Ladies I Love: F is for Frida Kahlo

Frida KahloFrida Kahlo is one of my favorite female artists, and is therefore, perfect for my A to Z Challenge theme, Ladies I Love.  Born in Mexico City in 1907, she started painting at the age of 18 while recuperating from a bus accident in which she was impaled through the hip by a metal bar.  While at the National Preparatory School, she met famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, whom she later married in 1929.  They had a rather tumultuous relationship, both having affairs outside of the marriage.  A communist political activist and feminist, many of Kahlo’s paintings contained surrealist images that conveyed often controversial images of womanhood, pain (she had three miscarriages) and dreams.  She used bold colors and traditional Mexican elements in her artwork as well.

Frida Kahlo died at the age of 47 in Mexico City after several years of declining health.  Her work continues to grow in popularity, and she is seen as an icon of female creativity.  Her life story was made into the film “Frida“, starring Salma Hayek.  I encourage you to search for images of Kahlo’s paintings and enjoy her creative works yourself!  Here are a few of my favorite Frida Kahlo images:

Ladies I Love: E is for Éowyn, Badass Shieldmaiden in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy

I thought finding a Lady I Love for the letter E was going to be a tough one in the A to Z Challenge, but if you haven’t figured it out by now, I do have a bit of a geeky side to me which means literary resources abound.  And today that will manifest itself in the form of crushing on one of my favorite fictional characters, Éowyn from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.  I read the trilogy many years ago, and my all-time favorite scene by far is from Return of the King, when Éowyn is fighting the Witch King during the Battle of Pelennor Fields.  Although Éowyn was a trained shieldmaiden of Rohan, her uncle, King Theoden, ordered her to stay behind with the women and children to guide their people while the men went to their almost certain doom to fight against the tides of Sauron.  She said, “screw that” and disobeyed him, dressing and acting as a man to sneak her way into the battle.  In the book, she meets the Witch King (the head of the ghost kings with the Nazgul) on the battlefield just as he has injured Theoden.  The Witch King is all, “No living man may hinder me!” because there’s a prophecy that states that the Witch King could not be felled by the hands of a man.  But Éowyn takes off her helmet and reveals herself, saying:

But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.

And the dumb-ass Witch King attacks her, but surprise!  Éowyn ends up kicking his ass and killing him.  Well, Theoden still dies, but it is a fantastic scene.  The movie plays it down a little bit, but it’s still a highlight for me.  To get the full impact, you really should read the book, but here’s a clip for you to enjoy in the meantime!

Ladies I Love: D is for Drew Barrymore, because I’m a Drewbie!

Ten reasons why I love Drew Barrymore

Today’s A to Z Challenge post is brought to you by the letter D!  I know it’s kind of silly, but I’ve had a girl crush on Drew Barrymore for as long as I can remember.  She’s only a year younger than me, and I’ve always admired her because she seems like a real person – she’s definitely had her ups and downs, and even though she’s Hollywood Royalty, she doesn’t take herself too seriously.  She’s not afraid to be dorky or play real people in her movies, people who aren’t always beautiful and perfect.  I don’t know – maybe I’m projecting my admiration onto someone without really knowing who they are, but from what I see, I’m proud to be a Drewbie!  Here are only ten of the many reasons why I love Drew Barrymore:

