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What’s the difference between Selfies and Self Portraits?

 

Selfie taken with a Polaroid in 1999.

Selfie taken with a Polaroid in 1999.

The first “selfie” I took was in 1999 with a Polaroid camera. I’m not sure why I wanted to take a photo of myself. My husband at the time was/is a photographer, and he took a lot of photos of me. Yet, for some reason taking a photo of myself was different. I had control over my own image. It wasn’t that the photos I took of myself made me look “prettier” because they seemed to be more emotional in expression than the ones my ex-husband took. Perhaps those polaroids said more about how I felt about myself than they documented a face.

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Polaroid taken of me with the same camera by my ex-husband. Obviously, I look way prettier here than in my selfies.

I never forgot those Polaroids. At the time, I described them as “self-portraits.” They were, indeed photos I had taken of myself. Held at arms length, at random times of day, I didn’t put all that much thought into the composition, or the lighting, or anything really. The act of taking my own photo felt strange enough.

In 2013, the word “selfie” earned the honors of becoming the “Word of the Year.” Never before in history, has there been so many people taking photos of themselves, at arms length or in the mirror, though not with a Polaroid, but with a digital camera. But these “selfies” are not self-portraits, or are they?

…anyone who’s seen selfies out there can tell you that some people put A LOT of thought in the composition and lighting.

Self-portraits are generally thought to be works of art, either by an artist or photographer. Selfies are not considered art, and sometimes considered works of narcissism. Some say that self-portraits incorporate thoughtfulness to composition, lighting and the subject. However, anyone who’s seen selfies out there can tell you that some people put A LOT of thought in the composition and lighting (and subject matter). Others say the difference between self-portraits and selfies boil down to intent. Are you just snapping a photo of yourself? Do you have an artistic intention? Whether your photo is any good doesn’t matter, it’s what you mean by it.

Are you just snapping a photo of yourself? Do you have an artistic intention? Whether your photo is any good doesn’t matter, it’s what you mean by it.

I’m not so sure it’s any of it. The division between creating a self-portrait and a selfie is the latest in linguistic elitism. Art and craft. Fashion and street wear. Photography and pictures.  Eroticism and pornography.  On one side you have a class of people who create on an artistic level, and then you have what everyone else creates. Art is a painting; craft is paint-by-numbers, unless it’s Andy Warhol’s Paint by Numbers, then it’s art again. How the Fashion gods decide what is “Fashion” and what is “Street Wear” I’ll never figure out, except maybe, “Fashion” is who shows at Fashion Week, and “Street Wear” is who shows at trade shows.

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Zinaida Serebriakova self-portrait in 1909, wouldn’t be out of place today as a selfie.

In the Middle Ages, when mirrors became cheaper and more accessible, artists started painting themselves, mostly as marketing pieces to show off their skills to potential patrons. Before the 20th Century, women were not allowed to practice painting nudes of other people, so they painted themselves. Vincent Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo used self-portraiture to depict their intensities and emotional pain. Cindy Sherman, in her early work, used self-portraiture to identify female archetypes in film.

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Cindy Sherman Film Still

So, what of bloggers who take selfies to market their beauty or fashion skills to their potential readers? I remember how I started The Coveted as a street style blog, only to find that taking photos of myself was easier. There are those people who dress up in costume for their selfies, and others who share their emotions. Even though my early Polaroids show raw emotions, there really wasn’t much thought put into them. I just wanted to capture a moment.  Yet, those Polaroids feel less like “selfies” than other selfies that incorporated more thought and intention.

Whatever the reason, we have this impulse to photograph ourselves. Maybe it’s just that impulse that is at the heart of Art itself.

What do you think? Is there a difference between self-portraiture and selfies?

 

jennineWhat’s the difference between Selfies and Self Portraits?
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Objects Without Meaning: The Brand That Doesn’t Pretend, Yet, Still Profound

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Have you ever read a fashion label’s about page? Or a fashion show review? Often sounding more like those little placards you’ll find next to a painting in a museum, the language used in the fashion industry is heady, full of rag jargon. I get it. I went to art school, I know all too well explaining to the professor why I used certain colors or imagery. Which, for me anyway, was mostly bullshit… 99% of the time, I just “felt” that it was the right thing to do.

I believe fashion designers, like artists, graphic designers, architects, basically everyone in the visual arts, has a hard time linking that indescribable force compelling them to create to words we can actually understand. For those that can write about art and fashion, they’re like decoders, translating visual language to written. Some writers are great translators, others, well, churn out a lot of gobbley gook, which is why a lot of fashion reviews end up sounding like they want to mean something, but really mean absolutely nothing.

While Objects Without Meaning is a label with wonderful designs, I mean that’s what caught my eye at first… what really resonated was the bold-face admission that their clothes don’t have any “meaning.” They just exist.

