Category Archives: Women

Gilt-y Party

Chicago - Women

I’ve been having a lot of fun with Gilt City lately, but there’s just one problem. I feel guilty. Yes it’s strange but every time you move to a new city you get a new doctor, new dentist, a new eye-doctor…you get settled. Then your hair needs cutting and your other stylist is miles and miles away. Some travel back to see their stylists because they are that important. They inspire that much trust and loyalty. So when I found a stylist here I was excited. He is a great stylist, and made me feel great about myself, and my hair every time I visited. He eventually convinced my color (glaze) my hair, and I got compliments on the new shiny color all the time.

But it started to be too much. I was not in a position to pay that much for a haircut, and after he struck out on his own from the salon I felt even more pressure to stay a customer. I would wait longer and longer between haircuts until finally I just couldn’t go back, and I felt terrible. I realized though that I couldn’t be held responsible for his success, or failure, not on my own. I quite literally couldn’t afford it. So I began surfing Gilt City for coupons and I found them in spades. I like visiting different salons, and trying different stylists, and I haven’t gone wrong yet. These salons offer great deals and I have a great time talking to new stylists who take amazing care of my hair.

So far I’ve visited Swerve Salon, Arsova, and Salon V. They’re all excellent and I would recommend every one. Finding a life in a new place can be complicated, and while new doctors and new friends are very important, a new stylist makes things pretty great too.

On the Bookshelf: The Homesman

Books - Women - Women's Issues
The Homesman, photo by James Terrell

The Homesman, photo by James Terrell, Flickr

I like reading books before the movie comes out, and when I found out that Hilary Swank would be playing the heroine in a movie adaptaion of Glendon Swarthout’s novel The Homesman I went right to the library to pick it up. It was a small book and it read very much like The Red Pony. Short, intense, and full of emotion. I read the book quickly in one sitting. Glendon’s writing is like Steinbeck’s or Hemingway’s. He is in the same category as Sam Shephard (playwright) and even Clint Eastwood (actor, director).

There is no mercy as you read this book, it plows ahead just as if you were living in 1854, and your survival was dependent upon how strong you were, how kind your neighbors were, and how long you and your crops could survive the fierce weather.

The Homesman is a story of pioneer life, and how harsh it was for those setting out to stake their claim west of the Mississippi. Whether it was the Native Americans resentful of being pushed off their land, the harsh weather, illness and little or no access to the normal comforts of civilized life, to say that the life of a settler traveling west was difficult is an understatement.

In this novel Mary Bee Cuddy (played by Hilary Swank) rescues a claims-jumper, George Briggs (played by Tommy-Lee Jones), and takes him on a treacherous journey across the US to deliver three woman, who have been driven insane by life on the frontier, back to their previous homes where they can be cared for.

This story appealed to me because it is about an independent woman, who survives on her own in a harsh environment. She is able to take care of herself and prosper. There’s a dark side to this story and that is Mary Bee was actually quite lonely. Even though she was independent and smart and musically talented, she was still lonely, she still wanted a companion, someone to share her life with. While she wasn’t the most beautiful, she was a capable companion, someone strong and able to survive. But getting rejected twice is too much for Mary Bee and she is tested to her limit, just as the other women of the frontier are. Her rejection is ironic, as the very things that would make her a great partner in the American frontier are the things that the men are most intimidated and repulsed by. They want a sweet, pretty wife, and that’s what they get. But these women can’t always stand up to life on the frontier. They aren’t strong enough.

Perhaps we all have that one thing that will put us over the edge. That one tragedy, or string of tragedies that is just too much. The three women that Mary is responsible for are pushed past their limits by sickness, death, extreme hunger, natural disaster, and mental illness. Mary and George Briggs (whom she finds hanging from a tree, in penance for stealing someone’s land) traverse Nebraska to bring these three woman back to Iowa, and then back to their homes. The journey tests both Mary and George in a very short amount of time, and it might be more than either of them can handle.

Cold, Grumpy B**tch: Women in Commercials

Essays - Women - Women's Issues

I’ve noticed something lately during the awards shows, games, and events on television. We already know that channels like Lifetime and Bravo show very different commercials than Spike TV or FXX. They’re catering to their different markets. I get that. The fact that the commercials are sexist is a bit beside the point I’m going to make, but definitely still an issue.

In commercials married women are portrayed as nagging, un-fun, grumpy, cold bitches. If it’s a commercial for alcohol or perfume, the women is single, super-sexy and ready for anything. After she’s married she becomes ‘mom’– and not just to her kids, to her husband too. “Put that away”, “Don’t do that”, she rolls her eyes at her silly husband and looks like the most unhappy person. The people that I’ve met who are near my age or a bit older seem like they have great marriages. Spouses have fun together, they travel, they joke, they have discussions– pretty normal stuff. Hell even my parents still have fun together and take smoochie selfies on the beach. It doesn’t mean they have perfect lives, or perfect relationships, but it does mean that they are more three-dimensional then these ad stereotypes allow.

