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The Launch: All the Hottest Designer Drops of February 2021

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The Launch: All the Hottest Designer Drops of February 2021


Although February is the shortest month of the year, there is no shortage of exciting fashion news. From Lunar New Year celebrations to the newest handbag from YSL, this week has provided fashionable and timely drops. Keep coming back for more to see all the hottest drops and collaborations that you won’t want to miss.

1

Coach Unveils Tabby Pillow Bag Campaign

Who: Coach

What: Tabby Pillow bag

Where: On Coach.com and in select Coach stores

Why: If you’ve been looking for a bag that is as comfortable as it is practical, stop your search here. Coach unveiled its newest bag, the Tabby Pillow, in a campaign lensed by Juergen Teller and starring familiar faces to Coach, including Jennifer Lopez, Quincy, and Paloma Elsesser. This tactile handbag comes in a variety of colors and is easily worn on the shoulder, adding a soft touch to every fit. Bags are priced at $495.

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2

Levi’s Debuts Collaboration with Fresco Steez

Who: Levi’s x Fresco Steez

What: Limited edition Black History Month collaboration

Where: Levi.com

Why: Levi’s has joined forces with organizer, founder of BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100) and designer Fresco Steez to create two pieces that celebrate the past, the present, and the future of Black liberation. Inspired by the signage of the Memphis strikes of 1968, Steez created a crewneck and trucker jacket that honor the power, honor, and truth in being “Unapologetically Black.” The crewneck’s back asks the imperative questions: “What legacy do you continue? What are you fighting for? What do you love?”

In coordination with this launch, Levi’s is making a donation to Power U Center for Social Change, which focuses on empowering youth with political education, civic engagement, and community investment, working to broaden Black futures.

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3

Vans Announces Artists Collaborations and “Foot the Bill” Initiative

Who: Vans

What: Black Artists Collaboration and Fit the Bill Initiative

Where: In Vans stores nationwide on Vans.com

Why: Vans is sponsoring four talented Black artists during Black History Month with a special initiative that has called on each artist to design a sneaker for Vans. The four featured artists are Chris Martin, Rewina Beshue, Tony Whlgn, and Sydney James, and a different artist will be highlighted every week this month, starting with Rewina on the 8th (pictured). The artists will also have installations in Vans storefronts across the US during February. Vans is furthering their support of Black creatives by donating $40,000 to the Black Arts Future Fund, which funds community-based Black artist organizations nationwide. All four shoes are now available for purchase.

In coordination with this collaboration, Vans has announced “Foot the Bill,” which will provide direct financial support to small Black-owned businesses that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Vans will be announcing the beneficiaries throughout the month.

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4

Mulberry Releases Icon Edition Bags

Who: Mulberry

What: Icon Edition Bags

Where: in Mulberry stores and on mulberry.com

Why: Mulberry is turning 50 this year, and in celebration of half a century’s worth of rich English heritage, the brand is releasing several special projects throughout 2021. The first of these are the Icon Edition bags, celebrating Mulberry’s most beloved handbag silhouettes over the years. With sustainability at the forefront of their craft, Mulberry is re-releasing handbags in new colorways and mini sizes, all made from sustainably sourced leather.

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5

Khiry Joins NET-A-PORTER’s Vanguard Program

Who: Khiry Fine Jewelry

What: Khiry launches on NET-A-PORTER

Where: exclusively on NET-A-PORTER.com

Why: Fine jewelry brand Khiry joins NET-A-PORTER’s Vanguard program, marking the brand’s first fine jewelry collection. Khiry is producing his first collection in sponsorship with three fine jewelers as well as with mentorship from fine jeweler Mateo. 15% of all KHIRY FINE sales on NAP will go to the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center, which KHIRY designer Jameel Mohammed is an alum of.

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6

Who: Rebag

What: Clair AI

Where: Rebag.com

Why: Launching on February 3, Rebag is bringing AI to the world of luxury resale. The popular retailer is updating its Clair technology—a database that acts as the Kelly Blue Book for designer handbags— and introducing image recognition technology that can help identify and price luxury handbags within seconds. You can use it to help appraise your own closet, check out the online value of a bag you spot IRL in stores, and you can even snap a picture you see on TV (as long as the proportions work for the app).

7

Saint Laurent Debuts Le Maillon

Who: Saint Laurent

What: LE MAILLON bag

Where: Available on YSL.com and in Saint Laurent boutiques

Why: Saint Laurent’s newest bag is the sleek Le Maillon bag, which debuted in Anthony Vacarello’s Spring21 collection for the brand. The satchel is optimally sized for everyday use and includes a chic brass chain clasp. The bag comes in a variety of colors, including a perfect forest green.

