Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi Ad – Who’s at Fault? Everyone!

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Social Media has revolutionized the immediacy of how the public reacts to news and entertainment. Forget the days of snail hate mail of yesteryear sent to networks and celebrities in large bags. Every single person has a voice – and social forum to be heard. Less than 24 hours since the new Pepsi ad was launched featuring Kendall Jenner, one of the hottest it-models of the moment – the ad has been pulled from every marketing vehicle imaginable. What happened exactly? I follow the Kardashians on social as I’m a pop culture junkie and after I viewed the fury-inducing ad on Kris Jenner’s Instagram, I wasn’t moved, I brushed it off, yet I had a sinking feeling it wouldn’t be well received by the public. It was awkward in execution, odd images of Kendall Jenner abandoning her “model” duties and joining a protest. After having attended two protests this year: The Women’s March in following the inauguration and Not My President’s Day March in February. This commercial didn’t necessarily poke fun at protests – it trivialized the protesting experience. It lumped protests into the next “cool” thing young people are doing or engaged with. Similar to the “Cash me outside, How bout’ Dat?” teen or the incessant iterations on the Internet of Salt Bae. Yeah, nope. The Twitterverse was not having any of it. Everyone and their, mom, aunt, dad and grandpa had to something to say about it. Martin Luther King Jr.’s youngest daughter, Bernice King, posted: “If only Daddy would have known the power of #Pepsi” with a picture of cops strong-arming Martin Luther King Jr. in the 60s.

Pepsi is such a well-known global brand and being asked to be a Pepsi ambassador is mecca for any celebrity: A sign that you’ve made it. Recognition is absolute. Your star power is blinding! If you look at Kendall Jenner’s Instagram post just days before the controversy unfolded, there’s a picture of her idol, Cindy Crawford in a 1992 Pepsi ad.

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Kendall and her clan (momager, Kris included) were so clouded by the prestige Pepsi invokes – that they forgot the messaging behind this partnership. It was an afterthought. No one said, “Hey! maybe this is ad’s message is a little insensitive to people’s causes” As an adoring public, fans, spectators on the sidelines, we want our favorite models, actors, and sport stars to reach the pinnacle of success with all the advertising, movie, fashion deals out there – but one misstep and the crucifixion begins. Kendall Jenner has removed all traces of her ad on her social media accounts and Pepsi has apologized and lamented their insensitivity. But we as a the public must not go on the attack and instead educate companies, and clueless celebrities about history and what protests mean and can achieve for the misrepresented and people without a voice. Not once did I see or hear anyone say: “Hey Kendall, come to my town or join my group so you can see what protesting is really like and what the impetus behind this march means.”

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More Than a March: A Global Call-to-Action Movement

0ba2cdbf-9fa2-45d4-bd12-b7cf26a5cfd8As I made my way to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on 47th and 2nd – the meeting point for the New York Women’s March, I was filled with anxiety, dread and just plain fear. I had attended a preliminary Women’s March meeting  earlier in the week  held by a group of professional women’s video and documentary filmmakers. “How to properly record immoral acts of violence?” “How not to get arrested.”What happens when you do.” These phrases kept lingering in my head throughout the week. I’m not a person who typically demonstrates. Yeah, I’ve been to a few Revlon Run/Walk 5Ks and previous March of Dimes walks and felt good about myself. Exercise was the motivator, really, and then yes, supporting the cause too – this was an after thought.

Two nights before the march I abruptly texted my friend Sandra. “Do you want to march on Saturday?” I asked. “I would like that. I’m in.” She said. I was taken aback. I was happy that she wasn’t indecisive. I didn’t think any of my immediate friends would want to march. The day of: I was running behind, The gypsy and NJ Transit buses were nowhere in sight to get me to NYC. I saw a young mom carrying a toddler. She must be off to go to the mall or visiting her parents, I thought. NOPE! Was I wrong. And, I loved that I was. “Look! Baby.” She said to her daughter after glancing at the two signs I was holding. “She’s marching too!” This warm feeling swept over me. I couldn’t believe that this mom and I had the same cause in common.

