Jun 30 2010

Influence: Iekeliene Stange



I’m afraid my internet sleuthing skills have disappointed; I can’t find the original creator of this.  If anyone has any inkling, please let me know, because it’s pretty clear a lot of time went creating it! 

Welcome one and all to the very second Influence feature!  Now, I realize Miep Gies is a preettttty tough act to follow, but we’ll try our best.  Too many role models, too little time.  Our second person to be featured in Influence is also from the Netherlands (perhaps we should have a sub-category of Dutch Influence all-stars?)   Iekeliene Stange is a Dutch fashion model, photographer and all-around creative force to be reckoned with.  Born on July 27th, 1984, she was initially scouted in Rotterdam, where she was enrolled in a multi-media design program, and then in London, where she had started to study photography.   Although Iekeliene hardly thought herself model material (she protested “But I’m not beautiful!” to her model scout, Victor de Bie), she gamely decided to give modeling a try with the intent of continuing it for a year or so in order to help fund her photography studies.   That plan of a one-year stint was parlayed into a significantly longer career; no easy feat, given that the modeling industry is a notoriously fickle.  Girls can be quickly replaced and discarded with an unsettling ease.   A model’s longevity can be generally be attributed to a good work ethic, artistic ability, ability to fit the particular “look” of the season and a variety of other factors mainly out of one’s control.  Iekeliene’s success in fashion land owes itself to a little something extra: her ability to stay completely and proudly true to herself.

iekeliene stange pretty much rules

I’ll confess the fangirling upfront: Iekeliene Stange is one of my favourite models.  I first heard of her when I stumbled upon her LiveJournal blog via Elyse Sewell’s LiveJournal (mild tangent alert: I can’t recommend Elyse’s LJ enough!  It reinforces why the internet is such a spectacular thing.  Alas, it seems like she doesn’t update much anymore, but the archives are all there for the reading.)  I was immediately captivated by Iekeliene’s thoughtful and whimsical outlook on life.  She has a very sharp, extremely distinctive face (think the personification of a female elf), and completely and confidently owns it.  From her colourful outfits that are re-imagined in a variety of ways, her chronicles of “Bjornvild: The Traveling Pony,” to pancake parties and adventuring photoshoots with friends, she is unapologetically imaginative.  It’s a rare person who can sport a tutu on the regular without veering into hopelessly twee territory… or, y’know, ridiculous territory.  Her enjoyment of simple pleasures and her resolution to make her own fun was misinterpreted by some, who saw all of this as “childish” rather than “childlike.”  The demise of her LiveJournal happened when some member of some horrid model-rating community started leaving vicious comments about her appearance.  I just can’t fathom why or how some people could be so deliberately malicious to someone they’ve never met, just for the sake of being cruel.  A flurry of comments- – both defending Iek and agreeing with the internet ghouls- -ensued.  Iekeliene kept posting a few more times, but these few people kept up with their negativity.  Finally, she closed down her blog, explaining that it was originally just intended for friends and family anyway.  I felt a bit dejected about this end, especially about the circumstances in which it came about. 

About six months passed, until, in a particularly epic bout of procrastination (and having seen her in a pirate-themed Galliano show), I looked up her name.  Lo and behold, Iekeliene just had her first solo photography exhibition, and it featured some of my favourite pictures she had taken.  And the title of the show?  I Like Ponies.  Ah!  I felt joyful and triumphant and as if all was right with the world.  It was a nice little reminder that just by being true to yourself, the world is so much better off for it.  You are so much better off for it.  Let the haters drink their haterade.


A section of the I Like Ponies exhibit

Jun 25 2010

Things I Love Thursday, June 24th ’10


Tralala!  It’s time for Things I Love Thursdaaaayyy!!  I hope you’ve all been having a spectacular week so far, and are ready to spill all the great things, big and small, that you’re grateful for.  Let the gratitude commence!

* Driving lessons with my little sister.  I gave her her very first driving lesson this week, and she handled it like a champ!  It was completely spontaneous, but the experience was completely shrieks-of-terror-free.  We arrived home forty minutes late, with smiles of elation on our faces.  As Marissa pointed out, it was an Official Sibling Bonding Moment.

