Every spring, I have a tradition of hauling out my entire denim wardrobe and slicing up everything that I dare. You know all those pairs that you like but never wear - the ones that you put on because you “really should”…and then take off three seconds later because they’re fine and all, but you have another pair you like way better? Those are the pairs that I end up making into cutoffs. (I used to be all, oh, no, those are too expensive to go hacking into. But now it’s actually the pricey-yet-unworn pairs of jeans that I’m likeliest to transform, because if a item cost me upwards of a hundred bucks I would really enjoy getting to…you know…wear it.)
But read these tips before you break out the scissors, because I have done some poor cutoff jobs in my past, and destroying some denim that you were really excited to give a little new life to? No fun. And the point here is fun.
1. Always always always put them on first and make sure you really don’t like them before you pick up the scissors. In recent years, the pair pictured above - an A.B.S. style that I used to adore - was worn somewhere between “once” and “never”. And now those are my favorite shorts.
2. With the jeans on, use a Sharpie to make a little dot where you want the shorts to end. (Alternatively, you can lay them on the floor next to a pair of shorts that you think are the perfect length, and use those as a template.)
3. Err on the side of making them longer – you can always cut more off later – and remember that if you’re planning on letting them fray, you’ll lose a little length that way.
4. Remove the jeans, and cut the leg that you’ve marked. Fold in half, then cut the second leg to match the first. If you’re looking for a frayed effect, run over the edges (and any additional areas you’d like to have a “worn” look) with a steak knife, and then throw them in the wash.
5. Think outside-the-box. If Britney Spears-short isn’t your style, you can cut a pair that hits at the knee, roll them, and give them a quick turn with a needle and thread to make a cute retro style.
In my StyleList Home interview with Kyle Schuneman, the interior designer describes how he made over one citydweller’s tiny apartment by focusing on her fondness for the Pacific coast, and offers his top three tips for adding very big style to a very little space.
My style is transitioning from fitted tees to looser tops that are slightly slouchy, but still feminine. Because this is your favorite type of shirt to wear, do you have any recommendations?
A. If I had my druthers, I’d totally wear slouchy t-shirts every day, everywhere, all the time. To work, to parties, to bed, to everything, just mixing in fun extras to dress them up or down. (This is actually sort of what I do.)
Above, three perfect tees that I’m keeping in heavy rotation these days.
L to R:
1. Vince is the gold standard for relaxed-fit yet soft and feminine, but I would never advise spending over a hundred bucks on a t-shirt (especially a white one; no no). I picked up a grey Vince scoop-neck at an outlet mall for about 75% off and am thrilled with it, but I do advise hand-washing even basic pieces when you adore how they fit, regardless of price point - it’s just too depressing when you finally find the perfect tee and then end up accidentally shrinking the thing.
2. My present t-shirt obsession: the Sunwash T from LOFT. I picked up one at an event a couple of weeks ago (in a size Large so it’d still be slouchy if it shrunk in the wash, which it didn’t), and then went back the next day for more (they’re on sale right now, and come in a zillion colors). I’m actually wearing one right this very minute.
3. And finally, the shirt on the far right is Joe Fresh, a discovery I made when I was in Canada a few weeks ago: their tees are just perfect and very reasonably priced.
UPDATE: ThisIsWhereISayItAll asked: How is the sizing on the Joe Fresh tees? I’m a size 4 generally, and I went for the Medium (which fits similarly to the LOFT tee pictured above). So they run sliiiiightly large.
I’m going to call these “Fiesta Cups” because it’s my personal belief that when you serve tequila in hollowed-out fruit set on a retro deviled egg platter…well, that’s a party, right there.
1. Hollow out halved limes (reserve the juice and pulp). This is vastly easier if you happen to have a grapefruit spoon laying around. I don’t, so I used a serrated knife, which seemed both unnecessarily messy and surely dangerous. Don’t do that.
2. Dip the rims of each halved lime in coarse salt.
3. Set the salted limes in your fabulous Fire King egg platter. (If you don’t happen to own one already, try eBay; if you’re feeling impatient, Crate & Barrel carries a pretty, simple version.)
