Tag Archives: lady gaga

What Images Do You Show Your Kids? Aylan Kurdi, Ahmed Mohammed, and Lady Gaga

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Last night, my 13-year old daughter asked me what was the latest in Syria. In our family, we regularly talk about world events — whether it is the circus of the US pre-election cycle (during the first Republican debate, they gasped when Donald Trump reference Rosie O’donnell as a “fat pig, slob, dog”), the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the numerous incidents related to it, the situation in the Middle East, or the latest research on the importance of sleep (truly, I talk to my kids often about this as I want them to understand how important it is!)

I was telling the girls (Leela, my younger daughter is 11) about the refugee crisis in Europe, and how the image of the 3-year old little Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, who drowned while the boat his family was escaping on capsized, moved hearts in a way that shifted inaction, not just of governments, but of everyday people as well. The girls asked what image… So I pulled it up, warning them it was difficult to see. Tara hesitated a moment before looking, anticipating that perhaps indeed this was something she didn’t want to see. But, I watched as she looked with determination. Continue reading

Beyoncé Releases Surprise New Album and What It Means for Art in the Age of the Internet

Screen shot 2013-12-13 at 1.51.46 PM“Beysus has risen.”

That’s what my Facebook feed reads to me last night as I’m about to go to bed. The next 15 posts are all various screams of excitement or disbelief that one of the biggest currently performing artists on the planet right now put out an album at the stroke of midnight eastern time. The singer’s fifth studio album is aptly named “Beyoncé” and features her husband Jay-Z, Drake, Frank Ocean and a verse by her toddler daughter Blue Ivy.

That’s the news clip and that is the thing you’ve been hearing all day. Who cares? It’s just another gimmick for headlines, another pop star trying to push themselves to the front (but at least she’s not twerking, right?) The fourth quarter has seen a lot of powerhouse female releases from the likes of Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Yet, somehow Beyoncé was able to create more publicity for her new album by not telling anyone that it existed than she would have been able to generate had she committed to a routine press release schedule.

The thing that makes this so extraordinary is not about the number of albums that Beyoncé will inevitably sell, it’s that she has tapped into the true power of the internet and used it to her own advantage. For the past 15 years artists have struggled against the internet to release their albums in piece-meal singles with their fingers crossed that the entire thing won’t be made available for free download before they can unveil it the way they want, the way they’ve been planning to do for months beforehand.

Last night, Beyoncé said screw that and released her entire album at once, accompanied by 17 videos for each of the songs in a complete artistic package. Just like Netflix figured out that the new generation of television watchers want their episodes in one lump sum to devour at their own pace,  Beyoncé released her album the same way – because that’s what the internet can do! Rather than try to fight the current and hand out the new creation in tiny pieces with several drawn out release dates – she gave it to everyone at once.

The beauty of the internet is that it allows for people to portray their art in full context. In the statements she’s made about the album release Bey has compared it to a movie, that she wanted to bypass the circus of press and deliver the album straight to her fans. Yes. Digital marketing and delivery is the level playing field. It’s why Radiohead created the same level of stir when they released In Rainbows on a donation basis. Internet downloading has become a cultural norm not because the current generation enjoys ripping off their favorite artists, but because the internet allows us to consume media directly without mainstream filters or interruptions. And it allows our favorite artists to speak directly to us, for us to see their vision as they intended – it provides a streamline connection between us and them the way that art is supposed to work.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about whether Beyoncé should be heralded as a personal role model (with some seriously intense debate on either side) but professionally she created a new norm last night. This is the formation of a new wave business model. As a professional black female in the entertainment business that’s a big freakin’ deal. Oh, and did we mention she was in the middle of a headlining world tour while she put all of this together? Talk about balance.

