Monday, August 22, 2011

117: The Self-Empowered Woman: Jennifer Lopez

Dear Followers,

Today’s remarkable, accomplished woman is someone most of us know from watching her work as a judge on American Idol, and enjoying her music and videos for years. But there is a lot more to Jennifer Lopez than meets the eye. In addition to being an actress, dancer, fashion designer, singer and television personality, she is one of the few big-time modern celebrities who has never had an embarrassing meltdown (at least not in the public eye). Unlike Britney, Mariah or Whitney, JLo has somehow managed to get stronger (both personally and professionally) with each passing year.

Born in the Bronx on July 24th, 1969, to parents who were Puerto Rican immigrants, she was raised as a Catholic and always attended Catholic schools (3: Belief in the Unbelievable). She began her television career as one of the “Fly Girls” on the Wayans' show In Living Color, the TV program where Jim Carrey also made his national television debut. From 1999 to the present day, Lopez has enjoyed a thriving musical career, and has sold (singles and albums) a combined total of 55 million records. Billboard Magazine has ranked her as the 27th artist of the 2000’s decade.

Her film career has been equally impressive. She has starred with Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Richard Gere and Matthew McConaughey (among others) in hits like The Wedding Planner, Shall We Dance? Monster-in-Law and The Back-up Plan. When Lopez filmed Out of Sight, she became the first Latina actress to earn over $ 1 million for a movie role.

JLo has had her share of criticism from people who feel that she acts like a diva. And she has had several disputes with exes, PETA, recording studios (SONY, Epic Records), and even with former employees (5: Life is Not a Popularly Contest). She recently told Vanity Fair Magazine that one good thing about being on American Idol is that people could see that she was a lot nicer than her reputation portrayed her to be.

Lopez has the ability to end affiliations, associations and relationships when she feels that she needs to. She told VF “I needed to get to where I could say ‘I know what I want, I know what I need, I can’t let you do this, I can’t let this happen, I can’t let that happen. Even when I feel bad about myself.’” In addition to her one-time split from manager Benny Medina, and other professional break-ups, there are lots of goodbyes in her personal life (14: Selected Disassociation).

JLo has had, not surprisingly, a challenging love life. Her roster of serious relationships includes Ojanai Noa, Sean Combs, Cris Judd, Ben Affleck and Marc Anthony (Birth name Marco Antonio Muñiz). She has been married
and divorced three times (15: Forget about Prince Charming). The one area of her personal life that does seem stress-free can be found in her role as a mother to twins Emma and Max. She employs no nannies, but family members (her mother, Guadalupe, and cousin, Tiana, and best friend from childhood, Arlene) help with child care duties. She has traveled with the twins when work made it necessary, and has promised herself to never be away from them for more than 24 hours (16: Intensive Motherhood). Last year People Magazine labeled Jennifer Lopez the Most Beautiful Woman in the World.

Looking forward to your comments...

Friday, August 12, 2011

116: The Self-Empowered Woman: Power Dressing

Dear Followers,
As we all know, in today's world there are more and more women assuming positions of power. Recently, Robb Young's beautiful new book crossed my path and I couldn't wait to share it with Self-Empowered Woman fans. Power Dressing: First Ladies, Women Politicians & Fashion (Merrell, $29.95, 192 pp) gives us an inside look at how women in the public eye choose to present themselves.

For example, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto frequently wore a "salwar kameez," which is a traditional tunic-and-trouser suit that (in various fabrics and colors) she wore for decades when she led the Pakistan Peoples Party. Thanks to her, it became the most suitable form of dress for political women. Sadly, on December 27, 2007, as she was in Rawalpindi preparing to run for Prime Minister for the third time, she was wearing a blue and white salwar kameez. After she prepared to leave, and touched up her makeup, a suicide bomber detonated himself next to her car, and she was dead.

Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said that the Ossi syndrome (a bias against those who have roots in the former East Germany) has contributed to the criticism about her public appearance. Many have said that she looks and dresses in a manner that is "frumpy, stern and outdated." In her words"Half of the German press constantly feels the need to review my haircut and make antics about it." But many feel that her "style deficit" and "dull outfits" demonstrate "consistency and prudence, two qualities general prized in German politics."

Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the Former President of Latvia, was - in 1999 - a multilingual, scholarly emigre (she had left the country as a child when the Soviets occupied Latvia), who became a compromise candidate for president. After the election she relied on skirt suits in rich fabrics such as damask, jacquard and embroidered tweeds. In her words, " I considered it my duty, representing Latvia, to present myself in an attractive and correct way...All one has to do is to avoid looking silly, frilly, frumpy or slovenly."

The Former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was often called "everyone's favorite aunt," and is a woman who always stands out in a crowd. Eminent economist and vice-president of the World Bank, she returned to Nigeria to clear up what had once been called "the most corrupt place on earth." When it came to style, she was primarily known for her bright "head ties"; her way of tying them became a national trademark.

Former Prime Minister of India, Indira Ghandi wore hand-loomed saris that made both a fashion and a political statement. For decades, her saris were made of khodi, which is a homespun fabric that had been an integral part on India's economic empowerment and opposition to British Colonial Rule. By law, the Indian flag must be made of khodi, a rustic fabric that Indira Ghandi transformed into an elegant and stately political style

Looking forward to your comments...