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SO LONG…FAREWELL

8 Aug

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It is something to find a voice and share it with complete strangers. It is even more extraordinary to find a voice and know it has made a difference in the lives of complete strangers, but as they say all good things must come to an end and in this case that would be my voice.

I was so ready to create a publication that spoke to the millions of women out there who wanted more from the gigantic machine that is media, but I was not quite ready for the energy, the tears, the heartache and the love. Gemini became something so much more to me than I had ever expected.

Thank you to those who supported the publication via private conversations, interviews, emails, phone calls, advertisements, written pieces, and most importantly your skills. I will not dare call anyone out for fear of leaving someone out accidentally, but you know who you are. From the bottom of my heart I thank you and am truly blessed to have had you as a part of Gemini.

So long ladies and gents! Never stop pushing for that thing you want. Never stop thinking, learning, and growing. That is life at its best, really…enjoy it while you can, when you can.

With Love,

Sommer J

GO VOTE! (Please)

28 Jun

Very rarely do we ask our readers to do anything. Our job is not to beg and plead for anything. Our job is to give you all of the information we think is key to living your life (not that we would ever tell you how to live it…we aren’t your mother, after all), and we take that seriously. We also take $250,000 seriously.

Chase and Livingsocial got together with an inspired project–err, mission.  Their mission is to grant a small business with $250,000, and to a small business that could go a long way.

Operating any business can be tricky when finances are called to order, however, operating a business that relies on advertising dollars, marketing, and distribution can be even trickier. (Clearing throat) Thus the plea for your vote. It literally only takes about 15-20 seconds (Instructions are below). We have until Saturday (June 30th) to get 237 more votes and we are hoping you will be one.

(1) Go to: http://missionsmallbusiness.com/
(2) Login via Facebook
(3) Search for GEMINI MAGAZINE
(4) Vote for us!

Happy Voting!

Coming Soon: National Women’s Health Week

1 May

As women, we know it’s hard to take a week out of your life to do anything–so when we ask you to take a week out of your life for this we are not asking lightly.  We have all heard the stories about women who lost their lives or who had to come back fighting from an illness that could have been prevented. We have seen the news blurbs in the paper or floating on the internet about this health scare and that.  We have all urged our mothers, daughters, aunts, sisters, and friends to get one symptom (or several) checked out just to be on the safe side. Well, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health is taking it one step further and dedicating an entire week to us and our health.

National Women’s Health Week kicks off on Mother’s Day (how appropriate), May 13, 2012 and is celebrated through May 19, 2012.  The focus of the week long celebration is to empower women to make their health numero uno (not second, third, or not at all).

Mark your calendars, set your iPhone or Droid alarms and get ready.  Don’t fret though–we will be sure to remind you to take the week to take care of you. It’s hard, we know, but leaving the dishes in the sink for an extra 15 minutes to take a brisk walk or taking your lunch hour to get a quick check up from the doc will help to keep a preventable illness at bay.

For more information on National Women’s Health Week and so much more and if you are as serious about this (as we know you are), visit http://www.womenshealth.gov/whw/check-up-day/#pledge and take the Checkup Day Pledge (NWHW Checkup Day, May 14, 2012).

NEW FIRST LOOK!

10 Apr

Photo Credits:
Stylist: Spry Lee Scott
Makeup Artist: Tara Taylor
Hair Stylist: Aliza Williams
Photographer: Lucas Pictures
Picture Editor: Poetic Image

Ok, so what–we are a little bias when it comes to Christina Mendez. It could be her candidness during an interview, or it could be her 24/7 grind–we aren’t sure which, but anyway you slice it we just love her.

If it seemed like she had been missing in action, you can attribute that to her new bundle of joy, Cailey Christine. Although, being a mom for the second time around did not stop her for long. Three months after the birth of her baby girl, Christina hit the ground running with high-profile features on Good Morning America and Rachael Ray modeling for Modern Family’s star Sofia Vergara’s Kmart Fashion segment, BET’s Rip the Runway, New Jersey Full Figured Fashion Week, Rocawear.com, Qristyl Frazier’s Epitome Collection, WABC (NY) speaking on behalf of Autism Speaks, and numerous commercials. Did we mention that she was ranked #3 on Oddee’s list of “10 Incredibly Hot Women Who Are Larger Than A Size 12”?

“I’m a strong believer in fate/faith and I am so happy that the industry has welcomed me back after my hiatus. My goal as a plus size model will always be to continue to diversify my resume with brands and campaigns that truly embrace what I have to offer,” says Mendez.

