News 12.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 12.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 12.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 12.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

This decade, memes became something not just for a handful of internet nerds who lurked on message boards; memes are now for everyone. The online culture of this decade hasn’t just changed the words we use, it’s changed how we express ourselves. Huge technological shifts of the 2010s led to this: widespread smartphone adoption and the rise of newfangled social media platforms like Vine. Memes also became a business — brands used meme-speak and accounts like @fuckjerry made big bucks by reposting memes.

To determine the ranking of this list, we considered the overall popularity of a meme, its longevity, and historical importance — what kind of impact it had on other memes and internet culture. Here they are:

Read the rest of this article at: BuzzFeed

News 12.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 12.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

This past summer, I booked a plane ticket to Los Angeles with the hope of investigating what seems likely to be one of the oddest legacies of our rapidly expiring decade: the gradual emergence, among professionally beautiful women, of a single, cyborgian face. It’s a young face, of course, with poreless skin and plump, high cheekbones. It has catlike eyes and long, cartoonish lashes; it has a small, neat nose and full, lush lips. It looks at you coyly but blankly, as if its owner has taken half a Klonopin and is considering asking you for a private-jet ride to Coachella. The face is distinctly white but ambiguously ethnic—it suggests a National Geographic composite illustrating what Americans will look like in 2050, if every American of the future were to be a direct descendant of Kim Kardashian West, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Kendall Jenner (who looks exactly like Emily Ratajkowski). “It’s like a sexy . . . baby . . . tiger,” Cara Craig, a high-end New York colorist, observed to me recently. The celebrity makeup artist Colby Smith told me, “It’s Instagram Face, duh. It’s like an unrealistic sculpture. Volume on volume. A face that looks like it’s made out of clay.”

Instagram, which launched as the decade was just beginning, in October, 2010, has its own aesthetic language: the ideal image is always the one that instantly pops on a phone screen. The aesthetic is also marked by a familiar human aspiration, previously best documented in wedding photography, toward a generic sameness. Accounts such as Insta Repeat illustrate the platform’s monotony by posting grids of indistinguishable photos posted by different users—a person in a yellow raincoat standing at the base of a waterfall, or a hand holding up a bright fall leaf. Some things just perform well.

The human body is an unusual sort of Instagram subject: it can be adjusted, with the right kind of effort, to perform better and better over time. Art directors at magazines have long edited photos of celebrities to better match unrealistic beauty standards; now you can do that to pictures of yourself with just a few taps on your phone. Snapchat, which launched in 2011 and was originally known as a purveyor of disappearing messages, has maintained its user base in large part by providing photo filters, some of which allow you to become intimately familiar with what your face would look like if it were ten-per-cent more conventionally attractive—if it were thinner, or had smoother skin, larger eyes, fuller lips. Instagram has added an array of flattering selfie filters to its Stories feature. FaceTune, which was released in 2013 and promises to help you “wow your friends with every selfie,” enables even more precision. A number of Instagram accounts are dedicated to identifying the tweaks that celebrities make to their features with photo-editing apps. Celeb Face, which has more than a million followers, posts photos from the accounts of celebrities, adding arrows to spotlight signs of careless FaceTuning. Follow Celeb Face for a month, and this constant perfecting process begins to seem both mundane and pathological. You get the feeling that these women, or their assistants, alter photos out of a simple defensive reflex, as if FaceTuning your jawline were the Instagram equivalent of checking your eyeliner in the bathroom of the bar.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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Remember the Amazon Coat? The drab, pseudo-stylish parka available on Amazon for $140 that last winter came to adorn 75 percent of mothers on the Upper East Side? For a time, owning an Amazon Coat one was like knowing a secret; there is cultural capital in finding a garment that outsmarts the status quo. But once the market became saturated with awareness of the coat, which is made not by Amazon but by the Chinese company Orolay, wearing one became a signifier of trying too hard to not be trying, of pantomiming authenticity — of being a poser.

The phenomenon of the Amazon Coat fits into a theory I’ve been developing: that we have entered the age of post-normcore, in which there exists one product in every category amazing enough to be the only thing we own in that category.

But let’s rewind a bit before we get too far into it. Normcore, of course, is the tongue-in-cheek neologism first brought into wider consciousness in 2013 by the trend-forecasting group K-Hole. Normcore is a celebration of Seinfeld-era basics — high-waisted Levis, chunky sneakers, windbreakers, a polo shirt from The Gap. “Normcore is about authenticity,” wrote Max Grobe of High Snobiety. “It’s a rejection of extravagance. It’s about subverting any notion of edginess.” The term soon cemented itself in the zeitgeist, bewildering national newspapers, and inspiring high-fashion runways until a post-Trump America redirected its hearts to athleisure and streetwear.

