Thoughts on Social/Digital Media: “I Used To Be a Human Being”

I wish I came up with the title of this post, but it’s from the most recent New York magazine article by Andrew Sullivan. The article is accompanied with various well-known art history paintings, such as the one below by  Caspar David Friedrich. Kim Dong-kyu altered these artworks by adding iPhones or androids in the hands of the subjects.

16-distraction-lede-w512-h600-2xI remember learning about this painting titled, “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog” (1818), in my 19th Century Art History class at Columbia University. The image is meant to convey self-reflection; and the great foggy vista as a metaphor for the unknown future. How fitting that in the 2016 version, the wanderer sees the future through a 2’4″ 2-dimensional screen.

 

I’ve been having difficulty with social media lately. I’ve both felt overwhelmed and at the same time uninterested by the never ending Snapchat/Instagram/Facebook/etc. feeds. There’s an overwhelming amount of information that I feel the need to stay up-to-date on, because god-forbid I don’t understand the latest meme. With the new Instagram Snapchat update, I’ve found myself going through every single story of all the 600+ people I follow, then scrolling through to see all their posted photos, then switching to snapchat to do it all over again. I’ve actually noticed that a lot of people will post similar stories to both their Instagram and Snapchat, which I guess makes sense because they can’t be living two lives in real time. But like, why?

To be fair, it’s mostly models, bloggers, and fashion “influencers” (yes, this is a real “job” now) who oversaturate their feeds with images. Because it’s their job to and they make a living off of it.

Recently, Vogue, Neiman Marcus, and other established fashion players have spoken out against these bloggers and the mayhem they are causing via iPhone. Sally Singer, Vogue’s creative digital director, urges bloggers to, “Please stop. Find another business. You are heralding the death of style.”

I started modeling when I was 16 and in the past 8 years, I’ve seen a huge shift in the industry’s standards. I’ve had friends who are models tell me that when they walk into a casting, the director asks them to list all their social handles and number of followers. This is what the modeling industry has amounted to. And sure, some say that it’s a good thing that models have personalities and are not just silent hangers. But how does a heavily filtered and curated selfie with 289,000 likes equate to a good personality?

That’s more of personal issue I have with the presence of media. But Andrew Sullivan gets to the bigger and unforeseen problems that this digital obsession could have on society.  “We are only beginning to get our minds around the costs, if we are even prepared to accept that there are costs. For the subtle snare of this new technology is that is lulls us into the belief that there are no downsides. It’s all just more of everything. Online life is simply layered on top of offline life. We can meet in person and text beforehand. We can eat together while checking our feeds… But of course, as I had discovered in my blogging years, the family that is eating together while simultaneously on their phones is not actually together. They are… ‘alone together.'” 

Personally, I’ve only recently realized how much it bothers me to be with my friends, family, SO and also be on my phone. I feel immature, like a moody teenager, when I am. Because no matter how quick your eyes glance at your incoming messages, the person across from you can feel your attention drifting. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to consciously value the time I have with people. But also as I’ve gotten older, it’s become more normal to communicate mostly via iPhone. Even most of the conversations I have in “real-time” are about some kind of information I got off my phone.

“By rapidly substituting virtual reality for reality, we are diminishing the scope of this interaction even as we multiply the number of people with whom we interact.” 

I’m such a victim to all these “bad” habits that I can’t even preach about it without feeling guilty and wanting to effectively change my ways. So to wind this post down, because it is a bit of a rant (relevant rant), I’ve made a user-friendly list below of ways to take back your reality and live in the moment.

