We Need to Make It Easier (and Safer) to Talk About Suicide

When the news about Robin Williams broke, it felt like someone punched me in the stomach. While I was deeply saddened to hear of his death, and that he committed suicide, I was not shocked. I did see him in real life once, in 2006, and while I can’t disclose the details of where I saw him, I can say that he appeared to be going through a very rough time. I remember thinking that he too was as fragile as any human, and how hard it must be to go through difficulties when everyone expects you to be on top of the world.

“My conscious was like, “Did you just say ‘Fuck life?’” ~Robin Williams

Yesterday, I listened to Marc Maron’s 2010 interview with Robin Williams, where Williams talked about the time he thought about suicide:

Maron: Before you had the heart problem, you don’t seem to be someone who is morbidly fascinated with death…

Williams: No. I mean, it’s weird, there was this ONE time, when I was drinking  I thought had this thought “Fuck life.” Then my conscious was like, “Did you just say ‘Fuck life?’… You know you have a pretty good life…even though it’s not working right now… First of all you don’t have the balls to do it… I mean, what are you going to do, cut your wrists with a water pick? That’s erosion.”

I highly recommend listening to the whole podcast, the conversation between Maron and Williams is just so real and uncontrived. It is actually, really beautiful.

Robin Williams was the first person on television I remember admiring. I loved Mork and Mindy, and had these rainbow suspenders like he wore on the show. They were my favorite, and I wore them often. Of course I loved a lot of his films, as we all did, but the real reason why his death hurt so much, because what happened to him could also happen to me. As horrible as it is, I get it. I’ve been there.

Now, before you call 9-1-1, allow me to explain.

I’m not going to kill myself.

For those of you who know me, already know that I have suffered from depression almost my entire life. Part of that depression has included the presence of suicidal ideation. Every since I can remember, I had this reflex where I imagine my demise every time there is a quiet moment in my brain. I don’t know where it comes from, and yes, I am seeking professional help. It’s like I have this, as Dexter, puts it a “dark passenger.” Only, my passenger just likes to tells me things like, “No one cares, so just drive a knife in your chest.” Obviously, my dark passenger isn’t a very strategic planner, since it often picks methods I’m not even physically able to do.

Over the years I’ve tried many things to silence this “passenger” including drinking,  and other things like shopping, working, relationships, diet, exercise, self-help books, professional help, etc. To this day, it’s always there, lurking in the quiet.

Why not talk about it? (Until now?)

It’s been reported that most cases of suicidal ideation go untreated. While I cannot tell you the details of those cases, I can tell you that above the stigma of talking about suicide, there is the real fear of being locked up and/or having your children taken away. Once, while I was in a particularly dark place, I called the doctors office, and they asked me if I had suicidal thoughts. When I asked, “Why?” they answered with, “Well if you have suicidal thoughts, we’ll have to send an ambulance and hospitalize you.” Then, I quickly answered with, “No. I do not have those thoughts.”

“Well if you have suicidal thoughts, we’ll have to send an ambulance and hospitalize you.”

So basically, even under the protection of “doctor-patient-confidentiality” it is not easy to talk about suicide. Would you talk about it to your doctor if you even thought  they were going to hospitalize you? If you tried to talk to your friends or family, they would freak out and treat you like a mental patient? Or worse, roll their eyes and think you were “just trying to get attention?” Would you talk about your thoughts  if they would become the subject of gossip and judgement?

Would you talk about your thoughts  if they would become the subject of gossip and judgement?

According to an article on Psychology Today, “The truth is that suicidal thoughts, even the fleeting ones, are a very serious symptom of illness.” While the thought of ending your own life is indeed serious, until discussion about suicide is normalized, then we have no idea how serious it can be.

Looking back on Robin William’s conversation with Maron about the ONE time he thought about suicide, it’s obvious now that it wasn’t just that one time. Williams was very open about a lot of dark details of his life, but maybe suicide was the thing he didn’t feel entirely comfortable talking about. Perhaps things would be different if he had been more comfortable talking about suicide. Or maybe things would have ended the same way.

One thing is clear, we need to make it easier and safer to talk honestly about suicide.

