Monthly Archives: September 2014

No Comment…On What Other Women Are Eating or Their Bodies

commentAn issue that seems to be running rampant these days is food and body image shaming among women, in the guise of backhanded compliments, self-deprecating remarks and passing observations. It’s happening at work, it’s happening at happy hour, it’s happening at family dinners. Perfect strangers are doing it to each other. A friend who works as a receptionist told me the other day that she was eating a carrot at her desk when a candidate  waiting for an interview idly remarked, “you’re lucky you can eat like that and look like you do.” This woman was interviewing to be her new boss. Food and body commentary is a form of women-on-women violence and it needs to stop. Immediately. Continue reading

Earnest is the New Ironic

EarnestOveruse of irony is a symptom of a certain social disease I’ve noticed over the past decade, an interpersonal guardedness in this age of public exhibitionism. Everyone’s speaking tongue-in-cheek, heavy on the sarcasm and cynical observations. Irony isn’t just sprinkled here and there for effect, but entire conversations consist of it, leaving participants feeling heady with their own cleverness, others bemused and apart. I’ve moved in social circles where the least invested, most caustic, coolest and aloof person wins. I’ve lived in places where sincerity is considered a sign of weakness or lack of intelligence. I’ve participated in banter so sardonic it became a quest to force the other to break character first, by saying, “oh, but I’m just kidding!”. As if that even needed to be said. The negative barbs and melodramatic tone obviously indicated from the start that we were all just kidding. Or were we? What is this ironic conversational staring contest really about? Continue reading

Confidence Requires Apology (If You’re a Woman)

confidence apologySexism is alive and well in this country, don’t try to deny it. In the context of society at large women and girls are required to play by a different set of rules, lest they be labeled and cast out. It takes guts to stand alone, and it’s terrifying, so a lot of the time we adhere to tradition, bending and twisting ourselves to meet the requirements. On my mind for some time is women expressing confidence and the reactions from an individual and societal level. A couple of years ago I lost two very important friendships, or rather was cast out of two important friends’ lives. I came to understand that the root issue was my attempt to exhibit a confident approach to life, and the feelings of competition and anger that ensued around me. I have never seen a man apologize for listing his accomplishments, or defending his opinion, or expressing his personal goals. I’ve never seen other men roll their eyes or whisper behind their hands or glare at another man who walks tall with his chest puffed out. I’ve heard the words cocky and arrogant used to describe a man, but never the type of character tear-down a woman acting in the very same manner receives. What the fuck is all this about? Continue reading

Fuck Measuring

Fuck measuring

I want this to be an ever-trending hashtag. I want it written in the sky, scrawled in public restroom stalls, or better yet on public restroom mirrors. While we’re at it, let’s put it on decals and affix them to store windows, let’s make bumper stickers and coffee mugs and little signs to put on our front doors. I want dads to say it to their daughters while they tuck them into bed. I want mean girls to group text it to each other, and hiss it behind other girls’ backs. I want it on the front page of every online news outlet. I want it on cereal boxes and clothing labels and pay stubs. Continue reading

Keep It Off My Wave

PPG_WAVE_2.2When you study psychology sometimes it has the effect of making you empathic to the point of needless self-sacrifice. I’ve stayed in relationships far longer than was healthy simply because my understanding of the human psyche kept me from being honest with myself. I’d have a friend who was constantly negative, self-absorbed and abrasive, whose company I didn’t particularly enjoy, but I’d keep calling and inviting because I’ve been depressed and I understand what psychological stress can do to a person. The lengths I’d go to to excuse bad behavior sometimes appeared limitless, but I justified them because I felt I had special knowledge and understanding. I’ll admit to you that I was a “mean girl” from about third grade through the beginning of undergrad (we can talk more about that shameful period of my life, and why people bully another time) and so I seemed to think that unlimited empathy was a sort of karmic reparation I was paying. I wanted people in my life, a lot of people, and I would take all kinds. It didn’t matter whether they were giving anything in the relationship. I could more than compensate for what they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) offer, because I have the skills to bridge the gap. What a bunch a self-serving shit that was, and it drew quite an assortment of toxic people into my world. Continue reading

I Think I’m F*cked Up

FuckedLast night I went to a revival screening of 1990’s “Pump Up The Volume”, starring the timelessly, agelessly cool Christian Slater. He plays a sixteen year-old pirate radio jock spreading a “hey, it’s ok” message to his peers. In response to a listener’s letter he says, “feeling screwed up at a screwed up time in a screwed up place does not necessarily make you screwed up”. I knew I needed to take this line further and explore its meaning with you, cult 90’s movie notwithstanding. In my own life I’ve found this to be true–that internalizing the environment and culture is natural, and can lead us to believe we’re the problem in our own lives, when often we’re simply acting out external influences. Thus we put ourselves in danger of challenging the wrong system. Continue reading

See Something? Say Something.

See somethingHave you ever been in a situation where things weren’t going well, but no one around you seemed to notice or acknowledge it? I think the high value we place on privacy and autonomy can cause a kind of social paralysis, where we’re not reacting honestly to what’s happening around us. Louis CK has a stand-up bit where he talks about a friend’s teenage country cousin seeing her first destitute homeless person in Manhattan, and how while the man didn’t register to Louie or his friend, the cousin got down on her knees to do a welfare check. The anecdote illustrates Louie’s embarrassment at the cousin’s reaction, and the internal revolt he feels at his own jaded inaction. Don’t we kind of do this a lot as a society? Certainly we can’t help everyone, and we tend to accept what we feel we can’t (or won’t) change. But what about when it comes to the people we’re close to in life, when we see something that doesn’t look right, or sense something’s wrong? It’s a minefield, and I’m not sure how to cross it without something getting blown up. I keep trying, though. Continue reading

Microevil is Ruining the World

micro evilIf you just wrong some innocent person because you got wronged, that is literally what makes the world a horrible place, a friend remarked to me. We had attended a summer wedding the weekend before, and were still musing about the bad behavior of a fellow guest we had witnessed. The rehearsal dinner was a casual affair in a neighborhood garage brewery. Low-key with a relaxed, anything goes vibe was what the bride and groom were after. Dinner was off a food truck in an adjacent parking lot, which required crossing the street, taking a number and waiting for the two middle-aged women running the thing to prepare your order. It wasn’t fast-food paced, nor was there table service. Many handfuls of people stood around in the lot chatting, waiting for their two-digit number to be called, or for their turn to order. It was a long wait as the women busted their asses to provide for a large group, and easy to endure on such a beautiful evening. Continue reading

Exclusion is Not a Form of Style

10599706_10152578076188346_6511525159134575491_nI was walking through the mall the other day and stopped in my tracks in front of Wet Seal when I saw a tank top featured in the window that read “You Can’t Sit With Us”. In small text underneath the line was attributed to Mean Girls, a movie from 2004 that explores the phenomena of adolescent cruelty and cliques. It’s a marvelous flick (written by the brilliant comedian Tina Fey) because of its clear-eyed look at young female viciousness and resolution through revenge and redemption. However, its messages of exclusion do not belong on clothing marketed to tweens and teens. Retailers are smack in the middle of back-to-school sales and marketing clothing that glorifies bullying is heartless and wrong. For a moment there it seemed like perhaps America was making progress on rooting out bullying in schools, or at minimum speaking openly about it. Projects like and raised the issue, attempting to instill a sense of hope for victims and responsibility in peers, parents and educators. Now my local Nordstrom is posting pro-bullying clothing and accessories available in its teen department on Instagram. Continue reading