As I fast-walked through from West-to-East on 42nd Street, I halted. There it was. My first glimpse of all these different people coming together as one to protest our causes: Women’s Reproductive Rights, Human Rights, Equality for All, Embracing Diversity, The Future of America.

We are at a standstill on 42nd and 2nd Avenue. So many people had amassed in that central location that no one could really move. Streets were closed off. “This is a conspiracy!” I thought. “Why aren’t I getting any service?” “Trump’s people are behind this.” We stood there for over 3 hours before the march actually started. “What is going on?” “My feet hurt and I haven’t gone anywhere yet, Uggh!” My thoughts were getting to me. “Stop being a wuss!” “You have to find Sandra.” Sandra’s was coming from Queens and there was lots of construction going with the trains. Sandra and I finally met up and we started marching. I couldn’t express at how elated I felt that I was part of something so much bigger than myself, the marchers around me, New York, Hell! the world.

8c1e6b2a-ea7c-4587-88e4-5df0b9d62b88I had been interacting with teens, men, women in their 60s and 70s of various ethnicities being friendly to one another, courteous, singing and chanting alongside one another. We marched all the way up to 55th and 5th Avenue; 2 blocks shy of Trump Towers. I was disappointed at first that the cops had barricaded the streets, but then remembered what the march was about and how many people from different walks of life and age groups came out to protest for what they believe in. What a beautiful day!

 

Statement Toques: Your Latest Winter Accessory

The winter months in New York can be brutal, but that doesn’t mean you have to endure the cold weather with bland winter accessories as you tackle each day. Enter: Tuck ShopTrading Co., founded in Toronto, Canada by Lyndsay Borschke and inspired by her and her husband’s time spent between cottage and city life. Their new line: City of Neighborhoods pom-pom beanies or toques (as commonly referred to in Canada) are fun, playful and pride-inducing. What started as homage to cities around Canada, now includes neighborhoods all over the United States.

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From the East Village to Morningside Heights, and from Hell’s Kitchen to Bushwick, the City of Neighborhood’s toques include nearly every district in New York City. The Tuck Shop Trading Co. features cozy, ready-to-wear clothing and accessories for men and women. Their products are designed and manufactured solely in North America. These unisex casual luxe headgear pieces are ideal for battling the frigid temperatures and reppin’ your favorite neighborhood – simultaneously! I was lucky to be armed with one of the Bronx toques on a long drive to Canada to visit relatives, and yes, I’m known to always be the coldest person in the room, but this toque kept my noggin warm for the duration of my trip. Spotted on the streets of the famous heads of Method Man and Cara Delavigne, these popular toques are everywhere. Get yours now for $38 on: https://www.tuckshopco.com/collections/city-of-neighbourhoods/

Skyline Dairy Goat’s Milk & Shea Butter Hydrating Body Lotion Soothes My Skin’s Winter Woes

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My skin has a personality of its own. Sometimes its like a sweet well-behaved child that follows your every command, but mostly, it’s a rebellious teen that answers back, contradicts everything you say and gives you grief all day long! I have combination skin and it can be very unruly and sensitive if I don’t tend to it daily. It flakes, gets patchy and can be tender to the touch in the winter and summer. A friend recommended I try  Skyline Dairy Goat’s Milk & Shea Butter Moisturizer because I’m a lover of everything made out of goat’s milk and I’m drawn to products with natural ingredients.

Two weeks in, and I’m impressed with this moisturizer. The first few days, I interpreted my skin’s reaction to a Shakespearean response: “To be or not to be irritated? That is the question my skin ponders, immediately, upon encountering a new product. On the third day of using this cream, my skin welcomed this new product with open arms. “Yes, I will let you quench my thirst for moisture both day and night. You needn’t fuss over me, just yet!”I was thrilled that I didn’t have to alternate between a day and night cream. I can apply Skyline Dairy Goat’s Milk & Shea Butter  moisturizer in the morning and in the evening before going to bed and not wake up with a greasy mess on my face or pillow.

