What I wanted to do

Back in 2014, one of the jobs that I wanted to do was to make soap. That’s to give myself something better to do so that I won’t always be on the computer, but my grandmother discouraged it so I turned to sewing and embroidery instead. My grandmother didn’t want me to make soap because you needed lye to make it, which would hurt the eyes. You could make soap without using lye and it can be done with the cold process method, which involves combining lye with oils and leaving the soap at room temperature in order to saponify.

But I’ve yet to learn how to cook and make soap myself, so sewing and dressmaking are the more accessible and viable options for me when it comes to selling what I made. I remember sewing a lot in 2009 but it didn’t take off big time until the mid-2010s when I started embroidering a lot and tend making my own skirts with the help of my father. I wouldn’t start selling them until 2020, which’s the time when I sold a lot of facemasks to my relatives for 20 pesos. I lost my job in the later months of 2020 and 2021 so I need to find work again to earn more money.

I still feel like I need to take a risk in order to have something much better to do and also to have something to earn from, which I needed to do to get back to work big time. As for sewing, I also need to diversify and improve on my sewing skills so that I can reduce the amount of fabric puckering when I sew as well as learning how to sew trousers/pants and dresses. I might as well need proper formal, albeit vocational education to learn how to sew dresses and trousers that I can sell for around 300 and 400 pesos given they require more yards/metres than a single blouse.

I tried making trousers before, but it’s not what my sister wanted them to made so I have to undergo vocational education to learn how to properly make trousers that I can sell for 400 pesos online (I need to do this so that I can earn more money this way). I have to sell stuff so that I can earn money to support myself and buy whatever I wanted, but I need to work two jobs to earn more money and fund the resources needed for my dressmaking and business.

It wouldn’t be easy but I need to start sewing and selling again so that I can earn money to buy whatever I wanted and needed, I need to have extra income so having two jobs is necessary for me to fund the resources needed for my business as I said before. It’s not easy selling stuff, especially if you have competition that you have to compete with other businesses to get the customer’s attention. I even need money to start a business, though with somebody’s help as I’ve just started and I am not that financially stable and well-off enough yet.

Soap making may not be a viable option for me to do, given how risky it is to the eyes that I need special glasses for that to make soap with so dressmaking and sewing are the safer, more viable options to do. Even then, you need to have some risk taking in order to expand your business and your sewing skills to take on new things likes dresses, shorts and long trousers in addition to the relatively easy to make blouses. It wouldn’t be easy making something new, but it is worthwhile when it comes to expanding your business and having something else to do and make.

Especially if you’re willing to expand your business to encompass different items to sell, Bench (a Philippine clothing brand) went from selling T-shirts in malls to selling trousers, underwear, colognes, skirts, dresses and shorts. So it does give me inspiration to not only start my business, but also to expand my business to sell different kinds of clothing like trousers and shorts. Not an easy route, that’s if your skills in making trousers and shorts aren’t that great yet but necessary if you want to sell more stuff as well as learning how not to pucker while sewing.

As for soap making, it wouldn’t be easy either and it’s the riskier of the two as that involves working with something that would irritate the eyes but I do think I’d like to take a risk to sell soap alongside clothing to have some extra income. But then again soap making’s a little too risky to do, so my second job would have to be cartooning to support my career in dressmaking when it comes to buying the resources needed for one’s business.

What Baby Boomers actually read

According to a study conducted by Morning Consult, the most avid fans of superheroes (and especially Marvel in this case) tend to be Millennials. I highly suspect this is the generation that got spoilt by superhero companies (DC and Marvel especially), whereas it’s not that the Baby Boomers and their predecessors the Silent Generation never watched any superhero programme (they did) and they did read superhero comics but not to the same extent as these weren’t that popular.

As shocking as it sounds, the likes of DC and Marvel may not be that hugely popular among these people and GenXers to some extent. It’s not that they don’t read comics, but the comics they read differ from what Millennials and to some extent GenZ are into. Comic strips like Peanuts and Blondie would’ve been huge favourites for them growing up, but they are timeless classics that can be enjoyed by any generation and for Peanuts it’s more timeless than most superhero comics are in terms of being nearly devoid of dated racial stereotypes.

That’s my opinion or observation that Peanuts seems more timeless than most superhero comics are in the sense that for all the dated clothing the character wear, the situations they’re in are relatable to many people. Most importantly, it’s devoid of dated racial stereotypes which would’ve dated the world of Peanuts real badly. Superhero comics by contrast have well-preserved instances of characters being dated stereotypes of sorts, most notably either connections to the 1940s Japanese sun flag or redrawn to be more contemporary and politically correct.

