So much for saying you want a quiet life, Meghan Markle | Stuff.co.nz

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COMMENT: ​So Meghan Markle is reportedly attending the Met Gala in May. Because where better to celebrate your newfound privacy and “space” than at “the Oscars of the East Coast”, “the Super Bowl of red-carpet events”?

What could be more perfectly suited to anyone fleeing “intense scrutiny” and “commoditisation” than a mega-bash to which anti-commodification activist Kim Kardashian once turned up dressed in a nude-effect wet-look dress? A celebrity Pavlova, where the 225 photographers will take an estimated 50 shots a minute, before blasting millions of images out into the ether? Although why this is more appealing than a royal visit to the Mumbles Lifeboat station in South Wales is anyone’s guess.

Anthony Devlin
Has Meghan Markle lost the sympathy of the public?

According to sources at the weekend, Markle is to leave Prince Harry at home for the night, so “she can establish herself once more in Hollywood”, apparently attending the Met Gala with Vogue’s editor, Edward Enninful. This makes about as much sense as a woman who craves the quiet life asking her LA agent to find her a leading role in a superhero film, “something that pays big” – which is exactly what one Sunday paper claims Markle has done.

As the Sussexes fly back to Britain to complete their final engagements as working members of the Firm – and face the Royal family for the first time since The Statement, the petulant Instagram post from a fortnight ago in which they whined about being made to drop the “SussexRoyal” brand despite there being nothing legal to stop them using it – the pair may have no choice but to brazen it out.

I’m not sure the Sussexes will understand just how colossal a miscalculation that statement was. After all, you have a young man and his wife turning on a 93-year-old grandmother at one of the toughest moments of her life. You have them disregarding the pain and sadness prompted by Prince Philip’s ill health, Prince Andrew’s involvement with a paedophile and her beloved grandsons falling out – all because they have a brand to promote. Is there any way back from that?

Had you asked me a month ago, I would have said yes. Despite the acts of clumsiness and the missteps we’ve witnessed over the past two years, I would still have said yes. So they invited a bunch of A-listers that they’d only met once to their wedding. How many of us would do the same if we knew George and Amal would actually come? Was their dispensing of certain royal traditions really so bad? The insistence on Archie’s christening remaining private and the setting up of their own “breakaway” website?

Harry has always been his own person. At this point, one could still push a convincing narrative that these two were “breathing new life” into an outdated institution.

But the precise moment the couple began to lose the public’s sympathy wasn’t when they chose the hospitality of a billionaire in Vancouver Island over that of the Queen at Christmas, or indeed when they decided to make the desired “break from royal duties” permanent. No – that moment can be charted back to a lament the misty-eyed Duchess of Sussex made in the ITV documentary charting the couple’s African tour last year: “Not many people have asked if I’m OK.”

Because that single sentence managed to eclipse everything the couple were in southern Africa to highlight – from the 1,000 minefields that have yet to be cleared in Angola, to the abject poverty in Malawi and HIV-hit children in Botswana – and make it all about Markle.

Prince Harry Meghan Markle met with crowds when they visited Auckland.

It may be unfair to blame Meghan any more than Harry for these recent missteps. But one thing is certain: neither the words nor the sentiments in The Statement appear to be those of a happy young couple, revelling in the joy of each other and their nine-month-old baby.

And I worry that something is unravelling behind the scenes. Because if their intention were really to enjoy a quiet life, why would they care about a title that can only ever be used for professional profit and status?

Why would the team of LA-based agents, lawyers and publicists be necessary and the showbusiness parties and blockbuster film roles so appealing?

You don’t need those things or grand branding to live a serene and peaceful life. But solid family relationships? They’re essential.

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People Are Mad at Kendall Jenner for a Video She Posted on Instagram

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Kendall Jenner is no stranger to controversy. In fact, some argue that that’s pretty much what she relies on for her career. From poorly planned Pepsi ads to more than her fair share of cultural appropriation claims, to that infamous video with Bella Hadid, Kendall is basically never out of the headlines.

