I was listening to the radio on the way to work this morning and the DJs were slamming Rebecca Black in response to her new single, “Person of Interest.” They played “Friday” and went on about how dumb she is for singing such an awful song. When the conversation turned to her age, I thought they might lighten up a little bit and recognize that this is just a fourteen year old girl wanting a try at the music business. Instead, they condemned her parents for giving their daughter this opportunity and criticized Rebecca for her taste in music. 

If you’ve ever seen an interview of Miss Black or her family, you know that she’s ridiculously humble and very sweet. She is visibly excited about the positive response she’s gotten from girls her own age who can relate to her music, as well as from musicians like Katy Perry. Rebecca has never claimed to be the best singer and she never expected the fame she’s fallen into, but she is grateful for her supportive fans. Time and again, Rebecca brushes the haters off her shoulders and exudes the maturity of a woman when she doesn’t let the bullying get to her.

In reality, this bubbly fourteen-year-old girl sang a song that someone else wrote, made a video with some friends for school, and woke up to find herself a household name and internet meme. I don’t know about you, but if someone had given me a recording contract and a video camera, I could have done much worse than a little auto-tune and a silly song about my favorite day of the week. To those who say that Rebecca Black is ruining music, I say she isn’t the one at fault. If you don’t like her music, feel free to put in your ear buds.

Later today, I was skimming through my Facebook news feed and came across a petition urging E! to cancel Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I am an avid signer of petitions, but this does not meet any of the criteria for something worthy of a petition, much less to advocate for. The E! network may not show the most riveting programs, but it does uphold its mission as “the source for entertainment news, celebrity gossip and pictures.” Speaking of criteria, I believe that Keeping Up with the Kardashians is a perfect culmination of entertainment news and celebrity gossip. The authors of this “petition” ought to have a pretty strong argument against that if they plan to hear anything back from E! about cancelling one of their highest rated shows. If you are too educated to be entertained by the lives of a socialite family, then please change your channel and let the rest of us enjoy the program.

While on the subject of the Kardashians, I’d like to speak to Kim’s recent marriage…er…divorce. This is a woman who we have all meticulously watched bounce from one unhealthy relationship to the next. No one is to blame for her misunderstanding of healthy relationships but her past partners. Say what you will about doing it for the money, but I truly believe Kim thought she found something that worked and wanted to celebrate that. Unfortunately, her husband did not seem to respect her or make her happy, as various gossip sources report that she ended the marriage because she felt sad. I commend her for realizing this sooner, rather than later, and moving forward with her life to find someone or something that does make her happy. No one deserves an unhealthy relationship.

To those of you who are frustrated with her disregard for the sanctity of marriage, I understand where you’re coming from. It is extremely upsetting when someone seems to carelessly throw away something that is forbidden to so many people in our country. However, Kim Kardashian is not keeping anyone from being married. Don’t waste your time being angry with the wrong person.

Stop hating the kids from Jersey Shore. Stop criticizing the Dance Moms. Stop taking legal action lightly when it is denied to so many who need it. Start shaming the shows that make sexist jokes, instead of applauding them. Start questioning who is really running things around here. Protest and sign petitions against those who deny people their basic rights to their bodies. Stand in solidarity and validate those who have been through hell and help them so that no one ever has to live through it again. Support each other when it’s right and say something when it’s wrong.

Stop Hating Rebecca Black and the Kardashians

Chola Snow White
As a feminist, I’ve experienced many an October where everyone I’ve ever encountered wants to know my opinion on “slutty” Halloween costumes. If you’ve hibernated during October for the last ten years and don’t know what I’m talking about, I believe that Cady Heron of Mean Girls explained it best when she said “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” This film affirmed the uniform of lingerie and fluffy animal ears for women dressing up for Halloween.

S&M Sleeping Beauty
As soon as the first pumpkin spice beverage has been purchased, my best friend and I ritually visit our favorite Halloween costume websites. We usually begin with the intention of finding ideas for costumes to build ourselves, but this process always devolves into judgment, offense, and exasperation with our peers. Last year’s introduction of Chola Snow White was only topped by this year’s S&M Sleeping Beauty. The sexy gardener, sexy shower, and sexy take-out box are all costumes I can’t even begin to understand. Not because the women in the photos are wearing about 10 inches of fabric, but because these are peculiar costume ideas in the first place. Really? A shower? Even an unsexy shower is a bizarre costume. 