4. Carefully strain a little bit of fresh lime juice into each hollowed-out lime, and then top with good-quality tequila.
Note: If you’d prefer to serve these on a regular (flat) platter, make sure to take a little slice off of the underside of each halved lime, so that they sit upright.
Oh, and if you’d rather fill your deviled egg platter with deviled eggs than with tequila, click here for some tips.
In which we pick up some wheels and I grin like a lunatic.
You know what this is?
Exactly what I wear every single day of my life, ever. T-shirt. Cutoffs. Boots (or sandals). Fun jewelry. So it’s not the most world-rocking of outfits to photograph, but hey: I was pretty excited/nervous on Saturday, so the fact that I managed to remember to wear pants at all is worth commemorating.
Like, ooh, everyone in the universe, I just adore Rebecca Minkoff. The M.A.C. clutches were everywhere last summer and seem not to be what the mayjah fashion ladies are running around with this year, but a) don’t care, and b) also don’t care. And even if you’re into the Bag Of The Moment, I still think they’re worth investing in: to me, the shape has reached “classic” status and will never go out of style. (I’m especially fond of the two colors I managed to snag at a sample sale a few months back: red and camouflage.)
We bought a car.
I love it.
Kendrick is a little fond of it too, as you can see.
It’s a Subaru Outback, which is the car that we’ve had our eye on all along but figured we’d probably have to end up leasing…but then we stumbled upon a 2006 with decent mileage that we were able to finagle down into our price range (with the assistance of Brian out at Prestige Subaru in Pleasantville, who was just wonderful to work with).
You know why this car makes me so happy? Because it’s super safe and practical and fits our budget and is all those “smart” and “responsible” things…but it’s also a little geeky, cool in exactly the way I respond to (see: a little geeky), and not even the tiniest bit precious. I hate the idea of having a car I have to be all up in arms about if someone dares to stick a fingerprint on it: I want something I can pile babies and dogs into and ride off into the sunset.
(And yes, Dad, I will remember to change the oil and will wax it often.)
(Totally lying. That’s Kendrick’s job.)
Have a car.
On me: Joe Fresh t-shirt, A.B.S. jeans DIY-ed into cutoffs (they’ll look better after they’ve taken a pass through the washing machine), Forever 21 belt, Steve Madden Roady boots, Guess by Marciano sunglasses, Hannah Warner necklace, Rebecca Minkoff purse, chloe _ isabel silver bangles, ROXoxox neon wrap bracelet, earrings c/o Ippolita.
Sure, junk drawers may not be the sexiest of subjects. But everyone’s got one, and in this mini-segment, I have some tips for how to transform yours from a black hole of despair into something that’s actually…you know…useful.
P.S. Say “junk drawer” five times fast. I dare you. (I had to shoot that first moment in the video oh, ten times in order to not say “junkkoar”, or similar.)
Below are two of the pieces I selected (to check out all my picks, head over to my Pinterest page):
(How great are those sunglasses? Every. Day.)
To enter to win my dream LOFT summer wardrobe (in your specified sizes, of course), just follow me on Pinterest and re-pin your favorite of my LOFT selections to one of your own boards, then leave a comment below telling me that you entered (just so I have your email address and can notify the winner). And to be clear: you only need to re-pin one piece (although you’re certainly welcome to pin more), but if you win you’ll get all the pieces shown on my summer vacation board.
Winner will be chosen via Random.org and notified on Monday, June 18. Contest open to U.S. and Canada residents only.
I was only about a minute away, so I made the scene about the same time as the police. People, young and old, wandered without direction, some crying into cell phones, others having to be restrained. All attention seemed focused on a white house with cheerful green trim and tables filled with food set up out front. Colorful star-shaped birthday balloons twisted in the wind, tied to a railing. At the top of the steps, bathed in the evening sun, was a little girl in a white party dress decorated with a large, pink flower. A man, who I later learned was her father, gently cradled her head in his hands.
I raised my camera and through the zoom lens realized with dawning horror that 5-year-old Briana Allen did not have a large pink flower on her dress. A bullet had emptied the contents of her abdomen. I continued to shoot the first responders desperately trying to save the girl and the police officers fighting to control the chaotic scene. As I shot, I realized that this was the worst crime I’d ever witnessed, and I fought tears.
