Cleanse This: Wedding Preparations Gone Mad

il_570xN.326980696In three days, Professor McGregor and I are getting married.

MARRIED.

There are a lot of moving parts involved in such a happening. So far this week, I’ve spray painted four dozen wooden snowflakes, made our seating chart, remade our seating chart when it turns out we had the wrong kind of tables, cut out a million tiny triangles for bunting, and seriously considered showing up in pajamas for the ceremony, so that I didn’t have to get my dress steamed.

Just to make sure I’m not forgetting anything important, I took to the internet. “Google,” I asked the great god of aimless questions, “What should I be doing the week before my wedding?” It turns out, the answer is: a lot of shit. There are checklists to be checked and eighty people to contact. There are, also, a lot of widely suggested things that I think are ridiculous.

  1. Getting a Facial – Take away my womanhood card, if you must, but I am not going to have my face tortured by some sadistic stranger wielding an extractor, just to have “a bridal glow.” They make make-up precisely so I don’t have to naturally exude a glow. This isn’t Twilight, I don’t need to sparkle!
  2. Starting an Exfoliation Routine – In order to walk down the aisle, my whole body is apparently supposed to be as smooth as a baby’s bottom. And yet I currently have no plans to remove the top layer of my skin, in order to achieve that. Lotion will have to do.
  3. Scheduling a Bikini Wax – Everyone on the internet is in agreement with this one thing: In order to have a good wedding night, you can’t have any extra hair down there. It’s just not womanly! Except, oh wait, it’s the natural state of a woman’s body. Pardon me, if I don’t immediately have it all yanked out with hot wax.
  4. Avoiding Excessive Caffeine – If someone tells you she’s sleeping normally the week before her wedding, do not believe her. If coffee didn’t exist, I would have had a mental breakdown right now. I give zero fucks if it makes me retain water, there will be caffeine.
  5. Getting a Spray Tan – It’s the middle of winter, why exactly must we pretend that I’m a naturally a toasted almond color? Pale blonde girl has always been a good look for me. I shall not trade it in for skin the color of carrots! 
  6. A Juice Cleanse – Go through the hell that has been this week without real food? Ha! Someone go get me a cheeseburger.
  7. A Colon Cleanse – Nope. Just nope. Google, I think it’s time you saw a psychiatrist, in order to deal with all these delusions you’re having.

- Grace

These Two Things Are Not The Same….

I was speaking to a male blogging friend recently about some of the worst comments he has ever received (because bloggers share comments like soldiers share battle wounds) and something really struck me. Lets see what you think…

His 5 Worst Comments

  1. I hope you die
  2. Your grammar is incorrect
  3. You’re not as smart as you think you are
  4. You’re an asshole
  5. You should do more research

My 5 Worst Comments (Warning – graphic)

  1. I hope you get raped
  2. I’m going to find you and dick slap you
  3. I can’t wait to beat your cunt
  4. If you get raped, know you deserved it
  5. I’m going to shove my big dick up your ass until you bleed

So…those are not the same. All awful, but not exactly equal. What really struck me, is that my friend blogs about what might be considered controversial topics and I…well…I don’t. (At least not on the blog where I received these comments) I blog about happy things and things that make me laugh.  So, why are my worst comments so much more violent than his?

I have a pretty good theory as to why – it’s because I have a vagina.

BUT – before I add another thing to my sexism list, I thought a larger sample was in order. So, male bloggers – have you ever received violent comments? Feel free to be as vague as possible (aka, just say “yes”) as I know this can be very painful and difficult to rehash. I’m just interested to know if my friend is just super lucky in the comment troll department, or if there is something bigger at play here.

Let me know your thoughts! (And ladies, if you would like to, feel free to share as well)

- Mae

Behold The Man-Hater: A Modern Myth

The-Suffragette-front-pageThis morning, my rage kettle boiled over. On an eons old post, we received a well-written and seemingly thoughtful comment, that intimated I didn’t deserve to question men, because they are the ones who lay down their lives for this country and who gave me the right to blog in the first place. Shockingly, this is not the first time I’ve heard this argument. It essentially consists of “Feminists are evil man-haters, who don’t understand all that menfolk have done for them!”

I just—

I can’t even…

What? 

There is so much wrong with this argument that I’m actively worried about the state of education in the West. Ignoring the obvious—which I’ve compiled a list of at the bottom of this post, because fuck all the fuckery—there is a major problem with this whole line of thinking: feminism isn’t about hating men or soldiers or any group of people, except perhaps misogynists. Feminism means believing in equality of the genders. That’s it.

