Triple RRR by Robert Cavalli

Roberto Cavalli and Eva Duringer, Miss Austria 1977 are Robert’s parents.

Triple RRR is a fashion brand with a heritage and lineage of fashion, which is reflected in its clever and unique name. Founded by designer Roberto Cavalli’s son, Robert, Triple RRR stands for Roberto, Robert, and the next generation to come… It represents continuity, fluidity, and history all in one. In a short period of time, Robert has emerged as the next generation to take the Cavalli name and brand to new places of innovation. The Florence native has oriented the brand’s focus on bold and innovative menswear which is inspired by the house of Cavalli, his Italian heritage, and the formative time he spent in London for his education.

The Triple RRR brand allows men to mix and match fabrics, prints, and be unapologetic in styling bold looks. The mens line that Robert designs has the Roberto Cavalli heritage: live a full life, exude joy, and be glamorous. He takes the concept of Cavalli fashion now one step further and lets men choose any bold look they desire and wear it for everyday life. I am fully supportive of this fashion philosophy… layer prints and different fabric styles! You only live once.

Robert’s Triple RRR allows men to enjoy a full range of high quality silk and velvet robes, and everything in between. There is something for every man if he finds the courage to live into a new and innovative way of expressing his style. Fans of Triple RRR include American rap artist ASAP Rocky. Roberto Cavalli is historic and known for beautiful and sexy designs oriented more towards a female audience, whereas Triple RRR takes the Roberto Cavalli heritage of high quality fashion and orients this towards an unapologetically bold male audience.

To put it simply, Chuck Bass or Jay Gatsby would wear Triple RRR perfectly.

Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom

Minerva, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom represents an image of civilization itself. She is a virgin goddess that also represents poetry, arts, music, medicine, commerce, weaving, trade, war and strategy. Though she represents war, she is not an image of violence, as she depicts defensive war as her only form of violence, which is more noble than her counterpart, Mars, the God of War. Minerva’s Roman counterpart, Athena, is named and depicted extensively in Western culture.

Minerva is often depicted with her sacred creature, an owl, usually referred to as the Owl of Minerva. Though she is female, she is often depicted with an athletic and muscular build, wearing armor and carrying a spear. Ancient Roman writer Marcus Terentius Varro considered her to be ideas and plans for the universe personified.

Minerva appears often throughout Greek mythology including assisting Hercules, assisting Odysseus, appearing in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, inventing the flute, and turning Medusa, once a great beauty, into a monster. The first kind of beauty contest in history is depicted involving Minerva in the myth the Judgement of Paris. In this myth, Paris is tasked by Zeus to choose which goddess is fairest: Hera, Athena (Minerva), or Aphrodite. Each goddess attempted to bribe Paris of their beauty and Athena offered him wisdom and skill in war… Eventually, Paris accepted Aphrodite’s bribe, which she offered the world’s most beautiful woman, Helen of Sparta. He gained the enemy of the Greeks, especially of Hera. The Greeks expedition to retrieve Helen from Paris is the basis for the Trojan War. Ultimately, this tale shows how Paris should have selected Minerva…

At the Acropolis in Athens, there is a temple that was where Minerva and Poseidon could be worshipped, the Erechtheion. This temple, built between 421 and 406 BC, is flanked by Caryatids, maidens made of marble. They are unnamed and continue to be unnamed. At the museum in Athens which they are today, they are referred to as “A, B, C, D, and E.” Under the Ottoman Empire, the temple was turned into a harem. The Caryatids have seen much throughout their history. Their recent laser restoration by the Acropolis Museum brought their appearance new life.

The temple has been recreated throughout Western culture, most notably outside of the Austrian Parliament buildings in Vienna, Austria. Appearances of the Caryatids in architecture also appear in New York City in the SoHo neighborhood. An ancient concept is alive and well in our current civilization, which speaks volumes for the enduring nature of Minerva’s representation.