Why does every commercial portraying a husband and wife cast the wife as either a ‘mommy’ to her husband, or a grumpy sex-withholding bitch? Here are some examples:

1. Aleve. Woman takes Aleve, magically her headache is gone! (yay) Husband sees this and hints that maybe they can have sex now that she doesn’t have a headache. This is also seen as the kind of stereotypical excuse women give for not wanting to have sex in the first place. Haha!! Now she doesn’t even have an excuse Husband thinks. Woman rolls her eyes at her husband and shuts off the light. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been married, but doesn’t this seem a bit harsh? If I got rid of my headache why wouldn’t I want to be with my husband/boyfriend/partner?

2. Home Depot. Husband and wife are at the store looking for home-improvement supplies. Husband finds lawnmower and starts riding it around the store– just a fun loving dude out with his wife. When she see’s her husband all he gets is crossed arms and a grumpy-mommy look. Why can’t she want to have fun with her husband? I get that they’re adults but it seems like the husband is being portrayed like an overgrown child, or totally sex-crazed which is insulting in itself.

3. Value City Furniture. I can appreciate the humor here. And maybe the wife really has a lot of work to do. But again, the husband is all about ‘pleasure’ in the bedroom- and all the wife wants to do is ignore him (cold) and work on her side of the bed. All she says to her husband the entire commercial is ‘It’s one bed.’ What a b.

These commercials have grabbed onto a stereotype, and in order for it to be a stereotype it must have come from somewhere, the pattern must exist somewhere. The woman’s sole purpose is not to be there just so her husband can have fun, or just so he has someone to have sex with. In that sense this portrayal could be accurate. But for the 30 seconds you have for the commercial, the preferred, ‘funny’ portrayal is one of a grumpy woman.

Can’t you sell the same medication, the same shopping experience and the same furniture if the husband and wife are having not necessarily a perfect interaction but maybe one that’s more balanced than defaulting to ‘nagging mommy lady who hates fun.’ I think so.

Gym Rabbit: One Month of Classpass

Chicago - Women

This past month I got to try Classpass for 30 days, and I have to say it was pretty amazing. For the first two weeks of the month I pushed everything but my 9-5 job to the side to work out almost daily, at different gyms. My body, which was previously only used to doing barre workouts, got a cruel reminder about what it is like to be out of shape. I’d gotten into a sort of rut. Not that I don’t love my current gym, and not that I will not continue going there, but I liked the ‘reset button’ aspect of going to different gyms, and getting reminded and retrained and ready to return to my gym with a renewed attitude to push it to the next level.

The best thing, for me, about Classpass is it kept things interesting. I couldn’t get bored with one type of class, because I was doing every kind of class– and I didn’t have to buy separate memberships to enjoy multiple workout styles.

Here is a list of the gyms I hit and my takeaways from each:

Flywheel Chicago x1

Pros: This was a fun class. A very fun class. Even though I had to adjust my bike numbers way down from what the teacher called out during the class, it was still an extremely effective workout. I signed up to have my name on the board at the front of the room, and my competitive nature got a workout too. After the first 5 mins the hare was definitely knocked down a peg or two and was more tortoise thereafter but that didn’t stop me from giving 100% and trying to at least stay on the board.

Cons: It’s tiny.The locker area is tiny, the classroom is tiny, and the dressing rooms– there are only two. So if you are not early you are waiting in line to get changed. Also there is little room to wait, so when the class before lets out, you are standing right in their way as they exit.

AIR Fit x3

Pros: Fun and a great workout. The class itself is a great vibe, and all the instructors really know how to push you to your limits. During one class I had the teacher standing underneath the hammock screaming at me to pull, pull, pull. And I did, and I got up into a formation that I didn’t think I could do. By the end, I was really proud of myself and wishing Santa would bring me a lifetime membership this Christmas. 😉

Cons: If you are just starting,even the beginner class can make you feel a bit foolish. Many of the students in the classes I took seemed way more advanced than I, so I felt like I was only doing about 65% of the class. In my opinion, unless you go often (which in my case is cost prohibitive) go ready to have an open mind, and leave your competitive nature at the door.

Exhale Spa Chicago x3

Pros: I loved the space here, mostly because it felt like five-star treatment all the time. During class, Holly always made me feel like it was my private session (probably because I needed the most help!) and I appreciated that.

Cons: Other than a potential Classpass membership in the future, it’s too expensive for me to go on any kind of regular basis. I’ll have to stick to treating myself once in a while.

