Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Green Monster

I think one of the biggest aspects of growing up is self-acceptance.

At least it was for me.

Throughout my life, there have been so many instances where I wanted to be somebody else. Desperately. And it would consume me.

When I was in elementary school, I thought my cousin Tiffany was the most beautiful girl in the world. She was like a teen dream out of a movie. Skinny. Blonde. Blue eyes. Cheerleader. Whenever we would walk places, people would turn and stare.

For example, one afternoon, on the beach, when she was wearing an American flag bikini, a line of hot guys stood up and saluted her, shouting remarks like "god bless America for you, baby!" And she just laughed at them. Because she was young and gorgeous and carefree.

I remember in 1995, whenever Tiffany would come to our house to stay overnight, usually with her best friend, I would linger in the hallway near their room and listen to them gossip and giggle. They often talked about cheerleading practice, what boys were the cutest in their English class, or silly articles from Seventeen magazine. I fervently wished that I could join them, but I doubted they wanted an annoying 11-year-old girl hanging around, making their sleepover lame.

I wanted to be Tiffany so badly that I pleaded with my mother to buy me the same perfume Tiffany wore and the same shampoo she used and a subscription to Seventeen. My parents bought me the first two, but I was deemed too young for the third.

And as a pre-teen, I would stare in the mirror and hate what I saw. Instead of a beaming blonde beauty queen, all I saw was an unattractive brown kid with crooked teeth, long ratty hair, and glasses. It broke my heart. It didn't seem fair. I had absolutely no self-esteem and while my friends were starting to be interested in boys and makeup, I found myself fantasizing about things I couldn't control, like silky blonde locks, ivory white skin, and bright blue eyes.

Several years later, when I was in high school, I was still licking my wounds from my self-destructive childhood image. It didn't help that Britney Spears, basically a younger version of my cousin, was now the face of my generation.

But when I was 16, I met a girl who changed my perspective. Lisa was cute, with long brown hair. She dressed in "skater" clothes. She wore black eyeliner around her eyes. She smoked. She listened to alternative rock music I didn't even know existed. She said "fuck" so frequently, it just became another word.

She also had a wicked sense of humor. Like, she was hysterical. Without missing a beat. She was like a teenage Janeane Garofalo.

I thought Lisa was so cool, I started copying almost everything about her. The way she talked. The snarky attitude. The questionable fashion decisions she made (Hot Topic, anyone?). The black eyeliner. It was very Single White Female of me.

I noticed that adults started treating me differently, like I was a delinquent. And looking back at old photos, I don't blame them. I looked like I should have been dealing drugs behind the gym.

Instead of being weirded out by my transformation, Lisa happily accepted it and we became best friends, walking around the cafeteria making bitchy comments about the popular kids and casually saying "fuck" in every sentence.

When I moved away to college, I never saw her again. And I threw away all those horrible clothes.

Now, ten years later, I'm surprised to realize that it has been a very long time since I've wanted to be anyone else.

I still don't have the highest self-esteem in the world, but I've accepted who I am and what I am. My twenties has been a period where I've discovered a lot about myself. It is fulfilling to know what I really like and what I don't, rather than copying someone else.

I have also embraced my differences. I've grown very pleased to be half-Indian because it's exotic and terrifically unique. The blonde princesses of the world no longer rule. Our role models come in every color. So do our sex symbols.

And while I do envy qualities in the people around me (Rian's brains, Jonny's charm, and my best friend Jenn's jaw-dropping singing voice), I don't want to be them. Instead, I appreciate them even more for it.

After all, I'm sure there are people out there who envy me, right?

That's just how it goes.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Oldies (but goodies)

Wow I'm sorry I disappeared into thin air for the past week with no explanation.

I've been unable to blog because of a broken computer. I'm not sure how long it will be until I can get back to blogging again. It could be tomorrow (fingers crossed) or it could be later this week.

While I'm borrowing this computer, I thought I would remind you of why you love me.

Here are some vintage Jennifer Fabulous posts. Some of you may remember them. For others, they will be totally new.

Let me know what you think!


The Indian Bestie

Fast Times at Wikipedia High

Creepy Bird Advice

Parody of a Fashion Blogger

Life Lessons from my Dad

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The story of us

During my senior year of college, I was massively burnt out.

