Weekly Note #114: How School Hurt Us
In This Note:

Martin Luther King Jr.

How School Hurt Us

Killing Karl Lagerfeld (The RCFA Leaves Us)

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. fought for
"Civil" Rights
Happy New Year! 

And happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day too, for those folks with me in the States. Oh readers - you know I'm a super huge fan of his!

That man knew how to fight, and he knew the power of words too. I can only imagine what he would have to say about today's America. We've fallen far from his lofty goals - which really weren't "lofty" per e. They were civil.

That's not a light term anymore - "civil." It's the basis of "civilization." And we are anything but civilized these days. In so many ways we are much less civil than in MLK's days.

It's so true. Just look at our culture. Civility isn't about arrogance, vanity, greed or gluttony, nor is it about pecking orders, judgement or disgust. It's about compassion, equality, wisdom and temerity

Name me a TV show that's civil, and I'll consider reinstating TV in our home. (Downton Abbey doesn't quite count, being based in the UK, but it does do a great job of showing the culture we are returning too - one of lords and servants. And Sesame Street is owned by HBO now, so - yeah - that's out too.)

If you want to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s life today, I encourage you to challenge yourself... not in the "black vs. white" arena, but in the much broader one that encompasses that issue and more: civilization.

Be a part of civilization. Sound easy? It's not. It requires keeping the "uncivil" people, subject matters, discussions and behaviors out... 

And though that may prove hard to do, once you start asking yourselves the questions "is this civil... or uncivil?" Martin Luther King Jr. would want to shake your hand. Because bravery recognizes bravery. And that's what every civilization's been based on too.

I love you guys. Happy New Year! I have an incredibly large gift for you in TWO big articles. I hope you enjoy them both.

How School Hurt Us
Breaking in the New Year with Power
Unlocking the Secret Behind New Years
It's here! It's finally, finally, finally here. Happy New Year!

Can you tell? I am so happy the New Year is here. Are you? 

It's not often that I feel this way, but 2015 was not good to me. I didn't feel that way while leaving it. In fact, I didn't want 2016 to come for some reason.

But once it was here - I was elated. Not more than a couple of days in and I was saying 'bah-humbug' and 'hasta la vista, baby' to that entire year I had been holding on to. And then I realized why:

The burdens of the year before simply didn't follow me across that doorway to the New Year. Only the good things did. And that made me feel like I'd been sprayed down, head to toe, with some tingling refreshing Evian spray-like newness. 

That stupid brain tumor of January - dead.
The surprising trauma of war upon my loved ones overseas - gone.
The loss of function in my knee - vapor.
The inability to dance, the loss of my spine, the pain that racks my body everyday... the loss of children yet to come....

Crash, crush, crumple. All of it in one total sum - dumped. And left behind. Not felt, really, until it was gone...

And now I can go on. But why?

The Massive Lie

Lately I've been feeling like our school years did us a major disservice. I don't mean the normal complaints we hear - like classes on balancing a checkbook or passing kids who didn't earn it, etc. I was a school teacher, after all.

My mother was a school teacher. I grew up teaching in her classroom. I subbed K-12 and earned my credential in teaching for High School at the best school in the nation. I know schools - public and private. But they teach us all something I never caught until becoming my own self-sufficient adult.

And the more I think about it, the more I see its effects in our daily lives, no matter what age we are. None of us are immune. 

What am I referring to? Starting Over.


There's a compartment of skills we desperately need to navigate adult life, that our school years (unintentionally) have completely robbed us of, and that's because of one thing: the absence of the do-over. Schools give us a million of them. Life gives us none. Not the free kind they give us in schools, anyway.

Because of how schools are set up - with Grades 1, 2, 3... 12, which change every year we grow older (which we absolutely will do, as a human child), we inherently become deeply programmed to expect our lives to change for the better, with hardly a single effort on our part

In school, all we had to do was grow older, and bad things, in general, would come to a close on their own.

Think about it. If we didn't have a teacher we liked, it was okay - we got to start over the next year. If we didn't like a particular subject, that was okay. There's a new semester around the corner. And if our classmates hurt us, if our teacher allowed bullying in class, if we struggled in a certain subject... there was always an end in sight: the next day, the next week, the next break or the next semester, the summer or the next year....

There was always an unsaid promise of closure in our lives, which schools around the globe provide. 

Furthermore, this closure existed and turned outside of us. We moved up a grade (not of our own doing), we got a new teacher (not of our own doing), and we got a new school (not of our own doing). Do you get the picture?

Our schools promised us this:

Whatever sucked - it would come to an end. 
We just had to wait it out.

