50 Years of Influence

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In 1996, Mattel released this Barbie and Ken set to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Star Trek. These were the first dolls I remember longing for.

This past weekend, my boyfriend and I went to see Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the show and this production was, essentially, an array of selected clips from the shows and movies projected on a giant theater screen while a live orchestra played iconic Trek music. For me, this was a very moving experience. For an idea of what this was, I’d like to share this video put together by benandbarry on Youtube (I’m very impressed by the smooth transition in editing here, this is actually multiple pieces of the production spliced together):

Star Trek was something that I grew up with. My father was a Trekkie and would always watch it, pointing out the ways in which science fiction has a habit of becoming science fact. The Next Generation (TNG) first aired in 1987, when I was only 2 years old. With the quick succession of TNG, Deep Space Nine (DS9), and Voyager, you could say I literally grew up with it. While the major drawing factor for my father was the technology, I was drawn in and deeply affected by the rich social and philosophical lessons the episodes and films had to offer. These lessons helped to guide me and shape my worldview. There were two characters in particular that I looked up to:

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Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Mr. Spock. Picard’s words of wisdom and diplomacy modeled the kind of person, the kind of leader I longed, still long to be. He was firm and fair. He took his commanding role seriously but without being power driven. He lead by example, respected order and law but did not falter in instances where that order and law worked to the detriment of the populace. In his words, “the claim ‘I was only following orders’ has been used to justify too many tragedies in our history. Starfleet doesn’t want officers who will blindly follow orders without analyzing the situation” (Redemption II, 1991). There was an excellent piece written by Alex Knapp in Forbes in 2012 that does a great job capturing the ways in which Picard was a great leader.

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Mr. Spock’s intellect, logic, and, most importantly, control over his emotions, were characteristics that I wanted for myself. During the often turbulent years of my childhood, and even during trying times of my adulthood, I would have given anything to maintain the calm and emotion-free state of a Vulcan. But Spock was not fully Vulcan, he was half Human. Because of this, there are times during which you can see him grappling with emotions that, I wager, present themselves more strongly within him than within a full Vulcan. “I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half… I survive it because my intelligence wins out over both…” (The Enemy Within, 1966).

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Halloween 1997. Seeking to emulate both of these role models as a TNG era Vulcan Captain.

With a nod to the roots of this blog, I feel I would be remiss if I neglected the wardrobe. Yes, I own an array of Star Trek tshirts (you can read a previous bit about tshirts here) and I also own a uniform inspired hoodie complete with insignia and rank pips. In the film, First Contact, Picard says to Data, “…touch can connect you to an object in a very personal way. It makes it seem more real.”  Indeed, in a similar way, wearing that uniform-hoodie does make me feel a certain connection to these characters and those traits that I admire. And is it any surprise that one of the first outfits I made for my Lammily doll was a Starfleet uniform?

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Lammily Embraces Barbie’s Evolution

WARNING: The following contains photos of naked dolls.
All of these dolls are of legal age (in doll years) and consented to
having these photos taken.
If you have moral issues with naked dolls, you may want to exit now.

Let’s not kid ourselves, we knew this post was coming. Barbie has been blowing up my social media feeds since last week Thursday when Mattel announced that they would be releasing three new body types in their Barbie Fashionista line. And I get it. This is a huge deal for pretty much all of doll-kind and represents a major shift in society. I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss this new direction. Because there is so much that I can say about this change, so much that has already been said, and because I want to avoid a TL;DR post, I will be splitting this into two posts. In this first post, I will simply provide a photo comparison of these dolls. In the next post, I will be sharing my thoughts about these changes and answering some of the common arguments I see online about the movement to have more body positive dolls.

BUT I know that most of you are likely more anxious to get to photos of these new dolls. And I am happy to oblige.

First, here are all three of my girls with the new body types: Petite, Curvy, and Tall.

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Now is when the clothes come off. Here are each of these dolls in the nude so that you can see how they’re structured. The extra body I am comparing them to is the Original style Fashionista body. Please forgive her lack of a head – I had already rebodied her to a Liv doll:

Unfortunately, I don’t have a Skipper doll to compare Petite with – I know some of you are curious as to whether Mattel cheated a bit with this doll. But, she seems to have an adult style body to me. I also really like the bit of maroon in her hair.

Tall is very slender, a bit flatter chested, and has a much more subtle cinch in her waist than the other dolls.

Curvy’s blue hair is actually a mix of blue and black. I really like it and this lady already feels like she has some serious personality.  She has more of a pear shape to her – her cup size seems to be about the same as Original to me, but she certainly has more in the trunk and has a bit of a paunch on her belly.

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Next, I wanted to see how these girls compared to some of my other dolls.

