Monday, November 18, 2013

Don't Be That Guy: How not to make your Facebook friends hate you.

We live in the “social media generation.” As a result of this sociological phenomenon, people are getting more awful. I lose my faith in humanity more and more each time I pull up Facebook or scroll through my twitter. So I am here today to help you all from slipping into a few stereotypes that I (and the rest of the world) find particularly awful. Don't be that guy.
      1. Gaming Gabby. Don't be that guy who sends everyone 300,000,000 game requests on facebook. Seriously, if you have the time to spend hours every day playing Farm City Diner Candy Ville Crush or whatever, then I envy you and your spare time. Perhaps you should pick up a different hobby, like guitar, baking, cycling, stamp collecting, or anything else that does not require sending me a request every five minutes so that you can have an extra bag of virtual corn or something.
      2. Selfie Sophie. Don't be that guy that feels the need to remind everyone you know of what you look like multiple times a day. Or week. Or month, really. WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN. No one is scrolling through their timeline and thinking “Oh wow! There's another picture of So-and-So, I've been wondering whether or not they still look the same as they did yesterday.” No. No one. NOT EVEN YOUR MOTHER. And then there's the boob selfies. These are an entirely different level of awful. Don't even pretend like you didn't strategically maneuver your arms and the camera angle to magnify your 34Bs to take up THE ENTIRE PICTURE. And then, just to make it more awful, you stick some kind of corny random quote at the bottom like “Rain is like my tears for you,” “Life is like Hitler, but you are like my hiding place,” or “The world will knock you down and tie you to train tracks, so let me be your Lassie.” BECAUSE THAT MAKES IT SO MUCH BETTER. And what does that quote even have to do with your boob-selfie anyway? Also, why not just put your actual motives as the caption? Like “Please, please pay attention to me because I'm sad and love my face,” or “I think my life is hard, so here's a picture of me. Please ask me what's wrong and then compliment me.” Even worse are the Bible verse selfies. What the heck does rising on wings like eagles or having faith like a mustard seed have to do with your face? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. You don't get bonus points with the Big Man for putting some of His words under a picture of your boobs.
      3. Sad and Single Susie. Don't be that guy that rants and complains and moans about how single they are. Examples: “#singleprobz,” “I just wish I had someone to snuggle with,” “I'm all alone tonight...again.” Do you want to know why you people are single? Listen very closely because I'm about to change your life with earth-shattering truth: You are single because YOU NEVER STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT HOW SINGLE YOU ARE. What happened to this generation to make them think that all of the amiable single people are sitting around on social media sites and saying “Wow, this girl has been complaining about how lonely, boring, and needy she is for six whole months...I want me a piece of that.” They aren't. So just say no to #singleprobz. And if someone actually does pursue you on the grounds of your sad, sad needy tweets, then you had better head for the hills because it's probably either a murder or someone even more needy. And whenever you and your needy twitter boyfriend are crying to each other about how sad and needy you are, I will not help you. I will laugh at you.
      4. The Fake Life Frannie- Don't be that guy that is so obnoxiously positive about their life that the rest of us want to strangle you. Like really, we all know that angels don't really follow you around throwing glitter at your feet and shoving you into unlikely blessed situations. I don't care how wonderful of a person you are, you have not been asked to be a part of someone's romantic engagement plans every day this week. You do not have random homeless people come bless you at every street corner and then fly away on angel's wings. And you certainly have not been offered 15 modeling jobs during your trip to Walmart. I cannot even imagine how much energy and strategic planning it takes to pretend to be happy and positive and perfect every minute of every day. You could take all of that energy being a social media superstar, bottle it up, and keep a house plant alive for longer than the Cold War. Misery loves company, overly-happiness makes everyone else hate your sparkly guts.
      5. Negative Nancy- Don't be that guy who complains about EVERY SINGLE THING IN THEIR LIFE. I promise your life is not that bad and I will respond much more positively to your shameless cries for attention if you just go ahead and say “I am shamelessly crying for attention.” Nothing about those obscure facebook statuses or tweets that go something like “I can just never do anything right...I wish someone cared :(“ makes me care. In fact, it makes me want to throw an emaciated third world orphan with AIDs at you just to remind you that everything is not that bad. And, if someone with much more compassion and gullibleness than me asks you what's wrong, and you say “I don't want to talk about it,” I will hide a furby in your room at night across from a valley of legos so that when you try to run away from the devil toy, your feet will feel like they are being eaten by orcs. Obviously you want to talk about it, otherwise you would not have shamelessly pleaded with EVERYONE YOU HAVE EVER MET for attention.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Social Commentary on Body Shaming, Arm Fat, and Why You Should Hate Weight Watchers

