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On Getting Downright Offensive

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“Wow, you must’ve been really hungry!”

If you want a mental death sentence, tell me this.

My uncle’s partner did, actually, earlier this week. He’s on a “health kick,” which means spinning classes Tuesday through Thursday. On Wednesday night, I joined him and his biker shorts in the eaves of an old church in Flatiron, and yes, I love how ridiculous that sentence sounds but no, there’s truly no other way to explain what we did without sounding so ridiculous. Afterwards, we picked up dinner to-go from Whole Foods. Salmon, broccoli rabe, and collard greens (the new kale! kaboom!) for me, and turkey, sweet potatoes, and broccoli rabe for he and my uncle.

I was starving, so I ate like a hungry girl. For context, three-quarters of my plate was green stuff from the ground. And no, I’m not talking about the mary jane. That’s a different uncle.

And then it came, flying right across the table like a sharpened steak knife right at my poor pescetarian head.

“Wow, you must’ve been really hungry!”

I scowled. I wanted to jump across the table in rage, Mean Girls style. I wanted to make a bar graph comparing the nutrition contents of each of our meals. I wanted to tell him that there is no shame in eating until you’re full, and there’s no shame in eating a hella lot of collard greens.

Everyone’s been in situations like these, where we aren’t given backhanded compliments but almost the opposite — passive aggressive nips that tug at your ego’s soft spots. Wow, you must’ve been hungry, is perhaps what we can call the “classic,” here.

Getting back to the story — no, I did not unleash my defensive string. I kept those guys on the bench as my fork gracefully reached across the table, stabbed another piece of broccoli rabe, and took it to the mouth like a girl who didn’t half-ass that spin class. (Because we all know spin is easy to fake. We’ve all been there. You know what I’m talking about.)

Later, I vented to my mom about the one-liner that came my way at dinner. “You’re being oversensitive,” she told me then just like she did when —-. He’s a guy, she told me. He doesn’t understand. It’s all in your head.

Being oversensitive isn’t always bad, I guess. And maybe I’m saying that because I know I’m oversensitive, but so is everyone else when someone says something that really gets your weak spot. It’s part of the human condition. If we were oversensitive about nothing, then we simply wouldn’t care.

When an adult recently told me he thought “anorexics are strong, but I have no respect for bulimics,” I wanted to tell him how inappropriate that statement is, how ignorant, how serious of a disease both conditions are, how many people it effects. The lecture I could give would last half an hour.

So, maybe he was ignorant. Maybe, in my broccoli rabe fiasco, the comment was ignorant because it was made by a “guy” (though in my opinion, no excuse — collapse traditional gender roles, people!!) who didn’t know I’m oversensitive and doesn’t understand how his comment is one that knocks most young women get off their rockers, which is oxymoronic to say but true.

Call me a skeptic, or maybe a pessimist, but I find it hard to believe that people can say things like that unbeknownst of their sting. I thought my uncle’s partner, on health kick galore — I mean, he’s just catching on to the spinning trend, for god’s sake — could be fully aware of how his comment would be received because it would make him feel better about what he ate. I sound crazy, I know !!!, but if I was talking about a teenage girl making a comment like this, I know you’d believe me. Sometimes, people are bitter.


Mom could be right, as per usual, and there may be a good difference between those who are offensive and those who are offended in a singular scenario. The true intent of any statement depends on the person. Alas, I am left to rely on the good of humankind, which may be confined to the recent surge in 20-year-old jeans available for purchase, or the fact that my cheetah print espadrilles cost $40, or even that I’m no longer afraid to eat what I want and wear what I choose.

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Flavor of the Week: Starbucks

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Everyone knows the signs of your classic basic b*tch. Well, sort of. You have the basic-basic betch, who has traveled to the present in a time capsule from 2003. She wears Uggs, carries a wristlet, if you forgot what that is click here, and loves the Victoria’s Secret Pink line. Then there’s the step up from that, which is a seventh grader aspiring to morph herself into a Brandy Melville model.

All types of basic–yes, there are more–share the attribute of Starbucks. No, it isn’t that basic girls love coffee. It’s that they love Starbucks. It’s about a brand; it’s about a cartoon Lady Liberty (I think?) on your white paper cup. It’s that you drink Starbucks, not what you drink from it.

Why is Starbucks basic? What about it? Is it the logo? Is it the fact that Starbucks is so prevalent all over the world that it is the most accessible thing to all basic girls? Is a venti iced coffee like a universal friendship bracelet?