The scent is nice and light. It reminds my boyfriend of lemon-flavored lollipops when he smells it on me. He started using it too – to battle the harsh daily NYC winter weather. The moisturizer I have is fragranced with Lemongrass & Vanilla and consists of 40% raw goat’s milk, 5% shea butter and 80% mountain well water. I recommend it highly! What’s interesting is that I didn’t know that it is advertised as a body lotion, because of the sample I received, had I known that, I would have never tried it on my face. I’m glad I did! I confirmed with the founder, Chase Hudson, that it is indeed a hydrating body lotion; yet many of his customers use it as a face cream with great results. I agree! Don’t waste this gem on your body, let your face reap the benefits. To buy this product that retails for $20, Click here:

 

Cafés and Career Insights with Photographer Extraordinaire: Monica Buck

 

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courtesy of Monica Buck

Meeting a colleague, friend or interview subject for coffee and learning about their drink order provides you with a glimpse into their personality. Large translucent, refreshing iced-tea with lemon – understatedly simple with no fuss is what Monica ordered. I imagined how she would shoot her drink. With a plate of lemons on the side or multi-colored plump tea bags, whimsically arranged with beautiful porcelain tea cups, perhaps some natural light too – streaming in overhead. If you see Monica’s work, you’ll know what I’m referring to. I, on the other hand, ordered an iced-latte with everything added under the sun. I try to make my coffee beverages taste like anything, but coffee!

The San Francisco-born photographer began to tell me about her career trajectory as a photographer; her German engineer-by-trade and adventurer-by-spirit dad, who motivated her to pursue a career in the arts. The industry’s highs and lows and what inspires her to stay in the photography game.

MV: What drew you to photography? 

MB: My father was a big photography enthusiast. He photographed all sorts of people – sailors, exotic animals. Usually beautiful exotic birds and monkeys. I would love to sift through the images classify them for him.

MV: When did you get your start as a photographer?

MB: I became involved with photography 23 years ago. My family moved from California to Miami and I received my training in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. I did apprenticeships with numerous photographers. My mentor at the time, Laurie Hale, pushed me to achieve my goals; she really believed in me.

MV: Did you have a particular style of photography you wanted to pursue?

MB: I went through BlackBook (Photographer’s bible) and started searching for different types of photographers in my area. I called up Greg Heisler and Craig Cutler and ended up assisting them and learning so much. Initially, I wanted to shoot fashion. I loved this type of photography, but as I started getting gigs, I quickly realized it wasn’t for me; I didn’t fit in. The over-the-top personalities are pretty extreme.

MV: What was your next move, knowing fashion wasn’t your ideal type of work?

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courtesy of Monica Buck

 

MB: I began with a still-life book. I loved arranging props and products and creating interesting compositions in the studio. Plus, I was in control of the shots – to some degree and really enjoyed that freedom. But, after doing it for some time, I found the in-studio work to be constricting. I started to venture into different photography genres. Lifestyle, people, interiors and exteriors and found my groove. I started shooting for more editorial, catalogue and commercial clients. It was great.

MV: What are some the current challenges you face with editorial and commercial clients?

MB: There are many more photographers than there are magazines today. And many of these magazines are shutting down at an alarming rate. Like my parents, I’m a hustler and have embraced the fact that you have to pursue new ways to stay relevant and keep shooting projects that won’t just pay the bills, but are worthwhile and will enable you to grow as an artist.

MV: What recommendations would you give to aspiring photographers? 

MB: Assist the people you admire. Look for apprenticeships in your area and outside. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone. Constantly research to see what type of styles you like. Go out and shoot! I follow few photographers on Instagram to see what trends are currently out there. I’m inspired by beautiful things and love to interpret their existence with photography.

To see Monica’s work and to hire her for your next creative project, click here: http://www.monicabuck.com/about/1

 

 

The Uplifting Powers of Makeup

Being alone opens up the mind’s floodgates to thoughts; some good, some bad and usually persistent and recurring – depending on your current situation. Whenever I’m at a loss for motivation during my mornings as a freelancer or lack there of freelancing, I look through my heaps of makeup I’ve hoarded throughout the last 11 years working for magazines.