The Caryatids of the Erechtheion in Athens, Greece . This temple was a place to worship Minerva and Poseidon, the God of the Ocean.
The Erechtheion at the Acropolis in Athens – these Caryatids are reproductions now replaced in 1979, as the originals are on display in the Acropolis Museum in Athens and safe from further weather deterioration. The New York Times described their resortiation in this article.
A marble copy of the sculpture of Athena Parthenos that would have been within the Erectheion, by the sculptor Phidias. This copy is at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Cartwright, Mark. “The Varvakeion Athena.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 21 Dec 2014. Web. 11 May 2020.
Torso of Poseidon, the marble structure of Poseidon which would have been in the Parthenon. Poseidon was the other Greek God which Erechtheion honored. This torso is now in the British Museum, which was acquired by Lord Elgin in the 19th century.
One of the original Caryatids of the Erechtheion was sadly removed by a British Lord, Lord Elgin, in the early 19th century. This original Caryatid is available to view at the British Museum in London.
Pallas Athena outside of Austrian Parliament
Caryatids outside of the Austrian Parliament in Vienna, clear recreation of Erechtheion in Athens.
Caryatids in private residential architecture in Vienna
Mosaic of Minerva by Elihu Vedder within central arched panel leading to the Visitor’s Gallery in the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. Exhibit Caption: Pictured on this mosaic in the arched panel is the Roman Goddess Minerva–guardian of civilization. She is portrayed as the Minerva of Peace, but according to the artist who created her, Elihu Vedder (American painter, 1836–1923), the peace and prosperity that she enjoys was attained only through warfare. A little statue of Nike, a representation of Victory, similar to those erected by ancient Greeks to commemorate their success in battle, stands next to Minerva. The figure is a winged female standing on a globe and holding out a laurel wreath (victory) and palm branch (peace) to the victors.

May, the Month of the Virgin Mary

Today is the first Sunday of May. The Virgin Mary is perhaps the most iconic symbol of the Catholic Church. She is also known in the Catholic tradition for being the Queen of May. She resides as the Queen of Spring, among many titles as Queen. She is depicted throughout Catholicism as the most Holy Queen, the Virgin Mother of Jesus, who gave God’s son life. She is honored throughout the month of May in a number of traditions.

There are many ways in which the Virgin is honored in Catholic culture, she is Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of the Rosary… When exactly did this Holy Queen begin being worshipped?

Saint Ambrose, who lived in Rome before going to Milan as its bishop, venerated Mary as an example of Christian life and is credited with starting a Marian cult of virginity in the 4th century. Marian veneration was theologically sanctioned with the adoption of the title Theotokos at the Council of Ephesus in 431.

In my mother’s hometown of Klagenfurt, Austria, there is a lake nearby. The Virgin Mary is honored there by an evening boat trip where an idol of her is atop the boat each year in August. This called the Marienschiffsprozession auf dem Wörthersee. This is one example of how the Virgin Mary is remembered and honored.

If you are Catholic, we pray to the Virgin Queen as an appeal to humanity. In times like these, where the world has been plunged into a global crisis of a heart wrenching scale, this month of May, more than ever, please pray to the Our Queen of Heaven, and ask her for forgiveness – for forgiveness of man’s sins in the world, for greed, for corruption – forgiveness because we need this hope to move on as a planet, closer together, not apart. Please pray this to her.

Rosy Conversation with Matthias Winkler

I had the privileged opportunity to interview Matthias Winkler, the CEO of Sacher Hotels, located in both Vienna and Salzburg, Austria.  Sacher Hotels are one of a handful of privately-owned and family run 5-star luxury hotels left in the world. Sacher exemplifies a tradition of excellence and heritage that is unrivaled, its doors opening in Vienna in 1876, the building directly across from the Vienna State Opera. Today, Sacher is at the cutting edge of modern luxury with its traditional history alongside it. Sacher is well known for its famous Original Sacher-Torte, a delicious chocolate cake with apricot filling that is renowned worldwide. Mr. Winkler generously allowed me to interview him for Rosy BVM and I am honored to share this interview and share the story of Sacher and why it’s world renowned. 

The Interview

Bianca: History is part of what makes this hotel different, and especially because it’s privately held and has a family run history. What does Sacher take most pride in?

Matthias: To us, the Gürtler and Winkler family, Sacher is home – and we are happy and proud to open our doors for every single guest, welcome him or her in, and make them also feel right at home. But our hotels, cafés and restaurants are not only part of our personal family history, they have been deeply rooted for generations within their cities’ economy, society, politics, art and culture. This gives our guests the kind of authenticity they are looking for – and leaves us incredibly proud.

Bianca: How long have you been CEO of Sacher? What do you enjoy most about your role? 

Matthias: Formally I am CEO since 2014, emotionally much longer. As my wife and my brother in law own the company, being CEO is not only a “role” for me; it is an extremely important part of my life, of our family life. Everything we do and everything I am deciding is affecting a company – but our family too. Sometimes this keeps me up at night, thinking about various decisions one more time, but mostly this is what makes Sacher so unique in our business: we are one out of a very few 5-star luxury hotels, still owned and run by a family.

Bianca: In Vienna, the Sacher Hotel is the only privately owned 5-star hotel! There is clearly a commitment to excellence that is exhibited in that. What would you say is most important for privately run hotels to keep top of mind when creating memorable guest experiences?

Matthias: Excellence is one pillar carrying our philosophy – it is in our DNA. As an example every employee knows our guest’s names and recognizes them in the hotel, people highly appreciate the personal touch. Our set quality standards guarantee that we can keep our high level of excellence; they are monitored by internal and external checkers. 

