Monthly Archives: November 2008

The woes of modeling

I was watching Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton the other day (excellent documentary, by the way), and this one particular scene is still haunting me:

Medium shots of several models getting their hair and makeup done.  They’re all wearing thick crusts of chunky silver glitter on their bottom eyelids, which makes them look like they’re crying.  Cut to close-up of one model who’s standing, surrounded by makeup artists, and crying.  The voiceover explains that she’s become allergic to makeup as a result of the constant removals and reapplications of it throughout the day as part of the modeling routine.  

Was she just tearing from the eye makeup?  Was she finally cracking under the pressure?  Was she upset that she was the only “incapable” one?  Was she scared that she would no longer be able to do her work and make a living?  

Whatever reason it might have been, it was a poignant and heartbreaking look into the taxing life of a model.


On another note, expect very few (and short) posts from now until the middle of December.  It’s that time of the semester when papers, exams, and projects bury us students alive.  I’m anticipating a good post on New Jersey’s distinctive beauty, but it will have to wait until i get all my work done.


Filed under culture, media, the body

A New York moment

I was taking the E train downtown as part of my usual daily commute to school, when a homeless lady came to the center of the car and asked for food, any tidbit, anything to eat or drink.  I wanted to give her something, but i didn’t have anything on me.  A young lady sitting in front of me gave her a granola bar.  When the homeless lady moved to another car, a little girl sitting next to the generous young lady questioned her mom about the homeless lady.  “She’s hungry.  Why’s she hungry?”  The mother whispered an explanation into her ear.  Then after a few moments of thought, the little girl went, “I’m hungry too!”  The young lady and i laughed along with the mother.  One stop later, the young lady started to cry.  A few stops later, the mother and daughter got off the train, the daughter tickling her mother, going “Tickly, tickly!”  And at West 4th, i got off, making my usual way to class.

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Filed under culture, love, new york

The name

One random day, the following thoughts struck me:

The only thing a parent gives to a child from the very beginning is a name.  We all make our own decisions and go our own ways as we grow older, but most of us do not change our names.  And that’s where i see the power of the name.  We fight all kinds of labels as we enter and make our way into society.  Here is just an example of what someone’s daily mantra might be:  “I am not just a Catholic woman, i am not just a Puerto Rican woman, i am not just a hispanic woman, i am not just a woman—i am a human being.”  And yet we gladly accept the most existential label of all:  our name.  Why might that be?  We blindly accept it and don’t question it.  By the time we’re toddlers, we just know what our name is—what we are called, how we are labeled.  Does it not seem weird that we accept the most important label—our identity, in the purest sense of the word—from our parents?  But in a way, that’s what gives our names a curious sentimental history; the fact that they are the only thing given to us that stays with us explicitly from our birth to our death as long as we accept it.  Like a mystical gift from the man and woman who created us.

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Filed under philosophy

questions on the loo, issue #4: Fatigue and the distant voice

You know when you’re extremely sleep-deprived, and during the day, you eventually come to a moment when all stimuli in your surroundings fall away, and whatever voice(s) you hear suddenly sounds like it’s coming from far away, and everything seems to echo?  It sounds so distant yet at the same time, so internalized that it sounds like a voice echoing inside your head.  Not unlike what it might be like to hear your mother’s voice from inside her womb.  It’s happened to me many a time in lectures.  Do you know what i’m talking about?  I’m not talking about how when you focus really hard on something, every sound around you gets muffled.  That happens all the time.  This happens only when you’re too sleep-deprived to function properly.  

I’m just curious as to what processes in your brain might have to do with this.  Does this have anything to do with the sleep cycle?  Is the brain, at that moment, somewhere between consciousness and unconsciousness?  How exactly does sleep or lack thereof affect perception and information processing?


Filed under perception, questions on the loo

questions on the loo, issue #3: Visual culture


(image via my professor’s powerpoint)

I was reading about the advent of electricity, when i came across an interesting idea:  that lighting is a “powerful symbolic medium”.  It never ceases to amaze me how powerful lighting is in the media and art.  Lighting is the lifeline of everything from store signs to the interior and exterior of any kind of venue.  The backbone of photography is the use of light, both natural and artificial.  Light pervades the media, art, technology.  Light allows us to see.  But why is sight so valued?  Why aren’t we equally preoccupied with sound or smell or anything else we can sense?  For some reason, we focus so much on visuals and not enough on everything else.  You say “art,” and the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is some kind of visual art, most likely a painting, but that’s certainly not the only type of art there is.  Although a lot of recent technology and art has been pushing the limits of our senses, especially sight, we’re still very much a visual culture.  The question is, why?  Here are some of my thoughts:

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Filed under culture, perception, philosophy, questions on the loo, technology

Women with big nostrils

Is it just me, or are big nostrils really sexy?  

Fredi Washington

Fredi Washington


Nancy Kwan

Nancy Kwan

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Filed under perception, the body