What an absolutely terrifying lesson - not lesson - but belief really. What an incredible way to understand the nature of the world! What a lie!

Not only that, but our decisions had a short life too. Picked the wrong subject? File for a change. Got a bad grade? Make it up in summer school. Didn't do our homework? Earn it back with extra credit assignments. Failed a course? Retake it.

Even our ability to make, keep and hold relationships was always interrupted by that unending outside force of change. Made the wrong friends? Made the right ones? Liked a girl? Dated a boy? Which of these wasn't shaped by what grade we were in, or what school we were moving to next?

My point is - even the consequences of our actions rarely lasted long. They didn't go past detention that very day, never mind that school year. In real life, decisions last for decades upon decades to death.

This is so important to understand! In school the ever present "renewals" that permeated our upbringings affected all areas of our lives. It programmed us to expect being saved or changed in all things, from making friends, to making enemies, to growing up, to dating, to... everything... change was always right around the corner. 

Thousands of chances to "start over" - no, not 'chances' - literal covenants (for we started over no matter what), thousands of these occurred before we entered our first real job, or made our first adult choice, or entered our first adult relationship.

Our first 18-22 years taught us that if things got tough - we just had to wait. It would be over soon. Bad things, terrible times or terrifying situations, scary places or people... we believe they'll never last for long in our lives.

A lie.

The result?

A worldview (expectation) that change and renewal will always come in our favor, consistently and constantly.

We enter graduation expecting it.
We enter life having lived no other way.

We believe we can only succeed. How could we not?

And then we enter life. 

And it's exactly the opposite. Suddenly our decisions really matter. As in... they last forever. But no one tells us that! We have no idea what the stakes are when we make them!

Sometimes we learn from the outcomes of certain mistakes early on, but if we weren't raised by the right parents or read the right book or have the right mentors... we often don't. 

We aren't taught the everlasting power of our decisions.

And that's perhaps the most important life lesson we could ever, ever learn! 

We aren't taught that it's much harder to start over the older we get. We aren't taught to entertain, expect or endure things over long periods of time. We aren't taught that a decision made now can affect us for the next 20-50 years. And we certainly aren't taught that the decisions we make in life as an adult always close a million other doors.

We aren't taught a lot of things, these simple promised patterns of new beginnings in school.

By the time we reach 25, we think... I have time.
By 30 we think... this isn't who I will be.
At 40 it dawns on us... I had all those choices, but I made these instead. 
And at 50 we realize... These decisions stuck. They never left. Oh God....

Oh God. It's over. And you really want it all back. Or at least to go back, and do your life over, "knowing what you know now." You know what that really means? "

Knowing that absolutely no outside force exists that will end all the bad for you. You have to end it yourself.

But we can't go back. This is who we are. We aren't "growing up" anymore. We are grown up. And this is who we are. This is basically it!

What if we don't like where we are? What if the dream is too different from reality?

Then the destructive behavior takes hold, and the good things we at least had? We lose. 

A "mid-life crisis" situation occurs. Today the research shows that these kind of crisis situations actually happen in ones' teenage years or college years too. But no matter what age they occur at... they all stem from the same thought: I am not where I thought I'd be. There is no hope.

But that is a lie too. 

Because renewal is always at our fingertips - the operative word being "our." 

We ALL have the ability to start over - every minute of every day. 

Recovering addicts know this. Rehabilitated abuse victims know this. Starting over is the amazing grace that only humans are given - it's just that we have to ring the school bell now.

Everyone who has ever learned to break their bonds and their chains by simply making different choices, knows that a new beginning is always available to all of us - 24/7. 

Oh yes, these choices can be incredibly difficult in the beginning, but no one is going to break up with that bad boyfriend for you. No one is going to give you a different boss. No one else is going to get you that refund, that new home or pay off that old debt. 

Only you can do that. 

But the bold should be on the "can" in that sentence, right? Isn't that the joy? Isn't that the relief? We CAN

And we can at any age.

But when those day-to-day choices feel impossible to do, you can always try and do it when the whole world is trying to do them too: New Years.

I feel like the New Year gives us that one shot at starting over that school always provided. Adulthood doesn't afford us many of those. I feel like that's where New Years resolutions come from - our school years. 

Didn't we all approach every new school year with new hopes, dreams and goals?  

Didn't we all envision different outcomes for our performance that year - born from the lessons we learned the school year before? "This time I'll dress different," "this time I'll make better friends," "this time I won't be seen as this, or that," "this time I'll do better," "this time..."

I'll be happy.

Right? It's what we all thought, every single summer before the new school year started. "I just want to be happy this year..."