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L to R: Lammily, Curvy, one of my Prettie Girls, Original, Made to Move, one of my Mixis, a Liv, My Scene Barbie, Classic Barbie, Tall, Petite

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L to R: Classic, Original, Made to Move, Curvy, Prettie Girl, Lammily, My Scene, Petite, Tall, Mixis

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L to R: Classic, Original, Made to Move, Curvy, Prettie Girl, Lammily, My Scene, Petite, Tall, and Mixis

In particular, I couldn’t help but notice these two groups – the 3 dolls that all have less drastic cinches to their waists (which seems more natural to me) and the 4 that all have ample “junk in the trunk”, for lack of better phrasing. Lammily and Mixis belong to both of these groups.

Now to try on clothes!

It seems Petite, Tall, and Original can all share clothes with each other, although the fit may be a little different. What is a dress for Petite will fit Tall but would require the addition of leggings for your doll to maintain her modesty. The outfit still works, though.

I played around with having Prettie Girl try on Curvy’s clothes, since they both have larger behinds. Curvy’s shirt fits OK, although midriff baring, but the skirt is just too loose. I then have Petite try on Prettie Girl’s outfit. It works, but the fit is loose. Great for those days when Petite might want to just lounge around the apartment.

SHOES:  Curvy and Tall each have slightly bigger feet than the other Barbies. But, Curvy’s feet are too small to wear Mixis or Prettie Girl shoes and, similarly, those dolls have feet that are too big for the Curvy/Tall shoes. Lammily’s feet are altogether bigger than all of them, so, no shoe swapping here.

And now, what I know everyone is curious to know – How do Curvy Barbie and Lammily relate to each other?

As you can see, Curvy’s legs are still rather long and her torso sits much higher. Curvy’s arms are thinner and her hourglass shape seems more cartoon-ish by comparison. Also, while Lammily’s range of motion isn’t the best on the market, until Mattel gives these new bodies Made to Move articulation, Lammily still leads in this area.

But can they share clothes? Well, Curvy can certainly borrow clothes from Lammily’s closet:

Although, Lammily’s clothes may be a bit baggy. This is because even Curvy’s proportions are still smaller than Lammily’s. The sharing only goes one way:

Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments as well as if there are any comparisons or poses you’d like to see.

 

Making a Bağlama for Morrígan

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Perhaps not surprisingly, yesterday’s Google Hangout experiment resulted in my sitting in front of a camera for an hour by myself. Not a single person logged in. And that’s ok. I don’t currently have an extremely large readership, not everyone has access to a camera for such hangouts, and I’m sure everyone had other things they wanted to do with their Saturday afternoon.  But that’s ok. Rather than just blankly stare into a screen for an hour, I used the time to work on half completed projects.

Some months ago, after determining the general background that I wanted to give Morrígan, my Lammily doll, I decided to make her a miniature bağlama that she could play. I actually came across an excellent tutorial by Özden Ceyhan over on Blogspot. Since this is a traditional Turkish instrument, it is not surprising that the language of the article is in Turkish. However, between auto-translate and Mr. Ceyhan’s wonderful step by step photos, knowledge of the language isn’t required (although I personally find Turkish to be an attractive language). Because I know that my links aren’t as easily seen (I don’t know how to change the color for them), I want to make sure to give Mr. Ceyhan’s tutorial special attention:

 http://ozdenceyhan.blogspot.com/2014/02/minyatur-saz-imalat.html

     I didn’t follow Mr. Ceyhan’s process exactly, but I did use it as a guide. I glued 3 layers of balsa wood together and whittled and sanded the shape down from there. For the tuners, I cut down toothpicks into 7 small sections of equal length and bore them into the head. I used a Rust-Oleum stain marker to give the instrument color – although, probably because I used a marker instead of painted on stain, the finish looks blotchy to me. But, I suppose it will work.

Because I am sure that most of my readers have never heard this beautiful instrument before, let me share a clip so that you can appreciate the wonderful sound it creates.

When I imagine Morrígan playing, I imagine her sitting against her window, looking out to the world, and letting her heart pour out. I imagine that she sings songs her father taught her as she thinks of him hundreds of miles away back in Turkey.

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If I ever had the time, I would love to learn how to play one of these myself – and I found a rather decent beginner’s information page I felt was worth sharing: here. As it is, I’d really love to learn Turkish (along with Hindi and to become more proficient at Spanish and Japanese – both of which I studied in college but am not very good at). Maybe Morrígan can teach me? 😉

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Someone Broke into my Car

Last night, as I got in my car to head to work, I turned on my stereo to discover that, instead of the David Bowie playlist I created on my iPod, the radio was playing instead. I looked down to discover that my iPod (and the cord, and my headphones) was missing. This is the 3rd time in a matter of months that my iPod has been stolen out of my car.

