Book Review: The Narcissism Epidemic

I’ll say it right now – This book will hit a lot of nerves. If you don’t approach it with an open mind it could easily come across as a bunch of bitching about everything that’s wrong with the world, and even you. But it serves a huge purpose. A lot of us just don’t see symptoms of narcissism for what they are anymore, and that’s why it’s such an epidemic indeed. It’s become totally normal in our culture to live above our means, worship our kids like gods, and obsessively focus on our appearance. These things almost always spring from good intentions, but taken to extremes are signs of real trouble: that you could be putting yourself before others, directly or even very indirectly, but no less significant. This is the difference between confidence and narcissism, and this book does an excellent job of detailing this difference in every aspect of our lives, as well as explaining how certain individual behaviors can be terribly dangerous to you and your family. A person who tans obsessively is at higher risk of developing cancer, the parent who wants the biggest house for their kids is more likely to end up bankrupt. It will make you look at the world – and yourself in a whole new light. You just have to be willing to shut up and listen, because these are not messages any of us are used to hearing, and haven’t been for the last 20 years (“You mean we *shouldn’t* be telling kids they’re special??”). I think it would be a good idea for anyone interested in modern society and especially those wanting to actually contribute something to the world besides a “I heart me and everyone else can suck it” attitude to read this. It will really open your makeup and surgery enhanced eyes.

For more on this book check out:

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/brain-and-behavior/articles/2009/04/21/narcissism-epidemic-why-there-are-so-many-narcissists-now.html

http://veritas-point-counterpoint.blogspot.com/2009/04/are-we-in-narcissism-epidemic.html

http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/sdsuniverse/news.aspx?s=71137

The Love21 Controversy

You can go ahead and tell me I live under a rock, but I had no idea until recently that Forever21 had launched a maternity line, supposedly geared towards teenagers. This has created a huge controversy, what with all the teen pregnancies and all.
I’ll be the first to admit I hate teen pregnancy and irresponsible sex more than just about anything, but allow me to play devil’s advocate for a moment here.
First of all, Forever21, like any other big corporation, is about making money. They’re not an activist group, they just want you to buy their crap so they’ll have more money and can keep selling you crap. As we all know, teen pregnancy is pretty much the trendiest thing in trendy town, right up there with yoga and sushi and complaining about how fat you are, so it wasn’t going to be long before somebody saw a market in all this. I guess Forever21 is pretty lucky, because they were being a lot more gutsy than their clothes would suggest they are, so they’re the first ones to tap into it. Cha Ching for them, a job well done.
Now sure a lot of these companies have an immense impact on our modern culture through their contributions to advertising, but when you claim that stuff like this encourages teen pregnancy I think you’re being more than a little naive. I know some kids are dumb but are they really that dumb to walk into a Forever21, see the Love21 maternity line, and think to themselves “Like OMG those clothes are SO cute, all I have to do is get knocked up so I can fit into them and therefor fit into my circle of friends too!”? REALLY?? I won’t say this very often, but in this case you are grossly underestimating people’s intelligence.
Lastly, who’s to say that only teenagers shop at this place? I know a lot of fully grown adults, of baby-making age, who squeal over Forever21’s stuff with the best of the teenagers. It’s not like they have an age limit over who shops there, and besides most 20-somethings and even 30-somethings adopt the same styles as teenagers. And damned if they’re going to give it up in favor of mumus with bows when they decide to go ahead and have kids.
So think what you want, but personally I think this is a whole lot of controversy over nothing. People like money, people like trendy styles, and people like making babies. It was only a matter of time before these things became combined.

Weddings!

It may not be wedding season quite yet, but you can bet the planning is already well underway. And because a wedding article probably wouldn’t be quite so useful the very month of your nuptials, I’m writing it now by special request.

I have an issue with weddings. I love weddings, I really do, but what I don’t like is how retailers take advantage of engaged couples by making them believe that they have to fit a mold or their day just won’t be what they imagined it to be, while in fact the opposite is much more true. The truth is weddings are about you, the couple. It’s not about a formula or conforming to other people’s expectations. I really believe that the best weddings are the ones which show most the personality of the couple in a fun and unique way. You only get one chance to do this, God willing, so you should be having the most fun and least stress that you can manage. I’m going to focus on two main things here, the dress, and Etsy, both great fun.

That wedding dress… damn. Have you heard of “white blindness”, that thing brides get when all those white dresses sort of start to blend into each other so they start looking all the same and the process becomes simply overwhelming? I can relate. And I didn’t even start out looking for a white dress. Have I mentioned that conformity for the sake of conformity bugs the hell out of me? I have? Oh, good.

So anyway, I was in the market for a blue dress at first. I never wear white, so I thought starting now would be a little off. And I liked blue. So I went into bridal boutiques looking for bridesmaids dresses (which is a great option if you don’t want a white dress). Everyone in the shops assumed I was graduating from high school until I told them it was for my wedding, after which point they tried pushing the most hideous and expensive wedding dresses, and even uglier bridesmaids dresses on me that I had ever seen. I’m not sure if I was just in the wrong shops or what, but I felt like the 80s had exploded all over downtown. The whole thing quickly became a little unnerving.