“Objects Without Meaning resides in the present with no long-winded story to tell. We propose clothing as an empty vessel, a blank slate to be filled by the many experiences and emotions of daily life, merging nonchalance with a true sense of spirit.”

Perhaps the fashion industry has it all wrong. Our clothes shouldn’t do the talking for us, so why try so hard to make a statement?

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jennineObjects Without Meaning: The Brand That Doesn’t Pretend, Yet, Still Profound
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Three Excellent Tinted Lip Balms

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I used to be a huge lipstick junky. Wearing bright red, bright orange, hot pink, bold any color. Then, I don’t know what happened, but all I wanted was a perfect “nude” or effortless makeup. I’d like to blame it on the baby, but, it was before the baby.

Being a nude lipstick newbie, I have to say that it wasn’t easy finding the perfect shade of “nude.” All the nude lipsticks made me look sick, or they were boring, or they were just plain “off.” I had found a few lipsticks that I liked ok, but nothing I really loved. Then one day at brunch, Natalie from Coquette showed me her Clarins tinted lip balm crayon. I knew then that lip balm was exactly what I wanted. Something with just enough color to not look sick, but not so much that it said, “Hey, I’m wearing lipstick!”

I went out and bought the Clarins crayon, but wanted more colors, and to try out more formulas. Don’t ask why, I’m just a nerd like that. I went to Walgreens and found the Revlon version of the Clarins crayon, in a more sheer “natural” color. This balm is the closest to nude I’ve ever really liked. It’s barely there, but it moisturizes and stays on really well. I would almost go as far as to say it stays on just as long as the Clarins but at $7.99, a fraction of the price.

Finally, while researching tinted lip balms, the Burt’s Bee’s tinted lip balm kept popping up on the forums. Some were saying that it was a “dupe” to cult favorite Clinique’s Black Honey Almost Lipstick. Do you remember Black Honey? Well, like everything in the 90′s it’s made a comeback, and for a fraction of the price, you can take a trip down memory lane just by using Burt’s Bees. I like this one because it has a dewy texture and sheer color that you can build up. Also, it is great for moisturizing your lips.

 

Sorry to show you my mug so close, but here are the different lip balms on my face, so you can see the difference..

 

First up, Clarins Lip Balm Crayon, Delicious Plum ($20): Even color, rich texture. Gentle scent and flavor, so you’re not tempted to lick it off.

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Next is the Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm, Rose ($6.99): Ultra sheer color, which I actually really like. It somehow looks more natural.

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Revlon Color Burst Tinted Balm, Inguene ($9.49): The most nude lip balm, but actually stays on quite well.

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Are you into tinted lip balms? Which are your favorites? Do share!

jennineThree Excellent Tinted Lip Balms
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On Career Changes & Sustainability: Amour Vert

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When it comes to fashion, we all know about the guilt. No, I’m not talking about spending money we should be saving. I’m talking about sustainability. Now, I haven’t been the best when it comes to only getting sustainable brands, though I’m becoming more conscious about the clothes I do buy over time. Opting for quality as much as possible. But I’m not going to lie, how much something costs does affect my choices as much as anything else (that also goes for buying cheap things that fall apart after a few wears– turning out to be expensive in the end.)

However, there are brands that have sustainability in mind without that extra price tag. That hit that sweet spot between great quality and price that’s not sooo precious ($80-$275).

San Francisco based Amour Vert is a brand that has hit that sweet spot. Amour Vert started  by Linda Balti and Christoph Frehsee in their living room in 2010 to be carried by Nieman Marcus, Shopbop, Bloomingdales and Piperlime, and earlier this month, they opened their first brick and mortar store in Hayes Valley San Francisco.   With a range of every day Contemporary clothes, you can style the label’s pieces into your wardrobe, even if the rest of your clothes aren’t eco-friendly. (Guilty!)

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(Linda Balti)

Linda Balti the creative force behind the brand (Christoph is the business savvy) was once a computer science engineer for a defense company. She missed working with people and wanted to do something creative, at the same time Christoph, and entrepreneur just sold a company and they both decided to tour the world to figure things out. During that time Christoph applied to the Stanford MBA program and got in, and Linda upon reading an article in Newsweek about how fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, decided she wanted to change the way she dressed. Back in 2008/2009, the eco-fashion movement was really just starting to get out of their hippie stage, and Linda noticed there weren’t many brands making clothes she liked to wear everyday.

