Tag Archives: female

Beauty in the Movies: The Secret Garden

Most kids have a book (or series of books) that opens up such a world of wonder it becomes a near obsession. For some it might be Little Women, or Harry Potter, but for me that book was Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. Maybe it’s because growing up in an apartment gardens were foreign and fascinating, or maybe it’s because I’m a Capricorn,  but whatever the reason, I found the story pure magic, and I still do.

The Secret Garden is the story of Mary Lennox (Kate Maberly), a 10-year-old girl, born and raised in colonial India by neglectful parents. As a result, Mary has never had friends and grows up incredibly spoiled and bitter. When her parents die suddenly in an earthquake (in the book it’s a cholera outbreak), Mary finds herself shipped back to England to live with a tortured and often absent uncle (John Lynch) whom she has never met on his sprawling country estate, Misselthwaite Manor.

Not only is the house mysterious, it has an air of melancholy, as though “a spell has been cast upon it”. The housekeeper, Mrs. Medlock (Maggie Smith) keeps Mary locked in her room and refuses to coddle her. The sole kindness Mary encounters is from Martha (Laura Crossley), one of Medlock’s servants who is able to calm her violent temper. It’s only when Mary discovers a secret passage in her room, that she begins to unlock the secrets of the house.


Mary stumbles on a key in the room of her deceased aunt, and learns that it opens the door to a beloved garden left neglected after her aunt’s death. As Mary, and Martha’s animal-charmer brother Dickon (Andrew Knott), set about restoring the garden to its former beauty, Mary finds there are more mysteries to be discovered at Misselthwaite.

Early spring always makes me think of The Secret Garden, the world slowly thawing and coming back to life after a harsh winter. There’s magic in the budding of trees and the blooming of the first daffodils—it’s hope, it’s renewal, not just for the earth, but for ourselves as well. The Secret Garden is a metaphorical story with a heavy dose of magical realism. As the garden blossoms so does Mary, and the effect it has on her is contagious, setting off an awakening throughout Misselthwaite.

Not to sound like an old biddy, but I worry that with all the technology available to kids today they’re missing out on the freedom and enchantment of the outdoors. The Secret Garden highlights such an important part of childhood, not just bonding with friends, but the liberation of being outside and making your own discoveries, even if it’s in your own backyard.

While there are a few small deviations from the original novel in this adaptation by Polish director Agnieszka Holland, it’s by far the most visually beautiful and emotionally effective of the many attempts to bring this story to the screen.

The Secret Garden is a gothic tale, almost Jane Eyre-like with the desolate moors and the ghostly wailing in the night. Holland really captures the darkness in the story and pushes the symbolism as well, Mary’s Aunt’s room is not only vacant, but overgrown in vines like a scene out of Sleeping Beauty.

Frances Hodgson Burnett never saw the success of The Secret Garden during her life, her other novels enjoyed much greater popularity in their time. Over the years the novel began to emerge as her most beloved story, it has a deep resonance, it doesn’t feel like a story for children, but for everyone.

Burnett suffered the loss of her 18 year old son and never really recovered from it, The Secret Garden in many ways was a very personal story for her. It’s about the triumph of hope, of life after loss. It reminds us that even when all the world seems dead, if you’re willing to love, just beneath the surface there is new life waiting to grow.

Sonia Rykiel bow dress
310 GBP – farfetch.com

Isaac Mizrahi turtleneck top
601 GBP – net-a-porter.com

Lace top
7 GBP – houseoffraser.co.uk

One Vintage vintage top
950 GBP – net-a-porter.com

Paul Joe wool blend coat
335 GBP – theoutnet.com

Karen Walker pleated skirt
$352 – shoplesnouvelles.com

French Connection full mini skirt
$32 – usa.frenchconnection.com

Ribbed socks
25 GBP – brownsfashion.com

Cydwoq lace up ankle booty
375 CAD – gravitypope.com

Hunter shoes
56 GBP – johnlewis.com

All Black t strap shoes
$58 – endless.com

Just Female necklace
18 EUR – welikefashion.com

Rag Bone wide brim hat
$175 – shoptwigs.com

Ribbon hair accessory
$2.95 – omnicheer.com

Skull beanie
$15 – amazon.com

Pinafore Dress (22”)
55 GBP – harrods.com

Vintage Moss Be a Secret Box
$25 – modcloth.com

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Lady Porn Day: Porn and Plot

