“I’ll Be Back, But I’m Coming as Oil!”

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Mrs. Doubtfire introduced us to the idea that, with enough strength, everybody can exact revenge on their enemies by yanking the emblem off the front of their Mercedes-Benz with one swift, gratifying motion. Sean Maguire taught us all that we’re just kids—that what we’ve learned from books can never substitute the education that comes from experience.

Robin Williams, himself, showed the world how beautiful laughter can be.

Yet, tonight we mourn the loss of this undeniable talent. This beloved man, whose comedic wit will forever remain in our hearts, took his own life because sadness had overwhelmed his. Tears of sorrow have replaced tears of joy, for our world has lost someone who will not be soon forgotten.

You see, Robin Williams managed to achieve what only the rare few can do. Robin Williams used his unique blend of humor and emotion to breach the barrier between comedy and drama, appealing to fans across the spectrum. While his family-friendly films, such as Mrs. Doubtfire and Aladdin, will remain part of every child’s repertoire for decades to come, his dramatic works, such as Good Will Hunting and What Dreams May Come, will forever cause us to question our own mortality and direction in life.

But, while today’s events may represent loss, his life and legacy are gifts that will never relent. We’ve gained so much simply by having known his humor. Often times, those who suffer from depression feel as if they’re all alone in the world, but as the outpouring of shock and sadness has proven, Robin Williams had the entire world in his corner. His life affected so many others, and his spirit will remain for generations. Perhaps that’s the beauty of celebrity—though he may have passed, Robin Williams will live on as long as his films allow. We can only hope that he has now found the same happiness he’s blessed us with for all these years.

For now, “All my love to you, poppet, you’re going to be all right… Bye bye.”

The Juan That Got Away

How the women of The Bachelor won both our hearts and minds

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Let’s get something straight right away—The Bachelor’s premise, though entertaining, will remain ridiculous until the end of time. Perhaps it’s just me, but I find the concept rather archaic and animalistic. That being said, I’m addicted and it’s all Juan Pablo’s fault. No, it’s not because he’s handsome. (Though we must all admit that’s what attracted us to season 18 in the first place.) Oddly enough, the appeal has shifted from the once dreamy leading man to the strong and sassy women whom he’s “loved” and lost.

No matter which season draws you in—this was the first full season I’ve ever watched, for instance—ABC publicizes every iteration of the series by overemphasizing the catfights and bickering between the ladies of the house. (Oh, and the tears! How could I forget the tears?) We’ve come to expect nothing but weekly displays of the female gender at its worst. But, what ABC probably didn’t expect was that Desiree Hartstock may have let this Latin lover slip through her fingers for a reason.

Juan Pablo, though seemingly sensitive and sincere, has spent the entire season digging himself one hole after another. From potentially homophobic remarks to slut-shaming, he’s reached the point where even his looks can’t save him now. (He can parade around shirtless throughout the entire finale, and that STILL won’t get anyone to gush at this stage of the game.) Instead, diehard fans will be crossing their fingers and hoping their favorite doesn’t have to endure an incomprehensible proposal and inevitable heartbreak, for this season, it’s those who walk away without an engagement ring that are the true winners.

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Though the show, in general, revolves around the (eventual) love between one man and one woman, we’ve seen much more powerful bonds form among the women who came and went from our TV screens far too soon. Instead of dwelling on dissention within the house, these ladies have developed strong friendships that extend well past the confines of the camera. ABC keeps touting this season as one unlike any other and, quite frankly, they’re right. We’ve seen an array of smart women who know what they want and aren’t willing to dumb themselves down just to win the love of some man they hardly know. We’ve seen multiple “hopefuls” speak their mind because—wait for it—women have minds!

Plus, we’ve even seen what healthy female relationships look like despite the dramatic garbage ABC constantly feeds the media in their attempt to continuously plague people’s perception of female friendships. (You mean we’re not always at each other’s throats, battling to the death in a mud pit? PUH-LEASE!) With that in mind, here are the real “winners” of season 18, for these ladies left with their dignity intact and friendships that may very well last a lifetime.

BhXy38qIMAAHfIZFIRST PLACE: Sharleen Joynt and Andi Dorfman (TIE)—Oh, how refreshing to hear women speak their minds and voice their opinions! While both were admittedly attracted to the man of the hour, Sharleen and Andi willingly left the show because they knew their respective relationships with Juan Pablo were simply not what they needed or wanted from their significant other. Though difficult, these ladies surely got many viewers thinking about their own relationships and goals in life. (Yes, an otherwise mind-numbing show made people think! Sound the alarms…) Both are great role models and deserve nothing but respect and praise.

