Tuesday, January 25, 2011

à l'allure garçonnière is moving.

one of the main reasons i started this blog was to start conversations. i know i'm not alone in finding that fairly difficult to do here on blogspot with the way the comments are arranged. for that and many other reasons, i have officially moved to wordpress.

update your bookmarks!
change your links!

i'll be keeping all my old content up here for archival purposes. from now on, all new content can be found here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the fat body (in)visible: documentary

fat body (in)visible from Margitte Kristjansson on Vimeo.

found via definatalie. wow! i just watched this and really enjoyed it. it is a documentary focusing mainly on two fat acceptance fashion bloggers, jessica and keena, and their complicated relationship with being visible or invisible. it is worth watching whether or not you are fat, or know much about fashion blogging. if you're interested in body politics and fashion, it is a real treat.

what really resonated with me is when @9:08 jessica speaks about how her visibility and feeling present is intrisically linked with when she decided to let herself wear "everything i ever wanted to wear." i don't know about you guys, but i can really relate to that. i've written a bit about it before, but that moment you experience (esp. as a young woman) when you look in the mirror and see something you want to see? really revolutionary. especially given the fact that often times, you're seeing what's always been there in the first place, but framed in a way you chose and that you love. whether it be a ratty vintage t-shirt, a super high femme glittery tube top, or a 3-piece suit, you chose to put it on your body and you know you look damn fine.
"In allowing myself to dress the way I've always wanted to but never allowed myself when I was hating my body, I make myself very present for other people." - Jessica
both jessica and keena acknowledge that visibility comes with its ups and downs, but ultimately what i think makes this documentary work is that it isn't a sob story. it is important to acknowledge that fat bodies are hated, but i think it is equally important to acknowledge the great empowering work badass people like jessica, keena, and tons of other fat bloggers and fat acceptance activists are doing and have done.
"There's a lot always what fat girls wear, what fat girls wear, but not a lot on what girls think in relation to what they wear." - Jessica
i'm just putting that quote out there for further writing inspiration. lately i've been talking with some friends online about what fashion blogging has become (or been reduced to?) and about our varying levels of frustration. i think a lot of this has to do with the fact that we are encouraged to look, and to buy... but much more rarely encouraged to think about fashion critically, let alone talk and write about it. are fashion blogs just virtual closets, or can they be something more? that's a whole other discussion, though, but one i would like to have some time soon. i'm really glad jessica pointed it out though.

i could go on and on but i will stop there! take 20 minutes out of your day and enjoy this documentary.

Riots Not Diets (documentary maker)
The Adipositivity Project
Tangled up in lace: the highs and lows of modern femininity (Jessica's blog)
Tangled up in lace (Jessica's tumblr)
Keena's Closet (Keena's blog)
Buttah Love (Keena's tumblr)

More Fatosphere Goodies
Shapely Prose
Fat Acceptance and Feminism (Again) at BFD
The F Word
Big Fat Deal
Bea Sweet
Obesity Time bomb
Unapologetically Fat

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


photo by ben currie

my mind is racing these days, a mile a minute. i've been working on quite a few in depth critical posts... but never seem to find the time to finish them off. in the meantime, i think you wonderful readers deserve some eye candy. one of the posts i am working on is a critical analysis of movember, and the gendering of cancer awareness campaigns. i'm hoping to finish it before the end of the month, so keep your eyes peeled!

but before then, here are some of my best moustaches:

robert de montesquieu served as inspiration for me, posing with the dread pirate roberts
april 2008

with the bearded lady <3 in 2007

the strongman

my very first time doing drag, 2005. please note the chest hair. this is my "lucien" persona.

clearly i do not do drag NEARLY often enough.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

what i wore: leaves know they're ending, celebrate their end


ah, the fall! so beautiful, and quickly coming to an end. i must post these pictures before the snow starts to fall! i don't know about where you guys are, but almost all of our leaves have fallen now here in beautiful québec city. early october is always peak season in ontario and quebec, and i had the chance to enjoy the beautiful colours when visiting my family for thanksgiving/indigenous day of resistance weekend at the beginning of the month.



this is my younger sister's wonderful dog, aspen. she is potentially my favourite four-legged creature on the entire planet, not gonna lie. look at my big goofy smile! how can you not love this dog?

and how can you not love the beautiful fall leaves?