I had spent three years obsessively studying physics, biology, and chemistry for a pre-med major I gave up at the last minute. I was an editor at my university's newspaper. I had a boyfriend who consumed every waking minute of my free time.

So, by my second semester of senior year, I just didn't give a damn anymore. I was tired.

I skipped classes. I barely turned assignments in on time. Sometimes, I didn't even bother turning them in at all. I hated school and I wanted it to be over.

I was also immensely disappointed with my American Literature class. I expected the reading assignments to include Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, and John Steinbeck. Instead, my professor dug up dry, boring novels by no-name authors. It was a complete snoozefest.

One afternoon, I was lounging at my college newspaper house and decided to go to my American Literature class. I had skipped two in a row, and figured it might be good to catch up.

As soon as I got to class, a realization hit me like a ton of bricks. I had a book review presentation that day! Holy shit. I hadn't even read the book I was assigned! And it was some random book from the 1970s that wasn't even well-known. Every student in class had been assigned a different book, so it wasn't like I could quickly ask someone to fill me in either.

With three minutes remaining, I ran down the hallway into the computer lab. I googled the book, finding nothing but a very short summary on Amazon. There wasn't even a customer review on the novel, it was so obscure. Fuck, fuck, fuck!

When I rushed back to class, my mind was racing. Should I pretend to be sick and bail out? But I've already missed so many classes! I'll just have to wing it.

There were three students who had presentations ahead of mine. They each took about ten minutes and afterwards, when it was time for the class to ask the presenter questions, nobody raised their hand. I was relieved. At least I wouldn't have to answer any questions about the book!

Finally, it was my turn.

I got up to the front of the room and cleared my throat. Staring at the class, it hit me that I was wearing pink flannel pajama pants and a glittery shirt that read, "Boys come and go, but diamonds are forever." I wanted to die.

I held up my brand new copy of the book, which I had thankfully dug out of my backpack minutes earlier.

"I have never been more haunted by a book, than I have with this one novel," I lied. "The tragedies the main character, David, faced were astounding, to say the least."

I glanced over at my professor. She nodded encouragingly.

"This story is a lesson on courage, strength, and honesty," I continued. "David went through so, so much. He encountered struggles most of us can't even fathom. He was consumed by the choices he had to make."

My professor pumped her first up in the air.

"Yes!" she exclaimed from the back of the room. "'Consumed by his choices'! That was brilliantly stated, Jennifer. Perfect!"

I smiled weakly.

"Um, I found myself feeling torn inside, trying to come to terms with how he dealt with his struggles and all the important people he faced in his life," I said. "And there were so many people who stood in his way. David really overcame a lot of obstacles."

I had no idea if this was true, or made any sense. My classmates stared at me, oblivious. They hadn't read my book, so as far as they knew, I wasn't just making shit up. I relaxed.

"So, does anyone have any questions?" I asked quickly, starting to walk to my seat.

A good-looking boy in the front row raised his hand. I froze and then walked back up to the front of the room.

"What?" I asked wearily. None of the presenters before me had to answer any questions! What the hell.

"You didn't mention anything about the Vietnam War," the boy said. "I was curious as to why."

I stared at him blankly. Was my book about the Vietnam War? Wait, how did he know this? Did he actually read my book?!

"If you listened to my entire presentation, you would have known that the Vietnam War was exactly what I was talking about," I responded, coolly. "The war was the struggle to which I was referring. Now does anyone else have any more questions?"

I started to walk to my seat.

He raised his hand again.

I glared at him.

"What." I said, frostily.

"I've read passages of this book in the past, and I found the scenes with Michael most interesting," he said. "Didn't you find him a bit abrasive, especially after he saves David's life?"

I closed my eyes. This was not happening. Who the hell was Michael? Amazon didn't mention that shit.

"Abrasive might be a harsh word," I said, condescendingly to him. "If you had read the entire book, you would understand. But I guess you didn't."

The boy looked at me, startled and confused. I smiled patronizingly and walked straight to my seat, without even bothering to ask if there were more questions.

I ended up getting an A on the presentation.

And six years later, Rian would admit that the moment I first glared at him was when he fell in love with me.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"I'm from the moon, darling."

I can't imagine being a teenage girl in a world where millions of people think you're ugly and they hate you, even though they've never even seen you.