  1. Drew is a great sport, and seems to be without the Hollywood snobbery that many movie stars are afflicted with.  Watch My Date with Drew, a documentary produced by a guy with a huge crush on her, who has one goal: a date with Drew Barrymore.
  2. Drew is the godmother of Frances Bean Cobain, the daughter of the late Kurt Cobain and his wife Courtney Love.
  3. Drew is the youngest person to have ever hosted “Saturday Night Live”; she was only 7 years old at the time!  She then went on to host SNL five more times.
  4. Drew (born Feb. 22, 1975) and I (born Feb. 25, 1974) are both Pisces, the best astrological sign to be.
  5. Drew doesn’t seem to care about being dorky, and even makes being dorky awesome.
  6. Battling world hunger has been an important cause for Drew in the last several years.  In 2008, Drew donated $1 million to fund the Word Food Programme’s school food projects in Kenya.
  7. Drew is undoubtedly beautiful, but in many ways, she doesn’t embody the typical Hollywood beauty standard of being impossibly thin with perfect features.  Yet she was crowned the No. 1 Most Beautiful in People Magazine’s annual “100 Most Beautiful People” list in April 2007.
  8. Drew’s struggles during her childhood were very public when it came to drinking, drugs, addiction, family instability, and recovery.  She survived a lot of turmoil and came out on top, writing a book (“Little Girl Lost“) about her challenges at a young age, then continuing on to have a very successful career in film and directing with her own production company, Flower Films.
  9. Drew is an animal lover!  She has been a strong supporter of the work of Southern California’s Wildlife Waystation.
  10. Perhaps the number one reason I love Drew Barrymore (even though this is listed as No. 10) is because she’s a fan of roller derby, as evidenced by the fact that she made her directorial debut with the movie “Whip It” and even did a lot of her own skating for the film!

Ladies I Love: B is for Lynda Barry (who gave me permission to doodle during meetings at work)

Lynda Barry and Marci

Me and Lynda at San Diego Comic-Con in 2008!

Up next in the A to Z Challenge is the letter B! And since my theme is Ladies I Love, I will tell you about one of my all-time favorite artists, Lynda Barry.  I read her first book, Girls and Boys (1981), before I was ten years old and it left an immediate impression on me.  I had never read comic strips quite like hers – funky people, honest stories, smart humor and a fearlessness and vulnerability that I had never seen anywhere else.  While my earlier exposure to Lynda Barry’s work came in the form of comics and drawings, Lynda has diversified her art and interests as her career progresses.  She wrote a couple of novels (Cruddy is one of my favorite works of hers), and more recently, a pair of drawing and writing books called “Picture This” and “What It Is“.  Her research asks “what is an image?” and examines the connection between drawing and writing with brain function and the resulting physiological responses of doing art.  She has done a number of interviews (a couple of good ones are here and here) describing this line of research.  Currently, Lynda teaches classes about drawing and writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; you can follow along with her lessons through her tumblr (which I am obsessed with).

Lynda Barry

Two panels of a comic by Lynda Barry. Child-like and often semi-autobiographical, Lynda tells stories from all of our youth experiences.

I love Lynda Barry.  She has been a creative influence on me since I was a young kid.  I tried to emulate her spirit in my own cartoons.  I met her at Comic-Con.  I’ve bought a couple of her paintings.  I WISH I could take one of her courses.  But because I am not a total stalker, I will, for now, have to settle for taking some of her advice about doodling to a practical level.  Doodling, according to Lynda, can increase concentration and rescue us from tedium.  This advice has resulted in, for you, a small collection of some of my favorite doodles that I’ve done during meetings at work.  You can click on the images to make them bigger, and for a short description of the meetings during which they were yaawwwwnnn…oops…I mean drawn.

There is a kind of monkeying around with our hands that changes our sense of time in a tiny way that can make a big difference. Like doodling in the margins during a very boring meeting. It can make time feel like less of a cheese grater and more like sandpaper. That’s a small but critical difference. People employ doodling all the time, even those who are certain they never draw will make a complicated pattern of marks with their thumbnail on a Styrofoam cup when someone very boring is speaking at length. Nearly everyone does this.  — Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry-inspired work doodles drawn by me:

Related Posts:

And my theme for the 2014 A to Z Challenge is…(drum roll, please)…

Ladies I Love!

