The Wednesday 5: Jane Lynch Was a C Student, Parsing the Reality-TV Lawsuit, And What Celeb Interviews Teach

Actor Jane Lynch gave the commencement address last week at Smith College — her alma mater and that of her wife, Dr. Lara Embry.

This week, blogs whispered celebrity skincare tips,  honored women vets as they told Congress some terrible truths, and howled at Jane Lynch’s advice to new Smith College grads.

  • Covering celebrities can have multiple benefits, writes Cindy Pearlman at Style Goes Strong. Working “as a celebrity columnist for the New York Times Syndicate and the Chicago Sun Times, I’ve spoken with Barbara [sic] Streisand, Cher, Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Sharon Stone, Alec Baldwin, Jane Fonda, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lopez, Jack Lemmon, Angelina Jolie, John Travolta, and Will Smith to name a few.” This has yielded something beyond bragging rights, Pearlman writes: She also gets real-time beauty tips. For example: “I know that only three things work in skincare: retinol (be careful, check with your derm first), peptides (amazing), and vitamin C. The rest of it, including that $400 cream from yak milk in France, is a rip,” or ” I know that wearing my glasses and actually seeing things at this age is better than being blind and (in my mind) cuter.” Click over for much more, including some delectable photos.
  • As Memorial Day approaches, we wanted to make sure to note Service Women’s Action Network’s recent “Truth and Justice Summit” in D.C. One woman who was there, Marine veteran Sarah Plummer, writes vividly of the day at her blog Semper Sarah, from the day she boarded the plane in Michigan to the long day on Capitol Hill. By the afternoon, “The weather had shifted since the morning, and our pack of swanlings were caught in the rain during our walk from Hotel to Hill, but did not let it deter us from taking a smiling group photo in front of the Capitol building right after which I finally got to meet the amazing Anu Bhagwati in person. [Bhagwati is co-founder and executive director of Service Women’s Action Network]. I introduced myself and she actually said she knew who I was!  I was shocked and honored when, after we embraced and I thanked her for the positive difference she has made and the tireless work she has accomplished, she thanked me. That really made my day to meet such a distinguished woman. I stood anchored to the wet grass for a moment, fully appreciating exactly where I was, before our crowd scattered into mini-groups, organized by state . . .” Click over for more details, including a reminder of the resources available to women who’ve suffered sexual trauma in the military.
  • Interior designer Tamara Mathews-Stephenson’s Nest from Tamara offers a double treat:  Tamara’s signature visual flair paired with a visit to Great Barrington, “into the world of Annie Selke and her three companies.”  She was invigorated by the visit, taken along with a pack of other design bloggers: “At a time and age when women may be struggling to make sense of their lives, and in some industries where they find it harder to sustain careers, Annie Selke is rapidly expanding her company with a philosophy that feels fresh and awe-inspiring.  Come take a look,” Tamara writes. Click over to do just that.
  • When we learned last week about the class-action lawsuit against the producers of The Bachelor,  we couldn’t help but think of our friend Jennifer L. Pozner, author of Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV; Pozner’s book had long ago noted that just as reality TV perpetuates and thrives on sexist stereotypes, it does the same regarding racial and ethnic diversity. And blogtopia noticed when Pozner herself produced perhaps the most definitive piece on the subject in The Daily Beast, including from the shows’ own fans at  TV Fan Forums:  “Any TV viewer with eyes has noticed The Bachelor‘s and The Bachelorette‘s persistent whiteness,” noted the latter. “Can a class-action lawsuit force the shows to become diverse? Jennifer L. Pozner reports how ‘Skinny, weepy white women + horny, wealthy white men = love.'” Pozner herself explains why the piece might appeal to blogs like Class Action Lawsuit Lawyer: “For a franchise whose casts resemble the segregated 1960s South, it is perhaps fitting that the class action is based on the same legal principles used to desegregate businesses during the modern civil-rights movement.” Click the links to learn more about how legal drama plus tabloid TV might just promote equality; we can’t wait to see how this unfolds.
  • “After my four mostly unfocused years as a ‘C’ student…I sat where you now sit hoping to God my name would be called and I would receive my diploma,” WVFC fave Jane Lynch told Smith College last week, as noted by Laura Donovan at The Jane Dough. Julie Gerstein explains how, at AOL’s The Frisky:  “Smith College turns out tons of smart, plucky, independent and driven women, so it’s no surprise that they chose actress Jane Lynch as their 2012 commencement speaker. Equally not surprising: Lynch gave one hell of a speech, offering up humor, wisdom and some trademark Jane Lynch charm.” Both blogs included video of the speech itself, and we had to do the same. Do you agree with Lynch that “plans are for wusses?”


