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Rad Gals

Rad Gal Inspiration: Wonder Woman

Posted in Pop Culture, Rad Gals by
Wonder Woman Funko POPs and Trade Paperbacks

My adoration for Wonder Woman is no secret. I frequently share peeks of my growing Amazonian shrine, receive numerous Facebook shares from friends who find some Wonder Woman-themed post, and cry just thinking about the film coming out in only a few more days. With the film’s release only a few days a way, it seems only fitting that Diana is this month’s Rad Gal.

I’ve always enjoyed the idea of Wonder Woman. In middle school, I got the most amazing, comfortable pair of Wonder Woman yoga pants from Hot Topic, and I only just admitted defeat a few years ago when the holes grew too big to keep making excuses to wear them. It was only in the past few years, though, that I got the chance to begin collecting and reading any comics, and I don’t feel like I’ve read nearly enough–because that’s what it’s like in the world of comics; there’s so much to ingest that it never feels like enough–but what I’ve read so far makes me feel so happy and strong and brave with each turn of the page.

As I sit here writing this, I’m still astounded that we’re so close to a big screen solo film debut for Diana, a feat that’s been seventy-five years in the making. That’s nearly three times my life so far! It took slogging through eight Superman films and eight Batman films (at least; I only did a cursory search) to reach this point. And part of me is terrified because while the critical response has been good so far, I’ve gotten my hopes up before only to be let down–not by the film, but by the popular reception. No matter how much I love something, my love alone isn’t enough to carry it. Here’s to hoping that she helps to bust open the doors to so many more female-led superhero films, in production and on screen.

In many ways, Diana is everything I would like to be–in physicality and personality, let’s be honest. She’s strong, both in combat and attitude. She commands respect, but she aims for peace rather than finding mindless thrill in battle (one of her tools is the Lasso of Truth, after all). Her compassion is constant and astounding, and she shows a patience that I can only dream of finding in myself. She’s not perfect, which only makes her that much more relatable and within reach for those of us who are not Amazons, but that doesn’t take away from all the good that she does.

To those who argued against Wonder Woman’s UN Ambassadorship: She is an amazing role model, and I couldn’t be more grateful for her existence. I can only feel sorry for anyone who can’t look past her physical stature as a “large breasted white woman of impossible proportions” to see that.

And now I leave you with this Nerdist tribute video, which also makes me cry because I am just so, so happy that Wonder Woman exists in this world.

May 29, 2017

Rad Gal Inspiration: Amber Tamblyn

Posted in Bookish, Rad Gals by
Amber Tamblyn Poetry Collection

Amber Tamblyn is a force of nature. She is fierce and feminist, passionate and intelligent, a contemporary poet who gives me strength, inspiration, and hope.

I first fell in love with Amber Tamblyn at the age of fourteen, when I saw her portray Tibby in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films. I adored the series in middle school, and Tibby was always my favorite character: cynical, a little angsty, but also full of love for her friends. I fell out of touch with what Amber Tamblyn was up to after the movies, only vaguely aware that she was still plenty active–but aware nonetheless. However, it wasn’t until college that she was fully on my radar again, when I discovered that she had written not one but two collections of poetry, her second having just been released. As excited as I was, though, they sat on my Amazon wishlist for years; I only just ordered my copy of Free Stallion, the first of her collections and the last to add to my shelves, last month. Still, from the moment I opened up Dark Sparkler, which I rushed to Barnes & Noble and specially asked if they had in stock shortly before I went to a reading in Boston, I was in love all over again.

Amber wasn’t just the actress to embody cool, punk-ish Tibby to me anymore. She was Amber Tamblyn, awe-inspiring poet. She was doing something that I admired and that I dreamed of doing myself. Finally encountering her work pulled me out of a writing slump of which I hadn’t realized the extent, and in the months following, I wrote and released my first chapbook. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading my way through her work once again and have since started on my second collection. You’d be hard pressed to convince me there wasn’t some correlation between the two.

Her work is intense, and her use of words is striking; she does not mince them. There may be fear there–is anyone truly fearless?–but she doesn’t let it stop her, whether it’s in telling a story of tragedy (as in a number of Dark Sparkler pieces) or making a political statement. While I believe everyone should try their hand at poetry, not everyone has the sense to use the medium quite like she does, with the perfect melding of adroitness, ferocity, and raw honesty. She tells her truth, whatever it is, and it resonates with me in a way that not all other poetry does. I can admire myriad other poets and other work, but that doesn’t mean that it hits me in the gut like hers does.

