In which I discuss whether Spanx are feminist and the Super Bowl

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I know there is a feminist argument to be made for eschewing Spanx and control-top hosiery of all kinds, but when I look good I feel powerful, which seems to me very very lady-positive. Which is at least not non-feminist, right? And when my stomach is pooching out I feel as weak and ineffectual as those poor Los Angeles Rams last night (and they were by far my choice to win—boo on the Patriots, and that pretty-boy Tom Brady. I only hate the Cowboys more, and apologies to those who love those teams—I still love you immeasurably. Also, deathly boring halftime show, no?). Anyhoo, I was saying the other day that I don’t wear many dresses in the winter cause it’s too cold, but I just discovered these Spanx tights and they are so plush and warm—and tummy-shaping that it’s almost a miracle. It’s also worth adding that if it’s an opaque tight you’re after, you could do far worse than these.

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55 Thoughts on In which I discuss whether Spanx are feminist and the Super Bowl
    Kristie Dahlia
    6 Feb 2019
    3:44pm

    Kindly and gently, I note that when clothing compresses a body, the compression presses all the body into itself: it compresses organs, blood vessels, and nerves; it impedes circulation and organ function and and encourage pinched nerves. Regular use of shapewear can be damaging to bodily function and health.

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    AK
    4 Feb 2019
    10:26am

    Rams. Los Angeles Rams.

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      Mindy
      4 Feb 2019
      10:33am

      Yeah, I saw “Raiders” and thought “Oof – she’s gonna hear about this.”

      I just watched with my son and have no feelings about any NFL team. It was such a snooze-fest.

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      Kim France
      4 Feb 2019
      1:51pm

      Sorry about that flake-out. But in my defense, for a while the Raiders did play in L.A.

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    gt
    4 Feb 2019
    10:29am

    Shouldn’t feminism be about being who you are and doing what you want? Not telling other women what not to wear? I am all for shaping wear and hiding underwear line. Also as a shark tank junkie, I have good respect for the founder of spanx.

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    Anon
    4 Feb 2019
    10:37am

    All I remember about yesterday is the fur coat. Truly Big.

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    Viajera
    4 Feb 2019
    10:44am

    I don’t know what I think exactly, about feminism and clothing and how we feel/ought to feel about our bodies. It’s a problem. The other day someone here was evidencing discomfort having to do with her upper arms, and I thought about mentioning the Spanx armtights, but then I wondered, would I be reinforcing something that is sub-optimal? Or is it helpful? or both? Still not sure! Sometimes I think we do collaborate in our own oppression, personally and collectively. What the bleep to do?

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      y.k.
      4 Feb 2019
      10:47am

      wait – Spanx has armtights? tell me that’s not a thing

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    y.k.
    4 Feb 2019
    10:46am

    Caramanica’s review in today’s NYT of Maroon 5 was scathing, funny & exactly right.

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    Rae
    4 Feb 2019
    10:56am

    This is so well said Viajera- nuanced issue for sure. As for the Super Bowl, I opted out of viewing / party as I hate the way Kaepernick has been treated and portrayed. I also have a general dislike of Trump-loving Belichick and Brady. Of course, football has long been my least favorite sport so this is kind of like being a vegetarian when one hates meat.
    Kim – thank you for the cozy tights recommendation!

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      Kim France
      4 Feb 2019
      1:52pm

      Their owner, Robert Kraft, is a big Trump crony too.

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        Rita
        4 Feb 2019
        8:27pm

        Unfortunately, the Rams owner, Stan Kroenke, also big into Trump and made a sizable campaign donation. I used to live in the same small college town as he did, and his reputation was…not a nice one. At least some of his money comes from his marriage to a Walmart heir, a company also not known for its charitable treatment of employees. I could not root for either team. Blech.

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    vivadevo
    4 Feb 2019
    11:07am

    I would go so far as to say I *enjoy* the feeling of being held in by a pair of Spanx — so much so that I wore them through my pregnancy, all while every tabloid under the sun was telling me what a lady-traitor monster Kim Kardashian was for doing the same. I get that control-top stuff must be truly painful for some people, or you wouldn’t hear so much about it, but compared to actual girdles, corsets, etc., a little elastic to just sort of support one’s midsection doesn’t seem all that evil… at least to me.

