Audrey Hepburn: Service and Grace Beyond Age

When one pictures Audrey Hepburn, they most likely the 25-year-old star of Sabrina or perhaps the thirty-something from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Most of the photos that made Hepburn an icon are from her twenties and thirties. It is no surprise since the majority of her acting career took place during that time of her life.

Hepburn’s acting career largely ended at the end of the 1960s with just a few projects throughout the 1970s and 1980s. During this time, she devoted herself to The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and eventually became a Goodwill Ambassador for the organization.

I find the photos of her during this time not only strikingly elegant, but also at times painfully moving and hard to look at. I think these photos are worth sharing so that we might gain an understanding of Hepburn and the meaning of her life after acting.

September 1992, Audrey Hepburn in Somalia. © Robert Wolders

“I have a broken heart. I feel desperate. I can’t stand the idea that two million people are in imminent danger of starving to death, many of them children,” Hepburn during a trip to Ethiopia

“Often the kids would have flies all over them, but she would just go hug them. I had never seen that. Other people had a certain amount of hesitation, but she would just grab them. Children would just come up to hold her hand, touch her,” John Isaac, UN Photographer

“They deserve better – a life of security and opportunity and freedom and peace of mind. Most of them have never experienced such a life, but they sense its absence. The eyes say it all,” Hepburn, in the introduction of Betrayal: A Report on Violence Towards Children in Today’s World

“If people are not giving it’s because they don’t know, not because they don’t want to. So I hope to just help create a global awareness wherever it’s necessary,” Hepburn, during a trip to Ethiopia

“People in these places don’t know Audrey Hepburn, but they recognize the name UNICEF. When they see UNICEF their faces light up, because they know that something is happening,” Hepburn

“I walked into a nightmare. I have seen famine in Ethiopia and Bangladesh, but I have seen nothing like this – so much worse than I could possibly have imagined. I wasn’t prepared for this,” Hepburn, on a trip to Somalia four months before her death in 1992.

“Taking care of children has nothing to do with politics,” Hepburn

September 1992. Somalia. © Robert Wolders

“I saw but one glaring truth: These are not natural disasters but man-made tragedies for which there is only one manmade solution-peace,” Hepburn, on a trip to Sudan

“I have a broken heart. I feel desperate. I can’t stand the idea that two million people are in imminent danger of starving to death, many of them children,” Hepburn, reflecting on a trip to Ethiopia

“Somebody said to me the other day, ‘You know, it’s really senseless, what you’re doing. There’s always been suffering, there will always be suffering, and you’re just prolonging the suffering of these children [by rescuing them].’ My answer is, ‘Okay, then, let’s start with your grandchild. Don’t buy antibiotics if it gets pneumonia. Don’t take it to the hospital of it has an accident. It’s against life-against humanity-to think that way,” Hepburn

“I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it,” Hepburn

December 1987 at Benefit Concert for UNICEF

“UNICEF’s mandate is to protect every child against famine, thirst, sickness, abuse and death. But today, we are dealing with a far more ominous threat. Man’s inhumanity to man. With the dark side of humanity – selfishness, avarice, adversities – which has already pollute our skies, emptied our oceans, destroyed our forests and extinguished thousands of beautiful animals. Are our children next?” Hepburn, in a statement to UNICEF’s Executive Board

Please note that I gave credit where I could find credit. If you own any of these photos and wish to receive credit, please email me at courtney[@]

My Favorite Shoes

It must be Shoe Week at Those Graces. We’re talking shoe preferences for Friend Friday, which is a wonderfully supportive group of fashion and beauty bloggers.

What is your go-to pair of shoes?
For casual wear, my staple is the flat non-athletic sneaker. The style is most similar to Keds, but I’m cheap so I buy the knock offs (sorry Keds!). I usually choose these when I’m running out the door and don’t have time to think, “Do these shoes match my outfit?” While I avoid wearing sneakers outside of the gym when possible, I find this style to be a good compromise between a flat and a bulky sneaker. As I mentioned before, Audrey Hepburn is one of my biggest style influences and she wore Keds.

corn palace
Me and my Keds last March at the Corn Palace in South Dakota
For everyday, I wear whatever I haven’t worn out. I wish I was the type of person who buys 100 pairs of shoes, rotates them by season and keeps them for years. I wear my shoes until they get so beat up that not even the Goodwill can sell them. As of right now I don’t have one pair of dress closed toe flats because I’ve worn my past pair out and have yet to replace them. Yeah, it’s bad.

What goes into your shoe buying decisions?
Definitely quality over quantity. In the past, I may have only been willing to pay $20 for a pair of shoes. Now I’m willing to pay up to $75 because I’ve realized shoes are an investment. Unlike my everyday shoes, I tend to keep high heels for years and bring them out on special occasions. I’m also an extremely picky buyer when it comes to shoes and will pay the price for what I want.

The majority of the shoes in your closet are what color?
Since I don’t have many pairs of shoes, I need what I have to be versatile so I definitely wear more neutral colors. My shoes range in color from silver to black with color thrown in here and there.

When it comes to design shoes what are your favorite brands and why?
To be honest, I don’t have brand loyalty when it comes to shoes. If I like it, I buy it. But I do have store preferences. More than any other store, I shop at T.J. Maxx for shoes. I find they have the best quality selection for a variety of price ranges

If price wasn’t an issue, you’d own which shoe?
Since I’m not really a shoe fiend, I don’t have a particular shoe in mind per se. If price wasn’t a factor, then I would buy myself a really good pair of stylish leather winter boots. I’ve had the same pair for seven years and I think they’ve just about bit the dust!

