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Amy Shearn (558 posts)
Mindy Kaling’s laugh-out-loud (in an actual laughing way, not in a typing LOL way) piece in this week’s New Yorker parses the archetypes of romantic comedy chick flicks. For example, The Klutz, a "hundred-per-cent-perfect-looking female is perfect in every way except that she constantly bonks her head on things." Or "The Woman Who Is Obsessed with Her Career and Is No Fun at All," or "The Forty-two-Year-Old Mother of the Thirty-Year-Old Male Lead."(The entire piece is pretty hilarious—read it for Kaling’s spot-on dissection of “The Ethereal Weirdo” and the truth about architects.)
While it’s true that these movies can be pretty silly, Kaling’s piece got me thinking about the (admittedly, equally unrealistic) aspects of romantic comedies that we can all learn from. And I don’t just mean emulating "the gorgeous and skinny heroine is also a ravenous pig when it comes to food."
This happens to me a lot.
Apparently I am indistinguishable from the legions of other shortish bespectacled brunettes rocking cardigan sweaters and canvas tote bags. And, apparently, I'm not alone in being unorginal: Dutch artists Ari Versluis and Ellie Uyttenbroek have made a career of categorizing people's styles. They choose a setting (Italian cafes, for example, or Beijing campuses) and scope out the streets. Once the patterns emerge -- older ladies in furs, geeks in glasses -- they invite people to be photographed (in their own, original outfits) and eventually create these stunning arrangements of groups of shockingly similar strangers. What's so eerie is not necessarily the accidentally coordinated clothes but the similarities in these people's attitudes (helped along by their matching poses).
You have to see it to believe it: Slate's Browbeat blog has an amazing slide show of the photographs.
The results are as visually striking as they are thought-provoking. We say so much about ourselves, about the way we want ourselves to be, by how we present ourselves to the world. And when we think we're being unique -- check out the groups of identical goths in the slide show! -- we might just be joining up with another, more specific group.
Of course, I'm not the same person as the 9 other bookish ladies who had passed the Greenpeace girl that morning. But I'm not upset that they exist. The world can be a lonely place, and I'm choosing to see these Dutch artist's project not so much as an argument against uniqueness as it is a way to see the connections between us.
Read more on uniqueness:
How to develop a personal look
Celebrate your style like the poets do
How one overwhelmed, overworked woman learned how to take time for herself and find balance. (Okay, so it's Beyoncé.)
Whether you're 22 or 52, here is your no-fail plan for better skin.
"Death can't stop true love." Everyone's favorite movie is 25 years old? "Inconceivable!"
This gorgeous stop-animation film will change the way you think about creating your own happiness. And doodles.
The Life Lifter: Fall in love with this video all over again. Dog rescues another dog, warming hearts across the world and making couch-potato pups everywhere look bad.
A friend’s “like” on Facebook recently caught my eye, in part because it was one of over 250,000 tiny thumbs up this particular post had gotten. What could be generating so much attention? I mean, how cute could this kitten video be? But no, the post was an image of a nude, gorgeous, full-figured model (you have to see the actual photograph; it’s just ravishing, and only slightly NSFW), and a personal anecdote.
The Facebook user was writing about
a sign posted near the entrance of gym. The sign said: "This summer, do
you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"
80,000+ comments follow, many quite passionate, with untold skirmishes and debates unfolding within the thread. How can it be that in this day and age, it’s shocking to say a woman doesn't need to be thin to be beautiful, to see a model who has some curves? And I’m not being PC in my language here—the model is not overweight, just a regular curvy lady who looks like a sleeker version of the bodies I see in the locker room at my gym (which is not fancy enough to feature any sort of metaphor-laden sign). It seems to me that the more actual women’s bodies we see, the more normal and accepting we feel about our own.
As the original post says, "At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends." Amen to that! And please, count me among the whales.
And what about those who veer off course? Kate Bolick’s thought-provoking and wide-reaching cover story, "All the Single Ladies" in this month’s Atlantic Monthly explores what happens when you discover the truth about yourself, and the truth is that the marriage plot is not the one that works for you.
Bolick examines the ways in which the institute of marriage is changing, noting that the "Leave it to Beaver" model of the nuclear family was only ever a flash in the pan. People are getting married later than ever; more and more women are having babies later or not at all. In her own life, after a breakup at age 36, she had a dream-fueled epiphany: "now that 35 had come and gone, and with yet another relationship up in flames, all bets were off. It might never happen. Or maybe not until 42. Or 70, for that matter. Was that so bad? If I stopped seeing my present life as provisional, perhaps I’d be a little ... happier. Perhaps I could actually get down to the business of what it means to be a real single woman."
