The June issue of Allure has the usual headlines about what beauty products to buy and how to get good hair and better skin. Also thrown into the sexy, sun-kissed mix is this tidbit of information about their cover girl: “Zoe Saldana: 115 Pounds Of Grit And Heartache.” Hey, she’s slight but this gal’s got might!
Do the editors of a beauty magazine think of a celebrity’s weight as just some random fun fact to share with their readers? No, of course they don’t. It’s aspirational. Even if the number itself is completely out of the realm of healthy possibility for most women, it reinforces a longing — that dream of ultimate thinness. It’s defining. An entire interview with Saldana and how do they describe the stand out qualities they learned about her for their cover? In pounds. But what is most insidious about that headline is that it immediately forces comparison. For many women, that comparison is likely to stoke insecurity. Even if it doesn’t, it’s still a giant waste of time and energy: Do you weigh less or more? But wait, are you big-boned or small-boned? You might weigh this much, but actually you wear this size in pants or that size in tops. You felt best about yourself when you were this weight. You’re proud of your weight and fuck anyone who says you shouldn’t be! Keep reading »
When I was pregnant, everyone warned me not to judge myself against other women either positively or negatively. They told me not to compare myself to the Super Moms, the Momzillas or even the Deadbeat Moms. People warned me that once I was a mother there would be some things I would do effortlessly, and others I would fail dismally at.
Largely, I ignored their advice and trusted in my own self-worth and confidence. I was a little older than most of my mom friends and figured that with those extra years came extra wisdom. I instinctually understood that hanging out on online baby forums leads to intense paranoia about teething, and battling it out with anonymous strangers is stupid. I never thought I would succumb to the motherhood comparison game. But in the end, I was wrong. I did judge myself harshly. But it wasn’t against other moms. It was against my own husband. Keep reading »
As I am getting ready to leave for the doctor’s office, Auntie Shadi gives me a warning: “Now don’t expect to be seen exactly on time. This is not America.”
“Oh. Ok,” I say, instead of admitting that we don’t necessarily get seen exactly on time for our doctor’s appointment either. During this one-month stay in Iran I have learned to choose my battles with misconceptions. I only correct the important ones, like the one where they assume that anyone who lives in America has lots of money without working.
Since I had left a lucrative career as an oral surgeon to become a writer, money was tight and most of my activities were on hold. When dad invited me to Iran on an all-expense-paid trip, I gladly accepted. As most everything is cheaper in Iran, I decided to get some of my annual medical exams out of the way, too. My father takes a particular pleasure in going to the doctor. It’s his fear of hospitals that makes him so diligent in preventative care to the point that when he runs out of things to do, he just pops in for some blood work. So, hearing about my interest in seeing a doctor (any doctor, really) was good news. He secretly wanted to show off the excellence in Iran’s medical care.
A routine check up at the OB/GYN could not be that complicated, I reasoned. Besides, nowhere in the United States does a specialist visit cost $16. Keep reading »
The unexpected side effect of running into an old friend from college on the subway and falling deeply in love with Him, for me, has been a renewed interest in my past. I can’t tell you definitively why this is. Maybe it’s because I knew Him in college, and re-meeting Him after 16 years gave me a new lens through which to view my past self and understand her better.
My hunger to reconnect with my past self started with the hint of a memory of a photograph of the two of us from college. In my mind’s eye, I see it: Me and Him sitting next to each other in his dark, dorm room, both of us dressed all in black as we did at the time. Me: black dress, black fishnets, black leather jacket and heavy, black eyeliner. Him: oversized black pants, a black baseball cap, black hoodie. His arm around me. Sitting on top of his extra long twin bunk bed. Top bunk.
I’ve convinced myself that this photo exists. Keep reading »
Last summer, I had my first panic attack, and it was induced by children.
By the way, I don’t have any kids.
During an office baby shower, a female colleague about 15 years my senior reminded me that I was next, since I was married, 27, and only had an estimated 12 percent of my eggs left. Highly inappropriate? Hells to the yes. And effective. It freaked me out.
Four months later, I was having a particularly rough morning at work. I couldn’t stop getting interrupted and my to-do list kept getting longer. I suddenly felt massively overwhelmed. My brain went into a crazy-spiral: If I can’t get my work done today, I can’t get home and write the screenplay of the century, and it’ll take me forever to become the Nora Ephron of my generation, and I will be letting down every woman and brown person in America by not unleashing my voice to the masses, and I won’t be able to have a baby until there’s at least some small sign that I could accomplish that, because I’m not trying to be some resentful, broke mom with “dreams.”
I blacked out at my desk for a minute, popped an Advil and sat in a nearby park for an hour inhaling an economy-sized bag of popcorn.