2014 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

I am a great admirer of many ladies, and I hope that after the month of April when the A to Z Challenge ends, you will be too (if you aren’t already).  Actually, the phrase “Ladies I Love” is a bit misleading, because really, I’m talking about females in general; for example, I am female, but I don’t consider myself to be a lady*.  I don’t spend my days swooning about in taffeta frocks and meandering about the garden with a parasol and pair of gloves, no, and there are few females that I know who do.  However, I didn’t quite connect with the phrases “Females I Favor” and “Women who are Wonderful” and “XX Chromosomes that XXCite me”.  So, I went with “Ladies I Love”.  Short, sweet, simple.  But deceptive!  For, as you shall see during the month of April, these “Ladies” may (or may not?) include the following sorts:

  • Actual human females who could be artists, scientists, writers, innovators, or role models
  • Non-human females who are interesting or unique in one way or another
  • Non-existent females who have contributed to the feminine mystique through time, history and space

And your mind just exploded!  Keep visiting Fuzzy Undertones to find out from which of these three categories my daily Lady I Love comes from.  And if you have a Lady You Love and you want me to know (or maybe even feature), feel free to drop me a comment!

Fritz Zuber-Buhler: A Reclining Beauty with Her Cat

Fritz Zuber-Buhler: A Reclining Beauty with Her Cat

* Lounging around loosely clothed in bed with at least one cat?  Maybe I am a lady.  Shit.

Round Two: Another Post about Bras – Let’s Get Ready to Grumble!

Vintage Bras

Wow – we ladies certainly love our boobs, and have strong, loud and opinionated voices when it comes to protecting our options.  Whether it’s breast-feeding in public or the injustices brought about by ill-fitting and unflattering breast support, it seems that, when it comes to boobs, we’re ready to rumble.  Or grumble, more like.  In fact, the post I wrote about a month ago called “Bra Shopping:  Not as Titillating as I Had Hoped” was my most commented-upon post ever, since starting this blog back in 2005.  I received a lot of comments through Facebook, and was even offered custom assistance from a personal shopper who works in the lingerie department at Nordstrom’s.  Thank you so much for reading my rant and telling me how you feel regarding your own bra-shopping experiences!

Looks like I'm not the only one confused by bras.

Looks like I’m not the only one confused.

When it comes down to it, bras are pretty confusing.  Not the concept, of course – just give us something comfortable and pretty that can help stabilize our ta-tas.  Where this becomes troublesome is in the details.  For example:  Why the awkwardness – why is the clasp in the back?  Why so few sizes that are either pretty or sexy; do the physics of bra construction prevent the use of color, sparkles or texture?  And why the discomfort?  Why, oh for the love of god, WHY is METAL WIRE with STABBY ENDS a component of ANYTHING that comes near our boobs?  Where did we go wrong???

In addition to the problems I outlined in my previous post, a number of you wrote about issues that seem to be common when we go to the lingerie department.  Here are a few of your comments:

  • Linda wrote: “besides color and poor construction, why does almost every bra out there in larger sizes have padding in the cup???”  I know, right?  It seems like most “every day” bras now come standard with padding or are push-ups.  That’s not my idea of every-day comfort.
  • Amy echoed the above sentiment and added “I need a strap that doesn’t roll but hopefully doesn’t look like something out of a 1940s Sears catalog”, and I agree!
  • And Jessica also made a very good point about cost: “I take great issue with the fact that all the cute, frilly bras in the smaller sizes are always so much cheaper. I realize that it takes sturdier construction to hold up a larger chest, but come on. When they are three or four times the cost of all the other bras out there and still plain black, neutral or white that is just absurd. It is not that much extra fabric.”
  • But it’s not only the more curvy girls among us who have complaints; I heard quite a bit from the smaller ladies as well.  Susan wrote, “Try shopping for 36A, also known as the 36nipple. I do not want an underwire, I want comfort…is that too much to ask?”  Yes, yes it is, Susan.  Just. Too. Much.
  • And it’s not even just the women, the men have something to say too.  Ken passionately stated, “This injustice will not stand! I want everyone to have fun underthingies that fit. Seriously, why aren’t the manufacturers responding to the market that clearly needs a product? Do it for the boobies!”  Thank you, Ken, for your (ahem) support!

