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While You Were Out: Breastfeeding Policies, "Plus-Size" Models, Kim K., and More


“While You Were Out,” is a Friday feature of short notes and commentary from the week. Whether it’s something you’d discuss at the water cooler or at happy hour, you’ll find it on our grid, together with our opinion as to whether it’s praiseworthy or cringeworthy. We’re pleased to bring you the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week!

Woman-Directed Wonder Woman!

Could Wonder Woman's story finally be put in the creative hands of a woman? Ever since Warner Bros. announced the project, industry professionals and fans alike have been speculating about who would direct the film. Hollywood has a wretched track record when it comes to women being in charge behind the camera at all, let alone directing a high-budget action flick, but the idea of a woman finally having control of perhaps the most famous female superhero is an exciting one. According to The Huffington Post, TV director Michelle MacLaren is in talks to helm the movie. MacLaren is an Emmy-nominated director of shows such as Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and The X-Files, which makes me hope that her Wonder Woman might get a bit more grit to her story than she has in the past. (I'm all for tiaras and bracelets having special powers, but come on, Thor and Iron Man have much cooler superhero toys.) Girl power!

—Monica Weigel

Best Practices for Breastfeeding Moms

Employers across the nation are getting tips on how to better accommodate breastfeeding mothers in the office. Including suggestions to have breast-pumping areas in close range to the work area, within reach of running water, and near refrigeration for storing breastmilk, the government notice promises to make inter-office politics for new moms a little less awkward than in the past. And we’re all about making moms happy.

—Mary Rose Somarriba

At Long Last

Damien Rice, the beloved Irish singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer, has finally released his third solo album after an eight-year hiatus. This album, My Favorite Faded Fantasy, is both lyrically and instrumentally exquisite. Lyrically he is a poetic genius. Much like his previous albums, Damien Rice puts violins to good use behind his folky voice. What’s different, though, is this album is not as melodramatic as his last two. While I do love a good melodramatic song, this man can do no wrong in my eyes. It never hurts to listen to something more upbeat. When asked why his album took so long, Rice says, “Sometimes you have to step away from what you love in order to learn how to love it again.” Nice to have you back, Damien.

—Shea Rachwitz

Hey Ryan, It’s Your Birthday

In honor of Ryan Gosling’s 34th bday this week, we bring you this genius meme. And if you haven’t seen this video of Ryan himself reading from “Hey Girl,” do yourself a favor and take a look today. Commence collective sighs from women across the globe.

—Maggie Niemiec

Pretty Please?

The chubby cheeks of Prince George cannot be denied, and those cheeks may be coming stateside soon. Although the recent report in People magazine that George may be accompanying his parents on a trip to New York City in December should probably be filed under wild speculation and highly improbable (it hasn't even been confirmed that Kate is joining William on the trip), the mere possibility has me pondering. How might I catch a glimpse of the adorable mini-royal should he find himself being paraded around Manhattan? I wouldn't even mind the inevitable public transportation mess that the security for such a visit would require, which is a horrid thing to admit given my grumbling whenever the UN convenes, but oh well. Roll out the toddler-sized red carpet, NYC. Prince George is coming! (Maybe.)

—Monica Weigel

The Why of Into the Wild

There is something about a person removing themselves from society and communing with nature that captures the public's interest. From Thoreau's Walden Pond to Cheryl Strayed's memoir Wild (soon to be a movie starring Reese Witherspoon), there is something magnetic about the idea of complete independence and self-sufficiency. Perhaps the most poignant account of this sort in recent times has been that of Chris McCandless, brought to the public's attention by Jon Krakauer in his 1996 book Into the Wild, and adapted to the screen by Sean Penn in 2007. McCandless was born and raised in the affluent suburbs of Washington, D.C., and educated at Emory University, but soon after graduation, gave away all his money and took off for the Alaskan wilderness without a word to anyone. As is well known at this point, his story ended sadly, with his body found four months later in an old bus in the woods. Reaction to Into the Wild ran the gamut from people praising McCandless for thumbing his nose at the trappings of modern privileged society to others denouncing him as stupid and selfish, but the question on everyone's mind, regardless of their opinion of him, was why? Why did he do it?