What I learned from this was not to focus on labels. Slap the word “wedding” into the name of an item and watch its price jump and originality plummet. Not a great thing. You’ll notice that I tend to focus a lot on what things cost, but weddings especially are already really expensive. It’s important to save where you can. If you want a white dress, that’s fantastic. If you want to purchase it in a bridal salon, that’s also fantastic. I just feel it’s important to know about all your options.

For example, many formal dresses come in white. Many very beautiful ones that you wouldn’t find in a bridal salon, especially if you don’t go for the whole poufy ball gown thing. Outlet stores are especially great if you’re on a budget. I found myself a lovely backup dress at the Le Chateau outlet for 20$. A little too simple maybe, but when you’re dealing with something as important as that, it eases the mind to know you have a plan B in case anything terrible should happen to your plan A. In my case, it almost did. Long story, but my plan A almost never arrived.


I bought my own dress, a traditional white wedding dress, on eBay. A lot of people would recommend against that, and depending on who you are I will too. However if you’re a very casual laid back person, then it’s worth a shot as long as you know what you’re getting into. EBay dresses are factory direct designer knockoffs. They don’t tell you that, but it does have both a good side and a bad side. The good thing is that since you’re purchasing a dress that has yet to be made, they can make it custom according to all your measurements, and even color choice. I think this is amazing. It’s not likely to need much tailoring, especially great if you don’t fit into standard sizes, and you’re not stuck with white if that doesn’t float your boat. You can even choose the color of your trim. And many of the dresses are reproductions of the most gorgeous and expensive gowns you will ever see, all for around 200$ including shipping. Fabulous!

The bad side is that they are after all knockoffs, and while they’re not horrible, you can definitely tell the difference, so here’s where you just need to determine how much perfection you want. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting something legitimate so you know you’re getting the best possible quality.

If you like things a little retro-glam, you have to check out Unique Vintage. I think they’re awesome, and they have shoes and accessories too. I especially love this bridal emergency survival kit.

Enigma Fashions also has a beautiful and diverse little bridal collection, so I’m going to slip them in here too just for the hell of it.

Another great place to look for dresses, especially if you’re a little indie, is Etsy. If you love the thought of something lovingly made by hand just for you, this is likely your best bet, and you don’t even need to know anyone who can sew, because these fine people are just itching to do it for you. These dresses will range from the very cheap to the very expensive, and are made by some extremely talented people. You might even find a semi-famous designer in your search. I had a custom shrug made for me just in case it rained, and it turned out the woman who made it designed dresses for the Oscars. Wow.

If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, many sellers are more than willing to take on custom orders. They’ll do pretty much anything you want, and this is a great way to make sure you’re getting something that nobody else will have.

Speaking of Etsy, there’s much more than just wedding dresses there. They not only have a huge wedding section, but they sell pretty much anything you can think of. After all this you might be asking, What the hell is Etsy, anyway? It’s a huge website hosting a ton of individual shops that sell all things vintage and handmade, catering to every taste. It’s a great way to get something with a really personal touch, and I highly suggest you check it out, even if you’re not getting married any time soon. Personally I’ve become a little obsessed with it, and have gotten quite a few of my friends hooked too. This is where I get most of my jewelry, including a beautiful gold hair vine I wore in place of a veil, a velvet bag, and a ring bearer pillow that was made as a treasure chest. I’ll leave you to search the site and let the awesomeness you find speak for itself.


The last thing to mention in this article is rings. You can get some great rings on Etsy too, but I want to do a special shout out to the place where we got our amazing rings, Hand Woven Bands by Todd Alan Studios. And surprise, it’s online. Don’t worry; I’ll do a tutorial of online shopping soon in case this is something you’ve ever been apprehensive about. The name pretty much describes what they are, wedding bands expertly woven by hand in a variety of gorgeous braids. They are truly stunning, and let me tell you, the service is exceptional. We were phoned by Todd twice to make sure our color selection was correct. I can’t recommend him enough.


Never mind, that wasn’t the last thing. I just have to tell you about Offbeat Bride, which is both a book and fantastic web community. You don’t have to be offbeat to enjoy communicating with other brides and getting loads of ideas for the big day. It works sort of like Facebook. You get your profile, and you can join groups relating to all sorts of different wedding topics where you can have fun and insightful discussions with all the other girls, and even a few grooms. I absolutely love it. The best part of all? Wedding Porn, the greatest and most fun source of inspiration on the entire internet, in my humble opinion.

And finally, if you’ll be doing your own makeup on the big day, check out my coworker Danielle’s truly fantastic makeup tutorials on Youtube.

So I think that’s about it for the wedding article, but of course if you have any questions or if there’s anything more you’d like to see just let me know and I’ll see what I can do!