Last week I was at home in suburbia and needed to get out of the house, which is usually what happens when one is home in suburbia. I texted a friend asking if she had any knowledge of a place where I could buy a green tea and sit with my laptop for two to four hours; where no one would float my bill slowly and sadly down until it sunk on my tabletop after a mere half hour, shoving me out to get the next group of yoga moms seated. I knew of nowhere in suburbia like this. I thought: If we were in Europe, oh, of course this would be no issue at all. Obviously, though, we are not in Europe.

My friend gave me the name of a cafe where my dreams of lackadaisical drinking and writing would be fulfilled. Needless to say, I never made it there and spent the next morning in a corner of my basement instead, furiously typing a pitch email to the soundtrack of my mother chewing. Yes, I can hear that with a cement floor between us.

And when my loudly-chewing mother asked me why I didn’t just go to the Starbucks in the next town over, I told her ugh, Mom, because it’s Starbucks.

It isn’t that I don’t want to let Starbucks be a real café because I hate it, because I don’t at all, but rather because if Starbucks is the closest thing I have to true Italian coffee and three hours of aloneness on a cobblestone street, then I will be a sad, sad person.

This morning in the city (New York, not Florence or Rome or somewhere romantic), I sat at a Starbucks for an hour and a half because it was the only thing I could find in the seven-minute search period I granted myself for a “café.” Starbucks was the first thing I could find where I could loiter, it was the only place in a three-block radius with open seats, and, for all intents and purposes, it really worked.

Does it ruin the essence of a café–a quirky hole in the wall–if it’s recreatable everywhere? Starbucks is supposed to be basic, and maybe that’s because it’s the only thing that’s meeting everyone’s needs. For you, it’s a place to take Instagrams of pumpkin spice lattes and once-frozen croissants. For me, it seems to be the only place where I’m allowed to sit for hours. Starbucks works because it’s repurpose-able in a million different ways, like an old t-shirt.

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Flavor of Week: How To Say Happy Birthday

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MILEY'S SWEET 16 Ñ Miley Cyrus will celebrate her ÒSweet 16Ó during a once-in-a-lifetime birthday bash at Disneyland in California this fall.  ÒMileyÕs Sweet 16 Ð Share The CelebrationÓ will be an unforgettable event for Miley and her fans that also will serve to recognize Youth Service America and help drive awareness of the need for youth volunteerism.  The Hollywood-style bash is planned for Sunday, Oct. 5, from 6 to 11 p.m., with ticket sales limited to 5,000 fans.  Tickets, priced at $250, go on sale at 9 a.m. PDT, Saturday, Aug. 30, at www.disneyparks.com/miley.   (Scott Brinegar/Disneyland)

Today, my little brother turned seventeen. This is a big deal. He can drive and now has an age-specific magazine to which he can properly relate in times of need, like a long distance BFF.

I felt pure enjoyment from reading the posts on his Facebook timeline. A lot of people wrote, “happy birthday bro,” which made me feel like a proud older sister–“bro” is probably the male equivalent of the female “babe,” meaning guys who have man-crushes on my little brother have written on his wall and yes, after all these years, he is a well-liked chap.

Writing on someone’s “timeline” for his or her birthday is the perfect thing to do when you have a man-crush/girl crush (as aforementioned), or even just a general crush (to whom you don an extra !! at the end of your birthday wish. Maybe he’ll notice me now!!!!!). Before Facebook, happy birthday’s were said the old fashioned way, like when passing someone in the hall even if you weren’t super tight.

But Facebook has added a new dimension to the birthday: it’s kind of like receiving a million cards; it gives you something extra with which you can measure how great your birthday was; it gives certain people no excuse not to say happy birthday because of how easy it can be to just say it, thereby allowing you to use your birthday as a way to gauge the legitimacy some of your relationships. (Then again, should we really be gauging the legitimacy of our relationships based on a Facebook wall post, or lack thereof?)

I’ve spent whole birthdays waiting to see if a few specific characters, let’s call them, reach out to me. And then the birthday is over, and they either haven’t reached out or they have. At this point, I can either pat myself on the back and be like, “you’re definitely the bigger person here,” or I can pout and hope they send a regretful text the next day, which they usually do.

I am intrigued by the way we use Facebook to extend warmest wishes on the anniversary of one’s birth. There is nothing greater than birthday collages, or when you see wall posts from one best friend to another even though they’ve obviously been speaking since the clock struck midnight. Still, we love the extra gift, free of monetary cost, yet with invaluable social cost, that Facebook gives us each year.

That all being said, I rarely use Facebook to convey birthday wishes.

