Monday, December 19, 2011

Desperate shopwives

Watching all of the holiday shopping commercials, it occurred to me that a new kind of icon has replaced the 1950s housewife.

The home backdrop has been replaced with discount stores, and the glazed-over eyes and frozen smile have been replaced with frenzied determination and unapologetic cockiness.

A funny kind of crazy has replaced a creepy kind of crazy.

It seems we can now exhibit masculine energy, but apply it to feminine tasks - which is apparently pretty hilarious - crazy women taking their silly lives so seriously.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy birthday, I guess.

Yesterday was my birthday ... and while I admittedly enjoy pretty much any kind of attention, I couldn't help but be a bit disheartened by the number of flat "happy birthdays" I received via electronic communications.

I understand how annoying the obligatory "happy birthday" can be, and Facebook's new prompts only make you feel more guilty for not writing on the walls of every one of your 400 "friends" when you're alerted of the anniversary of their birth.

But you do have a choice: ignore the birthday alert or commit to the post by writing on the birthday girl's wall with some enthusiasm, for chrissakes. At least muster up an exclamation point or two after "happy birthday," or personalize it a bit with "happy birthday, Amy!" It's only three extra letters, people. The "happy birthdays" with no punctuation, or worse, a period, sort of put a damper on my special day. And even though I normally enjoy acronyms, "HBD" is just lazy.

A few hours into the work day, a colleague who must create Outlook alerts for everyone's birthdays sent an email out letting everyone know it was my birthday, and I started noticing the same grumpy grammar in responses from the rest of my team. I was equally annoyed by the obligatory thank yous I had to write back, but at least I faked it with smiley face emoticons :)

Then again, I also received a rather creepy e-card from a co-worker I've never met in person that featured a picture of me he somehow copied and pasted from Facebook in the middle of several birthday graphics and messages ... apparently it is possible to say "happy birthday" with too much enthusiasm. (His friend request is still pending.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Girls rock" is SO last season

First Forever 21 and J.C. Penney came out with shirts for girls that said "Allergic to Algebra" and "I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me" (sexist, terribly written AND hideous!).

And now Gymboree is selling "Smart like Dad" and "Pretty like Mommy" onesies. Apparently a "Smart like Mommy" variation doesn't exist.

What's next? Maternity tops that proclaim across the belly, "Here's hoping she's dumb and beautiful!"? Adorable!

JC Penney and Forever 21 pulled their shirts when customers voiced their outrage. Sign this petition to tell Gymboree they're perpetuating damaging gender stereotypes.

Photo credits:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kim's fairy tale divorce

It's shocking to me that people are shocked that Kim Kardashian filed for divorce after 72 days of marriage. Aside from the obvious red flags of her lightning-speed engagement and neanderthal husband's awful personality, two words sealed the divorce deal: "fairy tale." (I - and Merriam-Webster - think it's two words, E!)

Kim's wedding special on E! was called Kim's Fairytale Wedding. Kim wrote on her blog today, "It just didn't turn out to be the fairy tale I had so badly hoped for." Why does everyone on reality TV think they're signing up for a reality fairy tale, when in fact they're signing up for pretty much the opposite - public humiliation and disastrous relationships?

Let this be a lesson to prospective Bachelor contestants - I'm not sure I can sit through another season of bachelorette after desperate bachelorette's juvenile monologues about happily ever after and Prince Charming. Remember Santa? How he wasn't real? Fairy tales are kinda like that, except it turns out your mom can't even keep up the charade - not even if she's Kris Jenner.

Photo credit:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Feminist edit

A screenshot from today's article, "I.B.M. Names Virginia Rometty as New Chief Executive":

I guess old habits do die hard.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Take your teddy to work?

Yesterday in honor of Columbus Day, posted "The 10 Stupidest American Holidays." I agreed with most of them until I learned that today is Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day.

Yup, I had to Google it to believe it too... apparently it's a fun way to de-stress. My friend told me her office is celebrating it, but I haven't seen any stuffed bears around here. Probably because 'ole Teddy reminds us of childhood dreams circling the drain... We much prefer crying quietly into vodka bottles under our cubes.