That’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Keep reading »
I’ve had a boyfriend for four years and we’re not engaged. I know. But we like it that way for now. Seriously.
To me, getting married is not something that a person should do when she has to call her mother multiple times a day for various reasons including, “I was too scared to kill a bug so I just drowned it in Raid. Will I get cancer now?” Marriage doesn’t seem appropriate for someone who is continually moving the same 20 dollars from checking to savings.
As a wife, you can’t regularly experience existential crises like I do. In my mind, marriage is for more worldly people, people who have settled down in life. Because after you say “I do” comes the purchase of a house and the arrival of children. And quite frankly, I’m not comfortable with that. I openly admit it: I am not ready to get married. Now is not the time to tie the knot.
However, the lack of a princess cut or pear-shaped diamond on my hand seems to prove upsetting to those who know me. The amount of times per day that I am questioned about my relationship status is becoming rather alarming. During a recent trip to my dentist, the hygienist immediately grabbed my hand, and then let out an audible sigh. I was unsure whether I should apologize or just smile and walk away. Instead, upon further questioning, I blurted out, “No ring. Just some dry skin.” That seemed to put an end to the conversation. Keep reading »
My phone blips. Another email. Given that I’m stuck at an un-jaywalkable intersection in the East Village, I pause to open it. It’s another reply to my sorority sister’s chain email. The subject line from 35 emails ago simply reads: “Interesting.” I’m immediately engrossed, missing the walking man and chance to cross the street.
Earlier this week, another email sent off to “sisters” surfaced on the internet. It has received hundreds of thousands of reads, an onslaught of comments and at least two well-known dramatic readings. Rebecca Martinson’s virulent, expletive-filled rant confirmed and probably strengthened everybody’s stereotype of Greek life.
Her email evoked many emotions. I was embarrassed for her and disgusted with the email. I was incredulous that she could send something like that to an entire chapter of girls that she pays dues to be a member of. (Also that she used email, when everybody knows can easily be forwarded or published.) I thought of my own past Greek Weeks with amusement. But mostly I recalled the intense and all-consuming nature of the Greek system — the politics, the rankings, the jockeying for connection to a certain fraternity, the endless events, the rivalry of shirts and styles. I remembered what it was like to care so much about the frivolity. Keep reading »
It’s that time of the year when people are having drinks outside, couples are PDA-ing, and I’m re-activating my OKCupid profile. I have a notorious reputation for constantly deleting and reactivating that damned profile. I believe in Internet love! No, I’m a misanthrope! I want to find my soul mate! Soul mates don’t exist!
You see, I’m a total serial dater. No, not a serial monogamist — I’ve only had one real boyfriend and he gave me a box of condoms for my birthday — but a serial dater. If you mindlessly click through a sea of ineligible bachelors long enough, it’s pretty easy to secure a week’s worth of dates. I pencil dudes in like they are doctor appointments. (Tom at 11 a.m. on Tuesday? Sure. Luke at 7 p.m. on Wednesday? That works. ) Some people suggest that I have the dating habits of an addict -- I need it! No, I totally can live without it! No, wait, I can’t! I’d like to say that I’m just filled with that thing called eternal hope. Keep reading »
Well, of course, someone had to take some photos of me at a party, wearing my favorite dress (should I just stop wearing the clothes I love to events where there might photos taken?), bulky, lopsided, unfortunately proportioned, and my pregnant beauty bubble, so to awkwardly speak, was popped.
No matter how many times I tell myself patiently, firmly, “NO. Don’t pay attention, the photo is lying!” there’s that part of my mind that goes “But this is the truth! THE TERRIBLE TRUTH IN A RANDOM, IMPERSONAL UNIVERSE WITHOUT A GOD.” My new tactic is better, I think. I tell myself, “So what? So what if I’m ugly?” And that is always more helpful. But at that particular moment there had been much talk of beautiful women, much instant evaluation around me of women as either pretty or dismissible, and it seemed as though it did matter, at least enough. Because even if it’s out of sheer laziness or habit or nothing important or just in passing, people seem to talk about the way women look first, and constantly, and always. Keep reading »
Jared’s* question came during a sex party a few months ago, after some steamy foreplay organically led to this discussion: “Can I fuck you now?”
It caught me off guard, but not in an unpleasant way. Men had asked me this question before, and I was half expecting to decline, like I usually did. But I’d been fantasizing about having sex with him for months. This was opportunity knocking.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to,” Jared continued, directing this at both me and my husband, Paul. “But it seems like the logical next step here.”
It was. “Are you okay with that?” I asked Paul. He nodded reassuringly, excited to watch me take this new step. I smiled. “Then, yes. Let’s give it a try.”
So we did. Jared became the second man I’ve ever had intercourse with, signifying a change I never thought would come: an interest in sleeping with men. Keep reading »