Moksha Yoga x1

Pros: I love Moksha because they know what they are doing and classes are always good no matter what level or style they are. I loved being able to juxtapose the cardio workouts I was doing, with the restorative yoga classes.

Cons: None that I could think of, though the Wicker Park location was a bit out of the way, and I ended up not waiting for the bus to take me to my 6pm class but did a fast walk down Armitage to Milwaukee instead. Was nice and warmed up by the time I arrived.

Gyms I was too exhausted to hit but wished I could have:

Shred415

I have only heard good things about this gym and hope to get in a work out in at one of their locations soon. By the time I signed up for this class it was the end of the second week of back to back, difficult work outs and I opted for brunch with a friend and a long walk instead.


As far as Classpass goes–I found out recently that the Chicago edition does not have the 10 class cap that other cities do (though the three times per gym rule still stands), making it a really excellent investment if you don’t want to run on a treadmill, or vie for weights at a crowded gym, don’t like running outside in the wintertime (or any time for that matter), and don’t want to get stuck doing the same type of workout again and again. I loved the variety and the way that my body responded to the great workouts. I think I doubled my calorie intake the month of September, alone– I most certainly doubled the grocery bill.

The only thing that’s stopping me is that I’m already a working member of a gym and the cost is just out of my reach. For many women, though, it’s an absolutely perfect deal, and if you are on the fence I say jump in and go for it! You can constantly rotate your workout, find your favorite spots, and maybe even make new friends at a gym you thought you’d never try otherwise.

Would You, Could You, for a Box?

Essays - Fashion - Women

Birchbox, Barkbox, NatureBox, Ipsy, Wantable, FabFitFun, Club W, StitchFix…

Our society has turned from hunter gatherer to hunter-wait-for-it-to-be-delivered. And in some cases there is minimal hunting– these services even offer to hunt for you if you’ll answer a few questions beforehand.

You can get everything you need from healthy snacks, wine, bras, makeup, accessories, clothing and supplies for your dog — all in a box. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. Take it a step further and this is the ‘small business’ equivalent of taking the advantage back from stores like Walmart and Amazon. And a large part of our commerce happens online. If you live in a small town and can’t get access to something, you order it. When you don’t want to fight the mob at the mall (or the awful music, inescapable) then you have it delivered.

Personally I love to shop. And I love to shop by myself. The notion that someone is waiting for me, even if they’re not, is unbearable and I can’t concentrate. However, the only thing I can say I love a little more than shopping is waiting for a package in the mail. If you read my other post on marketing and the ‘language of obsession’ then you know obsessively tracking a package and being marketed to as if I’m ‘addicted’ to something bothers me. This, unfortunately, doesn’t mean I’m not a package tracker. It’s actually one of the reasons I stopped my subscriptions to some of these boxes. It was draining my wallet, the tiny samples were cluttering my bathroom, and I had more important things to think about then when a certain package was arriving.

I found that the problem was my ‘Profile’ was never quite right. The Julep colors were not that great. Why is dark blue any less or more ‘Classic with a Twist’ than is any other color? It took two Fix’s before I found a partial StitchFix that worked, and as for Birchbox I found the questionnaire too confining and the samples I received didn’t fit “me “one way or the other.

Whether it’s food and drink (Plated, NatureBox, SaffronFix or Club W), clothing (Stitchfix, Wantable), beauty (Birthbox, Julep, Ipsy) or even a box for your furry friend (BarkBox) one has to decide how much these things actually apply to you and your life. I’m sure there are many more boxes that I’m forgetting or don’t even know about…if you enjoy them great! If it’s helpful and convenient, great! I love Stitchfix and would totally recommend it– it’s useful if you don’t like shopping, or don’t always know what items to pair with what other items or how.

Stitchfix is one that I go back and forth on. Sometimes I don’t want to pay that much for the clothing they send. Other times my stylist (who must think I’m bipolar or crazy or both) hits the nail on the head and I absolutely must keep the item (read: anything in the color green or anything that any one else would think is hopelessly boring I mean minimalist).

So. My most recent fix. Not as good as the last one. I still haven’t made the plunge and taken the 25% off for purchasing the entire box. Nor have I purchased any $120 jeans, or any $88 jeans. Especially not since getting bicycle grease on a new pair not even a week ago (Quelle horreur I can’t even talk about it). And perhaps I haven’t grown up enough yet, but I can’t get my head around paying more than about $25-30 for jewelry either.

For me it’s all about the thrill of the chase; the hunt for the quality pieces at mark downs, or at thrift stores, the way a store feels familiar and so you, and the atmosphere of boutique on a quiet afternoon. Even saving up for a piece that you know will get years of wear and love. As a novelty I love Stitchfix, and I plan on putting my poor stylist through the wringer at least a few more times– besides who says this can’t be a totally new way to hunt?