Blog over! 

Y’all, that’s Kindergarten level simple. Why do we still let people—many of them young women, who are directly victimized by patriarchal structures every day—go around saying that feminists hate men? There’s not a single feminist I know who wishes to banish all men from Earth. That’s not really our thing, darling. Such a goal would be not only irrational, but severely limiting of our social lives. After all, it’s not like Dillon-who-bags-my-groceries is the reason I get paid 11,000 dollars less than my male colleagues. It’s society at fault, not men specifically. We’re all culpable.

Throughout history, people have bought into the notion that women and men are not only unequal, but not even deserving of the same the treatment. It’s reinforced in every aspect of daily life, not just our relatively recent right to vote. When you play for a girls basketball team called the “Lady Warriors,” you’re being victimized by the system. That’s your school saying that you’re not the real team—representing them with honor and talent—you’re just the girls. When the church you attend has a weight loss bible study for women, but not one for men, that’s society at work again reinforcing the notion that women are meant to please to the male gaze. Sexism is everywhere and it’s unending. It’s like that pink slime from Ghostbusters II, popping up in all social settings, seething below our streets like a glowing mass of unseen douchery.

Just the act of calling us “man-haters,” instead of feminists is patriarchy at work. Every time that is said, the cause of gender equality is devalued one more time. Rare is the teenage girl, riddled with insecurities and fear of social doom, that is willing to label herself a man-hater. If she’s less likely to call herself a feminist, because that cute Liam Patel might judge her, then she’s also less likely to speak up when she experiences gender inequality. The concept that “we shouldn’t be so sensitive, because that’s just the way things are,” is internalized in one more young woman. This hurts everyone. Young men are just as at risk from this thinking, as seen by each “locker room culture” scandal. The more we say women are one thing and men another, the more none of us are allowed to fulfill our true potential.

Feminism isn’t about hating men, it’s about hating systematic discrimination. This should be everyone’s fight, but we’ve corrupted the very language of our society with pervasive phrases like “man-haters”, “bra burners,” and “angry lesbians.” Our pool of advocates is winnowed down with each usage, obscuring the real intent of feminism. I wear a bra every day, damn it! The girls can still be high and perky, while discrimination shrivels.

Equality should be the cause of all people. We’re not here to take away rights, we’re here to ensure everyone finally gets them.

- Grace

Obvious Issues With This Argument: A List

  1. Women have, in fact, laid down their lives for this country countless times. The only difference is that we were not explicitly allowed on the front lines by the United States until this year. It wasn’t because we were lazy dilettantes who didn’t want to fight, it’s because we were again and again denied the opportunity. That’s the patriarchy, darling.
  2. Women were not just one day given the right to blog or do anything. Those nice men in Washington didn’t wake up one morning and decide women were finally ready to vote. We fought. Forever. We fought to not be property, we fought to own property, we fought to vote, we fought to work. We’re still fighting for equal pay and an end to the objectification of our bodies and all those other systematic little inequalities that are so prevalent in our society that we consider them normal.
  3. See: Lysistrata
  4. See: Women’s Air Force Service Pilots
  5. See: Harriet Tubman & co.

I’m Sorry My Name Change Inconvenienced You. Oh Wait, Nope.

Changing my last name to my husband’s was a decision of convenience. My maiden name is almost impossible for anyone who does not speak Welsh to pronounce and after a lifetime of correcting people’s pronunciation of it, I was relieved/exicted to change my last name to something that was easy for everyone to say because it’s so recognizable (Holla is you share a last name with a notable historical figure everyone learns about in school).

But then actually doing it, changing my name, became one of the most frustrating and painful processes of my life. The entire thing is impossible and ridiculous and probably qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment. Like, if someone keeps committing crimes, you should punish them by having to change their name every 6 months because then they will never commit a crime again. Basically, I just solved habitual crime in America.

This process has been excruciating. Between filling out all of the forms (so so many of them), and mailing things, and showing up for pictures, and providing proof that I am who I say I am and that I did in fact get married, and then waiting the exact number of days you have to wait, and then getting a letter that the powers that be got my letter and are sending me a letter in acknowledgement of that letter and that in 2-8 weeks I will be the proud owner of all kinds of new cards, and oh yeah, once you get them here are a bunch of other forms you have to fill out to notify everyone of your new name, and WHEN WILL THE MADNESS STOP?

I could have bought a gun every 4 hours for the months it took me to do all this and I would have had all of the guns in the world and no one would have so much as asked what my maiden name was. I’m just sayin.