I was wondering the same thing when I ordered one at brunch yesterday. But I am now full of information on the topic, thanks to our very helpful waitress, so I’ll tell you.
It’s a Mexican cocktail that consists of a beer poured over a mixture of lime, salt, and various hot sauces or chiles. It’s served in a chilled, salt-rimmed glass, and is considered an excellent cure for a hangover. I have no idea why I ordered one; I’m really not a hot-sauce kinda girl, but what can I say? I was feeling frisky.
Anyway, it tasted like spicy ocean water. Not my thing. But Kendrick seems to like them.
(It’s pictured above with the pomegranate-rubbed skirt steak tacos at MXCO, which were way better.)
P.S. (Yes, a P.S. before the body of a post; I’m feeling wildly avant-garde today) I’m trying out a slightly new format that I hope will help the home page load nice and speedily. So with photo-heavy style posts, the bulk of the post - all those stories rife with whimsy and disaster and thoughtful, off-camera gazes at nothing at all - will come after the jump.
So we went car shopping last weekend. And we’re going again tomorrow, which means that by tomorrow evening we will be the proud owners of a car (or at least the proud owners of a lease), because the next few weekends are crazy for us - Kendrick is swamped, I’m headed to San Francisco for three days (the first time I’ll have spent the night away from Indy since his birth; sort of panicking/sort of excited to, you know, sleep) - and we’ve got to make this happen, because I am in serious need of checking one major thing off my insanely long checklist of major things.
Anyway. We went car shopping. And I decided to dress sensibly (for me, anyway). It was hot, and humid, and also intermittently cloudy and rainy, which meant:
1) No jeans (I hate the way water climbs up the legs of your jeans when it rains),
We were just about to head out for the day, when Kendrick looked down and noticed that I was wearing these shoes. Which are amazing, but which are also…oh, the least appropriate shoes ever to wear when test-driving cars all day. (It’s for reasons like these that I keep the guy around.)
But I didn’t want to wear flip-flops or slip-ons…and so, even though these shoes are much more “cozy fall” than “nautical summer”, I thought hey, let’s give them a go. And as it turns out, I love the look of rugged suede booties with a light, warm-weather outfit.
I’ve spoken before about the importance - nay, the absolute mandatoriness - of remembering to order a side of that magical Shack Sauce for your fries whenever you go to Shake Shack. Shack Sauce is like heaven on a cracker.
But I’m moving far, far away from the land of Shake Shacks (well, thirty minutes, anyway), to a place where the majority of hamburgers that grace my lips (oh, and there will be many) will be constructed by my own two paws.
So this summer, I’ll be whipping up some special sauce of my own (extra for the fries).
This recipe I is one I found over on new foodie blog Sarah’s Sweets…and it looks great: simple, straightforward…and Sriracha-involving.
You’ve heard me moaning about my oft-troublesome skin from time to time: the post-pregnancy period, what with the tidal waves of crazy hormones and all, has been less-than-kind to my face, and now with the weather turning…
I’ve had it.
I’ve tried lots of products and potions over the years, with varying results: some work, some don’t, some work temporarily but then sort of peter out…and I’d like to find a comprehensive (and affordable) routine that works for the long-term. So I’m taking it all back to basics, and going for facial skincare products that are specifically designed for sensitive skin, free of dyes, chemicals, irritants, and anything else with the potential to send my pores into a tizzy.
For the remainder of 2012, I’m partnering up with Simple Skincare to bring you tips, tricks, giveaways, and information on how to bring out the absolute best in your skin (and with 58% of women classifying their skin as “sensitive”, I’m assuming there are a lot of you out there who feel as I do). Simple is new to the U.S. market (I remember using their products during my brief time living in London), and they’ve launched 13 core products specifically for sensitive skin.
Simple also teamed up with goal keeper of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, Hope Solo, to share her advice on managing sensitive skin through balanced lifestyle choices. Learn more – and enter for a chance to win an all-inclusive trip to Los Angeles – at www.EscapeWithHope.com.
