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One evening in the winter of 2016, my husband mentioned that he was sending away for one of those commercial DNA-testing kits. He asked if I wanted him to order me one as well. I could easily have said no. I wasn’t curious about my ancestry. I knew where I came from–Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews on both my parents’ sides. Instead, I said yes. Why not? It seemed like a game–like those personality tests people often take online.
The results, when I received them a few months later, changed everything I had ever understood about myself. I was only half Eastern European Ashkenazi, as it turned out. A person I had never heard of was identified as a first cousin. The truth was unavoidable. My beloved father, who died in a car accident when I was 23, had not been my biological father.
This discovery led me deep into a world I had known nothing about: the history, science and psychological underpinnings of assisted reproduction. I have spent the past few years piecing together the story of how I came to be, the truth of where (and who) I come from–and the ways in which my identity was scrupulously hidden from me.
In 1961, my parents, Orthodox Jews who married later in life, were having trouble conceiving. My father was part of a large family that took seriously the commandment to be fruitful and multiply. My mother, nearing 40, was desperate to have a child. They went to the now long-defunct Farris Institute for Parenthood near the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. There, they were told that a “treatment” was available to help solve my dad’s infertility. A practice of the day was to mix donor sperm with the intended father’s sperm, in order to keep alive the possibility that the child was biologically his. There was a commonly used term for this: confused artificial insemination.
Confused is right. Back then, the medical establishment took great pains to allow couples to believe what they wanted about what they were doing. Couples were told to have sex before and after the procedure to further the sense that the (often completely sterile) husband could be the father. Once a woman had become pregnant, the couple might be told that her blood levels showed she must have already been pregnant when she first came to the institute, furthering the possibility that two otherwise rational people could bury the truth from their family, their friends and themselves.
The trauma and shame surrounding infertility was intense. In 1954, a court ruled that donor insemination constituted adultery on the part of the woman, whether or not the husband had granted consent. Nine years earlier, TIME ran a story about the legal status of donor-conceived children with the lacerating title Artificial Bastards? Records were heavily coded, then destroyed. Sperm donors were guaranteed anonymity. It seemed fail-safe that the procedure would remain forever secret. The idea of a future in which DNA results would become easily accessible through a popular test would have been unimaginable.
Now advances in the field of assisted reproduction are also far beyond what could have been imagined at the time of my birth. In vitro fertilization, surrogacy, donor eggs, cryogenic technology and the capacity to test embryos for genetic markers have allowed many more of us–straight or gay, married or single–to make families. And that’s a great thing, but it isn’t a simple thing. Though science has evolved at a stunning rate, the human capacity to understand and wisely use those advances has limped along.
The secret that was kept from me for 54 years had practical effects that were both staggering and dangerous: I gave incorrect medical history to doctors all my life. It’s one matter to have an awareness of a lack of knowledge–as many adoptees do–but another altogether not to know that you don’t know. When my son was an infant, he was stricken with a rare and often fatal seizure disorder. There was a possibility it was genetic. I confidently told his pediatric neurologist that there was no family history of seizures.
More difficult to quantify are the profound psychological effects of such nondisclosure and secrecy. I grew up feeling “other”–different from my family in ways I didn’t understand. I looked nothing like my dad and was constantly told that I didn’t “look” Jewish. I was filled with longing, but for what I did not know. The air in my childhood home was thick with the unsaid. I felt it, picked up on it, but had no name for it. The psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas has called this “the unthought known”–what we absolutely know but cannot allow ourselves to think.
We find ourselves in an interesting sliver of time. Secrets surrounding identity have existed since the start of humanity. The Old Testament is threaded through with them. People lived and died without ever knowing the truth of themselves. But now–because of the potent combination of DNA testing and the Internet–those secrets are tumbling out. At some point in the not-too-distant future, the very idea that such secrets of identity were ever kept will seem ludicrous.
The U.S. has no laws limiting the number of offspring a sperm donor may produce, nor does it regulate anonymity. Numerous countries do restrict a donor’s number of offspring, ranging from one (Taiwan) to 25 (the Netherlands). But the U.S. and Canada have sidestepped this ethically thorny territory, allowing for the possibility that half-siblings may inadvertently marry and have children.
And then there is the matter of anonymity. People donating sperm or egg (and while we’re at it, donate is a misnomer, as the transaction usually involves payment) must now know that they cannot–they will not–remain anonymous forever. If the donor’s brother, niece, cousin or granddaughter has submitted DNA to one of the [...]
