Voting en vogue

With Election Day traditionally on a Tuesday, it can be difficult to sneak away from work to head out to the polls. But one major fashion brand is taking steps to make sure that its employees participate in what is shaping up to be one of the most unconventional elections in American history.

According to Glamour, Tory Burch announced in an essay she wrote for the Wall Street Journal that she is giving her employees time off on Election Day — and she’s hoping other businesses will follow suit.

“As the CEO of a company, I can ensure that our employees have one less impediment to voting—time off to vote,” she wrote, says Glamour. “We are giving our employees time off on Election Day, Nov. 8, and we are making voter registration materials and information available. We call on our fellow corporate citizens to do the same.”

Pointing out that American voter turnout was at 53.6 percent in 2012, Burch’s piece cites studies indicating that such low turnout actually benefits career politicians, meanwhile efforts “including making Election Day a national holiday so that the very people whose lives are most affected by what goes on in Washington, D.C., and their state capitals can participate in their democracy without fear of losing ground” have failed to take hold.

Thus, Glamour says the CEO offered that the only way to open the door to the polls for working Americans is through the purview of their employers.

“It is rare that a CEO gets to make a decision that is as black and white as this one,” she wrote, according to Glamour. “Giving employees time off on Election Day will not only facilitate their participation in our democratic system—a net win for all of us—it will also foster a culture in which the importance of voting is recognized and celebrated.”

You heard her — now let’s get out there and vote.

A ‘Girls’ Life’ is more than looks

Leave it to Amy Schumer and Blake Lively to quietly bring attention to the casual gender stereotypes reinforced in American society.

Schumer got the ball rolling, says Motto by TIME when she took to Instagram last week to post a side-by-side image of two tween magazines, Girls’ Life and Boys’ Life (which Motto says are unaffiliated). Although Schumer’s caption only read “No,” it prompted her readers to spot the almost-blatant content differences between the two magazines.

Motto reports that the Boys’ Life cover has a “theme of ‘Explore Your Future’ (‘Astronaut? Artist? Firefighter? Chef? Here’s how to be what you want to be.’),” while the Girls’ Life  cover “promises to teach you not just how to get Your Dream Hair, but also how to Wake Up Pretty.”

Upon sharing the post, Motto says Blake Lively reposted the image to her account, writing that she “second[ed] that emotion.”

Motto reports that Karen Bokram, Girls’ Life publisher and founding editor, commented on the now-viral social media moment this way:

“‘Are we more than lip gloss and clothes? Of course,’ Bokram said, very much missing the point. ‘It’s okay to like lip gloss or be interested in fashion… I don’t know how [the problem] became ‘either you like lip gloss and clothes or you like being an astronaut.'”

Hopefully, Schumer and Lively’s comments will bring an end to antiquated gender stereotypes in the near future.


Cisneros receives National Medal of Arts

Author Sandra Cisneros has a way with words — that’s why she’s earned the recognition of the president of the United States.

According to the San Antonio Current, the Mexican-American author received a 2015 National Medal of Arts on Thurdsay, Sept. 22. Given by President Barack Obama and the National Endowment for the Arts, Cisneros earned the award for “her contributions to American literature in the 20th and 21st centuries, and her exploration of issues surrounding race and class that are so deeply prevalent in the United States,” says the San Antonio Current.

One of 12 award recipients, the San Antonio Current positions Cisneros as a “prominent literary figure” whose works like The House on Mango Street, Caramelo and Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories presents American life from the “perspective of ‘other.'”

Explaining Cisneros’ contributions to literature at large, the National Endowment for the Arts detailed her work this way:

“Through her novels, short stories, and poetry, she explores issues of race, class, and gender through the lives of ordinary people straddling multiple cultures. As an educator, she has deepened our understanding of American identity.”

J.Crew represents customers on runway

Watching runway shows at New York Fashion Week may feel like stepping into a utopia of high fashion and beautiful models, reading more as a form of art than as a presentation of upcoming design trends. That’s why J.Crew’s president and executive creative director placed some different faces on the runway for their fashion week show this year.

According to The Cut, the brand and its overarching tastemaker Jenna Lyons decided to hire “real, non-model people” to walk their forthcoming designs down the runway this year in an effort to think specifically about their customers.

“There’s so much going on in fashion, and I think one of the things that’s getting lost is the connection to people,” Lyons told The Cut of the decision. “And we keep talking about customers, but we’re not really talking to them, and it was a way to actually, I don’t know, talk to people.”

The Cut reports that Lyons and her team “made a list of 80 people, more than 90 percent of whom she knew through business or personal relationships; the rest were people she found randomly.” One such model: W Magazine writer Vanessa Lawrence, someone The Cut says Lyons met over the summer when she attended Giovanna Battaglia’s wedding.

