Time for a Revolution

What’s with this Met Gala nonsense? It was always a horrible show of just pure ugliness and kitsch and camp but it’s getting worse each year. I don’t understand that people (media?) in America celebrate it and don’t see that Met Gala is a symbol for everything that’s wrong with America today: a 1% of rich, who completely lost touch with the rest of the people, showing off in absurd clothes worth millions of dollars while the streets of all major cities in his country are covered in tents. (The country is suffering a serious homeless pandemic!) It’s not funny, it’s not pretty, and it’s not cool. It’s just painful. All under the pretense of collecting money for – what exactly? Does anyone know? The costume department of the Met? Seriously, who cares? It’a shameful parade of the famous who are famous (and rich) for just being trash and collecting your likes. Do they know, does anyone in America know, that 220 years ago crowned heads rolled for this same behavior, same economic discrepancy and same neglect of the average people? It’s time for a revolution, and not for clicking “like” on pictures of billionaires dressed as chandeliers! How are people not on the streets of NYC protesting against this? How is a cultural institution, one of the rare bastillions of culture and art and history in America, not ashamed of being associated with a vulgar show of the rich like this? It’s just wrong. I’m just appalled. Wake up, America, stop being a kid who just wants to be entertained – because you’re really not heading in a good direction.

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Don’t Question the Billionaires, Question the System

Two days ago, I was glued to my screen together with millions of people worldwide wondering if Notre Dame will survive the fire or collapse. Like so many others I was sad – to me more than anything else, Notre Dame is a piece of art, created by thousands of best craftsmen and artists who worked on it for centuries and gave it millions of hours of dedication and hard labour. It is a monument to the history, artistry and hard work of our western civilization.

But having been in a war, watching it burn I felt strangely “content” that it was only a building. The fact that people weren’t hurt mixed my sadness with happiness. Buildings can be rebuilt, even the historic ones – look at the St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna (bombarded during the WWII), Teatro La Fenice in Venice (burned twice), Frauenkirche in Dresden (WWII), Greek Temples, the list goes on.

I was amazed and very excited that within 24h, French millionaires pledged €600 million for the reconstruction. What I loved about their reaction is that they didn’t need to be asked. I just loved the gesture and the respect for history and art. But now people are angry.

Why can we collect almost a billion dollars within few hours for a building when we have so many people in this world starving or living in abominable conditions, everyone is asking.

I believe this is a wrong question to ask. Because the problem is, as history and experience have shown, that the fact that so many people need help is a systematic (and climatic) failure. Putting money, even a billion dollars, on this problem will not solve it. (Just ask BIll and Melinda Gates.) I will never forget how disheartened my mother was, who for years was trying to help hungry children in Sudan. This was 40 years ago and not much has changed. I will also never forget how disappointed a friend was after her two years of working as an aide in Mozambique – the way things were set up, we just couldn’t help make things better, she explained.

The real question is what kind of a system allows a few companies to accumulate such wealth while the planet is dying and people are still starving. The billionaires aren’t the problem. The Notre Dame isn’t the problem (alas, let’s rebuild it!). The problem is the system.

So let’s not ask why we have so much money to rebuild a building. Let’s ask how we can change the system so that instead of conglomerates having hundreds of millions to donate, the earth is cleaned up and all people live in dignity.

That of course is a much harder (if not impossible?) problem to solve. It’s way easier to ask for donations.

 But solve it we must.

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The Marvelous Miss Davis

During last ten years of Bette Davis’ life, Kathryn Sermak was her personal assistant, friend and family. I interviewed Kathryn about her book “Miss D and me” in which she writes about this amazing experience. Kathryn’s book, together with Davis’ autobiography “The Lonely Life” were amazing lessons not only about Bette Davis, but also life, and magic (and burden), of being a (talented) woman.

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When did we get Bored of Shopping?

When my editor asked me if I would write a story about world’s most luxurious department stores and their strategies for dealing with competition coming from Internet shopping, I immediately said yes. The mix of luxury, most beautiful places in the world, cultural differences and strategic marketing sounded endlessly appealing. But what I found out was sad more than exciting.

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On Upper Left Chic

American Northwest is really amazing for its very specific style (where else can you find a sexy lumberjack?) – and for the passion with which they embrace it. There’s a chance you’ll walk into a trendy restaurant in Seattle (or better said in Ballard) and every single man will wear a plaid shirt. Amazed by this lumberjack chic, but also by endless coolness of local brands such as Filson and Pendleton, I simply had to write an “Upper Left Chic” story.

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Californian Gold

Ever since I first arrived to LA, I have been fascinated – and inspired – by Angelenas’ love for minuscule gold jewelry. And then came Meghan Markle with her gold stacking rings and dainty necklaces - and I decided to find out why women in Los Angeles love their delicate gold jewelry so much.

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If Rooms Could Talk - Hollywood's Legendary Hotels

Inspired by one of my favorite places in LA, Chateau Marmont, I wrote a big story about LA’s legendary hotels. LA has a unique relationship with its hotels – while in most other cities, hotels are left to tourists, Angelenos embrace their hotels as temporary homes, second homes, offices, locations for business meetings and even dates. I blame this on two phenomena: first, most of the people in the Industry are freelancers so hotels take over a role of an office. Second, there’s the aspect of privacy – fans or paparazzi won’t bug you in a hotel as much as they might in a random restaurant.

