Archive of ‘WhyDid Wisdom’ category

WhyDid Wisdom: A Beginner’s Guide to Paris

sunset eiffel tower parisA little over a month ago, I boarded a plane headed to a city I had always dreamt about going.  I romanticized it in my mind.  I built a pedestal and placed it there.  I was in love with somewhere I’d never seen with my own eyes.  This type of fantasizing can be treacherous territory and upon takeoff, my stomach and mind were aflutter with mixed feelings and emotions.  Could it live up to my ideals?  Would I be disappointed?  Was my mental image better than the reality?  Was it going to be like your favorite book being slaughtered when made into a movie?  Would it be meeting your favorite movie star only to find out he/she is a grade A asshole?  Nothing a few mini bottles of wine couldn’t mask for the next six and some change hours.  Watching movies on an airplane provide iPad, a little light reading, a full meal, and a few naps later, we touched down in my dream destination.  If you kept up with my adventures in parts un, deux, et trois, you know where I was and how deeply in love I fell.  I’ve even threatened my beloved Manhattan of abandonment.  While, I touched on a few things I learned on my journey in my last installment, there were plenty of other helpful traveling tips that I meant to write down in the moment, but will have to do now. Full disclosure: this is by no means a list that Conde Nast is going to stumble upon and syndicate. This is simply an American amateur’s take away from her first (of many future) visit to Paris, the city of light.

paris sunset paris perfect

  • A tip I actually did pick up from Conde Nast Traveler, was to skip the ritzy (and very pricey) hotels and rent an authentic Parisian apartment.  You could go the Airbnb route or there are plenty of specifically dedicated vacation apartment rental companies in Paris.  I used Paris Perfect and they were a dream to work with (not to mention the view of the Eiffel Tower from our claw foot bathtub).
  • Learn this phrase, “Anglais, s’il vous plait.” (English, please).  Everyone speaks English in Paris for the most part, however, many will start speaking to you in French (probably praying that you do, in fact, speak French).  A lot of people will greet you in both French and English to see in which you respond.  Also learn “bonsoir” (good evening), “allo” (hello), “merci” (thank you), “oui” (yes), “non” (no), “excusez-moi” (excuse me).  Learning “poussez” (push) and “tirez” (pull) will also help you not look like an idiot when it comes to doors.
  • If you have a little bit of French in your language arsenal, use it the best you can. We asked a native Parisian friend if it was more rude to slaughter the language or to act like an entitled American and not even attempt it.  Her take was that it was charming when tourists tried to speak in foreign tongue.
  • Have the address handy.  You may think that you’ve pronounced the name correctly, but with an accent, Montague and Montaigne can quickly be confused by your driver and you’ll end up at the wrong destination.
  • Drink champagne.  The only decision you’ll need to make is rosé or brut.
  • Eat bread.  For whatever reason (though there are theories) many of my normally gluten sensitive friends have reported little to no issues carb loading abroad.
  • Don’t order a cheeseburger.  While the club sandwich seems to be on every menu at every brasserie in the city, slip out of your comfort zone and try something you can’t get in the U.S. or your own hometown.
  • On that note, don’t be an American cliche.  Try and dress the part.  Upside: the less makeup, the better.  Mascara, lipstick, messy hair, and good shoes.
  • Tips are included in the bill. There’s no need to tip unless your service was truly extraordinary.
  • BYOD (bring your own dog). My own dog is still throwing a temper tantrum about being left behind.
  • Take advantage of the January sales.  I didn’t shop the entire time I was there (don’t get me started), but you should.
  • Do the more touristy things on the weekdays.  Don’t forget that Europe is fairly small and many people from countries nearby, come in for the weekend to explore as well.
  • I didn’t learn this until after I returned home, but flirting is a form of pleasantry.  Be prepared to exchange banter with just any member or the opposite sex.  My energy tends to be a bit more closed off to this type of behavior, so if you’re anything like me, you’ll have to be a little more open to flattery.
  • Unlike New York, things close quite a bit earlier.  Take advantage of your evening and the extra couple of hours of sleep you’ll get in order to wake up early and do it all over again.