* I may or may not be watching old episodes of True Blood and loving it!  Yes, yes, perhaps it’s not the most productive use of my time, but to paraphrase John Lennon, time spent doing activities you like and that interest you is never time wasted.  Or at least that’s what I tell my nagging conscience.  Plus, it’s pretty nice to start my day off with vampires. 

* Prancing around in purple leggings to Ye Olde One-Hit-Wonders of the ’90s.  No explanation needed, I think.

* Having a great visit with my Aunt Rosie (of the aforementioned adventuress fame), and hearing all about her adventures on the road and all our relatives they visited along the way.

* Beautiful sunshiney days and sleepy rainy nights.

* Realizing that there’s much more to my summer than just trying to pay off loans.   I’m much happier if I take my nose off the grindstone once in a while and take a little break and see my friends.  My dreams and my bank account aren’t going to completely collapse if I plan to spend money on a really good lunch or go out to a movie every now and then.   No, I’m not advocating spending money mindlessly, or on stuff you really don’t need.  I’m just saying that a draconian ”Don’t spend annnnny money.  AT ALL!” budget kinda chafes a bit.  Unnecessary misery. You know? 

Alright, that sums up my TILT list for this week!  What’s making you scream (in joy, terror, confusion, malaise) this week?


Cheers to you!


Jun 19 2010

Things I Love Thursday, June 17th ’10


OH. MY. GOD.  I know I have a slight tendency to exaggerate, but seriously? ManBaby is simultaneously the best and the worst thing I have ever found on the internet in my entire life.  I- I can’t breathe.  I scroll down and shriek my head off, yet can’t look away- -or resist posting this picture.  Thanks for the hilarity and the nightmares, Awkward Family Photos!

So, on that note of revulsion and fascination, it’s time again for the internet sensation known as Things I Love Thursday!!  Look back on the week and conjure up everything- -from the grandest of Big Deals to the smallest of simple pleasures- – and write about them in your blogs, journals, top-secret diaries, pad of Post-It notes or in the only functioning stall in the girl’s bathroom.   And you’re welcome- nay, encouraged!- to write or post the link to your TILT list in the comments section here.  Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it.  Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it. Vogu- -er, TILT! TILT! TILT! TILT!

* Season Three of True Blood is back in business! Further adventures with Sooock-eh, Vampire Beeehl, heart-stoppingly gorgeous Vampire Eric, my soon-to-be-favourites Pam, Jason and Terry and hands-down favourite, Lafayette. This show is such campy Southern Gothic fun, with very current socio-political overtones, and the first episode did not disappoint.  I wish I could get away with calling people “hooker” like Lafayette does.  I wish I could be Lafayette.  Err…sometimes.  Mostly I just want his vocabulary, stylin’ outfits and general awesomeness.

* Calling friends at work, using their official phone lines and hearing them sound all professional before they realize it’s you.  There was elevator music and everything! 

* Premature TILT entry, but I have high expectations for the funnery that will be my friends Chris and Ginny’s stag party tonight!!  I think the whole community will be there, and it should be prime time for merry-making!  Okay, it’s a party Kylie, not the friggin’ Ye Olde Renaissance Faire.  Get this: There’s even an after-party bus!  If I am a quarter as organized for my (future hypothetical) wedding as Ginny is for her’s, I’ll be so on top of my game, it’ll be edging into professional-wedding-planning-show-on-Bravo territory!

* Surprising my parents with lunch.  It was one of those small gestures that can make your entire day – and no disrespect to leftovers, but having a full-time fancy lunch rather than scavenging around in the fridge rules!


* My aunt and uncle are back from an epic road trip adventure.  They drove to California and then to Calgary and hit up a billion places in between.  We’re all looking forward to hearing all their travel stories (they always have great ones!)

* My brand-spankin’ new rockstar resume, courtesy of the ridiculously awesome Alexandra Franzen.  Not going to lie, I spent an awful lot of time just patting the computer in awe with a silly grin on my face.  I may or may not have busted out some power ballads.    Thanks, Alex!