(VIDEO) The Wednesday 5: Reviving Winter-Dry Skin, Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and Cheering Maya Rudolph

February 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Newsmakers


Photo: Duncan Campbell, UK (flickr)

This week, blogs shared our Oscar complaints, gave us winter skincare tips, and stood up for Ellen De Generes and J.C. Penney.

  • No matter how well you’ve protected your skin this winter, it’s not unlikely that, as for us, February finds you in the state described by Cindy Pearlman at Style Goes Strong: “You’re a blah baby if you look in the mirror and see a face that’s a bit grayish pale and your skin feels as dry as leftover French bread. Your hair is like that straw hat you wear for gardening and your cuticles are raw.”  Luckily for us, Pearlman also comes to the rescue: “I asked the beauty experts for a few pick me ups that will take you straight into spring,” starting with the all-important “Get Rid of Winter Dark Circles and Bags.” Click over, follow her advice; to tide you over while you wait for it to work, check out Ruth Katz’ s The Skinny on Top Winter Lotions at  NYCityWoman.
  • Essential news for caregivers from Amy Lieberman at Women’s eNews: “The Department of Labor is in a public comment period until the end of February,” she writes, “on a new rule extending wage protections to two groups of predominantly female workers; casual babysitters and companions for the elderly and infirm. [Previously,] these workers fell under a “companionship” exclusion when the Fair Labor Standards Act was extended in 1974 to other domestic workers, including housekeepers, cooks and chauffeurs.” Click over for more, whether you’re the employer in this case or a  family caregiver being compensated, at least in part, by Medicare or Medicaid.
  • Like the JC Penney ads with Ellen De Generes during the Oscars? We did, and were glad, along with Joanne Bamberger at Babble’s SpinCycle, that the retail chain didn’t fold in the face of online pressure. And it’s personal, she writes; “While I am Christian and am in what some might call a ‘traditional’ marriage, our family is far from what would consider OK to them.  My husband and I are of two different faiths who are each on their second marriage with children who ‘look like us’ and who ‘don’t look like us.’  We’re a family with stepchildren,  a child by adoption from another country, and family members who fled Germany in World War II who remember that intolerance isn’t always what you think it will look like.  When some group starts talking about wanting to keep things ‘traditional’  it’s not a stretch to wonder when a family like ours will show up on their hit list.” Bamberger, like our own Carla Baranauckas, protested Penney’s marketing last year of a sexist T-shirt, but adds that  now, “I give them a lot of credit for making a decision on who they thought represented their brand and sticking to it, without falling victim to someone else’s faux culture war.”
  • Sometimes one of those National X Awareness Weeks sneaks up on you, and that’s what Eating Disorders Awareness Month almost did—if not for Rachel at Our Bodies Our Blog, who tells us  that this year’s theme is Everybody Knows Somebody.  “We live in a culture saturated with unrealistic body-image messages,” reads the announcement from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).  “Almost all of us know somebody struggling with an eating disorder.”  If you think it might be you, or even if you don’t, you might want to revisit our Dr. Melanie Katzman’s piece about such struggles in midlife.
  • Turns out we were far from the only ones struck by the sexism of Sunday’s Oscars. Melissa at Women&Hollywood was frank:  “The show sucked. Let’s face it. The Oscars are another part of the film industry that takes us ladies for granted.” Slant Magazine even critiqued the academy’s choice of Best Picture: “The Artist‘s gender problem is best articulated in a blog post comparing the plot of The Artist with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. The uncanniness of the similarities makes the comparison all too relevant. Whereas Anchorman satirizes ‘the good old days’ of casual and rampant sexism, The Artist not only reinforces them, but worships them. ” And we couldn’t have said it better than Hendrik Hertzberg at the New Yorker: “The skit comparing the Oscar show’s writers to the obsolete scouts in “Moneyball” was funny, but very much to the dismal point: the show’s actual writers chose to have Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, the women who are supposedly leading a revolution in female comedy, stand up there and make dick jokes.” If all the wine in the world didn’t get that out of your mouth, we recommend these clips from Rudolph’s recent SNL-hosting gig, to see the mastery of Wiig, Rudolph and, in the second, the beloved Amy Poehler.