The fact is, we women like to think that every single one of us has broken the mold in some respect.  We like being individuals, unique, interesting, different from everyone else.  And when someone tells us that we have to force our boobs into something that is, well, molded to a few specific shapes and sizes, that rankles us to the core.  Truly, when I look back upon the history of the bra, I can’t say I’m excited for the future.  If they haven’t listened to us by now, when will they?

Gas Mask Bra

Well, I guess we’ve got priorities. At least it’s pretty!

Bra Shopping: Not as titillating as I had hoped

Alright, so if you do not want to hear about my latest bra shopping adventure (which probably includes information about my own boobs), you might not want to read this post.  Still reading?  Ok, good.  Now, the fact that YOU may or may not have boobs is irrelevant to what I’m going to talk/rant about, so don’t think that this is going to be a post entirely about how people who don’t need bras get off easy (um, which they do, just saying).  NO!!!  This is a post about how 1) fashion designers are glorified even though they only produce bras for a very small portion of women, and 2) anyone who doesn’t fit into that very small portion of women is SOL when it comes to buying cute underthingies, thus making us (yes, me included) feel like we are somehow not deserving of said cute underthingies.

Our story begins when I broke my bra last week.  And as long as I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I have a favorite bra, a go-to bra that I wear 90% of the time.  It’s not that I don’t have other bras, it’s just that this one is the most comfortable, flattering, and matches with most of my underpants.  But as of last week, the METAL WIRE TORTURE APPARATUS that is apparently critical to the support system of this bra POPPED out of the side seam and commenced full-on stabbing me in the side of my left boob.  So sad!  And painful!  But it was time to get a new bra anyway, because mine was resembling something like this, only in black:

old bra

I’m sure you’ve had a similar problem at one time or another, yes?  So, I decided to bite the bullet and <gulp, I just threw up a little in my mouth> go to the mall to hunt and capture at least a couple of brassieres that could handle the challenge of lugging these old titsballs around on a daily basis.  You’re probably thinking to yourself, ok, so just go to Victoria’s Secret – what’s the big deal?  I’LL TELL YOU WHAT THE BIG DEAL IS:  I HATE VICTORIA’S SECRET!!!  Let me count the ways:

  1. As soon as you step in the store, some 22 year old runs up to you and accosts you with questions about what you’re looking for and how she can help and what size are you and what sexual positions does your partner(s) like.  Which would appear, at first glance, that she is just trying to be helpful and not incredibly intrusive.  Upon receiving an answer of “no thanks, I’m just looking around”, she slinks off, only to be replaced by ANOTHER 22 year old who demands an answer to similar questions.  And I swear to god, they will not leave you alone, unless you bring your boyfriend with you (and make sure he looks embarrassed to be there).  It is not impossible that the same salesgirls that previously asked if you needed help and were turned down will come back and ask you a second or third or even fourth time.  ERGGGG!!!  Just leave me alone to shop for unmentionables in my own personal space bubble, okay???  Jeesh!
  2. While some of the merchandise at VS cute, it is, generally, of poor quality and produced in countries that don’t provide their workers with living wages.
  3. I very much DISLIKE how VS has been marketing to the pre-teen crowd with their PINK line for several years now.  Their models look like they are 12 years old, and it’s just INAPPROPRIATE!!!  So I guess that makes me an old fart.
  4. Getting back to the point of this post, VS carries merchandise that fits only a small portion of the population.

Let’s get down to bras(s) tacks.  I have been wearing bras that are size 36-B for YEARS.  The past couple of years I’ve really should have been wearing a size 38-B, but I have been avoiding making the switch for a couple of reasons, including that it was just hard to find cute bras over size 36″ anywhere (including VS, although they have a few, I’ll admit, but see issues 1-3 above).  Plus, I am finally at that point in life where I’d just rather be comfortable – so bring on the size 38 bras and yoga pants.  Since I had a coupon to Macy’s, I figured I’d go shopping there to see what their lingerie department could do for me.  At first it wasn’t too bad, other than my head swimming at being confronted by all the double-barreled boob slings hanging everywhere.  Really, after a while, they just start to look ridiculous, am I right?  Anyway, right when you get to the lingerie department, the first thing you see is a wall of Calvin Klein, DKNY, and a couple of other designer brands.  And they had cute stuff – all different colors, cuts and textures!  So I started sorting through them and the ONLY sizes they carried were 32-36″.  W.T.F.

