Ava & Viv are all-inclusive

While much of the fashion industry seems to be dedicated to the tall and thin, some brands and retailers are seeking to deliver options for a greater variety of body types.

Such is the case with Target and Ava & Viv, a plus-size collection released by the retailer in February 2015, according to WWDIts launch came alongside Target’s marketing strategy to promote body positivity that they have actively pushed since 2015, evidenced by their #NOFOMO swimsuit campaign earlier this year.

But as WWD points out, Ava & Viv is unique in that it doesn’t aim to serve everyone from adults to children; instead, the collection zeroes in specifically on plus sizes. “Target saw a void,” according to WWD, “and stepped in to  grab a chunk of the rapidly growing $17.5 billion plus-size market.”

Target touts that 10 of the brands the retailer owns — which includes “Merona, Cherokee, Mossimo, Xhilaration, Circo and C9 by Champion” — have totaled more than $1 billion each per year in sales, a feat that Ava & Viv will likely accomplish, as it is already seeing high sales from its jeggings and skinny jeans, according to WWD.

Contributing further to its success is the buzz generated about the brand from bloggers:

“Bloggers have contributed to Ava & Viv’s success, a Target spokeswoman said. The retailer initially approached three plus-size bloggers when Ava & Viv launched. Nicolette Mason, a blogger for Marie Claire, GarnerStyle blogger Chastity Garner, and Gabi Gregg, who writes the Gabi Fresh blog. The three women gave suggestions to Target about how the Ava & Viv collection could be improved.”

Not only are bloggers creating an online awareness of the collection, the spokeswoman from Target also said that their opinions of the clothing are being taken into account as the line continues to be developed.

“The team is focused on the guest feedback,” she said. “Plus-size guests want the same style as the guest who wears a regular rtw size. We attribute a lot of the growth of Ava & Viv to the guest-centric approach and ensuring the assortment is reflective of the trends.”


Nude for all

Christian Louboutin took one step to become more inclusive in December 2015 when the luxury brand featured size 12-14 model Clementine Desseaux in their social media campaign for their line of rouge lipsticks. Three months later, the brand is making headlines yet again for thinking beyond the norm.

According to Who What Wear, Louboutin has created and unveiled nude shoes that represent a range of different skin tones. Redefining “nude” to be indicative of the term’s true relative nature to a person’s unique skin color, Louboutin has released the shoes in “seven different hues to match a much wider range of skin tones,” reports Who What Wear’s Erin Fitzpatrick.

A photo posted on Instagram from the brand reveals four of the new shades, showing just how many variations there are from the “typical” nude.

Touting a “spectrum of nudes,” a triptych of photos on the company’s Instagram shows shades ranging from a rich chocolate tone to a more intermediate tan to what would be considered a traditional nude.

The caption of the middle installment of the series sums up the line’s aim in this way:

 “Seven shades of nude ensure every woman can meet her match.”

To shop the collection, click here.


Beauty knows no age

Yazemeenah Rossi is stirring up the fashion industry, but not because of her flawless skin and flowing blonde locks.

In fact, Rossi may be considered quite the opposite. A 60-year-old, silver-haired woman, Rossi is the star of the latest swimsuit ad campaign for a collaboration between fashion label The Dreslyn and lingerie brand Land of Women, according to Good HousekeepingSetting the fashion industry ablaze, the magazine says that Rossi’s ads “show off both the beautiful bathing suits and Rossi’s elegant modeling skills.”

While Rossi is certainly garnering attention for her photos, she told TODAY that being considered “revolutionary” for modeling in her sixties won’t slow her down.

“When I was younger, I was more insecure … But I always wanted to be me. When you are yourself and you don’t try to copy, you get power. And you feel that power the more you go on in life,” she said.

And the model certainly does remain true to herself; while the fashion industry priveleges young women and promotes perfection, Good Housekeeping says that Rossi “has opted to keep her hair both long and gray rather than chop and dye it.”

What’s more is that The Dreslyn did not airbrush over her wrinkles to create the illusion of smooth, blemish-free skin. Instead, they let Rossi’s natural beauty — “imperfections” and all — speak for itself.