No matter who you are or what you look like, you're trash. And it feels like there is nothing you can do about it. You fall asleep crying. It seems like the world can truly offer you no hope.

You stare into space while you're in class, dreaming of a way to be happy, fantasizing about a world where you are special, and wishing with every ounce of your heart that maybe one day you will feel beautiful.

This is a story about one of those girls.

Donyale Luna was born to a poor black family in Detroit. Her father was cruel and abusive. The gangly, somewhat awkward beauty was quiet, but inside her head raged an elaborate fantasy world. She daydreamed constantly. Her relatives thought she was odd. Her schoolmates made fun of her.

Desperate to leave behind her miserable life, she moved to New York City in 1965 to pursue a modeling career and changed her name to be racially ambiguous.

Her stunningly gorgeous face and long, never-ending limbs shocked the fashion scene. She was immediately signed to an exclusive contract with a famous photographer and a sketch of her appeared on a now-historic cover of Harper's Bazaar. She became famous, fast.

Modeling jobs were overwhelming her schedule. Everyone wanted to be her friend. She started hanging out with Andy Warhol, Mia Farrow, and Mick Jagger. She was the guest of honor at the wildest Hollywood parties.

But only a few months after she found fame and fortune, she received devastating news. Her mother had murdered her father, out of self-defense one night, when he came home drunk and violent.

Unable to cope with the tragedy, Donyale turned to drugs and alcohol for the first time in her life.

Plus, her photo shoots in Harper's Bazaar were having a negative impact on a nation being ripped apart by the civil rights movement. Advertisers in southern states were pulling their advertising and the magazine lost hundreds of subscriptions over it.

Horrified and betrayed by the reaction, she fled to Europe to model over there.

Fueled with self-hatred towards her own race and desperate to be somebody, anybody, other than herself, the supermodel turned her fantasy life into her real life.

She wore blonde wigs. She sported green contact lenses. She made up an elaborate tale to the media, and her new famous friends, about how she really wasn't black, but actually an exotic mix of Irish, Native American, and Indonesian. But her birth certificate and relatives back home knew the truth.

In 1966, she became the first African-American to appear on the cover of Vogue (the British version) but posed in a concealed way that wouldn't offend the magazine's white readers.

She also pioneered the way for non-white models by appearing on the cover of several other major fashion publications.

Time Magazine declared 1966 the Luna Year in her honor.

But while the white public was adoring her, the black community was starting to hate her.

Donyale made it clear in interviews that she couldn't care less about paving the way for non-white models. She distanced herself heavily from the much-publicized civil rights movement occurring in her homeland. She only married and dated white men. She refused to even call herself black, insisting she was that ridiculous global mixture. It was insulting to the black community around the world, to say the least.

(Although, it could be argued that by denying her full-black heritage and pretending to be multi-racial, Donyale was actually breaking barriers by forcing people to view the human race as a global, interlaced species).

As the years went by, her loopy tales and drug use were spinning out of control. She crawled on runways. She showed up late for bookings. Sometimes she wouldn't even show up for photo sessions at all.

In a time where non-white models had to work extra hard to prove themselves, Donyale was unraveling her own career with her own self-destruction. Younger black models, who were hungrier and more professional, such as Beverly Johnson and Pat Cleveland, trampled over her lifeless career.

In the 1970s, she barely made waves, except for appearing nude in Playboy in 1975. She also had a daughter with her Italian lover around that same time.

In 1979, at 32, Donyale accidentally died of a heroin overdose, leaving behind an 18-month-old daughter, Dream.

And while her climb to the top in the modeling industry is epic, her tale is mostly forgotten.

The girl who dreamed of being beautiful and being special and being recognized for who she was, rather than her race, erased her own footprints in the sand because she couldn't even acknowledge her own reflection in the mirror.

She couldn't accept herself.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Haunted House

I believe in ghosts.

In 2005, I was my university newspaper's entertainment editor. I spent almost every day at the old, historic house which served as the headquarters.

It was a two-story cozy bungalow, built in the 1920s. The bottom half housed the newsroom, my office, and other offices. Upstairs held more offices. We held our staff meetings in the small, scary basement.

It was a typical college landmark, with Bob Marley posters interlaced with Gandhi quotes on the walls and Ernest Hemingway novels sprawled across dirty green futons.