The only other criterion for selecting the models was to ensure a diverse group, says The Cut,  with Lyons revealing to the site that she didn’t want to be guided by a specific vision; instead, she was focusing on making sure her models felt beautiful.

“Someone said to me, ‘Who is your muse?,’” she told The Cut, “and I was, like, ‘I don’t know, someone who likes clothes.’ It’s not about one individual person, I want everyone to feel beautiful, I want everyone to feel connected to the brand. They don’t all have to wear it the same way, I’m totally cool with that, and I love that. That’s what makes me want to make clothes, is making people feel beautiful, it doesn’t matter what they look like.”

To ensure their comfort with their looks, The Cut says Lyons and her team let the models choose how to style the looks according to their own preferences and let them do their own hair and makeup as they’d style it every day.

The goal, according to Lyons: “This was not about us telling them how to look, this was us looking at them and saying, How do you feel beautiful?



Watson pushes for sexual assault policy reform

An impassioned advocate for women and girls, Emma Watson is no stranger to speaking up to secure the rights of women around the world — and her recent speech is no exception.

According to Marie Claire, Watson addressed the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Sept. 20, to draw attention to “sexual assault on college campuses as she presented HeForShe‘s report on gender equality within universities.”

In her speech, Marie Claire says Watson explained that universities around the world are responsible for showing women “that not only do they have the right to study, but that they have the right and opportunity to lead within universities too.”

Later calling for revamped sexual assault policies on college campuses, Marie Claire reports Watson painted a picture of universities as a “place of refuge” from violence.

“A university should be a place of refuge that takes action against all forms of violence,” she said. “That’s why, we believe, that students should leave university believing in, striving for, and expecting societies of true equality in every sense and that universities have the power to be a vital catalyst for change.”

Watson went on to assert that the college experience must make the safety of all those who are vulnerable, including women and minorities, a “right and not a privilege,” reports Marie Claire.

This right, she offered, “will be respected by a community that supports and respects survivors, and recognizes that when one person’s safety is violated, the safety of everyone should feel violated.”

Delevingne face of Puma’s ‘Do You’ campaign

Own who you are and don’t be afraid to share your spirit with the world — that is the message behind a new ad campaign for Puma starring English model and actress Cara Delevingne.

According to ELLE, the athleticwear brand recently announced Delevingne as an ambassador for Puma Women, joining the ranks of other high-profile names in fashion and pop culture like Kylie Jenner and Rihanna. Her first project with the company: starring as the face of Puma’s “Do You” campaign, which ELLE reports was directed by Rihanna, who has served as the company’s creative director since 2014.

Inspired by Rihanna’s own words — “I dare myself to make things work. I don’t do things for response or controversy. I just live my life” — ELLE says Delevingne explained that the new campaign is all about living the truth of who you are.

“To ‘Do You’ is to take ownership of yourself and finding the power within that ownership — it’s a very powerful statement,” Delevingne said in a statement, according to ELLE. “It’s about accepting who you are, no matter your faults. ‘Do You’ is about finding your truth and sticking to it.”

To check out photos from the “Do You” campaign, click here.

‘Celebs Have Issues’ with the wage gap

The gender wage gap is a lingering problem that plagues women around the United States and around the world, yet the enduring issue has recently become the object of satire in a new video by the Huffington Post.

The online publication recently released a new series entitled, “Celebs Have Issues,” in which the Huffington Post says “famous people use comedy to raise awareness about important issues.”

The first installment of the series stars actress Kristen Bell, who tackles the issue of the wage gap in a comical — yet all-too-true — video in which she teaches “American businesses how to cut labor costs without resorting to outsourcing,” according to Slate. Just how can business curtail their spending? By hiring women, Bell insists in the video.

“Why outsource all of your production to far-away countries like India, China and Narnia when we have the cheapest and best workforce right here in the good ole US of A: women,” Bell quips in the video.

She goes on to introduce a faux company called, “Pinksourcing,” which only pays their female workers 77 cents to a dollar — just like the average wage gap in the United States. But the video doesn’t gloss over another latent problem in the disparity: changes in earnings by race. As Bell announces the average earnings of 77 cents to a dollar, a Black woman stands up and proclaims she only makes 60 cents, while a Latina woman says she makes 55 cents.

The two-minute video goes on to lay out other “perks” of hiring women that address common women’s rights issues, such as a lack of proper maternity leave programs and a lack of coverage for birth control options.

After all of the benefits of hiring women are laid out, Bell closes the video with Pinksourcing’s slogan: “Pretty, cheap labor,” reminding viewers yet again of the issues and stereotypes surrounding women in the workplace.