[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

Slow and Steady Wins The Race

So here is my first complete NYFW presentation this season, the last day, of the last hour of fashion week. Sorry, I really messed up this coverage bit. Deanne from Dream Sequins invited me along to see Slow and Steady Wins the Race, a label which is most famous for recreating luxury designs in canvas. Here she takes it a step further by taking the classic tee shirt and recreates it in 10 different fabrics. I of course was tickled pink by this and you can well see it in this video… I swear, I have a way of making everyone appear drunk, including myself in videos. Maybe I should stop making them, but somehow I feel compelled to continue.

Objects Without Meaning: The Brand That Doesn’t Pretend, Yet, Still Profound

Have you ever read a fashion label’s about page? Or a fashion show review? Often sounding more like those little placards you’ll find next to a painting in a museum, the language used in the fashion industry is heady, full of rag jargon. I get it. I went to art school, I know all too well explaining to the professor why I used certain colors or imagery. Which, for me anyway, was mostly bullshit… 99% of the time, I just “felt” that it was the right thing to do.

I believe fashion designers, like artists, graphic designers, architects, basically everyone in the visual arts, has a hard time linking that indescribable force compelling them to create to words we can actually understand. For those that can write about art and fashion, they’re like decoders, translating visual language to written. Some writers are great translators, others, well, churn out a lot of gobbley gook, which is why a lot of fashion reviews end up sounding like they want to mean something, but really mean absolutely nothing.

While Objects Without Meaning is a label with wonderful designs, I mean that’s what caught my eye at first… what really resonated was the bold-face admission that their clothes don’t have any “meaning.” They just exist.

“Objects Without Meaning resides in the present with no long-winded story to tell. We propose clothing as an empty vessel, a blank slate to be filled by the many experiences and emotions of daily life, merging nonchalance with a true sense of spirit.”

Perhaps the fashion industry has it all wrong. Our clothes shouldn’t do the talking for us, so why try so hard to make a statement?

The Young Family McCartney

You’ll have to pardon my lazy post today.

I was working on another post, for Eat, Sleep, Denim (The Beatles in Denim) and while researching, I came across this photo of Stella Mary McCartney as a baby tucked into Paul’s jacket. I just about fell out of my chair! You know, one of those moments when your ovaries burst? That happened.

Then getting lost in a Pinterest spiral, I kept finding more and more photos of the family McCartney. So much love! You could really see it in the photos. We all love our babies, our parents, our siblings, etc. but how often are we able to capture that on film (or pixels)? It’s not so easy. Anyway, this post has nothing to do with anything, but just how much I was touched by this beautiful family.

And… they are also very cool.

This just about killed me with cuteness!

Why the “Not-Feminist” Feminist Trend Is Frightening

When I think of “Not-Feminists,” usually images of older men, probably not very educated. Older women, like from my grandmother’s generation. Some people who didn’t go to college, or maybe high school. Hillbillies. The religious right. Sarah Palin types.

What’s disturbing is the new generation of Anti-Feminists are young women. Young women with careers. Seemingly educated.

They also believe that they should have the right to vote. They believe in “equality.” They believe they can be whatever they want without feminist principles.

Via Women Against Feminism

But they aren’t “feminists.”

Sure, Taylor Swift is one of these not-feminist feminists… back in 2012, she said in an interview:

I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.

She’s bubbly, talks about boys, and I get it. When I was younger, I tended to dumb down my demeanor. In fact, it’s a bad habit (drives my father bananas) I still do to this day. (See my video from yesterday). Maybe she knows what feminism is, but knows very well what identifying as one would mean. Maybe she didn’t want to politicize her work because that would cost her the “nice, non-threatening girl” image.

She’s not alone. Lana Del Rey is not interested in feminist issues. Lady Gaga “hails” men. Shalene Woodley says you can’t take power away from men.

“For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept,” she says. “I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested.”  says Lana Del Rey, “My idea of a true feminist is a woman who feels free enough to do whatever she wants.”

At first I thought, “Whoa, people need to get themselves a dictionary.” Here’s the Webster definition of “feminism”

fem·i·nism

noun \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\

: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

: organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests

Do we need a new word for “feminism” then?

Somehow, the word “feminist” got confused with misandry. I’m going to make an educated guess, and say the dominant group (men) felt threatened and mistook requests like, “I’d like to own property and vote” for “I want world domination.” The feminist brand is that of an angry woman, who probably hates men. Has a chip on her shoulder. Doesn’t shave. Wants to be a man.