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    Linda V
    4 Feb 2019
    11:09am

    If Spanx makes you feel better about yourself, go for it! I find them extremely uncomfortable, almost threw out my shoulder trying to get a camisole on my body! lol In all seriousness, My Pats are once again THE SUPERBOWL CHAMPS TOO BAD FOR YOU

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      Kim France
      4 Feb 2019
      1:54pm

      And I am pleased for you. Really.

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    c.w.
    4 Feb 2019
    11:12am

    I hate the Dallas Cowboys. I used to LOVE them, but then the team was purchased by Jerry Jones and he is despicable ergo, no to the Cowboys.

    I have NO PROBLEM with declaring that you can be a feminist and wear Spanx. If I’m going to be in a difficult situation where I need to bring out all my womanly strength then I opt to wear a sexy lacy bra. No one can see it, but I know it’s there. And here’s a very simple exercise you can do for stomach pooch that does NOT require you to “sit up.” When you are standing up imagine pulling your hipbones toward each other and allow your stomach to go up underneath your ribs. This is NOT a big move, it’s tiny. When I walk my dog I do this and it’s kinda effortless and has the added benefit of giving you great posture. Like a keagal for the stomach, Here’s another one for your rear. I use an electric toothbrush that’s on a timer (I think it’s 20 seconds for each quarter of my mouth) as I’m brushing my teeth I stand with my back to a bench at the end of my bed (a chair works as well) and squat down so my rear barely touches the top of the bench. I do that over and over until my teeth are done––no counting no thinking and multitasking. I did count the squats out one time just to see how many I was getting in and it was about 40 per teeth brushing. If you brush your teeth twice a day that’s 80 squats. (I’m the world’s laziest exercise person so I’m always on the lookout for exercises I don’t have to think about)

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      Y.k.
      4 Feb 2019
      11:24am

      Is that stomach exercise a pilates exercise?

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        c.w.
        4 Feb 2019
        2:13pm

        Yes! Usually used when you’re doing something else, but I’ve found that using it while I’m walking really helps my core. (and I should give credit to the person who first told me about it, but I can not for the life of me remember who that was!)

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        4 Feb 2019
        2:30pm

        I thought so too- sounds like a standing “imprint”. Roll the marble towards your belly button…

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      merleb
      4 Feb 2019
      8:43pm

      I need drawings or a video of that stomach move!

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        c.w.
        5 Feb 2019
        10:58am

        I wish there was a video, but the movement is so interior that even if there were you wouldn’t be able to “see” the muscles move. However, you can try this: standing with your feet a little more than hip distance apart and your feet turned out (not all the way turned out, but a little more than slightly and keeping your knees soft!!) without actually moving your feet, pull your heels towards each other. At the same time pull your stomach toward your tailbone/spine then up under your ribs. Hope that helps!

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      Viajera
      5 Feb 2019
      11:02am

      Great tips, c.w.!!!!

      I also sometimes count housework as a workout. You know … depending.

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    Joannawnyc
    4 Feb 2019
    11:14am

    Tools (technology) are, in general, feminist, would be my take. As long as you aren’t FORCED to wear Spanx if you don’t want to, and if Spanx has a wide size range so it’s size neutral, then it’s got my stamp of approval. It’s all about the choice! To be warm enough in dresses in the winter, I wear leggings and tailored knee-high boots in order to stay warm, but I really need some waterproof ones to make this a completely optimal scenario under the present circumstances. Anne Helen Peterson has a really interesting piece on feminism and reconsidering female “villains” of the 90s up now: https://annehelen.substack.com/p/that-name-you-know-its-very-important

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    K
    4 Feb 2019
    11:14am

    I don’t really care if people wear shapewear or anything else BUT…do you feel ineffectual when your stomach pooches out because there’s few examples of powerful women with pooched-out stomachs? That has been my experience. I myself have a gut, lots of stomach rolls, always have. I’ve never seen stomach rolls portrayed as a positive or hell, just plain neutral physical attribute in any sort of mainstream media. It’s infuriating. If more people stopped wearing Spanx and just acknowledged and enjoyed the facts that sometimes bodies stick out, roll, take up space, etc. …I’d be happy.

