OPINIONATRIX…because my opinions dominate











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This week has been amazing!  After wishing, hoping and praying that Barack Obama would be elected President, it finally happened.  I swear, I am so proud of us as a Nation.  This is huge, not just because Obama is the first African American President (although that’s certainly a milestone), but because he truly was the best man for the job.  He is smart, calculating, even keeled and genuine.  I cannot wait to see what he is able to accomplish over the coming years.

I have enjoyed this election, and I’m really going to miss it.  I loved the constant frenzy, the intensiveness and the surprising twists and turns.  However, there is another reason I will miss the 2008 Campaign: it brought us together.  For the first time in a long time people were talking to each other about things that matter.  Domestic Policy, the war in Iraq and economics trumped the more mundane chatter of Paris Hilton and Hollywood gossip.

This election reminded me of why America is so great.  People really do care.  People are able to come together – even when their opinions differ – and try to solve major problems.  And not only do people care, they are passionate.  I learned so much during this election.  I learned about the way Washington works, about states which I had never given a second glance and about the lesser known politicians who are doing  great things for this country.

I feel like we as a country lived up to our potential.  We went out there and voted.  We discussed.  We organized and volunteered.  And we conducted numerous conversations around the dinner table, debating the pertinent issues that are affecting our nation.  I am so proud to be an American.

I hope that even those whose candidate did not win the Election can take solace in the fact that we as a country really showed the world what we’re made of.  We are an accepting people who elected an amazing man to lead us through the next four years.

Congratulations America, Congratulations!



 

November 4th is going to be an exciting day.  After two years of what seems to be an endless campaign season, we will finally get to vote and choose our next president.  I for one cannot wait!  As a Jew I never had the experience of anticipating Christmas as a child, but this seems almost better.  I have been counting down the days: planning when I will vote, getting my registration in order and solidifying my election night party plans. OMG could it get any better? 

Turns out it can!  Starbucks is jumping on the bandwagon and offering free coffee to voters all day on the 4th.  Those who know me are aware that I am obsessed with “the bucks.”  This is better than Christmas!  It’s non denominational, exciting and free!  Hooray! Now get out there, get your vote on and enjoy yourself a free cup of heaven.*

 

* for those of you oddballs who dislike Starbucks, Ben and Jerry’s is giving away freebies too. 



It is so easy to become a tabloid addict.  You know what I mean, devouring People, US Weekly and In Touch one after another, ogling the bodies, lives and lifestyles of the rich and famous, and then in turn berating yourself for not even possessing a fraction of that perfection.  These days the images of stardom, beauty and wealth are everywhere.  It’s only natural to get sucked in, to start comparing and as a result – despairing. 

Honestly, I do it all the time.  I’ll hear a story of some starlet around my age, and inevitably I will start to compare myself to her.  Almost immediately the focus turns from her to me.  Why aren’t I rich, famous, successful, uber beautiful and happy as a clam?  Granted, I know these feelings are more about me and my own insecurities, but surely I am not alone!  I know others must fall into this trap too.  Lately though, I am starting to realize that despite perfectly airbrushed portrayals of sunshine and lolly-pops, often the lives of the rich and famous are anything but perfect.

Case in point?  Just this week, we learned that Madonna is divorcing her husband and Jennifer Hudson is dealing with the brutal murders of her mother and brother.  These announcements are only the latest in a string of celebrity confessions and disasters ranging from addiction and depression to loneliness and mockery.  Surely these stars are dealing with just as much as the average person, only they must do it in public.  If I mess up and wear something horrible out with friends it barely registers, but a mere bad hair day could land a starlet on the worst dressed list in tabloids across the nation.

It’s hard sometimes to focus on the reality of the situation.  The glossy pictures and gorgeous hair and make-up are so much more alluring than the underbelly of hurt and reality that celebrities so often mask with picture perfect smiles.  Frankly, I don’t buy the tabloids anymore.  If I find one or a friend gives me hers I’ll read it, but I try not to actively seek it them myself.  Even though I know the veneer of fabulosity is fake, it’s still hard for me not to buy into it.  I suppose all I can do is keep reminding myself that we all deal with stuff, and that no one is perfect.  You get nowhere by comparing yourself to others, especially when the life you are comparing yourself to is mocked up, airbrushed and altered for public consumption.  It’s like a horse trying to live up to the standard of a unicorn – the unicorn doesn’t exist and thus the horse will never succeed. 