It’s great for girl-crushes, it’s great for people whose phone numbers I don’t have but wish I did, and in my eyes, that’s about it. The last Facebook photo collage I made was for my best guy friend and included photos of us making strange faces on a camel in Israel. In that case, it was, as they say, irresistablé.

My most important question as of recent: Is it better to make a wall post, or to not say “happy birthday” at all?

There are pros and cons to each type of birthday wish, from Hallmark card in the mail to Instagram comment to text to phone call to Facebook message (yes, it holds a different weight than a Facebook wall post). “Happy birthday” isn’t really about wishing someone another year of beautiful life, preferably processed with VSCOcam C1 filter. It isn’t even really about what you say–well, unless you’re giving me extra exclamation points or a <3 or a “babe”. It’s about how you say it.

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On Things We Don’t Do

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There is a clear difference between doing things we know we shouldn’t and not doing things we know we should. (Or, if you’re the type to nitpick grammar, there’s a difference between the former and not doing things we know we should be doing.)

The two infractions sound the same in theory, but I’ll show you how they aren’t. Case in point:

Thing you do but know you shouldn’t: Eat ice cream out of the container at 11pm.

Thing you don’t do but know you should: Help your mom carry groceries in. (Happy Mother’s Day!)

Thing you do but know you shouldn’t: Hookup with that guy again after he treated you like doodie-kaka last weekend.

Thing you don’t do but know you should: Turn off the bathroom lights after you leave. Even if you know you have a weak stomach and after that Indian food, you’ll be back (with a vengeance) within the next half-hour.

This is a discussion I have in my head all of the time. And it’s especially fitting on Mother’s Day when there are a million things we could be doing for our moms today, or could just be doing more often, that we don’t. On Mother’s Day, the list of things we should be doing but don’t do is infinite: breakfast in bed, flowers, card, homemade gift, collaged card, electronic/hi-tech gift, mani pedi, phone call, voice message (no one leaves those anymore), Facebook post, Instagram… and the list goes on and on.

Growing up, the list of things I should be doing but don’t do was just as long. I was bad at what most people call “helping.”

But the reason why I think about things I do but know I shouldn’t versus things I don’t do but know I should is more of a personal battle. I internally struggle over doing and not doing things that won’t affect anyone besides myself. So if we don’t care about not doing those things, and they only affect us, why should we do them to begin with? Because society tells us to? Because our dentists tell us to?

If you’re a little confused, you can think of this in terms of flossing.

Every night, you look in the mirror after brushing your teeth, and you stare yourself in the eyes and you say, “Are you going to floss tonight? Will tonight be the night?”

I thought that this happened to everyone, so once I casually brought not-flossing up to my three best friends during brunch.

“Um… Han? I floss…” one said.

“Me too…” said the second. And guess what the third said?

“Fuck flossing!”

Just kidding. She didn’t say that. She said, “Haha yes I floss, of course.”

And I was mortified. (Ed. note: I do floss, for the record, I just do it really religiously for three months at a time and then forget to do it for a few weeks and then do it for a few weeks and it goes back and forth in cycles all year. Like most of life’s greatest relationships, it’s an on-again off-again thing.

Another thing I used to not do but knew I should: I would get out of the shower as a child and immediately grab a q-tip to clean my ears. As a part of my post-shower routine, which everyone has, I would toss it across the bathroom into the trash can and then proceed with drying off my left leg, always first, and then my right leg. Except 8 out of 10 times I’d do the great q-tip toss, I would miss the trashcan, which was wedged in a corner next to the toilet. And because it was wedged there so nicely, I would often not pick up the astray q-tip and leave it there.

I’m sure you’re wondering what the pile of my used q-tips looked like next to the trashcan. Well, magically, a pile never amassed, and there seemed to be a fairy who cleaned up my q-tips for me, and she probably was someone named Mom.

Eventually, though, I started believing in karma, and I formed this adamant belief that if I left my q-tips next to the trash, something absolutely horrible would happen to me, and made it the rest of my life’s mission never to leave anything on the ground after it’s missed the trash, even if I’m throwing away my gum in a public park or something like that.

I end up doing things I usually don’t do even though I should because of karma and because of the fear of letting others down (like my dentist, who twice a year teaches me how to floss and how to simulate my gums as if he never has before, even though he has in fact taught me how to do this every other time I’ve seen him).

So, why do you do stuff? Why don’t you do stuff? What’s your thing that you never do but know you should? And, most importantly, did you get your mama a card for Mother’s Day?