As it turns out, being a single woman is not so bad. Bolick writes eloquently about the joys of living "off-script," and asks, in a
world where a woman can financially support herself, has an emotional support
group of peers, and can theoretically have children (whether biologically
or not) without a mate, who needs marriage? As she puts it, "There are many ways to know love in this world." For this writer, accepting the truth that she is probably not going to be one of those
people who follows the traditional Life Path for a Lady set her free to find her bliss.
And this married woman finds that to be deeply inspirational.
Changing one aspect of your diet, one day a week, could change the world.
Try a new fruit. Print a photo. And 28 other easy ways to feel brand new every day.
Does Photoshop damage girls' self-esteem? This group wants it outlawed.
Comforting the parents of artists everywhere—A one-of-a-kind festival provides health care in exchange for art.
The Life Lifter: Burn survivors take it upon themselves to create a PSA to benefit other victims of serious burns.
Then, last week, as reported by the LA Times blog, NASA announced it would soon start accepting applications for its next class of astronaut candidates, some of whom will be selected from the civilian world. Bad economy got you down? Here's one job application that's worth rustling up some references for! Duane Ross, manager for astronaut candidate and training selection for NASA, told the LA Times that applicants don't have to be in perfect shape: "Once they get here, we'll torture them and make them fit." Fun! He also said that while NASA wasn't sure how many students would be accepted, "The only guarantee I can give you is that, if you don't apply, you won't get in."
The second-grader in me is screaming "Do it! Apply! Include a diorama to impress them!" Okay, so I don't quite make the cut physically. (They require you to be at least 5"2 and have 20-20 vision.) Also, apparently they are looking for people with a BA in engineering, science, or math, and, um, extensive experience flying high-performance jet aircraft. But the point is that (almost) anyone can apply and that some of these people are going to become astronauts. In an economic climate stormy with "no"s, it's refreshing to remember that your dream job could be out there, waiting for you. Who knows, someone might be out there looking for a new ballerina-firefighter-doctor-kitty. And there's only one thing we know for sure: if you don't apply, you're not going to get it.
Get closer to your dream job:
How to get on a more fulfilling career path.
Practical steps toward living your passion.
4 job/life makeovers.
A day in the life of Oprah.
The problem with holding onto anger, or even irritation, is that it tends to sit heavily, queasily, in your gut, like say, over-stewed meat. You may be absolutely positive that you were in the right, and you may well be so too—but 60 years later, who remembers or cares? Perhaps I should go ahead and let down my defenses; get, so to speak, naked.
My family is famous for keeping grudges. There is one lady to whom I am related (I won't mention names for fear of getting on her wrong side for the next FOREVER) who didn't speak to her brother-in-law for some 60-odd years after a perceived sleight having to do with whose turn it was to use a bathroom. And they worked together. Right next to each other. I'm sorry to say, I seem to have inherited this knack for simmering anger slowly, completely, stewily, the way a crockpot cooks beef. It's a habit I'd like to give up. But how?
Spencer Tunick is an artist known for his photographs of large groups of nude people, and his latest project, a gathering of over 1000 people in Israel's Dead Sea, has an extra twist. Five Israeli students asked Tunick (via Facebook, of course), to create an installations/photo series in the name of peace. "The idea is simple: If we're naked then we are, most likely, unarmed." The students wanted to metaphorically lay down their swords and show the world a different side of their country. (More photos here at the Huffington Post but be warned, the naked people are naked.)
These brave (and from the looks of the photos, maybe a bit chilly) people have found a beautiful way to call attention to a movement of pacifism in a notoriously militaristic part of the world. Makes you think, doesn't it? If people are willing to put aside generations of strife, can't we put aside our petty little issues?
Every Monday, we're rounding up the things, small and big, that make us stop and think. Today, we're inspired by...
"I can only say that these computers coaxed out of me an expansiveness the typewriter never did."
-Novelist Gish Jen, on the impact Apple computers had on her writing life
"Because at the end of the day, your kids don’t care about the square footage of your home, the size of your stock portfolio, or the brand of your car. They just want unconditional love--and happy parents."
-New York City parenting coach Natalie Nevares
"I realized that I had carved up the entire day into five-minute units of efficiency, and I was appalled...and I'm wondering, How do you use time in your life?"-author Alan Lightman (thanks to Brainpicker's 7 Anthologies of Interviews)
And, in related news: "There are so many trails we leave through the world," says [Jonathan] Wegener. "I wanted to make them interesting to you again."-- in Clive Thompson's article on "memory engineering," on efforts to help us all recall more of the moments in our past