Wednesday night […] it’s back to women [from the Real Housewives of Vancouver] whose only real power is their credit cards, paid for the most part by men (current or past), and, well, the thing that got them those men to begin with. It’s an uncomfortable step backward for women that smart Vancouverites may hate – but can’t help talking about. (Marsha Lederman, Globe and Mail)
In the above-mentioned Globe and Mail piece one Vancouverite is quoted as saying that “we are a city of new rich and want-to-be rich douches and trashy suburban scum. The Olympics have us believing we are a great city, but the riot showed what we really are at our core.” Ouch.
Now that some Vancouverites, British Columbians and Canadians have watched the Real Housewives of Vancouver show for one season, it’s time to overlook the well edited altercations and review some of the best takeaways from the show.
* FABULOUS SCENERY
Save for weather reports and glimpses of the region in made-for-the-US movies, we rarely see panoramic shots of the Lower Mainland and surrounding areas. On RHOV you can see aerial shots and viewpoints of popular areas that would be hard to see, unless you have access to a helicopter or float plane. When is the last time you hovered over Third Beach in Stanley Park? There is no need to compare the topics of scenery and arts funding or similar concerns. We can appreciate it for what it is and be reminded that we need to do what we can to preserve and protect it.
Takeaway? Splurge and go on a Helijet ride. It’s the only way that you’ll see the Lower Mainland up close and personal from the sky. If a Helijet ride isn’t on the table don’t forget to visit local scenic viewing spots in different seasons.
You won’t have to go far to find someone grumbling that the women on RHOV are not real housewives of Vancouver. There have been attempts to re-write the definition in local rags; however, there truly are so many types of women and mums in the Lower Mainland. This programme is all about putting affluent women with different personality styles in one social setting and watching how they get along (or don’t!). You do not live in north False Creek (“Yaletown”), even as a renter, West Vancouver and any quadrant of Shaughnessy if you do not have a comfortable income.
On RHOV the busiest mompreneur started a catering business over twenty years ago, has a fine food store, started a clothing store, which will be replicated soon in Toronto and Montreal, is publishing a cookbook and supported the launch of her daughter’s business. Another cast member has co-created a perfume and related fragrance products, co-developed a scarf business and a tequila drink and is re-launching her formerly successful singing career. Another member is working on a book featuring gluten-free recipes, health and exercise tips and has released one recorded song that was well received. A fourth member has been working out details around launching a new line of wine. Rumour has it the fifth cast member used her exposure on the show to make a pitch for a travel show. She will not be returning for season two. Those are the projects that have been announced, to-date, and have already proved to be inspiring to others in the area who are looking to start or grow their own business.
Takeaway? British Columbians love a success story and happily support local entrepreneurs. If you’re on LinkedIn or Twitter you’ll know there are all kinds of women-run businesses on the go. What special angle could you develop? Would you take advantage of an opportunity to be on a reality television show in order to promote your evolving business plan?
In North America journalists and media personalities are obsessed about promoting a youth-obsessed image of society. Women over 30 are increasingly invisible as the years go by. The RHOV producers featured the words of one RHOV cast member who said she is at an age (early 40s) when she feels confident about what she says and does, and can look good doing it. Two of the cast members were also shown in kick boxing and martial arts classes, keeping fit and healthy. The RHOV women are showing how you can live with verve and confidence well beyond 30. The subject of aging and visibility is about more than whether or not you use plastic surgery and/or facial and hair enhancements.
Takeaway? Surround yourself with age-positive people who embrace the virtues related to life-experience. Women on the other side of 35 are accomplished and attractive in ways that are different than when they were younger. Enjoy being your fabulous self without making any excuses or hiding behind Botox and Juvederm. Avoid reading publications that are obsessed with ageist comments such as “look at these amazing wrinkle-free 40+ female actors.”
Most Vancouverites don’t have the budget to shop at the most expensive stores in Vancouver but they might be interested to see what’s on tap in Vancouver’s more fashion-forward stores. Did you ever wonder what type of shoppers had deep pockets in the white glass white shopping castle or the store with the elaborate facade? You know the one you would never enter because you know they could tell you don’t have the budget for their clothes. Well now you know. It seems some people do spend thousands of dollars on one piece of clothing. Fortunately there are plenty of other stores where people with normal budgets can shop.
Takeway? While your in-laws or friends might be able to afford tens of thousands of dollars on bags and bangles, you too can look good. There is an endless selection of fashion blogs and Tumblr accounts to give you inspiration. Here in Vancouver you can get affordable fashion forward casual and evening wear at Zara, Wear Else, Plum, Superstore (Joe Fresh downtown is best), Zellers (Alfred Sung), H&M and more expensive pieces at high end consignment stores like Happy 3 on 4th and also near Arbutus & 41st. The designer fashion corner at the annual York House fair is also a good place to scoop. The sale of used clothing/accessories at Crofton House every two years isn’t too bad either. You never know what you can find when you dig around at The Bay. If it’s a sale weekend you could potentially score. For high end pieces The Room at the Bay offers deep discounts from time-to-time. For unique, one of a kind pieces that aren’t über expensive you can head to local fashion stores on Main Street. If you join the Facebook page and follow Twitter accounts of local designers (both small and large scale operators) you can hear about special sales, pop-up stores and warehouse sales. For accessories head to Stella and Dot (online) and Etsy.com.
Many Vancouverites are cash strapped and only go out to eat from time to time. Restaurants have felt the pinch during the recent economic downturn. Cafes, bars and restaurants have already been featured prominently on RHOV. Watching the show is one way to take a peak at some of the places you have heard about but might not have visited yet. Hopefully in future episodes the RHOV producers will show more details about the places that the housewives are visiting.
Take Away – You don’t have to be an A-Lister in Vancouver to eat out at the chicest locations. The Dine Out Vancouver, event, for example is an easy way to visit a popular restaurant without draining your wallet. If your budget is tight, brunch and lunch are a better option. Every year the restaurant scene changes. If you don’t have a chance to get out much on your own, make sure you try a new place every time. Some of the best restaurants aren’t located downtown and might be restaurants where the dominant language spoken by patrons isn’t English. There are many food bloggers in town sharing excellent reviews on UrbanSpoon. As an example on MySecretEden you can check out the favourite restaurants page.
It’s a trending topic in the media from time to time, but what does the face of older mom-dom look like? Keep in mind that many women start their families before they are 30 and have their last child when they are in their mid 30s or older. Pregnancies at age 35 and beyond are considered to be higher risk and fall into the category of “older mum”. This is not as rare an event as members of the media would have people believe. On RHOV one of the cast members had her child when she was in her mid 40s and two other cast members were well into their 30s when their last child was born. There has been no discussion about this topic on the show and there probably won’t be. Unlike Real Housewives of Orange County, for example, children are not a main focus of the show. (Although there are side comments about eating cupcakes or clips of a child shopping with her mum.)
Takeaway? Even if older mum’s aren’t discussed very much in the media, think about fabulous women like Meryl Streep (see adorable photo)- or one of the RHOV cast members if you will – and note how they have rocked the older mum and woman working or volunteering outside of the home category.
At least three of the cast members have mentioned charities that they support and say that the promotion of their chosen charities has been a main factor influencing their participation. The connection to charities has not been featured prominently on the show and it will be interesting to see if this happens in season 2.
Takeaway – If you have an opportunity to be featured in a reality TV show or in the media, it’s a great opportunity to promote the name and work of your favourite charity or create your own. You can also use your online presence, via social media, to create enthusiasm about the fabulous work that a vast number of charities are doing in British Columbia.
Some of the cast mates got into hot water over what they sent by text and sharing texts with others. If you want to see why you should be careful about what you text, surely RHOV is one of the best examples to watch. It is hard enough to explain your perspective in long form during a coffee or meal. Short bursts of words strung together is a doomed medium. Similarly it is probably a good idea to not share scandalous behind-the-scene information on Twitter. If you aren’t a member of the RHOV cast, it is also not a good idea to tweet that you would like to smack one of the cast members countless times, in the event that you meet up. Surprisingly this happened more than once on Twitter. Yikes! Think, tweeps, THINK before you tweet (and think about taking a break from watching reality TV programmes).