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Flavor of the Week: The Dadbod

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dad·bod [dad-ˈbäd]
a male body shape that maintains a fair balance between working out twice a week and drinking beer twice a day. Usually includes undefined muscles, a small beer belly, and flab.

Just google “dadbod.” There, you can choose your sources/pick your poison: Buzzfeed, Yahoo, Time, New York Mag, Slate, and even Business Insider.

The idea of being attracted to a not-toned male body is nothing new. Just two weeks ago, I was having a conversation about “types” with a friend and she said to me, “I love skinny guys. I almost exclusively have sex with guys who weigh significantly less than I do.” We all have friends who like “skinny guys,” and friends who like really thick, toned guys, and friends who like tall guys, and friends who like broad, teddy bear guys. So why is everyone freaking out about the dadbod as if it wasn’t something that’s literally, probably, been around forever?

The dadbod went viral after an article was published on The Odyssey by a sophomore at Clemson University. In the article, the author lists reasons why girls love the dadbod, which includes “we like being the pretty one:” “we want to look skinny, and the bigger the guy, the smaller we feel and the better we look next to you in a picture.” Last I checked, these are not reasons why you should have a boyfriend and are not reasons to love your boyfriend, should you choose to have one. In a similar vein, dadbods are cuddly, yes, and being cuddly is easier when there’s more to cuddle (which is something girls say to make themselves feel better), but being cuddly is a state of mind and a way of affection. Either you’re a cuddler, or you’re not, and regardless of your body shape I’ll like you more if you’re the former.

Since this article went viral, its author has said she “wants to write a book.” Hello, my name is Hannah, I probably have a dadbod or some female form of it, and I have wanted to write a memoir since I was ten. Where’s my book deal?

Don’t you think the dadbod is really just a fratbod, since the humor in referring to someone as having a dadbod is only funny if he clearly isn’t a dad? The dadbod hits college males the hardest, who seem to have no issues acquiring it without using three small children as an excuse to go easy on chest day.

The dadbod does not just exist on its own, but is framed as something admirable by young coeds. It’s not just the dadbod, it’s that we love the dadbod. Where is the female version of the dadbod? Is that just “men who like curvy girls?”

Seth Rogen originated the coolness of the dadbod, and I would marry him in a heartbeat regardless of his flab. I’m attracted to Jewish men, and not necessarily to their bodies which come as an added bonus. I saw my first full-frontal on-screen penis in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Jason Segal and his desperate, naked body would not have been as funny if he didn’t have the dadbod. Imagine if he was ripped in that scene. He just would have looked like an asshole for writing himself into the script like that. The dadbod is a secret weapon.

I don’t know if the dadbod is sexist, as some say. Yes, it’s unfair that male bodily imperfection is being praised by the opposite sex and rarely, if ever, is being genuinely praised in the same way for women. There are so many guys who are like, “Yeah I love a girl who will eat a good burger” and I’ve even had guy friends who make snide remarks when I have my burger minus the bun. But if I looked like I ate a good burger often, would it still be okay? And it might not be sexist if there are men out there who like the mombod, but the idea of a mombod is maybe sexist in itself. I’m not exactly sure. Technically, we all have mombods now, which is why our bodies change during puberty. It’s a blessing, in all seriousness, to have a mombod that will one day house a little tiny thing, because not everyone can do that.

For a long time, I believed that people settled for men with dadbods or anything less than a ZacEfronbod. Generally, though, you’ll find that people tend to date those of similar size or shape to them, and every time you see a “disproportionate” couple you think to yourself, “Wow, how did that happen?” And don’t deny that, because I know it’s true. So what about people who have spent their whole lives thinking that they perfectly matched with one who dotes a dadbod? Or does none of this matter and am I being super shallow for not acknowledging the fact that at the end of the day, when we’re looking for a long term lover, we know that personality trumps all? That, at least in my case, is true.

I’ve met many men with dadbod qualities (down to eat pizza, order third rounds of beer, make me feel pretty in pictures, are nonchalant about hitting the gym, don’t obsess over smoothies, etc.) that don’t have dadbods. And I’ve met many men with dadbods who don’t have dadbod qualities. Yes, non-dads with dadbods can still be assholes. Bodies are weird and random, people. It’s genetics! Just because you’re dadbodish, at the end of the day, probably doesn’t mean anything except for the fact that, well, you’ve got yourself a dadbod.

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On Workout Clothes

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“You look so cute! Are you going to the gym later?” I asked my good friend Allie after running into her in the street. In a non-offensive way, I was pleasantly surprised to see her so put-together in workout clothes (I know her writing well, which often pokes fun at her history with dieting and reluctance to work out, so no I wasn’t being a total asshole).