Read the rest of this article at: The Outline

News 12.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 12.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In the final days of 1999, Konstantin Ernst prepared to film the Russian President’s annual New Year’s address, just as he had every December for several years. Ernst, who was thirty-eight, with floppy brown hair and a look of perpetual bemusement, had recently become the head of Channel One, the state television network with the largest reach, a post he retains today. The position makes him one of the most powerful men in Russia, with the ability to set the visual style for the country’s political life—at least the part its rulers wish to transmit to the public.

The ritual of the New Year’s address began in the seventies, under Leonid Brezhnev, who sat stolidly atop the Soviet hierarchy for two decades, and continued in the eighties under Mikhail Gorbachev, the architect of perestroika. After the Soviet collapse, Boris Yeltsin, the first President of independent Russia, kept the tradition alive. Yeltsin began his term as a charismatic advocate of democratic reform, but, by the late nineties, he seemed aged and defeated. Russia was only a year removed from a devastating financial crash that led the government to default on its debt, and its troops were fighting their second costly war in a decade in Chechnya, a would-be breakaway republic in the Caucasus. Yeltsin seemed primarily concerned with leaving office in a way that would keep him and his family immune from prosecution. On December 29th, Ernst and a crew from Channel One made their way to the Kremlin to film his address.

Ernst watched as Yeltsin sat in front of a tinsel-covered fir tree in a reception hall and held forth on the opportunities of the New Year, which included, in the spring, a Presidential election that would determine his successor. As the Channel One staff was packing up, Yeltsin told Ernst that he wasn’t satisfied—he was hoarse, and didn’t like the way his words had come out—and asked if they might record a new version in the coming days. Ernst agreed to go back on New Year’s Eve at five in the morning.

When he returned, he was handed a copy of the new address, and tried to contain his shock: Yeltsin was about to resign, voluntarily giving up power before his term was over, an unprecedented gesture in Russian history. His chosen successor was Vladimir Putin, a politician whom most Russians were just getting to know: Putin had risen from bureaucratic obscurity to become the head of the F.S.B., the post-Soviet successor to the K.G.B., and had been named Yeltsin’s Prime Minister only four months earlier. Ernst had a production assistant enter the text of the speech into the teleprompter without letting the rest of the crew in on the news. It would come as a surprise to everyone.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 12.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It’s a heartening sign of progress that, in a world where men continue to hold 95% of the top jobs at the biggest U.S. companies, there’s been a recent surge of money and attention going to startups founded and run by women. The past two years have seen an unprecedented number of unicorn valuations for companies with women in charge, with the upstarts Glossier and Rent the Runway nabbing big funding rounds in the same week this year. It stands to reason that there can’t be a more efficient way to target female customers—especially those who care about gender equality—than with companies run by women.

The logic goes something like this: A company founded by a woman, especially if it makes a product for women, will operate in a different and better way than one founded by a man. Both a Pew Research Center survey and a study by researchers at the U.S. Naval Academy and Harvard have found that female leaders are viewed as more compassionate and empathetic, and people think they create safe and respectful workplaces.

That reasoning, however, is flawed. Just having more women in charge—even ones who define their missions as feminist—doesn’t mean greater equality for all women. Nor is it a guarantee of a well-run company. Here’s how it often goes: A woman starts a company that caters to female consumers better than what’s out there. The company uses that market differentiator to sell itself as a warrior in the fight for greater equality. Then, it turns out, the company itself is, in some way, not living up to the inspiring ideals that it’s virtually made its raisons d’être. Among those that have come up short: bra retailer ThirdLove, where female employees told Vox they were bullied and told not to negotiate salaries, and the online fashion store Nasty Gal, which is in a lawsuit that describes it as a horrible place for pregnant women to work. On Dec. 9, Stephanie Korey stepped down as chief executive officer of Away luggage after employees alleged in an article in the Verge that she created a toxic work culture.

There’s also the Wing. The mission of the New York City-based coworking space is the “professional, civic, and social advancement of women.” Audrey Gelman, its co-founder and CEO, has positioned herself as the leader of a feminist movement. Just this fall, Inc. made her the first visibly pregnant executive to appear on the cover of a business magazine. Yet the Wing faces allegations it has violated its own mission.

The Wing’s messaging is about getting women paid. But members and former and current employees say it’s failed to properly compensate them. This June, according to emails reviewed by Bloomberg, the Wing failed to pay a group of its hourly workers on time. “The mission is a complete farce,” says Vei Darling, who worked as a front desk receptionist in Brooklyn for a year and a half. Anna Russett, a Chicago-based influencer who has 172,000 Instagram followers and depends on paid appearances for her income, says she was told by the Wing that it wasn’t “authentic” to pay her to promote its brand on social media. L’Oreal Thompson Payton, the director of communications at a Chicago nonprofit, says the Wing asked her to promote its fall line of merchandise without pay. “It’s not enough to simply hire women,” she wrote in her newsletter. “You must also pay them for their work.”

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg

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