Gender ‘Games’

Just because Hollywood writers and directors create a female assassin character doesn’t mean they are aiming for female empowerment — that’s what “Game of Thrones” star Natalie Dormer has concluded after playing such roles.

According to The Huffington Post, Dormer explained in an interview with The Guardian that although she has appeared in a number of racier scenes in both “Game of Thrones” and “The Tudors,” they don’t readily equate to female empowerment.

“Female empowerment shouldn’t be exclusively about sexuality,” Dormer said. “And you meet a lot — and I’m going to be careful what I say here — you meet a fair fraction of male writers and directors who want to wave the equality flag and believe that they’re making you a kick-ass female assassin, and they’re empowering you. Whereas true empowerment would be… [laughing] you know, not a stylized, hyper-sexualization.”

Dormer was recently met with criticism after commenting on her “Game of Thrones” character Queen Margaery Tyrell’s relationship with the underage King Tommen (a 12-year-old boy in the books who is played onscreen by 17-year-old Dean Charles Chapman). In speaking on the two characters, The Huffington Post said, “Dormer told one publication that ‘after what we’ve done on this show — the rape, the incest, the child murdering’ she was ‘baffled’ by louder outcry to this storyline in particular. Some twisted these comments into the actress condoning sex with minors.”

Releasing a statement to clarify her comments, Dormer asserted that a man wouldn’t have garnered such criticism had he made similar remarks.

“The first point is that the male actors in the show don’t get a lot of flak when they’re raping and murdering, because people understand it’s fantasy, and yet if a female actress has to portray something — which isn’t portrayed explicitly — I get flak, personally,” she explained in an interview with The Guardian.

However, The Huffington Post reported that Dormer does get a break from the more hyper-sexualized roles she has played, specifically citing her role of Cressida in “The Hunger Games” series. “It’s so refreshing to play a woman who’s not defined by the love of a man,” she explained to The Guardian. “I was getting a little tired of sitting around in a silk skirt. It was a good antidote to put on a pair of army boots and run around in the mud for nine months.”


‘Bold and Bald’

Dayna Christison began modeling when she was younger, but never considered pursuing it as a career. But when a friend asked her to model for his fashion photography portfolio, she immediately agreed, hoping to define beauty in a different way from the norm: “bold and bald.”

According to Today, the now 25-year-old model was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2012, right in the middle of her senior year at LIM College, a school that focuses on the business of fashion in New York. She went on to graduate from the college, only to learn that her cancer was not Stage II as originally diagnosed, but instead a much more severe Stage IV.

Christison underwent numerous rounds of chemotherapy at the expense of her hair, and even received two stem cell transplants after learning that the cancer spread to her lungs.

That April, Today says that Christison entered a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. However, around the same time, she also signed a modeling contract with Major Models after she appeared at an open call for the agency.

Fast forward a year later, and Christison not only landed a modeling contract, but also walked down the runway at New York Fashion Week and modeled in a string of Urban Outfitters television commercials, something Today says she does in between the cancer treatments she receives every other week.

Christison explained that despite working in the fashion industry in production and styling positions since her graduation from college, she decided to model upon realized how it could inspire others, especially other cancer patients.

“I definitely wanted to go into this for other people. That was the main reason I started,” she said.

Receiving positive feedback from other women enduring cancer treatments lets Christison know that her impact is felt. “Cancer is such a terrible thing to deal with and process, but to have someone say that I helped them feel, even a little bit, more comfortable with what they looked like, just because of my own confidence? It’s so amazing when that happens,” she said.

As for Christison, Today says her treatments are going well, and she hopes to continue inspiring others through her efforts.

“People need to see it’s still okay to live your life if you have this disease. It’s not the end of the world. You just have to push through and persevere,” she said.

Thank you, Dayna Christison, for being a model of beauty and strength redefined.



She Leads, You Follow: British Fashion Awards Edition

The boldest and the best of British fashion took to the red carpet on Nov. 23 for the British Fashion Awards of 2015. The annual event, which began in 1989 to honor prominent figures in British fashion whose contributions have transcended far beyond the UK, was held at the London Coliseum and saw the likes of Anna Wintour and Victoria Beckham in attendance. But some attendees stood out among the rest for their impeccable style.

First to catch our eye in a sophisticated white ensemble was model Arizona Muse. She floated down the red carpet in this ethereal two-piece gown, featuring a beaded elbow-length crop top and a cascading solid white skirt. A silver frame clutch, a red lip and a classic updo completed her stunning look.

Black and white was far from boring when model Jourdan Dunn walked the red carpet of the British Fashion Awards in this striking number. Featuring a mock-neck and cutouts at her waist and back, this gown revamped the classic combination. Dunn paired her look with a simple silver strappy heel and a few bold rings.