“Nope! Nope! Not really!” she smiled. And this is why I love Allie.

So I told her, “Jesus, I fucking love you,” and we continued walking in opposite directions down the street, me to get coffee and her, to do something that didn’t involve cardio.

Rewind a bit. I was “pleasantly surprised to see her so put-together in workout clothes,” which I said because it was true and not so I could properly set up the point I’m about to make.

Now, zoom: “so put-together in workout clothes.”

Since when is that a thing? A thing that’s such a thing that it’s already engrained in my subconscious, like I don’t even have to deliberate whether or not Allie looked put together and consider her Lulu Lemon a part of that, but I sight-read the situation and BAM, it was automatic love, Allie looked good.

Usually, when I put on workout clothes in the morning, it’s to push myself to make it to the gym at some point later. This is a method we like to call “No Excuses.” Rarely do I go to the trouble of putting on full workout attire, sports bra included, with zero intention of going to the gym. Sports bras are just hard to put on sometimes, and smush the boobs, so I generally opt for the “complete slob” look which is yoga leggings and a sweater and sneakers and regular/no bra.

But the funny thing is that if I were to wear head-to-toe workout clothes–and real fancy workout clothes, not an old college t-shirt–I would look way chicer than I do in the “complete slob” look though an equally minimal effort was put into both outfits.

I understand the phenomenon, but it still entertains me. It’s like my theory of the Green Juice Effect (you can read about it here), which was discovered after I walked around Madison Square Park, green juice in hand. There, something magical happened, and the strangers around me ignored my resting bitch face for once. They smiled at me, they looked at me, and that’s greater than any Hanukkah miracle I’ve ever experienced. I realized that green juice was the newest accessory, and carrying it was an easy way of saying “I care about my body,” “I am fit,” “I suffer via blended greens for the sake of that healthy glow, hell yeah I do,” and even “I have the extra cash to buy overpriced green juice instead of something from the office cafeteria.”

Over the last year-ish, workout clothing has done the same thing. It’s a twofer–your body is covered in clothing, and the clothing accessorizes your personality even better than that monogrammed necklace you got for graduation.

As for when working out became a status symbol? I really don’t know. Maybe it was the rise of the $35, 45 minute SoulCycle class, which I can’t imagine paying for six days a week, or when Net-a-Porter started selling $900 Fendi stretch jersey stirrup leggings. A body is the one thing everyone has. Obviously there was a time in the early 80s when not all of America could afford Jane Fonda workout videos, so I suppose physical fitness has always somehow been divided by socioeconomic status. But still, working out now isn’t nearly as cool unless you look good doing it, which is particularly annoying when you aren’t seeing #results and god should just throw you a bone and give you a good pair of mesh cutout spandex (that rarely sell for below $80, by the way).

The new intersection between what you wear to the courts and what you wear to dinner is a whole different story. I never thought I would wear Nike Frees with jeans but hey, shit happens. Normcore happens. Ugh, normcore.

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Flavor of the Week: Facebook Chat

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Since podcasts are so trendy these days, I decided to make one. Well, I was assigned to make one. But I made one (and it might end up on here, undecided as of now), and it’s about all the stuff you’d expect: social media, breaking up, hookup culture, young lurv.

In my interviews, I asked a male friend if he still Facebook stalks his exes. The answer was ‘yes,’ and if you’re wondering, as was everyone else’s, but he justified his tendencies with the following excuse: Facebook puts the people you interact with the most all over your newsfeed and at the top of your chat list. Stalking, therefore, is unavoidable.

Technically, he’s right. It’s hard not to stalk people you’ve been involved with or are involved with because their faces are front and center on the screen. But before I could grant him a free pass for stalking, I knew I needed to do the research on my own. I had to figure out exactly how Facebook does this–what they consider in their “algorithm” and what I need to do to make certain people’s photos go far, far away.

The first thing I did was take to Google. “Algorithm Facebook uses to order your chat bar” and “How Facebook decided who comes up in your newsfeed” were probably too wordy and therefore unsuccessful. The larger problem, though, wasn’t in my diction. I genuinely believe there was wasn’t, or isn’t, a solid answer out there.

A few articles mentioned that Facebook declined to comment, numerous times, when asked for the variables in its magic algorithm, an algorithm so magical you’d think it was a Baked By Melissa recipe. Nevertheless, many have speculated. They think it has to do with the following: who you’re geographically near to, which is freaky, who you have the most tagged pictures with, recent friend acceptances, who you chat with both recently and frequently, and a slew of some other things I’m forgetting but you’d probably be able to figure out, anyway.

And because I know you were wondering: apparently, none of it has to do with who’s looking at your profile constantly. Apparently.

Unsatisfied with my findings, I thought I’d make up my own list of ways Facebook orders your chat bar.

1. Your hookup/boyfriend’s best friend is always on there. (However, there is a rational explanation for this and it could be because he sometimes messages you from his friend’s account, or his friend messages you to find him.)

2. Not people you have messaged recently, but the one person you usually don’t Facebook-communicate with who messages you three weeks ago asking something very random but specific.

3. People you have recently texted but not messaged via Facebook. Which is weird. But happens more than it should.

4. Three to five boys from high school you used to be close friends with but rarely, almost never, speak to anymore.

5. The president of your sorority.

6. A few people who you never communicate with but stalk on a daily basis.

7. Completely random people because the people you stalk aren’t stalking you in return and Facebook just feels bad for you and doesn’t know what to do about that.

8. Friends of friends. Similar to the friends of boyfriend theory but slightly different. Like you two aren’t friends at all but share a best friend. You probably have never even met before because you’re from different places and go to different schools. “But, like, if you two met, you’d absolutely love each other!! OMG!!”

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On Selena Gomez and Her Bikini

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Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 4.11.58 PM

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about Selena Gomez.

A few months ago, I noticed that she was looking a little different. She, it seemed, had gotten slightly larger.

Selena Gomez has always been a long lean lanky stick. Like a literal branch that had fallen from a tree. In Wizards of Waverly Place her Free People shirts would just hang on her. And I know she wore a lot of Free People because we had the same six to eight articles of Free People clothing that we both seemed to have repeatedly worn to school in only a way Lizzie McGuire would on her graduation day.

I usually am hyperaware of these things–famous people gaining weight, which is admittedly not a good habit of mine whatsoever but I’ll admit it nonetheless–so I figured I was just being crazy and Selena was just being a normal person.

Then, a month or two went by, and Selena stayed the same. A little “fuller.” Certainly, certainly not “fat.” But healthy.

And then the headlines started. The first one I saw read, “Selena Gomez Shows Off Her Curves in Polka-Dot Bikini After Facing Criticism from Body Shamers.” The second one read, “Selena Gomez ‘Is In a Really Great Place,’ Not Bothered by Body Shamers.” That one went up on the same publication less than 24 hours after the first headline.

Here are some memorable lines from the articles:

“Selena Gomez couldn’t care less what you think of her curves.”
And from another publication: “Looking good, Selena!”
“Taking a dip in the ocean, the 22-year-old “I Want You to Know” singer looked healthy as she enjoyed her day on the beach with a couple of gal pals.”

I thought a lot about what I was seeing but never criticizing, and how it was confirmed by my Facebook news feed. And I started to wonder why we, or the media we feed and consume, have made backhanded body-shaming the new black. Think about it: it used to be all about who’s gaining weight. I mean, it’s still about gaining weight, but it used to be OUT THERE. I think for a solid five years in the earlier 2000s all I did was read about Kirstie Alley and her experiences on Jenny Craig. Now, it’s “in” to write about the body-shaming stars endure and then show how they ward off the evil spirits by going to the beach and still wearing a bikini.

Well, have you ever thought that a celebrity’s life mission isn’t to put their haters to rest, but is instead to live a normal happy life, which may involve going to the beach, especially if you live in California and/or have a lot of money like most celebrities do?

Then came Selena’s Instagrams. First, one captioned with, “I love being happy with me yall #theresmoretolove” and another, from just a few days ago, captioned, “Soul cycle aftermath. I. Want. Tacos.”

Holy shit, I thought. She’s playing into it.

I could have been totally wrong, but I saw a weird game of tic-tac-toe going on. She media is insisting that Selena is fucking the haters by wearing a bikini. Now, Selena has decided to play that role–the role of the young celebrity who doesn’t let the body-shamers bring her down, the celebrity who is real and likes SoulCycle but also tacos, too, goddamnit.

What I’m really thinking, though, is that this new thing is probably just Selena’s natural body. You know, the body she has when she isn’t working out for two and a half hours every day and isn’t on a diet regimented by Gwyneth Paltrow. Doctors, nutritionists, moms, EVERYONE talks about the idea of a “natural body” that you have, which is going to be different from everyone else’s, and is the way your body looks when you are treating it just right with *balance*. It reminds me of the two year period where suddenly, all of my friends from all walks of life became a little thicker, or a little wider. No one got “fat,” but we all just started to have “womanly” bodies. We traded lanky limbs for looking like actual humans. It’s a part of growing up.

The problem with all of this is that it’s really kind of difficult to come to a place where you genuinely love that natural body and are happy in it all of the time. It’s a million gazillion times more difficult to do that if you’re famous. The odds that Selena Gomez has gotten to that place, as someone who is currently 22 and has been famous since she and Demi were on Barney, are slim.

The tabloids patting her on the back? Not saying her body looks great, but saying she’s shutting out the haters… that all just draws more unwanted attention to the issue. This makes her think about it more. That makes her accept her body less. Because if it was totally normal, wouldn’t we be not talking about it at all?

It’s like how sometimes, friends tell me, “You have such a unique body, Han!” or “You really are able to work your body.” That’s like saying, “You aren’t super skinny and you don’t have the ‘in’ body shape right now [that’s basically to be so thin you don’t exist] but you still look great!”

So for a while, I let this train of thought convince me that my body was so unique, but in a bad way–in a way that I had no one to relate to, boob to boob, butt to butt–so I would get obsessive about it and spend a lot of time comparing myself to other people just to see if there was someone else like me out there. That way, I would really know how to work it. I would know what to wear. I would know how to make boys think I was a *dimepiece*, though I doubt in reality I actually want to be one.

I loved finding famous people with my body. It doesn’t happen often. I’d like to think I have the body of Scarlett Johansson, which you’ll know isn’t true within watching the first five minutes of Lost in Translation. A personal trainer once told me that I have the Kim Kardashian/J. Lo shape, which made me happy for a few weeks. But, like always, insecurity creeps back.

Things this experience taught me:

Stars aren’t all magically thin. I used to think that being naturally skinny was a requirement for being famous, and that I could never be famous because I don’t have long legs. I used to wonder if it was sheer coincidence that celebrities are all skinny people. I spent so much of my own life trying to look a way I’m not that I couldn’t process how people who aren’t meant to look like that do, and how they become famous.

Selena Gomez weirdly reminded me that stars are humans, and their weight, like mine, fluctuates, and they probably work too hard to be in the shape they’re expected to be in.

But I didn’t need all of this media attention to tell me that. Really, I came to that conclusion when I saw the first Instagram of her, 12 weeks ago, and wondered–

Hmmm, has Selena gained a little weight? Or is it just me?

Image via my homeslice @SelenaGomez


Flavor of the Week: Darty Season

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In reality, “darty” makes a horrible flavor. It would taste like beer, and pizza, and probably some dirt and grass, which are all great things individually but not the best when mixed together.

A darty, for those of you who don’t day drink, who do go to a city school, and who refer to day drinking as “brunch,” is a day party. Day + Party = Darty. And that’s all she wrote.

To darty, verb, is to have slightly alcoholic tendencies at a shockingly young age. A darty, noun, is a place where people express their alcoholic tendencies at a shockingly young age. Dartying occurs at universities with school spirit. They are thrown in parking lots and backyards, or outside of football stadiums. It’s what your dad would be doing if the Giants game was being held at AEPi.

I thought dartying was a college thing for the exception of high school spring break trips. I was wrong. Apparently, like most things, dartying cannot be confined within the boundaries of the American university–not the American University, but, like, the American university in general as an institution–and is now spreading to high schools in the months of May and June.

Some schools darty more than others. I totally understand why the nerdier schools darty infrequently but go hard in the paint when they do–it’s actually one of the very few times that you completely forget all responsibilities and to-do lists. This happens subconsciously and naturally, like Mr. Clean magic scrub. I will not deny the fact that my dartying experience is relatively limited. I have had a few notable dartying experiences, however, and they all follow a very similar pattern:

1. Wake up. Be like, “omg, what am I about to do.”

2. Eat a good breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the (Satur)day.

3. Start drinking, want to kill oneself.

4. Overcome with a wave of sheer euphoria. Wow, it is so light out, it is so pretty out, the sun is really shining. I am so happy. I just want to dance and smile.

5. Start talking with everyone around me about how tired I am, how gross I’m going to feel later, how we can’t believe that it’s 1pm and we’re drinking.

6. Essentially spend the whole darty talking about how we can’t believe we’re dartying.

7. If you’re me, start to get anxious, because this is so disorienting even though it’s also really fun.

8. Realize you’re not sick or going to be sick, you’re just hungry because dartying is basically like a really hard workout. So eat.

9. Nap if you’re going to try and resurrect yourself for the party, which happens at night, unlike a darty, which happens during the day.