The Wednesday Five: Wal-Mart Women Round Two, The Sexy Power of Charlotte Rampling and Your Midlife Beauty Sleep

November 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Newsmakers


Photo: nataliej (flickr)

This week, we surfed toward blogs about sleep and aging, spotted an edgy European documentary about an ageless actress, and got tips about better salary negotiations from a Deal Whisperer.

  • Studies show that more sleep is essential for health. But in Life Goes Strong Cindy Pearlman focuses on a more immediate reason that might get us more motivated, quoting skincare consultant  Jillian Wright that ” if you want to age yourself then burn the candle at both ends.”  “‘Two easy ways to look older are stress and lack of sleep,’ she says. “You need to relax and sleep. During your sleep is when your skin repairs itself.” Without naming names, think about younger stars who are in their 20s, but suddenly look 40 because they party until dawn more often than not. Now imagine what lack of sleep does to someone in their 40s, 50s or beyond.” Click over for some tips about how to get those zzzs, now that we really need them.
  • We knew we hadn’t heard the last of the plaintiffs in Wal-Mart v. Dukes  and the million-plus women who’ve worked at Wal-Mart, despite June’s disappointing Supreme Court decision.  Now, the National Women’s Law Center reports on the news from California, where the plaintiffs recently   “filed a regional suit on behalf of a class of approximately 90,000 present and former female Wal-Mart employees subjected to gender discrimination due to Wal-Mart’s policies and practices in California. […] The suit relies on store- and district-level statistical analyses that show that women in salaried and hourly positions were paid less than similarly situated males, even though women held more seniority and had higher performance ratings than men on average, as well as evidence that women had a lower probability of and longer waiting periods for promotions. Lawsuits such as this one — where plaintiffs allege that discrimination was company-wide and directed against an entire group of workers — are particularly well-suited for resolution as a class.” Click over for details, and to find out if similar action is planned for your state.
  • WVFC has talked a lot about pay equity and about studies, from Catalyst and others, about women in business losing in salary negotiations. So we were pleased to find, at The Deal Whisperers, this case study in which a woman lowers her ask when implored to do so by her boss, and is coached about why she shouldn’t. “It was a tactic and what you were feeling was the tension of ‘legitimacy.’ His last-minute request for a price cut lacked legitimacy and triggered your ‘fairness’ antenna. In order to maintain a disciplined and balanced approach in negotiations, each party needs to test the legitimacy of the other party’s requests. When a negotiator lacks legitimacy, he will use tactics to leverage two other elements: relationship and BATNA. Either you’re hurting the relationship by not saying ‘yes’ or if you don’t say ‘yes’ he will go to the competition.” The post, by TDW’s John Dieffenbach, offers other tips for cracking that glass ceiling, in the absence of a Paycheck Fairness Act.
  • The Transition Network covers New York Times reporter Jane Gross, who founded its peerless caregiving blog The New Old Age. She explains why in her new book,  which chronicles her own journey with her mother and does a lot more:  “Packed with information, A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents–and Ourselves  explains which questions to ask when looking for a nursing home or assisted living facility; how to unravel the mysteries of Medicare and Medicaid; why finding a new general practitioner should always be the first move when relocating an elderly parent; how to weigh quality against quantity of life when considering medical interventions; why you should always keep a phone charger and an extra pair of glasses in your car; and much more. It also provides astute commentary on a national health care system that has stranded two generations to fend for themselves at this most difficult of times.” We hope WVFC’s Susan Baida is making contact with Gross, not to mention our own Gail Sheehy.
  • There’s more going on at this month’s Documentary Festival than we can cover. But we were intrigued when PopMatters, of all places. pointed us to Charlotte Rampling: The Look,  43-year-old Angelina Maccarone’s film about the European screen siren. Cynthia Fuchs writes of the film: “Breaking that performance into segments, each titled by an idea (‘Exposure,’ ‘Resonance,’ ‘Desire,’ ‘Love’) and addressing one of Rampling’s films, Angelina Maccarone’s film sets up its subject with a range of colleagues…. Proposing that performance is perpetual, on and off screen or stage, that performing is a means of making a self, the film also allows that it can also be authentic, exposing and hiding, fiction and truth at once.”