Ladies First: Kourtney Kardashian

by Nikki Lakin in , ,


The average parent would object to their adolescent offspring taking part in the enjoyment of empty reality TV programming. Growing up in a relatively open house, it wasn’t much of a surprise that my parents condoned and sometimes even encouraged me to watch their favorite TV shows with them, many of which were in the realm of reality TV. From “American Idol” to “Jersey Shore,” we got a taste of it all, but a family favorite for several running years was “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

Much like fans can admire fictional TV characters (what girl doesn’t want a Chuck Bass? Really?), they can develop attachments to anyone through the small screen, and it’s a lot easier to do so when it’s through a reality show where the stars are the same (I’m saying this loosely in spite of the “reality TV is scripted!” argument, but let’s save that for another time) on camera and in person. And since KUWTK’s storyline is centered around the daily lives and debacles of the family, viewers can sympathize with them and find relations to the family-slash-cast members.

Even though one of the family’s biggest claims to fame was the success of the late man of the family, Robert, the Kardashians are a female-dominant family. Under the direction of “momager” Kris, all of the Kardashian kids have pooled into good fortune one way or another and continue to multitask different projects without breaking a sweat.

Whether you care about pop culture or not, you know about this family. You know about KimYe, Khloe’s separation from ex-husband Lamar Odom, Kris and Bruce Jenner splitting up, and Kendall’s rise on fashion runways. But we can’t forget where the next generation of the Kardashian empire first got its start, which was with the first-born daughter, Kourtney.

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From the beginning of the series up until now, Kourtney has been in full command of expanding the family’s boutique business, Dash. While Dash is a collaborative effort among her, Kim and Khloe, Kourtney has taken most of the responsibility for the business, from seeking out the retail space to hiring staff to merchandising the store. This is the one project that has continued to succeed and brand the family while other members are taking care of their own personal brands, endorsements, appearances, the list goes on. But Kourtney never lost sight of making sure that Dash continued to occupy the retail and fashion world - and it’s still keeping up (pun intended).

And yes, everyone in the Kardashian family is a multitasker, but the other side of Kourtney’s life is another career all on its own. She’s the mother of two adorable tots and raises them with her comedian of a boyfriend, Scott. While the two have had their share of drama, her relationship with him now is where I see the most strength and inspiration in Kourtney. Scott bends over backwards to treat Kourtney like a queen, but as a mother, the first-born, and the undeclared head of a national boutique, she naturally toughens up around his actions. She doesn’t fall for his slick words and has to keep him on his toes to be the best man he can be. And when a woman can put her enjoyment aside to assert herself - and it proves to work - that’s where I find the power in a personal empire.

Might you be laughing when I say that the Kardashians are influential? Maybe. But for girls who envision themselves as double-duty women - career moms - Kourtney has proven to be successful at this.

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Ladies First: Samantha Jones

by Nikki Lakin in , , ,


Every girl has a defining, distinct moment that she remembers where she believes that she emotionally (not physically, there’s actually a difference) (at least in my book) transforms into a woman. Some may replay the memory of their first kiss playing spin-the-bottle and consider that their coming-of-age tale. It may be the purchase your first Coach purse with those backwards and side-to-side, outlined in glitter C’s. On a more graphic note, I was blessed with this moment sitting in front of the TV at age seven or whatever, exposed to a censored ad for HBO’s “Sex and the City.”

I knew my parents were avid fans of “The Sopranos,” but they assumed they could hide it from me. From then on, I was aware that any content on HBO would be risqué, but ads for “Sex and the City” did pop up on other cable outlets and I couldn’t avoid them. But from what I saw, it was just a group of girls hanging out and gossiping, which, even at age seven, my friends and I were guilty of.

So it was relatable. But it wasn’t until I entered my last year of middle school that the movie was released, and a year after that, it was running on HBO. By then, I was 15 and I finally got to meet Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and the infamous Samantha Jones.

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At that age, my career interests were seeping into public relations and, to quote myself, “wanting to make people famous.” I related to Samantha because she was a PR executive with her own firm. I quickly caught on that her boyfriend/eventual ex-boyfriend was not just an actor, but also her client, who she helped to quickly rise to fame.

While I can’t say that I’m on the same page as all of Samantha’s lifestyle pursuits, I do value her as a career inspiration. After watching the first SATC movie and then catching up on the series via E! re-runs, I admired her non-stop life in PR and her constantly evolving circle of colleagues and friends. Just as a high school student, I envisioned myself like her, working in a floor-to-ceiling glass window office by day, speaking boldly and confidently branding herself, and running around from event to event, including those that she most likely threw together without breaking a sweat, with her clique by night. As fictitious as her character is, her career is achievable for hungry girls like myself. What she does when the work is done, however, isn’t something she has to share.


Ladies First: Life Lessons Lauren Conrad Taught Me

by Nikki Lakin in , , ,


Pretend it’s 2005. You’re in sixth grade again and spending your Friday afternoon sipping on caramel chillers (with whipped cream) at Panera, gossiping about the guy Allie has a crush on, and wondering whose house you should hang out at for the rest of the evening. Eventually, you annoy Allie enough to get her to let you come to her place so you can stalk this cute boy’s MySpace page. After an hour of sharing quizzes on your homepage and looking for quotes to put in your AIM profiles, you decide to turn on MTV, which Allie’s parents weren’t big fans of. But this was your version of rebellion at 12 years old and you were proud of this forward march.

