No Holds Barred: The Summer of Freedom

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It’s headlined as the “Summer of Freedom.” Record breaking numbers are traveling up a storm. Everyone is on the road in gridlock traffic, standing in lines at airports and train stations, waiting at gates for delayed flights. None of this is “essential travel” — and it’s all surpassing pre-Covid levels.

But so what? We are all out of the house and out of our minds. We may not know what’s in store post pandemic – and some of us don’t want to know if we’ve even lost our way. I still don’t know what Britney or Bitcoin is all about, but no matter we are off and running!


Britney and Bitcoin. Yee-haw!

Travel makes you feel that at least you are “in motion” — never mind to where. Escape is the place to be as we search for our emotional and physical sea legs. But remember once we all “come home” (whenever that is… “See You in September”) we will have to face the music.  Biden already declared “victory” (over what exactly?) to a crowd of over 1,000 on July 4th.  It seems joy and high employment is on the rise.

But if “return” is really here, why do I see more desperate signs in windows asking for “help wanted.” Why are my supermarket shelves empty of stock because deliveries are late? Why is my corner restaurant struggling with a shortage of waitresses and cooks?  And don’t get me started about the hospitality world getting hit with less rental cars, hotel maids, and amusement park rides closing due to slow repair service.


A sign of the times in my Walgreens’ window.

And by the way, all this breakdown is going on with no cut in rates. But hey, it is the Summer of Rebound … so come one, come all!  Let’s see how this plays out in your escapist dreams.  Will it be a minor speed bump of adjustment or a big harsh wake-up call ending in a new reality. Less is less? Deal with it!

Currently we are still searching for some balance in this “shock of the new.” A lot of what was “old” or familiar is not feeling or looking all that comforting. Like watching 62-year-old Madonna showing NYC’s Boom Boom Room Club how to party for Pride week. Writhing onstage in an impromptu show dressed in fish netted bare boobs and leather hot pants. Shouting her message of “take nothing for granted and learn to love yourself.”

Nothing showstopping here. This is what Madonna has always done when the going gets tough: Get naked. But now she actually looks older with all those silicone injected “cheeks” and cheeks.  She used to be the queen of reinvention — now it’s just another old show, dare we say, “has been.”


When the going gets tough, Madonna gets naked! Instagram

It’s hard to resurrect sentimentality. Look at the recent Diana Princess of Wales statue unveiling on her 60th birthday at Kensington Garden. Her warring adult boys Princes Harry and William revealed the bronzed image of her “to honor her strength, love and character.”

It seemed lackluster as the Princess’s face resembled Prime Minister Theresa May and her skirt and blouse appeared soaking wet. Lately, statues are a tough sell. Especially in this case since most people only wanted to see the two brothers united in anything. Instead, they showed up to the ceremony, pulled the unveiling strings, stood for a moment. And left.  Not together! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Moving on.


A sad state.

And if you look towards the fashion world which survives on the idea of “renewal,” it’s even more confusing. First of all, who really reads fashion magazines anymore (even online). Especially since most doctors’ waiting rooms have abolished magazine racks.  Sure, we are all scrolling on our phones and pads, but are we reading Vogue?  So, though it was nice that Jill Biden and Kamala Harris became “cover girls,” do cover pics pack the punch anymore?  Talk about an “old platform” (Melania did her Vogue cover stint with her marriage to Donald Trump in 2005. That was enough).


Cover girls — then and now.

When you consider that scroll reading is not the same as actually turning a real page. It feels like scrolling enhances A.D.D. Now we all have short attention spans from “burning” through and “binging” information. We no longer digest the big pictures or really “deep dive” into anything. We don’t “absorb” or “process” anymore. Once again, we just keep moving on (as in travel) with not much to show for it. So, good luck to the fashion mags even with transgender or non-binary cover people leading the way.

The other fashion headline is the return of Victoria’s Secret. But instead of “Barbie bodies and Playboy reverie,” we have seven women (ambassadors) famous for their “achievements and not their proportions.” Included are Megan Rapinoe, Eileen Gu, Palome Elsesser, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, representing American, Chinese, Indian athletes, and a tech advisor in all sizes, shapes and colors. VS has announced they are all redefining the idea of “sexy” for the new masses.


Megan Rapinoe getting ready for the big time.

It remains to be seen whether the shoppers will buy into all of this. New serious imagery along with the slogans of “cruelty free, sustainability and diverse empowerment.” These are the retail buzzwords of the virtue hard sell. But I am also not “the market” and I am old and superficial. All I want to do is have fun and be happy in my “shopping experiences.” After all, shopping used to be THE “great escape” and the ultimate therapy.  Now it’s become a political statement, and a drag!

But… hold onto your panties. Kim Kardashian is about to “stick” another solid gold landing with her popular shapewear Skims. Who better to save the day? She recently announced she is outfitting Team USA’s female athletes in her underwear, pajamas and loungewear for the Summer Tokyo Olympics. Now Skims is already a successful digital business and very size and race inclusive (lots of different skin shades). As Imaginary Ventures co-founder and Skims investor Nick Brown sees it, “Skims is already considered a generationally defining global brand that has real longevity…” Longer than Ralph Lauren? Let’s wait and see.


Team USA track and field athlete Dalilah Muhammad wearing items from Kim Kardashian West’s Skims label. Photo: Vanessa Beecroft.

So just as we thought Kim Kardashian was sagging into the Reality Show lost horizon, she is back leading the “new” new. Face it, it takes a Kardashian to teach us all in post pandemic mode how to “re-booty.”

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