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8

Moncler Celebrates Lunar New Year

Who: Moncler

What: Lunar New Year collection

Where: Available on moncler.com and in Moncler boutiques internationally

Why: Moncler is celebrating the Year of the Ox by teaming up with Chinese photographer Leslie Zhang to create the campaign for this launch. This is Zhang’s second collaboration with Moncler. His imagery focuses on traditional Chinese architecture, the color red, and Kung Fu, infused with his modern take, representing contemporary Chinese creative culture. The products themselves cherish Chinese lunar traditions and represent the astral constellation of the Ox.

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9

Teva x Anna Sui

Who: Teva x Anna Sui

What: Teva x Anna Sui capsule collection

Where: Available on Teva.com and Annasui.com

Why: Teva has partnered with Anna Sui for their second collaboration. The designer known for her whimsical and fresh designs opted for classic Liberty Prints for the flatform and boot she has designed specifically for this collaboration. The flatform (pictured here) is available for $150 and the boot is priced at $190.

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10

BVLGARI x Tribeca Studios

Who: BVLGARI x Tribeca Studios

What: Premiere of two short films made with Bulgari and Tribeca Studios

Where: Premiering on February 1 on bulgari.com

Why: BVLGARI and Tribeca Studios are releasing the last two of six film collaborations on February 1st. These films were created in order to champion women in creative fields excelling in their own, independent ways. Cynthia Erivo will be hosting the premiere of Lot 448 and Ezinma, both directed by women, following the unique career paths of an art anti-crime archivist and a prodigious violinist, respectively.

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9 Women Have Now Accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of Sexual Harassment

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9 Women Have Now Accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of Sexual Harassment


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s currently in his third term, has now been accused of sexual harassment or misconduct by nine women. The allegations have triggered an outside investigation, calls for resignation from high-ranking Democrats, and an impeachment inquiry from the State Assembly.

Here’s what we know so far:

The Timeline

The first allegations arose in December 2020, when President Joe Biden was reportedly considering Cuomo for attorney general. At the time, Cuomo was still widely regarded as a hero for how he managed New York’s pandemic response. (This was before he was embroiled in another scandal over underreporting COVID death tolls in nursing homes.) He had published a book, won an Emmy, and appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone. Lingua Franca, a luxury knitwear brand with an Upper East Side #resistance ethos, had even sold cashmere sweaters with “Cuomosexual” embroidered across the front.

On Dec. 11, Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to Cuomo, tweeted at Joe Biden, writing: “If you make this man attorney general, some women like me will be bringing the receipts. We do not need a sexual harasser and abuser as ‘the law,’ of the land.” Her allegation received little attention until Feb. 24, when she published an essay alleging that the governor made persistent sexual comments when she was his employee and kissed her without her consent.

Since then, eight more women have come forward with allegations of workplace sexual harassment or misconduct. The allegations vary in severity, with one accusation of groping made by an unidentified woman on March 10 potentially reaching “the level of a crime,” according to Albany police.

The Allegations

Lindsey Boylan

Cuomo’s first accuser, Boylan, 36, worked at the New York state economic development agency from 2015 to 2018. She is currently running for Manhattan borough president.

In her essay, Boylan wrote about multiple uncomfortable, sexualized interactions she had with Cuomo over the course of several years. She alleges that in 2016 her boss told her the governor had a “crush” on her, and that Cuomo made comments about her looks, including telling Boylan she could be the “better looking sister” of his rumored ex-girlfriend Lisa Shields. In 2017, she alleges, Cuomo suggested they “play strip poker” while on a plane.

Boylan also alleges the harassment was physical. “I had complained to friends that the governor would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs,” she wrote. Boylan also claims that Cuomo “stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips” as she was leaving a one-on-one briefing in 2018.

The governor has denied the allegations. Boylan has called on Cuomo to resign.

Charlotte Bennett

A few days after Boylan published her account, Charlotte Bennett, 25, came forward with sexual harassment allegations of her own. Bennett worked as an assistant and policy adviser in the Cuomo administration until November 2020. At first, she saw Cuomo as a mentor.

But in early June 2020, Bennett alleges Cuomo asked her numerous inappropriate questions about her sex life, including whether she slept with older men. In the same conversation, Cuomo allegedly told her that he was looking for a girlfriend and was “fine with anyone above the age of 22,” which Bennett interpreted as a sexual advance. She also noted that throughout their professional relationship he had seemed fixated on her past experience of sexual assault. Bennett says she reported the conversation to Jill DesRosiers, Cuomo’s chief of staff, and was transferred to a different job within a month.