P.S. The top photo is of the Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes packed into my travel kit – I took them with me to Canada so as to avoid the whole traveling-with-liquids thing, and loved them, especially that they’re oil & alcohol free.
P.P.S. Do you have sensitive skin? Tell me your troubles in the comments! I’ll do my best to address any specific issues or questions you have in upcoming posts.
…The fact that I am actually and for real turning into my Nanny Ruth, what with the ridiculously piled-on rings (I even sleep in most of these).
L to R: my engagement ring; Nanny Ruth’s silver-and-crystal ring, LyraLoveStar crescent moon ring, a ruby-and-diamond 30th birthday gift from my parents, Nanny Ruth’s black-and-gold ring/my wedding band/my mother’s wedding band/Catbird alphabet ring (stacked); Nanny Ruth’s pinkie ring…
OK, so here’s one of the little decor challenges going on with our home-to-be:
They’re not bad by any means…but they don’t have a ton of personality. Which is a good thing, in many ways. So many possibilities!
This is the “main” bathroom. I kinda like the striped wallpaper halfway up the walls, but don’t love the overall effect and heavy reliance on…burgundy (those curtains have got to go). I’m really into sort of lacy, country-cottage-y bathrooms…but this one definitely doesn’t lend itself to that kind of look, what with the dark marble and all.
I was thinking something like this might be a nice way to update what’s already there. Maybe with a bit more color involved.
And this is the bathroom that’s more out-of-the-way (it’s sort of in the basement, but has some natural light) and that I’m planning on making my home-away-from-home (I am so excited to finally have a bathtub). So this one can be girlier and softer: I’m thinking about soft whites in mixed textures, or the aforementioned lacy/whimsical look.
In short: I have some ideas about what I’d like to do with each space…but what I’d really love is some outside perspective.
The amazing man I’m seeing has decided he wants to cook me dinner and is making me salmon. I want to volunteer a dessert…but I want to make something that complements it. Any suggestions?
A. Yes! I have the perfect dessert for you: sorbet cups are impressive-looking and go great with any light summer dinner…and they’re easy (all you need is some fresh fruit and fancy-ish - but store-bought - sorbet). Click here for the how-to.
Peach (above) is my favorite flavor, but if you go for lemon it’ll be a nice palate cleanser after seafood.
You can also add store-bought angel food cake and top it with a little Citrusy Raspberry Sauce, if you feel like doing something slightly more elaborate.
Despite said niceness, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to dress like Britney Spears c. 2008. I have no excuse for that one, other than the fact that you really can’t put denim shorts and sparkle stars together in a single item of clothing and not expect me to hand over a credit card.
Anyway, DryBar is lovely. You get a little “menu” of options for blow-out styles (I went for “The Straight Up”: a straightforward blowout with a little volume at the roots and slight bend at the ends, but I saw lots of other girls go for “The Mai-Tai”, which is beachy, loose waves), and you’re out the door in about half an hour, including washing time.
Here’s me getting my blow-out…
…And here’s the finished product.
The Dove products that my stylist used: Nourishing Oil Care Shampoo + Conditioner, Frizz-Free Shine Cream-Serum when my hair was still damp, and a bit of Style+Care Nourishing Ends Serum to finish off the look.
And this was my view upon leaving DryBar. I mean…really?! Did the weather not get the memo that I had just gotten one of the better blow-outs of my life?
(The style did survive the trip home, though, thanks to the aforementioned anti-frizz products and the fact that a small miracle occurred and I discovered a mini umbrella hidden in the depths of my handbag.)
And this was the scene that I arrived home to. Monsters.
P.S. On June 15 at 2PM, I’ll be hosting a Twitter party with Dove during which I’ll be answering questions and offering up some styling tips and tricks. Stay tuned for more info (and click here to follow RG on Twitter).
All non-Instagram photos: Amanda Caplin Photography.
Not gonna lie: Father’s Day is a tough one. Dads - at least my dad, anyway - are historically reluctant to tell you what they like (unlike, say, mothers, who will happily provide itemized lists and links to appropriate purchasing outlets). Dads With Hobbies are a bit easier, but sometimes you need to step outside the golf ball box.