"Sexy" Shower
I happen to envy the women who wear ten inches (or less) of fabric on Halloween. When I want to dress as someone unlike myself, I do tend to resort to the more revealing of costumes because I do not feel confident enough in my everyday life to show that amount of my body. My body is also not something I often use for attention-getting purposes, but on two nights of the year (Halloween and my birthday) I am glad to have an excuse to pretend I’m effortlessly willing to expose the goods.

So to the ladies and gentleman who plan on painting on some whiskers to go with your lingerie for Halloween, I give you my blessing. If you’ve added the word “sexy” to the beginning of your costume title (sexy Ash Ketchum, sexy Obama, sexy couch cushion), then more power to you. If you actually purchased one of the wildly overpriced costume-in-a-bags from a costume website, I’m judging you more than a little, but I hope it was worth the overdraft fee.

So, You’re Going as a Sexy Pumpkin?

So my twenty-first and a half birthday is coming up in November and I feel like I’ve done a lot of growing up in the last five months. Most days, I can appropriately dress myself in the morning, my parents sometimes call me for advice, and I accidentally have my very first credit card (thanks, Gap?). However, as a 21 year old, I had hoped to be better at drinking by this point.

More specifically, I thought I would know how to order a drink without totally embarrassing myself in front of the Ed Hardy-clad tender behind the bar. It would be really cool if I was one of those badass girls who could shotgun (whatever that is) any range of beers or brush my teeth with Jack every morning. Too bad I’m kind of a pussy. I can’t even get drunk on wine, discussing urban renewal and laughing heartily through purple-stained lips. Some fantasies are just not meant to become reality.

When the guy on 6th who works for the bar and asks me and my pretty girlfriend to leave my friends and smile, free beverage in hand, displayed in the front window of their club, I’ve resorted to ordering a vodka cranberry. This Sex and the City popularized drink is a good choice early in the night because I can drink it quickly and get back to my friends feeling a little buzzed and not offended by any strange ingredients. I mention this because, while Long Island Iced Teas get me too wasted, too quickly, I’ve learned that they don’t even have tea in them. 

So where the heck am I supposed to figure out how to order a drink I actually want? Alcohol is too expensive to keep buying things I don’t drink. Also, if I’m not drinking, how will it ever be acceptable for me to break out my dance moves in public?

College parties are no help in determining what I like because everything comes out of a trashcan. Going up to bartenders and asking for “something girly” has also proven to be unsuccessful along this quest. The maker of the beverage has no idea what they’ve put in it or what to call it, and I usually don’t like whatever the pineapple-cherry-drunkaid concoction is anyway.

I decided to ask around: work friends, random people with pretty drinks in clubs, the blogosphere. Thus far, these are some girly drinks I’ve come up with that are pretty fool proof.

Lemon Drop – I think this is actually supposed to be taken as a shot of something lemony, sugary, and alcoholic, but it’s sort of thick, so I sip it instead. I think I actually got this drink from the very entertaining ABC Family show Greek.

Vodka Shirley Temple – This brilliant beverage comes from a super-cute girl I work with. This alcoholic Shirley Temple is just like the drink you loved as a little girl, but dirtier. If you don’t have a mouth filled with sweet-teeth, this may not be the drink for you. The only reason I’m sure there is alcohol in this at all is because I become a much better dancer and remind everyone how much I love them upon finishing it.

Cake Batter Vodka – I don’t know if there’s anything better than drinking cake. If you have a lot of feelings and prefer to eat them rather than sharing them with your therapist, then this is the drink for you. You really don’t need to mix this with anything because, again, you can’t taste the alcohol in it.

If you’re ordering a beverage at a happy hour and want to drink something a little classier than you would on a night downtown, may I suggest to you a Mojito (a refreshing warm-weather favorite), a White Russian, or, for the upcoming winter months, hot chocolate or coffee with Bailey’s Irish Cream added to it.

