle at the county fair and telling girls that these are the Barbie-like beauty standards that they’ll need to adhere to in order to bolster a male-centric society filled with shame and encapsulation for non-white non-males. Preach it, Marsh!

“I just wish the critics knew the subject they were ridiculing. It’s also long past time to put down the notion that being in the Miss America Pageant is anti-feminist. Though it is another example of why so many women won’t embrace the word. If I’d followed The Feminist Handbook I likely wouldn’t have gone to college.”

Whaah? Wait, whaah? Back up.

Firstly, Taylor Marsh was Miss Missouri in 1974. Secondly, she’s written a lot about feminism. And thirdly, she had this experience:

“During the Miss America Pageant I came out of the Chalfonte-Haddon Hotel one day and was greeted by a N.O.W. protester (National Organization for Women) who asked how I could degrade myself like that. ‘Do you want to pay for my college tuition?’ was my response.”

Her talent was sass.

Her talent was sass.

Marsh admits it’s hard to believe Miss America is still around, but she doesn’t understand how feminists can rail against it with such vehemence. Should women be forbidden from using looks in pursuit of success? Are skills and intelligence the only things that matter in everyday life? For some women, isn’t that just a different cage?

I guess I can see the point. And let’s not pretend one can’t lead to the other.

According to real testimonials, pageants can lead to self-discovery, confidence, public speaking skills, marketing skills, poise, dedication… Heck, Erika Harold, Miss America 2003, graduated from Harvard Law School and is now running for Congress. All because of money and skills earned during Miss America. If anything, we could use more Miss Americas in Congress.

The talent portion is lacking, and don't get me started on swimsuit.

The talent portion is lacking, and don’t get me started on swimsuit.

Miss America isn’t perfect, but it’s undeniably good for some women and girls. Respect where it’s due.

Beyond that, we’re just dealing with a rather shallow television show. Far from heinous. It actually provided quite a few laughs, which is more than I hoped for. Overall, Miss America is fine, enjoyable television. More than worthy of a defense.

I mean, one of the talents was ventriloquism. It hardly gets better than that. Respect where it’s due, Miss Ohio.

Wait, the puppet wants Al Rocker's job on the hit ABC TV program The Today Show?

Wait, the puppet wants Al Roker’s job on… NBC’s hit TV program The Today Show? Oh NBC, you worked yourself in after all.

P.S. While researching on Miss America’s website, I continually got this ad. It’s either a sign or a warning.

"WHERE'S MISS FLORIDA!?!?!?"

“WHERE’S MISS FLORIDA!?!?!?”

In Defense of Abercrombie & Fitch

abercromhead

Mmmm… this is gonna be a good week. After all, there’s nothing sexier than headless torsos. Am I right, or am I right?

Mmmmmm. Papa like.

Mmmmmm. Papa like.

Sorry, lost my train of thought for a few hours. What am I supposed to do this week, other than fill a few gigabytes with, um, special pictures? Oh right, defend Abercrombie & Fitch in light of their recent PR kerfuffle. Right right, I can do that. Let me just change my desktop background… okay, we’re set.

So it all started with insensitive comments from their CEO Michael Jeffries. Here’s a pic to put a face on the…

AHHHH! PAPA NO LIKE, PAPA NO LIKE!

AHHHH! PAPA NO LIKE, PAPA NO LIKE!

(Justin, be nice. Jokes about his appearance will only spoil your good-natured intent…)

Um… His torso is probably lovely.

Anyway, Joan Frankenstein nee Rivers up there recently got into some hot water (WATER HOT! IT BURNS!) over some comments he made to Salon magazine in 2006.

“[Sex appeal is] almost everything. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that…. In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

Exclusionary, proud, hypocritical, judgmental… his apparent air allergy is the least of his problems. I know I’m spoiling my intent, but it’s too rich an opportunity.

Granted, I look at them the same way... but I digress.

Granted, I look at them the same way… but I digress.

Let me approach the least of his problems right now. What’s wrong with being exclusionary?

“I think we can all agree that CEO Mike Jeffries is the douchebag to end all douchebags,” writes Blogger Katie Ott. “I would argue that he also has a laser-like focus on his core market. The insipid Trixies and Chads who tote Daddy’s credit card into the pulse-pounding, cologne-soaked A&F storefronts are often the most exclusionary, judgmental, shallow and cruel kids in school. Jeffries understands this and he understands them.”