So no matter what your opinion is of Beyoncé, this there is a lesson for every creative person reading this. Don’t fight the current. As we’re trying to figure out the next wave of things to come for Intent Blog and Intent.com we’re definitely going to try and take a page out of Beyoncé’s book – use the creative force of the internet to create meaningful projects in full context and create direct connections between us as content creators and you, who we create everything for. If anything Beyoncé proved last night that meaningful impact happens when you create that connection rather than filtering yourself through the highest bidding brands.

Way to be a boss, Bey.

Why Everyone is Talking About Miley Cyrus Today

Miley-Cyrus-2224429Did you watch the Video Music Awards last night? If so, did anything stand out to you?

In the company of acts like Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, and Kanye West, none caused as much of a stir as Miley Cyrus, the Disney-star-turned-sexpot-turned…cultural commentator?

That last descriptor might be overly generous, but it refers to the somewhat misplaced commentary on race, sexuality, and liberal politics Miley apparently seems to be dishing out with her latest performance and musical offerings.

Before we address her VMA performance, it’s first necessary to go back several months to the release of her music video for “We Can’t Stop.” A dance/party anthem reminiscent of her earlier “Party in the USA,” this video strips Miley of any semblance of sweetness or innocence and dresses her instead in a costume of unrestrained, “deviant” sexuality and, what many are calling, caricatured “cultural appropriation.”

As Dodai Stewart writes for Jezebel:

It’s important to understand that Miley is very privileged to be able to play dress up and adorn herself with the trappings of an oppressed/minority culture. She can play at blackness without being burdened by the reality of it.

Click here if you’d like to watch the music video and judge for yourself.

If the grills, the fake nails, and the gold chains aren’t enough to make you cringe at their blatant cultural essentializing of what Miley seems to view as “hip hop culture” and urban couture, then her VMA performance will probably do the trick. Miley struts across the stage in a leotard, with dancers all around her carrying gigantic stuff bears, and she proceeds to hump the air, stick a foam finger between her legs, and “twerk” up close and personal for Robin Thicke.

It’s hard to know exactly what the 20-year-old’s politics and values really are. If her “We Can’t Stop” video and VMA performance are trying to inspire some discourse on race and sexuality, then she seems to be going about it in a roundabout fashion. Does caricaturing minority culture actually encourage enfranchisement, or does it just perpetuate racism? Does trying on and playing with sexuality actually show respect to the LGBT community, or does it just over-sexualize homosexuality – lesbian relationships, in particular?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

 

Photo credit: Reuters

The 5 Most Misguided Celebrity Weight-Loss Methods

We live in a society that scrutinizes body and weight at every turn. With billboards, reality tv, music videos, and red carpet events, we get bombarded by images of trim, glamorous celebrities, our supposed role models of beauty. Aesthetic preferences are bound to develop and vary from culture to culture, but this tendency becomes dangerous when people’s health and well being are put on the line due to feelings of shame and inadequacy. These celebrity diets and weight loss tricks are particularly troubling and should not be accepted or adopted just because the person behind it is a supposed “culture maker.”

The bottom line: Find the courage to love yourself; do what feels right for you and seems healthy and acceptable overall; and whatever you do, don’t take any tips from these celebs:

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1. You’ll recognize the dewy and beautiful Jessica Alba from films like Sin City and Good Luck Chuck. She is naturally petite and small-boned, but there was much speculation over her speedy post-pregnancy weight loss. All was revealed, however, in a recent interview in which Alba confided her secret: She wore a double corset day and night for three months. Imagine how uncomfortable that would be after being pregnant for nine months!

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2. Lady Gaga is the contemporary female icon for bizarre fashion and body manipulation. She has experienced considerable fluctuations in weight over her diva career, and has been vocally criticized for it by the media. Her latest diet? The so-called “Drunk Diet.” Labeled “drunkorexia” by critics, this party lifestyle is perhaps a ‘great’ way to loose weight and have liver failure at the same time.

