I’m a big fan of Transparent, and in between seasons, I sought out creator Jill Soloway’s other work. As it turns out, I’ve been watching their shows for years, including Grey’s Anatomy and The United States of Tara. There is something about Soloway’s writing that I really relate to, probably because, like many of the characters, I’m a wife and mom in my late 30s. Jill Soloway often explores the different roles women assume throughout their lives, and the most recent pieces address female sexuality in ways that haven’t been depicted in the past.
When Grechen mentioned watching I Love Dick recently, I listened to the Fresh Air interview with Soloway (also recommended by Grechen) and then started watching the show. Kathryn Hahn, who plays the lovely rabbi Raquel in Transparent, is featured in this new Amazon show based on Chris Kraus’ book by the same titillating name. Hahn often works with Soloway and played the main character in Afternoon Delight, which I watched again recently. It’s a beautifully raw portrayal of a California stay-at-home mom’s life, and again, I found myself relating on many levels. After listening to the Fresh Air piece, it’s easy to see Hahn’s portrayal of Soloway’s characters as an extension of Soloway. In Transparent, the characters of Sarah and Ali also embody those same qualities of women searching for something more than their assigned roles in life. Soloway very recently came out as trans, preferring gender-neutral pronouns.
With I Love Dick, which Soloway calls “a celebration of the feminine,” Hahn’s character, who is married, actively seeks out the man she is attracted to, who also happens to be the founder of the art institute where her husband has come to study. It’s a complicated story, but Soloway fills it with strong feminist characters who are artists in their own right, and uses other films and art pieces to illustrate the concepts at play within the show. There’s also the fact that it’s set in Marfa, a somewhat mysterious arts colony in west Texas, and the character of Dick is based loosely on Donald Judd, who helped put Marfa on the artistic map. This piece about I Love Dick’s director, Jim Frohna, is especially good.
I quickly devoured all eight episodes of the new show, and I’ve finally convinced my husband to watch them. The characters, the setting, and the clothing are so gorgeous, and each short episode is wonderful, just by itself. My very favorite is the fifth, “A Short History of Weird Girls,” and it’s beautifully acted by Hahn and her fellow actors, Roberta Colindrez, Lily Mojekwu, and India Menuez. I also did a bit of digging and found the Instagram account for Marie Schley, the costume designer for both Transparent and I Love Dick. Hahn’s wardrobe in I Love Dick is really enviable, and features pieces by Isabel Marant Étoile. In one scene, Hahn’s character wears a stunning silk wrap dress, and her husband doesn’t even notice. But I noticed, and I’m fairly certain it’s the Kamil Dress, or a very similar version of it. Lily Mojekwu, who plays the curator of the institute, also wears beautiful pieces by Eskandar.
Eight episodes just isn’t enough, and the ending of the final show bears a resemblance to a pivotal scene in Afternoon Delight. I’m looking forward to a second season, as well as Transparent‘s fourth season, and I can’t wait to see more from both Jill Soloway and Kathryn Hahn.
This is Fashion Revolution Week and Monday marked the fourth anniversary of the building collapse at Rana Plaza. Since 2013, the issue of ethical clothing has moved closer to the forefront of the fashion world, and many brands have taken steps to become more transparent in their supply chains. Consumers have become more educated, too, and things have started to change for the better. But there’s more work to be done.
This year, I’m celebrating my favorite ethical pieces with a little love letter, of sorts. Some of my fellow Ethical Writers are also participating, and I’ll link to their blogs below. Fashion Revolution asks participants to love our clothes more and longer, in an effort to reduce consumption and waste. My most favorite ethical pieces were purchased in 2013, after the events at Rana Plaza opened my eyes to the bigger issues of the fashion world. Some of my first purchases were from Mata Traders, which employs fairly-paid female workers in India and Nepal, and I still wear them frequently through the hottest months in Texas. I started with a single black shift patterned with a beautiful handblocked print, and eventually bought a second dress in red. Both dresses are cotton and sleeveless, and the epaulets on the shoulders are my very favorite detail.
If you’ve experienced a Texas summer, then you know it’s almost painful to wear clothing in the heat. I always look for the lightest fabrics and easiest silhouettes, because extra details like heavy waistbands and body-hugging styles will only weigh you down and make you sweat. These dresses, along with a blouse in a similar style, are my closet essentials in July and August, and I wear them weekly. I can wash them on the gentle cycle, and if I hang them outside to dry, they are ready to go in an hour or so. It’s wonderful to throw a dress on in the morning and feel ready for the day, and their casual style is perfect for my suburban life of running errands and shuttling my boys to their activities.