An answer to this question has been offered this week by Carine McCandless, Chris' sister, who has written her own book The Wild Truth, detailing the vicious and abusive environment in which the McCandless children grew up, something she had admitted to Krakauer back in the nineties when he was originally writing the story—but something she had asked him to withhold in the hopes that her parents might eventually change. The Wild Truth may attempt to bring a sense of closure to a story that captured the world’s attention, but far from alleviating the predominant sense of sadness and waste that Chris McCandless's life represents, it intensifies it.

—Monica Weigel

Unedited on the Prairie

One of my favorite Christmas gifts ever was a full set of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books—and this happened just two Christmases ago. My original copies had been read so often between my sister and me that they were falling apart, and the idea of not having them on hand to read, even as an adult, seemed ludicrous. The story of the Ingalls family is how many children first encounter the pioneer era of American history, engrossed with such strange tales as making a pig's bladder into a toy on butchering day or straining carrot juice into butter molds to make it pretty for company at dinner. To be sure, there are many critics of how Wilder represents her story in these books, but as a whole, they are a nuanced and beautifully written chronicle of life on the frontier, albeit viewed through somewhat rose-colored glasses.

Now, for adults who grew up on these stories and are curious about the bigger (and more factual) picture, we have Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography—the first publication of Wilder's original draft, which she intended to be a first-person book for adults, not a series of third-person children's books. Supplemented by research conducted by biographer Pamela Smith Hill, Pioneer Girl promises to dig deeper into the actual events that inspired the Little House books and, in many cases, remove those rose-colored glasses. Do I really want to know "the tragic fate of Cap Garland?" I'm honestly not sure—Cap saved the town during The Long Winter by going out in the blizzard and bringing back the wheat, and my 10-year-old heart will be crushed to learn if anything other than a hero's happy future befell him, but I think in the end my curiosity will win out. Once again, it seems, Laura Ingalls Wilder will end up on my Christmas list.

—Monica Weigel

Meet Calvin Klein’s Newest Model

The beautiful Myla Dalbesio, Calvin Klein’s newest lingerie model, is a size 10. And guess what? Calvin Klein never once referred to her as plus-size. Those remarks came from Twitter, where many women were outraged over CK’s supposed presentation of a size-10 woman as plus-size. Clarification: She’s not plus-size and Calvin Klein did not call her such. Which is progress in our books.

It’s refreshing to see a model outside the industry-standard straight size (ahem, Victoria’s Secret, ahem) who isn’t directly labeled as plus-size. In an interview with Elle, Myla said:

“I’m not the biggest girl on the market, but I’m definitely bigger than all the girls [Calvin Klein] has ever worked with, so that is really intimidating… No one even batted an eye.

It’s not like [Calvin Klein] released this campaign and were like ‘Whoa, look, there’s this plus size girl in our campaign.’ They released me in this campaign with everyone else; there’s no distinction. It’s not a separate section for plus size girls.”

We love seeing ads featuring a woman like Myla, who is not classified as straight-size or plus-size but simply presented at her natural size—and absolutely gorgeous just the way she is.

—Maggie Niemiec

Give Me a “D”! Give Me an “F”!

Can we get a round of applause for Vogue? “The best lingerie comes in all sizes,” says the magazine—to which we say, “preach!” Their recent lingerie editorial features black and white photographs of stunning women, who just happen to be a bit bustier than your average Vogue supermodel. But not once in the piece are the models deemed plus-size. Instead they’re celebrated for the shapes and sizes and colors they are—yet another step forward for the fashion industry.

—Maggie Niemiec

Newsflash: Porn Doesn’t Break the Internet

Kim Kardashian’s rear end made headlines this week as Paper magazine revealed its latest cover. We already knew Kardashian liked bringing attention to her assets (as Vogue magazine once put it, “Kardashian’s behind was the real star” of Keeping Up With the Kardashians), but we might not have thought she would go to the level of doing porn again. Lest we forget it was her sex tape that brought Kardashian to fame in 2007 (which she let porn distributor Vivid Entertainment keep for $5 million), and brought her family to fame as well (E! launched the family’s reality show later that same year). Porn is one of those things usually done by coercion (as in sex-trafficking, as it was for Linda Lovelace), out of financial desperation, or by mistake (leaked sex tapes)—usually one of those things most participants leave in the past once they’ve found other ways to make a living. But Kardashian, it appears, can’t stop exploiting her body for attention.

