Part 2: Elizabeth Semmelhack – Chief Curator At The Bata Shoe Museum

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Previously, on ‘Part 1’ Chief Curator at the Bata Shoe Museum, Elizabeth Semmelhack, revealed that heels were originally meant for men and why we have culturally associated high heels with women. For her, there is an obvious sexual connotation in the way women have been wearing them throughout history.

We continue our interesting conversation to learn more about the role that shoes play in our culture and society.

-Part 2-

CF: What about businesswomen? There’s so much research proving that some women feel the need to wear heels in order to have authority and be respected at work.

ES: We know that the majority of men who are CEOs are 6’2 or over, but the reality is that the majority of men are not 6’2 foot and over. So why don’t men make use of the high heel so they, too, can be tall in the workplace? Why is it just women?

CF: That’s another interesting thing to think about. Why are heels meant exclusively women? Why are men not wearing them?

ES: I think it has to do with how we conferred desirability. For example, at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, particularly in the ‘30s, there was a lot of discussion about race and racial superiority, and it was deemed that the most desirable men were the tallest. There are books written on this, there is advice to short men on what to do, so this is where men started wearing elevated shoes with something on the inside. The thing for these short men is, why don’t we let them wear high heels? I guess it’s because if he wears high heels, then he basically admits that is not naturally tall enough, it’s like a man wearing a toupee where we can see and say “Oh! You don’t actually have hair!” A man in heels is like “You’re not naturally man enough!”, so it highlights lack!

On the other hand, feminine desirability isn’t linked so much to height as it is linked to ideas of sexual desirability. I’ve traced the prominence of high heels within men’s pornography, and one of my questions is, “Why is the naked female body in men’s pornography so often ornamented with a pair of high heels?” This doesn’t really make sense! And people would say “Well, the high heels are meant to make your legs look longer and your butt fuller.” But in the actual history of the high heels I’ve learned that women wore long skirts until the 1920’s and it had nothing to do with the elongating the leg. They had complete flat silhouettes.

All of these things are culturally constructed. So I think that currently we have these very strong ideas about the connection between eroticism and high heels. We have culturally suggested that women’s power is simply limited to their sexual desirability. Of course we want to be powerful, but if your only avenue towards power is to be desirable, then you are going to wear high heels. Heels have no intrinsic meaning, and they are simply things we give meaning to culturally. If more and more truly powerful women wear high heels, then potentially the high heel could come to actually come to be synonymous with power. For example, if Hilary Clinton becomes President of the United States and wants to wear Louboutin shoes, she is in fact powerful, and so that could become an image of power. But the fun thing is the most powerful women in the world currently do not wear high heels, and I find that an interesting part of this argument.

CF: I suppose that’s because they don’t feel they need that “weapon” to highlight their power…

ES: Correct! However, I do think that there is something to be said about the fact that the business suit that men wear confers power. The high heel for women in business is now increasingly being associated with actual business power, but I do think that, ultimately, power is non-gender. Money is power because if I have five dollars and I am a woman and a man has five dollars too, we both can buy five dollars worth of stuff. So, if the high heel does ultimately become associated with power, then men and women will both wear it — but men will not wear it as long as is linked to femininity [more than it is to] power.

CF: So now I’m wondering if you see a connection between women’s obsession with shoes and the “shoe fetish” that is more common in males? Maybe because women are aware of the meanings that we have culturally given to shoes — their sexual connotation — they unconsciously develop this obsession with buying shoes in order to be more desirable to men?

ES: Maybe, although a man desiring and objectifying a high heel is different than a woman wearing a high heel. I don’t think that is genetic — I think that culturally, with this very long-standing tradition that has been an element of femininity even since the 18th century, the shoe obsession has simply been associated with being female. Men also always engage in fashion and there are many men who eagerly embrace fashion, so it’s not a genetic thing but a cultural thing.

CF: Fashion plays a crucial role in our mood, that way we feel, how we project ourselves and reassure our identity. Do shoes have a similar effect on our state of mind or the construction of identity?