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SECOND PLACE: Renée Oteri—Just two weeks ago, I spent the entire episode wishing Juan Pablo would send Renée home because, from the beginning, I knew she deserved only the best. She spent most of the show acting as psychiatrist and confidant to every other woman in the house, and the fact that she’s a mother only made her more endearing because you need only hear her talk about her son, Ben, once to know she loves with all her heart. Thankfully, since the show wrapped, she’s found the love she’s been looking for (and he’s quite the looker, too). I couldn’t be happier for her as she begins this next phase with her new love and new life.

THIRD PLACE: Kelly Travis—The dog lover! Honestly, if she could just dub over every episode a la RiffTrax, I’d watch the entire season again in a heartbeat. Though Kelly did not get nearly enough screen time, her personality was infectious. Her “tell it like it is” attitude makes me wish we could be best friends in real life. To any and all television executives out there, we really need more Kelly (and Molly!) gracing our airwaves, so make it happen. It’s refreshing to find someone with an actual sense of humor who doesn’t just vapidly giggle at every dumb thing some man says. She’s totally #kellingit, obviously.

But, now that all the good ones are gone, who will Juan Pablo pick?

Who Juan Pablo will choose: Clare (without an ‘I’)—These two have had chemistry ever since she stepped out of the limo with that whacky baby bump stuffed up her dress. She’s a bit odd, and potentially unstable, but they get along quite “swimmingly” if you ask me. While I’d be wary of a future with the man who slut-shamed me on national television, Clare has visibly fallen head over heels in love with Juan Pablo and, for her sake, I can only hope he doesn’t hurt her again.

Who Juan Pablo should choose: No one—Juan Pablo seems self-centered and two-dimensional, or at least that’s what the cutting room would have us believe. He uses his daughter as an excuse every time he doesn’t want to take the blame or make a move, and one has to wonder if Camila will be a constant source of strain on his relationships. Perhaps we should get his baby mama’s take on all this? Regardless, I think all these women are much too good for him—even crazy Clare.

Images courtesy of Us Weekly, To Shell With ItAndi Dorfman and Renée Oteri

“Real” Talk: Why Aerie’s Latest Campaign Lacks Sincerity

aerieThough “retouched” images continue to plague newsstands and online publications across the globe, one can no longer peruse the pages of their favorite magazines and catalogs without the keen sense that something just isn’t right. We are all increasingly aware of the fact that Photoshop now allows photographers to smooth out imperfections, enabling them to remove wrinkles from both clothing and skin, yet its undeniable presence across all media outlets has left many desensitized to the damage such alterations may inflict upon our psyches and our youth.

However, as more women start to speak out about the pressure to look “picture perfect” despite these digitized standards of beauty, we are beginning to see a resurgence of “real” photographs that demonstrate the true beauty of the female form.

In what appears to be a blatant attempt to increase brand awareness and attract new customers, Aerie, the underwear, loungewear, and fitness wear extension of American Eagle Outfitters, decided to embrace the issue by creating a new campaign that touts the company’s refusal to Photoshop any of its models. Referred to as #aerieREAL on a recent direct mail piece, the campaign features (supposedly) average women that have not been distorted in any way. Yet, while I want to appreciate the retailer’s attempt to shun the sleazy façade that fuels its competitors—namely Victoria’s Secret—the brand neglected to break down its own personal barriers and erase the stigma these images perpetuate.

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You see, while the moles and slight stomach dimples unmistakably reveal that the models remain au naturel, Aerie forgets to acknowledge that these “real” models are just that—models. They are all incredibly fit, with each exhibiting the same basic body shape and toned physique. All are impeccably groomed, as not a single one has a hair out of place (if you know where…ahem, what I mean). And all are most definitely taped into their bra. (Have you ever tried on one of Aerie’s bras? Or any stylish bra for that matter? Trust me, if your breasts are even remotely rotund, one will fall out the moment you roll over on your side.) Not a single one of these “real” models looks like the kind of young, impressionable girl you may find rummaging through the sale panties at the back of the store.

Honestly, it’s difficult to embrace a campaign that claims “the real you is sexy” when these models look like cookie cutter copies of one another. Aerie clearly wants to maintain a certain image, and that image will inevitably alienate those this campaign was intended to reach. None of these girls have stretch marks. None have belly fat that droops just over the band of their undies. None of them have rippled thighs or bumpy armpits. No, these girls were chosen for their practically flawless appearance and their willingness to be “retouched” through makeup and body wax.

But, then again, what more can one expect from a brand that must stow its double-D selection within the confines of its dressing room? Aerie may be trying to break ground with this newfangled notion its conjured, but the retailer has many miles to travel before it reaches the point of inclusion and representation for all female body types.

