it’s impossible to be an antiquated woman

Some people were saying in the comments the other day that I have an antiquated idea of what it means to be a woman.

Melanie said this: I think you have an amazingly antiquated view of womanhood in general. You have absorbed so many beauty standards. You spend time analyzing why you don’t conform to xxx and what is wrong w. you bc you don’t conform to xxx.

When I read that, I felt for a second as though I’d been slapped. Amazingly antiquated? Oh god. I’m terrible! Why am I so bad at being a modern woman? Is there something wrong with me for not being more confident? Since then, I’ve been thinking about what she said. It really confuses me. Which makes me want to think about it more but also makes me feel like I’m not making any progress when I think about it and after a while I just feel kinda stupid.

I don’t think there’s a big difference between having an antiquated view of womanhood and being an antiquated woman. At least not according to what Melanie says. I have an antiquated view. I have absorbed all of these beauty standards. Now they’re inside me. They’re a part of who I am. I can’t stop thinking about them. I am an antiquated woman.

What does it mean to be an antiquated woman?

Melanie suggests feeling bad about your appearance and overanalyzing it. Here are some of my own guesses (based on what pops into my mind when I hear the word “antiquated”): Cooking, cleaning, being in a marriage where your husband makes a lot more money than you, wanting babies, wearing your hair long and styled, making sure your nails are perfect all the time, reading lady mags, being bad at math, wearing tea dresses with pearls.


Or, if we’re talking, like, REALLY antiquated: lace-up corsets and therapy sessions where your doctor stimulates your clitoris for you, since you seem hysterical (that really, really used to happen. Did you guys know that’s how the vibrator was born? Because doctors’ fingers were getting so tired?)

I confess– I do some of those things on the first list. Can you guess which ones? Clue: I don’t have long hair.

But I don’t know any women who don’t do some of those things. And I don’t know any women who have never felt bad about their appearance. Which makes me think that probably all of this is part of being a woman right now. Today. In the modern age.

The truth is, I don’t think there’s such a thing as being an antiquated woman. Everything that a woman who is living right now can be is a part of being modern. If she wants to knit, she’s a modern woman knitting. If she wants to write a book about how real women should submit to their husband’s every whim, she’s a woman I really don’t want to encounter, but she’s still a modern woman, responding to current-day cues.

The questions we should be asking have nothing to do with what is old-fashioned and what is the right way to be contemporary. They have nothing to do with who is a holdover from what generation and who is good at being a hip young woman living in NYC in the present day. They aren’t about what women should think and feel or which of their problems women should care about.

The questions we should ask ourselves about being a woman have everything to do with what makes us comfortable and what makes us uncomfortable. What makes us happy and what stresses us out. What feels right, and what is just really friggin’ annoying.

I’ll start:

What’s the deal with beauty? Why are so many women still struggling with body image issues? Why am I? I don’t like feeling bad about my appearance. It seems pointless. I’m an interesting-looking/ potentially beautiful young woman who sometimes feels like she can conquer the world and sometimes feels like hiding. The fact that I have bouts of self-doubt about the way I look makes me want to stand up and challenge the way I think about beauty. It makes me want to stand up and challenge the way the whole world thinks about beauty. But instead of standing up, I sit down and write about it and probably give myself chronic back problems.

How about relationships? How come marriage is such a hot topic? Is it OK to be young and married? Or older and single? I love being married. Even though a lot of my friends are single and even though I thought I’d be single for a lot longer, I surprised myself by falling in love and jumping happily into a marriage that might look a little traditional from the outside. What I mean by that is, he doesn’t have time to cook, I love cooking. He makes a lot more money than me (which makes my life easier even though it sometimes also makes me uneasy). He is good at math, and I am not. I am trying to figure out who I am in this marriage. I think I might just be me.