ES: Well, the way I think about it is that in many ways, clothing is like a vocabulary, and all the objects we put on our body are words. We attempt to allow others to read us by that visual vocabulary, by the garments that we put on. And in the same way we’re using this vocabulary of fashion to speak to one another, we are also using it to speak to ourselves: “What do I feel like today?”

Another interesting thing about this is that throughout history, women have always felt obligated to show up in something that no other woman would be wearing. Men, on the other hand, have always had the freedom to show up wearing whatever they want — even if it matches the outfit of another man. Can one look at this as an obligation that women have, as a sort of social responsibility? Do I need to spend this amount of time shopping and making sure that I put together a very individual look?

On the other hand, this can be seen as a [positive thing for women]: “I get the opportunity to spend time to construct an individual expression of how I look.” For men, it can go in two ways: they can simply dress behind a uniform of authority, or now, like with the sneaker culture, they can begin to have individual words to express their individuality through fashion. I feel like this is a very interesting moment and a change is actually happening in men’s fashion.

[To be continued…]

Lauren’s Summer Travel Essentials Guide 101

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Planning a trip this summer?

Sometimes women often have to make clothing sacrifices, in order to pack light, but still want to look fashionable. This travel-packing list will provide you will all the necessary clothing and accessories that you will need, and still allow you to dress in style. This guide also provides a list of travel accessories; technology, toiletries and many other essential items that will help make you look and feel your best on your next vacation.

So before planning your trip, make sure you purchased your flight ticket, have all the dates organized and even the accommodations.

Here are a few great sites to check out when booking stays:

Online-sites

Women’s travel packing list: Clothing

Travelling for 2-3 weeks

Tops – I would recommend bringing four or five, and focus on tops that have simple patterns, or basic colours, so it makes it easy to select an outfit. Since it’s summer time, bring loose fitting tank-blouses that are lightweight, easy to wear and look great tucked into high-waisted shorts and skirts.

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Include one or two lightweight knit sweaters or cardigans.  Depending if you go up north, or want something quick to pull over on a chilly night, I would recommend a neutral knit-cardigan and a pullover knit sweater. I really love my taupe knit, it looks great with colorful skirts and pants, and can easily be dressed up for the evening with a chunky necklace or gold/silver chain.

Pack three to four tank-tops & t-shirts are great layering basic pieces and can even be worn for night time. They are lightweight, easy to pack and can be worn with a skirt and cardigan.

When it comes to dresses, I would pack one or two in neutral colours or something that will compliment any of your sweaters or knits. The dress should be semi-dressy, so you can wear it out for dinner or a late night event.

Women’s packing list: bottoms

Bring a variety of skirts in several colours or patterns to add a little flair to your outfit. Skirts are lightweight and easy to pack, so limit yourself to three or four. Include two to three fashionable and well-fitted pairs of shorts

When it comes to pants or jeans, it really depends where you are visiting. If you are going somewhere tropical, bring one pair of lightweight pants for the evening (Jersey or Linen). If you are going up north, or overseas, you might want to bring one pair of jeans and one cotton. Otherwise, I wouldn’t even bring any if you don’t need them; they take up a lot of space and can be heavy in weight.

Leggings are totally optional, I usually wear them over pants, just because they are easy to pack, lightweight and look great with dresses, or long tunics. I would recommend buying a navy, or black pair.

Women’s packing list: Underwear and Socks

I would recommend two to three bras, because most days I’m sure you will be wearing your bikini and tanning on the beach. You can also look into quick drying sports bras.

I always like to feel fresh,  so when traveling I pack 6 to 10 pairs of underwear.

If you plan to be on your feet for a long time,  invest in buying quality a few good pairs of socks then. These would include ones that are long lasting like fine wool, or have some synthetic blends in the wool, and you can wear them in the summer.

