City Pulse

By Lauren Baccus

The last time somebody advised me to “make lemonade out of the lemons of life”, I was less than inspired to take such seemingly obvious advice. I wanted to whine and moan and enjoy the bitter taste to its very end. The last thing I wanted to do was confront the situation head on, and figure out a way to make it work. I had been defeated by fruit.

And then there are individuals like Alex. Alex Scott was not even a year old when she was diagnosed with cancer. At the age of four, she decided to set up a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to the hospital where she had been receiving ongoing treatment. By 2005, one year after Alex finally succumbed to her illness at the age of 8, her simple idea had reached over 30,000 people worldwide who had, in turn, set up 3,500 stands of their own.

Armed with more than their fair share of lemons and a simple dream of “fighting childhood cancer, one cup at a time”, Alex and her family are the truest examples of the power of one. Despite Alex’s too-early departure, she paved the way for others to make a difference, not only in their own lives, but in the lives of others. In testament to the enduring spirit of a little ingenuity, a dose of hope and an unshakable supply of courage, the work of Alex lives on. Her foundation, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, continues to encourage children and adults alike to recognize the value of any and every effort made for the greater good.

Sometimes, we need to hear a story like Alex’s to realize how beautiful the human spirit can be. There’s nothing it can’t make sweeter.

For more information about Alex and her foundation, visit www.alexslemonade.org.

Say hello to Betty
By Lauren Baccus

“Hey mom, I want you to test something out with me. It’s hair color…for down there”  “Down where?”

“There?”  “There?”

“Yeah, are you in?”  “There?”

“Live a little, mom. It’s in the mail”  “OK, but I’m just trying to figure out how many people are supposed to know about the end results…”

And here’s her answer…

In possibly the wierdest mother-daughter bonding episode in recorded history, so began the grand experiment that was “Betty“- hair color specifically made for the “hair down there”. I, of course, gleefully opted to walk the line between frivolity and raging porn star, choosing a divine hot pink. Of the remaining colors, BLONDbetty, AUBURNbetty, BLACKbetty and BROWNbetty, Mom decided to play safe with good girl brown.

With all the dye I’ve slopped onto my head over the years, I’d never given much though to completing the entire look with a matching, er, “patch”. In fact, it was not until Betty creator, Nancy Jarecki traveled to Rome and witnessed women leaving hair salons with a small bag of extra dye for just that purpose, that she decided to do a little primary investigation of her own. It turned out that, despite a real demand for a product of its nature, no such thing existed in the States. Betty had been born.

The best thing about this product was the non-drip formula. Sitting awkwardly for the 30+ minutes while the dye did its work was bearable in large part because the color stayed put. Betty’s other great selling point is that it really works. The coverage is good and the colors are rich. I was informed by my co-guinea pig that all the grey had indeed vanished.

Although I was tickled pink at the little all-in-one mixing tray and spatula, there was a huge amount of dye left over. At first I was genuinely worried that I may have missed some mass memo. Is “fro” the new “landing strip”? Oh my. My mother also mentioned the excess and while I was able to talk her out of saving the leftovers, I failed to admit to her that I was tempted to do the same. I know, I know. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa.

As open as our dialogue is, let’s just say there are some lines that I don’t cross with my mother. So her big reveal remains a mystery to me. As for myself, I was given inquisitive and dramatic looks. Was I considering a career in porn? Hmmm…the unveiling hadn’t gotten the kind of reaction I had anticipated. Ah well. Eventually I was back to my original color and the “Ron Jeremy” references died down.

At $20 an application, Betty is a special treat for the budget conscious and a delicious little “toilet” for those who are able to incorporate it into their regular routine. I don’t think my betty will be ready for another application too soon, but I did enjoy the brief thrill during my time as the “Pink Panther”. With additional colors and (gasp) sparkles (YES! I said sparkles) set to debut in 2007, I’m interested in experimenting, maybe even pulling a prank on my favorite waxer. Hey, what’s the point of having a betty if you can’t have a little fun with her?

For more information on getting your betty booped, visit www.bettybeauty.com.

One Tall Drink of Water: How to Stay Chic at 5’12”
By Gillian Weeks

Some people think that complaining about being tall is like complaining about being rich. It’s true that the model form these days is long and sleek, and some of our most treasured beauty icons, such as Cindy Crawford and Gwyneth Paltrow, draw their breath from a thinner atmosphere. But the fact remains that this world is built for women with a shape that’s less aerodynamic. At six feet (or the more feminine 5’12”), I’ve struggled to find long inseams, low heels, and tall men. It’s hard to fit in the scene when you can’t even fit in your clothes.