How much should I care about my career? I care about it a lot. Too much, I often think, as I’m sobbing quietly into my laptop keyboard with another rejection letter open on the screen, wondering how long I can be a failure before my in-laws tell Bear that he should really think about giving this whole marriage thing another shot with someone with an actual job title (that was an artistic embellishment, in-laws, you’ve been nothing but amazing to me!). Stay tuned. I’m  going to write a post about titles soon.

How about weight loss? I think of this as separate from General Beauty Woes. Everywhere I look, women are trying to lose weight. They’re trying frantically. They’re trying constantly. They’re pretending not to try and trying anyway. Why are women supposed to be so thin? The absolute truth: I don’t spend much time agonizing over my weight. Once in a while, it occurs to me, and I decide to eat nothing but carrots for a year. Most of the time, I have this vague sense that life would be better if I were thinner, but I am not crying about it, the way I am crying about my rejection letter. At the end of the day, I care more about my career than my appearance. That sounds pretty modern to me, if we’re using the random, very loose definition of modern that I seem to be using here. But  I know women and girls who would rather look a certain way than succeed in their work. That’s not an old-fashioned problem. it’s happening right now, everywhere you look.

What I want: to acknowledge that you can care about your career and your appearance and your relationships all at once. The brain is an amazing thing with crazy capacity for multitasking. To never have to pretend that we’ve already solved all of the problems that we want to consider “old-fashioned.”

Eight out of ten of my friends have struggled with some form of disordered eating. Let’s not pretend that weight doesn’t matter anymore. Or beauty doesn’t matter anymore. If I’m feeling it, it matters. My friends aren’t abnormal. I’m not abnormal. None of us are abnormal. We’re real, regular, fantastic women, dealing with the complicated, contradictory, sometimes ridiculous problems that the world throws at us.

I’ve learned a lot by writing about being a woman right now, today, as I am. It’s made me realize that anything you’re thinking about, anything you’re worrying about, any self-doubt you have— it’s more common than you think. And it’s ripe for challenging. So let’s talk about it, over some cake. Because every time I think I’m weird, it turns out there are about a million other people just like me. And every time I notice something awesome about myself, it turns out that I’m right.

Also, cake is good. And I’m pretty sure that’s been around for a long time, too.

*  *   *

Melanie, if you’re reading this, forgive me for ranting a little. It’s not really at you– you just inspired the post.

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in a white dress with a light sweater over it, and a thin belt. Except that I don’t have a thin belt yet. I really want one.



Kate on December 7th 2011 in beauty, being different, body, feminism, writing

50 Responses to “it’s impossible to be an antiquated woman”

  1. Beauzeaux responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    She said you have an antiquated VIEW of women, which you changed into antiquated woman.

    I believe these things are different from one another.

  2. Kate responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    SHEESH. A blogger can’t catch a break around here :-)

    Yes, I did. I did change that, while also addressing the idea of the antiquated “view.” But I actually don’t think viewing my own womanhood in an antiquated way and being an antiquated woman end up being significantly different. Isn’t the way you are as a woman based necessarily on the way you understand being a woman?

    If you’d like to explain how you interpret the difference, feel free.

    At the same time, I have to say, I’m really not into semantic debates. Like I said, the post was inspired by the comment, not a direct response to it.

  3. San D responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    If I were to make a pie chart of the things I think about, “womanhood” would be just a slight sliver. Being a productive human being, helping one person at a time on the planet, loving those around me, enjoying discussing the arts, politics, and the ironies of life, cooking, etc etc etc take up way more space on the pie chart of my mind. I find defining myself just with the word “woman” to be very limiting, don’t you?

  4. Kate responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    @San D
    Hmm….Interesting. I guess that’s true for me to, in the sense that I’m not filtering all of my experiences through the lens of “what does this mean to me, as a woman.” But it also feels pretty clear that being a woman is a part of most of those experiences, whether or not I am thinking about it.