Baby Boomers would also be familiar with Pogo, a satirical comic strip featuring anthropomorphic animals as drawn by Walt Kelly. Pogo was even the subject of an animated special before as directed by Chuck Jones, not to mention Disney comics which used to be published a lot and there was even a Donald Duck comic strip in the newspapers that ran well onto the mid-1990s. I haven’t done a survey on a Facebook group I’m part of, but I highly suspect that a good number of Disney comics fans in Anglophone territories tend to be older.

Maybe not necessarily older but most likely a generation that grew up with Disney comics before, whether firsthand experience or passed onto them by chance (they grew up with parents who read it). Perhaps surprisingly, Marvel Comics for all its outsized influence didn’t publish a lot of comics that was popular with most people. There were some outliers like Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk and Fantastic Four which were popular enough to have their own television programmes at some point.

But as to why many Baby Boomers don’t read comics, either they outgrew it or the stigma of reading comics is stronger for them. But it’s also possible that the other Marvel properties that hit big in the late 20th century and early 21st century (especially X-Men in here) weren’t that popular in their lifetimes. For instance, X-Men for a time being was a very cult comic book if you believe older Marvel fans that didn’t hit really big until the 1980s and 1990s when they got spinoffs and a hit animated programme.

Conversely speaking, Donald Duck comics used to be very popular enough to sell in the millions and now they constitute a cult phenomenon in the Anglophone world as time passed. If there’s a comic book that Baby Boomers most likely read, it would be the Dell comics they grew up with and DC and Marvel to a lesser extent. DC and Marvel may not have been that popular with them, even though DC properties like Batman and Superman got television programmes.

I am wrong about this, but it’s probable that something like Doonesbury and Peanuts were more popular among them than DC and Marvel did which explains why Baby Boomers don’t commonly read Marvel comics in that study as opposed to Millennials. Millennials might be more eager to read comics, since it got less stigmatised and also because compared to Baby Boomers they would’ve been spoilt with more Marvel content. More X-Men animated series, more Spider-Man cartoons and a few more Avengers cartoons.

The popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe would’ve helped them get into comics, even if it’s just 22% of adults in general that read comic books. While comic magazines used to be read en masse by children in newsstands, I still think it’s possible that DC and Marvel comics may not be that popular among Baby Boomers despite their influence so the influence of Peanuts and The Wizard of Id may hold up more. It’s quite probable Baby Boomers may’ve outgrown comics, so they may not be lifelong readers of comics the way some Millennials are due to socialisation.

It does dispel the stereotype of middle-aged comic book readers to some extent, especially when it comes to generations that read comic books a lot. Comic book readers aren’t necessarily ageing, though Marvel doesn’t seem that popular among Generation Z people and Baby Boomers aren’t big fans of Marvel either. Maybe Marvel Comics was something of a cult phenomenon for Baby Boomers, as opposed to being big and mainstream as it would be for Millennials.

It does make sense that’s when we get a lot of Avengers, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and X-Men cartoons although an earlier Hulk cartoon existed before (which marked the first televised appearance of She-Hulk) and there was the Hulk programme featuring Lou Ferrigno as The Hulk. (There’s also an earlier Spider-Man cartoon that inspired a lot of memes ever since.) The comic books may not sell as much, but the programmes did act as a gateway drug to them for some Millennials.

Maybe there were more kids reading superhero comics than one realises, especially if they’re savvy enough to find and track down those books in newsstands and comic book stores. There seems to be a lot more Marvel cartoons in the 1980s up to the 2010s, which would’ve been staples for Millennials when they do become Marvel fans at all (reruns would’ve also helped, I watched Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends in the Fox Kids block). This confirms my belief that Millennials are spoilt on Marvel in a way Baby Boomers aren’t.

In short, Baby Boomers in general may not be big fans of Marvel the way Millennials are and they read different kinds of comics too. (More Peanuts, Wizard of Id and Blondie, less X-Men and Thor.)

What is mainstream?

Shawn James is a writer who I’ve been following for some time now, yet remains ignorant of what more people actually read. In his post Denial of a Comic Book Fan, he says that the likes of Bone (despite selling a million copies) is obscure and has a tiny cult following. While that might be true to some extent, but some of the things he likes also has a tiny cult following that’s if you compare them to the likes of Peanuts and Garfield. Both of them are licensing juggernauts, so much so there’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to and an academic study about Garfield merchandise.

Both Peanuts and Garfield have sold hundreds of millions of trade paperback books, which means there’s a good chance that people have read them far more than they would with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This is also true for the newspaper versions, especially since people have bought and read newspapers that there’s a chance they stumbled across Garfield and Peanuts thought TMNT did have a newspaper comic strip before. I’m neither a fan nor hater of Garfield, but Garfield is a merchandising monster. There were Garfield telephones, there’s a Garfield clothing line for children in the Philippines and Garfield branded bandages (I’ve seen them in the mall before).

