Smart Girls Who Do Stupid Things

Sometimes…

This Is The Best PSA Ever

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“Get Me Bodied” was not as much of a hit as it should have been, so I’m glad MObama is giving it its day. On a personal note, I went to the Fame school, and it really was just like this, I swear.

Also Beyonce’s hair is so good like this. It brings me back to the glory days of Austin Powers in Goldmember.

The Royal Madness

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Even Getty‘s onboard.

I wish there was a way to liveblog my sleep so as to prove what an awesome time I’m having not waking up at 4:30 am.

Catherine Zeta-Jones, Depression And The Ivy Leagues

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There’s been a good deal of talk about mental illness the past few weeks, largely spurred by Catherine Zeta Jones’ announcement that she is seeking treatment for her Bipolar II syndrome. In the clip at the link, husband Michael Douglas points out that Jones probably would not have revealed her diagnosis had she not feared being “outed” by those in her treatment group. Both the language he used and the pressure she felt are incredibly sad.

Relatedly, Lena Chen has written about her experience with depression during her time at Harvard, musing on to what degree it was due to the school environment. Chen begins by stating that she tends to believe Harvard is responsible “for the emotional malaise experienced by so many of us there.” She continues by explaining that “The consensus among my friends is that Harvard drives normal people crazy and drives crazy people to suicide.”

More convincingly, Chen points out that it is high pressure environment that emphasizes creating “successful” graduates that may have led high rates of depression she witnessed there. Of Harvard, Chen says, “The problem is that ‘success’ is defined by social notions of prestige, reputation, and wealth. And given how difficult it is to obtain those things and how frequently my peers and I were told that we must obtain them, is it any wonder that people feel fucked up for not being able to simply do what seems to come so easily to their classmates?”

Though I’m pleased to see Chen speaking out about depression and how common it is among college students, I’m troubled by her characterization of this as an Ivy League-specific problem, or to a larger extent, a college-specific problem. Depression is extremely common; what’s not is an open and honest discussion about it. It can be spurred by many things, and drastic change is one of them.

I’ve been pretty honest (at least among friends) about the depression I experienced during my freshman year at the UofC. What I ultimately learned from it was though college did nothing to help the situation, I am fairly confident I would have been just as depressed at any other institution, and perhaps even outside of school. As much I consider it overemphasized, college is the beginning of many adult experiences, and this extreme change, when coupled with a new environment, can be incredibly isolating.

Obviously, Chen is speaking only from her experience, as I can only speak from mine, but I do think it’s unhelpful (and perhaps inconsiderate of the commonness of depression) to write about mental illness as if it’s an issue that only her University, or only Ivy League colleges, or even only colleges, need to tackle. In a way, it creates an odd catch-22: is depression for people who just can’t hack it with the big boys, or a burden only the privileged bear? In reality, it’s something we all need learn to think about better, as I’m sure the female lead of Zorro can tell us.

We Love Worlds

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This just doesn’t stop being funny and true.

Except Jessie points out that Aladdin definitely did not have nipples like that, which a quick Google search would cooraborate.

The Daily Deal

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The copy for this Living Social Daily Deal here is as follows:

“When athletes are looking to step up their game, they turn to their playbook. As fun, fearless females all about winning the game of life, we have Cosmo. With today’s champion of a deal, you’ll get all of the best in fashion, beauty, relationships, health, entertainment, and more from the experts at Cosmopolitan magazine for a year for just $8 (a $15 value). Published in 34 languages and sold in more than 100 countries around the world, Cosmo is the authority on the issues that women really care about. Whether you’re looking to maximize the effectiveness of your workouts, learn about the latest in celebrity hairstyling, or figure out what your guy is really thinking in the bedroom, this mag’s got you covered. Score today’s deal now and count yourself a winner.”

In case you missed what’s most important about this text, let’s zoom in at this lovely juxtaposition:

“…Cosmo is the authority on the issues that women really care about. Whether you’re looking to maximize the effectiveness of your workouts, learn about the latest in celebrity hairstyling, or figure out what your guy is really thinking in the bedroom, this mag’s got you covered.”

I’m not sure what the set-up at Living Social is, but I assume it’s something along the lines of Groupon, where they spin lots of PR press about the company into something that’s a little more exciting. Though it doesn’t seem like they’re worried about making broad, sweeping generalizations. Though maybe I’m the rare woman who doesn’t really consider learning “about the latest in celebrity hairstyling” an issue “women really care about.”

A big shout-out to KB & Amulya via Liz, without whom I never would have seen this, as I don’t live in D.C. and wouldn’t consider this a deal even if I did.

Women In Hollywood – We Are Not Hollywood Starlets

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Working in a huge business can be weird. Certain people know you intimately well, and others don’t even recognize you when you enter the building (I’m talking to you, security guard who I have seen every single day for eight months and still asked me where I thought I was going this morning). On the other hand, being an underling (aka a receptionist) at one of these huge companies can have its major advantages. For example, when I got screamed at yesterday by a partner for not being able to accommodate him in the exact conference room he wanted when he asked 10 minutes ahead of time: He will never know exactly who he was screaming at, which means I sort of get off the hook.