Photo credit:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Playboy clubs history

In an August Hollywood Reporter article about NBC's new show The Playboy Club, Gloria Steinem, who worked undercover at the club to report on working conditions, predicted the show would not "depict the scene realistically." And if last night's episode was an allusion to Steinem's Bunny stint, the show has indeed taken rewriting history to a new level.

The episode introduces us to Bunny Doris, who we first see auditioning for a job at the club. Even though Club Manager Billy thinks she's "full of herself," Bunny Mother Carol-Lynne sticks her neck out and hires the enthusiastic applicant. Then we see Doris shakily begin her Bunny career, barely able to walk in her high heels. Despite the never-ending slew of annoying questions Doris fires at her new colleagues, her fellow Bunnies happily welcome her and give her the inside scoop.

Unfortunately, Doris turns out to be an undercover reporter for the Daily News. The friendly little Bunnies have been duped. But instead of reporting on sexual harassment, low wages and mandatory STD testing, like Steinem did (guess the rule against "dating" keyholders doesn't prohibit other activities...), Doris writes a sensationalized story, entitled "Bloody Bunny," about a Bunny who killed a man. In the one twist I actually didn't expect, that Bunny ends up being Janie (not Maureen, who we saw kill a man in the pilot), but of course Don Draper wannabe Nick Dalton saves the day, somewhat inexplicably.

Part two of the "Bloody Bunny" story is buried, and Doris is shamed by Carol-Lynne after she tries to explain herself:

Mother Bunny Carol-Lynne: These girls come from all walks of life, and they're just trying to go somewhere better ... we give these girls a chance. I don't understand why you would want to destroy that.

Bad Bunny Doris: I came here to find a big story, and I thought this was the kind of place where terrible, illicit things happened.

MBC: And instead you found a group of hard-working girls just trying to make a life for themselves. Why don't you write about that?

BBD: Because that kind of story doesn't sell papers.

MBC: Maybe not, but at least it's the truth.

So ... is that what Steinem should have written about? How Playboy empowered hard-working girls? Sadly, as much as the male producers of The Playboy Club are trying to convince viewers that Bunnies were the only women who could be anything they wanted, that they were changing the world, it's simply not the truth. I'm not even sure it's a television show ... seems more like a PR campaign.

Photo credit:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Always a bridesmaid model...

I'm starting to wonder if bridesmaid models have the same cliched complex bridesmaids supposedly have ... "always a bridesmaid [model], never a bride [model]." (I for one have always enjoyed being a bridesmaid.)

Obsessively scouring the Internet for the perfect bridesmaid dresses for my beach wedding, I think I've come across every characterization of the bitter bridesmaid:
The scornful bridesmaid

The exhausted bridesmaid

The bridesmaids who hate each other

The bridesmaid who hates you

Sadly the pictures I took on a shopping excursion with two of my bridesmaids looked a lot like the above ... but I expect them to look more like this on MY SPECIAL DAY:

All smiles and swallowed resentment - even though I'm making them travel to Mexico...

Photo credits:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Scary Face strikes spin class again

There is a woman who goes to my gym that makes this face while she's working out:It frightens me. Sometimes she sticks out her tongue and wiggles it. And she goes to about half the classes I go to...

I complained about her to a friend, and she informed me that Scary Face has lost over 100 pounds! Apparently she was the winner of some contest at our gym ... and apparently I am an insensitive jerk.

I am very impressed, but when Scary Face happens to be on the bike across from me at spin class, I tend to forget about how hard she must be working and instead become distracted by the facial calamity I can't help staring at.

Is it too much to ask that facial control be part of gym etiquette? I often make scary faces during spin class sprints and dancer's body squats (minus the wiggling tongue), but I courteously lower my head so no one has to witness the hideousness. I feel the same way about grunting. My high school gymnastics coach once told me not to be afraid to make noise while lifting weights because I'm a girl. I responded, "Ew! Neither gender should grunt like that in public!" (in my head). Let's save the strained noises and expressions for our home gyms and bathrooms, please.