But her latest controversy may be her worst yet. Kendall shared a video of herself on Snapchat that got everyone talking, for all the wrong reasons. Not only was it kind of silly – but it was actually dangerous, too. Scroll on for the video that’s got the whole internet angry.

Kendall Jenner has one of the most recognizable faces in the modeling industry.

The supermodel has crafted quite an impressive modeling resume – it feels as though there isn’t a major cover that she hasn’t featured on or a high fashion show that she hasn’t walked in.

But she’s also part of one of the most famous families in the world.

via: Getty

You know who we’re talking about… the Kardashians.

Kendall has had an early introduction to fame and fortune, featuring on their reality show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, since she was barely even a teen.

But, now, the star mainly focuses on her booming modeling ventures.

From Vogue’s September issue to high fashion runways, there isn’t much that she hasn’t done.

But the star has managed to whip up quite a lot of controversy over the years.

Considering she stays relatively low-key when it comes to Keeping Up With The Kardashians, it looks like her lucrative modeling adventures have been far from plain sailing.

For example, does anyone remember that Pepsi commerical?

In 2017, the world watched, appalled, as Kendall Jenner brought a social justice protest to an end with one simple act – handing the police officer a can of Pepsi.

As problematic goes, this was definitely up there.

The ill-judged ad faced worldwide criticism, and rightly so.

The controversial commercial, which was promptly pulled following the backlash, insinuated that all the problems could be brought to a harmonious end with a can of the sugary soda – or, at least, that’s the logic that we were presented with.

But in a world wherein these are real issues affecting real people, the ad just appeared to distastefully trivialize the demonstrations fighting for good causes such as Black Lives Matter.

Of course, many viewers didn’t take kindly to the commercial.

via: Twitter

The internet was in uproar after viewing the commercial, with many people shocked at the mere suggestion that we can put our differences aside over a can of Pepsi.

And, for her participation, Jenner paid the price.

Both Kendall and Pepsi apologized for the ad, but it looked like, as far as countless people online were concerned, the damage had already been done.

Soon after, Kendall addressed the issue further on Keeping Up With The Kardashians, where viewers watched her get emotional over the backlash, telling older sister Kim: “It feels like my life is over.”

But, sadly, this wasn’t her only brush with controversy.

The supermodel has hit the headlines multiple times because of her hair.

Now, you may be thinking “hair is just hair, how can it possibly be problematic?”

Well, it can be when you consider cultural appropriation – aka the adoption of elements of one culture by members of another culture, which can often spark controversy when a socially dominant culture takes from a disadvantaged minority culture.

In 2016, the twenty-three-year-old found herself at the center of a cultural appropriation scandal.

via: Getty

She came under fire for being styled in dreadlocks at a Marc Jacobs runway show.

The questionable show saw a whole host of mostly white models, including bestie, Gigi Hadid, and, of course, Kendall Jenner herself, donning pastel-colored, wool dreadlocks.

People accused the show of cultural appropriation for not crediting African American culture for inspiring the look.

via: Getty

People took to Twitter to slam both the designer and the models for the distasteful appropriation of black culture.

The designer did apologize but justified his poorly-judged choice by saying that the look was inspired by Harajuku girls, rave culture, and London style in the 1980s. Though many people don’t buy it.

It’s safe to say Kendall is no stranger to backlash.

But there’s one area in which she’s particularly prone to causing a stir – when she’s behind the wheel of a car.

Kendall has faced trouble for this before.

In 2015, Kylie and Kendall were driving in Los Angeles when they posted a rather raucous Snapchat.

But many thought they were focused too much on their social media, and not enough on the road ahead.

And the same year saw another traffic accident.

Caitlyn Jenner was driving in Malibu when she hit two cars with her SUV, pushing one into oncoming traffic. There was one fatality and four injuries in the tragic accident.

In fact, it seems as though the Kardashian-Jenners and driving aren’t compatible.

And when you put a selfie camera into the mix, things go from bad to worse.

And Kendall’s latest move may be her worst driving mishap yet.