Now, I’m not a big person, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to carry more than 3 chest sizes (granted, with multiple cup sizes).  But upon investigation, all the designer brands went no larger than 36″.  Grrrr – what gives?  Ok, I guess I need to just bite the bullet and march on over to the non-designer brands, which actually take up the majority of the lingerie department floor.  And there I am confronted with a SEA of black and nude GIGANTOR bras…mostly plain, mostly full coverage, mostly austere and penal-looking.  Soooo depressing!!!  Why are we, the majority of the female population who are not incredibly tiny, given so few cute underthingie options?  After hunting around for a great while, I managed to find a rack of demi-bras that were deliciously soft and lacy.  But still only black and nude colored.  This was fine for my purposes (after all, I just needed another regular go-to bra), but it left me feeling like 1) I must be a huge person to not be able to fit into the “regular” designer brands anymore, and 2) I guess I don’t deserve to wear all the cute underthingies that our stylish, exclusive brand-name designers are making.

Well that’s just bullshit, I say…bullshit!  I have a couple of recommendations for the lingerie industry, and I hope that department stores and other retailers, as well as designers, will take note (pshaw, as if!):

  1. If you’re a designer like Calvin Klein or DKNY, why don’t you serve more than a fraction of our population?  We have a lot of money to spend on your overpriced merchandise, you know.  Offering up more than 3 chest sizes (on the small end, no less) would be just grand.  And stores:  if fashion designers like Calvin and Klein are only catering to a few sizes, WHY reward them by putting up an exclusive display wall right at the front of the department?  It just makes your customers feel shitty when they get excited about all the cute underthingies and then can’t find any in their size.  Shoot those suckers to the back of the store – they don’t deserve the advantage or reward!
  2. Being excluded from the section of cute underthingies and being “relegated” to a sea of black or nude full-coverage bras is not fun, either.  I’m sure that there are plenty of average and larger ladies who want cute underthingy options – we don’t just want to slink off in shame and hide our lady lumps in drab beige or black camouflaged utilitarian support devices all the time.  Give us something fun to wear!  In colors!  With sparkles!  And fanciness!  We want to feel good about ourselves when we step out of our clothes, and fun cute underthingies can help!  The key is options.  We deserve cuteness, just like all those 32-36″ girls do!

That’s about all I have to say about that.  Apologies for the rant, but really, I was about ready to bust some nuts on someone Saturday.  And that’s just how utilitarian underwear makes me feel.  Do you really want that out there in the world, Calvin Klein?  Do you?

On girl crushes and body image

Happy New Year!  Very briefly, it’s a new year and this is a new blog.  I hate resolutions, but I resolve to transform this blog into one that’s not so torturous to write (and perhaps read, I don’t know how it is for you).  Writing long posts to catch up was just killing me, so I put Marcilicious on hiatus (as well as Brainy Girls, but that’s another topic).  I want short, random posts!  You want them too (maybe)!  So here’s the first one.  Boom.

As you may know, I skate with the Storm City Roller Girls (and I also manage the website, so please visit – I just provided you with the link, see?).  Throughout my entire life I’ve struggled with my own body image – being overweight, not pretty enough, blah blah blah.  My girl crushes have been (and continue to be on) the fabulously dorky Drew Barrymore (although I feel our connection is diminishing now that she’s on the having-kids-being-a-mom kick, but perhaps it’s a phase) and the Hermione-esque Emma Watson.  Oh, I’ve envied them and other women in the media like them for so long!  Why can’t I be more like them?  Skinny, pretty, perfect.

