Tuesday, April 22, 2008

L.A. State of Mind

Los Angeles. L.A. I've always felt a little out of place in this sparkly and sunstruck town. Part of it has to do with my theory (and I know it's hardly original) that most people fall into two categories: Los Angeles People and New York People. And ever since I got my first black turtleneck at the age of 10, I've considered myself a New York Person. A misplaced New York Person.
Over the years, I've come to appreciate Los Angeles. For starters the weather is spectacular, especially to someone coming out of a cold, gray, and dreary east coast winter. Pure sunshine is a magnificent thing, all the more so when it's free of humidity. In Los Angeles the mornings begin with a slight briskness in the air, warming up to a pleasant, no-jacket- required temperature by midday, and then cooling down to a ever so subtle nippy evening air.
The flora that this weather nurtures is also quite spectacular. The iconic palm trees goes without saying, but also the roses that grow in lush abundance in people's gardens are almost unbelievable. These garden variety roses which are more splendid from one front yard to the next, are gorgeous in their hues (lavender, pink, peach, ivory, red) and fullness.
And the people that this California environment grows are also a testament to the benefits of a sunfilled life. There is definitely much more of a relaxed and laid back vibe out here, which is reflected in the clothing style. Jeans and tanks and flip flops are pretty much a uniform over here. People wear their clothes with such a relaxed and casual flair that it's making me want to ditch my usual hobo-boho layers and adopt the laidback LA look.
But here's the problem: Los Angeles' biggest industry is Hollywood. Hollywood specializes in make-believe. The images Hollywood spoonfeeds us are that of perfect bodies and flawless faces. Nowhere is this message taken more to heart than in the motherland. There is definitely an LA look. For women it's a variation on the Jennifer Aniston: long straight sun streaked hair; a complexion that can range from sunkissed to baked cookie brown; thin and toned body; and big boobs.
The curious and (I think) crazy thing is that even women who gave birth 6 weeks prior, look like this. Mom's with their coupla kids at the Coffee Bean look like runway models! And even the post-menopause set look like tightfaced and tightbodied psuedo-chicks. Since arriving in LA, I'm getting good at deciphering between a good facelift and a not-so-good one. And an unmoving browline is always a dead giveaway for botox.
Who can live with this constant and almost subliminal pressure? How do you raise normal, down-to-earth children in this environment? How do you feel good about yourself when you're having a fat day, or a fat month, or a fat year?
Hollywood is the Queen of Lala land, and if you aren't an appreciative subject you might feel a little out of the realm. But I guess, you can always stop and smell the spectacular roses.

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