Archive | August 2011

Sorry, I Don’t Want An "Amazing Transformation!"


Since the discovery that there were vast sums to be derived from making others feel inadequate, never has such high intelligence has been devoted to low self-esteem.

And never has technology had such effective tools to work with. Between CGI and Photoshop, women (and everybody else) have almost no access to unmediated images.

For example: when has Oprah EVER looked like one of her own magazine covers? It sickens moi when Oprah has those “empowering” title lines on her covers. “Be The Best You?” Then how about showing us the REAL You, Oprah? The woman who is overweight, with heavy arms. This is not meant as a criticism of Ms. Winfrey’s physique. It is a criticism of Ms. Winfrey’s holding herself out as an example. An example that is a LIE.

Ms. Winfrey believes that her bazillions of followers will not buy her magazines if Oprah Winfrey actually looks like Oprah Winfrey.

The mind boggles. In fact, it makes my head hurt if I think about this too much.

Larger lovelies are further marginalized not only by Oprah having herself halved in size, but also the eradication of any and all normal flaws in media images. We are so ceaselessly bombarded by smooth, creamy perfection at every turn that oneself cannot measure up. Even the perfect people are not perfect enough. In television and movies, no wrinkles, bulges, unsightly moles, body hair, bra lines, panty lines, a dress wrinkled in the waist and skirt from sitting down—thanks to CGI, “all gone!” as a friend of mine says to her shiba inu when lunch is done.

To reach out to larger lovelies and spread the word, is having a charity drive for NAAFA (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance). They have asked plus-size bloggers to write, and I am proud to do so. Even if, as always, I’m slightly late. Click the link for more information:

Before I write anything else, there is one item I must get off my ample chest: if I meet the people behind the Victoria’s Secret ad campaigns and catalogs, there would be blood on the streets. Even the gaunt Dachau victims that lurch down the runways during Fashion Week are more realistic than those pencils with false breasts. Victoria’s Secret has it all…One can feel bad about being skinny, flat-chested, large-chested, heavy, tall, short…any woman that does not look like these bizarre hybrids. And the quality of their merchandise is far lower than their prices would indicate.

The name “Victoria’s Secret” brings to mind the image of a young Victorian female, all plush curves and dimpled elbows. Beautiful lingerie enhancing the splendor of an actual human body. Sensual fabrics on sexual females. The hint of a double chin above a soft neck. Long hair spilled across a satin pillowcase.

Thousands of ads toting exercise machines, DVDs, pills, programs, all guaranteed to make you lose weight and keep it off. Sometimes I wonder:

a) Why have I never met anyone personally who underwent such a transformation?

b) If all of those hordes of “afters” are thin, how can there be any fat people left, logistically speaking?

You might think this is a “been there, done that” tirade. We have been there. We have done that. But never as completely. Never as unremittingly. Women are trained from the cradle to think of themselves as physically inadequate in some way. Heavy women even more so. Now, overweight isn’t only overweight, it is a crime against humanity. At least according to TMZ and their ilk.

Where are the role models for larger lovelies? Every time a heavy beauty has a career breakthrough…she sheds poundage. And since said beauty has always given publicity about “loving myself the way I am”, the frantic backtracking becomes comic to watch. “Yes, I did love myself at that weight, but life can be enjoyed at any size!” THEN WHY DID YOU LOSE SIXTY POUNDS, BITCH? (Yes, I’m looking at you, Jessica Hudson. I know there are others. But I’m looking at you.)

We are betrayed at every turn. America Ferrera started “Ugly Betty” as a larger lovely, but grew progressively thinner as the show’s run went on. Singer Jordin Sparks is ´delighted´ to have lost weight. Media websites love to run slideshows of “Amazing Transformations!”

That’s another peeve. You don’t lose weight. You have “An Amazing Transformation!” “Complete Body Makeover!” Good God, it makes me long for the days when the goal of losing weight was well…losing weight. Buy a smaller bra. Wear pleats. Can we ever go back? If we’re going to make abortion illegal again, while we’re at it, can’t we go back to excess poundage not being a mortal sin?

Pardon the pun: Fat chance. My apologies if this rambles a bit, but I have low blood sugar. I am going to go eat a chocolate cupcake. In public.