  5. Jess responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    Cooking, cleaning, babies: know why some women still care about this? They like eating, not living in a dirty house, and some people are going to want kids. These are concerns that should be gender neutral. To my knowledge, people of all gender identities generally prefer being clean and well-fed. I will say, as a woman, the process of making a baby affects you much more than a man for the 9 month creative period, so we tend to think about it more.

    I will say that there is something to be said about being feminine in an old fashioned way. Some things were oppressive, sure, but if nobody is forcing you to do it, then I would say frequently, these things worked for a reason. Knitting and sewing? Let me be the first to tell you that they’re fun and useful for all genders. Warm hats and patched pants have no gender identity.

    As for marriage, I don’t think many of us want to be alone in the world, and marriage is no longer a heteronormative thing. A partnership, whether it ends in a legal union or not, is a beautiful thing, and its our job to make it work the way it works for us. Who’s home more? Your job is the bulk of the housework and cooking! Its considered a 1950s stereotype if its a woman and modern if its a man– but at the end of the day your socks are clean, you all have nice things, and expended the same amount of energy getting there.

    I will say that I also believe body image is a genderless problem, but that womens’ issues tend to be a bit more strictly and obviously standardized than mens. We’ve chatted some, Kate, and I know you agree that feeling bad about your body is NOT a female-specific problem. Its a people problem. And last time I checked, you were most definitely a person. But you can’t write about it from a man’s perspective because that is one thing you’re not. (Sorry this got so long!)

  6. Kate responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    I added something to the post, to clarify my thoughts on this. I don’t want people to think I’m talking about something completely unrelated.

  7. Kate responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    True. These things don’t have to be gendered, but often they are, automatically. And you’re right, I can only speak as a woman :-) There are a lot of things I’d like to write about guys and body image, but most of the examples are ones I’m not comfortable writing, because they compromise the trust of people I love and am close with.

  8. Jess responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Which is a perfectly good reason to omit! Its the sort of thing a guest post is good for, but someone would have to volunteer for it, of course :)

  9. P Flooers responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    Sing it sister! And the issues just accrue as you age, doubling if you become a parent.

    Its easy to forget that all women were legally owned property not all that long ago. I knew my great grandmother personally. When she was a young woman she was considered legal property and she did not have the right to vote. As recently as the 1970s I was asked to leave a restaurant because I was wearing PANTS. (For real, and dang, I was hungry too.) To be a woman is to be subject to some cultural baggage.

    Anyone who suggests we’ve resolved the issues of patriarchy are taking a simplistic view similar to those who suggest black people should just sort of buck up and “get over” those lingering social issues caused by slavery. Sorry, would that it could be so easy for everyone, but it ain’t going down like that.

  10. Melanie responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    One Melanie doesn’t think worrying about your appearance makes you antiquated at all. It makes you normal. I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t have issues with their bodies. I am slowly working toward body acceptance, but I have a long way to go.

    I care about my health, my appearance, how clean my house is, my job, loving my friends, family, and boyfriend, and making lovely meals from scratch. I think that makes me pretty dang modern.

    I was anorexic for 5 years and now I’m a fatty, and I like myself way more now than I did back then. That also doesn’t make me antiquated. It makes me lucky. (I do not use fatty as a derogatory term. I am what is considered fat and I’m healthy as heck and happy. I use fatty as an adjective to describe myself, because it’s true).

  11. Kate responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    @P Flooers
    Wow. That stuff takes my breath away. Sometimes I forget how recent some of the scariest things in the world were. Sometimes I forget that some of them are happening right now.

  12. P Flooers responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    Let me put this a different way. At dinner a few months ago with a man in his late 80s, my sister heard something profound. This gentleman put down his fork and said, “I’m old. And there have been huge changes in the world since I was born.* But the very biggest change, I do believe, is in how women are treated.”

    *He was born during the depression. Jim Crow was still in effect and electricity hadn’t made its way through the United States yet.