  1. Delete some social apps. I recently deleted Snapchat.
  2. Delete people you follow on Instagram or Twitter. For me, I personally don’t need to see 60 different kinds of avocado toast every morning, so I’ve deleted food-posters.
  3. Keep your phone away during meal times. Because food tastes just as good (and warmer) when 15+ photos aren’t taken prior. Be mindful while eating and have fluid conversations.
  4. Don’t look at your phone right before bed. This one is more for sleep purposes. Read a book, read a magazine, read something not on a screen…
  5. Don’t compare yourself to virtual reality. This one is tricky and takes a real conscious effort to avoid. I’m not sure who you follow, but on my Instagram feed it seems as if everyone is getting sent free products, always on vacation, always working out and eating out, and never working. THIS IS NOT REALITY. Do your own thing and see all this facade as just that, a curated front. I used to have to explain to my mom that just because I’m not posting photos of me studying doesn’t mean that’s not what I’m doing with the majority of my time.
  6. Call. Don’t text. I’m so bad at this one. But I’ve found that misinterpreted texts are worth the call. Also, it’s nice to hear a real laugh because “HAHAAA” and “LOL” seem to fall flat these days.
  7. Try a phone free weekend (or day). I know this one is impossible for some people because of work requirements, but if you can take one day (ex: Sunday) to just look around at the world and really connect with your surroundings and interactions. For me, it’s like free therapy just to be outside and breath fresh air without digital distractions.
  8. Weed. (Ed note: not my personal advice): But Andrew Sullivan suggests it: “Weed is a form of self-medication for an era of mass distraction, providing a quick and easy path where the ample space and time necessary for it are under siege.”
  9. Turn off notifications. I used to get notifications for every. single. app. that I had on my phone- news, likes, posts, messages, friend requests, etc. I turned off all my notifications (except text), and I’ve actually noticed how much less I glance at my phone.
  10. Let (some) experiences live in your memory. I honestly think my memory has gotten worse as I’ve become more reliant on images to remind me about trips I’ve taken or activities I’ve done. I’ve stopped video-ing concerts or being concerned with taking photos when I go out dancing with friends. Really, consciously, live and enjoy.

 

 

Wellness: Achieving that Elusive “Glow”

I’ve been interested in wellness and self-care since I was a preteen.  When I was 13 or so, I was obsessed with skincare. I started using toner, eye cream, and sunscreen religiously. But it wasn’t until I graduated high school that I realized what I put into my body was just as important (if not more) than what I put on it. In the past ten years, I’ve gone through a number of self-care “phases” and I’ve finally found a routine that works for me. Below I’ve listed a few ways that I keep my skin clear, under-eye bags hidden, and energy levels high. [Disclaimer: These are methods that work for me. I’m a true believer that everyone should listen to their body and do what works best for their body/skin/mind.]

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  1. I chug 32 oz/1000 ml of water first thing every morning. Whether I’ve been drinking the night before or not, I’ve found this has helped to wake me up in the morning. The second thing I consume every morning is an almond milk cappuccino, so I also feel it’s necessary to hydrate before I put caffeine into my body.
  2. I don’t exfoliate my face. This one still shocks people. I have very dry and sensitive skin, so the less I do the better it is. I splash some cold water on my face when I wake up, apply toner, lotion, BB cream, and curl my eyelashes (see previous post for which products I use). I do use a light cleanser, but in the winter months I tend to use only water.
  3. I try my best to avoid sugar.  We’ve all been hearing the studies coming out claiming that sugar is more addictive than heroine and about the worst thing that you can put into your body. I eat pretty much everything, besides raw onions (because I’m allergic), but sugar is the one thing I try and stay away from. I went completely sugar-free for a month once. And when I had my first taste of the sweet stuff after that sugar sobriety period, I immediately got a headache and my hands started shaking. That’s all the proof I need that it’s not good for your body.
  4. Sweat 4-6 times a week. I was talking to a friend recently about how exercise not only makes you feel more confident, but actually gives you a glow for hours to follow. Also, endorphins make you happy. And happy people emanate and attract good vibes.
  5. I sleep 7-10 hours a night. I’m crazy about sleep. But getting 6 hours vs. 8 hours of sleep is night and day for me in terms of how I feel and function  (pun intended). I think more clearly and feel more positive when I’m well rested.
  6. Salmon, avocado, and kale.  The ultimate power foods in my opinion. Obviously, your diet should be more varied than this. But I’ve found that my skin is the brightest when I’m eating a lot of Omegas and leafy greens. Also, eggs (WITH yolks) are a staple for me. I had a period of time when I was vegetarian. And I didn’t do it correctly either by finding complete amino acid equivalents via grains and legumes. As a result, my skin became dull and sad-looking.
  7. Positivity. Mindfulness- this is a newer development in my routine. Since graduating college and entering the “real” world, I’ve already come up against a number of life “obstacles.” How I’ve learned to deal with these difficult times is by taking a step back and gaining some perspective. As humans, we have this ability to magnify the bad and pay little attention to the good. Reversing this habit takes a good deal of self-awareness. It’s important to take a a few minutes everyday to just appreciate the little things that make you happy in life.
  8. “Selfish” activities. Whether it’s binging Stranger Things on Netflix or treating yourself to a spa day, self-indulgence every now and then is good for the soul. For me, it’s dancing once a week (or more) with my friends.
  9. Read.  Blogs, news, books, etc. Having and exploring your interests outside of work is important for the development of the mind. Also, with knowledge comes perspective (see #7 on Positivity).
  10. Stretch! Nothing has overhauled my health, physically and emotionally, more than yoga. You don’t have to drink the koolaid, buy lulu, or go on a retreat either. I go to a class once a week or do a YouTube video at home. Mentally, I am a stronger person because of it. And if you’re are the type of person that likes to set physical goals, yoga is a safe practice. You can push yourself without injury.