Since I am Sacher’s CEO, we are transforming the Sacher from customer-friendly to customer-centric and are now operating a digital transformation as well. We try to combine our heritage with today’s needs of our guests and clients. In times of increasing digitalization, we are considering what the room and hotel of the future might look like. For instance, every room already is equipped with a “suitepad” and the rooms can be locked with one’s smartphone easily. Excellence means to not stop moving forward and to stay at the cutting edge to surprise your guests again and again.

Hotel Sacher Salzburg
Hotel Sacher Wien
Hotel Sacher Wien

Bianca: The hotel has a long history…  it has been open since 1876 and has quite storied walls. One of my favorite facts is that Romy Schneider stayed there when filming Sissi in 1955. There is also an incredibly long list of well known guests from Queen Elizabeth to Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly to President John F. Kennedy, to Emperor Franz Joseph! In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono gave a press conference at the hotel. Are there any historical facts or stories that you enjoy telling guests most about?

Matthias: There are so many stories to tell about Sacher, you just named a couple of the most famous ones. One historical fact I keep being absolutely fascinated about is that at the turn of the century Sacher was one of the first privately run businesses provided with electricity! A great evidence that Sacher always used to be a first mover, which has not changed until today… Anna Sacher, the Grand Dame of the Hotel, would be called a marketing-genius nowadays.

Electricity was very uncommon back then and Anna Sacher of course was very proud of her innovation. So she asked the company Lobmayr (which still produces chandeliers for the Sacher until today) to fix the light bulbs downwards on the chandeliers – intending the light would not flicker upwards, as candlelight does. People passing by the hotel could not believe their eyes! 

You still can marvel at the original chandeliers in our fine dining “Restaurant Grüne Bar” (Green Bar) in the Hotel Sacher Wien. 

Bianca: The Original Sacher-Torte is arguably the best cake in the world… How much effort goes into its production? What about the cake’s history is most remarkable? 

Matthias: We have an historical accident to thank for the success story of our Original Sacher-Torte: One day in 1832 the court of Prince Metternich wanted a dessert to be created for discerning guests. It just so happened that the chef de cuisine was ill at the time and 16-year-old apprentice Franz Sacher filled in for him. The young man created a wonderful cake that left nothing to be desired. This night marked the birth of the Original Sacher-Torte – and until today, the recipe of our Original Sacher-Torte never changed. It has been passed down from generation to generation and kept securely locked away in a safe. Today only the family, the head pastry chef and Reiner Heilmann, General Manager of the Manufactory and the Hotel Sacher Wien, do know the original recipe. Since 1832, the Original Sacher-Torte is made per hand, approximately 360,000 Original Sacher-Tortes, many different Original Sacher Products and nearly 1 Million Original Sacher Würfel are manufactured per year.

The Original Sacher-Torte

Bianca: The Sacher Hotel in Vienna is known for being a luxury property, what has brought Sacher to its place in the contemporary luxury market?  What does ‘modern luxury’ for Sacher look like? Do you think there are particular components for this? 

Matthias: Modern luxury at Sacher means enjoying all the benefits of modern life in one of the world’s most traditional hotels! That may sound contradictory at first, however, the two Sacher hotels in Vienna and Salzburg show that historical ambience and modern comfort can be united into a harmonious whole. At the end of the day, luxury is not only about marble, historic wooden panels or crystal chandeliers – real luxury is always connected to people. My first question to future employees: do you love guests, do you love being their host? And yes, we all do: we love our guests. And we want to make everybody’s dream come true. That’s the main reason why we are doing what we are doing. 

Bianca: Since COVID-19 has dramatically affected all of our lives, and it’s rather unclear what is to come in the future for so many countries and industries overall… Do you have any thoughts about how Sacher will survive this crisis given its historic standing?

Matthias: More than ninety percent of our guests come from abroad – the crisis in fact hits us hard. We do know from former crises, e.g. 9/11 or the world financial crisis in 2008, that the international travel industry needs time to recover. We truly hope the freedom of travel will be given again soon. Nevertheless, we keep our heads up high: though we do not know how long it will take to end the crisis, we know, that it will end! We are putting all of our efforts in the preparation for this “Day 1.” Unlike other firms, we at Sacher are moving closer together during a crisis. We are a family business, and it is important to us that our employees remain part of the Sacher family. We are doing everything we can to make it work! It’s only as a team that we can prepare for the moment when we celebrate life together in a happy and healthy way once more, and are able to welcome our beloved guest from all over the world back at Sacher soon. 

Bianca: This is a family business, what do you think will make it stay a family business?  What is best about this remaining a family business? 

Matthias: As a family business our goal is not only to look at our quarterly review, but to conduct our business keeping in mind the next generation. We are always saying that we don’t own the Sacher, but the next generation does. So we try to do our business in favor of them!