Women’s packing list: Footwear

Shoes are the most important when it comes to travel. If you want to get a brand that is comfortable and fashionable. I recently purchased gladiator sandals, which look fashionable,  and are lightweight, comfortable and looks good with every outfit I own. Black tends to absorb more heat, but the wearing, doesn’t show and I love them. http://shop.nordstrom.com/c/gladiator-sandals

I would also recommend sailing loafers by Geox. I went on a backpacking trip for 5 weeks and walked 27,000 steps per day wearing these. I never complained about my shoes while walking, and they were comfortable and looked trendy with all my outfits. The colour navy is great, I would stay away from white, light grey and beige, because they obviously show more dirt and look worn quickly. http://www.geox.com/en_en/home

Depending on where you are traveling, be sure to include water shoes. I needed to bring water shoes for Croatia, where it’s incredibly rocky. I purchased mine at Walmart for $8, and they also are good for inside hostel showers. http://www.walmart.com/tp/water-shoes

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Women’s packing list: Jackets

I would strongly recommend bringing a denim . They look trendy, match every outfit, are mid-lightweight and give warmth. I purchased mine at Le Chateau, and it’s made out of a lightweight fabric cotton, nylon and spandex. Check out forever 21, H&M and Dynamite for similar styles.

Also, bring a vinyl rain jacket or trench. I bring my black trench everywhere. It looks fashionable on the outside, wicks away water, doesn’t show dirt easily and is lightweight.

Women’s packing list: Travel Accessories

I would 100% recommend investing in a couple quick drying towels. I had taken mine all across Europe and used it for showering, the beach, and I only needed to wash it once (not to sound gross). It doesn’t absorb odor, its lightweight, so easy to pack and it came with a packing bag. I purchased mine at SAIL for $20, but you can look on EBay, Amazon, European Backpackers, and Mountain Equipment Co. http://www.mec.ca/product/5024-431/packtowl-personal-towel/

Earplugs and Eye Mask are a must unless you want to spend 7 hours on a plane hearing a small child screaming for the entire trip. Same goes for travelling by car for long periods of time, and just need some peace and quiet. Not all earplugs work, so I would really do some research prior and you can buy an eye mask at HBC, any travel store, shoppers or online.

Small journal or notepad is a great way to remember some really great moments about your trip, or small details. You can find some awesome journals at Chapters-Indigo. https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/house-and-home/stationery/social-stationery/notepads/

 

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Flexible Water Bottle is the best invention ever!! I purchased the platypus bottle at Mountain Equipment Co, but you can also find them online, and at SAIL.
http://www.mec.ca/product/5030-358/platypus-plusbottle/

If a washer isn’t available, then hand washing is the next resort. Sometimes places don’t have a sink stopper, so it’s always better to have your own, just in case. Laundry soap is another must have. I would recommend the brand BANIT.  Stains will come out instantly and works wonders. You can get both of these items at Home Hardware, Home Depot for example. http://www.homehardware.ca/en/cat/index.htm/Plumbing-Electrical/Plumbing/Repair-Hookup/Taps-Sinks/Stoppers/_/N-ntj9d

Depending where you travel, bring along a padlock. If you’re just wanting to lock up your personal items or keep them safe in a hostel locker, I would bring your own lock. Sometimes these places provide one, but what’s the harm in bringing your own? Better safe than sorry. I purchase some of my mini locks at a dollar store, but you can also look at Home Hardware, Home Depot and Staples.

I always check my luggage weight before my departure, but its good to bring it along with you as well. It gives you a good idea if you need to take some items away to lighten the load, or maybe you shouldn’t pack anymore. You can purchase one at any travel accessories stores or online on Amazon.

Make some copies of documents, such as your birth certificate, passport and anything else important if lost. You just need a digital copy on your phone if needed.

I would suggest bringing your own umbrella, especially when travelling to unfamiliar destinations, you just never know what to expect for weather.

When travelling to Europe, it is important to keep your money and documents safe from people whom pickpocket. There are many options, such as a waist belt, cross-body and bra hideaway. You can get a good price at Europe-Bound, MEC, SAIL or even online on Amazon or Ebay.

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Connect with Lauren and let her know how everything went during your planning process. If you have any ideas or feedback feel free to contact, Lauren@novellamag.com.