TORUN, Poland: Two master bakers dressed in white use a long knife to carve a heavy, thick slab of molasses-coloured gingerbread dough out of a huge metal vat, where, like wine, it has been maturing for a few months, deep in the cellar of one of the world’s oldest bakeries.The bakers at the Kopernik Confectionery Factory in Poland’s historic central city of Torun taste the matured dough, checking whether each vat is ready for baking.The factory has used a jealously-guarded secret mix of spices since it opened in 1763 and has been serving up its popular brand of gingerbread non-stop ever since, with the exception of a few years’ hiatus during World War II.Only six of the factory’s bakers know the exact proportion and types of spices that are used, according to spokesman Jakub Kopczynski.“Cloves preserve the dough, which of course also includes flour and sugar, allowing it to develop its unique flavour as it ages,“ he tells AFP.Cinnamon, ginger and pepper are also in the spice mix, he adds, though he politely refuses to divulge further details.“Like fine wine, good gingerbread must be aged and like wine making, the process requires a lot of know-how,“ he adds.Around him are a hundred or so vats lined up in neat rows across the factory’s bottom floor, each of them weighing around 700kg. Vegan, kosher, non-GMOThe bold, inviting aroma of gingerbread spice wafts through the sprawling factory on the edge of Torun.The secret recipe draws on the city’s gingerbread tradition harking back to the Middle Ages when spices from India and the Middle East first began to arrive in Torun, later a major crossroads for Hanseatic trading routes.Its origins may be ancient, but Torun gingerbread is also as trendy as it gets: the factory has acquired certification attesting that its products are vegan, kosher, non-GMO and that they do not contain palm oil. “It’s always been our traditional standard; now we have formal recognition,“ Kopczynski adds, having moved to another part of the factory, where a conveyor belt feeds gingerbread hearts into a 36-metre-long (119-feet) oven to bake for seven minutes.The historic factory is a joint-stock company owned by current and former employees, who have shunned offers from foreign investors in order to prevent them from acquiring their prized recipe.Named after Nicolaus Copernicus, the Torun-born father of modern astronomy who is known as Mikolaj Kopernik in Polish, the factory produced 3,500 tonnes of gingerbread this year, sold in Poland and across the globe. Luxury item Polish high school student Jagoda presses a ball of gingerbread dough into a hand-carved wooden cookie mould in the shape of a horseshoe inscribed “szczescie”, or Polish for “luck”. She has come with her class from the nearby city of Bydgoszcz for a hands-on baking lesson at the state museum of Torun gingerbread, nestled in the original red-brick Kopernik factory near the city’s historic central square.“My family has a tradition of making decorated gingerbread cookies to give away as Christmas presents,“ the 17-year-old tells AFP, holding a heart-shaped cookie impressed with a flower motif in the palm of her hand.Shaped as knights, angels, princesses or horse-drawn carriages, large gingerbread cookies and cakes, pressed from intricately carved wooden moulds, were long among the most exclusive of gifts during the pre-industrial era up until the late 1700s.“Because the imported spices were so expensive, gingerbread was a luxury item which only the elite could afford,“ explains museum director Malgorzata Mikulska-Wernerowicz, adding that gingerbread bakers were also wealthy and stood high on the social ladder.“Kings visiting Torun received gingerbread from the city council,“ she says, standing next to a display with gingerbread moulds carved in applewood and pearwood dating from the 1600 and 1700s.‘Pepper-bread’Invited by a local prince, knights of the Teutonic Order came from the Holy Land to found Torun, known in German as Thorn, in 1233. The knights are believed to have brought the first spices from the Middle East, triggering demand and with it, a lucrative spice trade that helped Torun become one of Europe’s wealthiest cities during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.Gingerbread is still big business in Torun, with dozens of bakeries, shops and even a private interactive museum capitalising on the tradition in the city of just over 200,000 residents. Unlike the thin, crisp gingerbread snaps popular in Sweden or Britain, Torun gingerbread is chewy and meaty. Traditionally based on honey, spirits, wheat and rye flour mixed with spices, records show that the Torun variety was already being made by local German bakers in the mid-1500s and drew its name from pepper — Pfefferkuchen — rather than ginger. The modern-day Polish term for gingerbread — “pierniki” — also refers to pepper. Legend has it that Copernicus himself enjoyed munching on the treat.“He came from a family of wealthy merchants so there’s no reason why he wouldn’t have indulged in gingerbread,“ says Mikulska-Wernerowicz, with a twinkle in her eye. — AFP [...]