Bianca: A Sacher hotel employee won a championship for hotel service. Clearly, the training is exceptional at Sacher. What makes the training so exceptional? 

Matthias: Sacher’s 22-year-old receptionist Nikola Farkas recently was awarded by the AICR (“Amicale Internationale des Sous Directeurs et Chefs de Réception des Grand Hôtels,” also known as the “International Association for Deputy Managers and Front Office Managers of Luxury Hotels”) with the “David Campbell Trophy” that honors the best receptionists in the world. As the first Austrian winner, Nikola now may call himself the “International Receptionist of the Year.” That makes us very proud! Personalities like Nikola are exceptionally valuable – not just for Sacher, but for the entire hotel industry.

Nikola’s success did not come by accident; he was well prepared for his competition by his team leaders for months. To get the best out of every employee at Sacher, we founded our “Sacher School of Excellence” a couple of years ago. There we are offering all employees a comprehensive range of training and further education courses based on the principle of “Educate – Inspire – Empower.” More than 70 different courses and training sessions are available every year – from apprentices to managers.

Bianca: To me, the tradition of Sacher is charming and keeping it up seems most desirable. You are clearly well qualified to maintain the tradition of the institution and bring Sacher to its place in contemporary luxury, what are you most passionate about for maintaining its tradition? 

Matthias: Sacher’s roots reach deep down to monarchy, we are aware to conserve this unique heritage. Nevertheless, tradition to me does not mean worshiping the ashes, but passing on the fire – a principle we have been living since 1832! Digitalization helps us, to keep the fire burning: Of course computers cannot provide an excellent service a human being can. But going more digital helps us to prepare ourselves, and helps us to better understand our guests’ needs. I am sure that modern technology doesn’t come at the cost of our cherished history. Indeed, it supports us as we head towards an exciting future.

Thank you, Mr. Winkler!

Rosy Conversation with Chanel Johnson

Chanel is pictured alongside Carole Gist, Miss USA 1990, who was the first black woman to win Miss USA.

Chanel Johnson is Miss Michigan USA 2020. Chanel is a Detroit native and currently serves as a probation officer in Oakland County, metro Detroit. I had the wonderful opportunity to learn more about Chanel and her thoughts on a number of topics, spanning from criminal justice reform and how to reduce recidivism in juvenile inmates to her love of Detroit, to her special crowning moment in September 2019 where she was crowned in front of Carole Gist, Miss USA 1990, the first black woman to ever win Miss USA. Chanel, I am wishing you the best at Miss USA and I will be cheering for you!

xx Bianca

OUR CONVERSATION

Bianca: When did you start competing in pageants?  Was Miss Michigan USA your first pageant? 

Chanel: Miss Michigan USA was my very first pageant; however, I was very familiar with the Miss Universe organization. In particular, I have always been interested in the women who competed in the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. I made the decision to compete in the Miss Michigan pageant in March 2019 and certainly did not expect to win.

Bianca: What is your philanthropic platform for Miss Michigan USA and what message do you hope to share? 

Chanel: My platform for Miss Michigan USA is to be a positive advocate for youth. Particularly those who live in underprivileged communities. I believe it is very important to speak with youth and instill the importance of good decision making. I believe spreading this message helps our communities move towards decreasing the juvenile delinquency rate that we have here in the United States. As a probation officer I encounter many young people who have found themselves dealing with the criminal justice system at a very young age and I understand how important it is to intervene earlier in the lives of children to prevent this from happening.

Bianca: If you were to become Miss USA, what do you most look forward to? 

Chanel: If I were to become Miss USA, I would really look forward to getting on the road and visiting schools, juvenile detention centers and youth organizations throughout the country. Although I am targeting youth who live in underprivileged communities I believe that my message is something that applies to all youth and if I were given the opportunity to be Miss USA I would hope to have an impact on children across the United States.

Bianca: You graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit with a B.A. in criminal justice. You work currently as a probation officer in metro Detroit, Oakland County, correct? What does your role primarily entail? 

Chanel: Yes, I graduated from Wayne State University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. WSU is Detroit’s University and I am so proud to be an Alumna. Although I represented the city of Southfield at my state pageant, I was born and raised in Detroit and it is where much of my family resides. As a probation officer, it is my duty to ensure that individuals who have been placed on community supervision are abiding by the orders that have been set forth by a judge. In addition to that, I am responsible for assisting individuals find employment, mental health treatment and help those who suffer from substance abuse get the help they need. Most importantly, I have the opportunity to assist individuals in turning their life around, and that is the most rewarding aspect of my job.

Bianca: Since you are passionate about criminal justice, what are your thoughts about criminal justice reform? It’s a broad topic, but if there are themes that you are seeing, what are those themes? 