Daily Venus Diva Launches Diva In Need Project


This is a cause I can truly support for larger lovelies everywhere!

The number 1 plus-size lifestyle magazine, Daily Venus (DVD) is pleased to announce the launch of the Diva in Need Project, which will begin on Thursday, August 18th, 2011.

This new outreach program has been created to encourage women across the plus-size market to find their own empowerment, while providing them with opportunities to better their lives that they may not currently have access to.

Stephanie Penn-Danforth, Editor-in-Chief of Daily Venus Diva Magazine says, “Every Diva deserves to have her dreams come true, her wishes granted. This contest not only allows DVD to become a deserving woman’s fairy god mother, but it gives us the opportunity to introduce readers and contestants to plus-size friendly companies.”

Every month, DVD will select one deserving entrant based upon their need, and work with plus-size business across the nation to contribute the necessary item. The first business to announce their intention of working with this program is Sealed With A Kiss Designs, a Los Angeles-based company offering trendy, affordable plus size fashion.

DVD is looking for women that need:

new attire

resume services


or anything else that will help them land a new job, get that promotion, or succeed in a task that will better their lives and circumstances.

Program Director and Editor Janie Mackenzie-Cohen states, “I am incredibly excited to speak with these women, learn more about who they are and listen to their stories. It’s seems almost impossible for DVD to select just one deserving woman per month to provide these services to, but we are thrilled that we have the ability to help strong women make the absolute best out of the opportunities they are presented with and thrive in all areas of their life!”

To find out more about the program, please visit:

To submit your story and need, please e-mail:

Please link this blog entry to anyone you think may benefit!



Bust Magazine Lauds WWII War Hero Nancy Wake


Every now and again I stumble across a story that I simply must share with my darling readers. This is from Bust Magazine:

The Real Wonder Woman: WWII Hero Nancy Wake Dies at 98

by Erina Davidson

She was possibly the most badass woman in the history of World War II. One of

the most decorated WWII servicewomen, Nancy Wake led 7,000 maquisards – armed resistance fighters – in battles against the Nazis. She rode a bicycle for more

than 500 miles through several German checkpoints to replace codes her wireless

operator had been forced to destroy in a raid. She even killed an SS sentry with

her bare hands – a fatal karate chop – to prevent him from raising an alarm.

Young, slender, and beautiful, Nancy flew under the enemy radar; the

Nazis were looking for gun-wielding, burly men like themselves. Little did they

know, the brunette bombshell was a fierce Nazi killer. For her ability to evade

capture, Nancy was given the code name “White Mouse” by the Gestapo.

For more of Ms. Davidson’s fascinating article, please click on the title link. It is truly inspiring. I highly recommend this tribute to an amazing woman. And not because she looks like Barbara Stanwyck.



Movie Star Style Icon: Marlene Dietrich


In an effort to share my vast knowledge on fashion and cinema, this is the third in the series of my guides to vintage movie stars (i.e. before 1965). This guide is devoted to another style icon whose career spanned the 1920s to the 1960s: Marlene Dietrich. Such career longevity is almost unheard of in Hollywood. She was a style-setter in her time, in the way she wore her clothes and the way she lived her life. The subject of the previous entry, Joan Crawford existed for one reason: to be a movie star. She signed autographs and answered fan mail to the end of her life. Marlene Dietrich, however, had many other interests than movies. But she spent her last years in seclusion, refusing to let anyone see her in her old age.

Marlene Dietrich (born 1901 – died 1992)

MARLENE DIETRICH (real name: Maria Magdalene Dietrich von Losch)

There are those who think that Marlene Dietrich is at best a campy creation, an exaggerated 30s vamp with perfect legs who swooned about in arty lighting and ridiculous costumes. But how did that creature survive more than thirty years as a top draw in the entertainment business? She succeeded in films, won over audiences in live stage shows, and entertained troops in World War Two. (She is shown below, slogging in the mud with American soldiers in Germany.)