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      K
      4 Feb 2019
      11:17am

      (That said, *of course* someone can be a feminist and wear Spanx and anything else they want!)

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    AmyM
    4 Feb 2019
    11:36am

    I don’t think Spanx are any more or less feminist than all the other things we have the option of doing to enhance our appearance. If they give you a little confidence boost AND they’re warm, go for it! RE: the Super Bowl. Game was boring. Ads were boring. Half-time was boring. I turned it off and went back to the Assassination of Gianni Versace. It is heartbreaking and mesmerizing. And absolutely, perfectly cast.

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    E
    4 Feb 2019
    11:41am

    Spanx actually allows me to wear skirts/dresses in the summer. No matter how thin I am my thighs rub, and their shapewear that goes to mid-thigh meant I was able to comfortably wear dresses without raw inner thighs at the end of the day, or avoiding walking during the day because of the discomfort. I have some longer underwear that does the same thing if I don’t feel the need for the high waisted shapewear (my skin is too loose to do any hosiery at my natural waist), but I still mostly wear Spanx when wearing dresses/skirts.

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    Maryse
    4 Feb 2019
    1:26pm

    I’m a feminist and I wear Spanx leggings and tights. They hold me just right and like for Kim, they make me feel powerful. Wanting to feel good and look neat is not a feminist issue. As for the Super Bowl, I didn’t think it was as boring as others did but i don’t mind low scoring (i love soccer/the real football) and I live in New England. So for me it was a good night.

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    Ruth Harris
    4 Feb 2019
    1:31pm

    NYPost had the best football headline today: Silence Of The Rams.

    As to Spanx: women should wear/do what they want (as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else).

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    EW
    4 Feb 2019
    1:32pm

    on the spanx tights thing — I got some Wolford tights, and I do love them, they last a long time, feel great but, their version of control top isn’t much, which isn’t a problem really however, I also do love a feeling of being all tucked in, so I also have those plush warm Spanx tights with the control top…back in the day I was a firm apostle to Dolly Parton’s statement (via Steel Magnolias) “I haven’t left the house without lycra on these thighs since I was 14”, so wearing them just seems about right. cest la via

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      Elle
      7 Feb 2019
      10:23am

      Dolly Parton quote! <3

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    LMM
    4 Feb 2019
    1:51pm

    I wear the Assets tights, which are the Target Spanx knockoffs (although I think made by the same company?) and about half the price. I LOVE them, love the feeling of them under my dresses, and they are indestructible – I’ve had several pairs for 5ish years, still going strong. They are also the only brand of tights long enough for me (I’m 5’10” with a 36″ inseam) that stay opaque even when stretched to the max.

    TL;DR: Body shaping tights are cool.

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    Mimi
    4 Feb 2019
    11:42am

    Aren’t Spanx part of a larger discussion, one that includes mascara, bras, blow dryers, flattering clothing and anything else that makes us look more attractive than our natural, unadorned selves? I do believe that the more realistic depictions of what real women look like we are exposed to, the more our eyes and standards will adjust. I cringe at myself in my late 30s wearing Spanx under jeans because I felt my tummy wasn’t flat enough. I’ve since learned how to eat and exercise to stay happily thin and pooch-free. But I’m not about to volunteer to show the world what a 70-year old woman looks like first thing in the morning. Thank you face lift 12 years ago and any other aids I enlist to help me feel attractive and, yes, powerful.

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    Candy
    4 Feb 2019
    11:45am

    When I think of it rationally, what the NFL billionaire owners have done re CTE brain injury in their players and the whole Kaepernick don’t-hire-him thing makes me not want to watch any football game ever again, despite years in Texas cheering for the Cowboys with my son. And Spanx? Why should women be telling other women that what they wear is anti-feminist? If we want to wear it, we should wear it! I’m with you, Kim. Not giving up my Spanx.