Chanel: As you said criminal justice reform is an extremely broad subject. I do believe there are certain areas that we really need to take a look at and make changes. Considering that I’m advocating for decreasing juvenile delinquency rates, I really believe that legislators and leaders in the criminal justice system need to invest more in creating more rehabilitative resources for juvenile offenders. I believe that instead of incarceration we need more programming. For example, we should invest more resources into restorative justice programming that allows young offenders to internalize the impact of their wrongdoing. I believe this sort of programming would go a long way in reducing recidivism. We also need to reevaluate sentencing guidelines to make sure we are not over punishing juvenile offenders.

Bianca: You are the first black Miss Michigan USA in 15 years. You were handed your flowers during your crowning by the first black woman to be Miss USA, Carole Gist, Miss USA 1990. What was that experience like? 

Chanel: I was already in shock! I just won my first pageant and I look up and see the woman who blazed this trail for me to be a winner. To have Carole there with me was something that I will never forget. I will cherish it for the rest of my life. She paved the way for all black women to compete at Miss USA. She is such an important part of history and to have her there for my moment made it that much more special.

Bianca: What is your favorite part about being from Michigan? Michigan is so beautiful. 

Chanel: My favorite part about being from Michigan is our beautiful state parks and the Great Lakes. Our state parks are amazing and there is literally something for everyone here. Whether you want to hike, bike or just have a nice afternoon with your family, the parks here can accommodate you and provides beautiful views. If I could make winter shorter, I would! But I guess you can’t have everything. 

Bianca: What are you doing to prepare for the pageant?  I can imagine you have quite a rigorous exercise routine etc.! 

Chanel: I am doing everything I can from mental to physical preparation for Miss USA 2020. It is a part of the most prestigious pageant organization in the world and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to even walk across that stage. I am working out every day and most importantly making sure that I keep my mind clear of negativity and unnecessary stress. I think the most important thing I can do, is ensure that I am going into this competition with a clear mind and a positive spirit. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.

Thank you, Chanel! You are a true rose!

The Art of François Boucher

Madame de Pompadour is available at the Harvard Museums.
The Fountain of Love is available at the Getty Museum.
The Bird Catchers is available at The Getty Museum.

François Boucher (September 29, 1703 – May 30, 1770) was a French painter, a proponent of Rococo taste, known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings on classical themes, decorative allegories representing the arts or pastoral occupations, and intended as a sort of two-dimensional furniture. He also painted several portraits of his illustrious patroness, Madame de Pompadour.

Born in Paris, the son of a lace designer Nicolas Boucher, François Boucher was perhaps the most celebrated decorative artist of the 18th century, with most of his work reflecting the Rococo style. At the young age of 17, Boucher was apprenticed by his father to François Lemoyne, however after only 3 months he went to work for the engraver Jean-François Cars. Within 3 years Boucher had already won the elite Grand Prix de Rome, although he did not take up the consequential opportunity to study in Italy until 4 years later. On his return from studying in Italy in 1731, he was admitted to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture as a historical painter, and became a faculty member in 1734.

His career accelerated from this point, as he advanced from professor to Rector of the Academy, becoming head of the Royal Gobelin factory in 1755 and finally Premier Peintre du Roi (First Painter of the King) in 1765.

Reflecting inspiration gained from the artists Watteau and Rubens, Boucher’s early work celebrates the idyllic and tranquil, portraying nature and landscape with great elan. However, his art typically forgoes traditional rural innocence to portray scenes with a definitive style of eroticism, and his mythological scenes are passionate and amorous rather than traditionally epic. Marquise de Pompadour (mistress of King Louis XV), whose name became synonymous with Rococo art, was a great fan of Boucher’s, and it is particularly in his portraits of her that this style is clearly exemplified.

https://www.francoisboucher.org/

Methods of Reducing Stress While We Manage Through The COVID-19 Crisis

It goes without saying: this is a stressful time. While we all do our part in staying home as much as possible other than going out to buy essential supplies, food, and have our daily exercise (a walk around the neighborhood), we are helping the front line healthcare workers who are battling this virus in hospitals around the world by decreasing transmission rates. This time of isolation will end, but while we go through this, we should acknowledge our stress and consider engaging in daily rituals to reduce it.

While there is so much out of our control and so much of the future feels uncertain, we can be intentional in how we work to manage some of our stress by practicing mindfulness meditation techniques, practicing yoga (even just breathing techniques), to listening to calming meditation music and sounds. The following resources are recommended to help in reducing stress levels while we manage through this global health crisis.

The Internet Archives is offering free book downloads, I highly recommend utilizing this information resource and accessing OpenLibrary.org to spend a bit of your down time reading books you have yet to read.

Meditation Music

Apps

Simple Habit is my favorite app for guided meditation.
Relax Melodies lets you curate a group of sounds of your choosing to create a relaxing melody.