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Say Hello to Holistic Fitness

Somehow I ended up writing two fun stories about newest trends in fitness. The most interesting thing I learned was the rise of Biohacking - basing your fitness regimen, diet and rest on your gene tests. I’m excited to see that we’re starting to see some aspects of our lives in a holistic way - once we learn that everything is connected, and start treating issues as big puzzles and not isolated phenomena, we’ll lead much healthier and happier lives. And maybe even save the planet.

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Please, Take Your (Toxic) Cosmetics More Seriously

In past few months, I wrote three big stories on this topic: one on American women who started their own toxin-free cosmetic brands, one on toxin-free nail polishes and one on toxin-free hair dyes and hair care. Although I already knew a lot, it shocked me to find even more horrifying facts – for instance how the chemicals from nail polish can be found in other parts of the body two hours after the application, or how hair color is full of PPD which has been linked to lung and kidney problems and bladder cancer.

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The Truth & Beauty of a (Scoliosis) Scar

Wow I am so very touched by the pictures from the latest royal wedding. Not because it’s a royal wedding and not because I care about Eugenie and her (now) husband but because Eugenie has proudly showed her scar from her scoliosis surgery - and the media has not only noticed but has positively commented on it.

It took me many years to find pride in the scar from my scoliosis surgery. My scar stretches all the way down my spine. But after years of trying to hide it (which you can’t really, if you love the beach as much as I do) and a few thoughts about plastic surgery, I learned to carry it with pride. I learned that my scar is actually my medal - from a terrible battle only a few have fought at such a young age. (I must ad here that one of the most beautiful things a man ever told me was my husband shyly admitting that he finds my scars (I also have one on my hip from the same surgery) sexy.)

Approximately 2-3% of population suffers from scoliosis - a degenerative curvature of the spine - and it’s mostly girls. Wearing a brace is the first thing in trying to correct the curvature. I was stuck in my brace for six years (for 23h a day!) of my life - from 9-15 years of age. It’s a horrendous experience. It’s horribly painful - I sometimes had open wounds from the brace; it terribly disturbs your practical life; and it turns a child - in the years she’s most vulnerable to her image - into a freak. I spent many years in a metal brace that went all the way up to my chin. Try walking to school, sitting in school, having a social life , doing your homework in a painful medieval torture tool.

After years of the horrors of the brace and daily physical therapy, my doctor concluded I had to have surgery. I described the surgery in detail in my book Titoland and it is too painful to repeat it here. Let me say this: a week of being stretched out with heavy weights before the surgery; being cut open, stretched out, spine fused with a ling metal rod - and then woken up still open on the surgery table in order to prove you can consciously move. The most indescribable pains of recovery - you’ve been cut open, your whole skeleton has been realigned, and now you have a long metal rod sticking to your spine. Six months in a full upper body cast followed by six months in a brace.

I can proudly say the horror I experienced at the fragile age of 15 did make me stronger. I know what really matters in life. I know what a blessing health is. I know how fragile we are and how we should LOVE every moment when life is ok (not great - ok). I know not to let minor pain scare me.

Every time I enter a ballet class and feel the wood of the bar in the palm of my hand I’m overwhelmed by being endlessly grateful that I can move.

A few years ago, I was approached by a mother of a girl wearing a brace for her scoliosis. She told me how scared her daughter was - and I knew this feeling. I was so happy I could share my experience with the girl, send her pictures of my wedding dress with an open back, videos of me dancing - and tell her her beautiful, healthy self is waiting to reveal herself.

I wish I had the opportunity - like Eugenie does - to do this for more girls suffering from scoliosis.

P.S. This entry got so much attention that it became a story in Gloria:

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#me too

I didn’t plan to put my sauce into the whole Weinstein thing because sometimes I wonder if the world really needs my opinion every time I have one. But when the #me too thing started, I felt it’s not fair not to admit that yes, #me too. And then a male friend commented and questioned the authenticity of so many me too’s and wondered if they’re going to ruin male-female relationships forever. He also asked me why I stayed silent till now. Yes, why did I?

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Kings of Plastic Surgery

Welcome to Beverly Hills, a city of 35,000 inhabitants and 80 plastic surgeons, where face-lifts cost $150,000, girls get their labia done at 18 and their first face-lifts at 30. Where rich housewives kill themselves after their expenisve face lifts and movie stars claim they never had any work done, even when they have a completely new face. 

I interviewed five of the best plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills (which means in the world) for the April issue of Gloria. Join me down a rabbit hole!

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Not my Kind of Wonder. Nor Woman.

I so wanted to love Wonder Woman. It caused such a big explosion of feminist emotions in the USA in the past weeks that I had to see it, in spite of promising myself I’d never watch another superhero movie again (so fed up with explosions – of any kind). What really made me want to see it was an article by a woman who wrote a whole piece about how she cried during fight scenes. And then her female readers’ comments on the article – they all cried. I too wanted to be so inspired by the beauty and fierceness of a female superhero that tears came down my cheeks.

They didn’t. Only tears of desperation because for me, this movie was so wrong in so many ways. I expected more from a woman creating a female superhero than just copying (and punching) the men.

Here's how Wonder Woman disappointed the (European) feminist in me.

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