The truth is, I never will be like them, and I’ve got to learn how to accept that about myself. I’ve known this for a long time and have told myself this a million times.  But here enters derby and ALL THE GIRL CRUSHES!!!  Here you could not ask for a more diverse group of women in terms of body shape, size, appearance, and style.  And I want to be like so many of them!  I found myself wanting to be just like girls who had very little in common with Drew Barrymore or Emma Watson (both physically and otherwise).  And once I realized this, it was like, daaaaamn…if I think these girls are so awesome, maybe other people think I’M awesome, and maybe I can think I’m awesome too.  Mind blown.


High-five ladies – I think you’re incredible!

Brainy Girls Update

I’m sad to report that my digital scrapbooking momentum has all but disappeared.  However, because of the law of conservation of energy, my Brainy Girls project has been thriving.  So, I just wanted to give you a brief update on how it’s going.

Running the Brainy Girls website and keeping up with its associated social media promotion actually takes quite a bit of time.  However, I’m finding that it’s finally paying off in terms of interactions with the public.  It’s starting to get some attention in several STEM communities, which is really fun.  I’ve printed up bookmarks and sent them out to those who’ve requested them, and will probably need to have more printed up soon.  Every two months I completely change all the material on the website (except for March, which is a special one-month issue) and that’s quite a bit of work to come up with new stuff related to a theme, archive the old material, and promote promote promote.  But that’s ok – I really like writing and it’s the most rewarding thing in the world when I get comments on my website. 

Want to see some numbers about public interaction?  Here they are:

Total page visits since Oct. 2012 (returning visitors included):  3033
Facebook followers:  181
Google+ followers:  255
Twitter followers:  52 (I just started Twitter this past month – it’s fun!)

Anyway, I look forward to my site growing and gaining more exposure.  I also have a Pinterest account and YouTube channel for Brainy Girls, which are kind of secondary to the other forums above.  I’m starting to get into guest blogging and have a couple of requests out there for people to write on my site – we’ll see what happens.  I have to get the kids involved somehow, which is what I’m hoping to do with guest bloggers!  And, if you have any ideas on growing Brainy Girls, let me know! 

It’s Launch Time!

Good day, gentle readers.  For the past 15 years I’ve had the idea of doing a magazine, aimed at girls between the ages of 11 and 17 or so, that focuses on subject matter that doesn’t reduce our girls and young women to sexual objects who only need to look cute and pick the right shade of lipstick to be successful in life.  I wanted a magazine that would foster a love of creativity, intellect, and curiosity in girls and young women so that they might someday have the confidence to achieve any dream they have.  Why do boys have magazines geared towards adventure, the outdoors, technology and science, while girls have so few, if any, equivalents?

Well, starting a magazine was going to be pretty difficult for someone who has a background 180 degrees from what she should have to do so.  Someone suggested I do a blog, and the more I thought about it, the more it made sense – it’s up to date, I have complete control of the content and format, it’s free to everyone, and more and more people are getting away from print media and looking towards electronic sources for their news and entertainment.  So, hello Brainy Girls blog – it’s VERY nice to finally meet you!

Please take a few minutes to read my new blog, Brainy Girls, by clicking here.  It will change monthly, and I’ll add things throughout the month, too.  The main message of this blog is to let our girls and young women know that it’s ok, and even awesome, to use their brains.  Don’t be scared of being smart – embrace it!  And you don’t have to choose between being brainy and anything else.  You can be everything you want to be all at once, as long as it is truly you.  Be who you are – the world WILL benefit!

Additionally, the Brainy Girls facebook page is complimentary to the Brainy Girls blog.  I hope it will be a forum where women and girls of ALL ages can interact to ask questions, give advice, serve as role models and mentors to others, and offer opinions and feedback on this blog.  So take a look and “like” our Brainy Girls facebook page, too!  And if you’re so willing, please share our Brainy Girls blog and facebook page with your friends, daughters, and daughters’ friends.

And don’t worry, I’ll still sporadically update this blog with all things Marcilicious, just as I’ve been doing since 2005.  Enjoy my new side project!  Toodles!