While it is evident that Rossi is making headlines for her photos, one thing is also quite clear: she proves that true beauty knows no age.


Women’s place in politics

In a scintillating piece written for The New York Timesbest-selling author Jennifer Weiner tackled the changing significance of nude images and sex tapes in the realms of politics and pop culture. Arguing that while these videos and photos were once the source of a public female’s fall from grace, Weiner says that they are now losing their destructive force, so long as the woman is in charge of not only the camera but the release of such images.

However, Weiner also claims that such uses of the sexualized female are infiltrating the current presidential race, citing the recent showdown between Republican hopefuls Donald Trump and Ted Cruz (R-TX), which began with the release of a video from a super PAC called “Make America Awesome” that shared images of a nude Melania Trump posed for GQ with the words “Meet Melania Trump. Your Next First Lady.” emblazoned across the screen. Thinking that Cruz’s team created the ads, Trump fired back, taking aim at Cruz’s wife, Heidi, even sharing a side-by-side image of Heidi Cruz and Melania Trump, with the image of the former model Melania clearly serving to diminish Heidi.

Although Cruz jumped to the defense of his wife, Weiner argues that not only have both women been reduced to mere “things” through the exchange, but also that other women — like FOX New’s Megyn Kelly who was called a “bimbo” in a tweet shared by Trump — have been downgraded to objects throughout the entire presidential campaign season. She writes:

“In this strangest of primary seasons, women exist primarily in terms of their relationships to the men they marry or question or critique. They can either be beauties or beasts or ‘the love of my life.’ They can be ‘crazy’ or ‘losers,’ ‘fat pigs’ or ‘dogs.’ They can be mothers and daughters. They can be the currency with which you buy voters’ belief in your machismo and alpha-maleness, or they can be the sand you kick in the face of a ‘New York bully.’ In every case, whether they are assets or liabilities, they are objects. In no case are they people.”

Wrapping up her argument by saying the super PAC’s ad not only brought on “the predictable calls to leave candidates’ families out of the fray,” she says that it was also accompanied by “charges of slut-shaming, and the insistence that a grown woman can pose as she wishes; that as long as it’s her choice, it’s empowering.” And while Melania Trump may have opted to pose for GQ, the way in which her photos were used to slut-shame her portrayed her “modeling portfolio as revenge porn.”

What, then, could change such perspectives on women on this side of the aisle? Perhaps the answer exists in a strong female who, as Weiner argues through the person of former Republican candidate Carly Fiorina, is “a candidate, not just a wife and a mother, or a face and a figure — a person, instead of a thing.”

Consider, for a moment, what such a figure could do; maybe an assertive female would voice objections to the treatment and portrayal of women thus far in the campaigns. Maybe she wouldn’t even need to vocally oppose such images of women; maybe her presence alone would prove that women are not objects to be talked about, ammunition to feed virulent campaigns or voiceless, helpless things to be defended by the more emphatic presence of a man. Maybe her presence would prove that women are capable of defending themselves, being leaders and being more than just a pretty thing to be talked about — maybe she could prove that women are people, too.

As Weiner points out, both Melania Trump and Heidi Cruz are accomplished in their own rights: “Melania Trump speaks multiple languages and is a successful businesswoman,” while “Heidi Cruz has an M.B.A. from Harvard and had made a name for herself in the worlds of both politics and finance.”

But what we, the general public, knows of either of them is that they were recently pitted against each other not in a face-off that would crown its winner the most successful or the most intelligent, but in one that would only compare superficialities — as if we were deciding between one brand of car and another, merely comparing one’s features to its rival’s.

While the media will surely be tracking the Trump/Cruz feud in the coming week(s), one thing is for sure: women are not being treated as women. What is worrisome, then, is how such candidates may — or may not — address hot-button issues that directly impact women; from reproductive rights to equal pay, there are a host of issues concerning women that will need to be addressed by each candidate sooner or later. But if the candidates’ wives are being outrightly discussed as objects, as Weiner so eloquently pointed out, then how will they tackle issues that concern all American women?

Sifting through the excess to get to the heart of each candidate’s platforms and beliefs can be difficult, but Weiner’s article certainly shed some light on a concerning aspect of the current presidential race, and her argument is something we should not take lightly as we enter into the homestretch of campaign season.


