Terror Strikes Paris . . . Again
In the aftermath of the recent Paris terrorist attacks, the world has experienced heartbreak alongside the French people. But even in spite of the pain, stories of hope have also emerged. In a Facebook post, Isobel Bowdery shared her experience as a survivor of the attacks.
“Being a survivor of this horror lets me able to shed light on the heroes,” Bowdery wrote. “Last night, the lives of many were forever changed, and it is up to us to be better people. To live lives that the innocent victims of this tragedy dreamt about but sadly will now never be able to fulfill. RIP angels. You will never be forgotten.”
As culture editor Mary Rose Somarriba summed it up, “I think it’s fair to say that deep in the soul of Bowdery, in the soul of the eternally beloved Paris, and perhaps in the souls of us reading, love outweighs fear at the end of the day.”
Anna Quinlan also noted this week the French’s resilience and joy in spite of the recent tragedy. With a trending hashtag #TousAuBistrot (“Everyone to the bar!”) and the champagne-touting cover of Charlie Hebdo this week, the French are encouraging everyone to celebrate life. “You’ll find them gathered together at sidewalk tables, champagne flutes in hand. You’ll find them kissing—once on each cheek, of course—and dancing, perhaps. They are not denying the tragedy; they are simply refusing to let the deaths they have already witnessed steal their own lives away as well.” Cheers to that. —Diana Stancy
Women Playing an Increased Role in ISIS
According to the Wall Street Journal this week, women are playing an increasing role in ISIS. Paris officials have determined that one of the suicide bombers was a female—the first female suicide bomber in Europe and perhaps the first deployed by ISIS. This fits with Verily’s report last month that, in addition to detailing the unique challenges women face, revealed how women are being employed more and more in the planning and attacks. Amid all this tragedy and destruction, I can’t say this is an area in which we’re quite seeking gender equality. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Adele’s New Album Is in Stores Today
Adele’s new album, 25, releases today and promises to be another monster success—no surprise there. But what may surprise you is that it’s projected to be the fastest-selling album in history. While it is believed that the British singer has declined to make the album available on streaming sites such as Spotify, public enthusiasm hasn’t waned. I, for one, don’t mind; I look forward to picking up a copy and enjoying one of our favorite singers. —MRS
Ronda Rousey Gets Humbled
This week started with a media newstorm around the mixed martial arts upset of Ronda Rousey in her much-watched UFC fight with Holly Holm. Rousey struggled in the first round and lost less than a minute into the second round by knockout. Suffice it to say, no one expected this. Rousey, who has increased her Hollywood presence in films such as The Expendables, was one who earned love and hate from fans over the years. Known for her poor sportsmanship, Rousey routinely declines touching gloves before a fight, refuses to shake hands even after winning a fight, and often personally insults her opponents for added measure. For this reason, much of the Internet’s reaction to Rousey’s loss was that of schadenfreude. As Lady Gaga tweeted in all caps: “THAT’S WHAT YOU GET FOR NOT TOUCHING GLOVES!”
Holm, known affectionately as “the Preacher’s daughter” due to her minister father, deserves credit for employing talent, speed, and discipline to win the fight—no bravado here. Humility is a virtue for any sport or endeavor in life. But honestly, this doesn’t make me want to watch UFC fighting. There’s something that always makes me a little sick to my stomach to see a woman being knocked out. Call me old-fashioned, or call me feminist. It’s probably both. —MRS
When It Comes to Modern Dolls, Image Is Everything
I spent hours of my childhood playing with Barbie dolls. So I appreciated Mattel’s adorable ad launched in October. Young girls pretend they’re a professor, soccer coach, veterinarian, businesswoman, and museum docent. Then I thought about how Barbie’s proportions influenced my interest in drawing and art. Flipping through my earliest sketchbooks, all my models looked just like Barbie: tall and thin with straight, voluminous hair, large eyes, and full lips. Growing up in a mostly Filipino, Samoan, and African-American community, I can’t actually remember anyone I knew in real life who looked like my Barbie dolls. The imaginary space that playing with Barbie gave me was priceless, yet I can’t help but feel suspicious of how it affected my own body image. At 29, I often wish I were taller than my frame of 5 feet 2 inches, that I had wider eyes than the Asian ones I inherited, a chiseled jaw rather than a round face—and will I ever see a thigh gap?
But what if I played pretend with a doll who looked more like the women around me? Enter the Traveler and Photographer dolls, $25 each, that Lammily launched last year. Imagine a doll who shares a body type that is more, for lack of a better word, realistic. Lammily says that its products are “the first fashion doll made according to typical human body proportions to promote realistic beauty standards and help your child develop a positive body image.” Creator Nickolay Lamm used Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data to design a doll based on an average 19-year-old female’s body shape. You can even outfit her with optional Lammily Marks stickers that include moles, acne, stretch marks, and cellulite. And you know what? She’s beautiful.