WayHome Day 2

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The second day of WayHome was as exciting and busy as the first, with some major artists like Timbre Timbre, Sza, Modest Mouse, Kendrick Lamar, Odesza, and Run The Jewels performing unreal sets. Between little bouts of sun showers and the perfect temperature on the sunny day, the Saturday festival was unreal. These are our top three performances from last night.

G-Eazy sauntered onto the stage in a bomber jacket to an explosion of cheers at WayBold, with his drummer Blake pumping up the crowd as he smashed the kit in perfect time. The Chicago-born rapper played his hit FRIED RICE, as well as TAKE ME DOWN, to a full audience. After playing for a full hour, he took the time to tell the audience that Toronto has become a second home to him. While he has been busy on tour for the last year, he always makes time to come to Toronto, as he loves the city and he has a massive following in Toronto.

Kendrick Lamar was perfection. Besides the fact that he played KING KUNTA, off his new album, along with some of his new bangers, he mixed in his classics. And speaking of classics, he was decked out in his Reebok Classics runners, as ambassador for the brand, and a majority of the audience was also wearing their Classics, generously provided by Reebok to hype the show. Kendrick had the most elaborate set up at the festival thus far, with the amazing light work and sounds, as well as the fireworks display at the end. And after playing for seventy-five minutes, he came back and did an encore. The concert was everything one could have hoped it would be and more, and the fandom surrounding Kendrick only grew as he progressed through his set.

Bassnectar had a hard act to follow, after Girl Talk rocked WayBold the previous night, but fans were not disappointed. The bass was so strong you could feel it in your chest, and the audience was enveloped by the deep trance sounds created by him. The venue was packed to the brim, with people flooding outside WayBold almost to the limits of the ground to be able to hear Bassnectar’s unique sound. Closing down the night and keeping the energy right until 2 a.m. is a feat, but Bassnectar delivered with radical rhythms in his heavy set.

‘Kaytranada’ & ‘Girl Talk’ At WayHome

 

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Photo Credit: ‘Huh What & Where’

Kaytranada exploded on the WayBright stage to a barrage of deep purple, black and white lights illuminating the crowd. As he began to spin and the crowd swayed in beat to his words and beats, the bass encompassed us and we moved as one. As he coasted through his fifty-minute set, he played  classics like ALL WE DO, as well as some of his newer stuff. Mixing new and old sounds together and blending them together by incorporating a beat of his own is what makes Kaytranada one of our stand out acts of Day One.

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Photo Credit: Cruel.com

Closing down the night was Girl Talk at WayBold, who played an explosive and engaging set. Utilizing call and response from the crowd with his mixes, Girl Talk, also known as Gregg Gillis, is famous for his mashups and samplings, and as the closer of last night, he absolutely brought down the house as confetti, vibrant lights, and smoke machines covered his audience, as they jumped and danced around the venue until the last minute of the evening.

WayHome Day 1

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Day one of WayHome left us sweaty, exhausted, yet craving more of the anticipated performances WayHome has to offer. After some of the biggest acts including Hozier, Girl Talk and folk legend Neil Young, we have been blown away by the energy from the crowd and performances. Here are some of our highlights from day one.

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Photo Credit: The Guardian

Hozier – The crowd slowly started approaching the main stage as the sun continued to beam down. People were lying down on the grass trying to cool off anyway they knew how. Then, in comes Hozier and everyone stood up cheering from the top of their lungs. The sun was finally starting to set and Hozier began singing using his soulful vocals. He was better than anticipated. It was as though we were listening to his album  instead instead of live. Of course he ended the show with “Take Me To Church”, which had the the entire audience singing along.

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Photo Credit: The Guardian

Neil Young – The folk legend was definitely one of the most talked about performers of WayHome. He played a mix of some classics with some new stuff, which really highlighted his protests against big corporations and GMOs. He even had a mini performance with men dressed in masks spraying chemicals on the flowers showing the harm it induces. The legend lives on.