I’ve been invited to discuss a topic I rarely talk about on this blog—sex, specifically porn and masturbation as they relate to women. Now before some of you shy away, you should know that the point of this project is to get women talking about a topic often labeled as taboo. While I am the first to admit it might be outside my comfort zone, I also can’t resist a challenge. If you want to know more about Lady Porn Day and the awesome woman, Rachel Rabbit White, who got us all talking you can find more info. here. (slightly NSFW illustrations below)

I thought a lot about how to broach this subject because obviously there is a lot to say. The more I thought about it the more I wanted to pinpoint at least part of what doesn’t appeal to many women about pornography. For me, it can be hard to separate out the actress from the act—who is she? Is she happy? Is she safe? Is this her choice? I can be neurotic, and I often worry about these things and find them distracting, but that’s just one small factor, I find that pornography in general isn’t made for women. From the weird costuming to the unnecessary extreme close-ups and unflattering angels, there are a lot of things that distract from the romance of it. So the question comes down to, what is it that really turns women on?

I found one answer to that question in an article in this month’s Marie Claire (who woulda thunk?). The article was about a 27-year-old female pastor and her struggle with abstinence. At one point she mentions having a particularity hard time due to fantasizing about fictional vampire Edward Cullen of the Twilight series. And she is not alone, teens, moms, women of all ages, and apparently even women of the cloth are obsessively fantasizing about a teenage vampire who refuses to engage in sexual activity until marriage. So what’s the appeal? It might be that the lack of sex just makes the series that much more sexy, but it’s something else too—it’s storyline.

There is a reason why so much fan-fiction is dirty and porn spoofs and parodies of acclaimed movies are so popular too. They give you an automatic connection to the characters you’re watching engage in dirty deeds, and that makes things a lot more interesting. In most porn, a cheesy plot-line is set up, a delivery man is invited in or a woman randomly shows up at a guy’s house and—BOOM, sex. All you know about the characters is that they want to have sex and maybe that they received a package from UPS, no storyline, no development, which also means no seduction, no romance, no restraint. Women love romance, not all of us like the schlocky rom-com type, but some of us do, and even if we don’t I’m sure there are other forms of romance we do love. Erotica for example could be considered a form of pornography but it’s usually handled with sensuality, romance, and in-depth narrative. All you have to do is read Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin to understand that descriptions of sex can be created with lyrical beauty and insight while still being incredibly pornographic.

There are plenty of men out there who love romance as well, and while porn as it is gets the job done, maybe they often find themselves fantasizing about women they know—wives, ex-girlfriends, maybe even characters from movies, because they feel more of a connection to them. I’m the last person to point out what needs to be done to change the porn industry, I don’t know nearly enough about it, but the task at hand was to talk about it and this is a point I find interesting. Obviously it’s not as easy as adding a better plot to porn films. As my husband pointed out, if you introduced real storyline to a porno, most men would fast forward to the sex, and most porn stars understandably wouldn’t know what to do with a script requiring them to play a developed character. Who’s to say that it can’t be done though? I hate the idea that pornography and art have to be staunchly separated. Just because something contains explicit sex shouldn’t mean it’s lacking in artistic value. Personally I would be more interested in pornography that was written with appealing characters or explored any number of new and creative ways to make porn about more than just people having sex on camera.

Porn is sex, but sex for most of us is much more than just the act, it’s a culmination of a relationship and emotions which for many of us are a very important part of what makes sex satisfying. I’m not saying that women need an emotional connection every time they have sex or masturbate, that’s a myth that many have worked hard to abolish. I do think that men and women think about sex differently, and for some of us sex itself isn’t as important as the relationship of the characters engaging in it as well as the atmosphere surrounding them. When it comes down to it women are all so unique it’s hard to say what turns each of us on, but we’re a big market so it would be worth it to figure us out, and it might be an educational experience for men as well. Character might be something for the porn industry to look into to get more women interested, it’s definitely something to think about, and I’m just glad I accepted this challenge and found my own small way to write about women and porn that made sense to me. I encourage all of you to read more about this topic from other women who probably have way more insight into the actual world of pornography than I do, if for no other reason than we don’t talk about it enough.