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3. Often in the case of shocking celebrity weight fluctuation, the person may be gaining or losing in order to fit a certain role. Perhaps for the sake of art extreme body alterations are acceptable? It seems hard to believe in the case of Christian Bale, normally a healthy 6′ and 185lbs. His disturbing loss of 63lbs for the lead role in The Machinist was apparently attained on an apple and a cup of coffee a day.

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4. Similar to Bale’s situation, rapper 50 Cent lost nearly 55lbs in order to play the role of a dying cancer patient in Things Fall Apart. He reportedly achieved the weight loss in nine weeks by drinking only liquids and running on a treadmill for three hours a day. This kind of rapid loss can have a lethal effect on a person’s heart, which frankly doesn’t seem worth it in the name of art.

Anne Hathaway attends the 'Les Miserables' after party at the Camden Roundhouse in London

5. In most recent news, Anne Hathaway quickly lost 25lbs for her role at Fantine in Les Miserables. Normally lanky and curved, Hathaway is said to have eaten just two small squares of oatmeal paste a day, and she even confessed to starving herself for days at a time to achieve the right effect. In this case – in fact in Christiane Bale’s and 50 Cent’s as well – the effect is to look like someone miserable and on the verge of death, something no one should ever aspire to.

Mallika Chopra: Where Do We Draw the Line with Bullying?

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By Mallika Chopra

My daughter recently told me about an incident with some of her friends. A group of them were together singing, dancing and having fun. One friend, a free spirited, earnest girl, was enthusiastically participating, feeling secure in the trusted circle.

My daughter heard another friend, who had a cell phone with her, laugh and say, “Let’s record her,” without the other girl’s knowledge. My daughter said no, feeling intuitively that it would be inappropriate.

This incident brought up several issues for me.

  1. All the girls involved in this scenario are really nice, kind, good girls. In fact, I feel very fortunate that my daughter is surrounded by such wonderful friends.
  1. I was in the room, and had felt uncomfortable with the cell phone in this particular situation. But I did not take it away.
  2. Our children are living in a new world where everything they do has the potential to live forever online, whether they upload them or not.
  3. Was this a potential incident of bullying? I’m not sure, but I think so. And I am proud of my daughter for knowing it was inappropriate to record another friend without her knowing.

Bullying has happened throughout the ages. In the last few years though it has gained more media attention – from Lady Gaga to Demi Lovato to tragic incidents where young kids have been humiliated both online and offline, and it has ended in the worst situation imaginable for parents.

Kids can be mean. Perhaps it’s part of their exploration of boundaries and their power in social circles. As parents we can teach our own kids the importance of kindness, respect and treating others as we want them to be treated. And, we can guide them to stand up to bullies.

I tell my daughters that when someone is being mean to them, it’s more a reflection of that person’s insecurity. Of course, when my daughter was teased by a friend and locked out of a room, I was livid with anger — not really accepting my own advice and immediately thinking “What a little b….!” Yes, I will admit my own thoughts waver often from what I aspire to be as a good mom.

In our first episode of Perfectly Imperfect Parents, my co-hosts, Dr. Cara Natterson (author of The Care and Keeping of You books by American Girl) and Dani Modisett (author and creator of the book and play, Afterbirth) discuss bullying. We would love your thoughts on how you have addressed this issue with your kids. We can all learn from each other!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well to get updates on the latest episodes of Perfectly Imperfect Parents!

More on conscious parenting by Mallika Chopra:

Back to School Bliss!
Talking to Children About the Batman Shooting
Mommy Days – Balancing Work & Kids (in a somewhat frenzied way!)

Gotham Chopra: Decoding Deepak — The Journey

Last week, someone approached my dad at one of his speaking events and said to him, “I heard your son made a movie about you.”

He told me he smiled back at the person and replied: “Actually, he made a movie about himself.”

As much as I hate to admit it, he may be onto something.