I’d like to say, yeah, let’s get a new word! Woo hoo! New word! But the fact is, it’s called “feminism” because at the moment, women do not have the same rights and privileges as men. Feminism focuses on how to get women the same rights as men. Not more rights. The same. They don’t focus on getting men the same rights as women, because you know, why would a man want to be subjected to slut-shaming or having his wages cut by a third, even though he got better grades in college.

What needs to happen, like with any misconception, like remember when smoking was marketed as being “good for you?” No? Yeah, because people campaigned heavily for the truth: smoking is bad for you. The truth is feminism means men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

We need to talk about what feminism actually is, rather than pulling a Taylor Swift and saying we’re not feminists, but we do believe in feminist principles.

Pretty or Chic?

I used to go to this early morning support group. 6am early. In order to get there, I would just roll out of bed, throw on a sweatshirt, ratty jeans, sneakers and a baseball cap and go. For months, I did this. Then I got a job which required me to be there at 8am, so I woke up early and got dressed, put on makeup, etc. before leaving the house.

“Woah! You’re… pretty!” said one of the guys in the group.

Sure, it makes sense. We ALL look “prettier” when we dress up and wear makeup. The late Isabella Blow was notorious for using fashion to feel better, “If I feel really low, I go to see Philip [Treacy], cover my face [with his hats] and feel fantastic… Wearing a hat is like cosmetic surgery.” Blow would transform herself from what some perceived as “plain” into an exotic beauty with the extraordinary use of hats and clothes.

“If I feel really low, I go to see Philip [Treacy], cover my face [with his hats] and feel fantastic… Wearing a hat is like cosmetic surgery.” ~Isabella Blow

On the flip side, think Kim Kardashian or Lana Del Rey. They are both “beautiful”, and they obviously put a lot of effort in their image, but do you think they have great style? Beauty does not automatically give you style.

This year, with the rise of normcore, dressing down has never been more trendy. Baggy jeans, the more ripped, the better paired with Birkenstocks is practically the most trendy thing you can wear this summer. The no-makeup look is also super hot this summer. After several years of over-the-top styling and six-inch platform shoes, I do have to say dressing down is a welcome shift in trends. However, I have to wonder if the people who really carry it off, carry it off because they’re… pretty.

To put it into perspective, if, for my outfit posts, I were to wear the same exact outfit as pictured above, would it get pinned all over Pinterest?

No. I probably would just look like I gave up on life.

Now, this by no means is a ploy to get compliments or support. I’m completely comfortable with my looks …and my insecurities.

But it does make me wonder where the line between beauty and style lies.

Is a person beautiful because they have great style? Does a person have great style because they’re beautiful? Or is it their personality that makes them have great style and/or beauty?

Where do you draw the line between beauty and style?

Pop in to the Pop Up Shop: Haus of Half Hitch

Sometimes when people go on vacation, they just go. There is a hole where that person was for a bit.

But sometimes, something else comes in, even for a minute and it’s a pleasant surprise.

Half Hitch Goods, a retailer that normally lives online or on an old VW Bus in Hayes Valley, San Francisco, moved into the Birch Floral shop while it’s owners went away for the month. No, we’re not talking squatting. We’re talking pop up shop.

Carrie Cailoutette, the founder of Half Hitch, contacted a few friends, fashion designers The Podolls (who we know, from a previous post), jewelry retailer Metier, and artist Emily Proud, to collaborate for the month of July to create Haus of Half Hitch. The thing you notice first about the shop is that everything is beautiful with a rich quality… not rich like, the Vatican… but rich like full. Wool blankets soft to the touch. A set of linen kitchen towels printed by hand. Easy, yet high quality clothes by the Podolls are complimented by an interesting mix of new and estate jewelry from Metier. If you’re looking for art, you really should not miss Emily Proud’s watercolors, as they are subtly beautiful and also on the affordable side.

The collaboration is true in every way, Metier helped with the merchandizing, Emily helps with the sales, coordinating everyone to help in different ways, and Carrie holds down the fort as she organizes the meeting of four different brands in one space.

“Half Hitch is meant to connect people together through gifting.” says Carrie

Half Hitch Goods is a boutique that specializes in goods with stories.  Most things are made in the US, or imported by Carrie or a few select importers.  “Half Hitch is about shopping for yourself or for someone else and considering that person deeply, considering how a product is made and what materials a product is made with, or the process. And connecting that to the person in some way, whether it’s the country of origin or the materials that the gift is made.”

Perhaps, beyond connecting people through gifts, Half Hitch is connecting people through, well just getting us all offline and in one real live place.