Even with all of that going on, Christina never strays too far from the still shot. “Working with the amazing styling team I was fortunate enough to partner up with, these new photos definitely show my versatility.” Luckily for you, she loves us enough to share her latest looks (and they are smoking hot might we add).

If you don’t know much about this positive powerhouse, you’ll get to learn more in an upcoming issue of Gemini Magazine (shhhh…we haven’t told her yet). Until then, enjoy the view!

Week 7: Go Meatless

10 Oct

For a little over a year, I chose to leave the meat off my plate.  I attempted the meatless feat a few years before I decided to actually get up off my ass and make a move–therefore my idea of a meatless lifestyle was skewed a bit.  Instead of amping up on more vegg than carb, I went the opposite way.  At the end of the journey, I did feel much much better. I felt as though I had more energy and just an overall brighter lighter feeling.  Unfortunately, watching co-workers chow down on a McDonald’s burger and fries daily wore me down and I broke my 365+ run with a cheeseburger happy meal.

While on this recent journey to live better (and lose a little), there have been plenty of days (and weeks) where I have just sworn off meat.   Recently, as of yesterday, I have resigned myself to really incorporating the vegetarian lifestyle into my daily existence more regularly. With the reocurring meat recalls (and some fruit and veggie too), it is more important than ever for us to pay attention to not only what we eat, but also where our food comes from.

Typically, when people hear the word ‘vegetarian’ they cower at the thought of nothing but spinach and beans, but the truth of the matter is that there are different types of vegetarians.

  • Vegan diets exclude meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products — and foods that contain these products.
  • Lacto-vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, poultry and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and butter, are allowed in a lacto-vegetarian diet.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish and poultry, but allow eggs and dairy products.
  • Semivegetarian diet (aka flexitarian) — which is primarily a plant-based diet but includes meat, dairy, eggs, poultry and fish on occasion or in small quantities.

-information quoted from the Mayo Clinic

Listen to Doc Oz enough and you will get the message that most of us don’t get the vitamins we need via our nutrition. Most of that is because we tend to eat crappy foods, but making the switch to a meat free life (for even only a few days) can give you a boost in the essentials category (not to mention your wallet).  Some key essentials for everyday function(and extra activity) can all be found at your local farmers market or in the produce aisle.

PROTEIN–beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, tempeh, chickpeas, peas. Many other common foods, like whole grain bread, greens, potatoes, and corn, also add to protein intake.

IRON–dried fruits, baked potatoes, mushrooms, cashews, dried beans, spinach, chard, tofu, tempeh, bulgur, and iron-fortified foods (such as cereals, instant oatmeal, and veggie “meats”). To boost the amount of iron absorbed at a meal, eat foods containing vitamin C, like citrus fruit or juices, tomatoes, or broccoli.

CALCIUM–broccoli, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, tofu prepared with calcium, low-fat dairy products, fortified soymilk, and fortified orange juice.

B12–to be on the safe side, taking a B12 supplement (non-animal derived) would be best in this case. Most foods (unless fortified) don’t carry an adequate amount of B12 for an adult.

OMEGA-3–fish (of course), nuts, grains, eggs, and so on. The best course of action for getting the proper amount of Omega-3 is to pay close attention to which foods are enriched with it.

Eating one meal or every meal with out meat is as simple or as complicated as you make it. So…who’s ready?

THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE

Carnivore No MoreThis week, we will go a full (24) hours without meat. You pick the day and plan it well. Remember, don’t over do it on the carbs. Doughnuts and candy bars don’t count as a non-meat meal or snack (sorry). Be sure to take a good look at your labels. You will be surprised how much animal is in a non-meat food. 

RememberRock out your workout this week for 3 days (minimum), and chug that water!  If you are sick of plain H2O, spice it up with some fresh fruit or bubbles.

Week 6: Shed It Meal Plan Style

3 Oct

Yup, it’s that time.  It’s time to set up a meal plan and show this weight who’s boss.  It…is…time…for…a…plan!  Grrrrrrr. After I got the hang of the working out thing, I decided it was time to tackle food.  It was a scary thought, but once  a plan was in place has been a walk in the park (most days).