10. Sleep forever.

11. Or try to go back out again and then get really mean and cranky. And eventually leave because you’re so tired that your mouth won’t really move, and if you are physically unable to kiss or drink more then what’s the point of really being out at all?

It is darty season. It is something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully commit to being a part of, because it’s now 3pm on a Tuesday and the lower part of the back of my head still hurts.

But we love it nonetheless. The lighting is better in all of our photos, and we just automatically feel less intoxicated, regardless of how intoxicated we actually are, because denial is the first stage of grief and it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that we’re actually drinking during business hours.

Once, a wise woman once told me crucial advice about dartying: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Well, nothing for me in my life is ever a sprint–that’s something I’m normally not capable of–so I have no fear that my dartying methods will rock on for eternity.

Image via

On The Monogram

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I wouldn’t say I come from a family of monograms. Or monogrammers. It wasn’t something I grew up with. But now that I’ve grown up, or am a good ways there, monograms are sprouting up like tiny molten lava islands. Especially on my Instagram feed.

So not only are people obsessed with monogramming, but they are obsessed with Instagramming their newly monogrammed objects. These people, it seems, tend to be in their mid to late twenties and are often in a self-proclaimed quarter-life crisis. If you have your shit together enough to be monogramming, then I don’t see where the crisis lies, but that’s beside the point.

One who enjoys monograms, in my mind, is also preppy. And if the monogrammer is not preppy, then she is a grandma. Monograms are the kinds of things that look good on my grandma’s sterling cutlery and on the towels in her powder room. The best way to describe the type of woman my grandma was is sort of through her cutlery. She had monogrammed forks, knives, spoons, but then also napkin rings, soup spoons, dessert forks–the whole nine yards. When we’d set the table together for a big holiday dinner, we’d give certain relatives certain cutlery because of how the letters corresponded with their names. The silverware, for the most part, was monogrammed with “S” for Sauer. The napkin rings, though? I eventually found out that my grandma was able to have different ones that correlated to the most important people in her life not because she custom ordered them or had them engraved, but because she founds ones close enough to our initials on eBay. She always loved eBay.

A few college kids will still carry monogrammed L.L. Bean backpacks. These are the same people who carried those backpacks at camp when we were eight, so I don’t consider those monograms as much as I consider them actual ways for people to keep track of their stuff.

The other monogrammed thing that’s big right now is the teenaged girl version of a “chain”–the $700 necklaces high school girls are wearing, with monogram charms the size of my palm. I like these, actually, even though they’re really large in size and in-the-face. I don’t hate them at all. They are just a token sign of being a tribe member, one of the chosen ones.

I only own one monogrammed item so far in my relatively short life: a green leather mini-tote my mom bought for me when we went to Florence together. It isn’t a big monogram. It’s not one of those intricately designed cursive ones, either. It’s just my two initials stamped toward the top of one side of the bag. They didn’t engrave it or anything fancy like that. The most genuinely, simply, and naturally boho chic Italian woman who worked at the leather store imprinted it with these stamps that were oddly similar, perhaps identical, to the ones I used in the silversmithing art shop at sleepaway camp. In other words, if I could do that when I was 13, it must not be very legit monogramming, or at least very intense monogramming. It’s so small that I usually forget it’s even there.

What I understand and appreciate most about the monogram is how it adds a timelessness to your things, or it at least proves their timelessness. Those pieces are not ephemeral trends but heirlooms. They are things that will be yours, forever, like a husband. And they’re not just material pieces, but they are the pieces that you consider to be a part of you. You share initials, anyway.

I asked my mom why she thinks people monogram their shit, and this is what she said: “It looks more formal and fancy, and it’s a way to stamp ownership on it.”

My real question is why, in my mind, the monogram is so intertwined with such a specific group of people, a specific culture, a way of dressing, and even with a period of life?

Well, that question is surprisingly answerable. Monogramming costs money. Any piece–a little towel or a napkin ring or a tote bag–can be invaluable to a family without being monogrammed, too. That’s just a luxury, albeit unnecessary, that some people can afford. Buying something monogrammed, having something monogrammed, is like getting a new charm for your charm bracelet, or another link for your Nomination bracelet. Tee-bee-tee. You don’t need that extra little thing for the bracelet to be wearable or to exist, but it apparently makes all the difference in the world.

That all aside, there’s no way all people are obsessed with monograms because of the individuality it gives to an otherwise unoriginal object. There’s no way 20-somethings are concerned with the longevity of their objects. We just don’t think that far ahead.

But then again, maybe the people getting the monograms are the ones that do.

Image via.

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