And in the face of the lie school taught us here's the truth:

We can be.

We really, really can be. It's just a matter of knowing we can learn how.

So I'm grateful for the New Year. I feel like I can bury my past. Hardships, losses, terrifying close calls and even bad news... they belong to last year. But this year? This year is full of only one thing: 


I love you all so much,
and I think of you every day,
Killing Karl Lagerfeld
The Death of the Red Carpet Fashion Awards
Lupita Nyong'O in Alexandre Vauthier Couture: 
One of 500,000 RCFA's photo creations

You probably don't know who Catherine Kallon is, but you do know her work. Everyone does. No matter what Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour and Diana Von Furstenburg say.

They're going to miss her the most. They just don't know it yet.

Because Kallon is the one woman force that is the Red Carpet Fashion Awards - and she's shutting the whole site down. And when I mean down... I mean down. As in - you'll never see, read or view anything she's ever posted again.

Because she's hasn't quit writing. She's quit completely. On January 14th, the whole site goes black. As in dark... pitch dark.

I know what that means, but I get the distinct impression that no one else does, because if they did, they'd be freaking out. Big time.

The Impact

Right now, when you Google the terms "chanel," "couture," and "red carpet" in an attempt to see what Lagerfeld's designs look like in real life, or to get a closer look at them, or to see how they look in a more 'ready-to-wear' state... you'll find that 90% of the photos Google pulls up are those of Kallon's creation.

That's a seriously impressive number. Even Vogue hasn't created a following like that. But people don't understand or recognize this for a number of reasons. First, Kallon doesn't put her name all over her site like most other authors do. She doesn't put her name in the .jpg's title, she doesn't put her name on the photo in a way that isn't removable, etc. etc. 

But the real culprit is that thousands of site's around the world copy Kallon's work and post it as their own.

I myself have posted photos from her site, but I've always provided links and references to the RCFA, but most fashionista's and photojournalists and bloggers just don't bother. They think that if it's on the web, it's theirs to play with. That's why some bloggers put their watermark across the photos - but not Kallon. And you know why? Because she's dedicated her life to the art of fashion. 

A watermark would destroy the beauty. A watermark would make it seem like she's claiming rights over dresses that, as she puts it, 'some designers pour 600+ hours' into the making of them. She's never placed herself before the art of high fashion or couture.

May she should have. Because the fashion industry has seriously taken her for granted. The majority of money she made on the site was through connecting customers who actually bought the clothing she pictured.

And that was no small number. From her earliest days, fashion was making a mint off her site. But instead, fashion heads retaliated with ugliness - ever increasing ugliness. And I am 99.9% positive that they are the reason she's leaving, not her overwhelming amount of followers.

The Assassination

The fashion industry isn't known for giving credit where credit is due. As much business as she brings them, they don't acknowledge it. At all. The only thing the fashion industry gives Catherine Kallon, despite the millions she's made them over the last decade, is grief.

A lot of grief. Because the fashion industry isn't just known for being unfair - it's known for being uncivilized - severely uncivilized...

First, they choose you - you don't choose them. You can't earn your way in through talent (take Siriano and just about every female designer in the last three decades). Instead, you have to earn it through deprivation, sex, drugs, addiction or most likely, a combination of all four.

Oh, there was a time when talent got you somewhere, but that died in the mid-80's when fashion became mainstream and those who'd made it just didn't want to give up any of their power - not to anyone. And so began the reaping of designers who had little to no vision who were also willing to "play the game" - as in their game.

What's "their" game? Allowing anything from breaking contracts without retribution (one contract by a major house promised $100 million but really only delivered $1 million to a new designer for their designs), closing up shop upon their request, and literally handing over designs, money, models - whatever they ask whenever they ask to the already successful from the newly arrived.

Oh yes, the higher ups are brutal to each other, but think of all the major houses who began in the mid-80's... and which ones began since then? I rest my case.

With such uncivilized kings and queens reigning over the fashion industry, it's no wonder that their minions are uncivilized. At a recent New York Fashion Week, a daughter of some client literally slapped a usher across the face - and hard. "How dare you speak to my mother that way!" they spat. What had the usher done? Told them they had the wrong seat and asked them politely to move.

Wow. That's actually punishable by law. It's a crime. But no one batted an eye. And with such incivility happening publicly, one can only wonder at what happens behind closed doors. I'm somewhat thankful to be privy to some of it, because I'm never left wanting more of it when I hear the stories close.

So it makes sense that this industry drives away so many hopefuls. Story after story pours in from bloggers to YouTube gurus who have millions of followers by the way, telling of their original dreams of participating in fashion... only to run away quickly in the face of the ugliness.

