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Love At First Sight: On Christina Ricci And Queer '90s Nostalgia

Film
Getty Royalty Free and Universal Studios.

Rewatching 'Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain' unlocked a lot of buried memories

Before I knew that "coup de foudre" signified a lightning bolt, a meteorological jolt from above, I learned, thanks to my French vocabulary workbook, its metaphorical connotation: the electric experience of falling in love at first sight. I was captivated by this concept, a jolt of the heart and senses instead of a sky-dwelling phenomenon. And yet, the first coup de foudre I ever witnessed was, according to dominant narratives, a misinterpretation. Ten years old, I was settled in the butter-saturated dark of a movie theater, eagerly watching Christina Ricci—I was always, whenever possible, eagerly watching Christina Ricci—in her oft-overlooked turn in 1995's Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain.

I was watching her, or rather her character, fall in love. The setup is this: It's the summer of 1980, and, in the wake of her father's death, adolescent Beth Easton (Ricci) and her mother have moved from Los Angeles to a quaint and socially claustrophobic town in northern Washington. A reluctant transplant, Beth rides her bicycle into town, surveying the provincial sights with an uncharitable eye. Her sullen ruminations are interrupted by the brief commotion of a scuffle between two teenagers, both short-haired and dressed in vaguely boyish attire: one participant is identified as male, and it seems more than safe to assume the other is, as well.

Then, Jody Saleno (Anna Chlumsky) turns around, and the camera decelerates into slow-motion, as if to accommodate both our surprise—it was 1995, remember, so this binaristic gender reveal was meant to startle us—and Beth's admiration. And yet, adult Beth's accompanying voiceover elides any suggestion that she was concerned over Jody's identity or presentation; on the contrary, it is a quick but wistful comment affirming a long, loving intimacy between two women—an intimacy that, for Beth, seemingly began with this headrush of instant attraction. "That was my first glimpse of Jody," Beth fondly recalls, "the finest woman I know."

I was a naive 10-year-old, but I was also lavishly romantic. Before my thoughts could self-correct—could recalibrate to accommodate the truth I was supposed to rely upon and trust—the word "love" glowed inside my head, red and warm. I felt it, and I saw it, as if it hung before my eyes, sultry and fluorescent. I had read about love at first sight: In D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths, the gods and goddesses always pursued beautiful creatures they had only just spied from the clouds. I knew, too, that Romeo and Juliet's catastrophe unfurled because their love—sparked at a glance during a party—was forbidden by their families' blood feud. Literature, the template for my callow life, had instructed in me this much, and the flutter at the bottom of my stomach whispered the rest: Beth had just fallen in love with Jody.

I wish that this realization had been clarifying, that it had laced together the stray tendrils of my own fledgling romantic experience. Perhaps it would have called to mind the girl in my Girl Scout troop whose proximity, since approximately second grade, had condemned me to dizzy solicitude; my eyes scanned for her in the hallways, during gym class, and at lunch there was a barbed, but ever-diligent, patrol. When I didn't see her, my stomach collapsed in a mélange of relief and dejection, an alchemy familiar to me now, but one that bewildered me at the time. I dreamed of our becoming inseparable, when in truth we were, at most, friendly acquaintances, and the prospect of meeting her gaze made me panic, as if I were being asked to stare directly into the sun. My diary entries from elementary school run wild with anxious speculation. Why can't I face her? I wondered, as I grappled for an answer that always eluded the nib of my pen. Once, as if to further exemplify my predicament, I sketched two little girls: one smiling and waving at the other—me—whose back was turned to her, a rudimentary but clearly pained expression on her crudely drawn face. "Hi!" read the thought bubble ballooning from the other girl's mouth. In response, I said nothing.

Of course, I had a crush on that girl. Probably it was the first crush ever to take root in my anxious, fledgling heart. But the continental expanse of decades and de-familiarity—my family moved away, and because we were not really friends, she and I never spoke again—scuffed out her memory until a couple of years ago, when I was rereading my diaries for (rather torturous) book research. I had only recently come out as bisexual. Re-encountering my scribbles, desperate and searching, and the doodle—that sad doodle of a terrified, besotted little girl—my eyes widened. "Oh my gosh!" I cried. "I liked her." What could possibly have been more evident?

But in the '90s, I only understood queerness in the abstract, and as something that "happened" to other people, mysterious types ensconced far away, people I would surely never know. Classmates tossed around the word "gay" with that enthusiastic impishness born from naiveté, and eventually, I learned its relationship to the clinical term "homosexuality." To say I vaguely understood it would be generous: It was something inchoate, detached from identity. At the time, I never considered—I lacked the conceptual scaffolding to consider—that gayness could be at all relevant to me (I did not learn the term "bisexuality" until sometime later in junior high). And because I have always been a neurotic sort, inclined to fixations, I must have assumed that my preoccupation with this girl was merely another indication of my fundamental oddness, an index of my inability to commingle with people my own age, with the charm and ease I envied in others. For that same reason, Beth's first sight of Jody— rough-and-tumble, fierce, fluid—presented in Gold Diggers as one of the definitive experiences of her emotional life, registered as a conundrum to be summarily and tidily explained. The scene had only looked like a coup de foudre: I was romanticizing, as I was wont to do, and exaggerating something meant to be important, but not seismic.