On weekdays, the house was bustling with eager, young journalists, writing stories on laptops or running around, laughing about the latest university scandal. On Sunday nights, the place was packed with every staff employee cranking out the latest edition for a Tuesday release.

As an editor, I practically lived in the house. I was there every single day, proofreading my reporters' stories or even just studying for a test. It was my home away from home.

But the house held a dark secret, which I didn't learn until it was too late.

I was dating the sports editor of the newspaper. His name was Joseph. One afternoon, we raced down into the dark, frightening basement, to get frisky. We made our way into a tiny room we'd never been in before, giggling and kissing and getting undressed.

It was pitch black, except for a tiny streak of light coming from the hallway. I noticed there were numbers written all over the walls of the room. I pushed Joseph away and pointed them out.

"What is all this crap?" I remember asking, puzzled. He lit up his cell phone and we squinted at the numbers, which appeared to be written in marker. The numbers looked worn and faded, like they had been there for a really long time.

"I don't know," he said, studying them. "They kind of look like footballs stats. Who cares."

And we resumed our intimacy.

The next day, I asked my friend Nancy to go down to the basement with me, so I could show her the numbers written all over the walls.

When we got to the room, the walls were stark white. There were no numbers. We went to every single room in the basement. No numbers. She thought I was nuts. I swore to her there were numbers on the walls.

Later that afternoon, I turned on all the lights again, and brought Joseph down. We studied every room and couldn't find the numbers. He seemed disturbed, but calmed me down by saying that perhaps the building manager had painted down there. He couldn't think of any other explanation.

A few months later, I was alone in the house on a Saturday afternoon. I was editing stories in my office. I kept hearing someone walk outside my door, but every time I inspected it, there was nobody there. Then, I heard a door slam. Annoyed, I walked all over the house and upstairs, only to find that every single door was locked. I was alone in the house.

Not too long after that incident, I found myself alone in the house on a Friday night. I had gone out for dinner with Jonny and then realized I had a shitload of stories to edit, so I went to the house to get some of them out of the way.

About an hour after I was alone in the house, I heard a radio turn on. It was on the sports station. I walked around the house until I came to the room where the sound was coming from. It was my boyfriend's office, which was locked shut. But he wasn't in there. He was in northern California, visiting his mother.

"Hello?" I asked into the door, perplexed. There was no answer. Just the radio.

A male broadcaster was announcing a play-by-play of a football game. It was very loud.

Frustrated and confused, I called my boyfriend's cell. I told him that there was a radio blasting in his office and did he, perhaps, lend his office key to anyone in particular?

Joseph was pissed.

No, he did NOT lend his key to anyone, and he demanded that I figure out who the hell was in his office. After all, he didn't even have a radio in there, he said. Just his computer. I, of all people, should know that. He was freaked out. I didn't blame him.

Instead of investigating the incident any further, I immediately collected my notebook and raced out of the house. I could still hear the radio blasting from his window as I ran to my car in the pitch black parking lot.

The next day, I described the incident to the campus newspaper's office manager, who oversees the house. She didn't seem surprised.

"Oh, I've been working here for five years and we always have weird stuff like that going on," she said, breezily. "Have you seen anything move? That seems to be the most common complaint."

I was floored by her flippancy.

Other than a creepy vibe, I didn't encounter any other incidents after that night.

But one week before I graduated in 2006, I was speaking with one of my English professors about my experience with the campus newspaper.

"I don't know how you can stand being in that house all the time," she told me, with a shudder.

When I asked her why she felt that way, she told me that the campus newspaper house had once been the location for the campus radio station in the 1970s.

In the late 1970s, the disc jockey who covered campus sports, suddenly died of a heart attack after being on-air. His office was located in the last room on the first floor.

Joseph's office.

I haven't been in the house since.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My (TV) Guilty Pleasure

I have a confession to make.

I'm a huge fan of Castle.

I started watching it as an accident a few years ago, because it would come on immediately after another show I watched (which I'm not comfortable disclosing here). Anyway, it got to the point where I became a faithful viewer.

The show revolves around a handsome, charming superstar best-selling novelist, Richard Castle, who writes murder mysteries. Basically, a younger, hotter James Patterson. He gets permission from his buddy, the New York City mayor, to accompany the gorgeous, tough NYPD detective, Kate Beckett on her job. Together, they solve crimes and fall in love.