Working for women in a huge business can be weird too. I had an interesting discussion with my father about it the other night, and he said that every single time that there’s a major problem between an assistant and a boss at his place of work, it’s two women. At first, I bristled at the implication that women are difficult to work for, but then I realized that I myself have said that I would probably rather work for a man than a woman at this agency. And I began to wonder why. I generally get along better with men than women, but I can’t be sure how much of that is based on competition. And it seems like most girls I know with nightmare bosses work for a woman (Miranda Priestly, anyone?). Why are women in this industry, particularly in the agencies, so difficult to work for?

Is it because women broke into the talent agency world much later than men? In reading The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up (the prerequisite read for everyone getting into the film industry, especially when on the agency track), most of the stories were by men. The first women in agent training programs at William Morris were hired in the late 60’s, early 70’s. Secretaries and receptionists had been women, of course, but it wasn’t until the Second Wave that women started to be taken seriously in this crazy industry. I wonder if it’s this very history that influences women executives: perhaps it is because these women have had to work so hard to get to the top, they figure that we, as their assistants, should have to do the same.

Talent agencies also have a dearth of women. They’ve always been somewhat of a “boy’s club” and still very much are. At a typical large talent agency, less than 25% of the agents in talent or lit (industry-speak for “literature”, a.k.a. directors, writers, producers, etc. — anyone not “talent”, a.k.a. actors) are women. There are a great deal of women who are assistants, mailroomers, or receptionists, but few of them seem to have the desire to go on as agents. Of my friends in the agency world, only two of the girls I know actually want to be agents at some point. Most of them, myself included (at this juncture in my career), want to go work at studios and production companies, and are using the agencies as jumping-off points.

Being a woman in any male-dominated industry is, of course, difficult. One has to be as competitive as the men in order to be successful, but attempt to stay true to herself. There is also the added stress of working in a hyper-superficial industry. All of the women at my agency are dressed to the nines, hair perfectly coiffed, and constantly wearing impossibly high heels. Perhaps that’s why women have problems with their assistants — their feet hurt, they’re frustrated, and they have to take it out on someone.

And I wonder: Can one remain feminine and still be successful in a field where men have dominated and dictated the terms for so long?

You Know What They Say

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Don’t assume (that everyone gets a tax refund)!

Or that anyone wants to go to Bloomington/Normal or Branson.

Back To Basics – What Would Laura Ingalls Wilder Do?

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I’ve been very food obsessed as of late (Editor’s Note: Gretchen is always food obsessed). Most of my days are consumed with the buying and making of food, reading recipes and restaurant reviews, and of course eating it. I’ve been inspired by farmer’s markets, Julia Child, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, and discouraged by big agribusiness, GMOs, and Monsanto. Ultimately, I’d really like to take as much processed food out of my diet as possible. I never have ketchup in my fridge, but a recipe called for 2 tbsp of it, so instead of going to the store and buying a bottle of ketchup, I made my own out of what I already had at my house. 

And yesterday, I had a craving for my grandma’s wild rice casserole. Now it is not a healthy dish by any means, but her recipe calls for canned cream of mushroom soup and canned asparagus (blech). I read the soup label only to discover MSfuckingG in it.

Are you kidding me?! I thought that shit was banned by now. Regardless, the basic ingredients were simple, so why couldn’t I make it from what I already had in my kitchen: butter, flour, seasonings, broth, milk and mushrooms?

Homemade Canned Cream of Mushroom Soup
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup broth
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mushrooms, diced small
s+p

Melt the butter.
Whisk in the flour, one tbsp at a time.
Add poultry seasoning.
Whisk in broth.
Whisk in milk.
Stir in mushrooms.
s+p to taste.
Heat until desired thickness.

You’ll have the same amount in a can of Campbell’s without the extra crap you don’t need like vegetable oil, modified food starch, dried whey, soy protein concentrate, yeast extract, and monosodium glutamate! Plus, it tastes better and took less than 5 minutes to make. It made me think: what other processed shit can we just make ourselves?

You can find more of Gretchen’s musings about food, as well as recipes, at her blog Wild, Fresh + Tasty.

STOP

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This is too much. And by too much, I mean bookshelf porn has reached a new high.

Flashback

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There’s so much mid-century imagery going around these past few weeks its making my head spin in the best possible way.

Magdalena Frackowiak for Vogue Italia, April 2011. Photo by Richard Burbridge.


There are numerous ways to be an homage to your favorite movie at the beach this summer, from Blue Crush to Some Like It Hot. Pick your poison.


Prom dresses!

I love this pelican.

So many people have this idea that retouching is a product of the Big Bad media and their overzealous use of Photoshop, but let’s break it down: As long as there have been pictures of any kind, we’ve been trying to make ourselves look better.


Esquire-inspired covers for the new reboot of X-Men.

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