Garfield has made a lot of bank for Jim Davis ever since he formed Paws Inc and got the rights to the Garfield comic strip, so he’s much richer than both Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman (TMNT creators). So far, there’s hardly ever a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle trade paperback that made it to the New York Times bestseller list the way Garfield did several times before. This means Garfield has far more readers than TMNT does, not to mention Garfield also has a cartoon series and several children’s books in his name and image.

If we were to compare these comics to fashion brands, TMNT would be like Supreme and Garfield is like Old Navy. The latter is bought by many more people, the former has a cult following. If it’s music, TMNT is like The Ramones and Garfield’s more like say Cher for instance. The conclusion would be the same, TMNT is prominent enough to warrant merchandising but when it comes to book sales it pales in comparison to Garfield and Peanuts. From my experience, there are more Peanuts readers than there are TMNT readers (including my late grandaunt).

There are more Calvin and Hobbes readers from my experience than there are TMNT readers, which one’s the cult comic book and which one’s more mainstream? Calvin and Hobbes doesn’t even have much merchandise, if because its creator doesn’t allow it but it does have a readership, fanbase and casual readers to boot. But the comparison of TMNT to Garfield is more cutting, especially that the latter rivals the former in merchandise and popularity that there’s a Wikipedia page for it.

Garfield has been licensed for a wide variety of merchandise, ranging from slot machines to dictionaries and children’s books. The same can be said of Peanuts where I even saw a Peanuts children’s book in a grocery store before, there are even Peanuts themed salt and pepper shakers. I even got a Peanuts themed fabric from a fabric store before. That’s how bankable and profitable both Peanuts and Garfield are so much so they made their creators very rich.

Shawn James really has to get real with the kinds of comics that most people actually read, chances are it’s going to be Peanuts and Garfield. He’s aware of Peanuts, but Garfield’s a good rival to Peanuts when it comes to comic strip merchandising. That’s why I bring these two up together, they make a lot of money and they’re very prominent comics brands. Whatever merchandise TMNT has sold pales in comparison to the monstrous amount of merchandise that Garfield has been licensed to.

It’s not that I hate Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I’ve watched the cartoon and read the comics before but if you compare TMNT to Garfield the latter’s a real monster when it comes to book sales and merchandising. There are even two Garfield collectors who are the subjects of news reports, which means Garfield’s a big moneymaker for Jim Davis and then Viacom. (Viacom also owns TMNT by the way.) This is not a matter of whether if I hate TMNT, but rather me stating facts about Garfield and Garfield even spawned a fad of sorts (Garfield Stuck On You).

Garfield’s still around entertaining people of all ages, same with Peanuts and as I said before both of them are licensing and merchandising monsters. The amount of merchandise associated with The Flash pales in comparison to what’s found for Peanuts, more people have read Peanuts than they would with The Flash and you’d have to be under a rock to fail to realise how popular and bankable Peanuts is and can get. There are several Peanuts movies made, The Flash hasn’t appeared in a lot of movies the way Batman and Superman did.

Peanuts has made Charles Schulz a multimillionaire of sorts, Peanuts is a pop star like Madonna and The Flash is a cult musician or band not unlike Glenn Danzig of The Misfits. (The Flash programme also doesn’t do well at ratings and has had declining ratings for some time now, which means The Flash is practically and essentially a cult programme.) Peanuts is prominent enough to have its own hotel, just as Garfield had his own restaurant. They’re not just mainstream, they’re the top earning comic strip brands.

The Flash may have merchandise, but both the programme and the character are cult figures not unlike what Bauhaus is to the Goth subculture. There aren’t a lot of Bauhaus albums sold in the millions the way it happened for The Cure, this makes The Cure more mainstream than Bauhaus and I’m not even a big fan of The Cure (but I don’t hate them either). The Cure gets airplay in radios from my personal experience, there’s another person who knows The Cure and my father had a Cure t-shirt before.

To put it this way, while Flash merchandise does exist it’s not in large quantities the way you get with Garfield and Peanuts. Not a single Flash TPB has sold in the millions the way Garfield did, this proves my point that The Flash is a cult figure through and through. If the US has a population of 330 million plus people and The Flash has gone down to 700-750 thousand viewers then not a lot of people have watched The Flash. The Flash may not be that obscure, but The Flash is a cult property compared to Peanuts and Garfield.

The Flash would be more like Love and Rockets (the band, not the comic book) because it only had one hit, just one album that sold well and fell into obscurity and low sales again. Garfield may not reach the same highs it did before, but he’s very prominent enough to still rake in a lot of merchandise that he still makes a lot of bank for his owners. The Flash isn’t mainstream and will never be as popular as Calvin and Hobbes (despite not having a lot of merchandise), Peanuts and Garfield are. That’s a hard fact.