And lo I have reached the end of my Super-Saturday-Edition of TILT!  What’s making you belt out ’80s classics this week?




Jun 17 2010

Tall Identity

G’Day, ladies and germs!

One topic that’s been rolling around in my brain for the past few years is height and identity.   More specifically, how height affects identity.  Does your height play a big part into how you define yourself, or could it be completely separate?  Is “tall” one of the first words you use to define yourself, or do you scarcely mention it at all? Although it’s downright ridiculous to make assumptions about someone based on such an arbitrary physical characteristic as height, there’s also the idea that it can shape your life in so many ways, and even alter your personality.   Do you find that being tall has a profound effect on your life?  Does it affect nearly every aspect of your life, or are you able to compartmentalize?  Is there a tall cultural identity that arises from shared tall experiences,  or is being tall just a random fluke that doesn’t really link you to other tall people?

Here’s my spin on this whole barrel of monkeys: While my height continues to profoundly shape many of my life experiences and perspectives, and is part of my overall identity, I don’t allow it to completely define me.  I don’t let my height do all the talking for me; it’s my personality first and foremost.   I do acknowledge that that sometimes is a contentious point since some people do insist on making assumptions about strangers solely based on their physical characteristics, but I like to prove them wrong.  It’s a hobby of sorts.   I also believe in the concept of a “tall culture” that is loosely defined by shared experiences and little details in common.  There is a certain kinship, a bond that makes you want to high-five other tall people and/or invent a secret handshake. 

So that’s an awful lot of questions, but hopefully we can put our heads together and find some answers.  Ugh- that sounded like an especially lame pick-up line from a creepy tutor who wears bow ties and tries to blackmail you on the regular.  ANYWAYS!  Dear readers, what are your thoughts on tall identity? Please spill and share your giant bottles of insight in the comments below!

Much love,


Jun 10 2010

Things I Love Thursday, June 9th ’10

tumblr_l15zurWJSf1qzyrwvo1_500Oscar Wilde reminds us yet again why he is Oscar Wilde and we are not. 

Image courtesy of aromaleigh.tumblr.com

Greetings and salutations!

It’s been some week, and I hope that you’ve been having a great one, too.   It’s that time again when we get all thankful and moony over all the great things that have happened to us this past week, and we spill it all out in the form of Things I Love Thursday.  Kind of like when you spill maple syrup on snow, and it hardens into toffee so delicious that it’s totally worth breaking several braces and retainer wires over- -angry orthodontist be damned! 

“Don’t Stop Believing” came on the radio three different times yesterday, and I was able to perform an epic car song and dance routine to each of them.   I like to imagine that the horrified onlookers were not actually horrified, but were just really, really appreciative of my artistic interpretation of this delicate ’80s classic. 

* There’s this man who has a horse who looks uncannily like my old horse, Sir Legacy.  The horse and the man live on the edge of town, and the man will ride him right into town.  Right into town!  The horse is incredibly well-behaved, and charms the pants off (um, not literally) everyone he comes across.  He doesn’t even hog the sidewalk!  The horse attracts huge crowds of onlookers, especially me.  This horse needs to have his own Facebook fan page, and all the carrots his heart desires.

* Feeling more optimistic and confident than I have in ages about the job-hunting process, thanks to a resume design jam session with bright young thing Alexandra Franzen.  She’s a resume, design and organization mastermind, and will help put a stop to your resume agony.

* A wonderful night out with a great group of longtime friends.  Delicious suppers and fantastic catch-ups- -is there anything else a girl can ask for?      

* Oh yes- a trip to Costco before aforementioned delicious supper!  I went in claiming that I didn’t need anything…and went out with a giant bag of jelly beans, some croissants, mango slices and an industrial-sized container of ice tea mix.  Life necessities, you know?  “It’s a dress…in a bag….”

* Lip-synching to songs from “Glee.”  One of my personal favourites is “Defying Gravity,” as sung by Chris Colfer (“Kurt Hummel.”)  What an amazing range!  Goosebump-inducing! I hope he gets more solos next season.  Kurt is one of my favourite characters on the show, and I think his, Sue’s and Brittany’s one-liners are some of the snappiest in television. 