According to many biographers and friends, she was also a born hausfrau who loved to cook and often brought food to sick friends. But when it came to her career, she was a compulsive perfectionist. Designer Edith Head remembers that fittings took hours, as Dietrich scrutinized every fold and bead on her costumes. There were mirrors set up behind the cameras so Dietrich could check her lighting. Nothing was allowed to be less than perfect when Dietrich was on camera.

She was a married, working actress with experience in both stage and screen when Josef von Sternberg cast her as the cabaret singer who causes a professor’s downfall in The Blue Angel (1930). von Sternberg saw her as a dangerous temptress, uncaring, erotic, viewing her victims with a jaundiced eye. Always pragmatic, Dietrich lost 20 pounds before she made her first American film, Morocco (1930), in which she famously made her entrance in a man’s tuxedo, kissed a woman on the lips, and gave a flower to co-star Gary Cooper.

The star and director made five more films together at Paramount, and Dietrich wore some of the most amazing costumes of the 1930s. The designer was Travis Banton, who costumed all of Paramount’s top female stars. In Shanghai Express (1932), she wore one of her most iconic outfits: a full length black traveling suit covered in black feathers, with a feathered black turban and nose veil.

During this period her costumes were often outlandish, increasingly so as she worked with von Sternberg. In contrast, she was known offscreen for wearing trousers, the first star to wear them in public. Slacks were only worn on the studio lot before then.

This was one of the most important fashion innovations of the 1930s, although pants were used mainly for casual wear. It was not lost on Dietrich that her blonde beauty was even more striking in mannish attire.

Their final collaboration, The Devil Is A Woman, (1935) was a box-office disaster. During shooting, von Sternberg announced they would no longer be working together, which came as an unpleasant surprise to Marlene.

But, pragmatic as ever, she moved on. She had remained married to her husband, Rudolph Seiber, in name only and had a daughter, Maria. In 1939 Marlene, along with Joan Crawford and Katherine Hepburn, was named “box office poison” by the Motion Picture Exhibitors of America. So Marlene moved to England, where she moved among the cream of British show business society, including Noel Coward and Cecil Beaton.

It was at this time that Germany’s former ambassador to England visited her with a personal offer from Adolph Hitler to make her “The Queen of the Reich Cinema.” Marlene listened but showed him the door.

The film that turned her career around was Destry Rides Again (1939). Marlene was cast as saloon singer Frenchy opposite sheriff James Stewart in this Western comedy. It put her back on top, and she remained there until 1943. Marlene had been quietly using her money to get friends out of Nazi Germany, but she wanted to do more. She decided to entertain U.S. troops at home and overseas. Under the auspices of the Office of War Information, Dietrich made broadcasts in German and French that were transmitted to citizens under Axis rule in Europe.

After the war, she made the classic A Foreign Affair (1948), her glamour intact.

(The gown above was designed by Edith Head.)

After that her films were few and far between, but included the classics Touch of Evil (1958) and Witness for the Prosecution (1958). Dietrich was uninterested in television. Except:

On an Academy Awards show, Marlene strode onstage in a high-necked black dress by Christian Dior. The sleeves were to her wrists, and the gown was skin-tight. But it had one large slit, exposing her spectacular legs as she crossed the stage. Dietrich wore no jewelry. She was a sensation.

In the early 1950s, Marlene Dietrich began her international nightclub career. As stated in the earlier guide on Marilyn Monroe, designer Jean Louis created a seemingly “naked” dress, by building the dress over a flesh-colored corset, using flesh-colored netting and plenty of sequins. The photo above is from 1967.

In 1964, she made a cameo appearance in Paris When It Sizzles, stepping out of a white limo and entering the House of Dior, clad (of course) in a white Dior suit with matching hat.

A few years before her death, Maximillian Schell made the documentary Marlene, interviewing Dietrich in her apartment in France. Dietrich was heard only in voice-over, refusing to be seen on camera. She would not allow friends to see her old; instead she spent hours on the telephone, in bed. To the last, she would not let the legend be sacrificed.



copyright Elisa DeCarlo – use of this material is forbidden without written permission

Movie Star Style Icon: Joan Crawford


Today is the second in my series of movie star style guides. Today, we draw our attention to the actress who became known as the Queen of Camp. Her career lasted from the silents until television. She was devoted to her fans above anyone else, and influenced current fashion throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

Joan Crawford (born 1906 – died 1977)

JOAN CRAWFORD (real name: Lucille Le Seur)

Our first sight of Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce (1945) is the Crawford many of us have in mind: Wearing an impossibly broad-shouldered mink swing coat with matching hat, long dark hair, thick black eyebrows and a huge, lipsticked mouth to match her huge, haunted eyes.