She shared a video of herself testing out the new Snapchat butterfly filter.

So far, so good – except for the fact she was also trying to operate a vehicle at the same time.

via: Instagram

In her eagerness to check herself out with her new (fake) look, Kendall was rather conspicuously looking away from the road.

See what you think – here’s the video.

It seems hard to deny she’s not putting her full attention into her driving, spending a few too many seconds for comfort staring into her own eyes.

And some noticed this.

Not only was Kendall not really paying attention – but she also seemed to be steering in a rather bizarre (and extreme) style.

And although some were joking about it …

It seems others were seriously annoyed. It’s one thing to be a danger to yourself – but putting others at risk through your own vanity? Not cool, Kendall.

Want some more Jenner-based controversy? Read on to see why Caitlyn Jenner’s birthday cake got everybody talking.

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The Disgusting Matt Lauer News, and Vindicating Ann Curry

NEWSLETTERS
The Daily Beasts Obsessed
Everything we cant stop loving, hating, and thinking about this week in pop culture.
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This week:

  • Were still thinking about Ann Curry.
  • Go see Parasite.
  • The wildest detail of the Rihanna Vogue story.
  • Dont be jealous of my pumpkins.
  • Goodenough.
Once Again, Vindication for Ann Curry

In light of the disgusting revelations that surfaced this week, there are many things I wish for Matt Lauer. Because of those revelations, among many other reasons, I wish to know how NBC News bosses Andy Lack and Noah Oppenheim still have jobs. And because of all the horseshit Ive witnessed covering TV news and morning television over the last decade, there are many things, as always, I wish for Ann Curry.

I wish for her to rise each morning, well-rested, to a breath of crisp, invigorating air. Maybe theres a whiff of warm croissants coming in through the window, stoking an appetite for the knowledge she will immerse herself in that day. I wish for her curiosity about the world to be satiated, but I wish for her to have found the balance between being activated by the news without being too traumatized by the horror of it all. I wish for her to feel things, but not so deeply it hurts.

I wish for her to be greeted every day at 4:30 p.m. with a healthy pour of white wine. I wish for a non-stop parade of knowing, warm smiles from passersby on the streets. I wish for her to stumble on a $20 bill on the street, though I know she will do something saintly with it, rather than indulge in spending it on herself. I wish for her weekends to be spent at the beach, a relaxing convalescence from this crazy thing we call life, energizing her to return to her journalistic pursuits when Monday morning calls.

I wish for her to see, as it already appears she has, the Matt Lauer news, breaking seven years after his role in forcing her exit from the Today show, as a call to continue to mentor and galvanize female journalists.

And for everyone who, in response to the grotesque Lauer news, has called for Curry to get her own show, I wish for you to know that she hasChasing the Cure Liveand I wish for you to watch it.

Over a decade ago when I first started my career, I interviewed Curry at an event. The conversation turned personal, for both of us, and in the middle of it she reflexively gripped my hand and stared deeply into my eyes, forging an electric, compassionate connection as she spoke.

I have come to terms with the fact that I will never understand what the hell TV executives and, presumably, audiences value in hosts and journalists; what, really, did Matt Lauer bring all those years to justify tolerance of his behavior? But the way Curry led her thirst for facts and truth with empathy always struck me and still does. (For what its worth, those same traits are why I think Hoda Kotb is so good in her new role at Today.)

Anyway, these developments are heinous and pathetically emblematic of a broken system in television. Every time things like this come out, I think about Ann Curry and how she was treated. And then I wish the world for her.

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Parasite Is the Best Movie of the Year

I dont think Ive ever experienced a movie quite like Parasite. In the time since I first screened the new film, out Friday, that is what has stuck with me, that watching it is an experience. It sounds like such hooey cinephile nonsensean experience that I am rolling my eyes at myself while typing the words. But it is so true.

It is the best movie Ive seen this year. I implore you to see it! I can also tell you nothing about it!! Sorry!!!