What’s Done Is Done

November has officially come to an end, bringing NaBloPoMo to a close. While I’d like to say I succeeded in meeting the challenge, I did not. Perhaps it was the fact that I did not know anything about NaBloPoMo until five days into the month. Or perhaps it’s the fact that life got in the way. But, no matter what distracted me from catching up and completing my goal, the attempt proved fruitful in ways that success may have hindered.

You see, though I may not have been able to follow through on every post, the ideas remain. I now have an ever-growing list of topics to dive into, for this experience now has me looking at everything in my life with a creative eye. I’ve come to see the beauty and the message behind even some of the most obscure and mundane things imaginable. Finishing the month strong may have made me feel accomplished, but failing has sparked new ambition as I’ve realized I’m not done, and probably never will be.

Plus, too much of a “good” thing is never a good thing, so it’s best that I stop overloading on entries anyway. Let’s just say, you haven’t seen the last of me. Yes, what’s done is done, but the best is yet to come!

I’ll Have a “Blue” Thanksgiving

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Though Thanksgiving’s merely hours away, consumers and retailers are preparing themselves for something that goes against everything this holiday represents. While many are stuffing the turkey and gorging on apple pie, others will begin gathering outside storefronts across the country to nab “Brown Thursday” deals before “Black Friday” commences. On a day where we’re supposed to give thanks and convey gratitude, shoppers will be scrambling for bargains, while employees forego family dinners to perpetuate the public’s obsession with material goods.

Take a moment to read my latest blog entry for “Think Customers: The 1to1 Blog” and explore how this emerging tradition may mark the downfall of “quality time” as we know it:

Thanksgiving has always been a convoluted mess. Our predecessors plundered the Native American land, the occasion wasn’t recognized as an official holiday until 1863, and I’m not even certain as to why we specifically target turkeys for the main course. But one thing’s for sure–“thanks” and “giving” no longer go together like peanut butter and jelly. (Continue…)

 

10 Guys That Deserve the “Sexiest Man Alive” Title More Than Adam Levine

Adam Levine, that whiny, little man-boy from ‘The Voice’ and Maroon 5, has been deemed People Magazine’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ (as chosen by blind, brainless morons, apparently). Yet, while there will surely be women drooling all over your local newsstand in the near future, not all of us think he’s the bee’s knees. In honor of People’s poor choice, here’s my personal list of gentlemen who deserve the title (in no particular order):

1. Idris Elbaidris-elba1

2. Tom Hiddlestontom_hiddleston_05

3. Derek Hough

Skip to the 2:20 mark for the main event!

 

4. Neil Patrick Harris39-neil-patrick-harris-1348868163

5. Christopher Plummerchristopher-plummer-2005_must_love_dogs_015

6. Bryan Cranston444690057_640

7. John Krasinski

Click here to see this lovely man in action!

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8. Stephen Colbertca. 2006 --- Stephen Colbert --- Image by © F. Scott Schafer/Corbis Outline

9. Anderson CooperCooper1

10. Lenny KravitzLenny-Kravitz

Life is Like a Box of Jellybeans

slow-time-passing-300x300Time may be infinite, but our lives are not. Yet, when you consider how much time we spend doing the things we “have” to do, it becomes rather hard to gauge how much time we have left to do the things we enjoy. We spend our youth learning and striving to obtain the grades necessary to secure future success. We spend early adulthood scrounging and scraping to put together the life society tells us we were meant to lead. We spend middle age raising children and caring for ailing parents as we work to maintain financial security for all our loved ones. By the time we reach a point in life where we might be able to slow down and breathe for just one moment, we are too old, and potentially too ill, to enjoy the freedom we’ve so desperately earned.

 

Life has become nothing but self-imposed obligations that must be cared for and controlled. Generations before us established guideposts that, for some reason, everyone has adopted as gospel. We assume our lives must all follow the same trajectory, yet while we are all traveling the beaten path, we neglect to see that there are opportunities and excitement lurking in the brush. Luckily, as more people become frustrated with what’s expected, our collective focus has begun to take detours, spreading out in myriad directions to embrace what’s been lingering alongside us throughout the journey.

Many are beginning to recognize the fact that we are wasting away our most precious, youthful years, forcing generation after generation to succumb to the same expectations. We lock ourselves away in classrooms and cubicles only to emerge as carbon copies of one another—zombies destined to repeat the same day over and over until our days are up. We need to gain perspective and grasp the concept of time as it truly stands, for it’s not just measured by the ticking of a clock, but also by the memories made and dreams fulfilled. Most may say such thinking is merely hopeful, and that the “real world” will inevitably squash any sort of optimism. But what is the “real world” except a construct we created to impose control on something we cannot fully comprehend? We have formed these mundane, miserable scenarios for ourselves, and we can use that very power to change how we proceed. Just take a look at your life and time spent as portrayed by this box full of jellybeans (above). Understand your impermanence and do what you must to savor the sweetness of each passing day.

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