From now on I am going to try and guage my life and success by my own internal intuitions and feelings.  I am going to get off the comparison train and get on board the “me mobile.” Surely, this will take time, but I am willing to give it a try.  Plus, my mom always said “perfect is boring,” and I sure as hell don’t want to be boring so I guess perfection just isn’t an option.



It recently came to my attention that last Wednesday was Love Your Body Day.  I am not sure exactly how or if this was publicized (I found out about it this weekend from a friend), but I have no doubts that its creators meant well.  Judging from the promotional website, this was a campaign aimed at women (though I’d argue men have body issues too) in order to get them to take a special day to love and appreciate their bodies.

In theory, I think this is a wonderful idea.  The majority of women and men (myself included) constantly fault and punish their bodies, focusing on weight and appearance rather than being thankful for their health and the multitude of things our bodies do for us daily.  In today’s appearance propelled culture, body image is at an all time low.  You know our society is in trouble when it is not uncommon for children under 10 to feel the need to diet.  Obviously, all this self hatred/criticism needs to be addressed, and I imagine that was a part of the “love your body day” campaigns goal.  Kudos to them, it’s about time we addressed this important issue on a large scale.  This is just as prevalent a problem as the rise of obesity (if not more so).

Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all just decide to love our bodies and be done with it.  Like “no TV week,” it would be so easy to just flip a switch for a week or a day and be able to experience the difference.  The problem here, is that unlike a TV set, there is no switch that flips easily from self hatred to self acceptance.  Loving ones body is a process that takes years for some, and is endless for others.  I know I am constantly critiquing, comparing and feeling unsure about my own body, and it would take much more than a day to move me over into the world of body love.  I don’t think it is too far a leap to say that this is the reality of most women (and men) out there.

I think a better day might be “Be Good to Your Body” day.   A day where we could take the time to pamper and reward our bodies for all they do for us daily.  A day to abstain from dieting, constant working out or belittling comments, and instead thank our bodies for getting us through the day.  This would be a far more feasible task than simply “loving” our bodies.  It has taken many of us years to develop an ideal body to lust after and hold up in our minds as perfect, and it will take just as long for us to rip that down and accept the body we were given.  Loving your body may sound simple, but in reality it is anything but.



{September 24, 2008}   Are You A Feminist?

This past weekend while spending the afternoon with a friend, our conversation turned from shoes, work and life to something a little more intellectual: feminism.

Me: I’m not a feminist

Her: You’re not?! Yes you are!

Me: I mean I’m all for women’s rights and I fully support women, but I don’t consider myself a feminist.

Her: What’s the difference?

I couldn’t give her an answer.  I wasn’t sure what the difference was. I just knew that for some reason I didn’t want to be considered a feminist. I have been thinking a lot about this conversation in the past couple of days. I wonder when and how the idea of feminism went from being a strong and powerful woman to a bad word.

When I hear feminist my first thoughts are of an angry, man-hating, slightly butch woman running around without a bra and protesting anything in her way.  Obviously, I know this is false. Regardless that is the image my mind conjures.  I hardly believe I am in the minority.  Think about it – how many women have you heard proudly refer to themselves as feminists?

My circle of friends is filled with strong working women all of whom believe in equal pay, women in the workplace and women’s rights.  However, I would be hard pressed to find a “feminist” in the bunch. Except that we all are.  The majority of women in this country are feminists, yet only a small minority identify as such.

The feminism of today is starkly different from that of the past.  There are even some who’d argue that today’s women are throwing the hard work of past generations out the window.  We constantly objectify ourselves, buying into beauty myths and continuing to place more value on our appearance than it’s worth.  On the other hand, more women are venturing into the workplace, running companies and holding high political offices.  So by my count, we’ve come plenty far from the days when “women belonged in the kitchen.”