In other words, it's like a romantic comedy meets Law & Order.

I'm not gonna lie. The material is fluff. It's not a serious cop show. The characters are all very likable and quirky. The crimes always revolve around something fun or exotic or interesting. Like, murders happening at a science fiction convention, ballet company, or even in the 1940s. And the show pokes fun at pop culture phenoms like Kim Kardashian, Dancing with the Stars, and zombie walks.

But it is the two main actors which really make this show a must-see for me.

Nathan Fillion plays Castle, and I find him soooo sexy. In his role as the millionaire author single-father playboy, he is so cute and funny and charming. I have such a crush on this guy. I wouldn't mind spending my entire work day with him, that's for sure.

And as for Stana Katic, who plays Detective Beckett, let's just say I'm shocked this woman is real. Not only is she drop dead gorgeous, but in real-life, she is fluent in Serbian, French, English, and Italian. She plays the guitar. She's an environmental activist. She dabbles in archery. She has a beautiful singing voice. Oh, and she's a songwriter.

The chemistry between the two characters is electric. There's something special there. Like, you can tell the two must be friends in real life, because the warmth between them is delightfully genuine.

It's just such a good show.

Do you watch Castle?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sex. Drugs. Fame. Fabric.

Six inches of glitter dusted the floor.

Pink disco balls sparkled from the ceiling.

On the crowded dance floor, a gorgeous blonde supermodel gyrated against a rock star. In a dark corner, sitting on a velvet couch, a famous pop artist discussed politics with a flamboyantly gay journalist. A sultry brunette movie star sat next to them, sipping a neon orange cocktail and staring into space, stoned out of her mind.

This was the glitzy, drug-induced, money-soaked, rock-and-roll masturbation fantasy of the 1970s Studio 54 scene in New York City.

This was the world of Halston.

I recently watched a very interesting documentary called Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston.

It chronicles the career of the world's first superstar designer, focusing on the height of his fame during the 1970s.

Halston was born in Iowa and started his career in Chicago, designing hats. His world changed forever when Hollywood and Camelot took an interest in his work. His pillbox hats were made legendary by the brand new First Lady Jackie Kennedy and his haute couture hats were worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

His career escalated into a billion-dollar empire. By the 1970s, there wasn't a supermodel, movie star, or princess who wasn't draped in his long, flowing dresses.

Halston was jaw-droppingly wealthy, blindingly handsome, and fabulously eccentric. In his giant modern New York City apartment, he threw elaborate dinner parties attended by his closest friends, such as Andy Warhol, Bianca and Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, and Michael Jackson. Most of the time, things got inappropriately out of control, with clothes flying off and people waking up the next morning in questionable locations.

His best friend was the dazzling superstar Liza Minnelli.

Together, his jet-setting group of glamorous, beautiful friends stormed the New York City night club scene. Studio 54 became their home away from home. While hundreds of attractive, shivering people stood in line for hours outside in the freezing winter nights, desperate to be chosen for admittance, Halston and his friends laughed and danced and basked in their fabulousness inside the protected paradise.

They were the most famous people in the world. And they knew it.

I don't want to give away too much, because I think it is really important, especially if you are a fashion blogger, to view this documentary.

Let's just say Halston's contributions to the fashion world were astounding.

You can see the influence of his work in fashion today. His style has never left us.

Halston ran his empire like a homosexual Hugh Hefner. He never went anywhere without his entourage of stunningly gorgeous models. They were like his family. He not only chose all of their outfits, but made them change five times a day, usually in matching or complimentary dresses. With his movie-star good looks and his bevy of long-legged beauties trailing behind him like puppies, Halston always made an unforgettable entrance.

Of course, Halston had no romantic interest in his sexy models. They were merely his background dolls.

He loved men. But not just any men. He craved intellectual, wild, and exotic men. Bad boys.

He was so, so gay.

Unfortunately, a risky business move (ironically, something that would have probably saved his career today) finished him professionally during the 1980s.

Depressed and sick, he uncharacteristically withdrew from his social circle later that same decade. His desire to be fabulous simply vanished.

He died in 1990.

What do you think of Halston?