Sure, he’s catering to a group of people we have deemed, “bad.” However, that thought is marketing 101, is it not? Should I be upset that Big and Tall Men’s Stores don’t have petite sizes for my girth-challenged frame? Should John Deere sell their rototillers to Wall Street bigwigs? And why doesn’t Hot Topic cater to the booming suburban housewife demographic?

And if we’re concerned with exclusivity, shouldn’t we be upset that money drives fashion in the first place? We’re being so mean to poor people who can’t afford proper clothes!

Ew, he’s giving them Abercrombie & Fitch clothes!

The problem isn’t exclusivity. That’s the very blood of capitalism (fight that another time, ya hippie!). The problem’s that Jeffries broke the social contract that says we shouldn’t talk about such things. He was too damn honest in his… um, sizeism? Is he a sizeist?

Being “overweight” just happens to be a hot-button topic. Jeffries is a douchebag, absolutely, but being forthright in the era of political-correctness is something to be appreciated. Now that we know a problem persists, we can enact a cultural shift. Because of Jeffries’ insensitivity, we can actually start something better.

And outside of the eye-rolling topics of “society” and “cultural shifts” (said in my whiniest voice), we also have something to learn from their PR nightmare. While the actual text isn’t terrible, it does come only after they started losing profits. AND it doesn’t offer anything beyond vague assurances of good intention. AND it claims his comments were taken out of context… okay, so maybe it’s not a great press release. My point is, if you’re a PR aficionado (I assume most of you are), you have a topic to discuss.

But I can’t defend the man for being a douchebag (he wasn’t good at sports as a child and it disappointed his father, wah wah wah). However, I can appreciate what grows from his stupidity.

For instance, H&M recently introduced a plus-sized bikini model. Not-so-subtle jab at your competitor, eh H&M?

"Ew, she can't shop in my stores! She has a head!"

“Ew, she can’t shop in my stores! She has a head!”

There will be those who say overweight people should be able to frequent any clothing store they choose. “Fat is beautiful,” or some such slogan. Some will probably take it too far. But there’s a lot of backlash against Abercrombie & Fitch, simply because their CEO expressed his traditional values of superficial beauty. The very fact that people got angry about those comments en masse is pretty awesome. We’re growing, even while some remain mired in judgmentalism.

And if Abercrombie & Fitch want to remain in business, they’re gonna have to catch up to the rest of us.

HEY! Get out! You're ruining my picture!

HEY! Get out! You’re ruining my picture!

In Defense of Disney Princesses

disneyhead

I started this entry when Disney announced the pretty pretty makeover of Princess Merida from Brave. Feminist websites (which I obviously frequent) were pretty pretty perturbed by the girlification of the badass princess unconcerned with appearances. In fact, going against feminine social conventions was kind of the point of her film… that and bear hijinks.

But now, Merida’s redesign has been sent to pretty pretty purgatory.

princess1

So where does that leave me, huh? I put a lot of research into this entry, dammit! I now have the search history of an 8-year-old girl and her femi-Nazi mother, and for what? For Disney to respond positively to a fan petition? Why did those crooks have to do that now? I exclaim my question to the unforgiving skies: “WHY?”

“You know what, I’m a man!” I thought. “I do what I want, dammit! If I want to write a blog about animated princesses, break out the pink frills and glitter ’cause I’m gettin’ this thing done!”

So instead of defending one princess redesign, I’ll just have to defend all of them. And since I’ve been called “more of a feminist than any girl I know,” (by a female mind you), I’m looking forward to this on multiple levels… haha…

I’m a man, I’m a man, I’m a man.

Wah.

Wah.

I don’t like being angry. So when I began my research this week, I was happy to find that the Disney Princess website is great fun. They have screenshots, backstories, videos telling girls how special they are. Games, dolls, dressing rooms for the most popular girls… you know, everything I could ever want. So obviously, I played around in the popular girls’ dressing rooms.

Why yes, ladies, I am single. Why do you ask?

Here's "Psychedelic Belle with magic whoopin' stick"...

Here’s “Psychedelic Belle with magic whoopin’ stick”…

"Pirate Cinderella attacked for fruit basket"...