    Still, the biggest change he’s seen is in how women are treated. There is going to be some serious cultural fall out from such huge changes (and abuses.) And we are working through them.

    Have y’all seen “Mad Men”? Because they water down the sexism and (most definitely) the racism of the time. As bad as it looks in that series, it was much worse in reality. We haven’t come all that long a way, baby. We’ve come a ways. But there is still a far piece to go.

    Wow, I’m ranting. Sorry Kate.

  13. Kate responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    Never apologize for ranting!

  14. P Flooers responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    Kate, you posted your comment as I was posting my second one. Sorry to belabor my point.

    And your detail about “therapists” and clitoral stimulation dropped my jaw, too. FOR REAL? I did not know that! omg!

  15. zoe (and the beatles) responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    What’s the deal with beauty? Why are so many women still struggling with body image issues? Why am I?

    what’s the deal? why do so many women struggle with body image? because we take all our issues with our selves (our character, our person) and project them onto our bodies. self-hatred or self-loathing leads to low-self esteem and body issues. our culture puts so much focus on the outside and neglects to consider the importance of health on the inside, in our minds and souls and hearts. people, particularly women, immerse themselves in the idea of aesthetics and when their outsides don’t match up with our culture’s outline of beauty, all these questions of self-worth and value crop up. suddenly it’s not am i a good person? instead, it’s i’m not a good person because i am not skinny. how the fuck does that make sense? reevaluating what really matters according to YOU as opposed to what really matters according to CULTURE might help shift women away from image issues. at least i really like to think so.

    also, on the subject of old fashioned versus new wave, i want to say nothing is new and nothing is old. ideas recycle themselves in new forms every generation. ideas we thought we shed reappear with new wording. so the idea that modern women have outgrown the “old fashioned” ideas of older generations feels kind of unfounded to me.

    anyway, as always, thanks for making me think kate.

  16. Poetandthepoem responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    It’s funny, I’ve always thought of myself as a sort of antiquated person. Having spent most of my childhood out of school, I spent most that time reading Victorian novels so most of my cultural reference points come from Austen, Bronte and Hardy, rather than from contemporary times. I know parts of Persuasion off by heart, but I only found out recently, at 27, what TGIF means. I tell people I have a Victorian soul, and often feel slightly out of place.

    Every once and while I meet other “antiquated” people, my Canadian lit professor who dresses like he is from the thirties, and people who are as well versed in Victorian literature as I am, and there is an instant nexus there – we understand each other as people who are out of our times.
    Ultimately my point is I wouldn’t be insulted if some called me antiquated. Yes, many things nowadays seem improved, and yet other things are worse. I don’t think contemporary times are necessarily better or worse, just different. We are dealing with different issues now – instead of the sexism of the 50′s, for example, we have the proliferation of women’s bodies everywhere we turn.

  17. NZDeb responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    Lots of thoughts here:
    I find the single biggest factor in feeling good about myself is my consumption of media. I avoid the types of magazines and tv that have unrealistic images of women in them. I fast foward through the ads. I read books with real women in them.
    I noticed each time I’ve been in the US that all the women on TV much more beautiful than in the UK or in NZ – even serious women like news anchors. My instincts tell me that somehow its related to capitalism – the more rampant the capitalism, the more beautiful women have to be.
    Women in continental Europe seem to be much happier with themselves as real, or aging.

  18. Amy responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    I think putting women down and trying to reduce them to a label like “antiquated” is actually antiquated.

  19. poet responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 10:30 pm #

    You are one of the most contemporary on-the-spot writers I know and you prove it again in this piece!

  20. Funny 18+ responded on 07 Dec 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    hello !!!

  21. Alii responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 1:59 am #

    @P Flooers – There’s also a movie coming out called ‘Hysteria’ : . It’s played for laughs, I believe, but it’s inspired by history. Some of the first electrical appliances for the home were vibrators, right up there with vacuums and washing machines. It’s a completely fascinating history, imho. :) And pictures of huge old vibrators that come in cases like power drills is amazing.

