#Problematic: Cheap Pedicures, Dad Bods & Sugar-Bombing Adam Levine

It’s almost mid year, and you know what that means? This is the moment we all shine. Half of a year is pretty much extinguished, you are aging, the cat isn’t a kitten anymore, and you’re going to make the most of this earthly space ride. Meaning: you finally start practicing your New Years resolutions. That crumpled list—some old cocaine still crusted to the page, created in a  moment of bravado when you and your girlfriends got home from a New Year’s Eve party and drunkenly shouted affirmations as the sun came up, and one bitch with penmanship still left in her shakily wrote it all down, and set it aside for the cat to bat into your lap a few days later—that list will come alive, bless it.

It’s the kind of life embrace that makes federal judges reference “Friends” in final decisions, grown women ruin perfectly good Range Rovers with the autograph, “Mrs. Brown,” (yes, as in Chris Brown), and reality stars finally put their money where their lips are (you all know I’ve been waiting for a Kylie lip reveal for literally like three weeks). Pope Francis and the Catholic church are forgiving our sins of abortion, you guys! I’d be willing to put money down that ol’ Francis put “let women off the hook” on his New Year’s list, grumpily put it off while trying to stay warm in that late winter Vatican draft, only to wake up on May 1st, breathe in the Bacchanal, and say, “it’s time.” (I’ll abstain from the obvious rant about where the Catholic church can put its forgiveness, and just say, “Gee thanks, mister!” Because, positive vibes.) So what else has the early summer given us to chew on?

1. Your Manicure Is What’s Wrong With This Country

I was casually watching “The Real Housewives of New York City” at the gym recently (because it’s okay as long as it’s just background noise, or that is what I tell myself). Two of the monied women meet for a very staged pedicure date. They go to a Madison Avenue nail salon. It is relatively nice. Everything is pink, and the Asian women who work there have uniforms, which if you go to nail salons, you know this is rare. They giggle while the two white women hit every talking point that Bravo producers have given them, which range from who of their group is “spicy” and what kind of men they’re looking for. There are rose petals in their pedicure bowls. The whole time you’re watching this you can’t help but think how fucked up it is. Nail salons and their excruciating class and culture dynamics have been a thing both sides of the interaction have quietly accepted for a long time. But seeing it causally exploited on a bombastic, superficial television show, without regard or reference, made it very clear just how dismissive we’ve become of a real problem. I continued running and flipped over to the much more acceptable, less fake “Kardashians” instead.

Sarah Maslin Nir did an impeccable job investigating that very issue for the New York Times this week, in the first installment of their “Unvarnished” series exploring the American obsession with nail care and its consequences. Over 150 salon owners and workers were interviewed from the most egregious city for nail salon offenses, New York. It’s always been apparent that the women who come here just to make an honest America dollar working in nail salons are mistreated and taken advantage of by the salon owners. The fact that beyond the class and race disparities between customers and workers in these salons, there is also a race and age-fueled caste system within their own ranks, makes the issue a complex knot that policy makers desperately need to untie. Nir found that most of these salon workers aren’t even paid until they’ve proven themselves to the salon owner by some standard that can only be deemed as arbitrary and incredibly illegal. Once they are paid, it’s on average a day rate of $10-$30 with their tips also being skimmed. Some of their nail overlords practicing what is essentially feudalism even charge the workers to work there. And that is what the American dream means to some people.

The real problem is that law makers and policy enforcers are not protecting these (mostly) young immigrant women, and that is inherently racists and sexist. Nir reports that the first sweep of nail salons by the New York Labor Department was last year. The takeaway from the piece feels a bit like it’s imploring us to tip more, or perhaps forgo nail salons all together, which seems like a backwards answer. What is incredibly problematic is that the nail business is predominately patroned by women and serviced by women. Lawmakers don’t seem to care in some kind of “let the silly women work it out amongst themselves, why should we meddle in secretive feminine maintenance” kind of way. For them to overlook a whole industry out of some internalized patriarchy haze makes more than their cuticles look like shit.

As #Problematic as … the NFL trying to distract us from pay and domestic violence scandals with deflate gate:

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2. Yoko Ono Loves Espresso

“Life is what happens after coffee,” someone once Pinned to their Pinterest board titled “Don’t Give Up.” Coffee is the art form of other countries, that we as Americans have bastardized on a spectrum from douchey trends to sticky sweet chain garbage. What can I say, we are a young country and know nothing of tradition.