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The 89 Daytona I used to drive. Before it went to crap. There was no opening these doors.

I suppose that it’s my fault for leaving it in the car in the first place. It also doesn’t help that I occasionally forget to lock my car. The beater I drive for 8 years was impossibly hard to open so I never needed to before upgrading. I’ve been trying to be better about that since break in #2. Also, I was parked in a different spot this time, so, I suspect it may even be the same person.

On the one hand, I am kind of irritated because I didn’t exactly have another iPod in my budget. On the other hand, I know that there are much bigger issues and that, whomever took it, probably had their reasons. Maybe they wanted one and couldn’t afford one. Maybe they needed the money that could be made from selling it. Accepting that rationale, I make peace with it. Because I realize that, at this point in my life, I have the fortune to not have very many unmet needs and could just buy another if I choose to (don’t get me wrong – I’m not rich. There isn’t a lot left over for wants, but needs are certainly met). I was similarly un-phased when someone stole my bike some years ago when I still worked at a thrift store and used that bike as a primary mode of transportation. I just figured someone else must have needed it worse than I did.

We live in this society that places so much value on material objects. These objects, like clothing, carry meaning and send messages to others around us – our interests, our values, our status within society. We are repeatedly told that having these things will bring us happiness, and, for a very short, fleeting time, they do. We are told that we need these things – being able to at least look the part we want to play can go a way toward making us feel it and to making others around us to treat us that way. Have you never heard the phrase, “The clothes make the man”? Well, so do accessories and gadgets. I don’t blame anyone for using objects to try to belong to something, even superficially. Belonging is a human need. It also just so happens that our society does not give everyone the same opportunities to seek these things out in the legal or socially accepted ways.

So, in conclusion, at the end of the day, it’s all just stuff. But after I buy the next iPod I’m going to start bringing it inside with me.

You Remind Me of the Babe…

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Dolly Stardust – My own quirky ode to a legend.

Not 5 minutes after I published yesterday’s post, I went to put it on my Facebook and learned, via social media posts from friends, of David Bowie’s passing.  I’m still wrapping my head around this.

My parents never listened to Bowie and, strangely, I somehow managed to be born in 1985 and NOT see Labyrinth as a young child. I wasn’t introduced to this man’s work, or that film, until I was 13. It was a former friend who finally clued me in. I used to go over to her house and we’d hang out in her computer room and play around with this Encyclopedia CD-ROM she had (I think it was Encarta?). She would pull up the article on David Bowie and listen to the snippet of the song “Changes” that accompanied it. It was this same friend that showed me Labyrinth. It was one of her favorite movies and it is how I am most familiar with David Bowie.

There is a post on Buzzfeed (forgive me!) talking about Jareth (Bowie’s character in Labyrinth) being a catalyst for the sexual awakening of many a 90’s woman. Given my age at the time of my first viewing, I suppose I would have to agree with that. And I can’t help but admit, as creepy and as wrong (so, so wrong) as that pairing is when you really think about it, that, yes…. YES! Not long after, and with that same friend, I began to explore that undiscovered realm that was boys. Backstreet Boys and N*Sync blew up within the following months and our bedrooms were plastered with pin-ups and posters. We would have sleepovers where we talked about guys we thought were cute and make out with the pictorial representation of various members of boy bands. We started to read trashy romance novels. We’d write stories and fan fiction in which we safely explored romance and sexuality.

Perhaps it is no surprise that reflecting on Bowie in this sudden call to mourning, it is largely the memory of that friend and of those parts of my childhood that come flooding into my mind. And I am saddened… saddened at the loss of such an important contributor to our cultural consciousness and saddened for people and pieces of myself that I have lost since the age of 13.

Pinnacle, Dolls, and the Consumerist Undertow

Earlier this week, I purchased Pinnacle Studio 18 Ultimate. One of my goals for this year is to start making Youtube videos. Whether this happens remains to be seen, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile.

As I am delving into this, it is hard not to feel a little overwhelmed. There is so much that this software is capable of doing that there are hours of training tutorials. As I mentioned yesterday, I took video of my little cousin’s birthday that I had hoped to do a basic edit on and post highlights from. This is easier said then done as I am still trying to learn how to use this program.