Cuomo responded to the allegations, saying “I never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.”

Anna Ruch

Anna Ruch, 33, claims that Cuomo made an unwanted advance towards her at a wedding in 2019, clasping her face and asking if he could kiss her. Unlike most of the other women mentioned here, Ruch is not and never has been employed by the governor’s office or the state of New York. Still, her account—and the photo that captured her discomfort—was a turning point, prompting several state Democratic officials to call on Cuomo to resign.

A few days after Ruch’s allegations surfaced Cuomo issued a public statement from the State Capitol. “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.” However, he denied ever touching anyone inappropriately.

Karen Hinton

Hinton, who worked for Cuomo when he was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton Administration, alleged that Cuomo gave her an unsolicited “intimate embrace” in a hotel room in 2000. “I pulled away. He brought me back. I pulled away again and I said, ‘Look I need some sleep, I am going,” she said in a TV interview.

Cuomo has denied her account, describing Hinton as “a longtime political adversary.”

Ana Liss

Ana Liss, 35, another former aide, claims Cuomo kissed her hand, touched her lower back, called her “sweetheart,” and asked whether she had a boyfriend while she was working for him between 2013 and 2015. Liss has stated that she initially saw this behavior as harmless flirtation, but gradually began to see it as inappropriate and patronizing.

A senior Cuomo adviser characterized Cuomo’s interactions with Liss as typical for his office. “I understand that sensitivities have changed and behavior has changed, and I get it. And I’m going to learn from it,” Cuomo said.

Unnamed woman

On March 10, the Times Union of Albany reported that a female aide, whose identity the newspaper has not made public, alleged that Cuomo “aggressively” groped her at the Executive Mansion in late 2020. The aide, a young woman, had been summoned to the governor’s private residence to assist him with a technical issue. They were alone when Cuomo allegedly “reached under her blouse and began to fondle her,” according to the Times Union report.

Cuomo issued a statement denying the allegations. “I have never done anything like this,” the governor said, before acknowledging that “the details of this report are gut-wrenching.”

This allegation could turn out to be significant, as groping qualifies as a form of sexual assault. Sexual assault, unlike sexual harassment, is a criminal matter. The allegation has been formally referred to the Albany Police Department, but as of March 11, there had been no formal criminal complaint and no active criminal investigation, according to an APD spokesman.

Jessica Bakeman

Two days later, Bakeman, a political reporter who formerly covered the New York Capitol in Albany, alleged in New York magazine that Cuomo was physically inappropriate with her on multiple occasions. “Keeping his grip on me as I practically squirmed to get away from him, the governor turned my body to face a different direction for yet another picture. He never let go of my hand,” she wrote. Cuomo allegedly responded to her discomfort by saying, “I’m sorry. Am I making you uncomfortable? I thought we were going steady.”

The same day, New York magazine published an in-depth cover story on the culture of harassment and dysfunction in the governor’s office. One former staffer, Joel Wertheimer, characterized upper level employees—including Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide and one of several high-ranking women the governor has historically pointed to as evidence of his lack of chauvinism—as both “mean” and “bad at their jobs.” The New York Times published a similar piece, describing the Cuomo administration as a toxic environment for women.

Alyssa McGrath

On March 19, new allegations of workplace harassment emerged from a current employee of the Cuomo administration. Alyssa McGrath, who works as an aide at the governor’s office, told the New York Times about a number of inappropriate comments and interactions. She alleged that Cuomo referred to her and her co-worker as “mingle mamas,” commented on her looks and marital status, and looked down her shirt to comment on a necklace she was wearing. McGrath is the first current aide to speak publicly about her allegations, and she also commented on the serious accusation made by an anonymous current aide that Cuomo groped her. She said that the aide, a co-worker, described the incident in detail to her after the Times Union report came out.

According to the Times, a lawyer for Cuomo responded to the allegations, saying, “He has made clear that he has never made inappropriate advances or inappropriately touched anyone.”

Sherry Vill

On March 29, another woman, who is not an employee of the governor’s office, alleged that Cuomo forcibly kissed her. Sherry Vill, 55, alleges Cuomo grabbed her face and kissed her cheek in a “highly sexual manner” when he visited her home in Greece, NY, after flood damage in 2017. “The whole thing was so strange and inappropriate and still makes me nervous and afraid because of his power and position,” Vill said during a press conference, according to The Guardian.

