Pic of the Week: Iconic Film Shots Re-imagined with Africans

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Photographers Antoine Tempe and Omar Victor Diop take shots from iconic movies like Thelma & Louise and American Beauty and put an African spin on them.  How do we feel when we see people with darker skin color in these shots?  Frankly, all I see are photos of beautiful people.  Yes, the scenes remind me of the movies but don’t strike an more of an emotional chord.  What do you think? For more see the article.

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Weekend Observations: The Gift that Saved Me

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I was struggling.  It was my husband’s birthday this weekend.  And it was a big ONE.  But he didn’t want a party, any gifts and even a dinner out.
What’s a girl to do?  I have to do SOMETHING, right?
Then it dawned on me.  It’s not about the tangible gifts.  It’s about the experiences.
Lest I sound like every trite consumer trend study out there that claims that the “younger generation doesn’t want to accumulate wealth but accumulate experiences, ” I have to explain that for my husband, experiences don’t amount to sky diving or mountain climbing.  They amount to an organized apartment and great sex (sorry, mom if you’re reading this :)).
Soooo, this meant me spending a few hours organizing my drawers and cabinets, and, of course, amazing lingerie.
Now that I figured out the gift, the next question was, “what kind of lingerie do I get?”  In NYC, there’s no shortage of places to shop for such goodies.  There’s La Perla for the fancy mistress, Victoria’s Secret for the one-time-only, cheapie deal, and then the places in the Village for the crazy-ass stuff that really only should be worn on transvestites.
Hmm, none of them seemed right.  Then I did a little searching on Google and happened upon Sugar Cookies.  It had all the right qualities: near where I work, mid-priced and high class enough with a bit of raunch mixed in.
As all of you who follow us know, I don’t make it a habit of endorsing brands or products.  But every so often, I’m so overwhelmed that I MUST.  And this is one of those cases.  Sugar Cookies (with the great sub-head: Decorate Your Pink Parts) is a small boutique managed by the owner.  She is lovely and helpful.  While many of the items fall into the silky, white bridal sort, there’s still enough fun mixed in too.  And, there’s none of the cheapie element.  And if you want to pick up some nice sleepwear, they’ve got that too.
I ended up with what you see above.  As you can tell, I was able to satisfy my need for elegant plus a bit of sass.  Let’s face it, white and black can get tired!
I’m happy to report that the results were fab 😉  Sugar Cookies has a repeat customer in me.  I encourage you to take  a look for yourselves.  Who knows what kind of gifts you’ll end up with?  Hee Hee.

What Sugarman Showed Me

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I watched Searching for Sugarman yesterday.  I was moved to tears.  It was quite powerful.
The documentary captures the story of a bunch of South Africans who unravel the mystery behind Detroit, musical genius, Sixto Rodriguez.
There is no question Rodriguez is an inspiring character on so many levels.  First, his music is beautiful and deep.  Second, while he never reached any level of fame in the US, and ended up being a hard laborer his whole life, he never complained.  His lack of success never kept him back from loving life.  He still loved music and was content to have followed his passion despite never fulfilling his dreams as a full-on musician.  He shared his love for philosophy, (he even got a degree in it in college!) art and music with his children throughout their lives.
Finally, he looked at everyday-life as beautiful and as something to be elevated and celebrated … even if it meant looking nice for a hard labor job.  His co-workers describe him wearing 3-piece suits to work as a construction worker.  As one friend says in the film: Rodriguez would “elevate things…get above the mundane, the prosaic.”
Rodriguez lived in an ugly city, in near-shacks with his family, and worked in a world that didn’t always embrace beauty, and, yet, he did.
Lesson learned: there is never a reason not appreciate and enhance the beauty around us, even in the smallest ways.  Not only will it make others a bit cheerier, it will surely motivate and lift our own spirits as well.

Pic of the Week: The Beauty of Germs, Cysts & Microbes … Huh?

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Yep, it’s true.  Medical photographer and John’s Hopkins Medical School professor, Norman Barker, has captured the beauty of disease and is featuring his photos in his new book, Hidden Beauty: Exploring the Aesthetics of Medical Science.  Isn’t it amazing that even among the most ravaging aspects of humanity — disease — we can find beauty?

Lesson for me?  There’s clearly beauty EVERYWHERE if we just open our eyes a bit and look for it.

For more, see below.

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Pic of the Week: The Beauty of Germs, Cysts & Microbes … Huh?

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Yep, it’s true.  Medical photographer and John’s Hopkins Medical School professor, Norman Barker, has captured the beauty of disease and is featuring his photos in his new book, Hidden Beauty: Exploring the Aesthetics of Medical Science.  Isn’t it amazing that even among the most ravaging aspects of humanity — disease — we can find beauty?
Lesson for me?  There’s clearly beauty EVERYWHERE if we just open our eyes a bit and look for it.
For more, see below.
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Crypt-adenoma600 tissueblocks600