But finally, finally, I got through it. At least, most of it. I’m at the part now where I have to notify insurance, banks, etc. of my name change. So, I email HR at my job and let them know about my new legal name.

And then I got an email that went a little something like this:
“Do we really have to do this? Can’t we just leave your name as is? This is a huge hassle for us.”

Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize changing my name was a hassle. Is it a hassle? It’s been as pleasant as eating peach pie for me. I’m so sorry this inconveniences you. Oh wait, nope, I’m not. MOTHERFUCKER.

- Mae

Nancy Drew and the Missing Abracadabra: A Halloween Rant

ea5e7f6c7b25c4e0a62f607ccea409e5There is a building down the street, white brick with cheap black window coverings, that plays host to terror. It’s not the zombies that bother me, mind you, as I believe the undead are unfairly besmirched by the living media. No, it’s something altogether more frightening. I am being haunted by the polyester impostors of Halloween present. There is evil in the Halloween Shoppe’s costume section and it must be destroyed.

Shockingly, I’m not talking about sexy costumes. While I think it’s a disgrace that Halloween has been reduced to a night when women are expected to expose our goodies to the cold, October chill, that’s well trod (hallowed) ground. We have a bigger problem. It’s not that we are overrun with sexy costumes, friends, it’s that we are deprived of interesting, well-made costumes at all. We don’t have any other options than sexy and, even those, are not truly sexy at all.

I want to stand next to a lightbulb, without fear of melting! I want to enter a costume store and have legitimate terrifying, gorgeous, or alluring costume choices! Why have we let Halloween descend into a night of cheap, ill-fitting suggestions of costume? This most wonderful of holidays, when a girl can dress up anything she delights in, has become one big avalanche of poorly made, poorly fitting, polyester swill that should never touch human flesh in the first place. We look cheap, darlings, whether or not we give into being Sexy Funshine Bear or not.

If I had any start-up capital whatsoever, I’d go into business selling one thing: well-made, fabulous costumes for women. When a woman wants to be scary for Halloween, she doesn’t want a plastic spider glued to a high school graduation robe, she wants realistic blood and an eerily deconstructed confection of gown. That Marie Laveau turban is so terrifyingly lovely, Hillary! Sure, we have our pick of supposedly “sexy” outfits from Harold’s Halloween Shoppe, but there’s nothing sexy about a polyester swimsuit covered in fake skunk fur. Just because I can see your bubbies, doesn’t mean you look hot, it means you might catch Sexy Woodland Creatures pneumonia. If you actually want to feel sexually empowered for the night, might I suggest that silk-lined burlesque costume a la Gypsy Rose Lee? Oh, wait. THAT DOESN’T EXIST.

d049df5b9fecbd8fb70a8c31f47ba1e1Halloween is meant to be a night of magic and mystery. Every October 31st, people step out of their houses clothed as something other than themselves. Why have we been driven away from that desire for whimsy and hoopla? It’s not that sexy costumes are bad, it’s that they’re barely costumes at all. No one actually thinks you look like “Sexy Rainbow Bright,” they think you look like you, wearing as little clothing as possible. That’s not sexual empowerment or fun, that’s being prey to an industry that wants to sell you cheap shit for lots of money. We can be sexy, but let’s also have some quality standards. More over, there should be options for women who want to leave our houses looking pretty, or horrifying, or breathtakingly repulsive. 

Not even the supposed “deluxe” costumes sold in Halloween shops are well-made or lovely. I refuse to believe you feel like a Clottette: Vampire Princess in that velvet faux-corset. There is no imagination in that outfit or any other sold next to it. Our magic—our fucking abracadabra— has been traded for cheap non-sex-appeal and flimsy construction. We’ve let our most spectacular holiday become just as shoddy as everything else we buy. Fast fashion has ruined Halloween and we should all be furious. We must demand quality, for Elsa’s sake!

Personally, I’m putting on a pinafore and penny loafers, tonight. Nancy Drew will be handing out candy to children, not fearing that a pumpkin might tumble over and set her aflame. Perhaps next Halloween, she will have solved the mystery of the missing abracadabra, or started her own damned costume company.

- Grace

If you’re trying to find a last minute costume, I’ve also suggested some easy, empowered costumes over at The Queen Latifah Show. Interesting uses for bananas, anyone?

The Sewist Bride Buys a Wedding Dress

Two months.

