21 October 2013


So, I’m trying to come back from my extended hiatus, especially since my last attempt didn’t go so well. Hi. True to form, I am going to provide meta commentary on the fact that I haven’t been writing here for a while in a quick statement (sorry), then breeze past it and resume my habit of meticulous analysis and unnecessary observations.

As I take a look back at my academic career that I haven’t fully accepted has come to an end (maybe), my mind inevitably drifts to the influences in my life that have shaped the way in which I think.

I’m talking, of course, about female role models.

Like most women of my generation, much of my personality was shaped (and is continuously shaped) by figures in popular culture (that’s not to say that real, concrete women in my life haven’t played a huge role in my development, but this is not the medium to discuss my personal heroines). And, like most women, Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel have played instrumentals in the formation of my conduct and style, because who the hell doesn’t want to be classy and fabulous at all times.

But, what I think is under-appreciated about both these women is their emphasis on simplicity. While it would be amazing to be decked out in Holly Golightly-esque outfits every day (p.s. did not fully grasp the implications of her “activities” until I was much older), the image that comes to mind when I think of Audrey Hepburn at her best is when she is practically bare-faced and dressed monochromatically with minimal accessories. And as for Chanel, didn’t she say that if you look in the mirror and the first thing you notice isn’t your face, then you should take that item off? I learned the hard way that over-accessorizing detracts focus from you, which is simply unacceptable.

I was exposed to these women at a young and impressionable age, which I suppose is to be expected, but when I look at some of the other women I consider highly influential in my life, I realize that it might explain a lot. Some are more normal than others, like Hermione Granger who reassured an eleven-year-old throughout her teenage years and beyond that possessing an intellect is not something about which to be ashamed and reminded that same teenager that being a damsel in distress is not the only option when the world is crumbling to pieces around her. Hermione contained within her the power to literally save the world, and that same power exists within each of us.

As I grew older, I formed a similar attachment to Virginia Woolf. Not that her writings are flawless; I sometimes find her focus too narrow and sheltered, and her privileged background makes some of her musings inaccessible. But her emphasis on consciousness and self-examination in a greater cultural context certainly inform how I piece together my own writings. Another area of contention I have with her writing is that she asserts that good writing should be free of bitterness. While bitterness may be a paralytic to some, I find that it is a brilliant place for me to begin writing, and I accomplish quite a bit by examining a subject that makes me bitter and dissecting the possible reasons for my reaction.

Strangely enough, I am also always intellectually inspired by Victoria Beckham. Yes, Posh Spice. I mean, she’s been a constant figure in my awareness since I was a child. I love that she always looks fierce, if a little pissed, and as someone with resting bitchface, I appreciate that she has made looking angular and intense an art form. I am also not ashamed to say that I have read her book multiple times and she is surprisingly wise and delightful. Who says that having a bitchface means that you can’t be funny too?

I was, and still am, quite taken with Anne Boleyn. I think that one of the biggest clues that I wasn’t quite a normal child was that I would spend hours poring over large history texts about King Henry V and his six wives instead of watching TV or paying attention to where I was walking (on a side note, thank you mom for leading me by the elbow through parking lots because my face was too occupied in a book to look for oncoming cars). Anne Boleyn remains my favorite wife because of her sheer ambition to the point where she was kind of scary. She managed to do something thought impossible, or at least highly improbable, and, in a way, blazed the trail for the women that followed her (bloody) path. And whether or not the rumors about her extra finger or nipple are true, I like to think that she completely owned those disfigurements with a fuck-you attitude and did whatever she wanted regardless. I might be projecting, though.

On a similar note, I think I might have watched The Royal Tenenbaums too many times as a child, because there was a period in my life when I sincerely wanted to be Margot Tenenbaum when I grew up. Not only was she a playwright, but she was also a member of the resting bitchface club with a penchant for eyeliner that rivals my own appreciation. But beyond her enviable aesthetics (you get me, Wes Anderson), she manages to create, despite her apparent bitterness. And, deeper still, behind her rather dour exterior is someone capable of love, as long as that love is earned. Her affection is so much more meaningful.

I will also always have a soft spot for Clarice Starling because she was young and inexperienced, but was recognized for her potential. Throughout Silence of the Lambs, she works hard to prove that that recognition was deserved, even if it means coming face to face (and mind to mind) with the pants-shittingly terrifying Hannibal Lecter, where a single mistake could mean life or death. Not that she handled every interaction perfectly, but she learned quickly and impressively well. On a side note, I might be a little jealous that she has captured Hannibal Lecter’s attention, but I’m trying not to read too much into that.

So maybe I haven’t really gained anything from this session of self-examination, but I do know that I so relish every look of confusion and horror I receive whenever I disclose that my favorite film has to be a tie between Roman Holiday and Silence of the Lambs.


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