“I started because I had a need, but I didn’t know if anyone else felt like I did. It was super exciting to see retailers responding to her product. Because at the end of the day, who needs another fashion brand?”~ Linda Balti

Sustainability is in the DNA of the brand. Amour Vert’s fabrics are produced in Los Angeles, even the fibers are original in content to the brand. Linda mixes wood pulp and organic cotton and finds low-impact dyes and vegetable based-dyes which create a unique texture to the fabrics. The softness of the fabric, I can attest to, the tee-shirt are stretchy and super soft! The clothes are produced in San Francisco. Not many people realize that this town is home to over 100 sewing factories, once home to  The Gap and Levi’s.

Visit them online at AmourVert.com or if you’re in town, visit the shop at 437 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

 

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(Me ogling a cropped trench above, and rocking a look in Amour Vert below.)
_MG_9596 _MG_9609Top photo via Racked SF, all other photos by my secret friend.

 

jennineOn Career Changes & Sustainability: Amour Vert
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Let’s all wear white boots after Labor Day…

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It’s been a crazy week. Everyone in the house is sick. But still a lot is going on! I really want to keep the momentum going and share with you something that I’ve been thinking about lately.

White boots.

I generally start thinking about the pair of boots I’m going to buy for the year around August. So, I’m a little early this year, being that it’s the end of July. That said, as I was pulling together my inspiration board (yes, I do that), I noticed a trend among the runways. White boots. These aren’t your Go-Go white boots of years past, they are somehow as elegant as they are fun. I used to have a pair of white cowboy boots, those surprisingly went with a lot of my outfits. So maybe it’s time to rethink the white boot, because lord knows I already have enough black boots, and brown boots… or do I?


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Alexander McQueenchanel_boots3Chanel
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[All photos from Style.com]

 

jennineLet’s all wear white boots after Labor Day…
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Why the “Not-Feminist” Feminist Trend Is Frightening

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When I think of “Not-Feminists,” usually images of older men, probably not very educated. Older women, like from my grandmother’s generation. Some people who didn’t go to college, or maybe high school. Hillbillies. The religious right. Sarah Palin types.

What’s disturbing is the new generation of Anti-Feminists are young women. Young women with careers. Seemingly educated.

They also believe that they should have the right to vote. They believe in “equality.” They believe they can be whatever they want without feminist principles.

But they aren’t “feminists.”

Sure, Taylor Swift is one of these not-feminist feminists… back in 2012, she said in an interview:

I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.

She’s bubbly, talks about boys, and I get it. When I was younger, I tended to dumb down my demeanor. In fact, it’s a bad habit (drives my father bananas) I still do to this day. (See my video from yesterday). Maybe she knows what feminism is, but knows very well what identifying as one would mean. Maybe she didn’t want to politicize her work because that would cost her the “nice, non-threatening girl” image.

She’s not alone. Lana Del Rey is not interested in feminist issues. Lady Gaga “hails” men. Shalene Woodley says you can’t take power away from men.

“For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept,” she says. “I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested.”  says Lana Del Rey, “My idea of a true feminist is a woman who feels free enough to do whatever she wants.” 

At first I thought, “Whoa, people need to get themselves a dictionary.” Here’s the Webster definition of “feminism”

fem·i·nism

noun \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\

: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

: organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests

Do we need a new word for “feminism” then?

Somehow, the word “feminist” got confused with misandry. I’m going to make an educated guess, and say the dominant group (men) felt threatened and mistook requests like, “I’d like to own property and vote” for “I want world domination.” The feminist brand is that of an angry woman, who probably hates men. Has a chip on her shoulder. Doesn’t shave. Wants to be a man.

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I’d like to say, yeah, let’s get a new word! Woo hoo! New word! But the fact is, it’s called “feminism” because at the moment, women do not have the same rights and privileges as men. Feminism focuses on how to get women the same rights as men. Not more rights. The same. They don’t focus on getting men the same rights as women, because you know, why would a man want to be subjected to slut-shaming or having his wages cut by a third, even though he got better grades in college.

What needs to happen, like with any misconception, like remember when smoking was marketed as being “good for you?” No? Yeah, because people campaigned heavily for the truth: smoking is bad for you. The truth is feminism means men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

 

We need to talk about what feminism actually is, rather than pulling a Taylor Swift and saying we’re not feminists, but we do believe in feminist principles.

 

jennineWhy the “Not-Feminist” Feminist Trend Is Frightening
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How to Tame Your Wild Bangs

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I have fine hair that blows in the wind. Or, even minor changes in the movement of air, my hair will move. I guess that’s great for some things, but for having bangs, wild hair has its disadvantages. For years, I had no idea what my bangs would do as soon as I stepped out the door. So, I talked to my hairdresser about my issue, and he gave me some inspirations. He didn’t tell me to do what I do, but he did make a recommendation that inspired me to try this method of taming my wild bangs.

Hint: It’s all in the roots.

Other hint: Watch this video! ;)


Eek. I always get nervous trying to do video. But also, it’s kinda fun!

jennineHow to Tame Your Wild Bangs