Actress Kate Beckinsale opted for an all-black ensemble for the evening’s festivities, wearing an open-back dress with black heels and a black clutch. She completed her look with her signature high ponytail updo.

Capping off our favorite looks of the night was model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who stunned in a silver encrusted Burberry gown with a plunging neckline. Chandelier earrings and tousled hair completed her stylish ensemble.

Although these lovely ladies are dressed for a night to celebrate British fashion’s elite, there are some things we can take away from their style to apply to the way we dress every day:

  1. Simplicity is key – One of the unifying factors among all four of these looks is that they are all fairly simple; while they may have beading, cutouts or interesting necklines, they don’t feature overwhelming prints or over-the-top accessories. Each look has one interesting focal point, to which all other things play a supporting role: for Muse, it’s the beaded crop top; for Dunn, it’s the cutouts; for Beckinsale, it’s the back detail; for Huntington-Whiteley, it’s the plunging neckline. All of the other details of their outfits — from their hair to their jewelry to their shoes and accessories — enhance instead of detract from the focal points of their looks.
  2. Neutrals are interesting – Another common theme among these looks is their color: they are all done in neutral colors. From black and white, to all white, to all black, to silver, these looks are all neutral, but still so appealing. Why? Because of the shape of the gowns and their intricate details. While some have interesting cutouts, others have elaborate beading either at the bodice of the gown or all the way through. These gowns also have inherent shape-creating structures; Muse’s crop top accentuates her waist, while Dunn’s and Beckinsale’s cutouts do the same. Huntingon-Whiteley’s plunging neckline not only frames her face, it also acts as a pointing device to her waist, making it appear even smaller. Details like these are small, but they make all the difference.

A Day of Thanks

I woke up this morning, opened my eyes and saw the familiar walls of my home. I got out of bed, walked around, brushed my teeth, ate breakfast and spent the first half of the day in my pajamas. I was surrounded by my family (including my dog), and we shared a delicious meal. After dinner, we gathered in the family room to watch television together, all laughing and joking together.

This, to me, is a perfect day. And it is a collection of small things like these that inspire such gratitude in my heart not just on this Thanksgiving Day, but every day. To wake up, to see, to breathe, to live. To spend a day with my loving family in my warm house, to eat good food, to laugh. These are the things that I hold most dear, the things I appreciate the most in my life.

But on this Thanksgiving, I have something else to be grateful for — Take Her Lead. Embarking on the journey that has been THL was one of the most exciting, yet slightly terrifying things I have ever done. When I published my first post, I remember thinking, “What if no one reads it? What if all the work I plan on putting into this amounts to nothing?” As the posts accumulated and the days and weeks progressed, I realized my fears were unfounded — people were reading my posts and my hard work seemed to pay off.

And this is where I thank you, the readers. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read what I post on THL, thank you for commenting and interacting with me and thank you for following me either here on the site or on social media. Without you, I’m not sure where this site would be right now.

I am thankful every day of every year for my wonderful family, but this year, I have a little more to be grateful for because of THL— my life has forever been changed by this site.

THL allows me to practice my passion every single day, and there is no better feeling in the world than to do what you love day in and day out. So thank you, readers, for sticking with me since I introduced myself all those many months ago. I hope you continue on this journey with me wherever it may lead.

Happy Thanksgiving all.



All Hail Adele

As if Adele weren’t already topping the charts with the release of her latest album 25, the 27-year-old songstress is also making headlines for her body-positive commentary.

According to The Huffington Post, Adele sat down with Australia’s 60 Minutes to talk about her latest album, alongside sexism and body image issues.

Speaking on the sexism she’s encountered throughout her career, she said, “I’ve always been asked questions about my body and my weight and my size and my style and stuff like that. And I totally understand. It’s a little bit annoying that men don’t get asked that question as much. But other than that it seemed to astound people that I was plus size and being successful, that was how I felt,” she said according to The Daily Mail. 

The Huffington Post also reports that The Spectrum’s Jenny Eliscu hosted a Sirius XM Town Hall Q&A last week with Adele, who explained that she has body image problems, but she doesn’t let them run her life. “There’s only one of you, so why would you want to look like anyone else?,” she said. “Why would you want to have the same hair style as everyone else and have the same opinions as everybody else?”

Perhaps her best line on body image yet: “I don’t make music for eyes. I make music for ears.”

Thank you, Adele, for teaching us that talent is worth so much more than looks.

Nolan Knocks the Sports Industry

We’ve heard of women slowly breaking into the sports industry, either as coaches (like Becky Hammon) or as color commentators (Jessica Mendoza). But there is one woman in sports who doesn’t just comment on sports games, she also highlights often undiscussed issues in the sports industry.