WhyDid Wisdom: Love Me

lovesomuchMy lobby’s front desk has been covered in flower deliveries all day long.  These aren’t the carnations and baby’s breath variety either.  There are a lot of people being spoiled florally today.  And florists are making their first quarter sales marks in a stride.

After getting up this morning and heading to yoga at Strala, I walked home from Soho and spent a solid ten minutes at my favorite flower stand off of 6th Avenue deciding which shade of roses I wanted to give myself for Valentine’s Day.  I proudly carried the bouquet in the crook of my arm the rest of the way home while bopping along to my latest iTunes playlist. Years ago, I would have felt embarrassed about being my own Valentine, but after years of anti climatic and at times even traumatic Valentine’s Days, I’m happy to be a party of one.

I think the largest flaw with Valentine’s Day lies in the fact that so many people set themselves up for disappointment.  Movies, and TV shows, love stories, and even tabloids have given us these grandiose ideas of what love is all about.  When we are met with hand written notes instead of shiny new Maybachs in the driveway, we end up thinking that we are missing the mark.  We’ve been fed an ideal of what love is that can only lead to unmet expectations and resentment.  However, love comes in so many other forms than romance.  Also, romance doesn’t always necessarily guarantee love.  There are very few people you can always count on.  If you have more than a few, consider yourself lucky.  And without getting into spiritual beliefs (which I have), there’s really only one person you can count on and that’s yourself.  The only person’s behavior you are in complete control over is your own, so if you want to be spoiled, or loved, maybe it’s time you start doing it yourself.  This is a practice called “self love” and while it does include the stigma you are thinking of, that’s not all that it equates to.

There are plenty of ways to pamper yourself- whether material or mental and below are some thoughts on how to show yourself some love this Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year for that matter:

  1. Yoga and meditation
  2. A long shower complete with your favorite sugar or coffee scrub.
  3. A bubble bath that rivals Pretty Woman.
  4. Indulge in spa day or just splurge on a footrub at your favorite spot for pedicures.
  5. Enjoying a bottle of your favorite bubbly all by yourself.
  6. Watching every single episode of your favorite guilty pleasure.
  7. Getting lost in a library and then lost in a book.
  8. Decking yourself out just because.
  9. Getting your hair blown out with no plans in sight.
  10. Cooking your favorite meal.
  11. Buying yourself something instead of waiting for someone else to (and because you’ve worked hard for it, dang it!).

valentines gift guide

1. Chinti and Parker Love Intarsia Wool and Cashmere Sweater, 2. Bella Freud Parfum Loving Tuberose and Sandalwood Candle, 3. Deborah Lippman Nail Polish in Shape of My Heart, 4. Rosamosario Amori Lineari Lace Trimmed Silk Crepe de Chine Robe, 5. Stuart Weitzman Lovefringe Suede Sandals, 6. Jennifer Meyer Je T’Aime 18k Gold Necklace, 7. L’Agent by Agent Provocateur Alyce Stretch Mesh Plunge Bra and Stretch Mesh Briefs, 8. Equipment Signature Printed Washed Silk Pajama Set, 9. KENZO Kalifornia Clutch, 10. NARS Audacious Lipstick in Marlene

xx,

WhyDid

Why Did You Wear That: On the Six

why did blog sixth birthday cake

When I actually published my first post is debatable (as I made a switch from Tumblr to WordPress very early on), but it was six years ago, give or take a few days.  That first post wasn’t prolific or groundbreaking and at the time I had not one clue as to what I was doing or where it would lead me.  WhyDid has evolved as have I over the past six years.  It even underwent a name change (from Why Did You Wear That) to encompass the expansion of topics from celebrity cameltoe (most popularly Katy Perry‘s) to all things fashion, beauty, and lifestyle.  I came pretty close to a name change myself, but fortunately dodged that bullet.  There have been times when I wanted to just scrap the whole operation and revert back to normal.  One of those times came from a nasty commenter who told me my blog was just like “some dumb diary” where I recorded my life and outfits.