Exercise & Mood

The Most Feminist Disney Princess: Jasmine

This is a topic that I thoroughly enjoy debating with people: who is the most feminist Disney Princess from the era of Snow White to Jasmine?  Of all of the Disney Princesses, between Snow White (1937) through Jasmine (1992), it’s truly clear to me that Jasmine is the most feminist of them all.  That also makes sense given that she is the most “modern.” Between these Princesses, there is Snow White (1937), Cinderella (1950), Aurora in Sleeping Beauty (1959), Ariel in The Little Mermaid (1989), Belle in Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Jasmine in Aladdin (1992).  A set of the Princesses are from Walt Disney’s lifetime (Snow White: Walt’s deepest love that he put his life savings to developing her into film, Cinderella, and then Aurora). The other set of Princesses is post-Walt Disney’s life and were created in the 80’s and 90’s (Ariel, Belle, Jasmine) as part of the Disney Renaissance, a period of time between 1989-1999 where Disney produced critically and commercially successful animated films.

The more contemporary Princesses had scores notably created by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. Howard wrote the lyrics and Alan composed the music and together they were part of the Renaissance of Disney Animation. It was in 1988 that Ashman pitched the idea of Aladdin to Disney. Ashman, essentially on his deathbed with an HIV diagnosis, wanted to focus his efforts on Aladdin, but was requested to focus his efforts on Beauty and the Beast instead. Mr. Ashman passed away from complications of AIDS in 1991, just months before the release of Beauty and the Beast. He would not live to see Belle or Jasmine on screen, which is tragic. Some of his songs after his death were incorporated into Aladdin. I look at Princess Jasmine in particular as a special character considering how Howard Ashman would have perceived her character in Aladdin… with the hope that he sees Jasmine the same as I do. It’s also worth noting that Jasmine is the first Princess of non-European descent, which introduced the Princesses to racial diversity. Voiced by Linda Larkin, Jasmine is the first Princess character to be voiced by two different women: Linda Larkin provides Jasmine’s speaking voice, while Lea Salonga provided her singing voice. Howard Ashman had a great interest in working to develop a film that he was not able to. I think Jasmine would surpass all expectations.


For my generation, I think it’s clear that Jasmine is the most feminist and here’s why:

  • Jasmine’s character is quite literally of the royal life: she is part of a royal court most clearly throughout Aladdin. In comparison, Snow White does not really live out her “royal life,” nor does Cinderella, nor Aurora (she is only made aware later that she is a Princess by her fairy godmothers who have been raising Aurora in hiding).  This is significant because Jasmine has a belief system that is rooted in civil rights and an abolishment of the class systems.  To Jasmine, love is equal, and has no class. The other Princesses do not explore that topic as vividly as Jasmine, if at all. Cinderella is an early predecessor to this concept, though. Cinderella represents an early image of social mobility – she goes from being a servant to a Princess. Ariel and Jasmine are the only Disney Princesses in that era which are “living out” life in a royal court. Belle, on the other hand, becomes a Princess later, but all the while she is trapped in a castle with her abuser, she basically suffers from Stockholm Syndrome. Truly, Belle’s convictions are sincere, but a Beast who locks you up in a castle and never apologizes for his actions? That’s not a comforting tale to me. Ariel, on the other hand, shares a similar desire as Jasmine to leave the comforts of the royal court, and in Ariel’s case, she hopes to become human, giving up her magical powers of being a mermaid. Ariel, naively, believes that being human is a better scenario than being a mermaid. It’s romantic though to see that her love of Eric overcomes her so much that she is willing to convert her physical being to be with him. This is, however, a troubling message to young girls: women should not have to seriously adapt themselves to be with the one that they love and young girls should be taught this very early on. Ariel’s transformation into being a human and staying a human is an ironic twist for a Disney plot, since it erases the spiritual narrative in the original tale by Hans Christian Andersen. The original story outlines the importance of spiritual life, whereas Ariel’s spiritual life is becoming mortal, which somewhat defeats the point of the original story. The Little Mermaid is nonetheless a joyful film. Ariel and Jasmine do share the most in common of all of these Princesses and this is significant when examining the feminist undertones.
  • Jasmine recognizes her sexual power and uses it accordingly.  When Jafar needs to be distracted, Jasmine kisses him.  Many would say that this ‘sends the wrong message’ to young girls. This comes from personal experience: all girls will eventually realize that their value is much more than their sexuality, and it would be a gross understatement to simplify Jasmine’s character as seeing “only value in your sexuality.”  That is categorically untrue, and people know that. You would be assuming the population is dumb if they didn’t.  Women knowing that there is power in their sexuality can be liberating and empowering, which has nothing to do with sexual objectification. Jasmine, being a Princess trapped into marrying a suitor who is only wealthy would be objectifying.  She rails against that.
  • Jasmine has no qualms with speaking truth to power. When she finds out that Aladdin has been detained, she fearlessly approaches Jafar and inquires why this is. Jafar lies to her and tells her that Aladdin has been executed at his direction for being a thief. Jasmine mourns Aladdin until they meet again.
  • Jasmine wants independence and happiness above all else, which is part of the Pursuit of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit Happiness. This is an American ideal outlined in the Declaration of Independence.
  • Jasmine has a pet tiger because she values the wild side of life. Originally, the complementary character to Jasmine’s court was going to be a hand maiden, and not a pet tiger! The doting hand maiden character was replaced by Rajah, the pet tiger. This is worth noting because Jasmine is considered a “supporting character” as Aladdin is a “high comedy” (she is not a central character like Ariel or Belle in their respective films), therefore, producers wanted to put more focus on Jasmine when she did have her scenes.