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She is pretty much royalty within the modelling industry. The name Bella Hadid, in itself, is able to elicit awe – a testament to how much influence a mere 22-year-old can have among the fashion crowd.
The American runway superstar has walked for the likes of Chanel, Balmain, Dior, Givenchy, Bottega Veneta and more. As it is, her Instagram account boasts a staggering 21 million followers.
Which begs the question – how does Hadid deal with her hectic schedule? Well, it seems that she makes the most of her “me time” whenever possible. Just that for her, it often happens while she is flying.
“Because I travel so much, I usually sleep on a plane and then wake up to go to work. That’s my schedule usually,” reveals Hadid, who was in Kuala Lumpur recently for a Tag Heuer event.
“So I like to take a lot of time on the plane to refresh my skin, listen to my meditation music, sleep, and see whether there’s a little time in the sky where I can have it to myself before I get back down to earth and work.”
Bella Hadid surrounded by her adoring fans during her visit to Kuala Lumpur.
Hadid was announced as the face of Tag Heuer in early 2017 – a role that she relishes. She says that she is honoured to stand among the brand’s other ambassadors, which includes big-name actors and athletes.
“My father has always had Tag watches. He was a big lover of watches in general. So I would go into his closet and find all these amazing watches – and a lot of them were Tag,” she notes.
“When they approached me to be one of the ambassadors and do the campaign, it was such a big thing. I think at that time I just wanted to go, ‘Look dad! I got one and it’s mine!’ But really, just a cool experience so far.”
The “Bella Hadid Special Edition” is a limited edition watch numbering only 500 pieces.
On her “Don’t Crack Under Pressure” moment (Tag Heuer’s advertising slogan), Hadid points to the time where she had to walk the runway while bleeding into a dress and still not lose her composure.
“I had a lot of stressful situations but I think that time it was also painful. They were about to push me on the runway and my dress broke, and they had to zip it up and they were ripping my skin while doing it,” she states.
Hadid’s favourite Tag Heuer watch is the one that bears her name. The “Link Bella Hadid Special Edition” comes in black ceramic set with diamonds, and bears her signature on the back case.
“It’s classic, beautiful and simple. And it goes with everything. I can wear it during the day and during the night. I don’t change watches. If I love something, I love something,” she concludes. [...]
TORONTO (Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency said on Friday an inspection team will be given access to a Moscow laboratory and data it has long demanded thereby removing the final obstacle to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency's (RUSADA) full reinstatement. [...]
The long-awaited Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2018 has generated the lowest broadcast rating ever, despite having pop singers such as Shawn Mendes and Rita Ora performing on the show.
According to data published by ShowBuzzDaily, the December 2 broadcast only managed to draw in a 0.9 rating among adults aged 18-49 and an overall of 3.27 million viewers. Oh no! The ratings are calculated based on how many people tuned in during the preliminary live and same day.
It’s a huge drop in ratings from the 2017’s show, which recorded a 1.5 rating among adults aged 18-49 and just under five million total viewers. At that time, the broadcast accounted for the lowest rating in record.
According to The Independent, the poor rating may be a result of several factors. The show was said to be in competition with NBC’s Sunday Night Football coverage after it switched its regular airing network and time from CBS on Tuesday night to ABC on Sunday night.
Photo: Victoria’s Secret
Besides that, the almost month-long gap between its shooting date, November 8, and its airing date, December 2, might have caused the viewers’ interest to fall as many would have already seen the photographs and videos circulating online. The gap between the shooting date and airing date for previous shows was no more than two weeks apart.
A comment made by Victoria’s Secret chief marketing officer Ed Razek about excluding plus-size and transgender models during an interview with Vogue could also have contributed to a loss of viewers. This caused online outrage from many people and even singer Halsey who performed at the show took to Instagram to share her thoughts.
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A post shared by halsey (@iamhalsey) on Dec 2, 2018 at 7:06pm PST
However, this year’s event showed some fresh addition with 18 new faces gracing the runway alongside some of the highest-paid models in the industry such as Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Bella Hadid. One model that really stood out was Winnie Harlow who made history as the first model with vitiligo to walk the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
Photo: Victoria’s Secret
The show also featured a seventh segment for the first time and we all had the chance to see Adriana Lima walk the runway for the last time before she retires as an Angel after 20 years.
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show still remains an iconic event and global attraction. Let’s hope it will attract a higher rating next year!
The post Why Did The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2018 Record Its Lowest Ever Rating? appeared first on female. [...]