Meet Katie Nolan, host of Fox Sports 1’s “Garbage Time,” who uses her show to provide “a hilarious take on sports,” while also trying to “elevate the dialogue of sports culture to a place that challenges players, leagues, and reporters to think about the impacts they have on our society,” according to Amy’s Smart Girls.

Described as the “Stephen Colbert of the professional sports world,” Nolan wrote her way into the sports industry by running a successful sports blog called “B*tches Can’t Hang.” Her sports analysis on the blog attracted the attention of Fox’s producers, which eventually led to her show “Garbage Time.”

Nolan uses her platform on “Garbage Time” to not only challenge the current culture of sports, but also to “sarcastically pulverize her co-workers’ sexist articles as ‘uninteresting, unfunny, and generally useless,'” says Amy’s Smart Girls, while also tackling issues that “her own network often fails to fully discuss, like mental illness and domestic violence.” She also has covered sports that other stations and networks rarely focus on, such as the National Women’s Hockey League.

Her unique perspective on sports contrasts the recent decline of female journalists in sports — that is, a 7 percent decline since 2013, according to Amy’s Smart Girls. Nolan addressed the importance of her role in an interview with Mic., explaining that the most of the jobs and money are concentrated around males in the industry which allows viewers to “tune into this network and listen to this white man, or this network and listen to this white man.”

Thank you, Katie Nolan, for offering a new (and much-needed) take on sports.


She Leads, You Follow: AMAs Edition

It was night to celebrate music’s finest as the American Music Awards took over the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, California on Sunday, Nov. 22. From Jennifer Lopez’s stunning dance ensemble to open the show to Nick Jonas’ gospel performance of “Jealous,” it was certainly filled with performances to remember. And of course, it was replete with memorable fashion.

First to wow us was “All About that Bass” singer Meghan Trainor, who walked the red carpet in a simple black gown with an exaggerated shoulder. Her sleek dress was offset by her tousled curls and a bright red lip.

Changing things up in a silver see-through number was E! host Giuliana Rancic, who wore silver gown with black mesh mosaic-like panels. She completed her look with a Swarovski clutch.

Opting for a pants look was Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson, who walked down AMAs red carpet in a fitted emerald green suit. Benson polished off her look with sky-high pointed toe pumps.

Stunning in another silver ensemble was model Hannah Davis, who rocked the red carpet in a silver mesh gown with a high neckline. A sleek ponytail and a velvet belt finished off her chic ensemble.

Although these ladies are dressed for the red carpet, there are certain things we can take away from their looks and apply to the way we dress every day:

  1. Simple is stunning – Both Meghan Trainor and Ashley Benson both wore fairly simple looks, but they looked impossibly chic. How could such subdued outfits be so chic? Because they fit well. The key to making any outfit, no matter how simple or complex, look stunning is to make sure they fit properly. This means ensuring that the shoulder seams hit right at the top of your shoulders, that the waist hits just at your natural waist and that the material doesn’t pull at your hips.
  2. Define your waist – All of these looks accentuate their natural waists, which automatically elevates their ensembles. Working in unison with No. 1, defining your waist helps to make your midsection look tinier while also creating the illusion of an hourglass shape; when done in a garment with a stronger shoulder (like in Trainor’s gown), the shoulder will balance out your hips and make your waist look even tinier.
  3. Details, Details, Details – Giuliana Rancic’s dress, as well as that of Hannah Davis, both feature some pretty intricate details, which create visual interest in the outfit. The silver detailing on Rancic’s gown also creates shape, as it makes her shoulders appear broader, her waist narrower and her hips rounder. Davis’ gown acts as an overlay for the bodysuit under her gown, which creates this subtle sexiness. Details like different colored panels or mesh overlays are easy ways to elevate any look.

Take Her Look [For Less]

Show-business magazine Variety and their sister publication Women’s Wear Daily held a launch party on Thursday, Nov. 19 at Smashbox Studios in Culver City, California for their latest media venture, Stylemakers, a publication in which fashion and entertainment meet. And keeping true to their new magazine, all the hottest stylemakers of Hollywood showed up to mark the occasion in high style.

One such stylemaker was Kerry Washington, who wore a striped crop top and midi skirt combo by Saloni, InStyle reports. Capping off her look were chevron Nicholas Kirkwood pumps and jewelry by Anita Ko.

Although we love Washington’s striped style, we can’t say we are thrilled about it’s price. Her pumps alone, the Nicholas Kirkwood Women’s Monochrome Chevron Pointed Pump, originally retailed for $790, although they are currently on sale for $158 on LN-CC. We think you don’t have to pay high prices to achieve a high-fashion look, so we set out to recreate her entire look for less than the sale price of her pumps — that is, less than $158. Read on for the results!