It’s remarkable how much material there is to deconstruct all of the Disney Princesses during the time period of 1937-1992, but the deeper I have considered each narrative, the more it’s worth highlighting just as how much Jasmine stands as a feminist character in comparison to her peers. She should continuing being elevated as such.

Rosy Conversation with Misty Ahmadi

As we continue celebrating Women’s History Month, I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Misty Ahmadi, a young marketing professional based in San Francisco.  Misty is the Director of Social Media, SEO, and Product Management for Hearst Bay Area. She leads the Social Media Productization for the San Francisco Chronicle. Misty and I met serendipitously last year while at Create & Cultivate in San Francisco.  It seems only right that two young ambitious women would meet through a women’s conference such as Create & Cultivate. 

Misty discussed her career in Marketing, her experiences being a young professional in the Bay Area, and some of the “hot topics” in the marketing field which includes SEO and brand management. She highlights the need for brands to always keep their customers at the forefront of their business. Misty has her own marketing LLC that she runs on the side, Hey There Marketing, which she launched last year as a side business to her full time role at Hearst Media. Misty is  a graduate of UC Berkeley and Texas A&M. I am pleased to share our conversation on Rosy BVM. 

xx Bianca 

Our Conversation

Bianca: You are currently the Director of Social Media, SEO, and Product at Hearst Media. What do you find most energizing about your role in this capacity? It sounds like you are a conduit between many entities. 

Misty: This role is one of the most unique ones I’ve taken on! It’s a hybrid between strategy, product, corporate planning, management, and sales education, so no two days are alike. 

I love helping others succeed, this comes from my background as a teacher. And I can do this no matter whom I’m working with – clients, strategists, sellers, or other corporate teams. The path to success isn’t always clear, so helping my team come up with innovative strategies for our clients and how to combat push back from them helps my team become better at their roles and gain skills they can continue to leverage… even if it takes extra time on their end! I also help other social teams grow across Hearst and the cross collaboration from those opportunities is unbelievable. I love when we get to learn from one another because we’ve created a safe space to ask questions, test, and learn. 

Bianca: SEO, otherwise known as search engine optimization, is such a huge topic of discussion for people these days across all sectors. What are your thoughts about it? 

Misty: Every good marketer should have a basic understanding of SEO. It helps make your writing and content planning so much more powerful and measurable. I think it’s a topic people are scared about because it takes time to do well and the progress and impact isn’t always linear. So if you want to stand out and be more well rounded, learn SEO. 

If you want to learn about SEO, start out with Moz. Try it out when building your own website too! 

Bianca: You received your undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley and your Master’s in Marketing from Texas A&M! What drove you to pursue a Master’s in Marketing? 

Misty: While I pursued my undergraduate degree in psychology and education at UC Berkeley, I also was interested in taking marketing classes as well. Since my original intention was to be a teacher, the marketing classes were my “fun” subject classes. After teaching in Japan for a couple of years, I realized that I could see more of a career, long term, in marketing. I started to research courses, certificates, and jobs in marketing and decided that for me, the best option would be to get a masters degree in order to catch me up on the subject of marketing and offer the opportunity for marketing-related internships. I also looked at the cost of getting a masters and my earning potential upon completion of the program. Getting scholarships, paid positions on campus, and picking a university in a low cost of living area really helped keep my graduate program costs low and allowed me to get what I thought was a good ROI on my education investment! 

Bianca: I love to see  when other young women pursue a “side hustle.” How long have you been working to develop your LLC, Hey There Marketing? What do you hope to do with it in the future? 

Misty: I made my LLC less than a year ago when an opportunity arose to do a short term consulting gig. The gig ended up falling through, but it pushed me to think about how I’d brand myself as a marketing consultant and to start to seriously think about the type of work I’d like to take on. 

In the future I’d like to be able to take on more clients looking to ensure that their content and social media strategies are truly customer-centric. 