 

Beauty: The Rich + Clean

I’m a sucker for packaging, product packing that is. More and more “curated” shops and speciality products have been popping up on the market. Within this Instagram/media-driven world we live in, there are more opportunities for small producers/ entrepreneurs/ startups to make a niche product line AND have it be successful.

And due to the visual nature of our present society, aesthetics are crucial in creating a new product line.

This past weekend, I discovered The Rich + Clean at a local, small town Connecticut store. (Also loved the Balsem candles in the back of the photo.)

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This line is made in Brooklyn in small batches. It is all-natural, sulfate and paraben free… and made for men. Wait, what? Yeah, it’s a beautifully designed men’s product line and I’m obsessed. Their tagline is: “Men… you’re welcome.”

Generally, I’ve never discriminated against using men’s products – fun tip: at the drugstore, they are usually much cheaper than those for women. I think it’s absolutely genius to create a line entirely focused on men. I know, I know, they are not the first – Kiehl’s is another popular brand that does. But coming from a female, thank you @therichandclean for making it easier for us females to buy gifts for our SOs… and ourselves?

unnamed-1I walked away with their  White Grapefruit, Aloe, and Cedar Wood Hand Wash , but I could have bought the entire line. The scent is distinct, but unusual. The type that will make you smell your hands multiple times after washing them just to figure out all the different notes.

And, the bottle itself makes my sink look so much cooler now. Thanks Rich + Clean! (Women… you’re welcome.)

Transitional Activities

You know how people talk about that elusive “transitional weather.” That period of time between (or at the end/beginning of?) seasons that can’t really be pinpointed but you just kind of feel it in the air? Well folks, we’re in one. So, how is a New Yorker supposed to handle these changing times/weather… ACTIVITIES! Here are some ideas of ways to make that “transition” from sweaty, sunny Summer days to chilly, festive Fall more enjoyable. IMG_0587

FIT Lectures

This event is FREE! All you have to do is “pay” for your $0 ticket online to get a ticket. I’ve seen protestors yell at Anna Wintour and the Rodarte designers speak about their whimsical inspirations. Looking forward to hear Thom Browne and Eva Chen speak this fall.

Central Park Runs

Run or walk, this one doesn’t need much of an explanation. Other options include East or Hudson river. You might even be able to catch the last of those Inst-snappable #NYCsunset pics. Do it before the wind starts to hurt your face come Winter!

Museum Exhibitions

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The Summer tourists’ vacations are winding down and the Winter in-flood won’t begin for another few months. THIS IS THE TIME TO GO. Get your culture on and check out what the MoMa, Guggenheim, MET, Whitney, Neue Galerie, Frick, or Brooklyn Museum have upcoming.

I’m looking forward to: Max Beckmann (Oct. 19), Agnes Martin (Oct. 7), and Nan Goldin (on view now).

Drink Hot Things While Walking Around

Finally! You can drink your hot-beverage-of-choice without sweating (or turning beet-red as I do). Hurrah. I like to think of myself as a New York coffee aficionado, but I’m still exploring other beverage options. My suggestions for best coffee in NYC:

Blank Slate – Any place that uses Califia Farms Barista Blend almond milk knows what’s going on, IMO.

La Colombe – The best espressos. Their iced-coffee is a bit brutal; they throw an extra espresso shot in already pretty strong coffee. But thankfully, their warmer options made with perfectly thick, foamed milk balance out that acidity.

Ludlow Coffee Supply – A new one to the street with Katz’s Deli and Sweet Chick as neighbors, I think this coffee place will feel right at home with its high coffee standards and trendy avocado toast.

Joe Coffee – Their latte art is on point and unexpected ( it usually seems reserved for slow brunches at most places). They have lids that allow for maximum foam entry. Also, Califia almond milk. Enough said.

Everyman Espresso – Just great coffee, whatever you get. And space to actually sit and enjoy it! (Photo sourced from website. Tattoo I made need to get. Just kidding @parents.)