Photo credit:,BTMN70?c=cj (In case you want to be my workout buddy for Halloween!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A facial for your vulva!

A promotion I received today from a hair removal salon entertained and disturbed me so much that I've mustered the energy to end a rather long blogging dry spell.

Tucked away about halfway down an email titled "What's New in August," I found this:

Where to begin!? First of all, WHY would they use "What's New in August" as the email title (and subject line)? I would imagine something like "Does your vulva need a facial?" would have improved the open rate. Second, I'd just like to draw attention to what they've named the service: "Jewel Box" - as if "vagifacial" isn't descriptive and creepy enough.

But they are doing something right ... in terms of marketing (very wrong, of course, in terms of helping women, as those objectives are almost always at odds). Per Advertising 101, the text informs the consumer of a problem she probably didn't even know she had, and offers up a solution. And in doing so it taps into tried and true insecurities, but also creates new and innovative reasons for women to hate their bodies - and spend their money.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Perhaps Sketchers should shape up

Companies marketing "adult" products to young girls is nothing new (Abercrombie Kids' thongs, "sexy" Halloween costumes for tots, etc.), but something especially irks me about the new Sketchers Shape-ups for girls commercial. It's the sloppy and misguided use of "girl power."

What exactly is going on in the scene where the trim and happy girl is being chased by slovenly boys dressed in ice cream cone, cupcake and hot dog outfits? Girls rule and boys drool? Or skinny girls rule and fat girls drool over junk food? All of the above?

Girl power used to mean hairy armpits, burning bras and the rejection of oppressive norms. Then marketers got a hold of it and are trying to convince a younger generation that it means attaining the very same unattainable beauty standards the feminist movement tore down.

I think it's messed up that Sketchers is marketing Shape-ups to girls (and if you agree I encourage you to sign this petition). But I'm not going to deny there's a market for them (that's unfortunately probably a lot more profitable than Shape-ups for boys). What pisses me off more is that the campaign mixes the girl power message with another that tells girls as young as seven that they need to shape up.

I buy beauty products and am probably a little too obsessed with going to the gym... I also consider myself a feminist. I'm pretty sure the latter is in spite of, not because of, the former.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No boys allowed

I've been going to yet another new gym for a few months now, and I'm in like with it. What has kept my love from blossoming is one thing. Or person, rather. One rather smelly boy.

The reason I really like the gym is that it has an amazing variety of classes. I never get bored, even though I've been working out five days a week. What I do get at least once a week though is extremely irritated -- by the smelly boy, who consistently crashes the cardio dance class.

I like the class because it's supposed to be fun, but my dancing career ended with junior high school poms, and I'm not so comfortable shaking my booty in the presence of random men (at least when I'm sober and wearing a lot of spandex). I much prefer the aerobic atmosphere of women, united by shamelessness and gender.

The smelly boy waltzes into class halfway through, so he never learns the routine with us. He just watches us for a while and then "picks it up." Last week he sat on a bench that happened to be about a foot away from my face when we turned to the back of the room and did a move called "cleavage shot." My enthusiasm for the routine -- and my workout -- suffered as I tried to avoid eye contact. I thought I would get some relief when smelly boy finally joined the group, but he proceeded to pick a spot about two feet TOO CLOSE to me. Not only did his unbearable stench waft toward me every time we turned and dropped to the floor for push-ups (Ms. Fitness USA-style), but he ALMOST KICKED ME more than once. Sidenote: It was not a full class. There was PLENTY OF ROOM.

Then toward the end of the class, smelly boy waved in one of his friends who was lurking outside the door. At first I thought he was going to join us too -- which would have been annoying enough -- but no, he just STOOD THERE AND WATCHED for five or 10 minutes. All the booty-shaking, the cleavage-showing, the body-rolling. Just. Watched. I'm now getting the sceevies all over again just thinking about it.

What most perplexes me is that everyone else in the class seems to enjoy the male presence. Last week the instructor even named a dance move after the smelly boy. He doesn't even come to the whole class! And have I mentioned that he REEKS? I know people sweat at the gym, and I don't expect it to smell like roses, but this guy either doesn't wear deodorant or doesn't wash his shirt -- or more likely -- both. Crusty sweat stains speak for themselves.

