Sunday, October 31, 2010

Small children, little women

-Do not, I repeat, do not go to Chelsea Market on Halloween. It was like the four years I spent living in and around Park Slope condensed into a single food-court experience. Painted children, many of whom were adorable, many of whose parents were insufferable (camera guy, you know who you are), everywhere. I was relieved that I'd at least gone with black corduroys and black boots, given that anything light-colored on the lower half of my body would probably be stained by now if I hadn't. (I may be short - see below - but the average toddler's still shorter.)

-Mark Bittman, you are a genius. Both times I've made the ricotta-cheese gnocchi (and that would be two days in a row) I upped the flour-to-cheese ratio, because I'm a cheap graduate student who was running low on parmesan, and because I didn't want to lose ingredients to gnocchi disintegration. I added olive oil to the butter-sage sauce, because otherwise I find butter sauces taste too buttery. But otherwise, Bitty, it's all you.

-Is there such a thing as "short privilege"? I think not. Certainly not for men, but not for women, either. My reasons are in the comments at Amber's, so I won't repeat them here. All I'll add is that I think we're confusing "short" with "thin." Yes, short women take smaller sizes and weigh less than taller ones, and with our society's fixation on numbers for these things, it might seem as though small-all-around women have some kind of an edge. It might seem as though women who wear kids' clothes do so in order to seem thin, when the fact of the matter is, some of us look like we're playing dress-up in womenswear because we're that short. If we were taller but otherwise identically built, we'd wear unremarkable women's sizes. The fact that there are single-digit numbers associated with our builds doesn't make us somehow equivalent to models who might weigh the same and take the same dress size up there at 5'10". (However, Hadley Freeman's 100% correct about the dangers of letting vanity sizing - whether an adult 2 or a kids' Large - get the better of you. Just because you can squeeze into it doesn't mean it, whatever it is, is a good idea.)

-Simon Doonan is against the "investment piece." Thank goodness!

-Speaking of the "timelessness" trend, what do those of my readers willing to admit to non-ignorance-of-fashion think of the "heritage" fad - an oxymoron, yes, but otherwise a good thing? Yes, the Americana of L.L. Bean and Banana Republic is produced, like flashy jeggings, in China. No, there's no reason to think clothes in styles meant to represent durability are, in fact, any more durable than whatever was trendy before them. But the stuff itself is kind of... nice. Its ubiquity has made it much easier for me to explore Fashion Personality #1. (However, once you know what you're looking for, this look is all over thrift stores.) Plus, the "heritage" color scheme - lots of camel, gray, chocolate brown - seems to work for my coloring better than the pastels of 1980s prep or the all-black palette of I-live-in-New-York-and-study-French. So, while in principle I think it's dumb, I must admit that a (small) percentage of my salary has gone to this look.


Britta said...

short privilege: I'm sure it's the grass is always greener. I'm extremely medium (5'5") and I kind of wish I were 1-2 inches taller, but I don't lose sleep over it. I DO think being leggy is always considered good, and that means just having slightly proportionally longer legs. I don't have long legs, and if I could keep my same height but make my legs and inch longer, I would do it in an instant. I've seen "leggy" women at my height, and felt jealous. On thinness, it's funny because as a child, she used to tell me that I had to eat my potatoes so I could grow tall, and being tall was better because one didn't get fat as easily. (Yes, I had a slightly twisted childhood.) I'm pretty thin, and people either think I am taller or shorter than I am, but they rarely think I'm exactly the height I actually am.

On names: I agree that most Americans just associate German names with Jewish ones. In fairness, while there are some obvious markers (e.g. ie vs ei), there are Jews with non-Jewish German names, and non-Jewish Germans with Jewish names (usually they will make it a point to mention they actually aren't Jewish).

On "heritage" clothes: In the Pacific NW, they never went out of style, so it's not like they can suddenly be back in. After all, Pendelton is an Oregon company.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

There's doubtless an element of grass-is-greener. Tall women are likely to have been rejected by men for being too tall, short ones for being too short. The former might happen more often than the latter, but if you balance this out with the fact that model=tall, and not just in high fashion... As for "leggy," I always took that to mean tall, as long as the legs are at least of average proportions. Just about any tall, thin woman in a miniskirt can have "legs that go on forever." A short woman, whatever her proportions, is almost never described as "leggy."

I'd never heard of ei versus ie being a distinction. My Jewdar is seriously hopeless.

Right, Pendleton! Even Uniqlo's now, I think, "inspired" by that style. Why was I picturing the Pacific NW as fleece territory? (I'd like very much to visit there, whatever the fashions, but haven't ever been.) The idea with "heritage" seems to be, in part, steering clear of newly-invented materials. This is kind of a new idea in the States, at least the states I've been to, in the NE and Midwest - I always thought of the US-Western Europe fashion distinction as being that Europeans went with more natural fibers (canvas sneakers, wool coats, etc.), while Americans reached for the track suits, puffy jackets, hi-tech "walking" shoes, and so on.

Britta said...

(oh, the "she" is my grandmother, btw)

In the NW, people wear pendelton under their fleece. There are a lot of high performance materials in the NW, mainly gortex and fleece, but also a lot of natural fibers. Logger meets hippy meets hiker is kind of the main look. Also, clogs are always in.

I'm kind of embarrassed about my Jewdar, because it feels kind of unseemly to not be Jewish but to know about various traits that might identify someone as Jewish. But yes, spelling is a good way to distinguish German and German-Jewish names. Names that end in b are Jewish (e.g. Brahms vs Brambs). In Russian, -off ending is Jewish, whereas the -ov ending is not. Certain lexical items (names with gold, baum, mandel, etc.) are usually Jewish, but are not always (though someone named something like "Mandelbaum" is highly likely to be Jewish). Patronymics with old testament names, e.g. "Isaacson," would be considered Jewish as well.

Name segregation was both due to official policy (e.g. Jews having to spell their last name differently, such as with the ei/ie or b/no b distinction), and the fact that once a name was considered Jewish, Gentiles no longer wanted to have it, so, say, old testament names became Jewish because they were more common among Jews, so Christians stopped using them, reinforcing the connection, etc. For comparison, the pretty much non existence of Jews in Scandinavia means that old testament names were much more common there in the 19th century, so you had people named things like "Israel Israelsson" who weren't actually Jewish.

Amber said...

In Russian, -off ending is Jewish, whereas the -ov ending is not.

I actually ended up studying Russian because one biography of Catherine the Great I read translated names with -off endings while another, contemporaneously published, had -ov endings, and it piqued my curiosity. (The names were the same in Cyrillic.) I've seen this attributed to "French" phonetics used in transliteration.

On legginess: Only relatively tall women can have long legs and still have a normally proportioned torso. I can testify that having a short torso is no fun. So if you're wishing for legginess, wish to be at least 5'7".

Britta said...

Amber, interesting. I don't really know any Russian. A Russian-Jewish person once told me that, and anecdotally it seemed true, but then I never questioned whether or not the cyrillic would be the same.

I have a very long torso, so I figure I could lose an inch of torso and not be too out of proportion. Whether long legs short torso or short legs long torso is worse, my guess is if it's extreme it's bad either way, but if it's just a little bit, I'd go for the longer legs.