Haus of Half Hitch

Open from July 3rd – 30th, everyday 11-7 Mon – Sat / 12-6 Sun. Located at the Birch floral shop at 564 Hayes St. San Francisco, CA 94133. There will  also be a few more events you might want to stop in for!

  • Saturday July 19th, 2pm – 5pm // Snowcones With The Podolls. A Podolls and Podots trunk show featuring boozy or virgin snowcones served by the design duo themselves.
  • Wednesday July 23rd 7pm – 9pm // Cocktails & Watercolors With Emily Proud
  • Friday July 25th 5pm – 8pm // Gin & Jewels With Metier A special trunk show with Sheri and Trina of Metier showing off one of a kind fine antique pieces as well as modern handmade jewelry.

Samuji: The Pursuit of Timelessness

It may be the middle of summer, but if you’re anything like me, you might already be setting your eyes (and your wish list) to fall.

Recently, I came across this Finnish brand, Samuji, which has exactly the look I’ve been coveting this year. Classic, futuristic, simple, rich in texture and silhouettes, this three-year-old label shares very much the direction many other fashion designers are taking these days: pursuing timelessness.

The pleated trousers with a slightly wide leg and cropped at the ankles look like a pair of slacks had a baby with a pair of culottes. So if you’re afraid to try culottes, but want a pair of updated pants, this is your lucky day. Sumuji’s boxy but lavish wool coats and crisp button down shirts, the collections do have a ring of timelessness, but, in a way, that’s very 2014. I do already own pieces that are in a lot of ways similar to what’s in this collection, but for some reason I still want everything here anyway.

Shoe D’Jour : A Visit to Nine West

My ‘fashion adventures’ at NYFW haven’t been very exciting like last season. I’ve was working really hard on the IFB Evolving Influence Conference, so I missed all the shows I was supposed to go to, then yesterday, the one show I had an invite to, put me in a crowded standing room, and I got claustrophobic and light headed so I left. Sorry, guys… It’s been an exciting, yet tough week.

The one thing I did get to do was  go to the Nine West office… When they invited me to visit their office in New York, I was kind of surprised, really… as it’s a brand that I’m familiar with and have a long history, and they just seemed so big, but it was nice to have the Assistant Creative Director Jennifer Malatesta walk me through the fall collection and tell the stories behind the shoes. I did ask the Jennifer about the mid-market knock offs, as in the Nine West collection, they also had a few ‘inspired by’ pieces, like a Luella inspired bag, and she gave the response that in fashion designs are inspired by each other all the time, and in many cases it’s hard to prove what is what. Which is true, even luxury brands take vintage clothing and copy patterns one-to-one.

Either way, I haven’t decided how I feel about that… as there is a heady, ‘in an ideal situation of course never would I wear a blatant inspired piece of another designer’, and the real life, ‘I like it, and it’s what I can afford.’

Some mid-market brands have been a continuous staple in my fashion diet… Over the last 20 years, I must have purchased 50 pairs of Nine West shoes…. they usually get me at least once a year, sometimes, multiple times, for me, they’ve been the standby, shoes that are affordable, decent and won’t fall apart in three minutes.

I do really like the new collection coming out by Nine West, particularly the thigh high lace up boots, and the bow gloves, they really did a nice job with the shoes this coming autumn and I’m really excited about it coming out… so here take a look… btw… I WILL get green boots this fall. Mark my words.

Loooove this bow glove!

And here is a Luella inspired bag…

Stylish & Eco-Friendly Lounging in Les Lunes

I would like to say that as a fashion blogger, that I am always perfectly dressed at all times. Even if I’m working from home and am not seeing anyone who doesn’t live in the apartment all day.

The truth is, a lot of times I’m wearing sweatpants or leggings or jersey shorts, with a tee shirt, or a tank top in the summer, a cozy sweater in the winter. A comfortable bra. And a ponytail. That is what I wear while blogging most of the time. Heck, I even sleep in one of those Barely There sleep bras.

Les Lunes, a San Francisco based company creates eco-friendly, yet stylish morsels to wear around the house. Most of the pieces are made of rayon from bamboo, a sustainable fabric that is super soft to the touch and almost weightless. The cozy cardigans which are perfect for wearing around the house, yet not too pajama like, if you need to run errands. Hey, there isn’t a day where I don’t leave the house in almost-pajamas.  Might as well make sure they’re stylish pajamas.

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