"Who could have thought such beauty would be all rotten inside?" one said, sipping a hot cup of coffee, "I didn't like the people. I hated them, in fact. So I gave fashion up."

And that's exactly what DVF, D&G and Marc Jacobs want to hear. Stay away. It's all about us. And you are most certainly not us.

In walks Catherine Kallon. Someone they hadn't heard of, didn't know and didn't want to know. (Who do they want to know, by the way? Mirrors?) Not only that, but she committed the greatest fashion sin of all: she brilliantly discovered a market that... well... they hadn't. 

Well, that's one argument anyway. But when I think about it, I realize that they very likely had thought of it - in their dreams. Well, not their dreams - their nightmares.

Why would her site be a nightmare to them? Because she was covering their most precious commodity, the red carpet, but even worse, they had no say!

They weren't controlling it from behind closed doors. Unlike everything else covering the red carpets out there, from People, to E! to Elle, they weren't picking who or what would be covered. 

Not only that, but she did it well. She was talented. She had a great eye. And she gave an incredibly vast array of information none of us ever even knew existed. It was heaven for us. It was hell for them.

In a recent article, Kallon talks about how, in the beginning (2007), only a few designers were being featured at the very few events that were being held. Now, she says, there's a myriad of events every single night, and most importantly, a new myriad of designers being used.

And here's the thing she just doesn't get. This is her doing. She opened the door for everyone. She created this new, amazing and multi-faceted world of fashion and color. Without her, we never would have had a thirst for more - more - more! Without her, stylists wouldn't have tried to do something new or branch out of the ordinary.

She was the showcase the world looked to, and therefore stylists tried new and unheard of ways to be featured in that showcase. Thus a whole new world was born. A world in which she silently reigned, behind the scenes, letting the art speak for itself.

In short, Catherine Kallon let fashion soar the way that it should have been for the last 30 years.

Dior would have been proud. So would have Chanel. But today's higher ups just don't get that. You know what they will get? The big picture... when their pocket books are hit.

Because even if she gave rise to a whole new generation of designers we never would have known about before - and even if she did let "color" in to the red carpet, by actually posting pictures of actresses and actors from Shanghai to Madrid to South Africa... letting us see fashion as a global world, not merely a white one like Wintour shoves down our throats every month (no, the Carters and the K's don't count!)... No. 

Even if she did all of these things that spread the wealth of fashion, she still brought a deluge of millions upon the ateliers and other fashion houses on high! What happens now, when Karl loses 90% of his looks on a google search? And what happens when the pictures left don't link us viewers to a page we can buy the looks on?

Have they ever thought of that? No. But they will soon. When she takes the site down, or her hosting company ends their contract with her or the site's name is no longer renewed by her... which might all take some time after the January 14th date... still, the site will go "down" as she put it. She's not paying for it anymore. And that means the Red Carpet Fashion Awards will go... dark.

Going Dark

When a site goes "dark" everyone, that means every photo, every post and every link from the last 10 years will be gone from the web completely. You will go to the site, and nothing will come up. Nothing. You will find Catherine Kallon nowhere. It will be as if the RCFA had never existed.

Oh, it may take some time - Google will store its pages in its caches for a while - computers will keep their cookies - but that time will come. It will. She hasn't changed her mind.

And honestly, if we think about it - the complete absence of the RCFA, we know what that means.

Fashion will no longer exist.

Not the way we want it. Not the way we bought it. Not the way it's woven into our lives. It will be dead. A generation of fashionistas will be obliterated in half a second. And, as the saying goes, you don't know what you have until it's gone.

On January 14th, 
the world of fashion will find out what they have lost.

They will find out that they persecuted the wrong person. They bit the hand that feeds them. They will learn what they have lost. And hopefully, hopefully... they will beg her to come back. They will make it worth her while. They will beg on hands and knees.

Because we all need her. Not just the world of fashion, but the world... the whole world in general. And that is a very precious gift indeed. Let us honor Catherine Kallon with a bow. She's earned it. Even from Karl himself.

Signing out,
Katherine Eastvold

PS- My husband, upon reading this piece, asked me "Can't you just download the photos you really love before the site is gone?" To which I simply replied with a sad smile, "Oh honey. You have no idea. That's absolutely impossible." For how do you sift through 500,000 photos, half a million images of dreamy loveliness... ever? No. My dear husband. He was sorely mistaken.

NOTE: This piece first appeared on the Whatever is Lovely blog on January 13th 2016.

Katherine Eastvold

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