It’s a weird time to be an American woman — so let’s read some great writing by them
New year, new you, new depths of self-deprecation to explore! For those of you who also work in the devil’s bathtub, aka the internet, you’ve no doubt already seen a million and three new dieting tips to help usher your body dysmorphia into 2016.
After all, being a woman in the United States means that — in addition to fumbling through the avalanche of violations of your reproductive rights — you must regularly confront definitively insane expectations of what you should look like. In the past week — without ever seeking out such information, mind you — I have learned that the heinous trifecta of wheat, sugar, and legumes (?!) is slowly killing me, and that to get Gisele Bündchen’s body, I must only eat wild salmon and raw leaves.
Fortunately, this has inspired lots and lots of genuinely wonderful writing, and those pieces are what I’m going to share with you as chasers this week. Because when you’re all alone with your own personal stash of internalized inadequacies, it’s nice to remember that you’re in good company.
SHOT: Has this seemed like a particularly shitty year for reproductive rights? It’s not just in your head: For starters, 57 new abortion restrictions have been enacted in 17 states, bringing the total number of new abortion restrictions since 2010 up to 288. That’s five times the number of restrictions that were put into place between 1995 and 2010. The Guttmacher Institute put together a full report on all the ways in which 2015 sucked (for uteri).
CHASER: “On the days when you are not waving your arms like a loon, Tracy Anderson has another DVD called Dance Cardio Workout. It’s so incredibly hard that I can only do twenty minutes of it. From what I can gather, it is completely unexplained jumping to the dulcet beeping of late Madonna. You have to jump for a whole hour. I’m so tired afterward I actually have to go to sleep.” — “I Tried Gwyneth Paltrow’s Diet and Got A Rash On My Face,” Rebecca Harrington
SHOT: And to drive the point above home for the grade-oriented: The Population Institute just released this year’s reproductive rights report card for the country — and, well, we’re definitely headed to detention. On reproductive health issues like access, education, and prevention, we’ve fallen from last year’s C grade to a D+ — and 19 states are straight-up failing.
CHASER: “‘Cat,’ she said to me one afternoon, ‘let’s change the way you eat. Let’s change the way you live.’
‘I’ll do anything,’ I lied. ‘I’m–,’ Julie said. ‘I will not,’ I hissed, ‘Julie, be told, incidentally, to do Physique 57 next to Kelly Ripa or whoever. Fuck no. I’m not doing the new thing with the bike. SoulCycle. I’m not doing Barry’s Boot Camp or whatever it is you do in at seven o’clock in the morning in Midtown with Bryan! You need to be realistic.’
‘I’m getting you a cleanse,’ she said.” — “THINNERRR: The Ritual Cleanse Made Me Drop 8 Pounds (and I’m Still Losing Weight),” Cat Marnell
SHOT: Oregonian ladies: If you’re over 18, you can now officially get birth control pills, patches, and rings straight from the pharmacy, and it’s covered by insurance under the Affordable Care Act. (It’s not technically over the counter: The pharmacist still has to write a prescription, but you don’t have to undertake the pesky step of a long, often invasive consultation with your doctor.) California will follow suit shortly.
CHASER: “I’ve known smart women who’ve gone to extremes to hide the fact that they have to work for their figure. I’ve been one of them. I once got out of sharing bread pudding on a date by saying that the sight of it made me sad because it was served at my grandpa’s shiva. (For that lie, I am sorry, Papa. RIP.)” “Nobody Wants To Be The Girl On A Diet,” Lauren Bans
SHOT: Along with a coalition of cities lead by NYC, Obama has weighed in on the upcoming Supreme Court case that will examine Texas abortion clinic restrictions, insisting: “Come on, dudes, we’ve got to strike these down.” And while we’re waiting on that case, the Texas Supreme Court has quietly wrecked abused and neglected minors’ ability to obtain abortions without parental consent.
CHASER: “For the blissfully unfamiliar, a body wrap is a kind of quick-fix “slimming” treatment that involves sweating out a bunch of water. There was a brief fad for wrapping when I was a teenager — it was like the Master Cleanse of its day, and women’s magazines were full of breathless stories of inches instantly lost. This was also around the time Martin Lawrence went jogging in a wet suit to drop a couple pounds and almost died. He’s always been a hero of mine, so naturally, I wished I had the kind of cash for an expensive spa treatment that magically removed fat and toxins.” — “Julieanne’s Home Spa Nightmares 2: Slimming Body Wrap of Death,” Julieanne Smolinski
SHOT: So why is the state of reproductive rights so bleak right now? According to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl.), head of the Democratic National Committee, it might have to do with millennials being “complacent” on abortion rights. Huh.
CHASER: “I would so much rather say something aloud about my chubby arms than internalize it until it becomes bottled up, until I’m pulling at the skin alone in my room at 2am trying to figure out what my body is. I love talking about my acne at this point. My face is bleeding sometimes! It’s bleeding. The part of my body that is supposed to keep the blood inside it is rupturing, visibly, on my fucking face. To not acknowledge it is doing something very weird that I don’t want to partake in.” — “On Being Ugly,” Fran Hoepfner
AND A LI’L NIGHTCAP: Our heroine of the week, South Carolina State Rep. Mia McLeod, filed a bill that would require that men seeking Viagra, Cialis, and similar medications go through the same exhaustive process that women face when trying to obtain reproductive health care. McLeod knows the bill doesn’t have a chance in hell of passing, but she’s trying to provide some perspective on the issue of abortion and birth control access.
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