July and So Many Thoughts

It’s the beginning of summer holidays very soon (for those observing the Central European biorhythms – those up in the North are already mostly back in their cubicles to prepare for the imminent Polar vortex) and as is always the case, there’s the mad rush to get everything cancelled before putting the out of office and not boarding the plane to go somewhere interesting.

On the topic of traveling, or indeed not, what an eventful couple of weeks it has been! There was the pissing contest between spectacularly rich men about who gets to eject himself into the space first (unfortunately in both cases it was a roundtrip with a disappointingly short stay at the destination), and then there’s the finger-pointing at Garance Doré’s pandemic travels, to name a few.

To be sure, quite a few people managed to travel during the lockdowns. Most of them resisted the urge to splash their trips all over instagram, fearing the obvious public butchery. Doré persisted, and we have been able to follow her trips almost exclusively to places that were, and mostly still are, completely out of bounds for basically everyone else (notably New Zealand, and at one point the Scottish Isles, when travel between mainland Scotland and islands was strictly prohibited, including to Scottish citizens visiting family members).

Good for her on the traveling front. I was so pleased for Doré’s successful globetrotting, that I almost overlooked her elaborations about how she’s so over the influencers’ luxury lifestyle. Wandering around in Paris, seeing all these cookie-cutter Prada and Gucci stores lined up on the streets – no appeal anymore, she wrote.
And Doré is quite right. A satin Prada headband at the recommended retail price of €260 is hardly the thing most people associate with luxury. As far as hair accessories go, sure, it’s one prohibitively expensive hairband, but hardly luxury?

Non, done with the luxury lifestyle, it’s the simple things in life that matter for Doré now. It’s the life of a non-luxurious globetrotter that’s á la mode now, such as jetting to non-luxurious boutique hotels/private castles in the Scottish highlands that are so far from luxurious that they don’t even put their prices online!
(Except one of the more commercial and/or accessible one of them, with room prices upwards of €1300/night. Perfect for spending the mandatory 10-day quarantine in, before upgrading someplace nice for the actual holiday!)
So, there is luxury and there is luxury.

And even here one shall be fair. Who am I to define anyone’s luxury or judge their traveling? Doré was very open and transparent about her immense privilege, both in terms of status and finances, to carry on living a jetset life when almost nobody else could. It is all out there, documented in her social media accounts.

This includes her latest musings about the COVID-19 vaccination, because it’s your body, your integrity, she’ll support whichever way we wish to go (ie. take/not take the jab) and also there’s the bit about liberté, and her standing against the recent covid-related restrictions in France, because her French forefathers fought so hard for the fundamental values that, um, what?

It was so super-close, Garance Doré, that I’d turned a blind eye to your larking around the world while everybody else sat at home under strict lockdowns and curfews! So close!
But precisely against the backdrop of the said frolics and then not encouraging the hundreds of thousands of her followers to get the jab so that they*, too can board a plane and fly to a remote Scottish island to eat ‘Hebridean langoustines with garlic butter and chili, yum!’ at the Boatshed Restaurant, citing fucking liberté is an offence.

In addition, casually referencing liberté as an argument to not get vaccinated is extremely far from égalité and sororité, the remaining two pillars her elders also fought so hard for.

(This really is not a scientific blog one bit, and I don’t have the qualifications or authority to state the following, but I don’t think liberté actually eradicated polio and/or tuberculosis. Don’t quote me in any science journal on this.)

I am aware of the loopholes in my argumentation, first of all because Doré is not a health authority of any kind. She’s a great illustrator with excellent style, and that’s it. I’m often criticising the cancel –movement for calling out influencers, artists, entertainers and fashion people for their political/societal views that are unrelated to their actual day jobs. Great shoes are great shoes, regardless of what thoughts their creator might have about communism. Must we care?
What becomes of us if we start policing everything?
And who is the super-police who decides what thoughts are correct/allowed? It’s already with slight concern that I’m following concepts such as “safe spaces” and “cultural appropriation” sometimes being used as means to curb the freedom of speech and expression.

So aren’t I doing exactly this by condemning a fashion influencer because of her subtle hints that getting a covid vaccination somehow is purely a private matter?

But I do feel that Doré’s subtle hinting at is the more difficult kind of misinformation. What algorithm is going catch that, even? It’s not coming from obscenities-shouting, open carry-supporting, tinfoil-hat wearing lunatics with an underground cult followings.

Instead, it feels like Doré, like so many other wellness-wannabes, wants to dip her toes in Gwyneth Paltrow’s goopy lifestyle-glory to test whether she, too, might have a shot at such woodoo-gurudom. And then publish her musings as some kind of half-wellness, half-fundamental human rights manifestos “just asking questions”.

With one huge difference to the Goop: if you decide, against everyone’s better judgement, to stick bits of rocks up your vagina à la Gwyneth, if anyone, it’s you who’ll end up in hospital. No one else. There will be no school classes isolating at home if your experiment with jade eggs goes awry.
You are free to use the “my body, my integrity” -argument there. Your liberté, your vagina, your choice.

Also, I must mention in this context that Paltrow claimed to have cured her early Covid-19 with intuitive fasting, cooking with a lot of coconut aminos and using a sauna blanket (not specified whether she used it on her whole body or just her vagina), so she’s probably not exactly the best reference point here**.

What is interesting is the fact that both Paltrow and Doré are much less sceptical of the side effects of other types of injections, such as new forms of neurotoxin more commonly known as botox. In the contrary, both are proud promoters of injectable fillers, and Paltrow is actually advertising one such brand of incobotulinumtoxin A on her Instagram.
Her musings about the uniquely purified anti-wrinkle injection are followed by “Studies have not been performed to determine whether the presence or absence of unnecessary proteins has a long-term effect on safety or efficacy. The effects of Xeomin may spread hours to weeks after injection causing serious symptoms. Alert your doctor right away as difficulty swallowing, speaking, breathing, eye problems or muscle weakness can be a sign of a life-threatening condition”.

But hey, who am I but the fully vaccinated loser waiting for traveling to open to get my bite of a Hebridean langoustine.

Other than that I have almost no other thoughts today.

*they = me

**Paltrow and her husband are listed as private donors in the University of California (Los Angeles) UCLA’s recent research study about the vaccine needs of people who have contracted COVID-19 in the early stages of the pandemic. Paltrow, or Doré, unlike many other celebrities and influencers, have not made public whether they have been vaccinated.

Photo credit: Tea Party by Laurie Lipton. Source: Instagram @laurieliptondrawings @misshavishamscuriosities

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