Cuomo’s lawyer responded to the allegations, stating that, “During times of crisis, the Governor has frequently sought to comfort New Yorkers with hugs and kisses” and that he has greeted both men and women with kisses “for the past 40 years.”

Cuomo’s Response

On March 3, after Boylan, Bennett, and Ruch had publicly stated their accounts, but before Hinton, Liss, Bakeman, or the unnamed seventh woman came forward, Cuomo issued a public statement. “At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny,” he said. “I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”

“To be clear,” Cuomo added, “I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to.”

Some called his statement a “non-apology” and said it was insulting to women.

The Fallout

Cuomo’s office asked the state attorney general’s office to launch an outside investigation. On March 8, New York Attorney General Letitia James named two lawyers, Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clark, to lead an independent investigation into these accusations, which is likely to take months. Kim, a former federal prosecutor, and Clark, an employment lawyer, will have subpoena power to request documents and compel witnesses.

The New York State Assembly also opened an impeachment inquiry into Cuomo’s conduct on March 11. This gives the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee jurisdiction to investigate the allegations and could ultimately lead to impeachment. If so, it would be the first such effort in New York in over a century.

A growing number of elected officials across party lines, including New York Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, have called on Cuomo to resign. “Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York,” they said in a joint statement. Twelve of the 19 House Democrats from New York—including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler—have also called on Cuomo to resign.

On March 16, President Biden said in an interview with ABC News that Cuomo should resign if the investigation confirms the women’s claims. If that’s the case, Biden said, “I think he’ll probably end up being prosecuted, too.”

This post will continue to be updated.

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My Toy Company Is Joy Personified, But I Struggled With Depression for Decades

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lifelines author and melissa and doug cofounder melissa bernstein at age 5


Content warning: suicidal ideation

To the outside world, I lived a perfect life. My toy company, Melissa & Doug, which I founded in 1988 alongside my husband, Doug Bernstein, had grown from a tiny operation run out of Doug’s parents’ garage into a half-billion dollar business. Doug and I had been married for over thirty years; we had six children and a beautiful home, all of which I was profoundly grateful for. And yet, at many points in my life, I wanted to end it all.

The author at age 5.

Courtesy of Melissa & Doug

I can’t recall a particular moment that led me to seek treatment for the mental health issues that had plagued me for five decades, no one incident of peeling yellow wallpaper or letting out a primal wail while driving down the street. Likewise, there was no one trigger for my existential depression and anxiety—just the knowledge that this feeling of despondency and hopelessness about the meaning of life had been inside me, seemingly, from birth. Then one day, the cry of my own soul—my desire to be seen for who I really was—became so loud that I couldn’t ignore it any longer.

lifelines author and melissa and doug cofounder melissa bernstein

My teen years.

Courtesy of Melissa & Doug

Depression has long been considered one of the most common mood disorders, and yet it is becoming even more prevalent with the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the grief, uncertainty, and fear that has come along with it. Last August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that during a period of only six days, from June 24 to 30, adults experienced increased mental health issues, as well as an increase in both substance use and suicidal ideation. That was about three months into lockdown. By fall, another study (by JAMA Network Open) revealed that symptoms of depression had tripled in adults. With the dark winter months that followed, bringing Seasonal Affective Disorder into the mix, it’s no wonder that depression rates have continued to rise, even as spring and the potential relief brought by vaccines approach.

For me, feelings of anguish predated the pandemic. As a child, I was unable to be calmed. I was always upset, and I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t desperately wondering, Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? A longing to be perfect exacerbated my sadness. I strived to be the quintessential high-achiever, but I felt so profoundly imperfect, so different, like I might as well be from another planet. If my goal was to be a blooming, beautiful rose, my depression was like a thorn; persistent and sharp and very much in the way.

melissa and doug bernstein of melissa and doug

Doug and I founded Melissa & Doug in 1988—I still serve as the company’s Chief Creative Officer.

Courtesy of Melissa & Doug

This was a very painful way to exist, of course, but I didn’t share my feelings with anyone. I kept it all hidden inside of me, which made my situation progressively worse. As a teenager, I collected enough pills from around the house to fill a small bottle that I would carry in the pocket of my jeans. That was my out, my escape from this world if the pain became too great.

By the time I turned fifty, there was so much more at stake, and so much more to hide. Certainly, creating toys for children—and parenting my own—has brought me tremendous joy. But what did it say about me, that I could still be depressed with this incredible abundance in my life, and what would it say to the world if I were to reveal this about myself?

melissa and doug bernstein of melissa and doug, pictured with their six children in connecticut

The Bernstein family at home in Connecticut.