However, this hasn’t come without backlash.  Women can now have it all, and unfortunately many of us (myself included) feel the pressure to live up to that.  We want to marry, raise children, run a company and look great doing it.  What is this doing to us?  What is the cost?  Research shows that even in households where both parents work, it is the woman who does most of the household chores and child-rearing.  Women are often stretched thin with responsibilities that more often than not men do not have. Today’s girls are brought up by mothers who do everything: they work, they help with homework, they clean, they cook and they maintain an “image.” Often times what we don’t realize is that our mothers are stressed out, and working hard to appear “fine” and put together.  Unfortunately, as a result of this “superwoman” image, we grow up believing that is what is expected of us – to do it all flawlessly.

I am still learning and trying to accept that this is a fallacy.  NO ONE can have it all!  It just isn’t possible, sometimes things have to give.  If that means you have to order in take out, or dont have time to get regular haircuts and manicures, so be it.  I believe both women (and men) should have equal opportunities, be paid equally and have the exact same right to live adjusted and balanced lives.  If that makes me a feminist, then I am proud to be one.



{September 21, 2008}   Reaching For The Stars

There is something very admirable about the star.  I’m not talking about Hollywood icons or fame driven celebrities, but rather actual stars.  The small bastions of light that shine down on us every night, reminding us that there is something more out there.  Something vast, large and unknown. 

This week I learned that very often the lights we see in the night sky are from stars which have died off long ago.  The light takes so long to reach Earth that it is often merely the impact of the star we are seeing rather than the star itself.  This small fact really inspires me.  I understand why it became commonplace for people to utter the phrase “I want to be a star.” 

Lately, I have been questioning my goals, ambitions and mission in life.  I constantly berate myself for not measuring up, not being on the ball and not having things figured out.  In my mid twenties, I have held countless jobs in various different fields and still I have not found my place.  I want to shine. I am almost positive I know how I could shine, I just don’t know how to get there.  I want to be a star because I want my presence to matter.  Perhaps it is preposterous for me to imagine that I could make an impact on this world that would outlast my life, but people have done it before, so why not me? 

There is something hopeful if not unnerving about looking at the night sky.  There is so much out there, so much possibility, but also a lot of instability and risk.  To venture out into the vast unknown could result in huge impact and wonderful rewards, but it could also leave you lost and burnt out.  Like the light of the star, in order to reach out to others we first must make the journey.  So, I guess this is where I have to make the choice, because in order to make an impact and shine, you first have to put yourself out there.

 



{September 12, 2008}   Remembering September 11th

It hardly seems possible that seven years have passed since the attacks on September 11th.  I imagine the images from that day will be seared into my memory for a long time.  9-11 was the first time in my life that true danger and war seemed possible.  Before, war and terrorism were things that happened far away.  Unlike family and friends in Israel, terrorist attacks aimed at ordiary citizens never crossed my mind.  9-11 was traumatic for all Americans, because it made us view the world through a new lens.

Often when we speak of September 11th we talk about the horrors, the dead and the “war against terror.” We look at images of the burning towers and business men covered in ash.  Sadly, we sometimes overlook the incredible heroism, patriotism and general connection that came out of 9-11. It’s true that this was a horrible event which occurred due to the worst of human nature.  However, it also brought out the best in the American people.  For the first time in a long while we rediscovered our patriotism, we were there for each other and we gave as much as we could.

I think it important that we honor those who lost their lives on September 11th, but isn’t it better to honor their memory by dwelling on the good things?  Personally, I’d rather see images of firefighters, policeman and ordinary citizens doing their part to help the victims in need over those of the towers engulfed in smoke and flames.

9-11 just seems like the perfect time to remember that there is always a bigger picture.  And that picture is one of a country where in a time of need, people put all differences aside and reach out to help one another in any way they can.



{September 8, 2008}   Single In The City? Yeah Me Too…

This past week Forbes came out with a list of the top 40 cities for singles, and New York came in at number eight. What?! I’m sorry but the only way NYC qualifies as a great city for the unattached, is if said single people want to remain single. As a moderately attractive, fun and active New Yorker I can honestly say this is one of the hardest cities in which to find love.

Apparently, Forbes used a specific methodology in order to rank American cities, which they describe as follows:

To determine which U.S. cities are most comfortable for soloists, we ranked the 40 largest urbanized areas in mainland America in seven different categories: number of singles, nightlife, culture, cost of living alone, job growth, online dating activity and coolness.