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that for the most recent quarter, “Barbie’s sales were down 14 percent to $302 million. . . . That followed seven straight quarters of declines for the brand.” That’s almost two years’ worth of declines in sales for the doll that launched nearly fifty-six years ago. Mattel’s response is to highlight the value of doll play by launching a “Makeunder Mondays” campaign showing consumers’ photos of their Barbie dolls in her “natural state.” Think the times you left her on the floor, out in the grass, or shoeless in the toy box. The company is rolling out “You Can Be Anything” banners in stores. Mattel also formed The Barbie Global Advisory Council, which includes outside influencers such as principal ballerina Misty Copeland. And Mattel has hired Jess Weiner, the brand strategist who led Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign that launched in 2004, to help guide how it markets to women and girls.
We’ll see if these new advisers steer Barbie into more Lammily-like directions or just give Barbie a new outfit. I hope it’s the former. As Barbie is reminding us now, a girl can dream, right? —Krizia Liquido
Women Are 118 Years from Equal Pay
What with high-profile celebrities such as Kate Winslet sharing their differing experiences of the gender pay gap, it feels like we’ve been hearing a lot about this issue recently—and, as it turns out, with good cause. New research by the World Economic Forum claims that it will take societies around the world more than a century to fully close the gender pay gap. Figures in the WEF’s tenth annual report on gender parity estimate that the average salary for a full-time working woman is $11,102 a year, a figure that is just more than half the male equivalent average of $20,554 a year. Analysis also reveals that progress toward pay equality has faltered since the 2008 economic crash, and globally women’s pay is almost a decade behind men’s. As The Guardian reports, Willem Adema—a senior economist for the OECD, the international economic think tank—is among the many experts who believe that “if discrimination means people not pursuing individual aspirations to the full . . . the economy loses out on a lot of talent.”
These latest figures are certainly shocking and prove that it’s more important than ever to engage with this complex and pressing issue. As Christine Emba wrote for Verily earlier this year, the statistics can often be misleading for a variety of reasons, but it’s clear that we have a problem, whatever the exact scale of it may be. —Sophie Caldecott
Jennifer Lawrence Opens Up on Men and Marriage
Jennifer Lawrence is perhaps best known for her candidness. From admitting she loves pizza to tripping on the red carpet, Lawrence is a relatable celebrity if there ever were one. In recent interviews with Vogue and Diane Sawyer that circulated the Web this week, Lawrence revealed her desire to be married and raise a family, even while sharing fears that those might not be in her future. She desires to build a life with someone, but she also appreciates her independence.
While on the surface these ideas may seem mutually exclusive, Baleigh Scott explained this week how Lawrence’s comments shed light on the internal struggle of many millennial women and how the two concepts can exist among each other. “It is possible to both like the idea of being married and even prepare for it while not necessarily needing it to feel fulfilled. It is possible to be a complete person with a complete life who also has room for the right person if he comes along.” True that. —DS
Swann. Madeleine Swann.
The James Bond movies may have entered a new era. In the latest film, Spectre, Madeleine Swann exhibits a powerful, female heroine. What sets Swann apart from other James Bond women is that she is equally as competent as Bond.
In Somarriba’s take on the film: “Perhaps most striking is not her being equal to her male counterpart but instead what makes her different. There’s one way in which Swann is superior to Bond, and that is in how she sees beyond the assassin’s life—she sees it as ultimately lacking and wants more.” A Bond girl who equals and complements the man? If you’re listening, Hollywood, I’ll gladly take more of that. —DS
Are Women Funny?
In an article published at The Atlantic this week, the answer was revealed: Yes, women can be just as funny as men; it’s just that men don’t appreciate humor in their partners as much as women do. According to research, women largely seek out men who are funny—they supply the laugh track. And, surprise, surprise, men largely seek to find a woman who will laugh at their jokes. The continual cycle leads some women to stop showing humor altogether (outside of their girl squads that never stop appreciating it) because it’s not viewed as a desirable trait from men. Hm… all I can say is, this author Olga Khazan was certainly funny in her Atlantic article, and I’m glad she didn’t hide it under a bushel. —MRS
Cabbies of New York
The cabbies of New York are continuing a yearly gag gift option by publishing the latest calendar of NYC Taxi Drivers. For those brave enough to click, prepare for the most random assortment of images of the quirky absurdity we know as New York. I have to say, I love that the only image of a woman I saw in the online slideshow showed her fully dressed and holding a fan up to her face for the windblown effect—thank you on so many levels. But in the end, I can’t help but agree with the New York Post: This “new beefcake calendar featuring a group of topless and nearly naked New York cabbies may be the best advertisement ever—for taking an Uber!” —MRS