Clockwise from far left:
1. King’s County Distillery products: My friends Colin and David own New York City’s oldest operating whiskey distillery (really), and make hand-crafted moonshine and bourbon using traditional processes and “unorthodox distilling equipment.” It’s good stuff. Click here to find stores and order online.
2. A really awesome iPad case: this Orvis case is made of 100% tanned Tennessee steerhide and can be personalized.
3. A very, very cool clock: clap your hands, and red digital numbers appear on this simple wooden cube (which also has an alarm function).
(Use discount code DAD at checkout for free shipping on all Stampa products through June 8.)
And finally, if you’re in the market for a majorly luxe gift for papa, it does not get better than Brera Orologi watches. I gave one to Kendrick for Christmas, and the things are just awesome: stylin’, rugged, classic…all that.
Every year, we try to make it to Ogunquit (the town in Maine where we got married; that video is from our trip last summer) for at least one weekend. This year our travel plans are sort of up in the air what with the total life upheaval and all, but we’re still going to do our best to make it work. I need me some lobster rolls, mini golf, and seaside restaurants where “dinner attire” means capris and flip-flops.
Just in time for summer, LOFT is giving away 3 $500 gift cards to spend on fabulous warm-weather pieces (head over to my Pinterest page to check out a few LOFT looks I chose to inspire my summer vacation style). To enter, follow LOFT on Pinterest and create a style board showcasing your favorite LOFT picks for your #1 vacation destination (click here for full contest entry rules).
Method "High Five A Rainbow" (Plus $100 Gift Card)
Weird little joy of mine: buying a brand-new bottle of hand wash and placing it next to the sink. I love how it looks; I love trying out a new scent; I love feeling all virtuous washing my hands fifty-six times a day (a slightly obsessive habit I developed when I gave birth to a) protect my newborn from germs and b) protect myself, because I was so devastatingly exhausted that had I managed to catch a cold on top of it all I would have just given up, handed Kendrick our offspring, and crawled under the changing table until spring came along).
Anyway, Method’s hand wash (in the Cucumber or Sweet Water scents) is what I’ve been using for…oh, years now. Ever since I first spotted the bottle on a drugstore shelf and picked it up figuring it would be way too pricey for my taste, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was adorably packaged, totally didn’t smell like Clorox misted with raspberries and sparkles (as a lot of hand washes can, no?), and affordable.
And! Every Method hand wash is formulated withouttriclosan (a chemical found in many comparable products that’s presently under FDA review, and that Method believes is unnecessary - and potentially harmful - overkill), made with biodegradable, naturally derived ingredients, and contain Vitamin E and aloe.
Check out the video above and head over to Method’s Facebook page to guess exactly how much hand soap went into the making of that rainbow. The entry with the closest guess (without going over) will win $100 to use on soap.com and their very own rainbow of hand wash. Ten runner ups will win a $50 gift card, and fans can guess daily for more chances to win.
Reader Stephanie recently sent me this photo of her (gorgeous) nonworking fireplace area asking for suggestions for how to fix it up. At your service, Stephanie!
I love so much of what you’ve done already, and think that the space could be even more spectacular with the addition of a few key pieces and some more texture.
- Add some additional greenery to keep things light; maybe move that tall plant down to the bottom ledge and replace it with a lower plant that hangs over the edge a little.
- A bright blanket would be beautiful thrown across the lower area, and would add some color and coziness.
- I love the box in the space on the right; how about some DIY birch bark candles in different sizes and shapes to fill the area on the left? That way you get some natural texture in the mix, which is always nice. If you’re not in a DIY-ing mood, try a large candle in a beautiful glass container (click here to learn about how to scent different rooms in your home).
- Alternatively, you could fill the empty space with extra greenery, like faux moss balls or potted plants of different sizes and heights.
- The buddha head is great, but why not add a little extra whimsy with an owl vase? (I love that vase.)
- Finally, I’d add one pop of color to the mantle: a hint of red or orange (like that oversized vintage service station letter) would be amazing.
Product info for the items pictured above after the jump.