But there were many other Joan Crawfords before that: the 1920s cutie, the 1930s clotheshorse, the early 40s grand lady of MGM. All of them had one thing in common…they came from hardscrabble backgrounds and were determined to earn respectability.

Lucille Le Seur was born in Texas, to parents who had divorced before she was born. Her mother remarried a man from who she separated when young Lucille was eight. The family traveled a great deal, and Lucille often changed schools. At the age of eighteen, she won a Broadway chorus job. In 1925, she was put under contract by MGM, the Rolls-Royce of movie studios. Her name was changed through a fan magazine contest. She didn’t like it. “It sounds like craw fish,” she was quoted as saying at the time.

Her earliest parts involved dancing and playing the wild young “flapper,” much like Clara Bow. By the end of the 1920s, Crawford was a bona fide star. During her off-hours she enjoyed winning Charleston contests.

When sound came in, she proved to have a pleasant speaking voice and worked to train it. She was one of MGM’s top female stars in the early 1930s, dressed by Adrian, the studio’s most important designer. Crawford’s shoulders were broad in relation to her hips. So he created the broad-shouldered look she cultivated ever after. Her landmark costume was a ruffle-shouldered gown for Letty Lynton (1932 ).

The dress was a sensation. Immediately copies of it showed up in every dress shop in America.

Sheila O’ Brien, president of the Costume Designers Guild, believes Crawford had more fashion impact than any other female star at the time because Adrian did great things with her. O’Brien said: “Adrian used bizarre cuts and different things but they were so right, because she was always the poor girl who married the rich guy and got all the beautiful clothes, or the rich girl who married the chauffeur and still got all the clothes.”

She often starred opposite Clark Gable, MGM’s top male star, with whom she had an affair. But her parts became too alike, and her box office slumped, so MGM let her go. Crawford was out of work for two years before she made Mildred Pierce (1945) for Warners. It was the first time she played a mother. For this film she wore off-the-rack house dresses. The first time she wore one on the set, the director looked at her and said, “Goddamn shoulder pads!” With that, he ripped the dress open down the front.

Crawford was not wearing shoulder pads.

Joan Crawford won an Oscar for Mildred Pierce. She had a new look, harder and more harshly made up, but it suited the post-war period perfectly. Always she wore ankle-strap shoes, even when times changed and other women stopped wearing them. Joan turned in a number of excellent performances at Warner Brothers, including Possession (1947) and Daisy Kenyon (1947).

Crawford had three failed marriages, all with actors less well-known than she, including Douglas Fairbanks Jr. So she adopted four children and in 1955 married Pepsi-Cola executive Alfred Steele. After his death, she became the first female director of the company, as well as its official hostess, which helped to keep her in the public eye. She was not much interested in the realities of family life, an unpleasant trait she shared with many Hollywood stars. Her daughter published a much-disputed memoir that became made into a campy film after Crawford’s death.

Joan Crawford continued to make movies, although the budgets grew lower, the scripts more lurid, her acting more strident. The Western Johnny Guitar, directed by Nicholas Ray, is a camp icon (1954). Towards the end she was making horror films, such as the classic Whatever Happened To Baby Jane (1962) with Bette Davis and the far less classic Strait Jacket (1964). Crawford also developed a serious drinking problem. But she was professional to the end, answering her fan mail personally, every day.

If you want Joan Crawford’s quintessentially 1940s look: try for tailored suits (preferably with shoulder pads), ankle strap shoes, large costume jewelry, tailored dresses (not shirtwaists), slim skirts, high-necked 1940s blouses, pinstripes, wide-shouldered fur or wool coats. For evening, dark gowns in rich fabrics, long sleeves, no ruffles. Think grown-up sexy.

Even though it is terribly hot here in New York City, this makes me want to put on a flowing satin evening gown and mink coat. And then pass out from heat stroke.