It is hard work-buy-consume-dienot to wonder if I should buy a desktop for large file projects like video editing. My only computer is this laptop which is a few years old and already has roughly 70-75% of it’s storage space full. Running this program seems to go very slowly and I do not yet know if this is normal or if it is because of my computer. This can be a potentially very expensive  hobby (somewhat disheartening to now be seeing the software being sold online for half the price I paid for it at Best Buy – on sale)to get into and I want to refrain from going out and spending money without doing proper research first. I can safely say that between video equipment and dolls, I’m going to need very strong will-power to continue trying to save money instead of spend it. Ebay

Resisting the urge not to get sucked in feels like an uphill battle. My self from 3 years ago would be shaking her head and scolding the way me from today spends money (which me from 3 years ago also had less of). It started innocently enough – Once I started working at my current job and could afford it, I invested in a new car for myself (after having driven a 20+ year old rust bucket with hit and miss reliability for 8 years). This seemed a reasonable purchase and still feels like a good decision 2.5 years later. Then I moved into a house where I started cooking less and eating takeout more (small, shared kitchen space, spending less time at home, etc). Then after I got my Lammily doll and came down with doll fever, I’ve been spending increasingly more money on doll related stuff – ebay will be the death of me, I have a “watching” list a mile long. At some point, early last year, I started allowing myself to spend this money “because I deserved it”. The fact that 2015 was a particularly stressful year for me personally did not help, as these purchases also acted as a sort of retail therapy – a momentary burst of happy feeling to counter an ocean of despair. Despite knowing better, I did this anyway. Because it was easy and because I could.

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A screenshot from my Mint.com account comparing spending in 2014 and 2015 for “shopping”. The amounts aren’t as important as the striking difference in spending habit. 

Image Consciousness

Warning: Streams of Consciousness Ahead; Author is blogging
before bed after a long day, Thoughts may be jumbled.

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     When I woke up yesterday afternoon and weighed myself, I was 142 lbs. I was kind of happy about it and felt I deserved some hard won take out pizza. (Papa John’s 3 Cheese, if anyone cares) I posted about this on Facebook, along with debating whether or not it was “worth it” to get said pizza. Among the comments I got was one from a friend (straight, male) which inferred that I am already “sexy”. The intention behind this was all positive, I assure you, he’s a pretty solid friend (and I hope I’m not making you feel bad by discussing it in my blog, I actually want to thank you for bringing up an important topic). However, as well meaning as he was, it made me start thinking –

  • What is really motivating me to be on this diet? Am I in it for health reasons or something else? Can’t I have multiple motivators? Is my motivation any different now than it was at any time when I tried to do the gym thing before?
  • Does it matter whether someone else finds me physically attractive? Is it inherently anti-feminist to feel good about a non-skeevy compliment like this? Should I even give my boyfriend any influence on how I look – I obviously want *him* to find my attractive?
  • Do I care about how I look? Is there something wrong about admitting that I care? Does that make me shallow or vain now?

Then, after admitting to myself that, yes, I am partially motivated by wanting a particular image, my mind wandered even more –

  • In 2012 when the boyfriend wanted me to go to the gym with him (and yes, saying I could be “more toned”), I stubbornly refused (and was moderately offended, because I already felt I looked good, wtf?). So why did I start going to the gym pretty hardcore last year (I mean, I was doing the personal trainer thing, I thought that was hardcore. For a woman that nearly flunked PE in High School, that was hardcore).  How much of that was me and how much was because of a one time off-hand comment? Does the fact that I even remember the comment signify that it carried any weight (no pun intended)?
  • A large part of my motivation was general health – wanting to avoid health issues my parents have and realizing I had a more sedentary life that I’d had in 2012 (I did tell my trainer that I was mostly just working off my pizza addiction since I wasn’t doing it at work anymore). Is this considered wanting to lose weight? Or maintain it?
  • In reality, a large part of my motivation was fangirling over Stephen Amell as Green Arrow and wanting to emulate him (I never did finish that series on emulation I meant to do a few years back, did I?). Watching Oliver Queen work a salmon ladder over and over and watching Amell’s personal workout videos on Facebook really kind of made me want to be badass like him. I wore his “Fuck Cancer” tshirt to the gym a lot of the time and bought the Arrow soundtrack to listen to.

  • Then last year, I also got my Lammily doll, which sent me on my dolly craze. And I got pulled into internet battles over whether or not dolls contributed to body image issues. Of course I’m going to fully defend and champion my precious Lammily! I don’t know how much dolls influence these things, but if there is a chance she can help some kids, isn’t that a good thing? And what is wrong with some dolly diversity?
  • Is it possible that I’ve been influenced myself this past year from all the dolls and all of these things I’ve been made aware of because of this new found hobby? Even if that were the case, why would that be any more shameful or wrong than admitting I was driven to the gym because I wanted to emulate a comic hero?
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The day Stephen Amell actually responded to one of my comments and gave me encouragement. Made me feel a bit self-defeated when I needed to quit going to the gym due to too many other things going on in life that needed my attention. Still need to reach that pull-up goal. 

I really don’t know. It’s likely a mix of everything, honestly. At the end of the day, though, whatever my motivations, I am making a decision about my life and my body because it is what I want. As long as I am comfortable with and feel good about myself, that is all that matters.