The film is written and directed by Bong Joon-ho, best known for his English-language titles Snowpiercer and Okja. It is about an unemployed, impoverished family who infiltrate the lives of a wealthy and glamorous upper-class clan. I refuse to tell you anything else about it, and beg you not to seek out much more information than that.

Maybe youre a spoiler-phobe or maybe your entire 90s wasnt ruined by knowing that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time before you saw The Sixth Sense. Wherever you are on that spectrum, I truly, deeply believe that knowing what happens in this movie is a significant detriment to your viewing experience.

I dont want to overhype it, or make you think youre in for twists so unbelievably good that the wig is going to leap right off your head. But the film is one of the most stressful cinematic experiences Ive had. It drives up your heart rate to lethal levels, and once youve come to terms with the fact that your heart just lives in your throat now, it changes gears completely. Now all of a sudden your heart is over there in your forehead, and then exploding out your back, and then making its way to your left pinky. I dont know how it happens, I just know that it is what Bong Joon-ho does!

The film has been called a black comedy, which it sort of is. Its been ruled a horror film, which it sort of is, too, as well as a thriller, which, yeah, that fits. But its also really none of those things either. I am very aware that none of this information is helpful but I hope you take the spirit of itGO SEE PARASITE, YOU GUYS!!!and run with that all the way to the theater.

The Rihanna Vogue Detail That Shocked Me

There were a lot of details in the new Vogue profile of Rihanna that made headlines. Theres just how much money shes made by injecting long-overdue diversity and inclusivity into the worlds of beauty and fashion, tapping into a traditionally ignored market: actual people. Her next album is being worked on and it will be reggae-inspired, though there is still no time frame for its release.

The juiciest bits, of course, are about politics: She confirms that she turned down the Super Bowl Halftime Show in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, and she called Donald Trump, in specific reference to his response to the mass-shooting epidemic, the most mentally ill human being in America right now.

But there was a passage in the profile that has rattled me so viscerally that my bones shook and heart moaned when I read it. It is when writer Abby Aguirre says this: Normally I bring a list of questions, but I didnt have time to prepare one, which I make a split-second decision to confess.

A person showed up to interview Rihanna for Vogue without having prepared.

Everyone has different reporting styles. Staying awake at night poring through everything thats ever been written about an interview subject, scripting questions, ordering and reordering them, strategizing, and even pre-planning small talk and icebreakers isnt for everyone. And the writer is candid about the fact that the interview snuck up on her after Rihanna moved the appointment several times.

Would I have still scribbled down an outline, a handful of questions, or some mantras of encouragement before I even put presumed to put pants on for this interview? Yes. But hey, as Rihanna herself says in response, were all winging it, I guess.

The Only Good Thing About Halloween Are My Pumpkins

I do not like Halloween. I do not like people who like Halloween. But cranky as I get anytime someone uses the word spooky or tries to tell me about their costume, there are two traditions I partake in: eating candy cornscrew you, its deliciousand having an absolutely ridiculous jack-o-lantern carved.

I do not know if Brent Heuser, pumpkin carver extraordinaire, is delighted or embarrassed each year when I assign him an uber-gay design to craft during his residency at the High Line Hotel. This year, he carved me a fabulous rendering of Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Bette Midler during the You Dont Own Me finale of The First Wives Club, which I very much look forward to my boyfriend rolling his eyes at as it rots on our dining room table for the next three weeks.

Last year, he carved me Ryan Phillippes butt scene from Cruel Intentions, a photo of which made its way to the actor himself, who appeared good-naturedly baffled by it.

If Im being honest, it was a tough call to go with The First Wives Club this year over my second choice, Andrew Scott as the Hot Priest cradling a guinea pig in Fleabag. But Brent will be at the High Line Hotel for a few more weeks should any of you be looking for some gourd-eous temporary art.

More Than Goodenough

The Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded this year to a man named John B. Goodenough. I read this news on Wednesday and havent stopped laughing since.

What to Watch This Week:

Parasite: Duh!

The Addams Family: Charlize Theron as Morticia Addams? Sure!

Looking for Alaska: Finally, a good teen drama this fall.

What to Skip This Week:

Gemini Man: Will Smith is in this movie and Im not kidding when I say I only found it existed five minutes ago.

Insatiable: I cannot BELIEVE this show is coming back.

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Trans models: From decades of rejection to centre stage

BBC Image copyright Pantene
Image caption Paris Lees is a brand ambassador for hair care brand Pantene

Being outed as transgender was once enough to end a career in modelling, but some brands and magazines are now actively seeking to work with people who are openly and proudly trans. How did being transgender become viewed as not only acceptable but aspirational?

“I never actually thought that trans people would be celebrated,” said Paris Lees. “When I was growing up the only time I ever saw trans people in the media or in advertising, we were presented as objects of pity, ridicule or disgust.”

The trans rights campaigner and writer was speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women conference, where she was announced as a brand ambassador for hair care brand Pantene.

Lees, who grew up in the Nottinghamshire town of Hucknall, is the first transgender woman to be appointed by Pantene. However, she is far from the only transgender person to model for a mainstream brand, with transgender men and women including Valentina Sampaio, Chella Man and Andreja Pejić being hired by the likes of Victoria’s Secret, Gap and Make Up For Ever.

“Increasingly trans has come to signify a certain wokeness or hipness that it has not always had,” says Susan Stryker, author of Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution. “To show somebody trans in a positive light as something that is desirable or normal or acceptable, that is like a marketing use of a subcultural chic, to sell shampoo or soap or tequila or what have you.”

How did this happen, and who blazed the trail?

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption April Ashley was one of the earliest people from the UK known to have had gender reassignment surgery
BBC

April Ashley is thought to have been the first successful transgender model. Born George Jamieson in Liverpool in 1935, she had gender reassignment surgery in 1960 at the age of 25, and her striking looks led her to grace the pages of Vogue magazine.

She kept her past a secret, but her modelling career was cut short when she was outed by tabloid newspaper the Sunday People in 1961, under the headline “The extraordinary case of top model April Ashley: ‘Her’ secret is out”.

“My agent called me and she said ‘April your career is finished. You will never get another job in this town’,” she told the BBC in 2013.

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tracey Norman, shown here in 2016, was a successful model in the 1970s before being outed

African-American transgender model Tracey Norman, who later changed her last name to Africa, had a similar experience. For about 10 years she enjoyed a successful career, with her work including a high-profile campaign for Clairol cosmetics.

“As far as I know Tracey Norman is the first trans model in the United States who we know about,” says Prof Elspeth Brown, author of Work! A Queer History of Modeling.

But she was outed in 1980 after being recognised during a photo-shoot for Essence, a magazine aimed at African-American women. “All I know is that my work stopped that day,” Norman told The Cut in 2015. “I just felt so upset about it because it was my people and my community that did this to me – the black community and the gay community.”

She later got modelling work in Paris and was then was hired for an Ultra Sheen cosmetics advert back in the US. However, the advert created too much attention, she was recognised from before, and struggled to get work again.

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Another 1980s model, Teri Toye, was open from the start about her trans status and was “really welcomed”, Prof Brown says, although she was not working for mainstream consumer clients
BBC
BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Caroline Cossey, also known as Tula, appeared in a Bond film and was the first transgender woman to pose for Playboy

Back in the UK, a closeted transgender women called Caroline Cossey had been climbing the ladder of the fashion industry under the name Tula.

“Cossey worked as a model from 1975 to 1981, appeared in magazines such as Australian Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and did extensive work as a model,” says Prof Stryker.

She even appeared in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, and in Playboy alongside the film’s other Bond girls. However, the film led to her being outed by the News of the World in an article with the headline “James Bond’s girl was a boy”.

“I was destroyed overnight,” she said in 2016. “There was nothing I could do and my life was in tatters so I ran away. I hid from the limelight because it was the only way to feel safe.”