Two months! In precisely sixty days, Professor McGregor and I are going to trot down the aisle and tie the proverbial knot. Woohoo! As you know, I’ve been a rather casual bride. We’re having a simple wedding: Sunday brunch, lovely low key little venue, lots of balloons and flowers and bunting. Thanks to a close held hatred of rigmarole, I’ve officially cut out a lot of the typical American wedding shenanigans. There will be no DJ or releasing of the doves or—just kill me now—garter toss. We can all agree that the marriage is the important thing, not having a gigantic sparkly princess day of wonder. That’s never been my dream.

Except, of course, for The Dress. The very small list of important Grace concerns in planning this shindig were, in order: Professor McGregor, the dress, cake. Since the dear professor is consistently the most lovely man alive and the (three) cakes are being made—fondant free!—by my longtime favorite bakery, the dress absorbed my worries. So, so many worries.

As an advanced sewist, there was one question to be answered. Will I make the dress myself? 

It’s a completely legit consideration, especially in this day and age. Not only are modern dresses hilariously over priced but they are, as I’ve recounted here before, remarkably homogeneous. If you want a strapless A-line white dress, no problem! The shops have rows and rows of neatly hung poofy confections for strap-haters. However, when you start swaying away from the herd? Fat chance. The section with sleeves is minuscule, colors other than white are unheard of, and no one who’s anyone gets married in a short dress.

For sewists, this is enraging. One trip to the bridal shoppe—they can never just be a simple shop, kittens—is enough to start even the most sainted bride plotting the doom of Badgley, Vera, and that hawker of polyester swill, David himself. Sewists are used to taking matters in their own hands. If a pattern doesn’t have sleeves, add them. If you hate the feel of flammable, melt-prone fabrics against your skin, don’t use them. Sartorial beliefs, we have them in spades! All it took was a couple of post-engagement internet browsing sessions for me to know the usual bridal shop was not my destiny.

So, I compiled a list. What was my dream dress, exactly? If I couldn’t find it, sewing was a viable option, so I could afford to be mindbogglingly specific. Thanks to vintage fashion catalogs, a vision quickly coalesced.

Note: Professor McGregor, if you’re reading this, stop right now! Your superstitious side demands it. 

Grace’s Dream Dress: A Bulleted List

  • Bottom-of-knee length
  • Lace bodice
  • Sleeves, preferably 3/4
  • Button back. Not a zipper with buttons over it, either. Silk-covered buttons with working loops or death!
  • Color featured somehow
  • Layered circle skirt for a 1950s silhouette
  • Natural materials, preferably silks
  • Lower neckline

Surprise! This dress doesn’t exist at David’s Bridal. Initially, I considered going with one of the oft-pinned, retro dresses of Dolly Couture, but I had serious doubts about their quality. Reviews were spotty, their standard offerings are all polyester, and no design perfectly fit my vision. Sewing was looking like my best option. And yet…

Y’all, I’m going to be straight up here. I didn’t want to sew my own wedding dress. Down that path lived stress and obsessively washing my hands while sewing and time-consuming muslin fittings. People kept asking me if I had a “clean room” to store it in, while I sewed. Fuck that. I can barely keep myself clean, much less my sewing room. Someday, I would love to make a complete couture gown for myself, but that day will come when there are no dissertations to finish or moves to make. So, I started finding vintage patterns, but dreading what my autumn would be like.

Enter Pinterest. On one of my random wedding dress pictures binges, I typed in the words “short British wedding dress.” The lovely designers across the pond are much more open to retro designs and lengths other than floor. I’d stumbled across a handful of designers with gorgeous not-quite-right-but-almost gowns.

Then I found her. Joanne Fleming, an up-and-coming wedding dress designer out of Brighton. She is famous for her craftsmanship, use of luxury French fabrics, and gorgeous twists on classic designs. If I wanted a bias-cut column gown, she had twenty amazing options. If I wanted a colored lacy confections, there were samples aplenty. And if I wanted a button-back, lace and organza, knee-length fifties confection with sleeves and a low neckline? Oh, that’s called the Annie dress.

Mine, custom made to my measurements and specifications, is shipping out next week. Next week! Yes, I have been ridiculously squealing “Wedding Dress!” at odd times, since getting this news. Professor McGregor is temporarily deaf from all the high pitched squees.

The only alterations I made were to add a blush pink back-bow sash and coordinating pink silk petticoat binding. It is lovely, it is wonderful, and I’m not slaving away in my sewing room, cursing the day lace was invented. Joy! 