Illy is the top tier of grab and go. Illy is a brand you are relieved to see at the gas station. Illy makes you secretly feel kind of worldly, because it might be Italian, but you’re not entirely sure. Illy is the kind of coffee that you see someone drinking and think, “you would,” without ever fully fleshing out the implications of that sentiment before returning to your prepackaged kale salad (full disclosure, my intuition told me to capitalize the word “Kale”).

Illy is also the sponsored coffee of the MOMA. Actually that’s not true. But what is true is that if you go to the MOMA, you will get tired from watching distressed mustachioed men staring into paintings you don’t understand and get a cup of Illy, forget your umbrella at coat check and skip off into the Midtown bustle of tourists looking for Serendipity.

Naturally Yoko Ono, friend of MOMA, has created a line of limited edition coffee cups and saucers for Illy. They have painted cracks on them, in reference to the Japanese art of mending cracked pottery with gold. The saucers memorialize six different world tragedies in Yoko Ono’s handwriting. One cup in the set has no painted cracks, and the saucer suggests that is because it is “in your protection.” I would much rather drink coffee out of a mug that says “I’m a Twat” at the bottom, that I will throw at a wall when I’m finished.

As #Problematic as …whatever they did to Channing Tatum’s face in “Jupiter Ascending”:

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3. Dad Bod Is The New Bod

I’m not quite certain who sent out the initial memo to all of the media outlets that we should do a cultural investigation of Dad Bod, but the egg is being boiled—not too hard, not too soft. Leonardo DiCaprio has become the unofficial poster boy for Dad Bod. There have been quite a few listicles featuring America’s perpetual golden boy indulging in various water-based activities, beach lounging (with models), yachting (with models), being in the ocean (with models), and shooting water guns hopefully at the models, because he’s hopefully going to wed Rihanna soon (and you know she doesn’t get fucked with).

Mackenzie Pearson allegedly sparked a craze over squishy boy love on her blog March 30th. But any self-respecting woman knows that dad bod has been a thing since you woke up next to a guy in college with washboard abs, whose floor was a sea of dirty jock straps, half-used hair gel tubs, and empty axe body wash bottles. He likely offered you a protein pounder (you weren’t sure if he wanted you to blow him or make you a smoothie). You then realize perhaps softer male physiques are indicative of a broader world view, and much, much better sex.

They are the Hoyt Fortenberry’s, the Opie Winston’s, the Andy Dwyers. They are the chosen ones. What’s problematic is that men get a whole sexual oeuvre for being curvy, squishy, or as my friends and I like to call it, “healthy.” Women on the other hand, well that’s a very long story, just go buy a magazine.

As #Problematic as … Hot Pockets:

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4. The Met Gala

If there ever was a decadent, Dionysian event to commemorate just the occasion of spring into summer revelry, and sloughing off your winter ‘tude, it’s the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Benefit, the Met Gala for short. It’s the party of excess that you’ll never be invited to. It’s a summit of celebrity, power and wealth, for the sake of a summit of celebrity, power and wealth. Every year is given a theme by the Met’s Costume Institute. Attendees dress according to theme, and the one percent’s inability to grasp cultural nuance is put on display—Sarah Jessica Parker being the most consistent in manifesting society into terrible high fashion. My favorite theme was 2013’s “Punk: Chaos to Culture” for which most celebrities embarrassed themselves greatly, or just wore black.

This year was “China: Through the Looking Glass.” My question is what in the Anna Wintour that is supposed to mean. Celebrities showed up in a myriad of elaborate gowns, that made it very clear that to them China means sequins and cutouts. China is a structured, one-shouldered gown. China is a spray-painted gown. China is a head dress. It was all very memoirs of a geisha on a night on the orient express to grand Budapest hotel, and what else would you expect.

As #Problematic as … Kathie Lee’s iconic grace:

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5. Sugar for Sugar

Someone threw sugar on Adam Levine while he was signing autographs outside of Jimmy Kimmel’s studio. It is clearly a reference to Maroon 5’s latest single, “Sugar,” but also not a nice thing to do. The sweatshirted, tattooed hand that is shown sugaring Levine in one Instagram photo would make this seem like a crime of jealously. There is a man out there who really wants to be Adam Levine, and he perhaps in his mind Levine was going to dust himself off, look up with those soulful eyes that always make you feel safe, and say “Hey, man. That was really clever. You know, cause I have a song called “Sugar.” Want to go grab a drink?”

I think the real problem here is that Levine was associating with human asshole Jimmy Kimmel, and that will naturally attract bag luck. Also Adam just wanted me to let everyone know that he’s fine, but I really don’t appreciate it when people throw food at my husband. It’s fine to be a fan, but stay in the bleachers, babies.

As #Problematic as … the music video for “Sugar” maybe having been a complete ruse:

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