It was about a year and half ago that I set out to Bangkok with a my dad, a creative partner named Mark Rinehart that I’d only met about 10 days earlier, some cameras and tape, and the vague notion of making a movie about my father that would reconcile the strange pop cultural icon he’s become to the world vs. the real man I thought I knew. A few days later, while spending the days interviewing my dad in quiet gardens at the 5-star Peninsula Hotel and then the nights with Mark rolling film on the neon blitzed sex market of central Bangkok, I realized I was trying to reconcile something much bigger.

As is the habit the has made my dad a bestselling author, he could wrap lyrical poetry around the frames of the film we’d started shooting, and yet the substance of those frames was often all too visceral — teenagers selling themselves in dank alleyways, Japanese tourists chasing young boys deep into maze of Bangkok’s endless underground. As has often been the case in my life, I struggled to balance the deep philosophical insight of my father with all too often horrible realities of real life on planet earth. Maybe that’s what the film really need to be about.

That’s the thing about documentaries: You start with one thesis and quickly find yourself tracking something entirely different. Don’t get me wrong — my film ‘Decoding Deepak’ is very much a journey into the identify of my father Deepak Chopra, the guy my sister and I have called ‘papa’ all of our life, even while people like Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian started to call him their guru in the last few years.

After those triply days in Thailand, I tracked my dad around the world several times over. Thailand, Japan, India, not to mention places like NYC, Sedona, San Diego, Los Angeles and elsewhere. But even as the scenery continued to change from city to city, country to country, I saw that my dad hadn’t. Wherever we went, he kept on talking about whatever it is he talks about: consciousness, quantum entanglement, plank scale geometry. In and of itself it was sort of interesting, the inside of a rabbit always is, right? And yet the same nagging doubt crept into me — that my movie had to be about something more than the existential Truman Show I’ve always suspected I’ve lived in.  This movie couldn’t just be about my dad, it had to be about my finding him… which, indeed, really would make it about me.

There’s precedent for this, a history of Indian gurus popularized in the west — Ramana Maharishi, Swami Vivekananda, and more recently Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Osho, and these days a guy who goes by the name Sri Sri. By and large they’ve’ll have the same look – the saffron robes, long hair, and cheery smiles. It’s probably why I could never really think of my dad as one of them. That and… I mean, he’s my dad.

But traveling the world with him the last year, I started to realize that maybe my dad was indeed one of them, maybe he was some Indian Guru as strange as that may be. He just didn’t have the robe and long hair. He has sparkly glasses, red sneakers, and a crew cut. Be not alarmed, I’m not trying to tell you that I’m now a follower of my father or convinced he’s some prophet. Far from it. But you’ll have to watch the movie to glean my final verdict on that front.

But in looking more closely at my father, I was reminded of something Osho once said. Like my father and many of his Indian spiritual predecessors, Osho had his detractors, people who called him a “snake oil salesmen,” “fraud,” and “prophet for profit.” Osho shrugged it off. He claimed to think of those that loved and hated him with the same relative detachment. “They see in me,” he said, “what they want to see. They see in me that which they either love or hate in themselves.”

Indeed, that right there is very much he story of the spiritual guru. I think (hope) it’s the story of my father and my movie too. In my search for him, I did in fact start to search for myself. I stopped looking to him for answers about the atrocities of Bangkok and looked deeper into myself for them. I stopped wondering about what Lady Gaga saw in him, and started to find what I did.

And now I’ve realized something else about my movie. When it’s all said in done, when the final credits roll on the film, I hope I’ll actually prove my dad wrong. Because I don’t want this movie to be about him. Or me. I want it to be about you. See in it what you want to see in it, what you want see in yourself.

‘Decoding Deepak’ premieres at the South by Southwest Film Festival March 11th.

Gotham Chopra: I made a movie — now what do I do?

So I guess the cat is out of the bag, which is what happens when Lady Gaga gets involved… and then you yourself post pictures of it everywhere. I made a movie about my dad Deepak Chopra called ‘Decoding Deepak.’ This past Friday Night, there was a small private screening at the home of Hollywood mogul Peter Guber and his wife Tara, who also happen to be longtime close friends of our family. It’s likely to be the only screening before the film’s worldwide premiere at the trendy South by Southwest Film Festival March 11th in Austin, Texas.

