A Word on Bad Bitches and Basic Boys

It’s New Years Eve, again. I remember being eleven years old and standing out in our driveway at midnight looking for the fireworks over the mountain with the neighbor kids. It was 1993. The neighbor was drunk and kept harassing the chubby kid from down the street by saying, “Yeah you’re a real card fat boy.”

In the morning I’ll wake up thirty-five years old. It will be 2017. A misogynist racist will be sworn into office nineteen days later. We all seem to be a little sad, a little angry, a little dismayed about 2016. We’re personifying the fuck out of the year. We’re begging it not to take anymore of our beloved celebrities. We’re calling it out on being a dumpster fire. We’re raging and crying and laughing all at once.

My 2016 wasn’t a dumpster fire.

My personal year, the year in which I turned thirty-five and wore a bikini for the first time, it wasn’t all bad. In fact, at times it was the happiest I’ve been in my entire life. It was however, tumultuous at times to put it politely, because as you know this is the internet. I’ll just say that self discovery is exhilarating the same way chasing a tornado seems exciting. A lot of garbage will get thrown about in the process.

In order to really tell you about my 2016 I have to tell you about my girl, my friend. A kind of friendship I didn’t know could still exist in adulthood.

To My Boo,

Do you remember a year ago when we went to the gym but we didn’t work out? We ate chocolate muffins in the café and talked with friends. We wore dirty snow boots and heavy coats, our hair greasy, our babies still in diapers. We went home to husbands who didn’t help enough. And then one day we booked plane tickets to a beach, we made protein shakes, put in endless hours at the gym. We dropped weight, grew our hair long, got our nails done, put on make-up. We bought bikinis. We boarded a plane for paradise. We joked that we could never come back again, not the same way we were before. “You know we can never come back from this, right?” we said to each other laughing on the beach.

We didn’t.

We returned home different. We were awake. We weren’t going to participate in the self sacrificing slow death march that is so often the result of womanhood.

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For you, the universe cleared a path. She did it suddenly, violently as if cutting through the brush with a machete. She turned around, looked you straight in the eyes and motioned for you to leave.

You stood up and left.

I hope that in those moments when you’ve looked back over your shoulder, questioning if you’re headed the right direction, it’s me you see assuring you that you are. Well, me and your Mama, and the countless other women who have walked that same path. Everything in your life was merely a detour, a traffic delay on the road you’re now speeding down.

As for the destination? It’s better than Maui. I promise, I know this.

It’s so damn beautiful.

I want to tell you that I see you, and you see me. There have been many times this past year when you were the only one who could really see me. There have been moments alone together when my soul has been naked. Laughing on the Lanai drunk under the Maui moonlight. Late nights talking at your kitchen table stone cold sober with an Excel spreadsheet trying to figure shit out; other times laughing hysterically as the kids raid the pantry. Moments in the weight room where we find our rhythm alternating sets silently while listening to our own music.  I feel a love and acceptance that is rare in friendship.

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God damn, I hope you feel it too.

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I’ve discovered there’s a world of women. I have always existed within it, reveled in it, but this year I’ve felt it stronger than any other year in my life. There’s a sisterhood among us that men will always be threatened by. A way about us they will never understand. Even when in love, even with our husbands, they never fully get it. Strong men roll their eyes at women like us, weak ones grow resentful and scared.

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As I enter my thirty-sixth year I refuse to allow space for the fear of weak men, not anymore. They want to suppress us, tame us, dim our lights. They want to tell us to watch our language, stay quiet, get off the dance floor, stay inside more. They want to be president. They want to own our bodies and manipulate our own inner monologue. Whether through the use of force, abusive language or even the passing of laws, I refuse to play along and my sisters won’t either. If you are threatened by us, you are not man enough for us.

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I’m done apologizing for who I am, and you should be too. I won’t tolerate anyone telling me to tone it down. I want nothing to do with people who gasp when I mutter “mother fucker” under my breath, with people who use their God as a platform for judgment. I have no time for their definition of morals, marriage and motherhood. I care nothing for the world’s expectations of my heteronormative gender performance. I have no time for how they think I should perform my role as a woman, mother, person in their thirties. As a close friend of mine often says, “Get the fuck outta here with that shit.”

Repeat after me: I can be an excellent mother and still be a seriously bad bitch.

So, get the fuck outta here with that shit, or come at me bro.

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Because we’re ready for you.

 

 

Hey New Lady Friend, Why’s Your Husband Such a D?

It happens to me all the time. I meet a woman and I like her. She’s smart, funny, kind and down to earth.

Then I meet her husband.

I’m left scratching my head in confusion. “Why is such an intelligent, charismatic woman with a man like that?”