    Switching topics, though… *ponders* Honestly, Kate, what this article reminds me most about is bubbles. So did the comment that prompted it and your response.

    When I live in a bubble, my perspective is distorted by that bubble. So when I see you talk about almost exclusively about body image issues, it’s both awesome and, well, soapy. Your blog has its own character and wears the ‘body image discussion’ hat, but it also paints a picture where body image angst infuses all aspects of your life experience. I don’t know how accurate that is, honestly, but I can see how the very nature of the blog lends itself to being soapy and preoccupied sounding, regardless of the full life you live offline. You mentioned that to the commenter that prompted this post, that that’s what this whole blog was about. Still, this post and that comment reminds me of bubbles and it makes me want to arm myself with a pin and go around popping everyone’s bubbles that were blown from the sticky messy of cultural body image strictures. And it makes me want to shake people and say, “Don’t let them get away with putting you in a bubble!”

    I think I’m just rambling, though, it is very late. :)

  22. Jo responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 7:39 am #

    I feel like you may have picked up on the standards being flung around, but the fact that they’re still being flung around means that they’re everyone’s view of womanhood, and therefore not antiquated. Sadly. And that you call them out means that you’re helping make them extinct.
    Plus antiquated isn’t all that bad. Did you know that in the 1920′s and 1930′s there were super high rates of women getting high degrees in maths and science? Rates that weren’t matched again until the 1980′s? In a Grace Hopper autobiography, the author described the trajectory of women’s rights not as a straight onward line, but as a tide, with ebbs and flows and backwards motion. It’s good to have people to guard against the backward motion.

    I really appreciated the comment above about much of this being culturally specific.

  23. Caitlin responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 7:51 am #

    I think this was alluded to in a comment or two, but here is what I feel is the difference between women then and “antiquated” women now – choice. Silly, but whenever I realize that I don’t make as much as my husband, cook meals every day, clean, wash dishes, etc – this is me choosing to take on those tasks. I’m not expected to do them, and if I don’t feel like cooking one night, he just has to figure out how to fend for himself!

  24. mia responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 8:04 am #

    I’m 61, and I think the self-image challenges faced by women have actually gotten worse since I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s. Not only do I find the issues you discuss relevant to women in my 21-year-old daughter’s cohort, but I’m facing them in spades as I grow older and “less attractive.” Right on, sister! Or should I say, Write on!

  25. Amy responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 8:20 am #

    I totally agree with what the other Amy said.

  26. Lynn responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 8:36 am #

    YES!!! Thank you!!!

  27. jeanie responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    I like your point–you’re alive, young and thriving and female in 2011, so that means you’re a modern woman. Period. And your thoughts are modern thoughts, too. Whether something is antiquated is highly subjective, anyway. Some people see getting married and having babies in your early 20s as old fashioned, while others see it as a cutting-edge lifestyle in a time when women feel a lot of pressure to have careers and kids at the same time. It all depends on who is doing the judging. Babies, bodies, marriage–these things are never going away, they’ll always be modern issues that modern women have to think about.

  28. jeanie responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    I feel compelled to write one more thing: I love your blog–your perspective, your style, and the fact that you’ve chosen this topic and are sticking to it. It really is brave to write about body image the way you do instead of pretending you don’t care about it, which is what I try to do in real life even when my thoughts are racing in really negative ways about how I look or what other people will think, etc. And some of my favorite posts are about your career trials and tribulations, since I’m going through much the same thing right now. I think one thing you might not always take into account is your privilege, as a beautiful, well-educated woman living one of the most expensive areas of Brooklyn, happily married with a very loving family. Not everyone has that. A bit of reflection on that every once in awhile would make your blog seem a bit more relatable, and less like you’re living in a bubble, as the above commenter said.
    That said, this is your blog, and you get to write about whatever you want. Thanks for writing!