if you're interested in that kind of thing...
dress: 1950s cotton day dress, vintage clothing fair in ottawa circa 2007 i believe?
crinoline underskirt: thrifted
necklace: key from the ste. foy flea market, 2$, chain thrifted ages ago
belt: from le vestiaire, free
oxblood heels: gift from my mother, naturalizer
goofy smile: thanks to my awesome sisters and an adorable puppy.

so with that out of the way, we can talk about more interesting things.

the folk festival de québec is in full swing as of tuesday and i am filled with musical love and lust. anne-marie, simon and i went to see ferriswheel and timber timbre, which was so lovely. timber timbre's music is always so perfect around this time of year, and it's always a treat to hear it live. there are so many shows i'd love to have time to check out, but my time and my pocketbook unfortunately will not permit such things. i do think i'll have to go see lisa bozikovic, though.

this beautiful song, no denial, is about the death of her mother, and features some of the most beautiful lyrics.
brilliant gold, crimson red/ the leaves know they're ending/and celebrate their end

i don't think i've ever heard a more beautiful metaphor for death.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

thoughts: the feminist fashion blogosphere

art by julia pott

lately i've been thinking long and hard about how and why i blog. this is mainly due to some major changes in my life that came about this fall. due to the fact that i've been working full-time for the past month now, beginning renovations in my apartment (inspiration tumblr here), on top of all the normal things life throws at you, i've found my "free" time in short shrift these days. i've had to give up volunteering at the thrift store around the corner after a year of doing so, and really have to focus on how to manage that "free" time. as of this fall, i've decided to let my etsy store close up quietly, letting the listings expire without any kerfuffle or big sale or anything. i've been changing little habits here and there in an attempt to cut back on bad time wasting habits, and have been constantly trying to remind myself what situations are not worth my time. there are simply not enough hours in the day.

"Rheinmetall / Victoria 8" by Rodney Graham. 2003, (Detail) 35-mm Film

but one thing i simply can't put aside, however, is my writing. i've decided, over the past few weeks, that i absolutely must find a way to radical restructure the way i spend my time so that i can write. having a partner who is a part-time poet helps; suggestions of putting aside x amount of time a week to sit down with a cup of tea and setting (realistic) deadlines for myself have been much appreciated. coming from someone who has published a few books, i'm hoping these changes work for me too. i know my biggest problem is that i simply try to juggle too many things all at once: my friendships, my photography, my love of vegan recipes, affection for vintage clothing, passion for my politics, and then coming in last and sadly often least, my writing (about those aforementioned things).

i love writing. i have a huge passion for trying to express my (often overly complicated and elaborate) ideas in an accessible, online space, which is why this blog is here. but the thing is, i don't do enough of it and don't have the time to do my ideas justice. right now, i have 39 files in my "drafts" folder for this blog. THIRTY-NINE. i tend to feel so overwhelmed about where i should even begin, trying to write for a bit, feel anxious and get no joy out of it, and then i end up not writing anything at all. no good. however, last week at work, i sat at an absent co-workers desk (whose work i greatly admire) and saw this quote taped to her computer monitor:
Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it's because it is hard. It's one of the hardest things people do.
those soothing words of reason come from William Zinsser (who, ironically, i have never read). this is something very few people remind me of and that i need to remind myself of more often. writing is work. it is valuable, but it is also difficult. lots of people in my "real" life view my blogging (whether it be the more personal stuff, the absurd stuff, or the very public stuff that you are reading here) as optional and relatively unimportant, and definitely not as what one would qualify as work. and as an anarchist, this is something i struggle with: the search for redemption in the very classic 9 to 5 grind (which, might i add, when you are a journalist feels more like a 24/7 grind) is an endless one simply because it does not exist. it all depends on how and why you work, in my opinion. in the past, i've been let go/pushed out of jobs because i am an independent worker/thinker, which in the employment world means "issues with authority figures" and "insubordinance."

ni dieu, ni maître (self-portrait) november 2010

here at my blog, and in a lot of my favourite kinds of work, i am the one who calls all the punches which has its advantages (i get all the credit!) and disadvantages (very few people but me see it as actual/valuable work!). writing (and by extension, blogging) is work, and i'm going to try to treat it as such. find satisfaction in it as work, feel satisfaction when i accomplish goals i set for myself... even if they are as small as "post a picture the same month/year you took it."