“Pirate Cinderella attacked for fruit basket”…

And my masterpiece, "Tiana hidden by giant crocodile, censored frog."

And my masterpiece, “Tiana hidden by giant crocodile, censored frog.”

But while giggling uncontrollably, I became disappointed. I only had five princess options (Rapunzel and Ariel were the others, for the curious). Where is my Mulan? I want to invade the dressing room of the princess who pretended to be a man. Is that so wrong?

But then I clicked on Mulan’s pretty pretty homepage. What I found wasn’t Mulan.

It's an advertisement for Claire's.

It’s an advertisement for Claire’s.

Really, these representations are not fair to most of these characters. Sure you can warp the image of Snow White because she’s dumb as socks. Aurora spent most of her time slumbering and pining for men, so she’s not great either. And yeah, Ariel made a deal with the devil in order to get a man (at the price of her voice… a little on the nose there, Disney).

But what about Cinderella? She was downtrodden, right? Until the universe granted all her dreams, foremost of which was a man… oh. Wait, Belle! She’s inquisitive and booksmart, and people sing about how weird she is! Until she develops Stockholm syndrome… and stays in an abusive relationship… because she believes she can change the Beast… and does. Dammit. Pocahontas yeah not even gonna try.

"I love you. Please don't lead Europeans to kidnap me or wipe out my people. Pretty pretty please?"

“I love you. Please don’t lead Europeans to kidnap me or wipe out my people. Pretty pretty please?”

Let’s get a little more modern:

Mulan. Warrior (who, in the first scene of her film, is shown to be uncomfortable in the fancy garb OF A PRINCESS).

Tiana. Realized her dream of becoming a successful business owner. Not a princess.

Merida. Simply doesn’t give a shit.

My point? Disney has been trying to rectify the stereotype of their female leads. The inspirational videos on their pretty pretty website expressly state that any girl can be a princess. They show girls shooting arrows, racing go-karts, practicing judo… you know, not just drinking tea and pining for boys. They have that too, because some girls arethat way, to be real.

So why do all of their princesses end up looking the same? Does Disney believe all girls should end up in some cookie-cutter mold, probably while making cookies? Are they unaware of their adhesion to traditionalist values?

Maybe. But maybe it has less to do with societal impressionism and more to do with what really makes Disney churn out their shiny products: Money.

And not Disney money.

And not Disney money.

Outside of society questions or femininity discussions, could this simply be a business decision?

Let me pose a question. How much does doll manufacturing cost? Wouldn’t it be faster if you could have the same essential doll, paint it differently, drape it in different clothes and send it to be snatched off store shelves? And if you could do that, wouldn’t you?

See, I think the redesigned Merida was less a sign of messaging and more one of greed and product cohesion. They set the standard decades ago, and their new characters have to conform to the mold. Like literally, there’s a plastic mold in their factories.

It screams at the same pitch as messaging flaws, but what if it’s more complicated?

Wah.

Why is Pocahontas so fascinated by her wrist? And is Merida threatening her? … this is a drug party, isn’t it?

I’m not saying Merida’s pretty pretty redesign was a good thing. Frankly, the fact that public outcry changed Disney’s approach is pretty neat. There are enough people in the world who care that little girls get fed some pretty awful pop culture crap. It’s a good sign that things could change.

However, we should give Disney credit too. It’s a company, and will only do things when they get money out of it. If we don’t buy into their stereotypes, we can demand anything we want. The feminist movement (anyone can be anything) and the business world (cut out any differences we can) don’t merge well. Let’s give Disney credit for walking a pretty awkward tightrope. They’re doing their best, and they’re willing to change if we ask for it loud enough.

So let’s get some awesome new princesses. I for one want a mutant princess. Or a half dinosaur princess. Or maybe, like, a space cyborg princess who goes on adventures with nerdy bloggers. You know, something crazy.

And now let’s talk about the body image Disney imposes on young males…

No nipples, oddly shaped pectorals...

No nipples, oddly shaped pectorals…

In Defense of Camo Fashion

camohead

White for purity. Black for new-age elegance. Ivory for traditionalism (and perhaps tainted innocence, let’s not pretend). Blue for serenity, pink for inappropriate flirtation, green for sheer insanity. According to my bridal research, I’ve summarized the essentials of wedding dress chromaticity.