And with that, I’m off to prance around to “Defying Gravity” for eleventy-billion more times.  What made your TILT list?  What’s been giving you mad maple syrup cravings this week? 



Jun 10 2010

Influence: Miep Gies

Welcome, one and all, to a new feature on The Height of Life I like to call “Influence.”  Actually, that’s what everyone will be calling it… because that is its name.   It’s really important to have positive role models, especially ones who reflect who you are and who you want to be.   Fortunately, these role models really are all around us, although they might not be in the spotlight.  I thought I’d expand past the usual suspects of bonafide celebrities in my search for people who give good influence (not hatin’ on celebrities, not saying that there aren’t plenty of role models to be found within the glossy pages of Tiger Beat, but I just want to cast the spotlight on some lesser-known but fully deserving interesting people who are doing interesting things.   Some of these interesting people also happen to be tall.  Others are not, but are tall in character.  I’m always on the lookout for new subjects for Influence, so if you have any suggestions (or would like to nominate your fine self) please shoot me an e-mail.   Any feedback is totally appreciated.

I’m thrilled to announce that Miep Gies is the very first subject for Influence.  Best known as one of five Dutch citizens who worked together to hide Anne Frank, her family, and other friends from the Nazis in World War II, Gies truly is a lasting example of courage and heroism.  She passed away on January 11th, 2010.  She was 100 years old.

I first read The Diary of Anne Frank when I was eight or nine years old.  That book acted as a gateway to the history, literature and testaments of the Holocaust for me- – so much that I ended up getting an MA in War Studies, with a focus on genocide, memory and denial.  When I was younger, my teenage flair for the melodramatic, combined with my runaway imagination, would often will the events of only half a century ago to seep into the present.  I would examine ever room in my house for the best places to hide, or to hide someone else.  I’d hear a knock on the door and imagine that a Nazi inspector was standing there.  All this bizarre activity on my part was an attempt to understand what it was like to hide for your life, and what it was like to hide others, often at the risk of your own life.   What it was like to be Anne Frank.  What it was like to be Miep Gies, who was the last surviving member of the small group who hid Anne and her family in the Secret Annex, and more famously, the woman who saved Anne’s diary in hopes of returning it to her at the end of the war.     

Earlier this year, Miep Gies passed away at 100 years of age, and so the last living connection to Anne was severed.   The entire world mourned, especially the girls who loved to read Anne’s diary, for they would grow up to be women who loved Miep Gies, and who hoped, if ever the situation called for it, that they would have the strength and character to do what she did.   The very existence of the Holocaust denies us any chances for closure, or any fist-pumping, “triumph of the human spirit”- types of happy endings.   However, the stories of the Annes and Mieps which later emerged give us a small bit of hope and belief in humanity.  They provided us with something, anything that was positive and redeeming, in the midst of an irredeemable “no man’s land of the mind,” as Elie Wiesel once described Auschwitz (the death camp he survived) and the Holocaust.  I believe that is why the popularity of Anne’s story continues to endure. 

Although the monstrous dictates of the Holocaust and the Second World War were created by world leaders and other People of Great Importance, there was no shortage of ordinary people willing to carry them out.  Thankfully, there were also committed, ordinary individuals of limited means who were still willing to risk everything and perform acts of extraordinary courage and kindness.  Miep’s story is not one of glorious triumph and heroic recognition.  Rather, Miep’s story is defined by an unwavering sense of human duty and belief in the inherent humanity of others, as well as a quiet, humble courage.  It speaks volumes that Miep didn’t even read Anne’s diary before handing it over to her father, the lone survivor of the Secret Annex.   As a society, we tend to think that it must be extraordinarily difficult to be a truly horrible person, even in times of war and chaos, but the truth is is that it is extraordinarily difficult to be a truly good person, especially in times of war and chaos. 

According to Miep Gies, “You don’t have to be a hero to do your human duty… who was a hero?  I was not.  I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary.”

A grateful and humbled world begs to differ.  We should all strive to be so “ordinary.”