Monthly Archives: September 2015

Why Not Me?

When I read Mindy Kaling’s first book, Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns), it was the first time since reading The Catcher in the Rye that I felt profoundly understood and connected to a book’s protagonist. Except, in the case of the former, the narrator was a real person and a woman I could look up to. Given that Kaling’s memoir was so flawless, I was apprehensive that her latest collection of essays, Why Not Me?, couldn’t possibly be as phenomenal and would ultimately disappoint me.

Well, I would like to personally apologize to Mindy Kaling for ever doubting her, because Why Not Me? blew me away.

635685174558718456-Why-Not-Me-Final

The personal essays tackle everything from Kaling’s body image, her relationship with B.J. Novak, her career, and just the inherent complications of being a woman. While Kaling’s first book reads more like a fluid, chronological story of Kaling’s childhood and subsequent rise to fame, the second strictly focuses on her adulthood and even features a surprising amount of advice. Most of the advice is tongue-in-cheek, as Kaling does so perfectly, but it comes from an honest and authentic place and really resonated with me. Below are some of my favorite tidbits of advice/ revelations from the book:

“The first thing you need to know is that the hair on your head is worthless. The color, the length, the thickness, everything. You will never see anyone on TV sporting their own God-given hair, unless it’s on, like, a sad miniseries about factory workers in East Germany.”

“Asking your friend to be a bridesmaid is one of the modern paradoxes: no one actually wants to do it, but everyone would be offended if you didn’t ask.”

“The problem with joining a sorority was that I was a person who wanted to make friends based on common interests. And our common interests had to be more than simply wanting to make friends.”

“My deep dark secret is that I absolutely do try to conform to normal standards of beauty. I am just not remotely successful at it.”

“Now even my coolest friends are online dating. But not me. I live in fear of my public profile being published online for everyone to see. Especially since I am such a liar. On a dating profile page, I would pretend to be a completely different person. You would see me loving live music and hiking. You basically leave the date thinking I’m an outdoorsy Stevie Nicks.”

“No matter how good you have it, it’s cool to want more.”

“Young women often approach me and excitedly tell me how much they appreciate the way I look. They like that I am not a skinny twig, because it shows that I refuse to change who I am and makes them feel like they don’t have to either. I really love that. But what they don’t know is that I’m a big fat fraud. I’m completely not at peace with how I look. I don’t wake up in the morning, look at my naked body in the mirror, and say, ‘Good morning, body. Once again, you’ve nailed it, you gorgeous imperfect thing. That wobbly patch of cellulite? A miracle. Every stretch mark? A Picasso. Holy crap, I look good! Who can I sext? Somebody else has got to see this.’”

“Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled. Listen to no one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know, and that doesn’t always mean your parents. If you do that, you will be fine.”

If any of the above quotes spoke to you, made you laugh, or made you feel slightly more normal, go buy Why Not Me?! It’s a super quick read that you won’t be able to put down.

Advertisements

But first… let me take a selfie.

I had to read this article for my feminist philosophy class, and it unleashed a contentious debate among the professor and my classmates as to whether “the female selfie” is a visible reflection of patriarchal social norms, or a pushback against the harsh beauty standards set forth by those norms. Here are my thoughts on the matter…

There are a lot of generalizations made about “the female selfie” both positive and negative. I think it would be impossible to make a definitive statement about why all women post selfies because every woman is different. Moreover, I think the desire to dualistically label “the female selfie” as good or bad simply highlights the fundamental misconception about feminism in general which is that all women want the same things or are motivated by the same things. Feminism is about giving women equal opportunity, and then supporting whatever they decide to do with those opportunities. I am sure some women post selfies solely to attract men, some post selfies out of self-love, some are rebelling against harsh beauty standards set forth by gender norms, etc.

I know girls that have posted sexy, albeit filtered selfies on Instagram after a harsh breakup to make an ex-boyfriend jealous. I also have friends that post selfies with no makeup on to show that that is how they feel most beautiful. I also know women that feel most confident with their makeup done, and if they love how their winged eyeliner turns out one day they might post a selfie to show it off to their followers. I have never personally posted a selfie on social media- but I have definitely taken many a selfie (my biggest source of anxiety is someone scrolling through my camera roll). And, who knows- maybe one day I’ll change my mind and decide to post one. I would never judge another woman for posting a selfie, but more importantly I would never form an opinion on “the female selfie” as if it is an ontologically distinct entity rather than an umbrella that describes just one way women can express themselves through social media.

So, I decided to post my first selfie right here. I’m not trying to impress a man, or rebel against the patriarchy. I’m not trying to love myself more, or to seek anyone’s approval. It’s just a picture I took of myself.

image1

JUDGE AWAY! Or don’t. Doesn’t matter to me!

%d bloggers like this: