The hacktivist network Anonymous sent shockwaves around the internet this morning with its latest announcement, which in theory, could have wide-ranging implications, but honestly, it’s pretty tough to tell: At 8 a.m. EST, Anonymous released the names of all the people who worked at Kohl’s in 2003.
Well, this is officially bad for the department store chain, probably.
Okay okay okay okay so like y'all know how unnecessary gendered products exist? Well lemme tell you a little story.
I work at Kohl’s, specifically in the beauty section. A (possibly) middle aged lady comes in and asks me where we have our loofahs. So I tell her I’ll gladly show her, and as we’re walking over to where the loofahs are, she says “oh, and it’s for a man.”
At this point, I’m thinking to myself, okay, whatever. And we get over to where the loofahs are, and we’ve got single black ones, or a three pack that consists of white, green, and pink. Now, the three pack costs the same as the singular loofah. And IMMEDIATELY, the lady says, “oh, that won’t do. It’s pink. Not appropriate for a man. I’ll have to buy the black one.”
I had to muster up all the strength I had to ask the lady why her husband feels emasculated using a fucking pink loofah in the shower where NO ONE CAN SEE HIM. It’s not infused with estrogen, why does it matter?! IT’S JUST PINK. IT'sS JUST A COLOR. GET OVER IT.
This is so weird and most definitely not me, I am not posting a selfie to tumblr.
But oops, I am.
And for good reason, I hope.
Years back, on an annual pilgrimage to Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I had the chance to meet Ashley Eckstein, designer and founder of Her Universe, voice of Ahsoka Tano and all around beautiful human. I would go on to meet her many more times over the years and I was always so amazed that not only would she remember my face but oftentimes my name and my fandoms (Star Wars and Marvel) - she would always share sneak peeks of upcoming lines and gush about the new materials and artwork she’d be launching. She’d be mobbed with fans but somehow still knew who every single face was. She was a huge inspiration to me as a fangirl, because I constantly found myself cutting up men’s shirts and buying boys sized XLs if I had any hope of showing my fandoms through fashion.
And as a fashion forward young lady, that was frustrating to me.
So here comes Her Universe and everything is beautifully made and well fitted and just so very “me” - I felt beautiful and I felt like myself, whether in a lightsaber skirt or an X-Wing cardigan or a Black Widow zip up.
So why the selfie? Because none of those favorite garments are featured in this terrible picture.
Many years ago I was a ballerina. I spent five nights a week willingly jailed in a ballet studio, dancing on my toes till they bled. Ballet was my life. Unfortunately, just before college auditions in a rehearsal for The Nutcracker, my adagio partner dropped me - well, he hadn’t really CAUGHT me - in a lift, and I landed, hard, on my left knee. Hard enough for an audible crack in the studio and a wail of pain that indicated an immediate end of my ballet career. Doctors urged me to stop dancing and told me I’d never go on my toes again, never wear my tap shoes again, and would very possibly never slip into my canvas ballet shoes again. I was destroyed. Completely ruined. I performed off and on again in musicals, but as I couldn’t dance, it was devastating to watch others do what I couldn’t.
I gained weight. I took up other hobbies but missed ballet sorely.
So what about Ashley Eckstein and Her Universe and this awful selfie…?
The Captain America inspired ensemble that I’m wearing here is part of Ashley’s new line, exclusive to Kohls. It’s her first foray into workout clothing and it’s significant to me because three months ago I signed up, on a frightening whim, for barre classes. I was cleared by a doctor and told that if I could rebuild my strength and flexibility, that maybe - JUST MAYBE - I could try ballet again. It’s the hardest I’ve ever worked. I’m rebuilding muscles and flexibility that I haven’t had for years. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve iced my knee and ankles a lot. I’ve invested a stupid amount of money in Epsom Salts and wraps.
But I might just go back on my toes.
And Her Universe is part of that. This incredible line of workout clothes inspired by Cap, Iron Man and Black Widow are so inspiring to me, because I feel like “me” - quirky, fangirly me. And if I’m ever going to go back to something that brings me so much joy, I’m going to do it AS ME. On my terms. In my time.
So thank you, Ashley, for reminding me each and every class that I can be my own hero. (Certainly not my only hero, omg!) Thank you for inspiring me and encouraging me through my favorite characters. Thank you, Marvel, for trusting your properties in Ashley Eckstein’s talented and passionate hands.
“Be A Hero” indeed, Her Universe! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this line.