To be honest, there’s not much else for me to say. Amber Tamblyn’s work is something that makes me want to do better in my writing, to work harder and keep learning, in the hope that someday I can love my own words even a fraction as much as I do hers.

April 24, 2017

Rad Gal Inspiration: Daria Morgendorffer

Posted in Pop Culture, Rad Gals by

When I was six-seven-eight, there were a select set of TV show theme songs that I really enjoyed: Married…with Children, The Simpsons, Sailor Moon. But while those themes were catchy–singable, hummable–it was the theme to Daria that remains an all-time favorite of mine twenty years later. With its instantly recognizable opening riff of, “La-la la la laaa…,” the song has stuck with me over time, and it’s more than once served as my cell phone ringtone, because obviously.

Daria was one of a number of sardonic teen girls I looked up to throughout my adolescence. Although the other most notable, Darlene Conner, made more frequent appearances on my TV over the years, Daria was always the one I related to a bit more. She was the one I really saw myself in. My parents would call me Darlene, but I think that’s because they watched Roseanne regularly; it was in syndication far more and more frequently accessible. If I had to pick a fictional counterpart, though, it would be Daria Morgendorffer.

On the surface level, we’ve always looked fairly similar, considering she’s a cartoon character: glasses, medium-length brown hair, pretty basic outfits. We’re sarcastic and cynical, but not outright rebellious. We can be smart asses–but we can also be wrong. We’re both writers. We both harbored crushes on musical hottie Trent Lane–and we both realized maybe we’re better off without him.

I am Daria.
Daria is me.

I always wanted to grow up to be her. Then I got to high school, and it turned out my wish came true. An average kid/teen but a good student–though she was ultimately better in that than I was, which is fine. I never had valedictorian in my future. And of course, as much as I’ve always admired her, I know she’s not perfect, but Daria is a show that did an amazing job at creating character development. Her friends and family call her on her bullshit, because even she has some at times (and, yeah, so do I) and she’ll admit defeat.

To some degree, I’ve softened over the years, although my tongue hasn’t dulled, I assure you. And in some looks into the future of the series, it seemed like maybe she would too. I’m 26, and even rewatching the show now, I relate so strongly to her, and sometimes to Jane, too. To be honest, I still see her as a role model and a reflection of myself in certain moments: when her patience wears thing for those around her, when she refuses to compromise on her art and beliefs, when she rolls her eyes and sighs.

I didn’t at the time, but I realize now more than ever that Daria is and was one of the truest representations of my life as a teenager that I could hope to find. She was borderline boring, and so was I, dammit.

This piece will also appear in my upcoming Daria fanzine, The Lawndale File.

March 27, 2017

Rad Gal Inspiration: Kat von D

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If you follow my bookstagram, you’ve probably seen me gush about one of my favorite bad ass babes Kat von D a little bit. Well, dude, here’s the extended cut.

My mom inadvertently introduced me to KvD by simply mentioning LA Ink at one time or another, but it wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I started watching it and fell head over heels. This was the first year that I started using Netflix, and while the streaming options weren’t what they are now, LA Ink was one of the first shows to introduce me to binge watching.

It should go without saying that, as with most reality television, much of the drama of the series was manufactured purely for entertainment, but if you watch the series and read between the cleverly edited lines, you can see an incredibly smart, passionate, and intelligent woman.

She’s built up a number of businesses, from a renowned tattoo shop to a popular makeup brand, all based on one uniting love–art–and turned that into her life. She’s put everything together with so much love and kindness, so much respect for the people she works with. A glance at both her personal and beauty Instagram accounts shows her affection for her teammates, from personalized gifts to just voicing her support. She wants people to be her family, not just her employees, and it sounds like such a beautiful community to have built around herself.

As someone who loves tattoos and makeup, I can’t help falling in love with Kat.  As someone who wants to build her own life around her art, I find Kat to be a huge contemporary inspiration, even if her medium of choice is different. I look at the way she holds herself, with conviction for her beliefs, courage in what she does, and an endless well of creativity, and I can’t help but try to model some part of myself after her. She’s obviously doing something right, and if she can do it with respect for others and herself, it’s worth emulating.

