daphnep: (yarn (he)art)
( Feb. 12th, 2012 07:33 pm)
ellen

I keep seeing that video of Ellen DeGeneres making the rounds, responding to her detractors opposed to her deal with JCPenny.
(Here, if you've missed it.)

And every time I see it, it makes me happy. Mostly because to me, Ellen, and her sustained popularity, in particular, is one tangible sign that it really does, sometimes, "get better." I remember very clearly what a huge outcry there was when she first came out on her television show as a lesbian. I was in high school, in a small conservative town, and even though we all knew she was gay, it was an enormous thing when they made it a plot line and actually said it in so many words, on television. I remember kids talking about it in the lunchroom. And now, I can't begin to count the number of "out" celebrities and gay plot lines in t.v. shows, and every day it seems there's a new one, and I can note on my own personal timeline how much the universe has shifted, because I remember personally that time when it was radical that Ellen was gay. And she's still gay, and it's no longer radical, and the world has improved just that measurable amount, and I love Ellen, for being a measuring stick for that important change.

I love her for other reasons, too: She's funny, whether she's hosting an awards show, on her talk show, or being interviewed in magazines and on other shows. Or that video with Kristin Bell.

She makes me laugh. She makes me laugh in a belly-deep, chortling way that defies the conventional comic wisdom, that says that women can't be funny.

Also, I love that even though she's not conventionally cover-model-gorgeous, she's still won the cultural recognition of a "beautiful woman"--many particular honors that are normally reserved for a different, less interesting kind of face, like a makeup sponsorship deals (CoverGirl) and the covers of fashion magazines.

W magazine

And mostly, I just love that this supposedly "not funny" "not pretty" kick-ass gay woman is all over the place, still being hilarious and gorgeous and smart and in every way bad-ass.
Every couple of years I read a story in a magazine or on a fashion website. The story goes like this:

So-and-so was a fashion model, and her career was going great, and then she started to put on weight, and her agency said "Oh, NO, So-and-so! You have to lose weight, or we can't send you on shoots anymore!" And So-and-so either a) tries to lose the weight and cannot, or b) is possessed of a rebellious streak and decides she doesn't want to lose the weight, and so she finds another Kinder, Gentler Modeling Agency where they are happy with her body just the way it is, and they name her a "Plus Sized Model" and send her on shoots for clothing for Big, Beautiful Women, and then she lives happily ever after, the end.

The only problem is that I swear I have read that same story about every two years all of my adult life, and every single time So-and-so is given a new name, and every single time, the author of the article writes it as if this is radical, new turf that has never been traveled before.

Last winter I read the book Hungry, the memoir of Crystal Renn, the latest So-and-so, and the whole time I was reading it, I was wracking my brain going "Where was the first time I read this? Who was the model the first time around?"

The first time, you see, is the one that makes the impression. The first time, I was younger, and I went "Oh, Plus Sized Models, you say?" and paid attention. And now, ever after, I read it and go "yeah, right: radical as ever, every single time it happens, over and over again." It happened most often during the Mode Magazine years, with Emme/Kate Dillon and all those other model defectors.

It bothered me that I couldn't find the original version, although I know she, too, surely isn't the "original", she was just her year's So-and-so, and the story's been retold ever since "Plus Sized" modeling began.

But at last, I have found my original:

http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20112608,00.html


From People Magazine archives, 1992.



Her name is Laina Pecora. Google shows me only modeling comp cards from 1982 and 1983. After that, she drifted back into obscurity--I can't even find a photo shoot of her, modeling fashion. Just this--this one article, filed in the endless databank of my brain, the one that set the standard for the plus-sized princess story.

Now, I want two more things: 1) pictures of Laina Pecora actually being a plus-sized model, and 2) So-and-so plus-sized hero stories from before Laina Pecora, going all the way back, to when it was called the "Chubby" division, etc.
I think more websites should be like this one:
http://www.wopc.co.uk/

It's full of information and great pictures, and if you go there looking for one simple thing, it's easy to get fully distracted and suddenly caring more about a subject than you ever thought you would. (Oooh...what do Spanish playing cards look like, compared to Swiss ones?)




daphnep: (clean all the things)
( Sep. 15th, 2010 12:48 pm)
My confession:

Poorly-draw web comics are not really my thing. I usually scroll by them in spite of the fact that they are generally posted all over the place, and everyone else seems to love them. XKCD or whatever that is? I can take or leave it. That thing with the dinosaurs? I can't pay attention past the first frame. I don't think I've ever read one to completion.

But "Hyperbole and a Half" always makes me laugh out loud, for real. I love the drawings, how expressive they are in spite of their simplicity. How the stories are always a little bit sad, along with the funny. I know humor is a complicated thing, with a myriad of variables. It's a personal thing, but for me, those track-pad drawings get it right.

Like this one: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/09/party.html
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