A scenic b-roll backdrop of the Hollywood sign appears on the screen and you and Allie screech “Omigod!” Everyone’s favorite TV show back in 2005 is on: “The Hills.” The two of you kick back on the couch, pop some popcorn and catch up on the reruns that you’ve already seen three times since the most recent episode aired.

Admit it: you lived vicariously through lives of the leading ladies and pictured yourself as a grown-up/20-year-old showrooming at boutiques on Rodeo Drive and grabbing sushi with your girls, followed by a late night at Les Deux.

Out of all the girls that were featured, though, the show revolved around one in particular, Laguna Beach belle Lauren Conrad. Let’s be real, you probably read that and just sighed, thinking, Ugh, I love her.

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Although “The Hills” was criticized as pseudo-reality, every aspect of Lauren’s personality was as fresh as a batch of bakery goods. You could smell the sugar of her personality through your TV screen. Audrina described her as an “old soul,” almost beyond her years. She balanced school and strived for success at her challenging Teen Vogue internship. She sincerely valued the well-being of her friends and even when they didn’t return the favor, she still made efforts until the end. She never fought, but she was firm.

LC can be credited with teaching millennial girls across America some of the most important lessons they’ve ever learned before they turn 15. From trying to defend her friendship while Spencer and Heidi were dating and ditching to picking up roles in her career. So I’ve put together a relatively short yet important list of life lessons Lauren Conrad has taught me:

Life Lessons Lauren Conrad Taught Me

1. Bows before bros, AKA sisters before misters, AKA your friends are the most important relationships. (In some cases, yes, male counterparts are considered "bows" or "sisters")

2. A few close, trustworthy friends are better than a lot of fake friends.

3. “Just always go to Paris!”

4. You can’t click with everyone.

5. Surround yourself with people who build you up.

To say that Ms. Conrad is a class act is an understatement. But even to this day, her success grows among various levels. She operates two fashion lines, is a philanthropist, and is planning a wedding. Oh, and she’s still giving the best advice in the world on her site, LaurenConrad.com. It takes talent to remain so poised while so busy. When I say I want to be Lauren Conrad, I’m completely serious. I hope Allie’s anti-MTV parents can learn to agree with me.

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Ladies First: Cameran Eubanks

by Nikki Lakin in , ,


Poised, passionate, and pretty in pink are three adjectives that all not-girls-not-yet-women want to be described as by their friends and family. While everyone may have different perceptions of what the “perfect woman” may be, I consider those to be the 3 P’s, and I try to fit them accordingly. I walk standing tall and confident, I believe in what I do, and I believe that being well-dressed is a form of respect for myself and the people that I’m surrounding.

This spring, reality-TV junkies and multitasking college students were introduced to Bravo’s newest series, “Southern Charm.” From a noticeably recent pattern, Bravo tends to develop shows based on the upscale lifestyles of select geographic locations that can still manage to pull in the station’s entire target demo, which ranges from young adults to mothers. “Southern Charm” takes place in the colorfully niched city that is Charleston, SC. It’s a city swarming with old money, men walking down the streets in madras and pastel-colored suits, and girls glowing in matching Lilly Pulitzer patterns (“Southern Charm” is also the name of one of my favorite new Lilly Pulitzer prints introduced this spring, so the timing is actually sort of convenient - or is it?). So, basically, if my heart and soul weren’t sold to New York, I would probably float down the Atlantic Ocean to the Charleston coastline and just lie on the beach forever.

While those are all perfectly acceptable reasons to drop everything and begin anew in Charleston, one of my driving forces is to become total BFF with one person in particular from the show. Enter blonde belle Cameran Eubanks on the small screen. She has perfectly curled and highlighted hair, a smile whiter than snow, and whether she’s grabbing lunch with a friend or attending an extravagant polo match, she is dressed to the nines. From the outside, she is the face of a classic Charlestonian.

 BravoTV.com

BravoTV.com

Every character on a show, reality or scripted, faces a challenge that has to be overcome. Viewers are attracted to controversy, and even though there are several scandals on “Southern Charm,” Cameran faces a total of 0. Cameran’s storyline in the show revolves around her career change from the cosmetics industry to real estate, and the cameras follow her as she tours all the charming Charleston homes with her mentor.

When Cameran isn’t working, though, she’s portrayed as an extremely honored and respected friend not just by the other females in town, but by her male counterparts: Shep, Craig, Thomas, and Whitney. The four guys all fight over the girls in town, but none of them seem to ever quarrel over Cameran or dare ever take advantage of her. She listens to them all bicker and gives them all advice on how to treat women. Shep, who bounces back and forth between every single girl in the city, surprisingly seems to be closest with Cameran. Personally, I think it’s a challenge for guys and girls to be “just friends” without some sort of chemic tension-slash-I secretly think they belong together, but Cameran makes it a crucial point that she wants to be treated like a modern woman without directly turning any conversation on her, and Shep, along with the fellow men, don’t cross any lines.

 BravoTV.com

BravoTV.com

I don’t think my hair will ever be as blonde as Cameran’s (sadface), but there are other aspects of her personality that I want to achieve. She’s career-oriented in an area that’s male-dominated and she isn’t an easy target. She resembles class, elegance, and proper etiquette. If I could have her as a mentor, I would, but hopefully that wouldn’t stop us from hanging out on the beach and reading magazines, either.