Friday, July 31, 2015

3 Fascinating Memoirs

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland
Last month Misty became the first Black woman to be named a principal in the 75-year history of the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. Prior to that, she was the first black soloist with ABT in twenty years. It’s a historic breakthrough when “ballet has lone been the province of the white and wealthy.” Her daily toe-crushing exercises make her $80 pointe shoes disposable. She fought for ten years to be recognized, to show she had the talent and ability to dance in classical ballets. In her book she says that “it was so important for people to understand that just because its 2014, racism is still real in the world and in classical ballet.”
She explains that in the world of dance, there is a genre called "white ballets" and Swan Lake is one. The characters play animals that have to wear white costumes and she often had to wear foundation shades too light and powder her face white. There were no other black women at ABT for her to connect with. And throughout her ballet career she “was a little brown-skinned girl in a sea of whiteness.”
 She started ballet late in life as her childhood was filled with constantly moving due to her mother’s multiple husbands. Eventually Misty and her 4 siblings ended up living in a motel. When she finally made it to the most prestigious dance company in America, at 100 lbs she was told she needed to lose weight termed “lengthening” in the world of dance. She did some workshops with the Dance Theater of Harlem where she finally felt like she fit in. She also danced with Prince in one of his music videos and on tour together. Misty's memoir is a story of success through adversity. She also has a video biography called A Ballerina's Tale.



Down the Rabbit Hole - Holly Madison

I used to watch the Girls Next Door and didn't like Holly on the show because she seemed like an "ice queen" and a "gold digger" so I was embarrassed to read her book. However I have to say it was a juicy and fascinating read and understand why it was number 1 on the NY Times best seller list. I read two other books by women who lived in the Playboy Mansion who made similar claims to Holly (spilling all the secrets of the mansion) so I really do believe the things Holly said. Kendra spoke out to say Holly was lying, only because Holly paints Kendra in a negative light in the book. With the way Kendra has portrayed herself in the media this year I don't believe much of what she says.  Holly described Kendra as having "incessant tardiness, endless excuses, and toddler-like tantrums." 
Holly lived in the mansion for 7 years! For most of that time she shared a bedroom with Hef as his number one girlfriend. She got a $1000 weekly allowance, plus a clothing allowance and all the plastic surgery she wants. In exchange for the free rent she had a 9pm curfew, no guests were allowed to visit, and had to spend all holidays with Hef. The mansion had wall to wall white carpets covered in dog poo. Holly described Hef as a spoiled child in an old man's body and goes to tell how the Playboy francise was in a bad financial state. Hef doesn't even own the mansion, he leased the rooms in it.  Holly filmed 5 seasons of the Girls Next Door but didn't get paid for the first season. After Holly left the mansion she was on Dancing with the Stars then had her own show in Vegas called the "Peepshow" which lasted for 4 years during which she filmed 2 years of her own reality show "Holly's World".  She's now happily married with a daughter named Rainbow. 


Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin
The book is an interesting case study of Manhattan’s richest mommies on the Upper East Side with an anthropological twist. Based on the author’s experience navigating the weird subculture of wealthy mothers, it gives a fascinating look at how ridiculous and excessive their world is. We’re talking about a group of women who are educated but literally given nothing to do and are absolutely financially dependent on their husbands so their identity hinged on hosting playdates and having a perfect home (many hire professional organizers). The mothers spend their days endlessly providing activities to foster their children's intellectual development as their toddlers must compete to get into the best preschools. The wives are given allowances that pay for the women's charitable work which is their ticket to the public world. The person who suggested it would be far more efficient to simply write a check to charities instead of attending excessive fundraisers was ostracized. The author explains that most of the wealth on the Upper East is “intergenerational” meaning it is inherited from family thus relationships with family has an uncomfortable dependence on each other. 
The popular thing for everyone to do is vacation in the same locations: Aspen, Hamptons, and Palm Beach. Dinner parties have men and women sitting at separate tables in separate rooms, the author found this “sex-segregation practices bewildering”. The women are thin, size 00, which is a marker of beauty and wealth in their circle. Barre and cycle classes are popular as are monthly facials and peels. The author explains that anxiety and stress are diseases of the west and many of these women are either on medication or are recovering alcoholics due to their fear of not fitting in or falling out. What intrigued me the most was descriptions of popular fashion all the ladies wore, brands I’d never heard of: crinkly Lanin flats, Chloe scalloped flats, the illusive Birkin bag, and Pomellato stacking rings. The book was criticized in the NY Post but the author countered to explain that she did not write it in chronicle order and she told other people’s stories as her own to protect their privacy. To me the article read only by a disgruntled person who was portrayed in an unflattering way in the book.


Check out the last set of memoirs I enjoyed.

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