And yeah, Lady Gaga attended Friday night’s screening… which was, um, interesting. Not only because she’s a fascinating contemporary cultural icon – which is kind of what the film is about (my dad being one of those too) — but also because hardly anyone outside of the small circle of those that have worked on the film with me the last 18 months have seen it. So when one of the first happens to be someone who’s sitting at the zeitgeist of the cultural creative Universe — and also happens to have 19 million twitter followers — it’s a bit nerve-wracking. There’s the fact that she’s twenty-five years old too, but that’s another issue…

I guess the good news is that Lady Gaga claimed to like the movie, at least she said she did. In fact, everyone in attendance said they liked it. Then again, what were they going to say at an invitation only party up in the elite Bel Air Hills hosted by a mogul with the film-maker and subject of the film (my dad) sitting amongst them. Not exactly the venue to go all Roger Ebert, right?

I’ll share more on the genesis and substance of the film in the coming days and weeks, but the nuts and bolts of it are that I followed my dad around the world for the better part of a year. I wanted to answer that question I’ve been asked all my life — ‘what’s it like being the kid of Deepak Chopra?’ I also wanted to resolve the contradiction I’ve seen all my life — reconcile the saintly pop-cultural spiritual icon the world seems to believe my dad is (amongst millions anyway) with the real human being (full of virtues, vices, flaws, and foibles) that my sister and I grew up around.

I don’t think I’m giving anything away by confessing that this movie ain’t no hit job. I didn’t set out to undermine the “brand” my dad has built over his 25 year career. But I also didn’t set out to just emboss it either. I set out to be honest, and that was the quality I kept reminding myself to honor through the course of the film every time I peaked into the camera’s viewfinder. I feel pretty good about staying true to that.

Now, as word leaks out about the film, people are starting to ask when it will be out for the general public to see. And my answer is: I have no idea.

After the SXSW premiere, we’ve committed to a few other subsequent festivals. So limited regional audiences to start. Such is the independent film model. But after that, in terms of reaching the masses, no plan yet in place. And herein lies the issue: What is the best way to reach the audience, which in this case is already pre-established just by virtue of the fact that my dad has done quite a bit of work for me by, you’know, doing what he’s done the last two odd decades. 65 plus books written, 30 plus million sold, dozens of languages, millions of readers, 700k twitter followers, picking fights with Fox News, befriending Oprah etc.

The traditional model is to take the film to the festival, hope we get some good reviews and audience response, have some distributors in the house and play them off of each other for the best and highest sale. Then repeat the process for the foreign markets. Nice license fees, maybe some limited theatrical, and some upside on the home video and downloads and call it a day… Take the money and run and abide by their release schedule. After all, they’d have paid for it.

The hitch? We’re currently amidst the total transformation of the media industry as we know it. The model is twisting, turning, and totally transforming before our very eyes. Content creators (like me) with assets (like the film) with established audiences (like my dad’s) and the potential for broader ones (like Lady Gaga’s) present wildly intriguing possibilities.

Consider this roadmap: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc as means to promote the film. Off the (digital) shelf file sharing software to download the film, Paypal to charge for the film. No walls between you and me. We wouldn’t be the first: see comedian Louis C.K.

Or maybe there’s some hybrid version, collaborating with our friends at YouTube, Hulu, or Netflix. Surely there’s a way. We’re creating our own bloody YouTube channel in partnership with YouTube for God’s sake! (launched July 1, btw)

Alas…for all the hype around the collapse of the old media model as we know it, it continues to march on. New cable channels headlined by titans like Oprah, Ryan Seacrest, Mark Cuban and more in the pipe continue to mount their offensive, demonstrating that the so-called old model isn’t exactly going extinct. And for every Lewis CK success story, there are a dozen others in the new media graveyard.