Here are the basics of what should be entering the body:

CARBS—hmmm…they are good for you—the complex ones are, but the simple carbs suck big time.  They are simple so the body doesn’t break them down as they do complex ones and it’s basically blasted into sugar and turned into fat.  Also, incase you were unaware—carbs (complex or not) take 6 hours to turn into fat (I know! Makes everything so clear now right?!) so it’s best to eat them earlier in the day and not at all at night (complex ones from veggies are ok).

FRUITS—we need them, we love them but they do have one slight issue—they are usually filled with sugar, although natural (bananas being the highest) that can make things tricky sometimes.  3-5 servings a day are great, but beware of chugging down the servings via juices.  The nutrients in the fruit is best when it’s in its natural state.  Similar to the carb thing, it’s best not to eat fruit after 2pm.

VEGGIES—again…we need them and we kinda love them.  There isn’t much too awful to say about veggies.  Be careful not to choke too many gas producing veggies or else you are liable to blow. Try to keep a nice balance. Also, be careful not to chug them down too often, unless you combine them in a super smoothie like a Salad in a Glass or mixed with other fruits.  V8 is not the best option for veg drinking–sorry to break it to ya.  Cooking veggies is fine, but the most punch is packed in the veg when it isn’t cooked TOO much. Try steaming or just chomping raw.

DAIRY—some people can, and some people can’t with the dairy.  The most important thing to do is to get between 2-3 servings a day through various types.  Lower fat is best!  Almond milk is a-maz-ing, especially the chocolate ones (my vice). They taste nutty at first but once you get use to it (which doesn’t take long) it’s a good substitute when you want to give the dairy a rest.

MEAT/BEANS—ahhh, protein.  It is the necessary part of life.  Protein comes in many forms, but most of us get what we need from the meat we eat.  The best type of meat to eat is lean meats and meats that aren’t pumped full of drugs.  Legumes are also a fab way to sneak in some protein when meat isn’t on the top of the list. Sneaking proteins in your smoothies are awesome too if you don’t feel like chewing on a side of beef (sometimes you just get sick of eating dead animals, you know?).

DRINKS—drinking water is a major important part in the living healthy thing.  Being dehydrated is common, but putting water in the body balances things out.  So drinking about 10-12 glasses per day is a good way to keep the body on track (especially when you are sweating it out).  Not every drink HAS to be water, but if it isn’t water—make sure it isn’t diet soda (if it can be helped). The chemicals and the effects of diet soda can cause problems in the future (from what I’ve read).  Smoothies, juices, teas and sparkling drinks are wonderful substitutes—just be careful about the added sugars.

Whew! That was a ton of info, I know, but you can do it.  Just be mindful of what you are eating and make sure it is more ‘good’ for you than ‘not-so good’ for you.

THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE:

EAT & LOGThis week our only focus will be adopting a new way of eating, and logging everything.  No, you don’t have to do it for the rest of your life, but why not give it a try?  There have been a lot of things said about the long line of diets out there on the market, but (for the most part) they all have something in common (the new ones anyway): lower carb intake, lower salt intake, and lower sugar intake.  Up the lean proteins, fruits and veggies and what’s left is the way we were MEANT to eat.

DAILY MEAL PLAN

Calories in vs. Calories out is the name of the game pretty much.  My basic calorie plan is for a 1500+ cal day.  Yours may be different.  But the daily meal plan below is a guideline: 

BREAKFAST:  (475) cals; Suggestions: Lean protein, low fat dairy, fruit serving, veg serving, carb. In order to not feel totally hungry later in the day—eating a higher cal breakfast chocked full of protein (and some fiber) will help tremendously. 

MORNING SNACK: (100) cals; Suggestions:  fruit serving, veg serving, carb, lean protein, low fat dairy.  It’s always good to eat a light snack between lunch and breakfast.  It keeps you from going overboard later in the day.

LUNCH:  (425) cals; Suggestions: lean protein, veg serving, fruit serving low fat dairy, carb.  This meal should be able to carry you over to later in the evening when dinner goes down.  This should be the last meal of the day that would include a carb or anything with added sugar. 

AFTERNOON SNACK: (100) cals; Suggestions: fruit serving (if snack is before 2pm), low fat dairy, veg serving, lean protein. Some times an afternoon snack is not necessary, but sometimes it just is.  Listen to the body.

DINNER:  (400) cals; Suggestions: lean protein, veg serving.

*NOTE: Try not to eat fruit after 2pm.  Good for you carbs: whole grain bread, oatmeal, whole wheat and veggie wraps, brown rice, whole grain pasta, sweet potato (to name a few).  Try to stay away from too much red meat.  If at all possible, stick with poultry and fish or just good ol’ veggies.  If you  have red meat, make it as lean as possible.

