Trends: Slaying While Pregnant

 

Beyonce's performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards (The Fader)

Beyonce’s performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards (The Fader)

It seems like almost every female celebrity is pregnant right now (and that almost all of them are pregnant with twins). But instead of lying low and taking it easy during their pregnancies, many of these women are stepping it up, and making pregnant and non-pregnant women alike look like slackers.

First case in point: Beyonce. Leave it to Queen Bey to put us all to shame. The superstar performed a set during this year’s Grammy Awards. One portion featured her leaning back in a chair perched at a very precarious angle. (I don’t know about you, but my heart was in my throat for that whole portion. And I audibly exhaled when she got off that chair.)

Beyonce had also been scheduled to perform at Coachella before withdrawing. But we can’t fault her for that, considering she’s done more while pregnant than many people do in their lives.

Serena Williams is widely acknowledged to be the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) tennis player in the world. Last month, she announced her pregnancy. When she announced the news, Williams was 20 weeks along. Someone very smart (and awesome) did the math and realized that Williams had recently played in a match while pregnant. And, as Laura Wagner at “Deadspin” put it, this wasn’t just any match:

Serena Williams won the 2017 Australian Open, her record-breaking 23rd major, without dropping a single set, while nine fucking weeks pregnant. She is the greatest of all time.

Elsewhere in entertainment, Gal Gadot has been preparing for her upcoming movie “Wonder Woman.” Last November, she shot reshoots for the movie…while also five months pregnant. And she was probably doing more than a few stunts. NBD.

It’s great that we’re seeing so many women dominate during a time in life when women traditionally have been relegated to the sidelines.

Trends: Genderless Awards Categories

MTV Movie & TV Awards nominees Daniel Kaluuya, Millie Bobby Brown, and Emma Watson (Entertainment Weekly)

MTV Movie & TV Awards nominees Daniel Kaluuya, Millie Bobby Brown, and Emma Watson (Entertainment Weekly)

Last month, MTV announced that its MTV Movie Awards would be no more. Instead, the show would now involve awards for TV, and be called the MTV Movie & TV Awards. But that wasn’t the only new thing the cable network had in store for its new awards show: Certain major categories will be gender neutral.

This new gender neutrality spans the acting categories: Best Actor in a Movie (which includes Emma Watson from “Beauty and the Beast” and Daniel Kaluuya from “Get Out”) and Best Actor in a TV Show (which includes Donald Glover from “Atlanta” and Millie Bobby Brown from “Stranger Things”). Of course, some categories have always been gender-neutral, inkling Best Kiss, Best Villian and Best Hero.

There’s clearly a sea change happening, as mainstream culture has gotten hip and woke to the nuances of gender identity. And the young generation isn’t averse to asking for what they want, particularly in terms of representation. Actor Asia Kate Dillion, known for their role on Showtime’s “Billions” as a non-binary character (and TV’s first one at that!), wrote to the Television Academy and asked them to reconsider their binary male and female categories. This was a big ask: the Television Academy governs the Emmy Awards. The Television Academy was very receptive to Dillon’s letter, and Dillon decided to submit themselves under Best Supporting Actor

If the Emmys were to do away with gendered categories, the award show would be getting back to its roots. The Emmys enacted separate categories for male and female performers in 1951, its third year.

I hope this new gender consciousness grows until it becomes so commonplace we no longer need to remark on it.

Trends: Updating Classic Films to Be More Inclusive

Emma Watson as Belle in 'Beauty and the Beast' (The Leaky Cauldron)

Emma Watson as Belle in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (The Leaky Cauldron)

Within the last few years, many films have been updates to classic films. While it’s no secret that Hollywood likes to recycle its own ideas, there’s now a push to make the films more inclusive.

The 2016 release of “Ghostbusters” brought one change to the classic film: the ghostbusters were all played by women (the very funny Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones). While some butthurt fanboys cried that the reboot  killed their childhood (actually, they usually used a much more brutal, assault-y verb for it), the movie brought in $46M+ on its opening weekend, and grossed $229M+ over its theatrical run.