I said that I set out to be honest, right? So here’s the truth: I set out to make an honest movie about my dad and my goal — like any film-maker — was and is to have it seen by as many people as possible. I had another goal too, to make it worth my and my investor’s while. I didn’t take any money myself to make the movie. The investment — from an amazingly trusting investor by the way- – went into the movie, not my pocket. As a result, my personal financial success comes in the financial success of the film. So yeah, one more bit of honesty, doing the whole ‘open source’ thing is not really in the cards.

So that’s where we stand, folks in ‘real time.’ At the precipice of a brave new (digital) world, but with lingering reminders that the old model ain’t dead yet. And to be honest – since that’s the theme of the day – we’re still tweaking the film in the edit room as I write this. We likely will be until the moment it goes on the big screen in front of that Texan crowd about a month from now. So really, these are just distractive fantasies anyway, because who knows what happens then? SXSW crowds to have that reputation for telling you what they feel. It ain’t exactly Bel Air.

At least, I’ll always have Gaga, right?

 

Mallika Chopra: Lady Gaga – True Beauty?

I admit I am a fan of Lady Gaga.  I went to her concert and loved it.

I love that she is bold and gutsy.

Its also pretty cool that she told Time Magazine that my dad was one of her biggest influences.

I was thrilled to see these photos of her posing with no make up for an article in Bazaar Magazine.

 

In fact, I cant wait to show these photos to my two girls.  I think its good for them to know that she looks – well, totally normal.

Having met many celebrities, I have seen up close how the mask, the image, overtakes the individual.  How easy it is to get lost in the mythology of celebrity.  I find that the sanest ones are the ones who can separate their image from who they really are.

Its interesting to read Lady Gaga’s perspective on the notion of natural – in reference to “with make up or without it”.  She says, “It’s more about just being honest and sincere to the core of what you do.”

We live in a society that seems more and more obsessed with looking young or perfect – with perfection often defined by celebrity looks (which are airbrushed, enhanced).

So refreshing to see Lady Gaga once again do the unexpected by just showing us how she looks without all the mask and costumes!!

 

High Heels….Sex in the Shoe Biz

 Back in the day when I was a singer in a rock & roll band, I always wore high heel shoes.  On stage, off stage, the higher the better.  I even tried to get married wearing four inch platform shoes, but was faced with an intervention by family members who rejected the look as inappropriate for the occasion.  Since “peace at all costs” is my life motto, I acquiesced and borrowed a pair of more sensible, lower heeled shoes.  I had needed something borrowed anyways.  Looking back at the one lone picture of me in my originally intended heels, I must admit that they did look a bit, actually more than just a bit, they looked absolutely ridiculous.

Now that I’m older and hopefully much wiser, my shoe choices are more aligned with comfort and in all honesty, with the well being of my body, than the fashion of the day.  I’m always shocked when I catch a glimpse of the evolution of the shoe and how although the shape of the heel may have changed over the years, they seem to be getting even higher.  I’m sure the impact they are having on women and their physical well being is still very real.  

 I again sat up and took notice when I heard that Lady Gaga had an incident directly related to her shoes, after accidentally catching her very high heel on her piano bench and falling, landing flat on her back on stage. Very big ouch!  And without missing a beat got up and went on singing.  She was even quoted recently as saying “I would rather die than have my fans not see me in a pair of high heels.  And that’s show biz.”

 I’m trying to understand what the real scoop is here on women and this shoe biz.  Shoe collection obsession is no secret.  Think of Imelda Marcos and her infamous collection reported to have up to 3,000 pairs in it.  Or even Oprah or heroine Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City.  Even Cinderella got her man cause the shoe fit!

 Personally, I’ve never been that caught up in collecting shoes.  I really don’t think that eight pairs of Birks in two styles, in a variety of colours qualifies as a collection, does it?  In my search for the “whys” I read that it makes women feel good about themselves.  I acknowledge that, but am also aware of the price tag that goes with the more sought after designer shoes.  Who has that kind of money to invest in their feet simply to look good?