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    Francine
    4 Feb 2019
    12:22pm

    Feminism is about free choice. So, wear what you want. Personally, I love tights and will wear Spanx if needed. Very tempted with the tights you are highlighting here!

    I’m a California girl. Go Chargers 🙂

    I do not care for the Patriots in any which way. Cannot even look at Tom Brady. I am always reminded of how he left his pregnant girlfriend for Gisele. (Though, I think Bridget is doing just fine without him!)

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    Dana D
    4 Feb 2019
    12:24pm

    I don’t have an opinion about spanx. But football is violent and decidedly anti-woman. And I know a lot of people get pissed off by folks who state the obvious.

    I am one feminist who is anti-violence in all of its forms and was long before head injuries (duh) and Kaepernick.

    People who love football should just admit that they enjoy watching men injure each other and women be abused by some men who love and play the sport. Just be rational, we need more rational dialogue, not less.

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    Tammy
    4 Feb 2019
    2:40pm

    The Raiders are still in L.A. The Rams are there now, too.

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      Francine
      4 Feb 2019
      3:39pm

      No, the Raiders are back in Oakland! The Chargers moved from San Diego (bah!) to LA.

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    4 Feb 2019
    2:41pm

    I just ordered the leather look Spanx leggings. My hairdresser loves them and though her and I have different body types, I thought I’d give them a try. I don’t wear leggings as pants unless I’m working out buuut I think the leather look are cool and kind of edgy with a boyfriend blazer (to cover my bum of course!) and booties. I also purchased the Aritzia Wilfred Free as well. Maybe if I love these and live in them I may splurge on the real thing.

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    Liz
    4 Feb 2019
    2:58pm

    In the 90s, feminists really moved away from critiquing the individual choices that women make out of fear that these critiques were judgmental of the women themselves. “Feminism is about choice” became the mantra of my generation of feminists. The problem is that women still live in a culture that rewards women for adhering to certain standards and punishes those who choose not to. The choice is not really free for women who choose to reject those standards, it comes with real consequences.

    I work in a female-dominated industry (in healthcare) and have seen women be passed over for positions that they were more qualified for because they didn’t have the “right” look for a manager or director. They were dressed professionally, but didn’t wear make up and weren’t thin. Research studies support this fact, as well. So as a feminist, it is important to me to ask whether the choices I make contribute to harming women as a whole. Of course, it’s uncomfortable and difficult and I’m not fully there (I do dye my gray hair), but I do believe feminism is about more than doing whatever makes you happy. It is also about raising the status of women.

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      Jenny
      4 Feb 2019
      3:16pm

      Strongly, strongly, strongly affirm this: “feminism is about more than doing whatever makes you happy. It is also about raising the status of women.” I’d add that women policing each other’s choices does not raise the status of women. Spanx or not, hair dye or not, paid work or not, plastic surgery or not are less important than how we support, advance, sustain, applaud, promote each other. And, as the mother of a son, how we support them men in our lives to do the same.

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        Jenny
        4 Feb 2019
        3:17pm

        *the men

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        Liz
        4 Feb 2019
        3:30pm

        “I’d add that women policing each other’s choices does not raise the status of women.” I agree with this, as well. Talking about the choices we make and discussing whether those choices benefit women or don’t is completely different than policing women’s choices. I hope that was clear in my original comments.

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          JM
          4 Feb 2019
          4:40pm

          1000% agree. Feminism to me is much more about do what makes you happy. It’s like saying the civil rights movement was about being nice to people. I think that really diminishes feminism as a political movement. I am a feminist and I wear heels and like fashion and exercise to stay slim, but I also recognize that I have not made these choices in a vacuum — I grew up and still live in a sexist society and it’s impossible not to internalize that society’s values at some level. I think it’s very important to acknowledge that while I am putting on my spanx.