I hate to be (reverse) sexist, but I'd think the smell -- and the awkwardness -- would be alleviated if the class were reserved for women. Not officially, of course; that would probably be illegal (or Curves). But it should just be understood. And if you are a boy who just loves to dance, at least show some respect -- for the schedule and our bodies, especially our delicate noses.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Laptops in the "ladies" room

I've noticed yet another disturbing trend lately -- laptops in the ladies' room. Twice now I've seen women coming out of my office bathroom with their laptops in tow. And a friend of mine confirmed she's witnessed it too. Apparently their work and/or bowels just cannot wait.

The second woman I saw actually smiled and said hello as I passed by her in shock and awe. Personally, I'm mortified by most bathroom activities and avoid eye contact whenever I go near it. So I'm thoroughly confused by this brazen bathroom behavior.

Should I be impressed by their work ethic -- or horrified by their uncleanliness?

Photo source:

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Remember when girls used to rub in celebrate their engagements by shaking their limp-wristed, newly bejeweled hands in your face? Well despite the fact that I'm of a certain age, I actually haven't seen that in a while. What I have seen is its online equivalent on Facebook.

Feeling particularly stalker-y this morning, I clicked on a friend of a friend's profile whose engagement announcement showed up in my newsfeed. Then did a doubletake. The picture she had uploaded of her ring was actually her PROFILE PICTURE. An entire life -- reduced to half a finger and a politically incorrect piece of jewelry.Now, I know, er, assume it's very exciting to get engaged ... but I think the urge to shout from the rooftops should be checked. E-mailing a picture of your ring to people who ask is totally acceptable; posting a picture to Facebook is slightly obnoxious; changing your profile picture... completely ridiculous.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Are British women happier than American women?

I may have missed the point of Saturday's New York Times column about Britain's new "national happiness index," but the part that most interested me was the British research mentioned that found "women tend to be happier than men." Huh? I always assumed men were happier than women ... they make more money, have less socially unacceptable body hair to contend with, grow more attractive with age... I thought that's why they fall asleep faster -- nothing but visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads.

A quick Google search confirmed my suspicion -- with regard to Americans. So how have our sisters across the pond achieved the upperhand when it comes to happiness? A few theories:
  • Uniformed schoolgirls learn about role models like Elizabeth I and Margaret Thatcher -- without the distraction of dressing themselves in the hottest fashions every morning.
  • Although the UK has a similar salary gap, British ladies can at least admire the likeness of their gender when parting with their hard-earned cash.
  • While their lack of grooming and dieting obsessions might offend American men, this doesn't seem to bother British women much.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Every woman's fantasy?

On last night's Bachelor, Shawntel gets to live out what viewers are made to believe is every woman's fantasy - the Pretty Woman shopping scene. Brad kicks off their one-on-one date by taking Sahwntel on a shopping spree at a high-end Las Vegas mall (no doubt funded by ABC).

When she gets back to the suite she's sharing with the rest of Brad's harem, Shawntel shows off her designer gifts and changes into an obscenely overpriced dress while the other girls' jealousy flares. Suddenly their self-professed dreams go from living out a fairy tale, achieving their very own "happily ever after" by snagging their very own "Prince Charming," to living out the Julia Roberts classic Pretty Woman.

Um... is everyone forgetting that Julia Roberts played a PROSTITUTE? Richard Gere's character is a wealthy businessman who picks her up in the obligatory pleather hooker boots and an equally horrendous mini skirt-half top combo and decides to PAY HER to extend her stay for a week and accompany him to fancy pants social obligations. He ends up taking her on a shopping spree after she tries to use his money to purchase appropriate clothing on her own and is snubbed by snobby saleswomen who (correctly) assume she is a PROSTITUTE.

Now, don't get me wrong - I love watching the Pretty Woman shopping scene, especially when Julia Roberts goes back to the store she was shamed out of, gigantic shopping bags in tow: "You work on commission right? Big mistake. Big. Huge... I have to go shopping now!"