  29. melissa responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    Yeah, comments are the risk of being online! :D It’s especially confusing because we don’t normally communicate through words alone… words only provide a tiny fraction of the communication, which is why it is so easy to translate this sentence into pretty much anything you could ever want.

    Personally I think those are all normal things to worry about. Heck, I think if those are the things women are worried about then we would be doing pretty darn well!

    I would much rather worry about zits and bad hair than worry about how I can commit suicide. Or how to cross the street without being attacked by someone. Or how to feed myself while homeless. Or how to stay alive in a country that has no clean water and all of my friends/family are dying of dysentery.

    With all of those possibilities, I don’t know how anyone could be angry about women knitting, dieting, mothering, marrying, whatever. Aren’t there more important things to complain about than what a woman might be saying on her blog?

    Keep being you.

  30. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    women worrying about appearance isn’t specific to an era, it has simply evolved along with the women who have evolved with the worries…does that make sense? i have three daughters who never once witnessed me starving myself or obsessing over how much i weighed…they HAVE witnessed me losing weight in a healthy way, eating three meals per day…so that i can lose enough weight to quit smoking without turning into a hog…they know this and i can’t help it…but even before that, all three of them have and still do obsess over their bodies…and i try my best to encourage them to accept themselves as they are, even though at 48 I still don’t follow that rule 100%…it’s hard…and kate, you need to talk about it as much as as often as you can…you are participating in this evolution of womanhood in a very straightforward, important way…how else are we to arrive?

  31. rebecca responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    kate, i love your thoughts and your raves… when they happen. it’s all good! i’m about to turn 46 and know i’ve seen some big changes in how women are treated just during my lifetime. it’s amazing how far we’ve come… and how far we have not. it’s a mixed bag depending upon many factors. i love the thoughts on how many things are culturally driven. it’s true but many folks don’t know that.

    i think a number of stereotypes still exist about women in all areas but especially if you are a lesbian. many people have told me that they consider me pretty “old-fashioned” in many ways… until they find out my secret and then i’m some kind of raving radical. what’s the secret? i’m a lesbian but “don’t look anything like one of them.” see, that right there is insulting to me! what does “one of them” look like? oh, excuse me… i jumped up on that soap box without realizing it was even there!

    i agree with you on the antiquated thing… i see perfectly how you went from having that kind of view to being that kind of woman. coming from an old-fashioned woman, i see nothing wrong with any label you are willing, and happy, to accept.

    speaking of your label blog… when is that coming? do you know the trouble with labels… you hate them mostly but it is terrible not to have one, too. ask any lesbian or gay man… occasionally a label is precious. just my two cents!!

  32. Kellie responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 4:28 pm #


    All I can say is don’t censor one thing you have to say, it’s all good, and very modern–you are speaking your private thoughts aloud–most women/people don’t have the courage to do that! Plus, these thoughts are subject to change, right? It is only after acknowledging them that we can grow.

    I definitely relate to your views of what it feels like to be a woman in this day and age. I have the same insecurities, though I have begun to let go of them slowly–that’s the great thing about age, we do end up loosening up about things a bit. Right before my 40th birthday I got this skin disorder, vitiligo, where my melanin cells have gone dormant, producing some white spots on my skin. If I were any younger I would have been devasted. Now, almost a decade later, I deal have continued to deal with it rather well. I have discovered some great mineral make up and laugh with my best friend about having to put make up on my hands and feet when going out!

    Anyway, thank you for being YOU!! A modern woman!!

  33. Deanna responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    @NZDeb….I love what you wrote. You are so very right about American TV. The other day I was at a meeting in LA with many famous people (or wannabes) and for two days in a row I felt very bad about myself. I started hating my face and my hair and I felt it was the cause of every problem I have.