What do you think, friends? Would you sew your own wedding dress or go with an indie designer/seamstress? I’d love to hear about what you chose for your own. Sure, it’s just a dress, but it’s probably the only one we’ll be asked about for the rest of our lives. It’s also worth noting that one of my favorite bloggers, Mel from Poppykettle, is much braver than I and taking the plunge on making her own. It’s sure to be a gorgeous, fascinating process.

- Grace

Note: Here’s a link to my favorite real bride shoot, featuring an Annie dress. Lovely, no?

Get In The Bathtub, Dude: An Advertising Field Guide to Men

179b653565641b1dee73ecbdf6a7a69fThe time is upon us once again. People are sporting garish color combinations, insisting their friends eat chip-and-bean casserole concoctions, and complaining at every Saturday wedding they attend. It’s football season, kittens!

Usually, I’m not much of a football fan. I enjoy watching the actual game well enough, but take umbrage with so many aspects of it—hyper-masculinity, health dangers, its effect on education, and those wretched pink Lady ___insert appropriately intimidating mascot__ Fan! t-shirts—that it’s hard to give more than a rousing “Woohoo!” when that College Team I Follow wins. Thanks to living with a man whose school is doing particularly well this year, however, I’m watching a lot more football. And, as a result, football commercials.

Y’all, these commercials have totally opened my eyes. Back before Professor McGregor, I semi-longed to understand the proverbial menfolk. My mind told me they were just the same as me—regular people, with the added bonus of a penis—but friends told me they were mysterious creatures, mystifying in their ways and hairiness. It turns out, all we needed to do was watch more ESPN to discover the truth.  There are lessons to be learned, in between those brief periods of programming you actually want to watch. Sports advertising understands men and gives the rest of us handy man-dealing tips.

Truth #1: Men love to take baths, especially with wolf soap. I would never have known this from living with my teenage brother, but men really love being clean. Just when you think a man wants some sexy time with his lady love – boom! – he suggests bathing instead. And not bathing-together-in-a-sexy-way either, but side by side, each person with their own bathtub. Men cannot share tubs with you! They want to enjoy the warm water and romantic sunset in their own watery space! The only creatures a man wants to bathe with are wolves and eagles, who lend their essences to man soap. I always thought Professor McGregor’s showery scent was something with sandalwood or cedar, but these commercials are pretty insistent that he bathe alone in animal extracts.

Truth #2: Low Testosterone is an epidemic that must be solved. Everyone knows that the most important part of being a man is having a vigorous man member, which rouses quickly at the slightest hint of a womanly presence. But when men age, their testosterone levels naturally decrease, apparently making it really hard to do the one thing men are supposed to do all the time! Judging by the amount of commercials, low testosterone is reaching epidemic proportions in America. Sure, your husband tells you that he doesn’t want to canoodle, because he has the flu, but that is really the fever of low testosterone. A man who cannot canoodle is no man at all! We must save the canoodling man bits people! Who wants to plan a benefit walk/run for canoodling with me?

Truth #3: Men hate cooking, but love cheese. When men get together, they don’t want to make things. That’s crazy talk! Men don’t cook, they grunt and swear and worry about their fantasy football stats. To keep up their energy, however, they need to eat. That’s where cheese comes in. If you’re hosting a man party, it will only be a hit if you buy fast food covered in dairy product. Chicken tenders + CHEDDER! Pizza + FOUR CHEESES! Tacos + CHEESEY SAUCE CHEESE BYPRODUCT! These are man foods. Leave the expertly barbecued pork loin at home, Harold, unless you want all the other men to mock you.

72a16f1bdb1b793426a0cb0464eeeb0dTruth #4: Men are powerless, when presented with breasts.  All my adult life, I’ve had the power to rule menfolk and I didn’t even know it. When presented with breasts, men forget how to properly function as human beings. They crash cars, spill soup, and embarrass themselves in front of their friends, by following woman orders. This apparently, includes gay men, since I’ve never seen a sports commercial featuring a man distracted by great man shoulders. Surely, ESPN wouldn’t assume gay men don’t like sports and, thus, don’t need targeted advertising. Obviously, there’s just some sort of natural kryptonite reflex built into men, when it comes to breasts.

When Professor McGregor comes home tonight, I’m going to try out all these new, amazing lessons I’ve learned from sports advertising. Sure, he said he wanted to come home, make bison steaks and Brussels sprouts, then watch Much Ado About Nothing, but he’s a man! I suppose I’ll throw all those vegetables away, order a pizza loaded with four pounds of cheese, give him a blood test to diagnose his current testosterone levels, and force him into the bathtub instead. Thanks, ESPN!

- Grace