“Ocean’s 8,” which will be released in (wait for it…) 2018, will also feature all female leads in its remake-of-a-remake. (Seriously, the first version involved Frank Sinatra and his boys’ club Rat Pack and was released in 1960.) But “Ocean’s 8” does one better than “Ghostbusters” in that it’s more diverse. In addition to Anne Hathaway and Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling and rapper Awkwakfina will also star in the ensemble. And that first cast photo looks lit.

This weekend, Disney is releasing a live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast.” This movie has a lot going for it: For starters, Emma Watson as the titular character gives it some feminist cred. Watson had a lot of input on the character, and  Belle doesn’t wear a corset and is an inventor. (Remember, in the original 1991 film, Belle’s father was the inventor with the wacky contraptions.)

Updating the characters to reflect modern times also extends to the supporting cast. Le Fou, muscle man Gaston’s main lackey, is now going to be gay. And in love with Gaston. Which puts a lot of things into perspective, actually. Though Le Fou will be the first openly gay character, he’s far from the only gay character that Disney has created.

The movie will also feature the first two interracial kisses in a Disney movie: one between wardrobe Madame de Garderobe (Audra McDonald) and harpsichord Cadenza (Stanley Tucci), and the other between candlestick Lumiere (Ewan McGregor) and feather duster Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). And Disney is here for it.

I can’t wait to see how Disney movies continue to grow and evolve in terms of representation in the future.

 

 

User Engagement for Beyonce’s Pregnancy Announcement: By The Numbers

Beyonce's Instagram pregnancy announcement, 2017 (Time)

Beyonce’s Instagram pregnancy announcement, 2017 (Time)

OK, we all know that Beyonce is PREGNANT with TWINS, right? (And if that’s the first time you’re hearing this, OMG!!) The music icon announced her pregnancy on February 1st via an Instagram post on her personal account. (Later, she released an entire pregnancy photoshoot that was shot by Awol Erizku.)

As much fuss was made about Kim Kardashian breaking the Internet in 2014, Beyonce actually *did* the damn thing. Beyonce now has the most-liked photo on Instagram.

Here are some numbers to put this fact in context:

Likes on Beyonce’s 2017 Pregnancy Instagram Announcement (#): 10,468,451 

Beyonce’s Instagram Followers (#): 94.8M

Pregnancy Announcement User Engagement (# of likes/# of followers): 11.04%

Number of Likes the Pregnancy Announcement Received within 30 minutes of posting: 1.2M+

Number of Likes the Pregnancy Announcement Received within 1 hour of posting: 2.4M+

Amount of time it took for the pregnancy announcement to become Instagram’s most-liked photo: Less than 8 hours

Number of Likes the Pregnancy Announcement got to become Instagram’s most-liked photo: 6.33M

Second most-liked Instagram photo of all time: Selena Gomez sipping a Coke

Number of Likes for second-most-liked Instagram photo of all time: 6.4M

 

 

Trends: #NoPhotoshop

Iskra-Lawrence 'Share Your Spark' AerieReal campaign (Glamour)

Iskra-Lawrence ‘Share Your Spark’ AerieReal campaign (Glamour)

It used to be that brands only used tall, skinny, (mostly) blonde girl in their advertising. This was thought to be aspirational: You wanted to be the girl in the photo, and how best to be that? Buy their clothes (or perfume, or lingerie, or whatever the brand was selling). But the pursuit of one aspirational body type led those who didn’t possess said body type (either by genetic luck-of-the-draw or by carefully-chosen enhancements) to believe themselves unworthy and maybe inferior.

Thankfully, that trend is on its way out. The current thing (which, I hope, stays) is all about positivity and accepting yourself as you are, because you are enough. For women’s brands, this has translated to, among other things, banning Photoshop.

This month, Glamour released its all-women, no Photoshop issue. The magazine’s staff has gone all-in on banning photo retouching: A quick glance at the “Girls” cast on the cover, and you can see that the cellulite on Lena Dunham’s thigh hasn’t been wiped out. And why should it? It’s just a natural part of life.