Quick News: Catwalk Model Turns Plus Size Model

2 Oct

Karolin Wolter, Spanish Vogue, Jan 2011 (Photographer Michelle Ferrera)

Following in the footsteps of Crystal Renn, Robyn Lawley, and Alyona Osmanova, Karolin Wolter has made the switch to the plus side of  Ford.  Wolter has worked the runway for Marc Jacobs, Lanvin, and Yves Saint Laurent.  According to Gary Dakin at Ford+, Wolter’s agent, says that she’s “absolutely thrilled about the move.”  It is unclear as to why she made the switch, or exactly what that means, but it will be interesting to see what she does next.

American Apparel Does It Again

1 Oct

Nancy Upton

Poor American Apparel.  They just can’t seem to stay out of trouble when it comes to the plus community.  Their first boo-boo happened in the spring of 2010 when plus size adult film star and model, April Flores, was told that they did not carry clothes in her size because she was not in their demographic.  A big oops. Currently American Apparel is stepping in a steaming pile of…well…you know yet again.

Late August, the clothing company launched a campaign to find the perfect face and bod for their plus line.  The winner of the “Next Big Thing” (we’ll reserve comment about that title for now) by popular vote, Nancy Upton, a size 12 student in Texas, turns out isn’t exactly what American Apparel had in mind. Earlier this month, the AA rep, Iris Alonzo, broke the news to Upton via letter.

Dear Nancy Upton,

My name is Iris Alonzo and I am a Creative Director at American Apparel. Along with four other women, I conceived of the Next BIG Thing campaign for American Apparel. Firstly, we are very sorry that we offended you. Our only motive was to discover and celebrate the many beautiful XL women around the globe who enjoy our brand, and to promote the recent size additions to our collection. Nothing more, nothing less. We would also like to assure you that no one is getting fired over your stunt, as you expressed concern about in a recent interview. We are fortunate to have a great boss who trusts and believes in our instincts and ideas, and we are still very excited about all of our Next BIG Things and looking forward to meeting our new XL brand ambassadors.

It’s a shame that your project attempts to discredit the positive intentions of our challenge based on your personal distaste for our use of light-hearted language, and that “bootylicous” was too much for you to handle. While we may be a bit TOO inspired by Beyoncé, and do have a tendency to occasionally go pun-crazy, we try not to take ourselves too seriously around here. I wonder if you had taken just a moment to imagine that this campaign could actually be well intentioned, and that my team and I are not out to offend and insult women, would you have still behaved in the same way, mocking the confident and excited participants who put themselves out there? Maybe you’ll find it interesting that in addition to simply responding to customer demand and feedback, when you’re a vertically-integrated company, actual jobs are created from new size additions. In this case, for the XL women who will model them, industrial workers that make them, retail employees that sell them and beyond. That’s the amazing reality of American Apparel’s business.

Though I could spend hours responding to your accusations and assumptions, this isn’t the appropriate forum for that, so I will only briefly address a few issues here. In regards to April Flores’ “that’s not our demographic” experience, I don’t recall the name of the confused employee credited with saying that, but he or she was sadly uninformed, and our company certainly does not endorse their statement. For as long as I can remember, we have offered sizes up to 3XL in our basic styles, and as far as adding larger sizes to the rest of our line is concerned, if there is the demand and manufacturing power to support it, we’re always game. There are thousands of brands in the market who have no intention of supporting natural – and completely normal – full-figured women, and American Apparel is making a conscious effort to change that, both with our models and our line. If every brand that tried to do this was met with such negative press, we may have to wait another decade for the mainstream to embrace something so simple.

 

In the past, American Apparel has been targeted for various reasons, many times by journalists who weren’t willing to go the extra mile to even visit the factory or meet the people in charge. Dov is a great executive director and American Industrialist, but there are hundreds of other decision-makers in our company, over half of whom are women. I suppose you have read a few too many negative pieces about us that have helped to form your opinion of who we are and what we stand for, and perhaps this has clouded your ability to give us a chance. I get it. I read some of it too. As a creative who isn’t always the most tactful and tends to stay away from the limelight, maybe I haven’t spoken up as much as I should have over the past 8 years that I’ve worked at American Apparel. Perhaps I could have shed some light on some issues that have been left cloudy over the years. However, sensational media will always need something to latch on to and success, spandex and individuality (and mutton chops circa 2004) are certainly easy targets. And who knows – maybe the PR ups and downs are all part of our DNA as a company. What I do know is that after all the years I have been working for this company I can wholeheartedly say that American Apparel is an amazing and inspiring place to work. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can represent of a ton of people I know when I say that we really like Dov and we passionately believe in his vision for a beautiful factory with sustainable practices. We are the largest sewing factory in North America, after all…10,000 jobs is nothing to sniff at. A lot of people would be very sad if this company wasn’t around.