All three pieces have seen a lot of wear since I purchased them in 2013, and I’ve actually altered each item slightly by removing a few gathered, elasticized seams on the bodices. That way, I’m able to wear a belt with the dresses and blouse and can dress them up a little. And, looking back through my posts, I’ve written about the dresses on five separate occasions, so it’s easy to see how much I love them. While I don’t consider myself very sentimental, I do think I’ll keep these three pieces forever. The fabrics and small details are beautiful, and bringing them out of my closet each year heralds the arrival of another wonderful summer.
Do you have a favorite clothing item you’ll never part with? I’d love to hear your love story!
And here are some great posts from my fellow Ethical Writers:
My earlier Fashion Revolution posts can be found here.
As my interest in natural beauty has grown over the last several years, I’ve started using essential oils in a variety of ways. I’ve been a perfume lover for years, but after an allergic reaction a few summers ago, I stopped using artificial scents. Essential oils initially appealed to me because I can add one single oil or a blend to unscented lotion or a carrier oil to create my own fragrance. Most of my essential oil use is for aromatherapy purposes, and I maintain a healthy dose of skepticism regarding their effectiveness, specifically when it comes to medical claims. I’ve done a bit of research and found some interesting facts, as well as a few safe, practical ways that essential oils work for me.
I have friends who sell different brands of essential oils and I’ve heard many claims about their benefits. As an ethical consumer, I prefer to dig into the details of a product before I buy it, and it’s especially important to do your own research before dabbling in essential oils. Young Living and doTERRA are the two most popular multi-level marketing brands on the market, and doTERRA was founded by former Young Living employees after an internal company disagreement. In 2014, the FDA issued a warning letter to both Young Living and doTERRA, as well as a third essential oils brand, for marketing their products as potential cures for the Ebola virus and other serious illnesses.
It’s my opinion that strategic marketing is behind the resurgence and success of these essential oil brands, and I also find it especially telling that their use has increased as health insurance and quality healthcare become less accessible in the United States. There is very little data to suggest that essential oils offer much more than a placebo effect for many health concerns, though in my research, I found a few studies that were interesting. If you are in the market for essential oils but prefer to avoid MLM brands, Now Foods (sold at many grocery stores and at Amazon) and Eden’s Garden are two great options. Everyone who uses essential oils will have a different opinion on the quality and scents of different brands, but as a skeptical consumer of oils, I’ve found very little difference between all of the brands I’ve mentioned. It really seems to come down to a scent preference.
Also, common sense usage is important with essential oils. I’ve encountered what I perceive to be a metaphysical reverence held by some lovers of essential oils, and I also chalk that up to brilliant marketing campaigns. Essential oils are a product, much like any beauty product or over-the-counter medicine you might buy, and there is no spiritual transformation that occurs when you use them. Should you experience a skin irritation or rash, it’s important to stop using the oil immediately; it’s not a sign that your body is working through unexplored feelings with the oil or that toxins are being removed. It just means your body chemistry does not work well with the oil you applied to your skin. My skin has reacted poorly to beauty products containing citrus and rose oils, so I stopped using them. It’s also true that some essential oils can be taken orally or used when cooking, but it’s best to do your own research before trying them or giving them to children or pets.
In my day-to-day life, I’ve found a few beneficial uses for essential oils. Many oils smell lovely, and I enjoy diffusing them throughout my house. It’s an easy and safe method to enjoy the fragrance of oils without using them on your body. I’ve also found that mixing lemon or orange oil with vinegar as a cleaning spray is a great way to add a bit of refreshing scent while I wipe down my bathroom counters.
Lavender, one of the most commonly used essential oils, has been studied and found to have some short-term benefits, including aiding in relaxation. I will add a drop to my younger son’s evening bath when he is feeling sick or cranky, and it helps him to relax before bed. If I am particularly stressed, I will apply a few drops of lavender mixed with a carrier oil to my temples or under my nose before I fall asleep, too.
Rosemary oil is known to help with hair growth and a recent study found that it produced similar results when compared to the drug minoxidil as treatment for androgenetic alopecia. I add a few drops to my shampoo and conditioner bottles and also recently tried this easy-to-make hair serum using castor oil as a base. I apply a drop to my eyebrows before bed and I have noticed a small amount of growth along the outer edges of my brow line. I have thyroid issues, which can cause brow thinning, and the new hair growth could also stem from successfully controlling my thyroid hormone levels via medication.
I enjoy using a few blended oils by various companies as natural perfumes, and my very favorite is DoTERRA’s ClaryCalm. I use it strictly as a perfume and love its light and refreshing smell. My husband also uses AromaTouch, along with daily stretching, to ease his sore muscles after running. I also use a few natural beauty products that contain small amounts of essential oils as secondary ingredients, though I have to be selective about which products I try.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed testing various oils and scents by different brands, and with a bit of research and some general understanding of how they work, I feel comfortable using them on a daily basis. As with any natural product, your experience might be different and I definitely recommend doing your own research, too.