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When it comes to the fantasy world that Victoria’s Secret has dreamed up, “angels” do indeed walk among us. The lingerie brand’s elite models are as otherworldly as they come: lithe, disarmingly beautiful and just plain ol’ sweet.
Jasmine Tookes, a 2015 inductee, demonstrates all those traits – and more. The 27-year-old has a commanding presence on the runway, and is loved for her gorgeous brown skin.
“It meant everything to me,” she says, on being made a Victoria’s Secret Angel. “It’s something I wanted my entire life since I can remember as a kid watching Giselle (Bundchen), Adriana (Lima) and Tyra (Banks) walk the runway.”
In an email interview with Star2, Tookes explains that those supermodels are indeed a big role model. As much as they have inspired her, she wants to now inspire other young girls.
“It felt surreal to follow in such an iconic supermodel’s footsteps,” Tookes enthuses about Banks. “She was the model I loved, and I can’t believe I’m in the same position she was.”
When asked about her message to her fans, she states: “Always remember to always work hard for what you want. Never give up and keep pushing yourself to reach your goals.”
Tookes (seen in this year’s show) started walking for Victoria’s Secret in 2012, but only gained her wings three years later. Her modelling portfolio includes known designers such as Tom Ford, Versace, Balmain and Calvin Klein.
She has also worked with renown photographers the likes of Steven Meisel, Patrick Demarchelier and Peter Lindbergh, with fashion spreads in American, French, German and Italian Vogue.
“From walking runways to becoming an ‘angel’, it took many steps to be where I am today. I couldn’t be more grateful. I never take anything for granted,” she points out.
Jasmine Tookes regularly updates her life on Instagram, which boasts over three million followers. Photo: Instagram/@jastookes
Keeping It Real
California-born Tookes was first discovered at age 16 while with her mother, a stylist and image consultant. Her nine-year-old sister is an aspiring model too – they have appeared together in a fashion catalogue before.
So it comes as no surprise that Tookes places great importance in having her family close to her. She says that they keep her “grounded and happy”.
“Never take anything for granted as life is very short and anything can be taken away in a heartbeat. That is something my mother has told me that I’ll never forget,” she adds.
Tookes lets on that walking the Victoria’s Secret runway is nothing short of a surreal experience. But that is not the only highlight. She also looks forward to the big party that follows.
“It’s like you’re walking on a dream and not to mention in some of the most amazing outfits ever. The after-party is all about letting loose and just celebrating – and having fun with the girls. So there is tonnes of dancing going on.”
She also says that the T-shirt bra is one of her favourite collections. This is because it comes with accent logo straps, which she thinks are really fun in dressing up her wardrobe.
But Victoria’s Secret is not just a lingerie brand to Tookes. Understandable, as the annual runway show is a globally publicised spectacle and has the potential to make a statement.
“Why do I think that Victoria’s Secret is so universal? Because it is a brand that empowers women and there are women all around the world,” she concludes. [...]
Fashion — and even Congress — may be changing, but the lingerie brand of Angels clings to its push-up bras and wings. [...]
A model presents a creation during the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York November 8, 2018. — Reuters pic
NEW YORK, Nov 9 — The planet’s top models transformed into angels for Victoria’s Secret glitzy fashion show yesterday, donning wings, barely-there lingerie and plaid for a return to New York after a two-year hiatus.With the show once again on US soil, sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid strode the runway at Manhattan’s Pier 94 with the likes of Kendall Jenner and Victoria’s Secret newcomer Winnie Harlow.The runway extravaganza of underwear, paired with sky-high stilettos, gladiator boots and the occasional argyle sock, is now in its 24th year. Taped Tuesday, it will be broadcast worldwide on December 2.Sixty models put on an Amazonian display of luscious waving locks, impossibly perfect slender bodies and sun-kissed make-up for what is considered one of the most competitive gigs in the industry.The “Fantasy Bra” — each year the piece de la resistance of the collection — was modelled by Sweden’s Elsa Hosk — a US$1 million (RM4.18 million) confection of 2,100 Swarovski diamonds that took 930 hours to make.
A model presents a creation as singer Shawn Mendes performs during the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York November 8, 2018. — Reuters pic
In the biggest, most typed fashion show in the world, music was provided this year from a bevvy of stars led by Rita Ora. The show was the culmination of weeks of fittings and instagram-trailed publicity for the brand.The purpose of the lavish spending is, of course, to sell bras and knickers. Last year, the show was held in Shanghai as the US brand sought to push into China’s growing lingerie market.The 2018 show was distinctive by a collaboration with London-based designer Mary Katrantzou that showcased psychedelic bodysuits.Brazilian model Adriana Lima told AFP backstage in hair and make-up that it never gets old despite being her 18th Victoria’s Secret show.“I really thought that over the years I would get more relaxed and used to it. I get as nervous, as anxious as I have been,” she said.“We have fun,” said French model Cindy Bruna.“It’s not about making sacrifices. It’s about working for what you want,” she said. “We’re here today, so it’s worth it.”