If I were ever a prostitute, I would hope to be the spunky Vivian Ward type. But do I dream of living out Pretty Woman? Of exchanging sex for money and clothes? Of having to fight off the creepy advances of George Costanza? Um, no thanks. And I sincerely hope I'm not in the minority on that sentiment.

Photos courtesy of and Wikipedia.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Another reason you should hate MTV's Skins

MTV's new show Skins has lost a third sponsor and may be in violation of child pornography laws. As we learned from Jersey Shore, controversy often does more good than harm for generating buzz and viewership - lost advertising revenue aside, I predict the show will, regrettably, be a hit.

What producers can't applaud themselves for, however, is authenticity. Maybe it's because I grew up in the Midwest... but I'm completely befuddled by reviews like this Newsweek article that claim Skins "may be the most realistic show on television." Despite, or perhaps due to the fact that producer Bryan Elsley created the show with his 19-year-old son and employs teenage consultants and actors, I think it comes across as more teenage fantasy than reality. (Disclaimer: I couldn't sit through the whole thing, which says a lot, considering my usual zeal for trashy television.)

Consider, for example, the cheerleading scene... Apparently at Skins' high school, the cheerleaders wear bras for tops and end routines by groping the flier - who happens to be a lipstick lesbian.

The most realistic thing in the scene is the mascot perched upon each perky breast, which looks A LOT like the pride of UW-Madison - Bucky Badger.

If someone at MTV isn't locked up for child pornography, can they at least be prosecuted for defiling our beloved mascot? "The coolest school in America" should not be associated with this silly little show.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

LAST CHANCE! (this week.)

I've noticed an annoying trend in my in-box: retailers that cry wolf. Although every subject line frantically warns me that it's my "LAST CHANCE" to get a discount, by some seeming miracle, the next day or week I usually get a similar offer. Once a sucker for any hint of free shipping, I have lost the sense of urgency that used to keep me online shopping at all hours of the day. Now I'm just running on boredom... which usually leads to more browsing than purchasing.

As somewhat of an e-mail marketer myself, I understand that through testing, you usually find that the dumbest subject lines, unfortunately, perform the best. But when it gets to the point where every sender is making the same empty threats, I have to imagine they lose their effectiveness.

I suggest companies stick to the tried and true "list" message: Top 10 Trends of the Season? Top 5 Shoe Repair Boutiques in Chicago? I don't care what is being ranked. I must find out who is no. 1. And if a freebie is thrown into the mix, even better. "Win the Top 10 Books of 2010"? ... yes, please.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cheer to the CTA

Although I didn't resolve to stop complaining this year (I refuse to deprive myself of my favorite pastime), I still think it would be nice to start 2011 off with an uncharacteristic rave about one of my favorite things to rant about: the CTA.

Waiting for the train at the Quincy/Wells station yesterday, I witnessed something in the flesh that I thought only existed in the delusions of CEOs and fabrications of press releases: customer service. I have seen customer service "emergency" buttons, but after mistaking them more than twice for heater and elevator buttons, I've concluded that they're just there for decoration. I've also seen customer service windows, but they're usually in front of empty chairs and covered with signs that say things like, "NO CHANGE PROVIDED."

I could go on ... but this post is positive. Yesterday I saw with my own eyes what I believe to have been a customer service representative... or at least a CTA employee providing a service to customers!

In an attempt to escape for a few minutes the misery to which we've condemned ourselves for 3 to 4 months by signing a lease or purchasing property in Chicago, commuters such as myself tend to wait for their train inside rather than freeze to near death on the platform. This can be quite a risk at stations that service multiple lines, however. Someone with her head in a very interesting book about Elizabeth the First that reveals just how laughable the nickname "Virgin Queen" was, for example, might not notice her train approaching and miss her chance to get through the door first and snag a seat - or miss her train entirely.

But yesterday this fine gentleman bearing a CTA badge took it upon himself to call out the trains as they were approaching. So I want to say thank you, CTA, for hiring and keeping an employee gruntled enough to add a bit of cheer to my commute - and New Year.
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