Courtesy of Melissa & Doug

Anyone who has struggled with depression, either of the existential kind or the types triggered by life events or a chemical imbalance, knows how exhausting it can be. And after five decades of repressing and resisting everything I was, and everything I had felt, I was weary. I could not fight my depression on my own for one more day. I simply no longer had the energy. And with that realization, came liberation. I had reached a breaking point and no longer cared about what others would think of me.

melissa bernstein of melissa and doug

The author today.

Courtesy of Melissa & Doug

I started noticing that acquaintances in my community were raving about a particular therapist, and I decided to reach out to her. We jelled from the start. I knew I could trust her, and we soon were off on an incredible journey together. This journey, admittedly, was also the scariest, most grueling work I have ever known. I had to go as deep as I had ever gone, stare despair right in the eye, and relinquish the idea of being perfect. That was terrifying and very, very dark—and I wasn’t sure I would make it out alive.

LifeLines: An Inspirational Journey from Profound Darkness to Radiant Light

But thankfully, I did. And once I started connecting the dots, I realized that if I hadn’t been so determined to keep my depression hidden, I could have gotten help a lot earlier. I had thought I was alone; I wasn’t. I had thought my feelings and fears were shameful; they weren’t.

That was four years ago. Today, I still serve as Melissa & Doug’s Chief Creative Officer, but my experience with therapy inspired me to create a free online community called LifeLines.com, to support others as they find their way to emotional wellness. I don’t claim to have all the answers, only a profound desire to help others feel less alone. Friedrich Nietzsche, a philosopher and poet whose work I love, famously offered this advice: “Throw roses into the abyss and say, ‘Here is my thanks to the monster who didn’t succeed in swallowing me alive.’” Depression can feel like both a monster and an abyss. But we can help each other to exist as our true selves; as roses, with our thorns and all.

If you or someone you know is at risk, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to 741741 to message with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free.

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Jennifer Lopez Had Been ‘Contemplating Breaking Up’ With Alex Rodriguez for 6 Months

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Jennifer Lopez Had Been ‘Contemplating Breaking Up’ With Alex Rodriguez for 6 Months


Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez’s relationship is still on but barely, with Rodriguez in the Dominican Republic with Lopez now, trying to save their four-year romance. What got their relationship, which seemed rock-solid publicly, to this point? People has new detail today about Lopez’s longtime private doubts about Rodriguez and how the pandemic (and quarantine) drastically altered their dynamic.

A source close to Lopez emphasized that the Southern Charm Madison LeCroy-Alex Rodriguez affair rumors are not what have caused their issues. “Madison has no bearing on the rough patch,” the source said.

Lopez reportedly had concerns about their long term compatibility long before that scandal broke in February. As a friend of Lopez told People, “She’s been contemplating breaking up with Alex for six months.”

Quarantine changed everything, a Lopez source explained: “They both liked spending more time together as a family, but it was difficult to keep that special spark when they saw each other every day.” Multiple sources told People that the couple’s honeymoon phase “faded” over the year in quarantine.

Lopez is currently filming her new movie Shotgun Wedding in the Dominican Republic, away from her children, 13 year old twins Emme and Max, and Rodriguez. The distance only caused the couple’s issues to deepen. “Filming during COVID has been very hard for her,” the outlet’s Lopez source said. Lopez misses her kids and “not having Alex around all the time makes her stressed.”

But Lopez and Rodriguez are currently working to repair their relationship. “The past few days were upsetting and stressful,” the Lopez source said. “She and Alex have a lot of issues they hope they can work through, but they both seem willing to do whatever it takes to stay together.”

People‘s update comes two days after E! ran details from a source about Rodriguez’s fight to save his relationship with J.Lo.

“They are trying to figure things out,” E!’s source said. “He absolutely does not want to split up and has made many promises to try and keep her.”

“He flew out to be with her and to prove to her how serious he is,” the source added. “They don’t know what’s going to happen. Untangling their lives, business dealings, and families would be devastating to everyone involved.”

A second source told E! that Lopez isn’t rushing to make any decisions about whether or not she’ll stay with Rodriguez. Lopez wants to “get through filming before they figure out the next steps. She wants to give him a chance to make it right and really does love him.”

A source also told E! last week that, like People reported, Lopez had been uneasy for a while about Rodriguez and so have her friends. “Jennifer’s friends for a long time had warned her that A.Rod was not a good guy and that he was using her to clean up his tarnished image after his many scandals,” one source said. “For years, Jennifer did not listen to the warnings, but now she believes them.”

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