That said, we realize that we are in no way perfect and that we’re still learning. We want to do better or differently in many areas, and we are actively working on them every day. You’re literally witnessing a transparent, sincere, innovative, creative company go through puberty in the spotlight of modern media. It’s not easy!

Oh – and regarding winning the contest, while you were clearly the popular choice, we have decided to award the prizes to other contestants that we feel truly exemplify the idea of beauty inside and out, and whom we will be proud to have representing our company.

Please feel free to contact me directly anytime. If you want to know the real scoop about our company before writing a story, I’ve got it (or if I don’t, I can put you in touch with the person that does!).

Best of luck,

Iris Alonzo
Creative Director
American Apparel

Upton never really intended to model for AA and her entry was more of a satire than an actual earnest attempt to win.  The whole campaign did not seem to sit well with a lot of plus women–especially with the cheesy big girl references in the narrative of the campaign–Upton being one of them.  Earlier last month, American Apparel reached out to Upton and offered to fly her out to their headquarters.  Nancy told Fox411 that the company offered her the opportunity to tour the factory and sit with the creative directors to discuss the contest and talk about how to advertise to a different demographic.

The idea behind the photos, Upton explains, was to convey the idea that a big girl can be as sexy as ever and “she can’t seem to stop eating because she is plus size and plus size women love to eat. You can be beautiful and fat and that’s not a problem.”  Take a look at the photos and let us know what you think.

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Mike & Molly Co-Star to Launch Plus Line

30 Sep

We have all been there (“we” meaning the plus size woman) in a store wanting to spend money on the latest trend or at least something that resembles fashionable only to find that the selection is (in the eloquent words of Mike & Molly co-star Melissa McCarthy) “either for like a 98-year-old woman or a 14-year-old hooker, and there is nothing in the middle.”

For some of us, the talent of being stylish is completely God-given, for others (raising hand here) not so much, but we can all agree that for years stylish plus size clothing options were far and few between.  Melissa McCarthy is seeking to change that for the fashion-handicapped.

McCarthy plans to launch her own plus size line with the help of couturier Daniella Pearl (who, shall we add was the helping hand behind her self designed Emmy dress).  Before you roll your eyes at yet another celebrity putting thread to fabric, McCarthy has a slight edge on the other celeb fashion designers. She has a background in design and wanted to actually become a designer, however, as luck would have it she ended up doing stand-up in New York.

There is no definite timeline as to when the line will launch, but we are sure it won’t be too long.  We wish the Emmy Award winning 41-year-old mother of two the best of luck in her endeavor. Let’s face it, it can’t possibly hurt for the curvy girl to have more choices.

JHud Opens A Weight Watchers Center

29 Sep

AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

The ex-American Idol contestant turned Oscar winning actress has been the topic of many discussions since her debut as the latest Weight Watchers spokesperson.  For some she has gotten too small and for others she seems to be just right, but no matter what any of us think–one thing is for sure…JHud is making this weight loss thing stick.

In a Chicago South Side strip mall (not far from President Obama’s home) JHud stood gushing at her latest accomplishment.  “I never thought I would make it to have my own center,” said Hudson. “I’m so honored to be here and see this day.”  On Tuesday, September 27th, Jennifer Hudson stood alongside Alderman Will Burns, Dave Burwick (President of Weight Watchers North America), and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and cut the ribbon to the Weight Watchers Jennifer Hudson Center.  Weight Watchers has pledged to donate a portion of the funds generated by the center to a foundation Hudson co-founded in honor of her nephew, Julian King.

So here’s the question we ask–a lot has been said about JHud’s 80 pound weight loss (dropping her from a size 16 to a size 6)–what do you think about it?  Is Jennifer promoting a healthy lifestyle, a dieting system, or both? Do you think we focus more on the diet than living a healthy lifestyle?

Comment, tweet us, facebook us or all of the above. We really are interested in what you think.