Happy Lady Porn Day everyone!

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Filed under acceptance, health

Beauty in the Movies: Fried Green Tomatoes


This week for Beauty in the Movies, we are celebrating lonely housewives, epic friendships, southern cooking, and much more in the 1991 film “Fried Green Tomatoes”, based on the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. Thanks to Lizzy Sise for the fabulous recommendation!

I hadn’t watched this movie in a while, and since it seemed very appropriate to watch in early summer, I was happy to find it available on streaming Netflix and re-watch it last night. This movie more than meets the requirements of The Bechdel Test, so if you haven’t seen it, add it to your must-see list now, it’s worth it!

The movie centers around the friendships of two sets of women in Alabama, one pair in the 1930’s, Idgie (Mary Stuart Masterson) and Ruth (Mary-Louise Parker), and the other a middle-aged woman who befriends an elderly woman in a nursing home in the 1980s.

Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) plays the arch-typical lonely, ignored housewife. While her husband is watching sports, and only acknowledging her for the “nice scald” on her fried chicken, Evelyn is going through “the change” and feeling alienated by her more liberated peers. When she meets Ninny Threadgoode (Jessica Tandy) while visiting her husband’s awful aunt at a nursing home, the stories Ninny relates to her cement a bond between the two women, and inspire Evelyn to take back control of her life.

Over a series of visits, Ninny recounts the story of Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison to Evelyn. Idgie is fearless, she charms bees, jumps from trains, plays poker with the town sheriff, and lives with a staggering sense of compassion and generosity for those around her. Ruth is a perfect southern lady, a woman of faith and family duty, she is brought in by Idgie’s mother to act as a calming influence. Of course it’s Idgie’s contagious spirit that infects Ruth, and the two form an unbreakable friendship. After Idgie liberates Ruth from her abusive husband, the two open a cafe that serves as the heart of the small town of Whistle Stop, while serving the best BBQ and fried green tomatoes in the state. I don’t want to give anything else away in case anyone hasn’t seen the film, but there are also elements of murder and mystery that drive the plot.

According to the Wikipedia page the novel features much stronger lesbian overtones, the film received a lot of criticism for toning down the relationship between Ruth and Idgie. While I understand that for some that would be disappointing, I like that the relationship is ambiguous, because whether they’re lovers or not, they’re friends, and it seems as though very few films show the friendship that is inherent in love. I would think the strongest relationships are between two people who are best friends, no matter their sex, but strangely it is very rare for a romance to focus on that aspect of a relationship.

A great deal of this film’s success is owed to the amazing performances. All four of the leads are fleshed out, we feel their heartbreak, we relate to them, and most of all they inspire us. Near the end of the film Ninny says to Evelyn “Do you know what I think the most important thing in life is?” Evelyn replies, “no, what?” Ninny answers,”friends, best friends”. I don’t know why that gets me all misty, maybe because Jessica Tandy is so good, but it’s also such a simple truth. The friendships we have, whether they are with our girlfriends, our family, or our husbands, are what get us through this life, they inspire us, they encourage us, and as this film shows, they can transcend time, and even death.

*****Towanda!*****

I’ve always been inspired by the fashion’s of Idgie and Ruth in this film. It’s wonderful the way the costumes are so perfectly in tune with their characters. From the 1930’s menswear that Idgie favors to Ruth’s frilly, floral, dresses. I love the way the two styles play off each other so well. Here’s the shopping guide for the collage if you want to get the look. I  seriously want that square necked dress from modcloth, so cute!

Fried Green Fashions by justinez

Bouquet Bonanza Dress
$50 – modcloth.com
More dresses »

Oversized cotton shirt
$65 – net-a-porter.com
More J Crew tops »

VANCOUVER
150 GBP – kurtgeiger.com
More Kg ankle booties »

Rocket Dog CUBA
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More Rocket Dog pumps »

Black Piped Suit Vest
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Filed under Beauty in the movies