Why Isn’t There a Handbook to Girly Drinks?

Since I was a sophomore in high school, break ups have motivated me to do two things: write poetry that verbally castrates the subject of the work and cut all of my hair off. The former has led to both miserably humiliating and brilliant representations of my talents as a writer. The latter has only been miserably humiliating.

Though I seem to believe otherwise when experiencing the third of the five stages of heartbreak (Despair, Hunger, Rage, Neediness, and finally, Complacency), I look awful with short hair. My face hair is too thick, and, yet, too fine to wear anything that lands above the top of my shoulders. Let’s just say that the frizzy, blonde disco ball haircut has not and will never be in style. The numerous unfortunate-looking school pictures of this haircut don’t seem to occur to me when I’m sitting in the chair watching chunks of gold slide down the itchy black satin, creepily chanting “more…shorter…keep cutting.” It’s like I become convinced that I have grown so much from enduring this relationship that my face has, in fact, changed shape and a tiny flapper bob is exactly what I need to move on. Or win him back. Whatever.

For the next few (or several) months, I impatiently wait for my strands to make little ringlets at my collarbone and for my love life to regain consciousness. This time around, I’ll do it all differently, I say. I learn to trim my own bangs and how not to ask a guy for his number. I experience moments of regret, for the loss of both my ex and my hair, as well as moments of empowerment that I have moved on to better things. Eventually, I can make a pretty braid that reaches the middle of my back and I fall in love with a nice boy who has his own head of pretty hair.

Earlier this week, I got a haircut. My first-ever non break up haircut. I walked right up and showed her a picture of me—not of Alexis Bledel, Kirsten Dunst or some other pretty celebrity I wish I looked like—with my hair exactly how I wanted it. This was sure to be a foolproof haircut because I’d already seen the flattering features on my own head.

For the first time in my teen-to-adult life, I rather like it. (And, hey, so does my boyfriend!)

The First-Ever Non Break Up Haircut

As much as I am uncomfortable admitting it, I have somehow become an adult. I pay bills, have my own cat and apartment, and I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission before staying up past my bedtime. Really, being a grown up is just like being a kid, but you have to do more things by yourself. As I discussed in my last post, I still get tummy aches like I did when I was little, but no one goes out to buy crackers and Sprite for me anymore.

In the last month or so, I have involuntarily done a lot of grown-up things. When my car broke down a couple of weeks ago, my parents weren’t around to talk to any of the several car-related entities I had to contact for the next few days. Rather, I cried at Mr. AutoZone when he wouldn’t make my engine start. I then cried on Mr. Chevy Dealer because he said he couldn’t help me. I blubbered through a phone call with Mr. Triple A when my car stalled on an exit ramp, uncontrollably sobbed at Mr. Teddy the nice but possibly too-friendly Corvette Guy when he pushed my car out of the way, and then whimpered at Mr. Towing Services Man as he took poor, broken Sophie away. Basically, my coping mechanism for communicating what I need to others is to cry until they don’t ask me questions anymore.

Another thing I’ve done several times in my short life that I didn’t realize would change when I “grew up” is shopping for glasses. I remember the excitement of trying on all the styles in the store, especially the funky-colored frames I would never consider, until sliding the perfect pair over the bridge of my nose and the top of my ears. Last Sunday, I excitedly arrived at EyeMasters, ready to try on the frames I wanted, without a nagging parent persuading me to choose something more their style. If you wear glasses, then you know that glasses store salespeople are often unhelpful and uninterested in what looks good on your face. Standing alone in a big store of eye-glasses staring back at me was intimidating and I found that I, in fact, do not at all know what my face looks like. I also never knew all the things you have to put on glasses to make them anti-scratch, anti-glare, anti-ruin-in-purse or how expensive those things would be in addition to the cost of my frames and my super-specialized lenses.

Is this what it is to be an adult? Spend copious amounts of money if you want something done right and cry at people until they do what you say? Maybe I’ve got this figured out after all.