So by this definition, much of what DC and Marvel publish tends to have a cult following. There aren’t a lot of casual X-Men readers the way there is for Garfield and Peanuts, perhaps harmed by that X-Men comics are either sold in niche stores or have TPBs that aren’t as affordable as Peanuts are (from personal experience). There’s not a lot of casual Avengers readers the way you do with say Cathy, Dilbert and Broomhilda either. Cathy appeared in television specials and Dilbert got his own animated telly series.

I said before in an earlier blog post that a lot of geek brands tend to be cult brands in that they have a usually limited but devoted fan following, so much of what DC and Marvel make falls straight into this. They may sell colouring books and children’s books, but when it comes to the actual comics themselves they don’t have a lot of casual readers the way you do with Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts. These two are mainstream, the latter is a licensing and merchandising juggernaut that spawned a lot of specials and a couple of music albums.

The comics that tend to have a casual readership are either bestselling comics or newspaper comic strips, this makes both of them more mainstream than the average DC and Marvel comic book. Not to mention, Peanuts and Garfield even have box office movies that they’re just as bankable as X-Men and Avengers and possibly more so. They even have the advantage of people actually reading the comics en masse, that’s if they sell in the hundreds of millions that gives them the upper hand over Avengers and X-Men.

The real comics mainstream isn’t what most comics fan think of, that’s if you bring up what sells a lot in the millions and is read by a lot of casual readers then there’s a good chance that there are more people who’ve read Garfield and Peanuts than they do with X-Men and Avengers as not a single X-Men and Avengers TPB ever made it to the bestsellers list the way Garfield did several times over. A casual readership isn’t just key to a brand’s success, it’s also a sign of how mainstream the property is.

X-Men might be mainstream to some extent, but when it comes to the comics themselves they’re not big sellers compared to Peanuts and Garfield. In terms of casual readers, Peanuts and Garfield has plenty of those whereas X-Men doesn’t have as much despite having a box office movie series and hit television programmes. So in some regards, Peanuts and Garfield are more mainstream than X-Men is when it comes to not only having a box office movie or two but also the number of people actually reading the comics.

I do think a good number of comics fans are myopic, pardon if it sounds ableist in that they are unaware of the comics that many more people actually read and what they read differs from what they enjoy. It’s like talking a lot of music only that kind of music tends to be niche and not that popular with a lot of people the way The Platters, Cher, Elvis Presley and Taylor Swift do for them. It already exists for music listeners, but it can be applicable to comic book readers when it comes to them being ignorant of what most people read.

It’s not that many people don’t read comics at all, but the comics they’re into differs from what the fanatics enjoy. It could be Dog Man and Babymouse it could also be Cathy, The Wizard of Id, Peanuts, Garfield and Doonesbury. I still think what I’m saying matters when it comes to the kinds of comics casual readers gravitate to and it’s not always in line with what comics fanatics are into. The comics fanatics gravitate towards what DC and Marvel do, with a heaping of Image, Fantagraphics and Dark Horse. The casual readers go for newspaper favourites and bestsellers like Dog Man and Calvin and Hobbes.

This isn’t always the case but it does make sense when it comes to what’s actually popular with the masses and it’s not always what nerds want and are into.

My life as and desire to become an entrepreneur

I admit to being jobless for a long time that it’s only in 2020 that I started earning money from selling facemasks, ebooks and skirts to my relatives and one unrelated person (enough to buy a National Geographic) and I ended up becoming jobless again the following year. Maybe this year, I’ll get back to working and selling stuff again so that I can buy what I want and earn as much money to support myself. As early as 2014, I considered selling and making soap but my relatives weren’t that supportive so six years later I had more luck selling facemasks instead.

That started sometime in July when my aunt taught me how to make one, which gave me the idea of selling one to people I know best. I sold nearly every facemask for 20 pesos, which gave me enough money to buy a magazine months later. I even sold a skirt to one of my sisters and tried selling skirts to my aunts, maybe this time around I’ll be luckier. I still remember the times when I sold facemasks to my relatives, which lasted for some months along with selling ebooks. I sold them for 20 pesos each but my other aunt told me to sell them for 50 pesos, which wouldn’t just earn me more money this way but also is based on what I make takes a lot of time to do.

I may not become a millionaire over night, but I really need to work and earn again so that I could have something better to do. I started earning a lot more in 2020 than I did in 2011, mostly from selling facemasks and that I need to diversify what I’m selling so that I can earn more money this way. I might as well start selling blouses, dresses, trousers/pants, skirts and soap to do something new, sell something new and make money in different ways. Again, I will not become a millionaire but I will make a lot of money from selling something new and different.