Rowland rolls into the makeup industry

While the fashion industry is slowly becoming more inclusive of different body types and sizes, the makeup industry is also about to get a little more inclusive with the help of singer Kelly Rowland.

According to The Huffington Post, Rowland told Essence magazine on Monday, March 21 that she will be launching a makeup line especially for dark-skinned women.

Partnering with her makeup artist, Sheika Daley, Rowland said they will begin the line with lashes and grow it from there. However, they will be “definitely making sure we have our chocolate girls covered. Gotta get the chocolate girls in there!,” said Rowland. “We have to have that, you know. I think Iman has done a beautiful makeup line and I want to do it too!”

The Huffington Post reports that her line will join other products for darker-skinned women, including  Cocoa Swatches and Queen by CoverGirl.

While no release date has been announced, the line is certainly something to watch for.

She Leads, You Follow: The Daily Front Row Edition

Sometimes, celebrities are just so stylish that they have to be honored for it.

That was exactly the case when The Daily Front Row hosted their second annual Fashion Los Angeles Awards 2016 on Sunday, March 20 at the Sunset Tower Hotel, according to Fashionista.com. With guests like Kate Hudson, Alessandra Ambrosio and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in attendance, the the Awards celebrated those stars who have left their mark on Hollywood’s fashion scene.

One such fashion icon of Hollywood in attendance was Jennifer Lopez, who rocked the red carpet in a white Ermanno Scervino midi dress, says Cosmopolitan. Styling the demure dress with white pointed-toe pumps, a metallic frame clutch and gold jewelry, she added a bit of edge to the sweet look with a bold lip color.

Opting for a full-length gown was model Kaia Gerber, daughter of the famous Cindy Crawford. Wearing a black halter gown with grommet-accented straps and waist, Gerber completed her look with loose waves and natural makeup.

While these stylish ladies are dressed to rub elbows with fellow fashionable starlets from Los Angeles, there are some things that we can learn from their looks to apply to the way we dress every day:

  1. Punch up your look – Even though Lopez wore a sweet, all-white ensemble, she pumped up the volume by adding lots of jewelry and even a dramatic lip color. This serves to break up the monochrome look while also adding subtle detail to create a visually stimulating look overall. If you feel that your outfit needs a breath of life, try adding a statement necklace, a fringe heel or even a plum lipstick to add some interesting details to a simple look.
  2. It’s all in the details – Gerber’s grommet-accented gown is the perfect example of how subtle details can combine to create an intriguing look. The grommets not only accented the straps, they also defined her waist by creating a thick band to encompass her waist while also showing small peeks of skin. Small details like this can elevate even the simplest of looks, taking them from basic to beautiful. When shopping for pieces for your wardrobe, basic pieces with details like grommets, lace-covered cutouts or even tonal prints can offer subtle details that combine to create a visually interesting look that will have others admiring your fashion sense.

Obama pushes to ‘let girls learn’

Of the many causes taken up by the Obamas during their time in the White House, one that First Lady Michelle Obama has championed is education, not just for all children, but specifically for girls, hoping to create a sexism-free education.

In her speech given Wednesday, March 23 in Argentina, The Huffington Post says that the First Lady had her own experiences with sexism in school, something that may have fueled her passion for the cause.

Obama said that she had teachers who “‘would call on the boys instead of the girls, even though the girls had better grades,’ and would ask her brother about his career ambitions while asking her what kind of man she wanted to marry,” according to The Huffington Post.

Although she experienced subtle sexism in school growing up, it certainly did not end there, Obama said.

“As I got older, I found that men would whistle at me as I walked down the street, as if my body were their property, as if I were an object to be commented on instead of a full human being with thoughts and feelings of my own … I began to realize that the hopes I had for myself were in conflict with the messages I was receiving from people around me.”

Pointing out that such comments made her question herself, Obama explained that after years of doubting herself and her abilities, she finally learned to stop caring about others’ opinions.

“I decided not to listen to the voices of those who doubted or dismissed me. Instead, I decided to listen to my own voice,” she said.

Acting on her experiences, Obama launched the “Let Girls Learn” initiative in March 2015, a partnership with the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe that aims to “‘to educate girls across the globe.'”



