Friday, 4 October 2013

Why some people should think before they write

I came across this post on Thought Catalog last week called, "5 Things Women Should Start Doing Again." And I thought it would be kind of self-helpy and all "you must learn to practice self care" (I just said that in my annoying, breathy yoga voice), and it was going to talk about taking more bubble baths or some shit like that. Because apparently, to the average white woman, a bubble bath is like Polysporin for your soul. So, it's safe to say that I went into this post with some pretty solid preconceived notions of its inevitable suckitude. And I wasn't wrong.

Except instead of being irritating in a learn-to-love-youself-by-administering-a-daily-self-hug way, the writer dug up all these old tyme-y practices and rituals that women did when life sucked way worse because there weren't such a things as dry shampoo and stretchy pants. Her list included:

1) Getting our hair set once a week
For starters, women do do that, it's called a standing weekly appointment at the blowdry bar. I know women who do this and they practice maintenance in between by using humectants and hair sprays to ensure the humidity doesn't get to them, and dry shampoo towards the end of the week when their hair starts to smell like a jockstrap after hockey practice. (Do hockey players even wear jockstraps? IDK.) 

I, for one, wouldn't commit to a weekly hair appointment unless there was financial compensation involved. The idea that I'm being forced to sit in a chair for an hour or more without the freewill to get up and walk in circles just because -- a little insight into my daily life, peoples -- makes me rashy. It's one of the main reasons I don't have a job. But let me tell you as a person who makes her "living" writing about beauty trends, that insouciant, je ne sais quoi, voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir hair is glorious and liberating and very in style and won't make you want to stab the person tugging at your hair with a round brush in the eye with the sharp end of a comb. Because if Orange Is The New Black has taught me anything, jail blows.

2) Using fancy stockings with garter belts
This one kind of enrages me. Why in all holy fuck would a woman want to complicate her life further with a garter belt? Aren't pantyhose evil enough on their own? With their suffocating control tops and blistering toe seams and look-at-them-the-wrong-way-and-you'll-get-a-run flimsiness, I'd just as soon never buy a pair again. Reintroducing a garter belt into your life is akin to using a maxi pad from the past, which, if my memory of Judy Blume literature is accurate, involved some sort of belt-like contraption and sounded almost as cringe-y as a Blume-ian description of an adolescent girl making sense of the feelings she gets *down there* from her crush.

3) Hosting Barefoot Contessa-esque parties
Before I get into this lemme say one thing: I freakin' love the Barefoot Contessa. I think that broad is feisty and smart and I will use her recipes for roast chicken and pork tenderloin until the day I die. And I don't care what my mom's friend says, Jeffrey is *not* schtuping his mistress in the city all week while the Contessa cooks for and entertains her gay BFFs.

I won't tear into the writer for her obvious ineptitude in the kitchen. Clearly, she is hella incapable of hosting a "Contessa-esque" party. Me? I invite people over for dinner all the time. I may not have the idyllic lavender-laden Hamptons garden of la Contessa -- but then I also didn't have a career as a top-level investment banker before cashing it in for a Cuisinart mixer and imported truffle oil. I only have myself to blame -- but I can certainly throw together a two course dinner with loads of booze and not break a sweat. I'm no Contessa, but my guests always leave sated, a little bit drunk and sometimes even with leftovers in tow.

4) Day drinking with abandon
Far be it from me to discourage drinking of any kind at any time of the day. I've had business lunches in Europe where the wine flows freely, though not excessively, and my boyfriend is a martini at lunch kinda guy (circumstance permitting), so I judge not. But I'll admit that I don't love drinking in the middle of the day. It slows me down too much and often means that I won't get anything accomplished in the afternoon. I may also still be shellshocked from an ex-publisher who used to come back from lunch shitfaced on a regular basis. He'd make passes at the receptionist, hurl sexually harassing comments at the rest of the staff and practice karate in the middle of the office lobby. I really wish I was making that up.

The writer opines: "We need to bring out the parasols, and the lil crustless finger sandwiches, and lay out in random public areas to enjoy the hell out of our mid-afternoon buzz. Men should know, when we arrive on a sunny day with our big-ass hats and sunglasses, to ask us if we prefer a bellini or a cucumber mojito." And then maybe force their will upon us, prevent us from being independent and free thinking, and possibly ask us to "fetch" them their slippers when they get home from a long, hard day at work?

Day drinking? Yes! Reverting to a time when women would lounge around as useless objects waiting for their every need and whim to be satisfied by a man? Fuck no. Oh, and, parasols? Bite me.

5) Wearing incredibly fancy shit for no reason
I must say, I kind of agree with this point but I think she phrases it completely wrong. "Incredibly fancy" implies a sweeping gown or a tuxedo, and while the writer does make mention of throwing the cashier at your local corner store for a loop by showing up in a ball gown to buy tampons -- I mean, why? -- her point is so far off the mark that its merits are obscured. I agree that as a society we could use a little cleaning up. There is no excuse for wearing sweatpants or yoga pants in any context outside of the gym or yoga studio. None. I don't care if you were just running out to take the kids to school or if you were just popping into the market or if you're about to embark on a14-hour flight. There have been major advancements made in the field of fabric technology that mean you don't have to look sloppy to be comfortable. Jeans have loads of stretch in them, as do maxi dresses and long skirts and trousers. Athletic running shoes are not the only kind of footwear that will keep your feet supported and comfortable. There are driving moccasins and loafers and oxfords and streetstyle sneakers and cute flats. There really is no excuse for looking like a slob except sheer laziness. And I'll admit, some days when I'm walking my dog I glance down at my outfit and think, "good Lord, I look like a homeless Olsen twin," and I'm ashamed. Let's all share some shame on this front, shall we? And make a concerted effort to clean our shit up a little bit.

In conclusion, live your life with dignity, respect for yourself and others, and with a healthy cache of booze in your house. But don't bring back old practices that were indicative of a patriarchal society that viewed women as pretty objects to look at but not hear. Because both women and men have worked too hard to overcome that bullshit, and we're still working really hard at it. Now, let's all have a drink.

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