So what the hell does camo mean?

So what the hell does that mean?

Let’s play wedding dress analysis. I see a lot of green and off-white, both of which make sense for Mama June of Honey Boo Boo fame. But orange in a wedding dress? Hm. According to weddingwire.com it represents energy, which I guess is fine. I prefer the association with traffic signs. Danger, fear, warning… makes more sense to me.

But I have no need to criticize Mama June’s designer sense. I could, but I’d have to devote many more words than I’m able.

And some moments of shocked silence...

And some moments of shocked silence…

But the wedding of Mama June and Sugar Bear last Saturday made me curious. Why does camouflage carry a negative connotation? Outside of the military, why is it reserved for trailer trash or rubes or ironic jerks? Also, what fancy camo pics could I share with my readership?

There are lots.

Traffic sign orange is a great accent, especially paired with a garbage bag suit...

Traffic sign orange is a great accent, especially paired with a garbage bag suit…

But I found that clothes are only the tip of the trash heap. It may technically be outside my topic of “camo fashion,” but you haven’t known camo-disgust until you’ve seen…

"Awkwardly uncomfortable on the camo-couch,"

“Awkwardly uncomfortable on the camo-couch,”

"Camo-SUV for muddin', gettin' kids to soccer practice,"

“Camo-SUV for muddin’, gettin’ kids to soccer practice,”

and "Appropriate."

and “Appropriate.”

So let’s not pretend camouflage carries a positive connotation, despite association with the army. With the military, it makes sense. It’s practical. The army has something to hide from, whereas a toilet seat doesn’t need the tactical advantage of semi-invisibility. If anything, that would hinder it’s function.

I’m talking about camouflage in the civilian world, where the net result is highly negative. It’s not the type of pattern that screams “couture,” since it’s considered tacky by many and hilariously abhorrent by others. If you agree with neither sentiment, you are either brave or silly. Possibly both. I tip my hat to you.

I may never wear it, but I digress.

I may never wear it, but I digress.

Camo serves a function for hunting or… well, that’s essentially it, so the practice of using the pattern in wedding or prom dresses is an interesting trend. For some people, the lifestyle association with camouflage so perfectly encapsulates their life that a camo wedding dress is fine. At least, in their eyes. Somehow.

I admire the ability to do something that makes you feel comfortable, despite what others may say. I can’t fault the people wearing fancy camo, unless they’re doing so to belittle through mockery. You know, the “ironic” people. They’re just turds.

I’m just not sure how people could wear something like this and feel anything other than embarrassment:

And they look so happy and cute and...

And they look so happy and cute and…

…wait, what is that in the bottom left corner, just out of frame? Is that…

Good lord, they match the living room set. I feel sick.

Good lord, they match the living room set. I feel sick.

I don’t think I’ll get to bottom of this. It’s a pattern with an association, one I probably can’t overcome. However, there are lots of people who absolutely love it. A gaudy camouflage pattern somehow represents their passions, and I respect commitment to that ideal. And if something like camoformal.com can exist without mockery, I’m… mostly fine with that.

And to be fair, not all of them are horrendous.

And to be fair, not all of them are horrendous.

Just don't wear them in the forest.

Just don’t wear them in the forest.

So we can associate camo couture with hicks and crazies, but I imagine most of them would be fine with that. For the people who love it, it’s who they are. They’re proud of their camouflage wedding dresses. Or at least, they pretend to be for cameras. Honey Boo Boo hadn’t been in the news for a while…

Camo couture is something even the people who like it can jest about. It takes events or occasions with certain expectations (proms, weddings), merges them with something tacky and gives rise to some form of humor. In fact, I think camo couture requires a pretty fantastic sense of humor, and I’m all for that.

You know, maybe a camo wedding dress represents willingness to find humor in life. Or maybe it’s unhindered passion for something you love. Or possibly self-confidence in the face of adversity. Which are all great things for a wedding, actually… makes white look kinda boring. Hmm.

Crap. My wife’s gonna hate me.

"JUSTIN! We NEED to talk about this 'dress' you thought I should wear! COME OUT, YOU COWARD!"

“JUSTIN! We NEED to talk about this ‘dress’ you thought I should wear! COME OUT, YOU COWARD!”