On My Recent Experiences as a Grown Up

I have been known to love cats almost as much as the infamous eHarmony cat-loving crying girl. When I encounter someone who is allergic to cats, I feel deep sorrow for them. When I become acquainted with someone who just doesn’t like cats, I feel instant disdain towards them. Cats are delightful creatures that can improve even the worst of my days. Well, almost.

This weekend I had my first experience with food poisoning. It was awful, I’ll probably never eat taco salad again, and I’m pleasantly surprised to have survived. I live in a cute little efficiency apartment with no roommates and my cat. Having lived away from home for a few years now, I’ve gotten used to being sick without Mom rubbing my back until I fall asleep or Dad making my soup when I wake up hungry. Left to my own devices, I am accustomed to whimpering alone beneath my covers and begrudgingly making my own Ramen when I become desperate.

Contessa, my cat, and I are usually on the same page about things like midday naps and general moodiness. Though Contessa has endured several occasions of my near-death sick spells, but this has been by far the most frustrating for the both of us. Here are my top three reasons why cats are not great pets when you’re sick:

1. Cats are curious. Having to always be in the know about everything, Contessa thought it was appropriate to investigate exactly what was happening while I was on my bathroom floor with my head in a porcelain halo. I sure as hell would have rather not known what was going on, but I wasn't given that choice. Rather, while my gag reflexes did their thing, one hand was busy holding my hair above my head and the other repeatedly shoved Contessa into the closet. Who know I had such coordination?

2. Cats want to sleep on you. Though Contessa has claimed our furry chair, window sill, and left cushion of the couch as her sleeping thrones, she clearly does not have enough choices. Perhaps it was the extreme heat my feverish body omitted or the vibrating effect I created when I got the shivers, but Contessa preferred my stomach-chest-face region to any other spot in the apartment for her sleeping pleasure.

3. Cats want to drink what you’re drinking. Even if what I’m drinking is orange flavored Pedialyte from an Oh, the Places You’ll Go mug. I probably should have let her try this one. Then it wouldn't have been a problem anymore.

Why Cats Are Not Great Pets When You’re Sick

He makes me want to be able to cook something so that I can serve him breakfast in bed or dinner at a table with real dishes and maybe even flowers and candles. He makes me want to secretly borrow all of the books from his shelf and read them so that I can reference them at a later time and impress his pants off. He makes me want to learn Spanish and survive cold weather and recall historical events and memorize the lyrics to N.W.A. and La Dispute songs. I have even considered letting him teach me how to ride a bike or play guitar.

When we accidentally match our clothes or I order his meal correctly at a restaurant we frequent, I don’t really mind if people are judging us for being one of those couples.

We Shared Our Google Calendars

This has the potential to turn into a debate between the significance of masculine ability versus feminine ability, but I’m going to avoid going that direction because we all know handywomen and Mr. Moms. It should be apparent that being handy and being domestic are both incredibly valuable skills. In an ideal world, we’d all be able to hem our own jeans and change a flat.

Growing up, I took pride in my less-than-proficient sewing skills. I thought I was going to be the greatest winner of Project Runway that ever lived. Or at least a damn good seamstress. When I was a Girl Scout, all of the other troop mothers hot-glued their daughter’s patches to the brown and green vests. Those girls’ patches scattered among leaves when we ventured into the woods for a campout. Not mine. My dad, our troop’s co leader, used our ancient Singer sewing machine to secure every patch I earned to my vest. My dad can sew and, since sewing appeared to be a useful and superior skill to hot-gluing, I decided it was worth learning to do.

As much as I idolize my dad, I never picked up his cooking or baking abilities. I only recently learned to decently iron a shirt using an actual iron (instead of my hair straightener) and I’m pretty lame at keeping my clothes off the floor and my dishes out of the sink.

Since I admittedly have little interest in housewife competency, I’ve decided to become as handy as I can stand to be. When I got a flat in front of my parents’ house, I ran inside and put on heels (because Lord knows when I get a flat tire again, I’ll be wearing something short of a prom dress on the side of the highway) and made my dad let me get down in the driveway to change it myself. I can assemble a desk without help and have a more extensive tool kit than I do utensils in my kitchen.