She was offered work again but it was based around her transgender status, and she felt she was being “portrayed like a freak”. She also wrote a book and did countless interviews in an effort to raise awareness of trans issues, but hid from the limelight again after being made to feel like “a circus act”.

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Caitlyn Jenner, shown here with Andreja Pejić, is sometimes credited for a “trans tipping point”
BBC

So what has changed in recent years?

Prof Brown says people refer to a “trans tipping point” within popular culture, and she dates this to 2015 when former Olympic decathlete Bruce Jenner came out as Caitlyn Jenner.

“Also other things have happened in the United States, in particular in terms of politics,” Prof Brown says. “The right wing’s targeting of trans people has brought the issue of transness into the public imagination. Also in the United States you have very popular television shows like Orange is the New Black, that has the trans actress Laverne Cox on it, and she’s been incredibly outspoken and an advocate for trans people.”

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Laverne Cox rose to prominence in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black

Prof Stryker says hiring somebody who is out as trans becomes “a political comment of some kind that flags a certain kind of progressive, woke mentality”.

“You’re using disability or fatness or transness or racial diversity as a way of saying ‘our product fits in with your progressive, woke, metropolitan, hip, progressive views’.”

In fact, Victoria’s Secret apologised in 2018 after its chief marketing officer Ed Razek said trans models should not be cast in its shows. The lingerie brand has since hired transgender model Valentina Sampaio, who has more than 377,000 followers on Instagram.

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Victoria’s Secret cast Valentina Sampaio after previously saying it would not work with transgender models
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Jay McCauley Bowstead, a lecturer at the London College of Fashion, believes social media has “provided a space through which more diverse representations can emerge”.

Brands and magazines can now look old-fashioned, he argues, if they do not mirror the diversity seen on social media.

“I think that’s part of why maybe brands and fashion weeks and catwalks and magazines are changing the way they represent people,” he says.

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chella Man has documented his transition on YouTube, where he has 235,000 subscribers
BBC

He names Chella Man and Krow Kian as two prominent transgender male models.

“Someone like Chella Man did actually pose for The Gap, the American brand. You can’t get much more mainstream,” he says.

“What’s interesting is he’s reasonably buff and muscular, but he poses with his shirt off so you can see the scars on his chest. He sometimes wears quite androgynous garments, and I think that’s intriguing because it maybe marks a moment in which trans guys are feeling like ‘I don’t have to conform to this very narrow model of masculinity’. It’s not about ‘passing’ in some very narrow way.”

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Andreja Pejić started her career as an androgynous male model

Andreja Pejić is another example of a model not conforming to gender norms. She started her career almost a decade ago as Andrej Pejić, an androgynous male model. Pejic then had gender reassignment surgery in 2013, despite being warned against transitioning as it might jeopardise her career.

“There was definitely a lot of ‘Oh, you’re going to lose what’s special about you. You’re not going to be interesting any more’,” she said. One agent apparently told her: “It’s better to be androgynous than a tranny.”

Despite the warnings she continues to be a leading model and has branched out into films, recently appearing as Claire Foy’s love interest in The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption April Ashley was appointed MBE for services to transgender equality in 2012

So what happened to April Ashley, Tracey Norman and Caroline Cossey, models who lost work after being outed as trans?

Norman was hired by Clairol once again at the age of 63 to be the face of a new hair colour campaign. Cossey found the confidence to come back into the limelight, appearing alongside Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox in documentary film The Trans List. And the once ostracised Ashley has featured in a major exhibition in her home city of Liverpool, and in 2012 was appointed MBE for services to transgender equality.

BBC Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Paris Lees was chosen as a Pantene ambassador alongside boxer Ramla Ali and model and broadcaster Katie Piper

Prof Stryker believes increasing representation of trans people is positive, but cautions that it is “not enough”.

“I wouldn’t want to say ‘Oh Paris Lees has got a Pantene commercial so now the world is safe for trans people’,” she says.

“Positive representation of trans people can be a good thing, but it’s not like it’s changing laws or keeping people from being killed by transphobes.

“It’s a good thing but it’s a small part of the big picture.”

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