Weekend Observations: A Symbol of the American Dream? The Nail Salon

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I’m sitting under blowing air waiting for my fuchsia fingers nails and mocha toe nails to dry.  As I’m counting the minutes for the wait to be over, I look around the salon.  And what I see is quite inspiring.  A group of young Chinese women — clearly relatively new to the country given their limited abilities in English — taking pride in their beauty efforts; a female Chinese business owner scurrying around to make sure her newly minted shop is in order and her patrons are comfortable; and an array of women getting pampered.  The patrons range in age and background.  Near me is a woman of Japanese descent, a blonde mother and daughter duo, and an older, elegant African-American woman.
This salon is snapshot of the American dream.  Immigrants hustling their way up on the economic ladder, a woman-owned business thriving, and a mix of women from all walks of life sharing the age-old ritual of beautification.  We may all speak different languages or have different jobs and family lives, but we all have a similar goal: to be beautiful, happy and successful.
There’s something about beauty and the rituals that surround it that breaks down barriers.  I’m not saying we’re all equal in our beauty or that we all feel as beautiful as the next person.  But when it comes to the rituals of beauty, there is air of democracy. We all enjoy being pampered and made to feel beautiful.  And we all recognize that beauty gives us confidence and a degree of happiness.  Moreover, for generations, the beauty business has offered women opportunities for growth and success.  Think Estee Lauder, Helena Rubenstein and the like.  These are women who, a century ago, made it on their own because of the beauty industry.
The next time we go to a salon for a massage or a manicure, let’s revel in the pampering and fun we derive, but let’s also celebrate the inspiration that these spaces offer as well.

Weekend Observations: When Beauty is a Result of Happy Accidents

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So much of the beauty around us captivates us because of the symmetry it reflects.  Vibrant, fragrant flowers; gorgeous babies; and amazing structures all embody the laws of symmetry and order.
But I think there’s a whole other side of beauty.  That is the beauty that occurs because of mistakes, deviations and chance.  After all, some of the most beautiful people are hybrids of ethnicities.
And I see it playing out in my day-to-day life.  It is well-known that where I work, change is the only constant.  I never know from one day to the next what can happen.  Sometimes that means things screw up all of a sudden which can stress anyone out — especially me.  But it also means that I can have that chance encounter with someone at a meeting, in the cafeteria or in the hallway that can change the whole course of my day, week or even career.  For example, I agreed to give a talk within my first months at my job at Google.  The tech was giving us problems so I was a bit delayed.  The person who was to speak after me — arrived mid-way though my presentation given my late start.  But because she heard my content, she was intrigued and thought we should combine forces.  And it’s because of this relationship that I was able to launch a whole series of projects that have propelled me forward in my career.
Serendipity is both endemic to my job and my saving grace.  And that’s a beautiful thing.  The seeming randomness of it all ensures that beautiful things — be them new relationships, innovative projects or inventive solutions to my gnarliest problems — are made or found.  And this is ONLY because I don’t try to replicate the same pattern of behavior.  I choose to be random,  disorderly and open to chaos.  Because it’s through this chaos that true beauty is revealed.
I urge you all to embrace the chaos, unorganized, and especially the fuck ups, because it’s there that true beauty will emerge.

Pic of the Week: A Chinese Celebration of Curviness

Artist Xu Hong Fei
A few weeks ago China exhibited Xu Hongfei’s amazing sculptures.  While you may not recognize his name, you probably recall his gorgeous sculptures of what he calls “chubby women.”  His sculptures depict curvy women in action to demonstrate, as the exhibition catalogue states, “an ingenious union of clumsiness in wisdom and dexterity in heaviness.” In the end, he wants to say “fat women can be very happy and very beautiful and very confident,” according to the artist’s translator.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/beauty-and-joy-in-curvy-art-20130620-2olvp.html#ixzz2YOSdZ9ju
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Weekend Observations: Maybe We Just Need to Let it Out?

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I had a chance to hit my building gym today.  Given how so many of the tenants “summer” outside of NYC, the gym was pretty empty except my friend, Heidi.  Now that I think about, I tend to bump into Heidi in the gym no matter the season.  She’s not a crazy gym rat but she, like the rest of us, wants to remain trim.
She’s a fun gym mate.  She cracks me up and we agree on many things.  She cares about her looks and doesn’t hesitate to tell me about her latest peel or Botox treatment.  Like me she’s a mom but has a pretty serious job.  She’s a psychologist.
Funny, I feel comfortable enough around her to let my body show in all its “glory” in my gym shorts and bra, and also free enough to criticize it in front of her without feeling like an anti-feminist.
Now I know we should all feel better about ourselves.  We should all just stop being so self-critical, damn it.  It would make us and everyone else around us happier, right?
But that’s not so easy.
And maybe, just maybe, there’s something therapeutic about our sharing of body issues.  I realize that having Heidi to voice my inner most thoughts to, let’s me rid myself of them a bit.  For one thing, having her listen and then dispel my notions always feels good.  (Of course why we need to rely on others’ opinions of ourselves is a big issue.  But it’s also reality.)  For another, being able to verbally share thoughts has a cathartic effect.  Isn’t that at the heart of therapy anyway?
I’m not advocating that we all blurt out to everyone all the time terrible things about our own bodies.  But if we have a friend who “gets us,” maybe sharing with her or him our thoughts can actually make us feel better about our bodies, and ultimately ourselves.

Week in Review: 6/2-6/7

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Finally back in NYC!  And Beautyskew was in full force.  Check out what we shared:
The beauty and tremendous, ancient power of blue Weekend Observations: The Majesty of Blue
Russian women are altering themselves — sometime permanently — to look like Barbies.  So weird! Pic of the Week: Looking Like Barbies — Literally!
A scientific, evolutionary reason why we think average is beautiful Beauty is All About the Average
More juicy beauty-in-culture reading we had to share More to Love: Additions to the Reading List
Enjoy you’re weekend — I know I will.  It’s my daughter’s birthday party!