Recently, I rewatched the film to indulge my piqued curiosity. After unearthing these memories of a childhood crush that had both plagued and baffled me, I was curious to know what else I might have pushed aside, what flickers of longing I had misperceived and tucked away into an archive of unexamined relics of sexual awakening. Mostly, I remembered Christina Ricci, and how seeing her films was one of my most pressing imperatives. I recalled her doll's face, her insouciant grin, and the glossy brunette hair that made my fingers prickle with a yen to brush and smooth and braid. I recollected the scene in Now and Then when her character, dismayed by puberty's insistence, taped her breasts down to prevent them from growing, and I felt envy and pleasure fuse in a queasy synthesis: Teenage Christina had never met a T-shirt or oversized flannel she couldn't cozen to her advantage. I remembered thinking something similar about a friend in ninth grade, and wondering why, when she came out to me as bisexual—by then I had gleaned some sense of the word—I experienced no shock, but rather, elation—until, of course, she emphasized that I need not worry about her coming onto me. I couldn't explain to either to her or to myself why, on the contrary, I was worried that she wouldn't.

I ordered a copy of Gold Diggers, grimacing at the title, which, like so many '90s artifacts, has aged as well as yogurt. And if I force myself through the heady cloud of nostalgia, I can admit that the film isn't especially memorable. I'm weary of narratives where sudden wealth acts as a deus ex machina, even when its recipients—especially, in this case, Jody—are deserving and female. At its base, Gold Diggers is a pleasant but unremarkable film in which two white girls, one deeply impoverished, search for legendary gold, surmounting some not inconsiderable obstacles—a vicious subplot of domestic abuse is woven into the narrative—and cultivating a keen friendship along the way. It was the friendship that enchanted me; it seemed more remarkable, and more rare, than buried treasure.

Female friendships are romances all their own, of this I am certain. But authorial intention be damned, Beth and Jody offered me the possibility of imagining something else. After Beth first spies Jody mid-tussle, the pair have roughly two more meet-cutes, one in which Jody, ensconced in the branches of a tree, teasingly throws berries at Beth, and their subsequent banter waltzes into a joint recitation of Winnie the Pooh. Dependant upon the most conventional narrative tropes, Jody is, from the start, marked as the tomboy from the wrong side of the tracks, and Beth is admonished against spending time with someone who is "trash." But Beth scoffs at this small-town snobbery, remarking to her mother that there is "something about [Jody]"—an ineffable allure that cinches their intimacy after the briefest acquaintance. And when, after a brush with mortal peril, Beth's mother demands that she no longer see Jody, her daughter declares in love-steeped outrage, "Nothing you say will ever change the way I feel about her."

Perhaps this line of dialogue is yet another example of dear old '90s earnestness, spoken with the confidence that only comes from youth's unscarred vision. Perhaps. But Beth Easton and Jody Salerno—they could have been my something else. They could have my first encounter with queer romance, if that had been what I wanted from them. If only I had known that was precisely what I was yearning for, and that I had already begun searching, my object obscure, but no less beloved.

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Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for goop

"I had to create a harder shell about being a woman"

In a panel discussion during Gwyneth Paltrow's In Goop Health summit, actress Jessica Alba revealed that she "stopped eating" to avoid unwanted attention from men when she was first starting her career in Hollywood.

According to People, Alba said that she "had a curvy figure as a young girl" and, as such, was made to feel as though her body was the reason that men may be inappropriate toward her. "I was meant to feel ashamed if I tempted men," Alba said during the panel discussion. "Then I stopped eating a lot when I became an actress. I made myself look more like a boy so I wouldn't get as much attention. I went through a big tomboy phase."

She continued, "In Hollywood, you're really preyed upon. They see a young girl, and they just want to touch you inappropriately or talk to you inappropriately or think that they're allowed to be aggressive with you in a way."

Alba also noted that she was raised in a conservative household. "My mom would say, 'You have a body, and it's very womanly, and people don't understand that you're 12,'" she said. "I wasn't allowed to have my nalgas out, which is butt cheeks [in Spanish], but I was born with a giant booty, and they come out of everything. So, I didn't get to wear normal things that all my friends wore."

She said that these reactions to her body really affected her attitude. "I created this pretty insane 'don't fuck with me' [attitude]," she said. "I had to create a harder shell about being a woman."

According to her, her relationship to her body only changed when her first child, Honor, was born in 2008. "[After she was born,] I was like, Oh this is what these boobies are meant to do! Feed a kid!" she said. "And that was the dopest shit I'd ever done. So, I came into my body as a woman finally and I stopped being ashamed of myself."

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photo courtesy of Teva

Because of course

Teva, the most obvious lesbian footwear brand since Birkenstock, really knows its customer base. In time for Pride, the brand has teamed up with Tegan and Sara for a gay shoe to end all gay shoes. In other words, your Pride footwear is on lock.