clearly i've talked about these issues with friends who read blogs and read mine. here is a wise piece of advice from iris:
Re: blogging and real work - it totally is (real work). I think you should do only as much of it as you can handle. I really was feeling like I had to keep track of thousands of things at once, my whole life was being processed through this blog filter, like, I need to write about this! This person would love it if I linked to that! It was tiring and you're right, there is no credit in it. I like the tiger beatdown model of "oh shit it's asking for money time again, pay us or we won't post".
this leads me to another point: lately i've been thinking that the simple act of valuing and viewing critical fashion blogging as "work" in and of itself is a feminist act. a close friend of mine asked me why i call my blog a "feminist fashion blog" because i very rarely talk about feminism/feminist issues. i beg to differ. i could ramble on ad nauseum about why i find this space a feminist one, why if you take any of my articles i could give you reasons why i think they are feminist... but i think most of my readers get the point without me having to spell it out. but again, the blogosphere itself is ripe for criticism. the fact that, yes, "anyone can create/have a blog," does not negate that fact that some blogs are deemed more important, reputable, serious, and worthwhile than others... and that these things are constructed through a gendered, race, class, etc. lens.

think about it for a minute: almost all of the most popular blogs (whether or not we discredit gossip blogs) are written and run by men. most of them write about typically gendered "manly" content, such as business and technology. it would be hard to argue against the fact that when men blog, more people tend to take note and more people take them seriously. pair the fact that most fashion bloggers are women, on top of the fact that fashion is hardly seen as a worthwhile or serious enough topic to merit actual critical thought... and here we have what i think is a perfect formula for dismissing fashion blogs as unimportant and frivolous.

art by j. bee

but i am getting off-topic and wandering into unresearched territory. i am writing about the very politics of writing in this space because even though i might be posting less and less, i don't have any plans of retiring this platform. but! i do feel like my readers aren't getting the attention they deserve. i don't have the time to respond to all of the comments and emails i receive, and do justice to the thoughtful, beautiful, and complicated questions so many of my readers ask me. this does not mean they are not valuable or important; rather it means that the world often spins too fast and the bank account too empty to allow me the time to show you that i care.

i just wanted to very quickly acknowledge the most common inquiry i receive: how do feminists who are interested in fashion marry their politics with their critical minds? i don't have a simple answer to that, other than the fact that it is possible to be a feminist and love fashion (i would just encourage you to love it critically).

as long as women will be judged, by their peers, by their families, and even by a court of law, by how they dress, fashion will be a feminist issue. as long as women are told they are what they wear, what brands they wear, how much money they spend on their clothing, etc....fashion will be a feminist issue. as long as fashion advertisers objectify women in order to sell their clothing and products, fashion will be a feminist issue. and basically every time someone asks me "is x a feminist fashion issue?" the answer tends to be yes.

so in the end, i suppose this post is just a really long-winded thank you to all of those who read what i write, who link to my articles, who leave comments, who send me thoughtful emails and curious questions. it's really wonderful to know there is an audience out there who not only wants to read what i write, but engage with it.

2011 will bring big changes to à l'allure garçonnière, and i hope you will be along for the ride, with all its ups and downs. thanks for being along for the ride.

in the meantime, seeing as i have surprisingly never done this before, here are some of my favourite blogs which present themselves as feminist take on fashion.

if you have any other suggestions, or feel like your blog fits the bill, feel free to leave them in the comments!

F bombs at Threadbared
Is a Feminist & Queer Interest in Fashion Possible? at Good Morning Midnight
Why I feel guilty when I don't blog at Threadbared
Post Feminist Fashion Guilt (i take issue with the term "post" feminist...)
Retail: It's Complicated (the rise of "fast fashion") at Feministe
Feminist Frequency YouTube channel

Monday, November 1, 2010

halloween 2010: i am not your halloween costume

feminist hulk's costume sounds pretty awesome.

i'm sick in bed, catching up some reading, in books and online. i've been fighting a cold for about a week now, but decided to get dressed up for halloween simply because i knew i would have regretted it had i stayed in bed. i'll share more pictures of my other costume plus some more ones i took of being the shining twins, but in the meantime i wanted to talk a bit about halloween some more.

i went out to two or three parties over the course of the weekend, and yes, of course, i encountered some truly problematic costumes. i counted a good four white girls in bastardized headdresses and warpaint, and had to share the same space as a stranger dressed as a blackface. to top it off, a party i attended awarded a man wearing a turban as "best costume," and was yelling obnoxiously about being a terrorist the entire time i was there. i felt uncomfortable the entire time, but was too sick and tired to engage with him. so, i left.

and that's what most of us do, i think. we leave. if we feel up to it, we try to challenge these people and at the very least ask them why they chose their costume. if they even notice that they are engaging in race-drag, blackface, etc.