 Looking deeper, I found some really interesting things that possibly explain what is at the heart of this shoe thing.  Martin Lindstrom, branding expert and author of the book Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy, explains that the neurotransmitter dopamine is released and provides a mood boost when we try on any type of apparel.  Okay, shoes definitely qualify.  

 Daniel Amen, M.D. and author of numerous books based on his own scientific research on the brain, takes it much further.  He reveals that our minds are structured in a way that may associate feet with sex.  Bingo!  Amen says “The area of the brain that communicates with the genitals is right next to the area that deals with the feet.”  Now I’m looking down, (you’ll generally find me looking up), trying to understand how these correlate in me.  Dr. Amen goes on to say “these areas share neural crosstalk, which may be why shoes can be erotic.”  Perhaps I’ve been missing something in my life by not collecting shoes, I’m now thinking.  

 Helen Fisher, Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers and currently the most referenced scholar in the love research community, has said that we are wired to associate height with power and “High heels can literally raise your status because you’re taller when you wear them.”  I can somewhat understand that, but being as I’m already reasonably tall, and not that concerned about power, that has never really been a strong consideration for me.  She goes on to point out that in previous centuries shoes were a measure of class, as only the wealthy wore high heels.  Sex, history and status. Can’t fight those three too easily.  Personally, I’ve always been more interested with how my mind, my ideas and creativity, humour and integrity were received.  After all, that’s what I find most attractive in a man.  Yes, a great smile helps too!

 It is the element of sex that is most widely tied to women who wear stilettos though.  I admit that some women do look extremely sexy when they wear high heels, others, well if I’m honest, they just can’t carry it off.  And when I see how awkward many women look trying to walk in them, I wonder who that looks sexy to?

 Fisher went on to say that “When a woman wears them (stilettos), she assumes a primal mating pose called lordosis.  Her butt lifts, and her back arches.”  Isn’t that what it always comes back to?  Doesn’t the word stiletto have another relationship; to an object that’s a dangerous weapon?  That’s why the shoes were named that way in the first place.

 Okay, I feeling more aware of the whys.  Based on my personal experiences, I have come to know all too well, the physical stress high heels can place on your feet, ankles, knees, hips, back and even your neck.  You get it; most of your body.

 When you wear high heels ladies, and men if you so choose to, it creates increased pressure on your toes which asks the rest of your body to adjust just to maintain balance.  High heels put the centre of gravity on the ball of your foot, the higher the heel, the worse.  As the lower part of your body leans forward, the body has to decrease the forward curve of your spine to help keep you in line.  I often hear women complain that their (high) heels are killing their feet.  Yes, they are.  Women who have consistently worn high heels eventually get to a point where they can’t even wear flats anymore because their Achilles tendon has shortened, making it too short for flats.  

 High heels also cause your foot and ankle to turn outward creating both risk of falling and ankle sprains.  Your hip flexors and knee muscles have to work harder than normal too.  For me, my back was most affected when I trotted through life and onto the stage with my high heels.  Because our backs are in the form of an S-shape, it acts as a shock absorber and reduces stress on your vertebrae.  Unfortunately high heels cause the lower part of your spine to flatten and cause displacement of your head and mid-back.  The negative impacts go on and on.  Do your own research, as it is no secret how high heels can create havoc in your body.  Women are more prone to osteoarthritis and to foot deformities like hammertoes and bunions. Corns, calluses and blisters are common too.  All these related to wearing high heels. What are we doing to ourselves for the sake of looking good?