I need to have a bigger budget to make more blouses and skirts, that’s if they’re made out of cotton though that’s the stuff that would earn me a lot of money if I sell those. Not to mention, I need to get better at sewing so that the fabric doesn’t pucker up and that I’ll sell them to more people if they have smoother seams. I have to get better at something so that I can sell a better product to many more people, so more tight seams this time.

I’m not there yet, but I have a lot of time to improve on my sewing and selling. I also have to expand my business to selling soap, which’s something I long intended to do almost 8 years ago. So there’s room for improvement, innovation and interest in here.

Times have changed

The times have changed in ways that was unprecedented by many people, when it comes to transgender individuals nobody perhaps other than pastors and lay Christians would predict that this would become more commonplace or rather more mainstream in the coming years and especially in the 21st century where people would legally change their genders along with hormone replacement, injections and surgery. Also, almost nobody would realise that straight and bisexual women would get into their own version of gay male pornography/erotica.

That would’ve been there before but not yet as commonplace until come the late 20th century and the early 21st century when you have swelling numbers of m/m romance fiction as written by women for women. This is paralleled by the large number of m/m slash fanfiction, especially in geeky circles and it’s actually almost common practise for some writers to file off the numbers when having these professionally published at all predating what became of Fifty Shades of Grey when it stopped being a Twilight fanfiction. The same goes for lesbian erotica as written by actual lesbians, which’s also a thing in fandom to some extent.

Nobody other than pastors and lay Christians knew that out gays, bisexuals and lesbians would become a near-dominant force in culture and society until the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In the West, many people have become very accepting of homosexual and bisexual individuals and couples even in countries that were previously very homophobic until recently. Ireland, for instance, was a homophobic country until it did a 180 degree turn in the 21st century when it comes to homosexuals and bisexuals.

The pastor David Wilkerson has predicted that gay pastors would become a thing in mainline churches, to some extent it came to fruition along with nudist churches. Before him, an anonymous Norwegian woman told Emmanuel Minos (another pastor) that television would allow more explicit scenes of sex and violence and come 2018 it came into being. They say that the end is near and so is Jesus’s coming, so it looks like everything’s coming to fruition once the prophecies are being fulfilled. Gay porn has become a big business, so has pornography aimed at and made by women.

The times have changed in ways that are unprecedented by most people, I say most people as only some saw it coming. Especially if they are Christians, then it’s like as if God said that it would come to pass according to them. In the 1980s, there weren’t that many out queer characters but come 2020 and you see an uptick in LGBT characters. In the 1970s, there weren’t that many children’s books with LGBT characters and such stories would’ve been niche but now they’re increasingly commonplace in children’s literature and are mainstream in a way most never predicted.

Almost nobody would’ve predicted that LGBT characters would become a thing in children’s media that outside of some media (whether from Japan or domestic but underground), but come 2022 it’s got tripled in acceptance so of course LGBT characters would grow more commonplace and mainstream. The time has come and so have the predictions.

Accepting the transgender

There’s a growing acceptance of transgender individuals or those who change their genders at will, often with medical intervention in their favour. There’s also a growing transgender presence in the media, not just in nonfiction but also in fiction where even casting directors seek out transgender actors to play characters. While transgender has existed before the use of hormones and surgery, it’s only in the 20th and especially 21st centuries where this has not only grown in acceptance but has become just as mainstream as accepting gay, bisexual and lesbian individuals are.

In the Philippines, one of the most famous transmen to date is Jake Zyrus formerly Charice Pempengco who starred in Glee (a television programme). He was singing a lot in his Charice days, but for awhile he came out as a lesbian and now lives as a man. He’s even born in the same year and month as I am (May 1992) so we’re about the same age. There are androgynous people who don’t become transgender, simply genderfluid as they call it. But there is a growing number of transgender individuals out there in the media and world, making videos of their transition and pretransition days (you can find them on YouTube and the like).

For boys to women, the transition to female would be easier for as long as you have puberty blockers and then administer female hormones to them so that they would become girls later on in life. For men to women, they just need a lot of surgery and vocal retraining to make themselves female. For females to male, it would be easier in that they have to undergo testosterone shots and puberty blockers (if young) to become male and if they were to go the extra mile, use plastic surgery to complete their transition.

Looking back, there was a time when I thought of myself as a male and technically a tomboy in the usual sense of the word (tomboy in the Philippines refers to lesbians). I didn’t like it when I developed breasts but I wasn’t exactly that butch either other than getting my hair cut short. I had some interest in butch stuff like swords, but I wasn’t that much of a big tomboy either. Not to mention, I’m content with being female. But I did experience a disconnect with my gender before, even though I grew to become content with my gender.

