Feminist Fairy Tales in Fifty Words or Fewer (Part 1)

My most recent brain blast was a few days ago in the shower, when I realized that all the mothers in fairy tales are dead, all the step-mothers are evil witches, and all the daughters are naive girls who need a man to save them. I’m far from the first person to realize this, and certainly not the first to comment on it, but as a writer, I knew I had to share my opinion on it. Instead of just ranting about the gender inequality illustrated in fairy tales (that we share with our children at very young ages), I decided to take on a new project: Feminist Fairy Tales in Fifty Words or Fewer. Below are my first two, Snow White and Cinderella – they are adaptations of the traditional fairy tales (as we grew up with them – a.k.a. generally the Disney version, though I did research many of the other versions as well).

SNOW WHITE:

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CINDERELLA:

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What I Learned from a Baby with Resting B*tch Face

  
 A few weeks ago I was on the subway with my boyfriend, Matt, when a young couple and their baby sat next to us. The little girl was probably about one year old and was sitting in her stroller glaring at her parents. As she looked around, Matt and I smiled and waved at her. Matt and I both love babies and there’s nothing we like more than making silly faces at random babies in the hope of making them giggle (if we succeed, we often plot how we would steal the baby). This particular baby, however, did not respond to our smiles. We didn’t worry, though, we just tried to make some of our other go-to faces that induce baby giggles. No success. We continued, unthwarted, to play peek-a-boo, make quiet monkey noises, and pull out every trick we had. Nothing. We didn’t know what to do. We kept trying, but literally nothing happened. The baby just stared us down like we were the least amusing people she had ever seen.

 She was, I realized, the first baby I had ever seen with Resting Bitch Face. It was amazing and terrifying. I was legitimately intimidated by this baby – she just was not pleased with anything. She gave the same unhappy face to her parents, who did not seem surprised. This was clearly not the baby’s first time sporting the RBF. 
 As obvious as it was that we would not succeed, Matt and I continued to try to engage RBF Baby. I know this is a silly blog post, but RBF Baby taught me something important about adults who have RBF: it’s really not intentional. RBF Baby smiled just before we got off the train; her parents had given her a cookie. So here’s the other lesson I learned from RBF Baby: not everyone is going to like you, and sometimes trying harder makes them like you less. It’s often better to just cut your losses and let them not like you. Giving someone a cookie, though? That will always make them smile.

Embrace Your Freckle-Face

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The first time I was jealous of someone’s tan I was probably about twelve. I was lying on the beach of a small island near Martha’s Vineyard with my two best friends, and like every summer, I had a sunburn. I’d slathered SPF 50 all over my body to my mother’s request, and I still had a sunburn. My friends, olive-skinned and gorgeous, with dark brown hair perfectly streaked with natural highlights, were tanned to perfection while I was “lobster-girl,” as my dad lovingly referred to me.

I was jealous beyond words. As twelve-year-olds often do, my friends and I came up with a great (i.e. idiotic) plan: we would cut athletic tape into shapes to put on our bodies so they would remain pale while the rest of our skin got tan. I traced a star, a spiral, and a flower onto the tape and willingly trimmed them down before we stuck them to our hips. We walked to the beach, spread our bodies out over our towels, and waited. My friends loved tanning and laying in the sun; after about five minutes, my skin was hot, my hair was burning, and the sunlight was seeping through my translucent eyelids and killing my corneas. I peeked at my friends; they were still peacefully soaking up the sun. Frustrated, I sat up and gave up on my goal to ever be tan in life.

Friends, teachers, coaches, acquaintances, and even strangers have told me I’m pale. All people, from all walks of life, have decided it’s necessary to point out how light my skin is. Fun fact, pale people never forget how pale we are – you don’t have to point it out to us like it’s a new development we haven’t noticed. I always laughed when people made jokes like, “oh I thought you were wearing white tights, but those are just your legs,” or, “I bet if any of the cream cheese from your bagel fell onto your skin you wouldn’t even notice,” but they really weren’t funny. Because here’s the thing: making fun of people for any part of their natural appearance is body shaming. It’s not inherently mean, but what you’re saying when you tell someone they’re “too pale” is that they don’t fit into society’s mainstream (and often fake) world of beauty.