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Rooftops 

This is a great idea for small groups or cocktails before a date. A little chill in the air while overlooking the skyline (see above about sunsets) is super romantic. During the summer, everyone is slightly moist and wearing sunglasses making it hard to connect (physically and otherwise). Take advantage before these places become inaccessible: Jimmy at The James, Hotel Hugo, Boom Boom Room or Le Bain (photo below) at The Standard Hotel, Mr. Purple at Hotel Indigo, and La Birreria at Eataly are some of my go-tos.

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These are just a few suggestions. There are endless possibilities of activities to do before it’s too cold to do them. Take advantage of this transitional period!

Workout Schedule

I’ve gone through many workout “phases.” I’ve done the “Bikram yoga everyday for a month,” “Barry’s bootcamp 3x week,” “running 6-8 miles every morning,” “pilates and yoga 2x week,” “SLT until I couldn’t walk,” “Kayla Itsines BBG program 5x week,” and the “not exercising ever.” The latter phase was about 5 years ago. I was modeling full time and had achieved that “skinny-fat,” zer0-muscle look thanks to no exercise and a low-protein diet. Yay me. Surprisingly, this was one of the most insecure periods of my life. I didn’t feel strong and I didn’t think I looked particularly attractive.

IMG_4571.jpgMy first foray into exercise started with taking Pilates with my mother. Pilates is all about form and full-body awareness. I later realized that this attention to particular muscles in the body is important with any exercise. I started taking yoga almost everyday to accompany my pilates practice. Yoga helped me improve my balance and build leg strength. However, I stagnated in my yoga practice. I was doing it everyday but I wasn’t becoming stronger or better at it. My “aha” moment came when I started doing less yoga and added kickboxing into my routine.

For the past few years, I have been changing up what I do for my workouts. I have always been a strong believer in only doing workouts that I enjoy. So, when I find something I like I keep it in my routine. Also, I’m big into trying new methods or studios around New York. I have tried SLT, Barry’s Bootcamp, Modelfit, Soulcycle, Flywheel, Tracy Anderson, etc. Mostly, I stick to what I can do at my gym (to save money). For example, this is what I did last week:

Monday: Kickboxing Class

Tuesday: Kayla Itsines’ BBG Legs 

Wednesday: Kayla Itsine’s BBG Abs and Arms

Thursday: Yoga

Friday: SLT (pilates reformer) class

Saturday: 30/60/90 (interval training with weights) class

Sunday: 7 mile/1 hour run with intervals

I’ve become better at listening to my how my body feels. I could have a week where I don’t workout for a few days because my muscles need a rest.  And I’ve actually gotten stronger the more rest days/weeks I’ve taken.

My body is happiest when I am active. I have found that that “running high” that people refer to can apply to any exercise. My ending advice is this: Recognize what you love and what makes your body feel its best and never stop exploring new possibilities for what that could be.

Happy Monday!

NYFW2016: Designer Switcheroos

There’s a lot to look forward to this Fashion Week S/S 2017– various fashion houses have recently appointed new designers and some past designers are setting out on their own to create new lines. Here’s a brief roundup of changes that are occurring… and some images of when I’ve worked for these fashion all-stars.

  • Hedi Slimane is no longer designing for (Yves) Saint Laurent. Anthony Vaccarello, Italian-Belgian designer, who had previously designed his own line and for Versus Versace, is now the creative director. (Images: Anthony Vaccarello F/W 2011, Versus Versace F/W 2011, video of Armani commercial shot and directed by Hedi Slimane (I was one of those shadow-silhouette’s in the room behind).

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  • Bouchra Jarrar is replacing beloved Alber Elbaz at Lanvin. (Image: Lanvin Resort 2006).

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  • Maria Grazia Chiuri, previously co-head designer o Valentino with Pierpaolo Piccioli, is now the first woman to lead the creative team at Dior. (Image: Valentino F/W 2011).

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  • Olivier Theyskens, former designer of Nina Ricci, Rochas, and Theyskens’ Theory, is creating a namesake label. (Image: Theyskens’ Theory S/S 2012).

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  • Thakoon Panichgul is back with a new owner, Bright Fame Fashion, and new business strategy, straight to consumer e-commerce and retail store. (Image: Thakoon S/S 2011). 1d6be82bfbe0066f36779d2116b40440
  • Calvin Klein this season is having its in-house team design this S/S 2017 collection, which will be small and in-house, because Raf Simons (from Dior) was just recently appointed as creative director. (Image: Calvin Klein Resort 2012).

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  • Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia were just appointed creative directors of Oscar de la Renta, replacing Peter Copping. This season’s collection will be designed by an in-house team, as the new designers were recently appointed. Image: Oscar de la Renta Resort 2012).

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