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      Gray Mare
      4 Feb 2019
      6:59pm

      Thanks for this comment! As we celebrate choice, we might consider how many men, in a society that allows them to have poochy stomachs, would choose Spanx. Male actors I know who have had to dress as women say they’re *appalled* by how uncomfortable women’s apparel/accessories are. And if the world of women is all corseted, and I choose not to be, how do I fare? By the way, I’m a pewter-haired woman who has been advised by bottle blondes–virtual strangers, in some cases–that I should choose to dye.

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      Viajera
      5 Feb 2019
      11:15am

      What Liz said. At least, let’s not pretend to ourselves that our actions don’t effect other women.

      And actually, what I had meant to say originally was, I didn’t want to seem to agree with the other person’s feelings about their arms. Sympathy and empathy for sure – but agreement, never! I didn’t and don’t want to *reinforce* whatever it is … or whoever? … that makes someone be ashamed to wear a tank top if they have more than 3% body fat. (And of course i have all these same issues too, much of the time.)

      Otoh, how many times have we all heard that we “should” feel x, y or z? Being told that doesn’t help. But, what will?

      And meanwhile in the workplace, often, our lunches are still getting eaten. I wish we could work together more.

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    D.Morgendorffer
    4 Feb 2019
    3:21pm

    I think it’s interesting that we as consumers, myself included, try to figure out the ethics of shapewear while so many clothing designers treat the matters of women having both comfort and dignity while wearing their clothing as negligible concerns. So, while I don’t think I can make a categorical statement about shapewear and feminism (whatever works for each woman is fine with me), I do think this site’s regular celebration of clothing that respects women’s dignity and comfort, like say, Zero+Cornejo, is a happy, feminist approach. On another note, ah, was there a football game recently?

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    MarieP
    4 Feb 2019
    5:31pm

    Totally agree with you on the Patriots, sigh, and the Cowboys, sigh; mostly I, like most of America, am so tired of the Brady-Belichick juggernaut. I’m over it, like cold-shoulder tops. Oh, wait, I was never into either. Kim, for whom do you root? Re: Spanx; I have ‘em and I’ll defend my right to wear them but the skirts/dresses in my closet that (in my head) require them are my least-worn.

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      Kim France
      4 Feb 2019
      6:11pm

      Inasmuch as I am for any football team, I am for the Houston Texans. A fond memory of my childhood is going to Houston Oilers (RIP) games with my dad, so it’s a holdover from that.

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        Francine
        5 Feb 2019
        12:46pm

        OH the Oilers!!
        One of the more “interesting” compliments I ever received – I was 19, leaving the gym, and a guy said “Wow, your thighs are just like Earl Campbell’s!”

        For those not in the know, Google it.

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        jamie
        4 Feb 2019
        11:37pm

        I was just coming in to comment that I hoped you were a long-standing Oilers fan and that’s why you can’t go Cowboys — I still have my Oilers coffee mug and my Oilers tube socks and I remember having the theme song on a record when I was a kid. LOVE YA BLUE KIM. And those juice glasses from the gas station, because TEXAS. XO And, go spanx if they make ya feel good. Whatever happened to Warren Moon?

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    Gablesgirl
    4 Feb 2019
    7:41pm

    I attended a black tie event a few weeks back and so admired the beautiful and expensive gowns but was secretly shocked that there were no “foundation” undergarments like Spanx and how bad the bulges and big tummies looked. But that’s just me and my personal taste in how I’d like to look. So rock on all you who just have your panties on. PS A pox on the House of NE Pats

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    Susanna
    5 Feb 2019
    8:15am

    There was a football game?

    (Seriously, though, I watched the Puppy Bowl)

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    Caroline
    5 Feb 2019
    10:19am

    I am proudly feminist.
    I also like to look good.
    And yes, I feel staying warm and having my ass look good is empowering.
    Go Spanx!
    Also, literally fell asleep during half show. But I don’t really get the appeal of maroon 5 anyway.
    My teen and tween age girls asked to watch queer eye instead. So I’m not sure who that was for…I miss Prince singing in the purple rain.

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    Julia
    5 Feb 2019
    10:31am

    Honestly, as regards “pretty boy” Tom Brady — I recognize that his features are perfectly clean cut, but to me he looks like he’s about to break into a chorus of “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.”
    And he loves Trump….

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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