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But pale is beautiful. Recently, more than any other time in my life, people have told me they love my freckles. And know why I have freckles? Because I’m pale. A few weeks ago I watched a ridiculous YouTube tutorial about how to put on fake freckles and I was shocked – freckles aren’t just a cute kid thing anymore, apparently they’re the newest desirable beauty trend.

That being said, whether they’re “in” or “out,” here’s why you should always love freckles: they’re a sign of youth – a lot of people’s freckles fade as they get older, which is why so many more kids than adults have freckles; they can be a great indicator of when you’ve been slacking on the sunscreen – as cute as freckles are, they develop because of sun exposure, so freckles can remind you to layer on that sunscreen; no two freckles are the same – they make you unique; freckles can hide unruly blackheads and pimples – the different shades of freckles across your skin can conceal redness and irritation without actual concealer (meaning you can let your skin breathe); freckles are beautiful.

If you need more convincing, just look at this spread Vogue did on freckles or check out this article.

20 Things I learned in College

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Now that I’ve settled into post-grad life (I mean, kind of… I still think it won’t entirely hit me until fall rolls around and I’m not at school), I came up with a list of things I actually learned in college. This list isn’t entirely complete, and probably never will be, but college taught me a lot of things, and most of them I didn’t learn in the classroom.

1. There will always be another party to go to.
2. Eating healthy and exercising regularly is hard.
3. It’s not worth it to worry about what other people think of you – they’re too worried about what you think of them to think bad things about you anyways.
4. A strong work ethic will get you farther than being smart or talented (okay, I kind of learned this from my mom, but I learned it in practice in college).
5. Mental health days are sometimes necessary. In high school and the beginning of college, I thought that attending every single class was the most important thing; more recently I learned that mental health days can make the rest of your week more successful.
6. When you don’t understand, ask questions.
7. One test or paper will not make or break your college career.
8. Having a job and relying on yourself for money teaches you a lot.
9. You can learn just as much, if not more, from a class you do poorly in as a class you do well in.
10. Your friend group will change, and that’s okay.
11. Time management is an essential skill.
12. It seems like everyone is having sex. They’re not.
13. You can bullshit your way through a lot of things; learning which things you CAN bullshit and which things you CAN’T bullshit might be the most applicable skill you’ll learn in college.
14. Lowering your standards to take part in the hookup culture won’t make you feel better.
15. Explore! Friends, interests, classes, clubs, etc.
16. There can be a lot of peer pressure; be true to yourself, don’t do things you don’t want to.
17. It’s okay to need your parents once in a while.
18. Immunity to coffee occurs really fast.
19. Always be confident.
20. You won’t remember the assignments, you may not remember the classes or the professors, but you will always remember the days spent laying outside in the sun with your friends. Don’t get so caught up in the “school” aspect that you forget to live.

Grown Ups Run 5Ks

  
Since my boyfriend and I moved in together after graduation two weeks ago, we’ve been doing a lot of “grown up things,” like spending over $1,000 on furniture, putting together IKEA products, cooking real meals, and working out together. 

Last week I decided to try to go for a run (which I haven’t done in, like, ever). I ran a mile. If you know me, you’ll know that’s a huge feat. I actually remember the last time I ran a mile before that – it was freshman year of college when I thought for a hot second that I would try out for the crew team (by later that day I decided I wasn’t going to try out).

So imagine my surprise today when I decided to try to run two miles and I actually did it. I immediately texted everyone in my phone (my mom, my best friends, etc.) because running two miles is something I thought I’d never do. Not even that I couldn’t, but that I just wouldn’t even ever try. 

My best friend and fellow running hater, Lauren, texted me back and said, “Noooooo why would you do that?” Good question, I thought, why would I do that? I hate running. I would much rather take an exercise class, like cardio kickboxing or hip hop pole dancing. “I’m trying to be a grown up,” I told her. “I want to be able to successfully run a 5K. Grown ups run 5Ks.” I think she was surprised by my response. Since when does being a grown up mean you have to be able to run a 5K? 

I guess I associate running 5Ks with other grown up things like wearing sunscreen when you don’t want to and making dinner even though you can afford to eat out because the successful adults in my life run 5Ks. A lot of successful young people I know run 5Ks also, but with my transition into the “real world” of post-grad life, I decided it’s time to get my grown up on. 

Next time, 3 miles.