I am a human being.

I am not your Halloween costume.

I am not your party theme.

I am not your mascot.

I am not your costume.

this has been making the rounds on tumblr, originally posted by kkeilhauer. i wish there was more information out there about the context, the people in the photo, where it was taken, etc. but the message behind it is pretty simple and great: other people's cultures are not fair game for halloween costumes, theme parties, etc. the dehumanizing effect these kinds of actions have on actual human beings is something we all too often lose sight of.

sheresists is a really intelligent and amazing activist based in guelph, and she shared her thoughts on racist costumes. on the note of halloween costumes, she argues that these costumes can be worse than culturally appropriative acts.

You’re not just taking one thing (for example, a war bonnet) from another culture, you’re trying to mimic an entire group’s racial identity when you ‘dress up’ as them. These costumes are often borrowed from pre-set stereotypes about what another culture “looks like,” how they dress, and how they act. What people fail to understand is that these stereotypes are not benign. They have real, material effects on people's lives and their ability to move throughout the world. They both reinforce and are embedded in relationships and histories of power.
...When you put on a racist costume (especially sexy ‘ethnic’ costumes like the sexy Asian girl costume), you’re speaking back to histories of colonization and exploitation and you’re reinforcing the ideologies that legitimize violent institutions that abuse and sexually exploit women of colour (though, racist costumes speak to a history of colonizing and othering people of colour in general). Whatever your intentions, by sexualizing a different ethnic group, you are saying that it’s okay to fetishize certain groups of people and you’re reaffirming that they are, in fact sexualized and consumable beings. You may think it’s fun, funny, or even ironic, but you probably haven’t experienced the effects of these stereotypes.
she goes on to describe her experiences with these stereotypes, and it's difficult (but important) to read. unfortunately it's not the first time i've heard stories like hers... and i love that she challenges these actions, wants to move forward, and foster change.

now, i thought long and hard before sharing these thoughts and links. did i really want to hold a magnifying glass to racist halloween costumes? is it even worth my time, or my readers time for that matter, to point out that paris hilton - privilege personified - is wearing a racist costume? and i'm not alone in feeling this way. this year, angry asian man asked his readers to share good costumes, instead of railing about the terrible ones:
every year, I write about all the obnoxious, awful racist Asian-themed costumes that are out there. I'm tired of that. I'd like to write about some of the cool ones.
i'm going to take a page from his book. to end on a happy note, i want to share some costumes that made me smile really big. share your favourites in the comments, too!

seriously baby yoda, you are KILLING me!

janelle monae

Natalie as an Inappropriate Unicorn and her friend Heather as Rosie Ritcher from Scott Pilgrim

Pixel Girl wins points for massive creativity and amazing execution

bra-burning second wavers! radical lesbian separatists

ingrid, a friend of a friend of mine, had the most amazing ursula costume!

so, what did you get dressed up as this year for halloween? what are the best costumes you've seen, in person and online? share links in the comments!

One Woman's Costume is another woman's nightmare by Whitney Teal at Change.org
My thoughts on racist costumes by sheresists
The Halloween fallout begins by Native Appropriations
Offensive or Awesome Halloween costumes? at I Am KoreAm
Why you (or your dog) shouldn't dress up as Antoine Dodson for Halloween at Shameless
Great costumes from angry asian man readers

Saturday, October 30, 2010

halloween 2010: the shining

from the shining (kubrick, 1980)


come play with us



dresses: handmade by annemarie,
made with fabric we got at a flea market for 8$
hair clips: 99 cents
white knee socks: 2/5$
ribbons: from my closet
shoes: ours, changed laces to match

total cost: 14$, 7$ each! pretty sweet.

some other fun costumes from last night:

1980s wrestling champion

cute flapper

homemade! from scratch! stormtrooper costume

also, i wrote a little article over at shameless about problematic halloween costumes. read it here.
i'm going to try out another costume tonight, hopefully it will go over as well as this one did.

happy halloween!