Bianca: Being a young female professional in the Bay Area has its own set of challenges, what inspires you to continue boldly doing the work that you do? 

Misty: I like to use my personal social media time for positivity and inspiration. By following accounts like Create & Cultivate, Ladies Get Paid, and Makers Women, I love to see stories of other women rising above and taking ownership of their space. 

I also hope to one day have children of my own and I want them to be raised in a world where someone can take on any role they want – visible representation matters so much. 

Bianca: Since your work is at the intersection of multi-channel social management, content creation, and brand management, what would you say is the most important part to maintaining consistent messaging for a brand? 

Misty: I would say the most important part to maintaining consistent messaging for a brand is to ensure that you’re keeping your customer at the top of your mind. For someone new to branding, is it easy to understand what you’re talking about? Is it relatable content to both new and old customers? It’s a lot to handle, but firm brand guidelines can help make it possible. 

Bianca: What is your favorite part about living in the Bay Area?

Misty: I love how it’s possible to find your community, no matter your interest. And of course I have to say my CALIFORNIA Golden Bears! 

Thank you, Misty, it’s been a pleasure learning about your experiences in marketing and how women can work to support other women! 

Samantha Parkington: The American Girl Doll That Shaped My Politics

In continuation of celebrating Women’s History Month, I am celebrating Samantha Parkington, the American Girl doll that shaped my politics. When I was 8 years old and in 3rd grade, I learned about Samantha Parkington, the American Girl doll whose story is set in 1904 Victorian era New York. Her story is rooted in progressivism and the Women’s Suffrage Movement. I read about her in school and dreamed of receiving the American Girl doll for Christmas, which is somewhat ironic because one of the storylines in one of the books about Samantha I was reading was about how she dreamed about receiving a very special doll for Christmas. It was like a little girl’s doll dream inception.

I did receive Samantha for Christmas at my complete and utter elation (see photo below). That year I was in 3rd grade was also the year of 9/11, it was a tumultuous time for the world filled with much uncertainty, which made receiving Samantha for Christmas even more comforting. Samantha inspired me in so many ways – her story was compelling in a number of unique ways. Despite being raised comfortably upper class in Bedford, New York, Samantha’s character dealt with real life suffering: her parents passed away in a tragic boating accident and therefore left Samantha orphaned. Her story helped shape my conceptions of empathy.

Her Uncle Gard, who serves as a father figure of sorts to Samantha marries a suffragist, who becomes Samantha’s aunt, Cornelia. Cornelia is one of the first women to join in the protests in New York City for women’s rights to vote. I learned about the Women’s Suffrage Movement this way.

Women gained the right to vote in 1920 in America.

Samantha’s stories has layers of justice orientation to it, which is wonderful for young girls and boys to learn about. While she was raised comfortably in high society, Samantha experienced an emotional suffering that made her a multi-dimensional character. Furthermore, a significant part of the plot of her story is how she befriends the maid servants of a neighboring house, Nelly and her sisters (girls who are her age) and teaches them how to read. This opened my eyes to the horrors of child labor at an early age.

Since Samantha and her story captured my heart, I wanted to share this with the author of her story, Valerie Tripp as a 3rd grader. I wrote a letter to Valerie about how much I learned from Samantha’s stories and how much this doll meant to be as I was learning more about progressive causes. I also included a drawing of Samantha. I received a letter back that expressed her happiness. I learned at a young age that speaking up for what is right can have a positive impact on the world and Samantha’s story helped shape this understanding at a very young age.

When I was a student in community college, I took a public speaking course. One of the prompts was to share a story from your youth that meant a lot to you and how that experience shaped you. Naturally, I chose Samantha for how she was the catalyst for my political views to come; at the least, she helped me understand the need for civic engagement in society in all facets of life. I brought the doll along to my college class and I nervously remember how that would be received. The class ended up loving the speech that I made about Samantha (to my relief) and I received an A in the class.

To my chagrin a couple years ago, Mattel, now American Girl’s parent company pulled Samantha from their doll line (for reasons beyond my understanding) and at the outrage of many fans of Samantha, she was finally brought back a couple years later. It still astonishes me that a toy executive could be that callous in removing a character which represents so much goodness. Thankfully, Samantha’s tale did not end there. She is still available to my heart’s content.

Teacher, rule breaker, and speech maker are all descriptions of Samantha

My speech was centered in the idea that stories can help shape our outlooks in life and learning this at an early age helped to shape much of my values today. In Samantha’s case and what I learned from her story, these values are rooted in compassion, generosity, women’s rights, and an awareness in the pursuit of a more fair and just world. I think we can all agree that she serves as a wonderful role model for young girls. Thank you, Samantha.

The film adaptation was produced by Julia Roberts in 2004 and starred AnnaSophia Robb.
This was Christmas 2001 and I was elated to receive Samantha.