I think about what her daily life might look like, what it looked like when she was starting out, and I find ways to adapt that to my own dreams. (Spoiler: It’s a lot of hard work.) She obviously devotes time to her craft, so naturally I do that. She’s always trying to improve her already amazing art skills, always learning how to be even better, finding time to do even a few sketches here or there as practice. Similarly, I make sure to make time nearly every day now to read and write, even if only for ten minutes in my journal.

She also takes the time to meet and collaborate with others, even those who might be considered competition. The Too FacedxKat von D makeup collection is arguably groundbreaking in the fact that makeup production can be such a competitive industry, but the fact that these two teams came together to make something great is inspiring. While I haven’t done a collaboration of my own yet, I’d like to start swapping writing with others for critiquing and perhaps work on a writing project with another person in the future. I’d like to believe in the power of being better together.

And finally, Kat takes the time to indulge in other hobbies, such as music. I think we can all forget to take that important break once in a while where we don’t take a break from our work, even if it’s work we love. My own outlets are photography, baking, and makeup. I’ve dabbled in other things that still come up once in a while, like ukulele or drawing, but those three are the most relaxing to me, the ones in which I’m most willing to invest time and money.

Overall, Kat von D just takes care of herself and takes care of her soul. She works hard and gives herself playtime. She surrounds herself with people who inspire and support her just as she does them.

She just gives me such warm fuzzies, dude.

Who’s inspiring you lately?

February 27, 2017

Rad Gal Inspiration: Amanda Palmer

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When I was fifteen, I got tickets to see a fresh-faced band named Panic! at the Disco out by the seacoast with my then-best friend. To prepare, I looked into the opening acts: The Hush Sound and this weird as hell band The Dresden Dolls. It was a time before anything and everything you could ever want to investigate was on YouTube, so my Google searches had to be a little more thought out, taking time and clicking just the right links. Most likely, I found them both on MySpace with their songs available for streaming, though I can’t be sure after all these years. I investigated, and The Hush Sound were great–a little funky, ethereal at times, yet sweet in their sound of pianos, guitars, and vocals far beyond my range. They were catchy.

But the Dresden Dolls would not leave my brain. Their toy sounds and intoxicating, rough vocals kept repeating in my head and, after buying their first album, my Discman. There was a discordance to their sound that I could connect with, as if something inside of their music was, to my surprise, inside of me too.

These days I don’t listen quite as much as I did then, even though I’m often telling myself I should, but Amanda Palmer’s strength both as a performer and as a person strikes me as inspirational. She’s often on my mind, especially with my recent dive into Patreon.

As with probably every woman I end up writing about as an inspiration, Amanda has not been exempt from controversy, from claims that she wasn’t paying her band to the suggestion that her Patreon funds shouldn’t go towards her child. She is bold and outspoken, an ardent feminist who is open to criticism and acknowledges it. Just a few weeks ago she shared on Facebook a post from her Patreon group page that raised the idea that her fan space is predominately white, and instead of an argument, cordial (for the most part) discussion arose.

She also doesn’t shy away from her emotions, and she especially doesn’t take any shit from anyone. So often women are told to be quiet, not to talk about what upsets them or how they’re feeling, or else they’re “crazy feminsts” or “overemotional” or whatever other ridiculousness people want to use to shut us up. Amanda, however, is a force to reckoned with–and respected if not admired. She doesn’t let fear and judgement stop her from putting herself out there for her art and her passions, even if she still grapples with those things like the rest of us mortals.

If you’ve read her book or watched her TED Talk, you’ll have heard of The Bride, Amanda’s eight-foot-tall street performer persona in which she covered herself in white stage makeup, donned a long, vintage white bridal gown, and stood on a crate on the sidewalk. Through jeers of “Get a job!” and objects thrown at her–mixed among the quiet observers and people stopping to drop money into her can–she literally put herself on display, making herself vulnerable but pushing through because it was her job.

It’s also no wonder why she has a loyal, supportive following. She keeps engaged with them and lets them know how much she appreciates their love. She’s been a huge advocate of Twitter for years, using it as one of her main ways to connect with her fans. That kind of commitment to the people who support her is something not often seen among famous people, but she makes it a part of her day to let us know what she’s thinking, to respond to our comments, and to share bits from around the internet that she thinks we would enjoy or should know. Recently, I’ve tried to make this a part of my own routine, and while I don’t always have the same amount of time to allot to this, I have felt a marked improvement in my internet use by engaging rather than only observing.