 Check out babies feet and see how spread apart their toes are.  Now look at an adults.  Often the toes are squished together.  I even found interesting information on minimalist shoes that mimic how our foot is meant to walk on the ground.  The ideal would always be barefoot. Tim Ferriss, in his revolutionary book The 4-Hour Body, talks about how he erased 10 years of lower back pain by switching to minimalist shoes.  That sounded so good to me that I went out and bought a pair of New Balance Minimus shoes for walking and I love them.  There are also companies who are now designing high heels for women addressing these very real concerns this love affair with them is creating.  Seek and ye shall find.

 So luckily, I don’t have fans I must please in the name of show biz and given the option of high heels or death, I have to choose life for me and death for high heels.  Ladies and gentlemen; I would really love to hear your shoe stories. Step right up, jump in, feet first.  

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Thomas Hawk

Learning from Lady Gaga

 Ok, so to begin, I am not a big fan of TV or pop culture in general, and while I think everything has its place in the world, I wasn’t overly interested in Lady Gaga a week ago. I certainly knew who she was and of course lots of her songs are catchy – but a "meat suit" – really??? It just didn’t seem worth following.

Then came my mom’s 70th birthday and my wife and I wanted to do something fun, memorable and uniquely honoring my mother’s eternal youth, love of rock and pop culture and wildly open mindedness… so what else could we do? We took her to the hippest biggest tour of the season: LADY GAGA MONSTER’S BALL.

My mom and wife LOVED every minute of the journey – from the moment they started to plan their "outfits" to the dinner before (at a restaurant full of insanely dressed Gaga fans) and of course the "Broadway, meets Madonna, meets LSD, meets a massive LGBT pride parade, future disco rave" show itself…

Me, well….

If you don’t know me, I have a PhD in Comparative Religion, I am an ordained interfaith minister, trained as a chaplain, and business consultant and author of a few books including "Return to the Sacred" and "Inspiration Deficit Disorder," both with Hay House books. I have been a director at Canyon Ranch Health resorts, an executive director at a major Canadian healthcare management company, and have been featured as an expert in books, films, radio, TV – the likes of Larry King Live, Yoga Journal, In Session TV, CNN, etc. etc. etc.

Why do I say all this? To blow my own horn? To promote myself? No. I say these things to make my comments very clear.

As of March 26, 2011, the night of the Monster’s Ball, The Gaga is my Guru!!!

No, really! I loved this show and the woman herself! It was fantastic . My taste in clothing (or lack of it) and music is not always the same as hers, but she embodies something extraordinary and I have to honor it and follow it. Who knows if she was always like this, or not, or why she started on this road or not… Gossip is gossip and you can judge the past all you like. But in this moment she has been transformed into more than an icon and she is using her status to raise huge amounts of money for charity, huge amounts of awareness for disenfranchised groups and maintains a bizarre kind of artistic integrity that shows that you can be in the world and not of it at the same time.

That’s why I am going to dedicate a mini-blog series to the Wisdom of Lady Gaga (as I see it). If you love her it is worth reading, but if you don’t get her yet, it makes it more worth reading…!

So, before concluding Gaga for my Guru part 1, I want to highlight the three core messages she repeated again and again in her show.

Charity: Vote with your money, support charities, get involved, get educated and align yourself with brands that support your beliefs. Don’t be an ignorant contributor to what you don’t agree with.

Love Yourself: Its basic, but a universal spiritual and psychologically healing message. This isn’t about narcissism. This is about believing in your innate goodness no matter how high, low, on or off you make think you are. At least know that you are lovable, right now without exception.

Don’t Let Others Tell You Who To Be: Whether it is about how to be a good mother, a powerful man, your sexuality, ideas about success, appearance, you name it – define yourself from within. Trust your intuition, your calling, your passions and sense of purpose and true nature. My book Inspiration Deficit Disorder says this a thousand different ways and gives you the tools to make it happen – but Gaga can do it in about 4 minutes with a song, an outrageous outfit and imagery that simply blows away all stereotypes, sense of judgment and control. It about PERMISSION and FREEDOM to choose.

Have you learned lessons from an unexpected source?

 PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Michael_Spencer

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