The shoe isn't just your average Teva sandal. Tegan and Sara's design, the Teva Flatform Universal Pride sandal, is a 2.5-inch platform shoe with a rainbow sole. Tegan and Sara noted in a press release that they have been Teva wearers for pretty much their whole lives. "We got our first pair of Teva sandals when we were 16," they said. "This rainbow Flatform collab is like full circle LGBTQ+ Pride validation."

What's better, with each sandal sale, Teva will donate $15 to the Tegan and Sara Foundation, up to $30,000. The funds donated will go toward scholarships which will give young members of the LGBTQ+ community the chance to go to summer camps which will "help develop self-confidence and leadership abilities in a safe and nurturing environment." Tegan and Sara added, "Teva's generous support for our foundation will allow us to help even more LGBTQ+ youth."

Available today at Teva's and Nordstrom's websites, the sandal retails for $80.

Photo courtesy of Teva

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Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

"Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design"

Prada Group has announced that Prada, as well as all of its brands, will now be fur-free. According to a press release from the Humane Society, Prada, Miu Miu, Church's, and Car Shoe will ban the use of fur beginning with the Spring/Summer 2020 collection (aka the Fashion Week coming up next). The list of fashion designers banning fur only continues to grow, with 3.1 Phillip Lim, Coach, Armani, Versace, Gucci, and more having stopped using the material in seasons past.

"The Prada Group is committed to innovation and social responsibility, and our fur-free policy—reached following a positive dialogue with the Fur Free Alliance, in particular with LAV and the Humane Society of the United States—is an extension of that engagement," Miuccia Prada told the Human Society. "Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design while meeting the demand for ethical products."

Following London Fashion Week designers forgoing the use of fur in September and the first-ever Vegan Fashion Week taking place in February, it's easy to imagine an entirely fur-free fashion future. It's especially easy, I presume, for the brands to consider a fur-free future, given that entire cities and states are taking a stance. New York is following in the footsteps of Los Angeles banning fur, with a bill proposed this March that would ban sales across New York State.

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Photo by Johnny Dufort

"Club leisure" is the new athleisure

Alexander Wang is recognizing clubbing as the workout that it truly is with his latest Adidas collaboration. In this fifth installment, he "changes gears," per a press release from the brand, taking the iconic sports brand to the dance floor.

For the new campaign, the collection comes to life in iconic choreographer Tanisha Scott's dance studio and stars dancers Noemi Janumala, Dakota Moore, Avi McClish, and Olivia Burgess. The dancers show just how far these clothes can go when you want to bust a move or stretch, but TBH, I'll leave these poses to the pros and just use my clothes for flexing on the 'gram.

The collection—which features six apparel items, three shoes, and six accessories—features, per a press release, "Wang's knack for pre-styling." Standouts from the mostly black-and-white items include a silver sneaker that was *made* for moonwalking, an airy windbreaker that has just the right dash of bright blue with the scattered Adidas trefoil design, and a towel hoodie that you won't feel bad sweating in.

Ahead of the May 25 collection drop online and in stores, peep the gorgeous campaign images below.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Joggers, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Towel Hoodie, $350, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Sock Leggings, $60, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Adilette Slides, $90, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Futureshell Shoes in Platinum Metallic, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Core White, $280, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Shorts in Core White, $120, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Bum Bag, $50, available staring May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Duffle Bag, $70, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

NYLON uses affiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase something through those links, but every product chosen is selected independently.


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Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

And Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's reaction to that prediction is literally all of us

Though it felt like no one saw the bonkers end to Game of Thrones coming, Gwendoline Christie, who played Ser Brienne of Tarth on the show, predicted exactly who would end up with the majority of power in the Seven, or rather, Six Kingdoms years before it all went down. During an interview leading up to the penultimate season of Game of Thrones in 2017, Christie sat down with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jaime Lannister) for an interview with Mario Lopez, and they were both asked to predict how the whole thing would come to a close. Spoilers ahead...

Lopez posed the question, "If you were a gambling man, who would you say?" Coster-Waldau replied: "Well gambling, the odds now are clearly in Daenerys Targaryan's favor. Or, that guy," he said, pointing to a picture of the Night King.

But Christie, knowing Game of Thrones' tendencies toward the unpredictable, came right back at Coster-Waldau, asking, "But don't you think it's going to be someone out of left field?"

"So I'm wondering if it might be Bran," Christie suggested, "Just because we keep seeing the world from his perspective, don't we? We keep seeing the visions. So is he in the future, projecting in the past?"

Coster-Waldau's reaction to the suggestion that Bran will rule over them all is, well, exactly how we all felt watching it play out in real time this past Sunday evening. "The three eyed raven? As a king? No, that doesn't make sense," he said. And, well, same. Because while I usually *adore* watching Christie shut down Coster-Waldau, like they're an old married couple bickering, this time I'm on his side. It made no sense!

Coster-Waldau attempted to reason with her, saying that if Bran was planning the whole thing, then he wanted Jaime to push him out the window, and that makes no sense at all. But Christie stood firm in her belief, and, as last Sunday demonstrated, her commitment to this highly improbably outcome paid off. We hope she placed a sizable bet in Vegas.

Catch the full clip below.

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