I can definitely see how NYC came out on top using these standards.  We have a great nightlife, tons of culture, a definite coolness factor and admittedly almost everyone I know has tried online dating.  Also it makes sense that we are not in the top 5 being that the cost of living here is steep and job growth is less than stellar.  However, what kind of standards are these?  It seems to me that a lot of online dating would mean that a great deal of people are having trouble finding that “special someone.” Additionally, it would probably have been beneficial had Forbes taken “pace of life” into account.

I think the major problem with NYC is that it tends to be very individualistic and fast paced.  There is not a lot of time to loll around, meet people and engage in real conversation.  Due to the high cost of living and the amount of high stress jobs found here, people are often ‘on the go,’ rushing from one event to another.

Yes there is a major night life and cultural scene to be found, but when was the last time you met someone you really wanted to date at a Broadway show or a rolicking night club?  Sure, it happens, but in my experience these events are often fun and socially beneficial but rarely do I ever meet anyone worth re-connecting with at 1:00 am after downing a couple of beers.

In the end the Forbes list is somewhat useless. I am at a loss as to what to do with this information and who the target audience is.  I hardly think that the majority of people will pick up and move their entire lives just to be in a better city for singles.  Furthermore, if a city is a single mecca doesn’t that suggest that it’s also not a place where a lot of people are “settling down?”

I am constantly bemoaning my singlehood with friends and I must admit that it is nice to know that NYC welcomes and hosts various other singles like me.  Now all I have to figure out is where all the good ones are hiding and how I snag one of them soon.

***to read the whole article featured in Forbes click here



I am not a fashionista, nor am I the arbiter of taste, but how the hell did gladiator sandals become the shoes of the summer?! I surely cannot be alone in thinking that these shoes do not flatter even the most fantabulous of legs. Seriously, not even the gladiators could pull them off.

This summer, everyone from friends to Hollywood starlets have been sporting these, and I am truly confused. This is not just a shoe that I personally find unappealing, this shoe is universally unflattering… so what is it about gladiator sandals that has people going gaga?

The only plausible explanation I can think of is that some designer decided to try and fashion the ugliest footwear ever just to see if he could make it a trend. Well, the joke’s on us, or rather you, since I wouldn’t be caught dead in these. Not even if you paid me.



{July 26, 2008}   Sticker Shock…

It has now been about a week since the law requiring all fast food chains in NYC to post calories on their menu boards went into effect, and I feel pretty safe in saying that many New Yorkers are experiencing “sticker shock.” 400 calories in a low fat muffin?! Are you kidding me? YIKES!!!!

I don’t really know how I feel about this particular piece of legislation. On the one hand it aims to help people make healthier choices, but I would argue that those of us who care, are already aware that a double quarter pounder with cheese is not a healthy dinner. Sure, I have spoken to many friends who have abstained from a Starbucks pastry after finding out it had enough calories to count as a meal, but I can’t help but feel that there are other things that need to be done in addition to help all New Yorkers achieve better health.

Research has shown that Obesity tends to affect those in poorer neighborhoods. This is obviously due to the fact that fresh and healthy food is often unavailable, while fast food restaurants are overly abundant. Perhaps a better place to start would have been finding a way to get produce into these areas at affordable prices. California is now trying to enact legislation that forbids any new fast food restaurants to open in poor neighborhoods – this seems like a much more direct approach, no? I honestly believe that children (and adults) from poor backgrounds often eat fast food out of necessity. I think anyone would be hard pressed to argue that the best food around can be found in a Burger King! Fast food chains are cheap and easy. Faced with the decision to buy apples at $2.39 per lb. or taking the kids to McDonalds where they can get a meal for under a dollar, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the real problem here.

All that being said, I have found the hubbub and water-cooler conversations that this law has inspired to be pretty interesting. I hope that faced with a downturn in sales chain restaurants may add some healthier fare to their menus. Starbucks recently added healthy, protein packed smoothies and even though they taste pretty gross (in my opinion) I have to applaud their efforts.

So I guess I straddle the line on this one. I like the opportunity to be informed about my food choices, but I think that this has to be just a first step in a long journey in order for real effective change to occur. Hear that Mayor Bloomberg? OK, now get on it!



et cetera