I sometimes wish I could be that girl that can cook dinner for her boyfriend or bring a fancy, homemade cake to a dinner party. I guess my fate was decided when I was about six. The girl next door was dressed in her Sunday’s best to go to an etiquette class. I had been sifting through the compost pile with my brother and my dad when I came across the biggest toad that ever lived. Barely keeping my overall straps on my shoulders as I ran, I jumped at the opportunity to share my finding with my peer. The toad was scared half to death by her shrieking and flailing and it peed on her. Yard work is obviously the most valuable skill for a six year old. I didn’t need an etiquette class to tell me which fork should be used during which course. Every fork is for cake.

Skills can’t be put on a world-wide scale. What’s important is that someone can make it through a day in their own life and satisfy their needs without the help of others. Granted, if this were some Survival of the Fittest shit, I would certainly die of hunger and whoever found me in my apartment would frown upon my disheveled apartment.

Something to Do with My Hands: Handiness vs. Domesticity

When Petula Clark sang about going downtown, she probably didn't envision the people, smells, or the wardrobe choices of dirrrty 6th in Austin, TX. Clark muses about the pretty neon signs and bright lights of her downtown fantasy. The reality of going downtown as an early twenty-something now includes more black spandex, eyeliner, and treacherously high heels than party-goers of the ‘60s would have ever imagined.

I’ve been downtown fewer times than I can count on one hand, but I would need to borrow my friends’ hands to count how many times I’ve almost seen people’s naughty-bits spilling over or under their unproductive garments. It’s obvious that most people downtown are more concerned with showing their ass than their class, but I’m just not built to dress that way. No, really. If you put me in a stretchy tube dress and some platform stilettos, I’ll look like Gumby wearing a rubber-banded napkin.

This isn’t to say that I don’t want to show off what little goods I’ve got when I go out. I just know that I can’t depend on stores like Rave and A’Gaci to attractively cover my frame. Now, don’t think you’re going to see me dancing it up in Mooseknuckle wearing a parka. Here are some things I consider when dressing myself to venture downtown.

Instead of showing all the skin, I try to pick an area to accentuate. If my skirt hits above my mid-thigh, I try to cover my arms. Am I going somewhere that I want to show off the tattoo on my back? You won’t see me wearing a bare-tummy crop top. I like clothes a lot more than I like my body, so I feel more comfortable covering up my arms and chest in a slouchy off-the-shoulder shirt with dark-denim hot pants than a dress held together with a zipper and some string.

I don’t know about other streets downtown, but 6th is made of cobblestone. I’ve been wearing heels on a frequent basis since I was a freshman in high school, but even I can’t walk from bar to bar without getting my stiletto stuck in a crack. Before my 21st birthday I bought the most comfortable pair of wedges in a beige-brown that can be worn with pretty much any other color. I’m also finding that flat sandals are not only practical, but totally acceptable to wear when bar-hopping. This weekend I’ll be traversing across the vast downtown area for a couple of friends’ birthdays and I’ll definitely be rocking some flat American Eagle sandals.

Last, but not least, I’ve learned that less make-up downtown is more. And preferable. Whether you’re just sweating it up dancing at a bar or two with some friends or you’re that girl lying on the cobblestone because your stiletto got stuck in a crack and your drunk friends didn’t notice you were gone, you will look significantly less plastered if you don’t have blue eye shadow and Revlon’s Ravish Me Red lipstick dripping down your face.

I’m not saying I won’t have too much to drink this weekend or that I won’t fall walking in my sandals anyway, but these are some things I keep in mind pre-Tequila shot so that I can at least prevent looking like such a hot mess when the night ends.

We Can Forget All Our Troubles, Forget All Our Cares and Go Downtown

As a girl whose slender frame is built of more than half legs, jean shopping has its many woes.  I wore only long overalls for many years in elementary school (because of their adjustable length and lack of waistline) and rocked some pretty shameful high-water bellbottoms into middle school.  During my brief stint as a fashion designer between seventh and eighth grade, I poorly tailored the inseams and hemlines of my paper-thin Mudd jeans in hopes that I could gain a few inches of material, as well as a pair of hips and a butt.  Regular jeans appeared to have shrunk in the great flood of 2002, long jeans floated away from my thighs like hammer pants, and I gave my mother explicit instructions to stop drying my jeans altogether.