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Without a single method or inkling of how to apply anything, I reach for concealers, lipsticks, bronzers that may or may not be expired. Whatever! To your makeup no-nos! Elle, Allure and Harper’s Bazaar….I’m not throwing out anything! I’ve always taken pride in my hoarding techniques. I have so much conditioner for straight-haired blondes, I could really start a salon. Yup! I’ve been guilty of grabbing products completly useless to me when they were 25 cents or free – just because!

Whenever I’m in a sad state, which has been often, lately. I take to the bin filled with lip liners and glosses and lipsticks – pick a color of the day and this somehow makes me feel better. Eventhough I’m in my pajamas and plan to remain that way for the duration of the day, I’d like to know that at least my lips are dressed. They care! They want to make an impression.  As I’m writing this, I have a pimple the size of Nebraska, smack dab on the middle of my nose. It’s so precisely circumferenced that Nasa or Amazon’s drones can locate its exact coordinates. But, hey! I applied lipstick, regardless. This foreign body taking up residence on my human beak is not going to win. I recommend you heed my advice.

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Life’s obstacles got you down? Apply some makeup. It will instantly lift your spirits when everything and everyone seems to be projecting negativity. Next up: mastering old foundation that won’t give me a rash and, hopefully, evens out my complexion.

 

In The Midst of Uncertainty…Exercise!

 

IMG_2762I’ve finally come to understand what those fitness fiends and doctors have been preaching all along. Get up! And get moving! – If not for your health – for your mental state. I typically ride 3x a week. I’m not one of those people that gets excited by indoor gym facilities, unless they smell like Eucalyptus, have impeccably clean and warm towels within arm’s reach; a misting spray that you accidentally ingest, start coughing, but kinda of like because it raises your body temparture and cools you off – typically found in fancy resort hotels.

Freelancing for over a year and sans full-time job, I’ve taken up bike riding on my spare time. Oh, I call myself a renegade now, because I recently went over 3 NYC bridges in one day  with my cycling phenom BF. But, a freakish childhood incident with me riding on the handlebars of my cousin’s unsteady bicycle at age 7 scarred my psyche. We were riding on the crooked, unpaved streets of Washington Heights and with one sudden turn, I was ejected from the handlebars and left face down with a bloodied face, stitches, and the denouncement of bicycles for the rest of my life!

Then 4 years ago, I received an email from bikenyc.org with a schedule of free classes for adult and children Learn-to-ride 2 hour classes. It was one of those random emails you get and wonder how you got on their mailing list. I went to a few classes at East River Park and Prospect Park, but couldn’t get the hang of it. Adults of all ages, races and religions brave these classes. Depending on your riding level, they offer a variety of classes throughout the spring and summer with volunteers. For the first half hour, you coast on a pedal-less bike with helmet in tow, provided by the group. At the East River Park, it’s outdoors where everyone could see you. And this little child gang kept hovering over our area and it was unsettling. These little show-offs kept riding around taunting and laughing at us. I gave up and went home. I tried the following year in Park Slope but found the location of the class was on a hill that I couldn’t conquer. Then last year rolled around and I had more time to explore classes offered during the week. Roosevelt Island! Yes, it was a bit of a trek for me, but it was an indoor gymnasium with padded walls. It screamed safety and I loved it; a crash test playground for adult human dummies. After 3 visits, not only was I coasting my little heart out, I was pedaling. Yippee! I had one of the volunteers film me. Not because I was succumbing to the narcissistic society we currently live in to document everything we do, but because I had to provide proof to my cynical friends and relatives.

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Nowadays, I ride along the streets of North Bergen and Hoboken and listen to “Fly Like an Eagle” to rid myself of my day’s worries with the airy, saltwater breeze hitting my face. I still freeze and feel unnerved when I come across busy intersections; and pretend to get on the sidewalk, as if that was my intended destination. In actuality, it’s that I can’t hold my bike line, but I’m a work-in-progress…..and, aren’t we all?