Takeaway? Leave heavy text usage to teens who feel they must communicate that way. If you have a “situation” going on with a friend, pick up the phone and ask to meet with him/her in person. Keep text messages to topics such as when you will meet up. Any other approach is simply too indirect and ultimately too exhausting.
Watching the housewives make trips to salons featuring diamond dust and a swank Okanagan spa might have left you feeling a tinge envious. You certainly can look fine when you step out with a blow-out, nails done, skin prepped and the latest cut and colour. It has been calculated that the Duchess of Cambridge (“Kate Middleton”) spends almost $40,000 per year beautifying herself. In Vancouver you can find salons that appeal to every style and budget from the “feels like London” Idaburn (see Ian) to the talented staff at affordable Salon Gloss located off Lougheed Highway. Once you’re looking fabulous you just might want to capture the moment with an Erich Saide Photography photo shoot or an affordable styling & photo glam night at Salon Gloss.
Takeaway: You don’t have to use Botox and Juvederm to look fabulous. Slather on sunscreen starting from today and keep your skin in good condition. (Scoop – You can find an easy and cheap deterrent for between-brow-furrows on the BCFamily.ca Facebook page.) You can also keep up-to-date on some of the fun products out there by companies such as Nars and Benefit that give a finished look without looking “made up”. Affordable make-up is also available at Joe Fresh & drugstore lines have also improved in quality over the years. For an at-home spa you can use BC’s Eminence spa quality products and Vancouver Island’s Dragonfly Dreaming skincare products. The cost of spa treatments has been inching up over the past few years and you can expect to pay over $100 for a facial. Fortunately you can buy Spa Utopia gift cards at a modest discount at Costco in the Christmas season. You can also visit smaller spas that feature high quality service at competitive rates. Harmony The Spa at Vancouver Dental Spa is a great example. You can visit a top dentist for maintenance or corrective dental work and then pamper yourself for your efforts. Do be careful to note the training background and affiliations that your spa professional of choice has. Even a simple manicure can have a negative outcome if it is not done properly.
As soon as RHOV began to air, many Vancouverites started to complain:
I would never watch that show.
It portrays women in Vancouver in the worst light.
Women here are simply not like that.
Those aren’t real housewives.
Truly wealthy socialites wouldn’t go on the show.
I don’t want to be associated with the RHOV brand.
Faithful viewers and locals who know the women in real life will tell you that they’re not disgusting, they are integrated members of society and they live full and meaningful lives outside the edited vignettes seen on the show. No doubt the producers of the show are also reassessing how the first season went and the approach they want to take for Season Two. In real life we don’t go out for four hour lunches. We also don’t show up at carefully orchestrated events chosen to bring five diverse women together who probably wouldn’t join up as a social group under normal circumstances. Perhaps less scripted encounters and a more Dogme 95 – as it happens – approach is in order. It’s time to turn the somewhat stale and predictable reality TV editing format up on its head.
People love lifestyle shows that are escapist and illustrate others living the good life. Piers Morgan On is a case in point. You either love it or you don’t want to spend a second of your life flicking past it on the television. RHOV is not about your average woman, wife and/or mother. It’s not about the women in different parts of the Lower Mainland. It’s about a thin slice of the social demographic pie. In the telling of their stories, aspects of life in Vancouver can be revealed too. Here’s hoping that Season 2 will allow the unique lifestyle in Vancouver and its fabulous women (and the women they know) to sparkle.
We’d love to hear from you so don’t be shy! You can comment about this posting using the comment function below or visit us at our Facebook page. A special note about comments on this page. As the shift of this posting is positive in tone, a comment that has a negative perspective regarding one or more of the cast members (stated directly or indirectly) will need to be shared on another site. Thank you for your understanding.
Real Vancouverites discuss potential cast members, back in September, 2011, and how all the money in the world doesn’t make you happier.