It’s not like I’m asking for denim-colored paint to be slathered across my voluptuous BeyoncĂ© booty. But I can’t help but envy the effortless jeans and t-shirt hotness that is Jen Aniston.  Boyfriend jeans, flares, bootlegs, capris, Bermuda shorts, skinny jeans, and eventually jeggings have made their way in and out of vogue since I was in the third grade.  Never have I been able to put on a pair of jeans and feel that from ankles to waist I looked particularly appealing.  Jeans are not supposed to be a chore; that is the point of wearing them.

As fashion weaves between past decades, I’ve finally tried on a trend that fits.  The cigarette pant is proving to be a year-round success for my unique proportions.  The waist line is high enough that my dainty rear is covered, and might even look a little curvy.  Cigarette jeans aren’t meant to reach one’s ankle, so I can wear flats, sneakers, or heels without having to worry that the flare is covering enough of my foot to not appear awkwardly too short.  In the winter, cigarette pants fit neatly into boots without having to be tucked to one side or scrunched around my ankles. Whatever the weather, my cigarette pants and I will weather together.

So thank you, early 1960s designers, Audrey Hepburn, and Gap Jeans.  I can finally grab a pair of jeans and a t shirt and run out of my apartment feeling confident that I am the girl wearing the jeans that all of the other girls in the room wish they were wearing. 

An Ode to Cigarette Pants

I’m riding in the car with some friends and the new Katy Perry song comes on the radio.  We’re all dancing and talking about how sexy and mysterious the song makes us feel.  We even start singing along, until Kanye West begins to rap.  Then I really start to listen.

I'mma disrobe you, than I'mma probe you 
See I abducted you, so I tell ya what to do 
I tell ya what to do, what to do, what to do

When Katy comes back in with the chorus, singing “Wanna be your victim/Ready for abduction,” I feel scared because they aren’t singing about aliens afterall.  There is nothing sexy or okay about abduction.
Relationships without consent are not healthy or safe.  If you ever feel like you are being taken advantage of or like you are not in control, get out immediately.  Kanye’s “I’ll tell you what to do” behavior is unacceptable and should be seen as a red flag.  You never have to do anything in a relationship that you don’t feel comfortable doing.

Katy Perry has a history of empowering girls to feel sexy in whatever body they own, but she doesn’t always preach such positive messages about relationships.  As a pop icon, Katy’s fans listen to her lyrics and relate them into their own lives.  Take for instance the lyrics “They say be afraid/You're not like the others.

It’s a big red flag if I’m dating someone and my friends say I should be afraid of him.  My peers are looking out for my best interest when they judge his character.  It is healthy to be aware of how people around you view the person you’re dating because they might see something you didn’t notice.

How do you confront your friends about things you see and hear that you know are wrong?  Having these conversations is important because everyone needs to be on the same page about healthy relationships so no one gets hurt.  Tell your friends that it isn’t okay to talk to someone like Kanye does in the song.  Share your feelings with each other and ask any questions you may have about relationships you are in or know of that don’t seem healthy.

Now that I don’t like the content of this song, does that mean I can’t enjoy listening to it?  This is a question that requires both personal reflection and conversations with friends to answer.  My friends know that I’m always the one to call out celebrities for victim-blaming and slut-shaming, but these unacceptable lyrics were more subtly woven into the music.  After talking the lyrics out, we realized that the song affected us each differently, but we all agreed that Katy Perry’s over all message needed a make-over.

I think what Katy Perry meant to sing about was meeting a guy she likes who is different than other guys she knows, because it’s exciting.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Something went wrong between that idea and the song we hear on the radio with a negative message about abusive relationships.

Overall, I still think the song is super catchy, but when I’m with a new group of people and the song comes on, instead of screaming “I love this song!” I’ll say something like “Hey this song sounds so good, but I really don’t like the message it sends.”  This is a great way to get people talking about healthy relationships, which is likely to make them more aware of other instances in pop culture where unhealthy relationships are illustrated.

Aliens and Abusive Relationships

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