denim-shirt-scotch-and-soda-nyc-whydidI guess she (he?!) was right.  This is kind of like my diary, except I share my stories and my troubles and my outfits publicly not for any narcissistic reason, but so anyone who stumbles upon my site finds a place where she/he can spend a few minutes a day laughing, or feeling understood, or getting inspired to try something new.  The fashion world and the world wide web can be very scary places, but I wanted to create somewhere safe.  Somewhere kindred spirits could meet and know that they are not alone in the world and that any silly life trauma we might be going through isn’t that serious.  Sharing my life is not only scary, but also therapeutic.  By sharing so much, I open myself up to people who are negative and feed off of knocking people down, but by sharing I also open myself up to people who may need to hear exactly what I have to share.  So, I let the good outweigh the bad.

why did blog kirsten smithAs someone who hates having her picture taken (though all evidence would suggest otherwise), it was pretty uncomfortable to start posting photos of myself and one guy I dated told me fairly early on that I looked incredibly uncomfortable in my photos (I was).  I’ve been told my eyebrows were too light (enter Anastasia of Beverly Hills), my boobs appeared saggy, and that I looked like just another Southern California girl (even though I’ve lived 97% of my life on the East Coast).  If I said that I didn’t initially feel incredibly hurt by these comments, I’d be lying.  I nursed my wounds for several days each time and confirmed with friends that my breasts were, in fact, as perky as those of a 19 year old over topless chats on FaceTime.  Being dissected by people I’d never met was painful, but it opened my eyes to the scrutiny that we put celebrities and each other under all the time and it changed my perspective.

kirsten-whydid-nyc-dog-walkingRealizing that was helpful, but sometimes stopped me from expressing what I really wanted.  Over the years, I found myself censoring… myself.  I played it safe at times so as not to offend or alienate people.  Sometimes I had to dilute stories or descriptions because I knew my parents were reading or because I was worried someone I cared about might get offended.  What I learned was that people appreciated it more when I crossed the line.  When I said something outlandish or because I was being myself, I allowed my readers to feel comforted or validated in their own lives, to feel a part of something bigger.  There are plenty of people out there playing it safe and repeating what the media and society has programmed us to think, feel, wear, watch, and say.  I didn’t start WhyDid to be just another brick in the wall.  That’s the wall I wanted to knock down.

top-knot-crop-top-whydid-blog copyI didn’t write this post to pat myself on the back (though I certainly hugged myself earlier), but to thank you and to promise to continue sharing my life and my authentic self and to encourage you to do the same.  Know that as scary as it can be to just be yourself, it’s the safest thing you can do.  So, don’t be afraid to shine.  You can be weird.  You can be emotional.  You can have different opinions.  You can march to the beat of your own damn drum, but don’t you dare ever hide the beauty that is you.

And in case you were wondring, Katy Perry’s cameltoe is still the most searched term that leads to WhyDid.

xx,

WhyDid

WhyDid Wisdom: Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure

susan g komen 3 day for cureAs of late I’ve been in a bit of an emotional tailspin.  All I want to do is sleep, eat carbs, and speak only to Smitty or my mom.  Some would reason this is merely a natural feeling with the impending doom that is winter on its way, but I haven’t even been to Pilates in two weeks, which is basically unheard of, so you know something’s up.  You may have even noticed my sluggish blog posts and somewhat infrequent social media presence indicative of my mood.  My father often refers to this behavior as “going dark.”  I don’t know precisely what’s throwing me off, perhaps Mercury in retrograde, but I do know that wallowing in it won’t help.