In January 2014, American Eagle’s underwear brand Aerie launched its #AerieReal campaign, featuring models of all shapes and sizes and no Photoshopping. The intimates brand is aimed at girls ages 15-22, and the campaign has been used to promote body acceptance, positivity and confidence.

Aerie’s gamble has paid off exponentially: Q2 2014 sales were up 9% from the previous quarter, and continued to grow for the rest of the year. In 2015, sales were up by 20%, with Q4 2015 seeing a 26% increase year-over-year. And sales in Q1 2016 were up 32%.

Body acceptance and positivity has also bled into regular women’s lives, and features prominently on social media. Searching #nophotoshop on Instagram brings up 460K+ posts.It’s clear that this trend isn’t going away anytime soon.

 

 

Sex & Stats’ 2016 Year in Review

CoverGirl Nura Afia (Today)

CoverGirl Nura Afia (Today)

Raise your hand if you are DONE with 2016. Everyone? Yeah, I thought so. Before we let the door hit this year on its ass, let’s look back at some of the biggest trends in sexuality this year.

Women’s Equality

This year, women began speaking up and demanding more. This ranged from five women suing New York State for the infamous tampon tax to single women voting becoming America’s force to be reckoned with to “Shameless” actress Emmy Rossum asking for (and getting!) equal pay for her performance on the hit TV show.

This is one trend that’s been a long time coming, and I hope it continues for a long, long time.

Brands’ New Inclusive Spokesmodels:

This year, larger brands began making strides towards inclusivity in their advertising. This was especially prevalent with the CoverGirl brand: Beauty blogger (and teenager!) James Charles became the first man to rep the brand, and beauty vlogger Nura Afia became the first Muslim woman to wear hijab to appear in CoverGirl’s advertising.

Let’s hope that more brands follow CoverGirl’s lead of using spokesmodels of all stripes to include in their public-facing advertising. After all, it’s been proven that diversity is big business.

Wonder Woman:

Wonder Woman fever is beginning to crest, with many news items about the Amazonian princess making headlines. First, the character was revealed to be queer by DC comics writer Greg Rucka. A few weeks later, she was named honorary ambassador to the United Nations for female empowerment worldwide.

Wonder Woman will probably retain a strong interest with the release of the self-titled big screen movie starring Gal Gadot. The movie will be released on Jun. 2, 2017.

And that’s it for 2016. See you in 2017!

Trends: Historic Interracial Couples on Film

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in 'Loving' (Evening Standard)

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in ‘Loving’ (Evening Standard)

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, the conversation around movies in Hollywood centered around the fact that there was no diversity. #OscarsSoWhite gained prominence during the national conversation. It seems the entertainment industry listened, because movies with diverse casts and themes will be released. Even better, a couple of movies will tell stories from history that need to be more widely known than they are.

The story of Virginia couple Mildred and Richard Loving are featured in Jeff Nichols’ Loving. Mildred, a Black woman (played by Ruth Negga), and Richard (Joel Edgerton), a white man, were arrested in 1958 for the crime of being married when interracial marriage was a crime. The Lovings’ ordeal to have their union be legally recognized led to the landmark Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case in 1967. The ruling struck down every anti-miscegenation law still on the books in 16 Southern states. (At least in theory; several states still tried to unofficially enforce the law.)

Too few people know this story, and I’m glad it’s gaining more recognition. The case is seen as a landmark in the struggle for civil rights, and can be regarded as the spiritual predecessor to the recent marriage equality fight and decision.

Loving isn’t the only historic interracial love story debuting this winter. Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom focuses on the story of Sir Seretse Khama (played by David Oyelowo), a member of the Bechuanaland Protectorate’s royal family, and Ruth Williams (played by Rosamund Pike), an English woman and Khama’s eventual wife. The Khamas’ romance and eventual marriage set off an international scandal which took years to rectify.

Director Asante’s previous feature was Belle, the true story of a mixed-race English woman in the 18th century. I enjoyed it, particularly because it was something I hadn’t seen before: a woman of color in a period costume drama. Asante won my attention and my dollars with that film, so I’m curious to see her new one as well.

Loving will be released on Nov. 4th, and A United Kingdom will be released Jan. 17, 2017.