I know that usually whenever you stumble upon my little blog on facebook or twitter you’re used to reading something wordy and witty about how much I hate Kristin Stewart, Twilight, or other forms of teenage angst and society deprivation.  Today, however, my inner-sociology minor is coming into play and forcing me to address a few social issues which have been driving me absolutely crazy.  Don’t exit out and go back to playing Farmville or whatever just yet though, I promise that if you stick with it I’ll find some way to make fun of Miss Stewart somewhere in the following paragraphs.

I recently was watching my nightly episode of Friends while staying up late writing a paper when I stumbled upon this Weight Watchers commercial featuring Ana Gasteyer singing a clever play on the classic “Fever” substituting negative statements about “arm jiggle” for the traditional message of passionate love.  Now, I will probably never agree with anyone trying to redo a Miss Peggy Lee song because…well…she’s just the most fabulous person ever…but what absolutely infuriated me about this commercial was the blatant body-shaming which is becoming more and more of a reoccurring theme in the media.

Body Shaming- Public discrimination on a body type or aspect of a body type because it deviates from the social ideal.

Now, I would like to first point out that EVERYONE has arm flab when they “clap” or “hail a cab.”  Unless you are a body builder or very devout anorexic YOU WILL HAVE SOME FAT ON YOUR ARMS.  And considering that Weight Watchers isn’t a structured lifting program, it will not take away all your arm fat, so this is false advertising. 

Therefore, this advertisement demonstrates an incredible amount of body shaming through its demeaning association of arm fat with being too unappealing to wear anything sleeveless.  This is a marketing attempt used to make women feel unattractive and inferior, making them more likely to purchase their products.  This kind of advertising introduces to young girls the “thin ideal” of society.  I can guarantee that my five year old sister would have no negative thoughts about a little bit of arm jiggle on a beautiful woman until such media exposure informs her that arm jiggle is a PROBLEM; that is WRONG and NEEDS TO BE FIXED.

Thin ideal- The socially derived, unattainable standard of beauty used to shame people into buying products.

While there are studies showing that there is some connection to chronic eating disorders with biological issues such as serotonin levels, most women and girls will be exposed to the concept of self-hatred and body shame through the media and indirectly through the media by means of other women/girls.  A young girl usually has standards of beauty connected with a person’s character and relationship to them…for instance, most children, early in life, hold their mother up as their standard of beauty. 

Then enters the media.

Weight loss companies like Weight Watchers and Special K let us know that we should be embarrassed by arm fat and thicker thighs.  Mega T Green Tea informs us that muffin top “isn’t hot.”  We are TAUGHT that these are things that are WRONG with us.  They tell us that we shouldn’t wear a swimsuit until we look like the model on TV.  And if by some miracle we aren’t taught by the media, then other girls are quick to inform us where we are wrong.

I researched the arm-flabbless Ana Gasteyer to find that she has NEVER BEEN ABOVE AVERAGE WEIGHT.  Yet Weight Watchers chose this perfectly healthy woman to represent to us someone who needs to be changed because her smaller-than-average arms were too disgusting to be seen in public.  In her testimonial on the Weight Watchers website, she says “my husband and I came back from our summer vacation, super sad and fat.”

She was not fat, first of all, and certainly did not need to be sad because she was fat by the media’s unattainable standards.

Weight Watchers is telling us that “fat” women should be sad.

To wrap this all up, because I’m sure that you’re sick and tired of my feministic rant, I will refuse to endorse or support products by companies such as Weight Watchers who use body shaming to sell their debatably effective goods and services.  Wanting women to be healthy is one thing.  Wanting women to be ashamed of their bodies because they can’t measure up to the perfectly airbrushed celebrities and their media-constructed standard of beauty just so you can sell your product is DISGUSTING and the reason that 10% of young girls starve themselves. 

“Too fat,” “too skinny,” “no boobs,” “love handles,” “thunder thighs,” “chicken legs,” “cankles,” "child-bearing hips…” These are all socially derived by the media to make us feel unattractive, vulnerable, and willing to buy stupid products so we can be “beautiful.”

No matter how you’re built, you’re beautiful…so wear those sleeveless shirts with pride just to spite Weight Watchers and their sick sense of compromised morality.

