Thursday, October 23, 2014

Playing it Cool: The "Cool Girl" Complex

Ever have a moment where you read something or see something and it just instantly resonates with you on a close and personal level? Well, I've recently had that kind of a moment with the movie/book Gone Girl. I loved it so much that I watched in theaters twice and am now reading the book. Even a couple weeks later, I just can't stop thinking about the crux of the novel, the "cool girl" tirade.

Here is an excerpt of her rant to give you some background (Note: this has been edited for clarity and vulgarity, but the full text can be found here!)
"Men always say that as the defining compliment, don't they? She's a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer... Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don't mind, I'm the Cool Girl."
First of all I want to clarify that this speech isn't to imply that some women can't enjoy football and beer and also be stunningly beautiful at the same time. Rather it showcases how women feel the need to edit who they are to conform to a man's ideals and desires. But the key takeaway I got was the fact that a Cool Girl never gets angry. Setting down boundaries or asking for respect from your partner almost instantaneously makes you a bitch.

I'll admit it (and I'm sure I'm not alone on this one) that I have tried my very best to be a Cool Girl. You're going to be an hour late and I'm already at the restaurant? No problem, I'll just hang out! You would rather go to the bar and get drunk with your friends than meet my parents? Have a ball! I don't give a shit what you do! Those are real things that I've done that are really bothersome to look back on.

Why on earth did I lie and say that I was fine with something when really I was pretty angry about it? Why was I scared to object and ask that a man respect me and the plans he made with me? It's because I wanted to be the Cool Girl. I wanted them to love me and think that I was the greatest girl in the world because I was fun and never got mad about anything. Because if I said no, you can't go out with your friends because you made a promise to me I'm instantly the bad guy. Funny how a woman simply asking to be treated with respect makes her the nag that nobody wants to date.

Movies have been giving us unrealistic expectations of relationships for our whole life, so why does it matter anymore this time? I think the answer lies in the fact that this is a more believable, subtle lie perpetrated by our popular culture. It's generally understood that the busty super model isn't generally a real life attainable woman. But the Cool Girl, she's played in the understated, I'm just so average and cool I can't be made up. I was created to be the real woman for the masses. 

So we try and we try to make ourselves more Cool and fun and quirky and laid back to win over the hearts of men that are breaking ours by treating us like a doormat. We let men and society put us into categories (once again!) of either super fun or neurotic and bitchy, when it's really more like we're the doormat or the self-respecting woman.  

In the end, I guess our only defense is to be ourselves, unashamed of the fact that we don't know everything about football or that we expect our significant others to keep plans. While we can't fight Hollywood, we can fight our own willingness to become yet another stereotype of the ideal woman. 

I may not be an ideal woman or a Cool Girl, but I am myself for all of my flaws and triumphs and I encourage you to attempt to embrace that a little more, because what makes you awesome is your uniqueness not your eagerness to please. 

Stay Classy,
Hayley XO

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lions, Tigers, Ebola, Oh My!!

Now that Ebola has officially infected two people in the United States let’s watch the widespread panic ensue! While I have no medical training and absolutely no authority to speak of the disease in terms of how concerned you should be, there is a separate side to all mass epidemics that is not founded in fact, intelligence, or common sense, that I feel comfortable speaking to, the racist/discriminatory side effects.  

This morning, while listening to the radio on my commute to work, they were discussing the second healthcare worker to be diagnosed with Ebola and the extreme measures some people are going to, to protect themselves. During this discussion KSYN radio host, Big Al brought up whether or not you should be scared if you have a Liberian taxi driver.

Wait… what? Let’s stop right there and examine that statement before we even go into his rationale for making it. First, stereotyping that your only contact with people of West African descent will be in taxis because everyone knows that only Africans and Indians drive taxis! Also, I have a sneaking suspicion that African will pass as close enough to Liberian for most people.

He continued further to say, should we be concerned if he’s had other passengers that were also from West Africa and could possibly be infected. Once again, throwing down the casual racism by assuming that other Liberian nationals would only choose to ride in a taxi driven by a fellow Liberian. I’m sure there’s some kind of App for that similar to but called

While I can vaguely/sort of/not really see where he was coming from with this logic it’s entirely based on stereotypes and backwards logic. If you regularly use taxis then, yes, you do have more reason to be concerned because your driver (regardless of his nationality) does come into relatively close contact with various people coming from a variety of places. But please don’t assume that because he is African or seems to appear African that he is Liberian and, therefore, infectious.

This is just one instance of what I’m sure will become an epidemic in itself. Another example being a relative of mine being afraid to post pictures of visitors from Eastern Africa being hosted by her church because people may think they brought Ebola with them. Despite the incredibly large geographic distance between them and countries experiencing infections.

Every disease and epidemic have its victims both in physical death tolls and in societal toll and the Ebola outbreak will be no different. So feel free to wear masks and rubber gloves every time you go out in public and use hand sanitizer till you pass out from the fumes, but please hold the racism and don’t fuel the panic because the internet will do plenty of that for you!

If you are uninformed or would like to be more informed about general information concerning the disease I strongly recommend checking out this handy fact sheet!

Stay Classy,

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Is everyone getting married without me?

For everyone not in the Midwest, this may not be as much of an issue right now. But for all of us living in the very exceptionally landlocked part of the country, saying that everyone you know is getting married or having children may actually be true. In fact, I don't have enough fingers to count all the people that are my age (22) or below that are married or engaged that I've been friends with. It's sort of a surreal feeling to imagine people like you spending the rest of their lives with someone when you still feel like you're that awkward girl with the braces and cat eye glasses that was dying to be kissed.