- Use the area to display artwork (we have a wooden Balinese headboard sitting in ours)
- Fill it with flowers in vases of different heights or potted plants
- Transform it into a bookshelf (just keep the books neatly stacked so the effect looks deliberate rather than messy)
The other day, I read a post by Jaclyn Day (one of my favorite ladies in the bloggerverse) titled “I’m giving up (sort of)”, and it got me thinking. And so now I’m all curious what you think.
In the post, Jaclyn talks about how she started taking outfit photos in a mirror, for fun, and then started taking “better” ones (with a tripod, etc)…and then eventually decided to stop.
"I’ve written before that I’ll blog until blogging stops being fun. Well, self-timer tripod shots are definitely not fun for me anymore. There are millions of bloggers out there taking gorgeous, model-worthy outfit photos and sometimes I wish I could do that too, but I just don’t have the time or resources."
I get this.
You know, the very first time I ever took outfit photos (above) I did it, like Jaclyn, for fun. Because I had a new camera, and basically wanted to play dress-up. I wasn’t really planning on making it a regular thing on RG, but then this person made me angry, and I realized that it was important to me to challenge the notion that I shouldn’t post about fashion because I’m not a “fashion person” and thus “not qualified”. That idea is total crap on many levels, but mostly, here’s the thing: I think that there is enormous beauty in the variety of what people love and choose to put out in the world, and that the confident expression of individuality is important regardless of how it’s expressed. Through politics, through music, through writing, through miniskirts - whatever. It’s all good stuff.
So eventually I started getting more into style blogging, and just kind of did what I thought made sense. But after awhile I started paying attention to the images I saw on other blogs, and I started feeling…not competitive, exactly, but definitely a little…inadequate. Amateurish. Like Jaclyn said, there’s some truly gorgeous stuff out there, and my little prancing-about-on-the-roof pictures started to look kind of lame in comparison.
But I don’t have a photographer husband (although Kendrick does help out from time to time) or passel of artistically-inclined buddies at my disposal, and I’m not the worst photographer in the world, but I’m certainly no professional…and so I just kept…you know…
having fun with it.
And wishing on little stars that the pictures turned out OK. Or at least not horrifying.
Sometimes it worked.
Sometimes it didn’t.
And then I had a baby, and unless I felt like balancing a bouncy seat on my rooftop ledge (mehhh), I was headed back indoors, to the land of bad lighting, Jumperoos in the background, and shoots consisting of five pictures rather than fifty.
So these days my photos are hardly works of art - not that they ever really were - but you know what? They’re what make sense in my life now. They’re a reflection of the way that things are for me these days: mostly good, sometimes bad, and always frazzled. And sure, sometimes I wish I was putting up photos like Rumi over on FashionToast, but the fact is that that’s not even in the realm of possibility for me.
I am not that glamorous or pulled-together.
And on the rare occasion when, by some twist of fate, I am, someone - be they infant or canine - tends to immediately punish me for my pulled-togetherness by vomiting on me or eating my hair.
But, you know, I think it’s OK - even, maybe, valuable - to say “Here’s an outfit that I really like, but oops, I totally forgot to shave my kneecaps and my manicure is chipped and the exposure sucks because my son woke up before I was able to adjust the settings (not that I really know how to adjust them anyhow, but I could at least pretend to try).”
Because what is fashion, anyway, if not a way to help you traverse the disasters of life with a little extra confidence and joy?
The thing about those beautiful fashion blogs out there is that while I love to look at them the same way I love to look at, say, In Style, they bear no resemblance whatsoever to anything I recognize from my own life. Which makes total sense, because I know a lot of these girls personally from blogger events and such, and their lives bear as little resemblance to mine as their photos do. I mean, these girls are really cool. I’m not being facetious: we’ll be at an event and it’ll be winding to a close and I’ll be all, yawn yawn, time for bed, and they’re just heading out to some very spectacular club or restaurant wearing things like hats and harem pants. Oh yeah, and they’re twenty years old.