Also (the moment you’ve all been waiting for): Kristin Stewart is so emotionless that a vacuum cleaner literally would have accomplished a more persuasive version of Bella Swan.

There. You’re welcome.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Secret Lives of Dance Teachers

There’s nothing that America loves more than to sit on their couches eating junk food and watching staged fights between insane dance teachers and their psychotic clients. The dance world has been both slaughtered and glamorized in one fell swoop; it has been embellished with lavish drama, soulless instructors, and flawless dancers. Unless you’re individually involved in the dance world, you might be tempted to believe these tall tales of grandeur. However, due to my personal experience as a dance teacher, I can definitely understand why the entertainment industry has to work to glamorize the dance world. As for real dance teachers, our story is another one entirely. And let’s just say that there’s a reason TLC doesn’t follow us around for a raw and uncut documentary on the dance industry. The real dance world is much less glamorous than what this Dance Mom loving country would like to believe.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job and have the best students and parents I could ever ask to work with, but living in the dance world provides plenty of opportunities to people watch and acquire some very interesting, and often humorous, insight.

Something that they never reveal on Dance Moms, or other dance-related television shows, is that every studio has That One Kid. You know what Kid I’m talking about: the one that always shows up with a snotty nose and jam on their face. The one that, even though they’re in kindergarten, still can’t form a coherent sentence…

“Miss Hannah? Feuy lourne blehn agh.”

“What, honey?”

“Feuy lourne blehn agh. AGH!!!”


It’s the kid that wanders around the room aimlessly, staring at the ceiling and running into walls while little trickles of drool soak the neck of their leotard. The one that, as soon as the sparkly costumes are tried on, gets on their hands and knees and licks all the glitter off the floor. While all the other little children are obediently going through their dance, That One Kid stares at themself in the mirror and practices different ways to wear their tutu around their face.

It’s That One Kid that who when you ask them what pliĆ© means answers, “JESUS LOVES ME CAUSE I DO SUBTRACTION!!!!”(actual real life scenario) That Kid who wears their underwear over their ballet skirt and who tries to stuff their entire tap shoe in their mouth.

I don’t know where Abbey Lee Miller hides That Kid…but I’m telling you, she must have at least one hidden somewhere.

Yeah, yeah…the competition world is super fabulous and all that jazz (no pun intended) but behind the stage (and the cameras) is another story. No producer has been courageous enough yet to brave the dressing room where dance moms are threatening to shank the other dance moms with bobby pins and sewing scissors in order to get a spot to set their stuff down. People are stealing costume pieces and the occasional snack from the unattended dressing stations. The hairspray fumes alone are enough to knock someone out. In the corner some poor dance teacher is fifteen minutes into a wrestling match with a five year old in an attempt to get fake eyelashes to stick on her tear-soggy, glitter-stained face while her mother sits on top of her to make her sit still. Girls are being taped, sprayed, poked, and prodded into costumes. Babies are crying, moms are crying, girls are crying, but most of all the dads are crying.

Now, I love competitions and one of my favorite things to do is just sit and watch routines. And by “favorite thing to do” I actually mean, “favorite thing to make fun of.” You see, when watching a show like Dance Moms, you only see a couple of the competition dances performed that weekend and the excerpts you see are phenomenal. What they don’t want you to see are the 38 routines in which all the girls are in full bird costumes or the school showcasing all of their kids in two piece costumes. They don’t want you to know about that one dance where all the girls were dressed up like giant chickens and pulled fake worms out of their butt feathers (real thing), or the dance where all the girls were in skin colored body suits with hoods that made them look like faceless Barbie dolls with surgical markings (also a real thing). They don’t want you to have to see a group of white girls with curly ponytails, jazz pants, and fake tattoos “hiphop” to bad 90’s rap. They try to protect you from the 10 minute long production of Oliver Twist which includes elevator music and giant brooms dipped in paint. I mean, WHY ARE THERE GIANT BROOMS? They intentionally hide the songs in which all of the girls are dressed like aliens complete with tin-foil cone hats wrapped in blinking lights. They try and cover up those male dancers that go on stage in shorty shorts and need (and wear) a sports bra under their shirt (yeah…that one happened too).

The dance world truly isn’t what it seems. And while it’s wonderful and I love it more than anything, it’s not for the weak of heart. But at the end of the day, even after all the snot, eyelashes, tears, bird-themed dances, and man-boobs, it’s all worth it to see the joy on their faces as they grace the stage. The real dance teachers and dance moms have the most difficult, messy, chaotic, and rewarding job there is and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.