I’ve made a study of the best sources for tall sizes. I don’t need an entirely different wardrobe than most of the women walking the streets, but there are a few items that require a bit of extra fabric. Below are some hints and tips if you should find yourself in accidental high-waters:

• Here’s a great excuse to spend obscene amounts of money. I find that designer jeans are made much longer than low- or mid-range jeans. Diesels come in 34″ inseams, and Rock and Republic makes theirs so long you could walk around on stilts. Next time you break the bank for some quality denim, remember that you had no choice. Check out the denim rack at Henri Bendel’s.

• In truth, I don’t mind being 5’12. It’ being 6’3″ that I don’t like. I look for shoes that have the appearance of dangerous stilettos without giving me mannish proportions. Try Irregular Choice shoes, which have sensible heels and all the personality footwear can muster. Pick them up at Nordstrom and many tasteful boutiques throughout the city.

• When it comes to suiting, it’s best not to cut any corners. If you’re hoping not to go through the tailoring process but still want the lower half of your forearms covered, try the tall size options from www.Jcrew.com. The jackets fit much better in both the waist and the sleeves, and the pants are long enough for some ambitious pumps. Make sure your power suit doesn’t look wimpy.

And now for an invitation: send me some of your tips for shopping for your body type. Where do you find cutting edge petites? What are good tops if you’re top heavy? How do you dress up sensual curves? Share your suggestions for the next installment and get the skinny on how to work what you got.

A Tough Break for Working Girls from Forbes.com
By Gillian M. Weeks

Forbes.com recently published a story by Michael Noer, called “Don’t Marry A Career Woman,” that cautioned against tying the knot with gainfully employed women. His argument is based on a number of economic, sociological, and psychological studies that associate professional ambition and high incomes among women with unhappy marriages. Noer extends the consequences to nearly apocalyptic proportions, citing alcoholism, suicide, cancer, and bankruptcy.

The original article can be found at:
http://www.forbes.com/home/2006/08/23/Marriage-Careers-Divorce_cx_mn_land.html

Noer’s “career woman” isn’t quite the power-hungry Amazon he makes her out to be. He’s talking about a woman with a college education who works more than 35 hours a week and makes at least $30,000 a year. You don’t have to be Hillary Clinton to qualify. This is one heck of a modest definition. It includes women who are working in dead-end jobs earning a meager salary such that, combined with their husbands’ income, their families will be able to meet the daily expenses of living and maybe, just maybe, afford health insurance and a vacation. Does the daily grind of trying to make ends meet create stress in a relationship? You bet. Does this strain sometimes build to a breaking point? It happens all the time.

Even when you set aside Noer’s weak definition of a “career woman,” and even if you accept these studies that establish dubious statistical relationships, there’s still an essential flaw in his argument. Noer is applying economic thinking to personal relationships. It’s a two-dimensional approach that sometimes yields interesting results. Rather than knocking his methods, let’s beat him at his own game.

In between his references to statistical significance and labor specialization, he misses the most basic of economic tools: cost-benefit analysis. Noer gives us a list of the costs – reluctant mothers, dirty houses, cheating wives – but fails to appreciate the obvious benefits to marrying a career woman. To be fair, he does give the working girls among us a nod of support for our “seemingly good” attributes. “After all,” Noer writes, “your typical career girl is well educated, ambitious, informed and engaged.” After this, though, it’s all slings and arrows.

In some sense, he’s right: marrying a complex and intelligent woman comes with a lot of challenges. But isn’t that the point? Isn’t that why people choose to raise orchids, not daisies? It’s a tennis or ping-pong sort of question. The understanding is that, although it might require a lesser botanist, or be easier on the elbow, taking on the simple task won’t ultimately be as satisfying as the real thing. I’m not knocking stay-at-home moms – that’s certainly a demanding job – but rather drawing a distinction between focused, goal-oriented women and those whose complacence makes them Noer’s ideal bride.

Why do men marry career women even though we can be bad housekeepers and sometimes hard to please? Because we’re wonderful. In economic terms, I’d say the benefits stand head and shoulders above the costs, even in sensible boardroom pumps.

Originally published October 2006
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