To watch the video in its entirety, click here.



Christian Siriano show features plus-size models

This fall’s New York Fashion Week has been nothing short of revolutionary. Beyond the cutting-edge styles featured, we’ve seen models in hijabs for the first time, and thanks to Christian Siriano, we’ve now seen all sizes represented on the runway.

According to Glamour, Siriano sent five plus-size models down the runway for his fashion week show, while also dressing plus model Ashley Graham who watched the show from the front row.

This all comes on the heels of several attempts made by the designer to make fashion available to all sizes and body types. Glamour not only points out the now-famous red dress he made for Leslie Jones to attend her Ghostbusters premiere, but also the wedding dress he custom-made plus-size blogger Nicolette Mason as examples of his efforts to promote size diversity.

But beyond designing stunning looks for actresses, models and bloggers, Glamour says Siriano is also making his design talents even more accessible through his new collaboration with Lane Bryant. The limited-edition collection features everything from midi dresses and wrap coats to jumpsuits and jeans, and pieces start at $38.94 — a truly accessible line for all price points and sizes.

Telling Glamour about his runway show preparation, Siriano shared just how he and his team made sure their sample sizes would fit curvier models.

“We preplanned a little bit,” he told Glamour. “We knew we wanted to have curvy girls in the show, so we pre-made things that I thought would work on their bodies. I made 12s, 14s, and 16s in pieces I thought would look good on those sizes, and then we altered them on the girls. Who, by the way, came in our normal casting. It was amazing. We saw 450 girls!”

Now that Siriano is all about making style attainable for all sizes, he mentioned to Glamour that he hopes to broaden the range of sizes he offers in the future.

“We go up to a 14, in general,” he said, “but I would like to stock size 20 and 22.”

But for now, Siriano is still slowly plugging away at an industry built on size exclusivity — and he’s doing it one design at a time.

‘Bridget Jones’ makes history

Bridget Jones’s Baby made its United States debut on Sept. 16, and while the film is already raking in big bucks at the box office, it’s also securing its place in history.

According to Bustle, the film — which is preceded by films Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason — not only marks the rare occasion of a “trilogy of romantic comedies with a female protagonist who has remained relevant for about 15 years,” it is also “ is the first movie trilogy with all female directors.”

Bridget Jones’s Diary, released in 2001, was directed by Sharon Maguire, while the second installment in the trilogy released in 2004 came under the direction of Beebon Kidron, a director from North London. Bridget Jones’s Baby, however, almost didn’t follow suit with another female director, reports Bustle.

Paul Feig (of Bridesmaids fame) was first slated to direct the project in 2011, says Bustle, but was later replaced by Peter Cattaneo (who ditched the production in 2012). But another change brought the film back on track to make history.

Bustle reports that this change was British actress and writer Emma Thompson, who “was brought on board to work on the script by Helen Fielding (who wrote the original Bridget Jones books) and Dan Mazer.”

And the rest, as they say, is history:

“Thompson joined the film at a time when reports were running wild that the third Bridget Jones movie was, for all intents and purposes, dead in the water,” Bustle says. “‘Trying to get a third film into production has been a nightmare,’ an anonymous source claimed to The Sun at the time. Whatever Thompson did seemed to do the trick. Soon, the movie was back in development, and Maguire was hired to direct. It might not be directly related, but it’s possible that hiring a woman writer (Thompson) to refine the script helped attract Maguire, a female director, to Bridget Jones’s Baby.”

What resulted was a film with a female director, two female screenwriter and a complete trilogy directed by females — one small, but important step in proving the talents and abilities of women everywhere.



Obama and InStyle team up for handbag collection

While fashion helps us look good, it can also do good — and that’s exactly the aim of a new handbag collection from First Lady Michelle Obama and InStyle.

Fresh off her stint as covergirl for InStyle‘s October issue, People Style says Obama and InStyle channeled their working relationship into a new line of handbags that will benefit the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund, the First Lady’s project to “to help adolescent girls around the world attend school since more than 62 million girls are currently not in classrooms due to physical, cultural, or financial barriers.”

Teaming up with American designers, the line features several limited-edition tote bags that depict a country of the designers’ choosing in which “Let Girls Learn is working to provide education to young women who need it,” reports People Style, and the resulting design is inspired by the culture of the country.

Designers like Carolina Herrera (who chose Peru), Prabal Gurung (who chose South Africa), Jason Wu, DKNY, Diane Von Furstenberg, Tanya Taylor and Narciso Rodriguez all joined in on the project, offering stylish tote designs that People Style says will be available only at starting on Oct. 10 (pre-orders started on Sept. 12).

Totes start at $52, says People Style, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Let Girls Learn.