That doesn’t make these blogs irrelevant to me - not at all, they’re fun and are great for inspiration - but over time I’ve come to realize that there’s room for both styles; one doesn’t invalidate the other. One isn’t “fashion” while the other is “not”; it’s not even that one is “fantasy” while the other is “real”. Both are real, and both have their place.
But while I love to look at fashion bloggers’ beautiful pictures, the fact is that it’s lives and looks like Jaclyn’s that I recognize, and hers are the photos that I want to see most of all…because I can create those outfits without stopping into Barney’s on the way home from my trip to St. Barth’s. And that’s cool.
More than cool…
it’s fun. Exciting. Inspiring.
It’s why I read blogs in the first place.
In photos, as in life, it’s a pretty great deal to just do what makes sense to you, and do it as best as you possibly can…and then let it go.
Summary, if you haven’t heard the story: Jason Alexander went on Craig Ferguson and made a joke calling the game of cricket “gay”, with some accompanied (effeminate) imitations of the way that the ball is thrown (pitched? hurled? I know nothing about cricket). Of course, he was called out for his statements…but the apology he made went far beyond what you’d expect.
You know what I found most interesting about the apology? In it, Alexander addressed those who would call negative reactions to his words “oversensitive.” And this got me thinking, because I agree to some extent that as a society we’ve gotten so precise in our political correctness that making a joke can feel like traversing a minefield - you’re always going to offend someone.
In fact, I’m reading Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened(go read it immediately; it’s one of the funniest books I have ever read and I’ve been cackling over it in bed every night while Kendrick looks at me like I’m a crazy person), and in the preface Jenny addresses this very issue:
"I apologize in advance for [rambling], and also for offending you, because you’re going to get halfway through this book and giggle at non sequiturs about Hitler and abortions and poverty, and you’ll feel superior to all the uptight, easily offended people who need to learn how to take a fucking joke, but then somewhere in here you’ll read one random thing that you’re sensitive about, and everyone else will think it’s hysterical, but you’ll think, ‘Oh, that is way over the line.’ I apologize for that one thing. Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking.”
Now, I really appreciate a good, insensitive joke. I also am terrified about making said jokes to anyone other than…well, Kendrick. Because I’m also very much aware of how devastating one person’s idea of “humor” can be to the target of a joke, and not hurting another person is more important to me than getting a laugh.
And, as Jenny suspected of her readers, I also have fairly arbitrary guildelines in place in my own head that tell me when - to me - something has gone “over the line.” But the key word there is “arbitrary”; to each his own. What I found most enlightening about Alexander’s apology was that he explained why his statements fell outside the bounds of innocent humor, and were not something to shrug off as mere comedy:
"It is not that we can’t laugh at and with each other. It is not a question of oversensitivity. The problem is that today, as I write this, young men and women whose behaviors, choices or attitudes are not deemed “man enough” or “normal” are being subjected to all kinds of abuse from verbal to physical to societal. They are being demeaned and threatened because they don’t fit the group’s idea of what a “real man” or a “real woman” are supposed to look like, act like and feel like.
For these people, my building a joke upon the premise I did added to the pejorative stereotype that they are forced to deal with everyday. It is at the very heart of this whole ugly world of bullying that has been getting rightful and overdue attention in the media. And with my well-intentioned comedy bit, I played right into those hurtful assumptions and diminishments.”
And that’s it, exactly. It’s not about whether you have a sense of humor or you don’t - it’s about understanding how something that to one person is nothing more than a comedy bit can be something very different - very damaging, and very dangerous - to another. Then you can choose to make your joke - or not - but at least you’re not ignoring the very real fact that words can hurt, and that their repercussions can extend far beyond the moment when they’re uttered.
And the perfect thing to bring along with you if you’re visiting friends or relatives this summer (I brought one for Francesca’s mother when we went to their place for Memorial Day): it’s portable, chic, and goes with pretty much any decor style (that sea urchin-inspired dish is much more substantial than you’d imagine, and the soap smells like…well, the beach. Which is lovely).
When to bring a hostess gift? A bottle of wine is just fine if you’re heading over to someone’s place for a single meal, but if you’re staying beyond that it’s always nice to bring a small something (and if you’re staying for the weekend, definitely go for a gift).