As for transwomen, they all start out as boys but those who have the transition at a much earlier age may have all the hormonal and biological luck of being essentially and practically reborn as females. Just look at Jazz Jennings, she started out as a boy and considered herself a girl that she underwent hormonal blockers, replacement and surgery to complete her transition. She did have surgery, but it’s not as extensive as those of other transwomen who were male longer.

The West is very accepting of transgender individuals or at the least grown more accepting of them as they are accepting of homosexuals and bisexuals, gender dysphoria’s no longer considered mental illness. Just as homosexuality’s no longer considered a mental illness, the West has grown accepting of it as early as the 1970s and then getting bigger in the 21st century (I have a surviving Newsweek magazine about the rise of LGBT marriages). There are even transgender twins and siblings, so there’s a growing number of people who transition at younger ages.

Something that the older generations didn’t get, that’s if and when they do transition at all. There are even transgender actors in children’s programmes like the one on Nickelodeon, I forgot the name but it does exist. As for Japan, people can only change their genders if they’re sterile even if they have surgery and hormone shots. It would be a long way to transgender acceptance in Japan, but it’s shorter in the West as far as I know about it as it’s not that strict.

Save for Africa and parts of Asia (Russia included), the world has grown very accepting of LGBT characters and individuals. There’s even room for genderfluid people as well, which again shows how far society has come to accept and tolerate these people at all.

Not the same thing

When it comes to black cultures, I say black cultures because black people can and do have different cultures between one another and each other, there’s bound to be a plurality of cultures and identities among them. This involves any degree of differences between them, it could be cultural but it could also be linguistic, geographic, historical and climatic. African Americans might differ from Afro-Brazilians in some regards, the differences would be that slavery lasted longer in Brazil (well up to the late 19th century) and that some Afro-Brazilians practise Candomble (a different non-Abrahamic religion).

Okay, so some African Americans practise Hoodoo (another non-Abrahamic religion) just as some African Americans practise Islam and Nation of Islam and many more are Christians. Afro-Brazilians begat funk carioca, African Americans begat rock music and hip hop. Likewise, Afro-Cubans may differ from their African American countries being most likely to practise Santeria even if not all of them do. Jamaicans differ by practising Rastafarianism and Obeah in addition to mainline and mystical Christianity (the latter encompasses both Pentecostalism and Charismatic Christianity).

Pet ownership rates may also differ in blacks, where black Americans are less likely to own pets than black Africans do, especially the ones that never left Africa. Even with black Africans, they still differ in some regards with Southern Nigerians more likely to own dogs and Ghanaians and Northern Nigerians more likely to own cats even if that’s not always the case either. Another crucial difference may be language and orthography, consider this: many Africans have used Arabic script (Ajami) to write their languages in prior to the advent of Westernisation and still do to some extent.

Many Ghanaians and Nigerians speak patois, many Kenyans and Tanzanians use Swahili even though three of them are Anglophones (as far as I know about them). Ghanaians use cedi, Nigerians use naira and Kenyans and Ugandans use shilling. But the real differences start with ethnic composition where Ghanaians are composed of Ewe and Akan, Nigerians are composed of the following ethnicities (Igbo, Ifik, Yoruba, Hausa and Kanuri) and many Ugandans tending to be Buganda. Even if all three of them are colonised by the British, they still stand out from one another.

Sometimes the differences are obvious, sometimes they’re subtle but they’re there alright. Black people aren’t that interchangeable with one another, though it could be said of any other ethnicity it’s still important to realise that cultures and ethnicities aren’t always that interchangeable with one another regardless of race and despite whatever similarities they have. Ivorians are also majority Akan but they differ from their Ghanaian counterparts by being Francophone and Catholic.

Cameroon may share a border with Nigeria but the Anglophone population’s just a significant minority at that and most of the people use French. That’s why it’s important to know that black people aren’t that interchangeable, especially if they have any real cultural differences between each other and that would also be useful for travelling as well.

Haute couture, ready to wear and dressmaking

Haute couture literally translates to high sewing in French and it refers to luxury, custom-made dresses and garments but it’s also a copyrighted term given to a select few brands such as Chanel and Schiaparelli (the namesake designers being rivals in their lifetimes). Nonetheless, there are small dressmaking shops where people make custom made outfits and they’re not considered to be haute couture if because they’re not called as such even though what they do’s pretty close. Perhaps haute couture really is a title reserved for a select few brands that deserve it in their eyes.