Leave it to Lulu’s to present us with the perfect two-piece dress in the form of the Telephone Lines Black and Ivory Striped Two-Piece Dress to recreate Washington’s Saloni look. Mimicking the wrapped bodice style of Washington’s top, this two-piece style also features a full skirt reminiscent of her midi style. And the best part — this dress will only set you back $49.

lulus lovely black and ivory

The Telephone Lines Black and Ivory Striped Two-Piece Dress, found on

Chevron pumps will complete our look for less, and the Chevron Pointed Toe Pumps from Charlotte Russe will do just the trick. Done in a similar pointed-toe style, these chevron printed pumps will easily pass for Washington’s pumps, but they certainly don’t cost as much — these pumps cost an easy $16.99.

charlotte russe zigzag shoe

The Chevron Pointed Toe Pumps, found on

Kerry Washington’s Nicholas Kirkwood heels alone may cost a sale price of $158, but our entire look for less will only set you back $65.99 — yes, you read that right. Just add your favorite jewelry, you’ll have taken Washington’s look for MUCH less!

Happy Shopping!

Ansari’s Wisdom on Women

The hilariously funny Aziz Ansari recently released his new Netflix series, Master of None, a comedy following the personal and professional life of an indecisive 30-year-old New York actor. But in a Nov. 11 interview with The Daily Beast, Ansari discussed the show, as well as the surprising theme of one of series’ episodes.

According to The Huffington Post, Ansari spoke on the issue of female harassment in light of one of the episodes of Master of None that dealt specifically with the topic. A self-proclaimed feminist, Ansari “pointed out why it’s so important for everyone, but men especially, to recognize and learn about women’s experiences.”

In his interview with The Daily Beast, Ansari said that most female celebrities are subject to death threats on Instagram, but male celebrities don’t face the same treatment. “No one is giving Drake death threats — only female celebrities get that … If you’re not aware that it’s happening overwhelmingly more to women than it is to men, you’re an idiot who’s detached from reality.”

In discussing the recent Master of None episode that addresses harassment, Ansari explained that the idea for the episode was inspired by one of his stand-up comedy shows.

“I’d talk about women getting followed home by creepy dudes, and I’d ask during the bit, ‘Raise your hands if you’re a woman and you’ve been followed home,’ and everyone would raise their hand,” he said. Ansari went on to explain the reactions of the female audience members, saying that all of the women were startled when they’d look around the room to see that they were not the sole recipients of such harassment.

Following this bit, Ansari asked the men in the audience if they knew the breadth of the issue. “They couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I thought it was interesting that this is happening, yet so many people are unaware of it. And the problem is people aren’t talking about it.”

Ansari went on to describe how important it is to listen to women’s experiences with harassment, and even sexism in general — something he said he has learned to do in his own life.

He advised men to “go to your group of female friends and ask them about times they’ve experienced sexism at their job, and you’ll get blown away by the things they tell you. You’ll think, ‘What the f*ck? This is way darker than anything I’d imagined.'”

Thanks, Aziz Ansari, for calling on men to take time to listen to women and their stories.


Starting a ‘RunwayRiot’

Model Iskra Lawrence is starting a riot against photo-retouching with her brand-new fashion website — a ‘RunwayRiot,’ that is.

According to People, Lawrence’s new site that launched on Wednesday, Nov. 18, RunwayRiot, is a fashion website for curvy women, but the photos featured on the site have one very important feature: none of the photos are retouched.

The 25-year-old model discussed her decision to make her site Photoshop-free with Good Morning America Wednesday morning. “It’s something I’m so passionate about, because growing up I wanted to feel confident in myself and who I am, not for being someone that was retouched, that I couldn’t identify with,” she said.

This is not Lawrence’s first time working with unretouched photos. People  cited her work earlier this year in American Eagle Outfitters’ successful underwear ad campaign featuring unretouched images.

In her own experience as a model, Lawrence said she had not been accepted for certain modeling jobs for “being a straight-size model because I was too curvy, and then I was too small to be a plus-size model.” Because of this, when creating RunwayRiot, she set out to make fashion more inclusive.

Stepping into the role of managing editor for her editorial and e-commerce site, People reported that Lawrence aims to cover beauty and fashion for women of all sizes.

“We plan to create a home for women to come and feel inspired,” she said of RunwayRiot. “It’s going to be the first chance for women to feel included in fashion, from 0s to 28s. We’re going to talk about cool and trendy clothes for all sizes.”

Lawrence went on to express the importance of her site, and how it will give voice to women of all shapes and sizes. “Social media created a voice for women to say, ‘Well actually we all want to be represented.’ So for me, it gave me confidence to stand up and say, ‘It’s time to see more women in the media of different sizes.'”