Models appear together on the runway at the conclusion of the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York November 8, 2018. — Reuters pic
The organizers may have banked on New York hosting a smoother show. Last year, Gigi Hadid and singer Katy Perry, who had been due to perform, were reportedly denied visas to enter China.Model Ming Xi — who walked again yesterday — tripped last year on the catwalk. In 2016, the show was held in Paris. In the past, it has also been held in Los Angeles, Miami and London. — AFP [...]
Elsa Hosk is the Victoria’s Secret Angel chosen to wear the 2018 edition of the Fantasy Bra. — AFP pic
NEW YORK, Nov 9 — From iconic Angels and star names to rising talents, around 60 top models are ready to hit the runway for the eagerly awaited Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which screens December 2 on ABC. With just hours to go before the event, here’s a look at some of the models who’ll be in the spotlight in 2018, sporting the brand’s sexy attire and legendary wings.Angels top the billNot all of the models on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway have Angel status. Only a handful of models can currently count themselves part of this exclusive club. One of those is Elsa Hosk, who has been chosen to wear the prestigious Fantasy Bra. Romee Strijd, on the other hand, will take to the catwalk in the “Shooting Star” ensemble, embellished with some 125,000 Swarovski crystals. The most iconic Angels, Adriana Lima and Behati Prinsloo, will also be on the runway, joined by Sara Sampaio, Jasmine Tookes, Josephine Skriver, Candice Swanepoel, Taylor Hill, Lais Ribeiro and Stella Maxwell. This all makes for a first-rate cast, completed with a multitude of star models for an ambitious and audacious show that’s sure to be a memorable event.Star modelsThe world-renowned models Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner — whose presence had been uncertain — will all be on the bill this year. That’s good news for fashion fans, but also for the Victoria’s Secret brand, which is guaranteed to cause a stir with this all-star line-up. The models — who are three of fashion’s most in-demand names — will evidently be in the spotlight during this runway extravaganza. Barbara Palvin is also set to return to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show this year following a five-year hiatus. Other big-name models featuring in this year’s show include Alexina Graham, Winnie Harlow, Toni Garrn and Cindy Bruna.Rising talentsSeveral rising runway talents will also have the honour of walking in their first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 2018 — an impressive accolade in the world of modelling. Model of the moment Duckie Thot is one of those privileged few, ready to don the iconic wings for the first time alongside upcoming models Lorena Rae and Kelsey Merritt. The pair have been busy working out to make sure their physique is in top condition for the big day. Mayowa Nicholas, who was highly in demand during Fashion Week, will make her Victoria’s Secret debut this year too. Initially scheduled to walk in last year’s Shanghai show, the model was unable to participate. — AFP-Relaxnews [...]
Dutch model Romee Strijd presenting a creation during the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai. — AFP pic
NEW YORK, Nov 8 — Romee Strijd is set to strut her stuff in the “Shooting Star Swarovski Look” during the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show later this month.The Dutch supermodel has been selected to wear the dazzling costume during the ‘Celestial Angel’ section of the show, WWD reports.“I couldn’t keep it a secret for even a minute,” Strijd told the publication about receiving the good news from the lingerie giant. “When I wear the Swarovski look I feel like a superhero. Ha! All the sparkle and shine makes me feel so glamorous.”The costume consists of a bodysuit, bra and brief set worn with a sparkling 3D, star-shaped ‘mono-wing’ and covered in more than 125,000 Swarovski crystals. According to WWD, the outfit weighs in at a hefty 27lbs.The news comes days after it was revealed that fellow “Angel” Elsa Hosk will don the US$1 million (RM4.15 million) “Dream Angels Fantasy Bra” at this year’s show. The piece, which was designed in collaboration with Atelier Swarovski, features over 2,100 lab-grown, responsibly-produced diamonds, including a pear-shaped centre stone weighing in at 2.03 carats.The move rounds off a big year for Strijd, who has taken to the catwalk for brands including Elie Saab and Off-White, as well as starring in campaigns for Victoria’s Secret and Ralph Lauren Polo.The 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show will air on ABC Network on December 2. — AFP-Relaxnews [...]