When it comes to haute couture, the sewing techniques are probably more elaborate than the ones used for ready to wear clothing. It’s not standard size, it’s custom fit. It also takes a long time to make, longer than it does to make ready to wear clothing which allows for mechanised sewing to get the job done quicker. Much of haute couture is handmade so a lot of work’s being put into it, hence why it can get luxurious as it’s time-consuming and labourious. (If garments were handmade before in the past, despite not being custom fit it would’ve taken the sewers a long time to finish and longer than they would with sewing machines.)

Not all dressmaking shops necessarily become haute couture ones, even if what they do sometimes overlaps with the real haute couture brands and some of them are even high-end dressmaking shops at that. Haute couture garments are also made for display, they may not always have a price tag but they’re sometimes done for show and not for profit (this is mostly reserved for ready to wear garments, which bring in more money for fashion houses). But when they do get bought and sold, they’re sometimes sold at high prices that it’s easier to sell the cheaper perfumes, shoes and ready to wear garments instead.

(The latter three also bring in more money and profit for fashion houses.)

Custom made clothing can be more expensive than ready to wear, the latter uses standard sizing and arguably a one-size-fits-all approach the other is tailor made to fit the wearer’s proportions and if given a little leeway, the wearer’s tastes so it’s more expensive this way and if a lot of haute couture is custom-made it ought to be more expensive as well even if some of them are made without being sold. (These outfits are for show as I said before.) So logically, the ready to wear line is where the cheaper clothes are at and they make more money for fashion houses than they would with haute couture garments.

If haute couture relies a lot on custom made or bespoke dressmaking and sewing, ready to wear’s the opposite as it relies a lot on standard sizes and tends to be mass manufactured. This helps when it came to the advent of sewing machines, which made it easier to manufacture a lot more garments in a shorter span of time than one would with hand sewn garments. Most fashion brands are ready to wear and haute couture brands allow a ready to wear line. This makes more money, especially since they’re cheaper and quicker to make.

Ready to wear brands range from those selling at mid prices such as Guess to those selling at low prices such as H&M, well at least in the West since these are expensive here in the Philippines. (Bear in mind that H&M and Zara are considered to be fast fashion brands or where clothing’s made at low prices and the dressmaking process’s hastened to keep up with the latest clothing fads.) But they tend to make a lot more money for the fashion houses and companies than one would with luxury haute couture, being cheaper and quicker to make does help with appealing to more customers this way.

Ready to wear brands can be handmade to some extent, especially with the slow-fashion brands and for some sewers who prefer to sew the curved parts by hand but they’re primarily made by machines which gets the job done quicker and sooner. It would take 10 to 16 hours to get a dress done by hand but less than that by machine, which helps in mass producing clothes in order to be up to date with the latest clothing fads and trends. (Not that haute couture is any less trendy, if anything it does help start the trend but since it’s not machine-made it can take a long time to make.)

Dressmaking has benefited from technology, especially when it comes to getting garments done faster and more efficiently. It also helps with standard sizes since they don’t take much time the same way doing bespoke sewing does, which involves taking the time to measure a person’s proportions and that gets real tricky to do. But there are those who prefer to sew things by hand, it may be the busier and slower of the two but some people like it this way and there are those who do both machine and hand sewing. It goes both ways when it comes to selling garments, depending on one’s preferences of course.

An Americanised mythology

While Disney and Marvel are far from the only producers of entertainment that indulge in Americanised takes on Nordic mythology (Age of Mythology and God of War can also be included in here, the former being a video game played by my own siblings), they are the best known examples of such that sometimes their take on mythology isn’t always so well-received by some people like some characters in Greece for instance. The mythological Thor has to wear a belt and gloves to yield the hammer, he flies with his chariot and goats and revels in killing people.

Odin plucked out one of his eyes and Loki’s his brother, not son as Marvel Entertainment would have you to believe. Freyja likewise rode on a chariot pulled by cats, Hela’s not an evil goddess simply the goddess of the dead. I’m not too familiar with Nordic mythology but familiar enough to know the differences between it and the Marvel version of events. I still highly suspect that while Marvel’s take might be one take, it’s the best known Americanised take on Nordic mythology as opposed to the Nordic mythology as presented in the Valhalla comics, a Danish comic book series by the way.

(If it’s made by Danes and Scandinavians in general, it would differ from the American version in some regards being more faithful to the lore and more authentic as well.)

Another well-known Americanised take on mythology, well Greek mythology, would be the Wonder Woman comics with regards to the Greek gods and Amazons. The Amazons in Greek mythology cut off one of their breasts and were believed to be based on the Scythians (who were themselves an Iranian people). Admittedly, I don’t know much about Wonder Woman but it is an Americanised take on Greco-Roman mythology as opposed to how an Italian and a Greek would approach Greco-Roman mythology.