So why does it feel like everyone is getting married? And why is it totally okay if they are and you're still in the single ready to mingle point in your life.

First off, the reason that you seem to feel surrounded by married couples and soon to wed ones is because you have much greater access to acquaintances and not super close friends lives. Before people had Facebook and Instagram to bombard with photos of their ring and dress and flowers and #MCM husband the only way you found out was through word of mouth or the announcement in the newspaper. If you limited everyone you know that's engaged or married to only posting one thing about  it, I bet it will seem like a whole lot less than you felt like before.

But all that being said. There is nothing wrong with people being super excited about the person they are going to spend the rest of their lives with. I mean, I can hardly restrain myself from posting every single picture I take of my beautiful niece because I want to share with the world how incredible she is when she makes one of her 5 different infant faces. Being excited is the completely natural thing to do and wanting to over share is pretty normal also.

The problem becomes when you take their gushing about their love as a challenge or an attack on how your love life is going. I firmly believe that 99.999% of the time it has absolutely nothing to do with you (sorry).

But still, you say, it makes you feel your single hood even more (grabbing the nearest cat and a pint of Ben and Jerry's). The biggest mistake you are making probably lies in that you are ignoring all the totally awesome things you have done too. For myself I went on a super awesome adventure and got a dog and have now realized I have a long way to go before I should ever be responsible for another human being.

Just don't let this happen!

I guess the problem is that we try to turn our lives into one big marathon. We assume that we're all on this same path and that these people are meeting checkpoints ahead of us. When in reality it's like we're running in completely different races or maybe aren't wanting to be in a race at all!

So maybe everyone is getting married (probably not completely true but we can go with it), SO WHAT? Be happy for them but also be happy for yourself. Our accomplishments aren't limited to specific categories like relationships, worldly experience, education... they are open to being anything in the whole world which is pretty awesome.

And if none of that works at least you get to go shopping because you're going to need some outfits to wear to all those weddings.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Hometown Blues: Getting Back to Normal

I apologize for the lack of posts recently, crazy (wonderful!!!) things have been happening. I will begin posting regularly once a week from now on. 

When I say "going back" I don't mean returning to Argentina, rather I'm talking about going back to the life I had before Argentina. I knew that studying abroad changed you and you would experience reverse culture shock when you got home, but I just didn't expect it to be like... this.

Exciting things like this munchkin! 

I thought that when I came back after studying abroad life would be exactly as it was before I left. For the most part, that is true. Things haven't changed all that much, but I have. It's like I'm looking at everything through different colored glasses now and it's familiar but slightly different.

The biggest challenge by far is dealing with the sense that my life is now boring. In Argentina, to be honest, I didn't feel like it was really all that exciting. Sure hoping a bus to go hike in the mountains for the weekend or hang out on the beach was no big deal. It became so normal that it didn't seem adventurous at the time. Now confined to everyday life of school, work, watching TV it seems like none of that can bring you the same rush as your adventures abroad.

Part of my problem also was that I was home for a good month and a half with no job and no one to spend time with during the day because everyone had jobs or school or their lives to carry on with. Winter breaks have always been rough for me, with the lack of structure and the feeling of isolation from your friends that have become a part of your daily routine.

I found myself in a major funk. I knew that I had friends I could have called to do stuff with. I had places I could have gone to visit if I had tried. In reality, I brought the boredom on myself. That "funk" creates a feeling of hopelessness about everything which prevents you from seeing clearly. Thankfully though I've managed to finally shake it off.

My dog Jazzy helped give me a sense of purpose. 

Going through this odd period after returning home, I think I can see what I did wrong and what would have really helped me readjust without having to feel depressed. So here is my advice to you whenever making any life transition, whether it be returning from travel or graduating school or leaving a job.

  • Wake Up: When you have nothing to do for the day, it's easy to just sleep it all away until the early hours of the afternoon. Even though you can, don't. Force yourself to wake up at reasonable time everyday to help keep you from turning into a potato. 

  • Dress Up: This one sort of falls into faking it till you make it. Getting dressed and doing whatever normal routines you would usually do (make-up, styling your hair, etc.) helps you keep that normalcy also and will make sure that you are ready if the opportunity for an adventure does arise. 

  • Busy Yourself: Find something to do, anything at all. The 6 week or so period that I was at home was such a random amount of time I couldn't really do any work. But don't let that stop you. Find something to do, even if it's just volunteering to walk your neighbors' dog every day at a certain time. Having a purpose will motivate you to do other things. 

  • Plan Adventures: One of the biggest things I learned in Argentina was independence and how little I had explored my own home. Let those things apply still after you get off the plane and check out new things nearby, even if you have to do it solo. 

  • Ask for Help: I think this one is the most important of all. Don't bottle up your feelings because you're embarrassed. Let your friends and family know if you're not quite feeling like yourself. They're good to vent to and will also help get you back into a routine. 

While I was ready for experiencing culture shock going to Argentina, I was not prepared for the hole in my heart leaving would create. The turning point for me was getting a dog and a brand new beautiful niece that both gave me a sense of purpose I had been lacking. But don't wait for some life changing event to knock you out of a weird mood. 

I learned abroad to be independent and adventurous and to constantly challenge myself with things I never thought I could do. I just momentarily forgot all of that when I stepped off the plane. But now I know better for my next trip!