    As far as antiquated or modern or both…women should have the choice to do what is best for them. Not every woman was meant to be a corporate executive. Not everyone would make a great mommy. Some do both well some do both not-so-well. It should be a choice that works for each woman. If you need to work to pay bills, you work. If your husband earns enough money or your expenses are low, stay home and be a mom. If it works for you, go for it.

  34. Melissa responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 7:58 pm #

    I just wanted to say that you are an amazing woman. I found your blog at random while I was having one of those ‘hate everything about myself’ nights. As I read through so many of your posts I began to feel empowered. If only for the simple fact that I had found something that really hit the core of everything else I had been feeling. I didn’t feel quite so alone and that was wonderful, because the idea of being the only person who thinks these things is awful.

    So thank you for being honest and open and thank you for letting me look at myself in a whole different light. Please don’t ever stop writing.

  35. Kate responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    Thank you for this! I’m honored.

  36. Kate responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    I was busy nonstop today and didn’t get a chance to check back in on these comments, and now I’m reading them all at once and feeling impressed (as usual) and fascinated by what you all have to say. Thank you for the support. And let me see what I want to pick out here, before Bear goes, “Pay attention to me, not your computer!!”

  37. Kate responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    SO TRUE. I love the way you put this. Everything really is a bubble. And that sort of makes everything sound graceful and delicate, too. Maybe they should be delicate, so we don’t get stuck.

    Sometimes my mom worries that the more I write about my body, the worse I’ll feel about it. She reminds me, “You’re confident! Remember?” And then I get emails from college freshmen, telling me how ugly they’re feeling, and how difficult it’s making their lives, and how important it is to keep talking about this stuff. And I don’t want to stop.

    This is maybe mostly a body image blog, but of course there’s more to it (and to me). Because there’s always more to any part of life. Sometimes I’m not sure how to branch off into other topics, since I created this space for that one. Sometimes I’m glad this space, full of thoughts about body image, exists, especially when I feel like those thoughts are lame and stuck in a bubble. It’s nice to have a safe place to share some of the secret lame thoughts that cool young women are supposed to be over already. That I’m supposed to have moved beyond.

    And like everything, it’s complicated. Some days, the way I feel about my body pervades everything else. Some days, it’s the farthest thing from my mind. Oh, life, how unpredictable you are!

    But you probably already knew all that.


  38. Kate responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    I think your interpretation of the word is cool. Way to have a totally different take!

    By the way, I have a friend who you really remind me of in this comment. Life is constantly reminding her of Austen.

  39. Kate responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    I feel awkward addressing this. I think about my privilege a lot, actually, and often it makes me feel guilty and uncertain. Sometimes it makes me feel really lame, in a way. It’s a topic I don’t quite know how to address, and I’m afraid of sounding condescending, so I try to avoid it as much as possible. I sort of trust that no matter what people’s situations are, we share some basic concerns, considerations, strengths, and insecurities, so that’s the arena I try to stay in.

    Do you have any suggestions? I’m very interested in this.

  40. Lindsey Simmons responded on 08 Dec 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    wow Kate very interesting I live in a close knit community, sort of a fish bowl.. You can probably say I’m also antiquated I do the cooking, cleaning, raising the kids and I work. I never thought about it that way. I do what I enjoy and I do it in my own way. If given the choice, I’m not sure if I would change anything. I really do have a feeling of deep satisfaction in all that I do. No one is forcing me. I always have the choice not to. Don’t be so hard on yourself, You are PERFECT!

  41. Kayla Lane responded on 09 Dec 2011 at 1:55 am #


    I realize that you were inspired by the comment and decided to write about something different because that’s what you were inspired to do. However, I am personally disappointed that you did not respond to the comment specifically/continue the dialogue that occurred from that comment. (But perhaps I’m just biased because I wrote a comment in respond and was hoping to hear back!)

    I am a huge fan of your blog, and have increasingly become a bigger fan as of the last few months. However, I do not really think that this post only talked about a small sliver of a larger question that is really poignant and worth talking about.