One of the many Americanised takes on Greek mythology, just as Sailor Moon is one of the many Japanese takes on Greek mythology alongside Saint Seiya for instance. Though it’s a safe bet to say that the Greek and the Italian takes would be the ones closest to the actual mythologies in question, being the cultures that begat those myths and that Italy was at some point influenced by Greece (it still is so to some extent when it comes to Southern Italy).

Marvel’s take is the most well-known but in some regards the least authentic (or at least one of the least authentic) because Odin is one-eyed, Freyja rode on a chariot pulled by cats, Thor rode on a chariot pulled by goats and Loki is Odin’s brother, not son. Thor needed gauntlets and a belt to use the hammer at all, rather than being something to be used only by a few select characters. Marvel’s take is one of the furthest from Nordic mythology in this regard whereas Valhalla’s one of the closest.

Like I said, cultural background can help in making the mythology more authentic in the sense of being something that gets passed down to generations like how genes get passed onto people and animals. It’s possible for a Briton to present Nordic mythology as it actually was or is, if Neil Gaiman’s any indication but I think a Dane would present it is as it is passed onto the generations as if it were an instinct. That’s my understanding of it, but it’s like how an Italian take on Pinocchio would differ from the American take in some regards.

The former because Pinocchio originated in Italy, so it’s something that would come naturally and almost genetically to them. The American take could be more faithful, but the Italian one would be more authentic as it’s something originating from their culture. It’s like how any Chinese take on Journey to the West would be more authentic than its Japanese counterpart, it’s something that originated with them so it’s something that would come naturally to them.

The Monkey Prince would one of several American takes on Journey to the West, that’s how I see it and why cultural background matters when it comes to making something culturally authentic. This is why Marvel’s Thor is one of many American takes on Norse mythology but with Valhalla, the Danish take is one of the more authentic takes on it.

The world of fast fashion

Fast fashion is all about getting the latest fashion trends on the go and cheaply, even if it’s at the expense of both the environment and the people who work on those garments. The origins of fast fashion lies in the mechanisation of fashion, that’s when it started getting manufactured more quickly (there were people who were weaving by day a lot back then and that would’ve taken them hours to finish). Likewise, it would’ve taken somebody several hours to finish a dress by hand, so the appearance of sewing machines hastened it.

The earliest fast fashion brand to make it would be H&M, when it was Hennes (hers in Swedish). It was an ordinary clothing store that became a retailer when the founders began franchising it more aggressively and when they bought one hunting store to merge it with Hennes to form Hennes och Mauritz (Mauritz Widforss is still around for hunters and outdoors people). The second one to appear, as far as I know about it, would be Biba when it was selling trendy clothes for young people to wear.

The third one to appear is Spain’s Zara, which revolutionised the way clothing was manufactured. It would take them a few days to get a garment manufactured to be up to date with the latest trends as opposed to waiting for weeks for most clothing brands, in fact according to some writers there was a time when it was common for people to sew their own clothing by using patterns that magazines would churn out. It still exists to some extent these days, but when fast fashion arrived it made it possible to get the latest trends without making it oneself.

Shein’s one of the latest fast fashion brands to appear, starting out as an online wedding dress store before moving to fast fashion. It takes them less than a week or fewer days to finish and make a garment, mass manufacture it with many sewers and hit the stores soon enough. It’s popular with young people these days, though there are possibly those who complain about the quality being compromised. When it comes to fast fashion, the main takeaway’s to get the latest trends as quickly and cheaply as possible even if it hurts the garment’s quality.

Not all fast fashion garments are this badly made, but a good number of them risk being so considering the way they’re manufactured. If haute couture garments take a longer time to finish, fast fashion’s the opposite as it involves hastening the process with most regular ready to wear clothing brands being somewhere in the middle. Not to mention the amount of pollution fast fashion contributes and from my experience making garments and facemasks, fashion is wasteful though it’s possible to recycle the leftovers.

Fast fashion involves getting the process done as quickly as possible, sometimes so cheap that you need to take shortcuts to get it done quicker. Slow fashion’s the opposite as it involves taking one’s time to manufacture the garments, often by hand and sometimes with machines. Slow fashion’s a response to fast fashion’s wastefulness and urgency, there are some slow fashion brands out there and they don’t mass manufacture a lot of garments the way fast fashion and most clothing brands do.

(Actually slow fashion brands have more in common with local sewing businesses because both don’t produce a lot of garments and take their time making them.)

Fast fashion revolutionised the way garments are made, starting with hastening the process through new technologies such as weaving looms and sewing machines. For a long time, slow fashion was the dominant mode of making things as everything had to be done by hand (both weaving and sewing). These days, sewing and weaving by hand are optional though they do coexist with machines. But fast fashion has changed the way we approach dressmaking and the business of selling clothes.