Rodriguez says ‘goodbye’ to body pressure

It’s no secret that actresses are expected to look flawless and be fit in order to get roles in films or television shows. But Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez said that she’s had enough of the industry’s body standards.

According to People, Rodriguez said that she used to feel pressure to fit into a certain size in order to be a successful actress.

“Of course I’ve fallen into the pressure! 100 percent I’ve fallen into the culture,” Rodriguez told stylist and editor-in-chief of Yahoo Style, Joe Zee.

Explaining how that “culture” aims to trap stars into a vicious cycle of pursuing perfection, Rodriguez said, “If you look like a swimsuit model then you’re hot and everybody’s going to want you and money’s going to flow through, and everything’s going to be grand and dandy … And that’s bulls—.”

Although she knows that the industry operates on a certain standard of beauty, Rodriguez said she knows that true beauty is not restricted to such a standard.

“You go to television and film, and, it does add 10 lbs., and, I don’t look like a skinny mini, and, the truth is, that’s okay too, and that is beautiful also.”

Rodriguez attributed her strong sense of self to her upbringing. The actress told People, “”[My dad] prepared us to be able to look at billboards and magazines and say, ‘This is not the only body type that is beautiful’ … He would encourage us to find our beauty and love our beauty and accept our beauty as what God gave us.”

Summing up her parents’ lessons, Rodriguez offered, “My parents really encouraged us to have confidence in who we are and accept who we are because it is not going to change and we are beautiful.”

Schumer leaves big tip for ‘Hamilton’ bartenders

No matter how famous a person gets, some manage to never forget where they began their journey — and then help those starting in a similar position.

Such was the case when Amy Schumer attended a March 19 performance of the Broadway hit musical “Hamilton.” According to Us Weekly, the comedian and boyfriend Ben Hanisch racked up a $77 bar tab with their friends while watching the performance, and while Schumer left a tip, it was much more generous than staffer Madeleine DeJohn could have expected: the tip totaled $1000.

Us Weekly says that the New York Daily News reported the tip as the biggest one ever received by the “Hamilton” bar staff. “I was very touched,” DeJohn told the Daily News. “It was just something so generous and so kind that you don’t see every day.”

DeJohn took to Twitter to public expressly her thanks to the Trainwreck star, to which Schumer replied, “I’ve been there, I get it.”

With Schumer’s tweet referring to her own time as an up-and-coming comedian in which she worked as a bartender and waitress in New York, it seems that her past resonated with the present situation of the bartenders:  each of them are aspiring actors as well, reports Us Weekly.

Schumer responded to a tweet from CBS New York about the generous tip, expressing her appreciation for the staff. “Lots of love to my fellow bartenders and artists. I’m grateful to them and the cast and crew for another great night.”

This is not the first time Schumer has overtipped; in June 2015, the comedian left a $500 tip after eating a $49 meal at Peter’s Clam Bar in Long Island, New York. The 1000 percent tip in that instance was left for the waiter, Ryan, who was a student working two jobs to pay for his college tuition.


First Female Head of Command Announced

On the heels of the Dec. 2015 appointment of the first female West Point Commandant come another first for females in the military.

President Obama nominated Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson as the new head of U.S. Northern Command, which was created in 2002 and “oversees the military’s homeland defense and the surrounding water to approximately 500 miles off the U.S. coasts,” according to the USA Today. The announcement on Friday, March 18 makes Robinson the first female commander of a combatant command in U.S. history.

Currently the head of the Pacific air forces, the USA Today says that Robinson is one of two four-star generals in the Air Forces. She has also served as the vice commander of the Air Combat Command, as well as the deputy commander of the U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

Although her nomination still needs to be confirmed by the Senate, it comes as part of Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s mission to change the difficulty the U.S. Military branches have had in promoting women to top leadership positions — something the USA Today says has been a “priority of his tenure since taking over at the Pentagon last year.”

Upon making the announcement, White House press secretary Josh Earnest praised Robinson’s expertise, describing her as an “extremely talented Air Force officer.”

Robinson, he said, “has distinguished herself as a particularly effective leader. There is no question she is eminently qualified and exactly the right person for the job.”