    … But maybe I should just write my own damn blog post if I’m gonna make such a stink!

    Two cents.

  42. Kate responded on 09 Dec 2011 at 2:10 am #

    @Kayla Lane
    Ha! Thanks for being so polite about the objection.
    What did you want me to address?

  43. Kira responded on 09 Dec 2011 at 7:44 am #

    Hi Kate,

    Thanks for this post–it really resonates with me. I think the fact that you’re being accused of being “antiquated” for discussing widespread, absolutely contemporary issues of body image and femininity is part of a subtle kind of anti-feminism that tries to silence women who are speaking about so-called “women’s issues” by accusing them of being old-fashioned and unsophisticated. This kind of discourse implies that women are worthwhile only as long as they engage in acts that have been historically masculine and don’t think too much about feminine pursuits–like beauty, and body image, and cooking, and childrearing.

    If you discuss historically feminine topics and point out that longstanding cultural traditions are still significant to women today, you paradoxically run the risk of being accused of perpetuating them, even though you’re really thoughtfully examining them and bringing them into the light. You can’t win!

    Except you can. By continuing to write, by giving voice to the experiences you have as a modern women, by thoughtfully examining your motivations and their cultural cues. By changing the discourse. Please keep doing so!


  44. tirzahrene responded on 09 Dec 2011 at 11:26 am #

    I think the fact that people read your blog right there says that the issues you’re thinking about (sometimes) and talking about (here) are very much relevant to at least some of us, and that your thoughts are very much appreciated. I mean, I weed my Google Reader regularly. I like that you think and write about this stuff. (Also, I <3 that you were homeschooled too. Even though it was very different from how I was homeschooled.)

    I'm very much a feminist AND (notice I said "and," not "but") sometimes I really feel at home with the longstanding traditions. My brain thinks about food and people. My life ambitions are nearly all people-related. So are my priorities. The ones that aren't people-related are related to "If I do these things, I will have a pretty livable life. Let's do it." I like doing the homebody stuff. And I'll fight tooth and nail for the rights of us all to do OR NOT DO this stuff. Including think about our looks.

  45. Sooz responded on 09 Dec 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    Hmmm….my brain is bubbling and simmering with the ideas you have put forth in this post. Thanks for making me think, Kate. :)

  46. Girls Are Made From Pepsi » Sunday Hustle 11/12/11 responded on 10 Dec 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    [...] Do old fashioned values still exist? Apparently not. (Eat the Damn Cake) [...]

  47. Grace responded on 12 Dec 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    I’m a little late to the party on this post, but I just wanted to add my two cents. :) My life actually mirrors yours in several ways. I’m in LA, but I live with my boyfriend, and he’s the main money-maker in our home while I’m the creative one trying to chisel out a career for myself. I was raised by my mum, a fabulously smart and independent woman, and consider myself very strong and modern, but I think about the above things all. The. Time. Career-wise? I worry that I’m not doing enough, or that my man’s fam is secretly wondering why I haven’t achieved Lady Gaga-like stardom yet (it’s not as easy as it looks!!!) Body-wise, I vascilate back-and-forth between thinking I need to work out more so my thighs will be thinner, and deciding that several cookies a day is the only practical way to plump up my boobs. It’s absurd, it’s complicated, and I think you’re right–there’s no one way of going about it. Thanks for such an insightful post…as far as I’m concerned, you rock! :)

  48. Emily M.M. responded on 11 Jan 2012 at 6:30 am #

  49. Eat the Damn Cake » marrying down responded on 13 Feb 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    [...] meetings a lot. I don’t. He is mathy. I am artistic. In many ways we fit some sort of antiquated gender stereotype that inspired my brother to buy me a frilly apron for my birthday (I [...]

  50. Dev responded on 08 Dec 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    Here is an article about how, even today, many women have no choice but to be “antiquated women”: