Category: Culture

Solange, the Polymathic Cultural Force

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 4.23.38 AMA MONONYM IS possessed of a certain celebrity: Prince, Madonna, Iman. No surname needed, thank you very much. Just a couple of syllables and the whole of the mononym’s grandeur flashes across our consciousness.

Solange. Two mellifluous syllables and her face springs to mind: the fierce, open gaze, those striking full eyebrows. Solange the singer, songwriter, choreographer, visual and performing artist, with four, soon to be five, albums to her name. Solange the 2017 Grammy winner: Best R&B Performance, “Cranes in the Sky.” Solange, who earlier that year performed for President Obama and the first lady at their final White House party. Solange, whose acclaimed 2016 album, “A Seat at the Table” yoked artistry to activism with its piercing inquiry into race and identity in America, with lyrics such as, “You got the right to be mad / But when you carry it alone, you find it only getting in the way.” Solange the culture maker, whose performance art, digital work and sculpture have been exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Tate Modern in London. Solange, named the Harvard Foundation Artist of the Year in 2018.

Brown Point Shoes Arrive, 200 Years After White Ones

ballerina

Ballet dancers of color have long painted, dyed or covered point shoes in makeup to match their skin. Could this small barrier to inclusion finally be disappearing?

For nearly her whole career, Cira Robinson has — like many ballet dancers of color — performed a ritual: Painting her point shoes to match her skin.

She did it first in 2001, when she was 15, at a summer program with Dance Theater of Harlem. The company said her shoes needed to be brown, not the traditional pink, but she couldn’t find any in stores, so she used spray paint. “It made them crunchy and just … ew,” she said in a telephone interview.

When she joined Dance Theater a few years later, she started using makeup instead. “I’d go to the cheapest stores and get foundation,” she said, the kind “you’d never put on your face as it’d break you out. Like, $2.95 cheap.”

She’d go through five tubes a week, sponging it onto 12 to 15 pairs of shoes — a process known in ballet circles as pancaking. It took 45 minutes to an hour to do a pair, she said, because she wanted to make sure the foundation got into every crevice and covered every bit of ribbon.

Did she find these steps annoying? “I didn’t know any different,” Ms. Robinson, 32, said.

But now, Ms. Robinson — a senior artist at Ballet Black, a British dance company — is no longer obliged to do so. In October, Freed of London, which supplies her shoes, started selling two point shoes specifically for dancers of color: One brown, the other bronze.

Freed is not the first firm to make point shoes for dancers of color — the American company Gaynor Minden has been producing some more than a year — but the new shoes from Freed, a large supplier in the ballet world, highlight one of the stranger rituals that dancers of color have to perform.

It’s also a reminder that black dancers — especially female ones — are still a rarity in ballet. They remain barely represented at the top of the field, despite some signs of change and an increased awareness of the need for diversity at the schools feeding professional companies.

Shoes aren’t the only costuming reminders of the lack of diversity in ballet. In September, Precious Adams, a first artist at English National Ballet raised the issue of pink tights. “In ballet people have very strong ideas about tradition,” she told London’s Evening Standard newspaper. “They think me wearing brown tights in a tutu is somehow ‘incorrect.’”

Reviews: T.I. Hits Benchmark With “Dime Trap” Album

 

T.I. has often compared himself to 2Pac, and the claim makes sense in that both have touched on enough topics to fill 100 Wikipedia pages. Tip’s 10th proper album, Dime Trap, loudly silences any concerns over what he has left to say. The album functions as a compelling retrospective of T.I.’s life and career while proving he’s far from finished.

Billed as a “TED Talk for hustlers,” Dime Trap‘s thug motivation qualities are evident. “Looking Back” finds the Rubberband Man giving hustlers and civilians some tough love: “Tell me what you gon see when you looking back at yo life/Won’t be worth a damn if you ain’t living it right.” His words could easily come off as judgmental if Tip weren’t so transparent about his old hell-raising habits: “In Vegas, fightin’ police, me and Jeezy and ‘em/Hit the strip, Fatburger, did my thing again/All I do is kick back, blow gas and smile/Reminiscin’ ‘bout the days I was young and wild.” Tip’s front-porch reflections position him as the elder statesman he’s become and imbue Dime Trap with a sense of well-earned wisdom.

How Men Can Last Longer During Sex

Learning how to last longer in bed is one of the most common reasons why men seek out my sex therapy services. Just about every man worries about orgasming too quickly, regardless of the actual amount of time he tends to last. Fortunately, there are a few straightforward, actionable strategies for lasting longer during sex.

Change Your Masturbation Habits

Your masturbation habits play an enormous role in what partnered sex is like for you. Unfortunately, most men don’t seem to realize this. If you want to learn how to last longer in bed, you have to take an honest look at your masturbation habits. Here are some dynamics to address:

How long you masturbate

Most guys masturbate to get the job done. It’s a purely utilitarian experience, usually accomplished as quickly as possible. (It may also be a pattern that stemmed from your early childhood experiences, trying to masturbate quickly before your parents walked in on you.) But if you masturbate quickly, you’re training your body to reach orgasm quickly. Instead, you want to try to draw out your sessions and make them last much longer. Think about how long you’d like to last with a partner, and be thoughtful about that timeline when you masturbate.

How focused you are on orgasm

If you’re a utilitarian masturbator, you probably also aim to take a straight path to orgasm. But again, this only serves to teach your body to take a straight path to orgasm when you’re with a partner. Instead, try to build some teasing into your masturbation practice. Think of arousal on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being barely turned on and 10 being orgasm. Get yourself to a 6, then back down to a 3, then back up to a 7, then down to a 5, then back to a 6, then down to a 2, then up to an 8, and so on. (It doesn’t have to be that exact pattern; that’s just an example.)

Find your point of no return

If you aim for an immediate orgasm, you probably have no idea what happens in your body in the moments leading up to an orgasm (otherwise called your “point of no return”). That means you’re likely to get caught off guard by an orgasm when you’re with a partner. When you masturbate, try to get a better sense of what happens in your body as you near an orgasm.

READ MORE: https://lifehacker.com/how-men-can-last-longer-during-sex-1829473619

The 7 Biggest Street Style Trends of Spring 2019

2017FALL38_39It’s such a cliché to talk about the weather, but when you’re covering a month of fashion shows—widely considered plush, leisurely events, but ones that actually require a lot of time outdoors and on your feet—temperatures and precipitation make a big difference. In Paris, the air was crisp, the sun was shining, and we saw some of the week’s best looks. Some women we know packed entire suitcases of romantic, voluminous floral dresses, which make an easy, effortless impact; others showed up in retina-searing neons, the direct result of a single Fall 2018 show; and many women seemed to reject the idea of trends altogether, sticking to a mix of elegant, everyday button-downs, jackets, and trousers. Below, we’ve distilled the month of street style photos—828, to be precise—down to the seven most important trends.

Hemlines Keep Rising (and Rising . . .)

Back in the ’60s, miniskirts were a symbol of rebellion, of sexual freedom, and of youth in general. They’re creeping back into the zeitgeist—both on the runway and on the streets—partially in response to the modest midi and maxi lengths we’ve been wearing for years, but perhaps also because women of 2018 are embracing the bold, anti establishment spirit of ’60s women. On the runway, hemlines rose at Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Stella McCartney; on the street, we saw minis in all manner of prints, patent leather, denim, and suede.

Back to Black

There are no real “rules” of street style, but over the past few years, it’s been a commonly held belief that wearing black won’t get you noticed. The competition for a photographer’s attention is fierce—you need color! Glitter! Prints! Things changed drastically this season: Not only did we see droves of women (and men) in head-to-toe black, but they wore it in uniquely interesting, un-minimal ways. Tulle frocks, leather harnesses, asymmetrical LBDs, and furry accessories were plenty eye-catching in stark black, perhaps even more so than if they’d been in a predictably bright color.

2017FALL28_29Groovy, Baby

Some are calling it escapism, others say it’s all a numbers game, but the groovy prints and hippieish chill of the late ’60s and ’70s were all over the Spring 2019 runways (Etro, Paco Rabanne, and even Dior), a trend we saw immediately reflected on the streets. It doesn’t get easier than a breezy, billowy caftan and leather sandals—but if you’re really leaning in, you’ll layer on a tangle of beaded necklaces, too. There’s a sense of naivety to that “Summer of Love” look, which turned 50 last year; maybe that’s why it’s coming back around. Vogue’s Sarah Mower drew a brilliant line between these boho-chic vibes and our current obsession with wellness and self-care in her Etro review: “The modern ideal of a sound mind in a superhot athletic body, clad in an accidentally pretty print dress.”

The Prada Effect

The retina-searing neon dresses, vests, and handbags filling Prada’s shop windows have become something of a beacon. Passersby are scratching their heads, and they aren’t alone; anyone remotely familiar with Miuccia Prada’s work might be struck by the futuristic, embellishment-free unnaturalness of it all. Fashion obsessives, of course, took Prada’s blinding Fall 2018 show as a cue to dive headfirst into the neon trend: Kelela and Sasha Lane both turned up in supercharged lime knits, Aleali May wore a cobalt fur with acid-green boots, and we saw dozens of guys and girls pledging allegiance to Prada in head-to-toe Fall looks in highlighter pink and traffic cone orange. Prada has always played a part in influencing trends, but a word to the wise: Spring 2019 only had a few touches of citron, lime, and bright peach, so if you’re into supercharged, nearly glowing neon, now’s the time to wear it.

READ MORE: https://www.vogue.com/article/spring-2019-street-style-trends

Beauty Is More Diverse Than Ever. But Is It Diverse Enough?

In an era of makeup collections with 40 foundation colors and more spokesmodels of color than ever before, diversity at the beauty counter would seem to be accepted, even celebrated.

skin deep

Yet if you ask influential makeup artists, hairstylists and photographers about it, the answer is more likely: It’s a start.

Compared with fashion, beauty has been quicker to act on matters of inclusivity. Driven by social media, beauty has, in the last five years, moved to welcome, and to represent, customers all along the spectrum of skin shades and gender identities.

Consider the smashing success of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line, which has been credited for the new 40-foundation standard and which proved just how myopic many beauty brands had been.

Clearly women of color make up a market that is far from niche. The days when Iman, a supermodel of the 1970s and ’80s, had to blend her own foundation on photo shoots seem archaic. (She later started her own cosmetics line, ages before Rihanna, to address those very issues.)

“You don’t have the excuse anymore that the product isn’t available,” said Nick Barose, a makeup artist whose clients include Lupita Nyong’o, Priyanka Chopra and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. “Younger, older, darker, lighter, different undertones — you should be able to look at the face in front of you and match.”

Similarly, change is taking place in hair care. Led by influential stars like Yara Shahidi, Sasha Lane and Tracee Ellis Ross, who wear their hair unprocessed, “wild, kinky, frizzy texture” is redefining Hollywood glamour, said the hairstylist Nai’vasha Johnson, who styles Ms. Shahidi and Ms. Lane.

READ MORE:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/11/style/beauty-diversity.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fskin-deep

The iPhone XS and XS Max Review: Big Screens That Are a Delight to Use

Apple’s new smartphones start at $999 and $1,099, but their superb cameras and screens make them worth the high prices, our reviewer writes.

iphoneFor the past few years, I have been a naysayer on one feature of smartphones: their growing size. My position was unusual given the increasing prevalence of larger screen devices. The world’s top phone makers have all added more substantial glass screens to stretch from one edge of their smartphones to another, on the theory that people can better enjoy their apps and content on an ample display.

Apple helped seal the deal last week when it announced that its new phones this year — the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max — would have screens that measured between 5.8 inches and 6.5 inches diagonally, compared with 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches two years ago. In fact, the 6.5-inch screen on the iPhone XS Max is Apple’s biggest ever. (The original iPhone in 2007 started with a 3.5-inch screen.) I have been troubled by this trend. These devices spend a lot of time in your pocket and your hand, and there are often compromises in portability and comfort when the screens balloon in size. For those reasons, I never liked the Plus phones, the line of iPhones that Apple introduced in 2014 with 5.5-inch screens. They felt impossible to use with one hand and far too bulky in a pocket.

So it’s humbling to come to you now with another confession: The iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max may be making me a convert to bigger smartphones.

READ MORE:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/18/technology/personaltech/iphone-xs-max-review.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fpersonaltech