Whereas other women role models make me feel amused or happy by their inspiring actions, Amanda Palmer makes me feel strong, capable. She makes me feel like maybe I can do anything, too, or at least that it’s worth trying.

January 30, 2017

Rad Gal Inspiration: Demi Lovato

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7.13.14 / demi lovato in seventeen magazine
Ugh. I have a wicked crush on Demi Lovato, man. She is an all-around inspirational babe. I was a fan back when she was on Disney Channel, right after she was on Camp Rock (but not because of Camp Rock, which I’ve never seen due to my personal aversion to boy bands), and I’ve just fallen more and more in love with her over the years. I remember being at my aunt’s house and watching Demi’s vlogs with Selena Gomez back when they were little Disney babies sparring with Miley over who knows what. I remember when Demi had a “breakdown” and punched a girl in the face while on tour with the Jonas Brothers. And I remember watching her come back from that and being so totally enamored with her. I sat in bed late one night while I was in school and watched the MTV documentary about her on my laptop.

To be honest, I feel like I still don’t know enough about her. I want to know everything (but not in a creepy way). I just want to read every magazine interview with her and watch every video of her, musical or otherwise; she’s the only reason I watched The X Factor last year. I mean, I liked seeing the performers and all, but I’ve never really been one for performance competitions shows. (I prefer Master Chef, if anything.) I’ll watch just about anything that she’s on at this point. I’m not really one to believe celebrities are obligated to be role models, but I do think she is one. I don’t even much like Seventeen Magazine anymore, but I danced around the house when the newest issue came in the mail and not only was she on the cover, but there was this section on positivity and self-love by her. My only complaint is that it was far too short. I would have gladly traded the entire Boys section for more Demi.

Plus, I think it’s cool to have someone be really open about the things she’s dealt with, as well. She hasn’t swept anything under the rug and ignored it for the sake of moving on and keeping a good image or whatever. She took what she went through and used it in a way that can benefit others. Demi really talks about problems she’s had and connects with people through them. It’s such a positive approach, and she seems like the kind of girl who would be an amazing friend, like she would be all about building you up and listening to you when times are tough and really helping you know that everything will be okay.

She’s definitely another to add to my celebrity bffs wishlist.

July 14, 2014

Rad Gal Inspiration: Shailene Woodley

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3.19.14 / shailene woodley--bust mag
Everyone and their mom (and dad and brother, etc.) are probably talking about this girl, and I can’t really blame them.

I have to start by admitting that I was skeptical about Shailene Woodley at first. All my knowledge of her was based around “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” which from what I saw (most of the first season when it  premiered) was not the best quality. Fast forward to last year when it was announced that she would be playing Hazel Grace Lancaster in The Fault in Our Stars adaptation, and my interest was piqued. I decided to give her a shot again.

And I fell in love.

Not necessarily over her acting, because I don’t think I’ve seen her anything other than “Secret Life” yet (although I will be going to see Divergent this weekend). I just adore her personality. She’s passionate, adorable, and completely “hippie-dippie,” as she’s said.
3.19.14 / shailene woodley--bust mag
It truly started with her BUST interview, which I first read in the bath shortly after the issue came out and I picked up a copy. I started excitedly texting a friend because I adamantly believe Shailene Woodley and I could be best friends. When the article first says she showed up at the interview with mason jars of tea, my heart began to pitter-patter a little faster. When her answer to whether or not feminism was relevant in her daily life was, “One-hundred percent,” I started to swoon. But it was when she talked about reusable menstrual products that I fell apart and knew she had to be added to my list of intellectual soul mates.

Then came the Into the Gloss interview, which I think everyone is talking about (especially after Jezebel linked to it, apparently). It’s based more around her beauty routine (or lack thereof) and after reading it and checking out links to everything she mentioned, I fell even harder. I think I fell all the way to the bottom with this one. Fruit-dyed makeup? Washing your hair once a month? Eating clay? It’s not mainstream and it’s probably a little weird, but that’s what I love. She does these uncommon things and talks about them like they’re the most normal thing in the world–and to her, they are. But she also knows that there’s a time and a place for certain things, because even though she might want to wear sneakers and be fresh faced all the time, “to show up to something like Live with Kelly and Michael with Converse on and no makeup would be disrespectful.” And that respect for others is admirable.

I just really want to be her best friend. She seems pretty damn cool, am I right?

March 19, 2014