How I Keep Fit

This week’s Friend Friday is all about fitness and working out. I’ve written about fitness before, but it’s a topic that’s important to bring up again.

Do you keep some kind of fitness routine? Why?
About three years ago, I was sitting on a plane coming back from Mexico. At the time, I was sick with constant stomach aches and a general dislike for food despite being on the high end of an average BMI for my height. I made the decision to get healthy, lose weight and change my life. Since then, I’ve gone to the gym at least three times a week for about 40 minutes each time. I found a system that worked for me and stuck to it. As a result, I’ve lost almost 25 pounds. Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Has working out helped with your own perception of body image?
With absolute certainty: Yes. I find that clothes look better and I’m more confident about my appearance. As a result of a healthy lifestyle and working out, my general outlook on life has changed. Before I think I used to let people treat me poorly whereas now I have very little patience for disrespect. When you love yourself, it’s easy to say “No” to toxic people in your life.

When you are hitting the gym or just going out for a long walk what do you wear? Is it about functionality or fashion?
Since I workout routinely, I generally wear whatever is clean! I see many women at the gym who are workout fashionistas, but I don’t aspire to be like them, to be honest.

Do you feel there is a cultural perception of what you ‘should’ be doing for your own physical fitness?
Many women do feel this way and see their self image as closely tied to their body image. So long as I’m comfortable with myself, then that is all that matters. That doesn’t mean I don’t worry about gaining weight, but I try not to let others’ perceptions of me influence how hard or how often I work out.

My secret? I stick to three simple rules to maintain my fitness:

  • Go to the gym three times a week for 40 minutes each time.
  • Don’t buy or keep junk food in the house.
  • Cut out dairy and meat.

Dream big: What would be your ultimate fitness goal.
Without a doubt reaching my long-term goal weight would be my current ultimate fitness goal. I am about 1.8 pounds away from it and the end is in sight! I’ve had the same goal for three years and am at the end of the marathon. When I reach it, the real test will be maintaining it.

What are you doing to be fit? Do you want to start a new routine?

(Please note that I will never reveal my weight on this blog. I don’t want others to compare themselves to me and, likewise, I do not want to compare myself to others. I think everyone has to find a weight that works for them and do not want to add to the pressure to diet, which doesn’t work!)

Feminism and Hot Shorts

Bad Company vs The Deadutantes

Roller derby. It’s rough, brutal and entirely entertaining. The women playing are not professional athletes, but rather women who I work with or who run the cash register at my favorite store. Though I have great respect for the sport, I have difficulty reconciling my feminist beliefs with it. Most of the players, though not all, are usually half clothed and opt to wear hot shorts that are glorified undies. Inside, I know I should be outraged but I’m not.

While I don’t necessarily think feminism and roller derby are philosophically connected, I struggle with my beliefs at matches. After all, no one is forcing me to be there. The truth is, I find the sport to be exciting, competitive and down to earth. The fact that the girls are half dressed is an after thought to me. All this has me thinking: Do I put my beliefs on hold because it’s convenient?

I’ve said before that my feminist beliefs aren’t innately connected to what I choose to wear. So, why then should I judge other women by what they put on? Maybe herein my problem lies. Mainstream feminist beliefs often propose that what we wear represents who we are, which I do not agree with. Certainly our personal choices are no doubt political and public, but I’d like to think my life’s choices extend deeper than a cut of a shirt.

The more I contemplate my own feminism, the more I realize that my beliefs must be tailored to me and not dictated by social pressures to accept certain philosophies just because they are mainstream. Most don’t consider feminism as mainstream, but with any subset, there are always rules. Rules that were meant to be broken.

What I Wore

In front of tank at the Armory

Shirt: Express Camisole with Mossimo Target Top
Pants: Target
Shoes: B.O.C. from T.J. Maxx

Where I Draw My Fashion Inspiration

This week’s Friend Friday* is all about inspiration for our personal fashion sense and the way we choose to live our lives.

Which celebrities do you look to for fashion inspiration?

Audrey Hepburn, who was elegant into her older age, which rarely gets recognized on fashion blogs.

Lauren Conrad, always age appropriate, fun yet classic. The only thing I don’t like about her style is her incessant need to match her purse with her shoes a la ladies who lunch.

When it comes to your own personal style, what inspires you?
I’m inspired by interesting simplicity and the idea that less is more. I admire clothing and designers that create clean shapes that flatter a woman’s body no matter what size. I like bloggers who mix textures and patterns in unexpected ways, which has influenced me more than any other fashion trend in the past year.

How do you hope to inspire your readers?
My goal is to encourage my community to think of ideas and issues they haven’t considered before. If I make one reader venture into an area they never thought they’d be interested in, then I feel as if I’ve done my job as a blogger. I lead by example and try to live my life representing the ideals I speak about on my blog, which I also hope is inspiring.

Outside the realm of fashion who or what inspires you?
Having worked as a full-time volunteer for the past three years, I am constantly inspired by the tireless efforts of those around me. There’s a great group of women and men who run a local animal shelter–they constantly inspire me with their dedication to saving cats and dogs along with the occasional mountain lion (no joke).

And since Idol is ending… Which songs inspire you?
I haven’t watched American Idol since Kelly Clarkson, so I’m sad to say I didn’t know it was ending!

I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz lately including Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald. Constant classics in my book include 1990s to early 2000s Tori Amos, Amy Winehouse and Regina Spektor.

Outfit of the Day . . . In May!
I’m thinking about going “Outfit of the Day in May,” since I haven’t ventured into the outfit of the day realm with the exception of the occasional holiday outfit. Would you be interested in seeing posts like this? Please let me know!
*Friend Friday is a supportive group of fashion and beauty bloggers. This group was started by Katy of Modly Chic