I spent a decade behind the chair. I can rock out a precision bob and do extreme color correction like nobody’s business, but my real area of expertise is women. Over all those years I spent thousands of hours talking to women. Small talk is one of the most important parts of being a hairstylist, if not the most important part. But I shouldn’t say “small talk” because when women are in the salon, therapy happens. You’d be amazed by some of the deeply personal information I knew about my clients. I knew two of them were pregnant before their husbands did. I was also one of the few people who knew that a client’s son was in prison for child molestation.

What did I learn from talking to hundreds of women for all those years?

Most women have very little confidence.

Women will change who they are for love.

Women settle.

I’m not just talking about straight women. This isn’t me bashing men. I love men. This is about women and their lack of self esteem, their desire to please at the cost of their own identity. I watched my lesbian clients do this too. They meet someone new and soon they’re listening to her music, watching her shows and going to her stylist. They would eventually break up and come back to me.

They always came back.

If you’ve ever thought I have a lot of self confidence, this is why. When you listen to this kind of self deprecating drivel all day you start to view it as weak and boring. I began to see it as self absorbed. Come on ladies, get over yourselves.

But I do know how hard that is. I’m not immune to a society that is constantly telling us we’re not good enough.

Here’s what I do know.

If you’re one of my female friends, chances are I think you’re too good for your husband.

We all met for drinks once and he made a homophobic remark about the waiter. But your best friend is gay.

How the hell does that work?

Sure, I mean no one is perfect and we all have off days or suffer from making a bad first impression, but you’re telling me he went on a golfing trip when you were thirty-eight weeks pregnant. You’re telling me that he finds most women’s voices shrill and annoying.

Really ladies?!

Get your shit together. I’m sure he has good qualities, but you have to ask yourself how this happened.

I have a guess.

I think so many of us grow up wanting so badly to be the object of some man’s gaze, that often we date a boy simply because he likes us.

We want them because they want us.

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And here’s where it gets really messed up.

When your husband actually turns out to be impressive, we tend to think you’re a princess. We get resentful. “Oh yeah, her husband does everything,” we say. “Did you know he actually gets up in the middle of the night with the baby? And did you see on Facebook that he sent her away on a surprise trip with her friends? She’s spoiled.”

We get angry. We label you as pampered, and undeserving. Some of us wonder aloud what you did (or do) to deserve this type of treatment.

The truth is we know what you did.

You had self confidence. You didn’t settle. You didn’t win the husband lottery. You chose wisely.

I’m sorry ladies, but this has to stop. We have to figure out a better way to raise our daughters. We need to take a long hard look at “girl’s” movies, shows and books. Gone are the sexist shows like The Brady Bunch and games like Mystery Date, but we still have a long way to go. Look at most of the movies geared toward girls. There is always a love interest.

Sure the end message of Frozen is sisterly love but remember the entire first part of the movie? The part where Anna sings about meeting a special stranger and then agrees to marry a man she just met. Yes, Disney works in a major message about how that’s problematic, but the focus on romantic love is still there. And those two major musical numbers in the beginning? Little girls won’t just forget that shit. They’ll remember that they’re supposed to care about getting married. They get that message loud and clear.

I’m not saying marriage is bad. I’m just saying we don’t do this to boys. The movies/shows my son watches don’t focus on the male character obsessing over a girl. Cody on Rescue Bots isn’t pining after Doc Greene’s daughter Francine. Hiro Hamada in Big Hero 6 doesn’t have a love interest. It would seem silly and forced if he did.

It’s 2016 and we’re still selling this lie to our girls. They’re supposed to attract a mate. Plain and simple. We reinforce the message that if no one is romantically interested in you then you’re defective. So it’s no wonder that so many girls grow up to settle for less than they deserve. We’ve taught them that their value as a person hinges on the desire of someone else.

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Me at fifteen, gorgeous but hating my ugly self while obsessing over a boy.

It’s the craziest shit in the world when you think about it, right? As comedian Dave Attell once said, “The ladies have all the power because the ladies have all the vaginas.” Men should be the ones out there peacocking. We shouldn’t be the ones with the perfume, jewelry and make-up on. We shouldn’t be the ones out there trying to “catch” a man and convince him to settle down. Why are men so scared of getting married anyway? Hell, if I could find a good woman I’d marry her ass tomorrow, and I’m a straight lady. Getting to share your home with a kind, nurturing, and loving woman (or gay guy) is the best thing on earth. Sign me up for that whole sister wives thing. I’m down.

I don’t have the answer on how we fix this. Keeping my baby girl from watching Cinderella isn’t the panacea here folks. But I can control how I speak to her about her future, dating and about marriage. So, let’s stop teaching our daughters that pairing up is important and inevitable. Let’s use the word choose, as in “If you choose to get married one day.”

Because ladies, marriage isn’t the prize.

We are the goddam prize.

 

 

 

[On behalf of my deliciously bearded husband I must tell you that he is fantastic. Although he has never sent me away on a girl’s weekend. WTF dude?]