“Kim’s attitude was, ‘If we’re gonna do it, let’s really go there,’” Mickey Boardman, editorial director of Paper magazine, told ABC news. “And it was her idea to take off her clothes and show more than her butt.” As for the photoshopping involved to Kardashian’s naked body, Boardman said there was "much less [retouching] than people think.... I would say it’s the normal amount of retouching that’s on a normal cover.” Considering how much magazines photoshop bodies to unrealistic proportions today, that’s not really saying much.

Some outlets said Kardashian left little to the imagination. But I would say photoshopping her waist to an unrealistic thinness and accentuating her large behind to create a centaur-like figure was completely imaginative –it’s about as far from reality as reality TV. Someone probably thought it was clever to suggest a nude Kardashian would “break the Internet.” But come on. Porn, breaking the Internet? If only it would.

—Mary Rose Somarriba

Multiple Problems at Joan Rivers' Clinic

Back in September, Joan Rivers passed away a week after suffering cardiac arrest at a New York clinic. In a report this week, that clinic was cited for multiple errors and failure to follow standard protocols while treating her. Rivers was given an overdose of the anesthetic drug Propofol before her routine throat surgery, and her personal physician entered the operating room (without authorization) to perform a laryngoscopy—without consent. Perhaps the most shocking offense is that clinic staffers in the room took photos with the unconscious Rivers. Cringeworthy doesn’t even begin to describe this situation. While we don’t know that Rivers would for sure be alive if she had been treated correctly, one thing is for sure: This sort of behavior in a place expected to keep people healthy is completely unacceptable.

—Maggie Niemiec

Bill Cosby’s Social Media Fail

Bill Cosby’s social media manager set up a "make your own meme" out of iconic Cosby photos. What followed was exposé excellence. Now will the rape allegations finally get their due attention?

—Mary Rose Somarriba

If Things Couldn’t Get Worse...

Nicki Minaj has received much criticism for the imagery in her just-released music video, “Only.” The video consists of what looks like an old Nazi propaganda clip on repeat. The only difference is Minaj is pictured as the leader. Apparently what the world considers horrendous, Minaj considers badass.

Among the public responses came a statement from the Anti-Defamation League, which blasted the video as “deeply disturbing and offensive” and “a trivialization of the history of that era.” Minaj apologized on Twitter saying, “I didn't come up w/the concept, but I'm very sorry & take full responsibility if it has offended anyone. I'd never condone Nazism in my art.” (Hours later, Minaj’s video director flippantly admitted he appealed to Nazi imagery intentionally.) Still, the Anti-Defamation League welcomed Minaj’s apology: “Her clear renunciation of Nazism is an important step. We hope that she will take further steps to educate herself and her fans about who the Nazis were and why we should never take genocide or the Holocaust lightly.”

Even if Minaj was blind to the fact that the imagery was inherently Nazi-like (which is what we have to pretend to take her apology seriously), being offensive is what she goes for. Lost in all this talk is how offensive her lyrics are. The song’s words, which you don’t have to look up because they are displayed full-screen in all caps throughout the video, tell how her large boobs and butt make her the baddest bitch around. We'll spare you the details, but it's about as classless as it sounds. “I’d never condone Nazism in my art,” Minaj has said. Maybe she’s right. Maybe, with songs like this, she’s not creating art.

—Mary Rose Somarriba

Tragedy in India

Until this week, I had no idea that India’s government regularly offers free laparoscopic tubectomies to women as part of a mass sterilization campaign. Their goal is to curb the country’s massive population. Now, with 11 women dead and dozens more in the hospital, the initiative has been thrust in the spotlight. One doctor reportedly carried out 80 operations in five hours. Yes, you read that right.

Because women are paid or given incentives for undergoing sterilization at one of these family planning camps, doing so has become socially acceptable as well as desirable. Sterilization of men, on the other hand, is still culturally rejected. According to The Guardian, a 2012 Human Rights Watch report urged the Indian government to provide men with information and counseling about contraceptive services, but that hasn’t exactly worked out. This kind of mishandling of population control is more than just a human rights’ violation, it’s a human tragedy.

—Maggie Niemiec