One of the best ways to get out of a major mood slump is to stop obsessing about yourself and your own problems and find ways in which you can help others.  Seeing as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I couldn’t think of a better cause to get involved with.  I have been fortunate enough to not have been affected personally by breast cancer (knock on wood), but I have breasts and I have a lot of best friends and women in my life who also have breasts.  As mentioned yesterday, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime and that’s not a statistic to take lightly.

Every year, one of my very best friends, Katie (you may recognize her from her playlists and general craftiness), walks in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure and she does it with such spirit, fun, and flair that it hardly looks like volunteer work at all.  Now, this is a woman who is always the first person to help somebody out.  I can attest to this as she was on an airplane from Florida to California to help me move back to the Big Apple the moment she heard my decision.  If anyone knows what it means to be selfless it’s Katie and that is why I’m joining her this year on her three day walk for Susan G. Komen on November 21-23 in San Diego, California.

Please help me raise funds as well as awareness for Breast Cancer by donating on my personal page (net proceeds go to research, scientific programs, and community based breast health and education programs for women and men facing breast cancer) and read more about ways you can get involved (like joining the walk as well!).  You’re the breast!

Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day
xx,
WhyDid

WhyDid or Why Don’t: Picture Perfecting

instagram photo appsA couple of weeks ago, a photo of Beyonce posted to her Tumblr account was called onto the carpet and not a red one for being  a very clear case of (bad) Photoshopping.  There was a very obvious alteration to the image made more painfully obvious by the mysterious slope in the stairs behind her perfectly spaced thigh gap.  If this was not a case of Photoshop foolery, the Carters better be careful young Blue Ivy doesn’t stumble down that warped yacht staircase.

Sadly, that was not the first time Beyonce had been called out for altering her candid photos, but to be fair she is only one of a slew of celebrities to tamper with their social snapshots.  What started off as simple and standard in app filters to enhance a tan, deflect less than stellar skin, or add artistic flair has turned into full blown post production photographs worthy of five figure paychecks.  Isn’t social media a place where celebrities should be better able to connect with fans?  You know, celebrities, they’re just like us.  Ideally, social media should be a place for celebrities to take on more human personas as opposed to their perfectly airbrushed alter egos.

Models and actors are already Photoshopped to within inches of their lives for ads, interviews, and endorsements, but most of the masses realize that much of that is simply smoke and mirrors.  Obviously, glossy magazine spreads and movie posters are all part of the job description and many Photoshop fails have come at the hands of professional retouchers employed by major publications and big brands, but when has it gone too far?

When there is no longer a line between reality and fantasy, how are we, as mere mortals, supposed to digest this photographic perfection?  How are young girls not to feel bad about themselves after seeing their idols looking like they really did wake up like that- AKA, full hair and makeup?  Listen, if I don’t have a thigh gap, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Queen Bey does not either. While, I may be able to call out “fauxtos” for what they really are, what about those who take these digital masterpieces more literally?  Are we only exacerbating the ideal of unachievable perfection?

So, how exactly are celebrities stepping up their Instagram game beyond basic filters?  Well, there are plenty of apps available now (one of which I used in the photograph above that is worth downloading for sheer entertainment purposes), that allow for serious digital makeovers.  Some of them are essentially equivalent to using a desktop version of Adobe Photoshop on your smartphone.  You can smooth out skin, nip, tuck, and even whiten teeth making it nearly impossible to ever take a bad photo again.  But what is the point of sharing moments that are anything but authentic?  I believe the “Insta” part of Instagram is meant to imply that we are sharing the moment as we’re in it (since we all know it never happened unless it’s documented on social media).  It’s bad enough that we watched the sun set the screen of our iPhone, must we waste another twenty minutes applying the perfect filters?

Last week new photos of Beyonce wearing yet another bikini materialized on the world wide web, presumably to back pedal her previous posts, but what it’s really done has given us a vehicle for side by side comparison.  Celebrities, they’ll never learn… just like us.

 

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram.

xx,

WhyDid

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