Archive for the 'perfection' Category

don’t marry him

I couldn’t write anything yesterday except for poems about Sandy Hook. I couldn’t stop reading the articles. And today, instead of writing about that, because I don’t feel able, I’m writing about something else entirely. 


I finally read “Marry Him,” by Lori Gottlieb. She’d written that big Atlantic piece a while back, and then the book, which is an argument in favor of settling for a good-enough man (if you’re straight and want to get married, otherwise she’s not writing for you), because you’re probably not going to find a perfect one.


I don’t know what made me want to read the book. No, I’m lying—I’m remembering now. It was a comment under her recent piece in the Times Magazine about therapy branding. Someone said something like “EYEROLL! Like I’m going to believe anything from the woman who single-handedly convinced women that they were nothing without a man and should marry the first lame guy who came along so that they didn’t have to die alone. Thanks A LOT, Lori.” Or something to that effect.

And I was curious, because single-handedly convincing women that they are nothing without a man sounded sort of impressive for one book. And I’m sick. So my brain sucks right now.

So I read it.

And I’m still not exactly sure what I think, which is why I’m writing about it.

Basically, Gottlieb argues that when women are in their twenties, they reject everyone, all the time, because they’ve learned that a better guy will come along and they will eventually settle down with him. But even when great people come along, these women continue to reject them, because there might be someone better out there. And then, all too soon because time is so fickle, the women are almost forty, and the good men are taken, and now the women have to either learn to make compromises, or they can just up and die alone, forty-five or so years later.

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Kate on December 19th 2012 in life, marriage, perfection, relationships

you are not vain

I am lying in bed, sick, watching Hulu because the inspiration has drained out of me. And the holiday commercial for Victoria’s Secret replays and replays. I can’t look away.

Supermodels with breasts like plastic fruit, so round, move in slow, calculated adjustments, their skinny flanks decorated with proud ribs- a precise school of dolphins, surfacing suggestively.

“Love me,” they murmur. “Desire me.” They say it as though they already know that we do. Sometimes a voice whispers, but their mouths don’t open, as though it’s the lingerie talking. They smile wickedly, sweetly, smugly– whichever way they’re supposed to.



After all these years of living in this country, in this city, in this culture, I am still faintly surprised for some reason, that they are almost naked. I don’t know why. It’s a reaction that comes up from childhood, maybe, from somewhere deep and certain. I am indignant at their nakedness, because I can’t seem to avoid it. I don’t have a choice except to keep shutting my eyes and turning away.

“It doesn’t matter,” I tell myself. “Why should it matter?”

When I was a kid, standing in line at the grocery store with my mom, I felt like I couldn’t look away from the women on the covers of the magazines, with their glossy skin and upthrust breasts and pouting lips and sultry, shadowed cheekbones. They were always women, and they were always sexy. Occasionally, a man is on the cover of something, but often he is wearing a sharp suit that covers everything. Often, a woman is completely naked, with strategically placed hands, or flowers, or something ironic and playful that references a recent role she’s been cast in. Money, puppies, whatever.

But women who speak of the pressure they feel to look a certain way, who agonize, who fixate, who buckle under the pressure, who get cosmetic surgery, who complain, who mention our insecurity—we are considered vain.

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Kate on December 13th 2012 in beauty, body, perfection, writing

it’s fair to be disappointed by how you look

The truth is, my face has let me down. I thought it would turn out prettier, with better bone structure. As a kid, I thought that because I was good at stuff, I was pretty too, or at least should be. Good and pretty should go together.

My belly has let me down. It refuses to be sucked in.

My proportions are not neat, tight, sexy. I see a friend in something glamorous, and I know it won’t work on me. I might wear it anyway, but it won’t look the same.

And I am disappointed, sometimes, in how I turned out, physically.

I think that’s fair.

I used to think I should swallow the disappointment or ball it up and stuff it into a corner, plug the hole where uneasiness seeped in. I should smile more, put my shoulders back and face the world and be thankful and look myself in the mirror and say, “Damn it, you’re beautiful, woman! You’re beautiful because you look like yourself!”

But I have all of these other images of what beauty looks like stuck in my eyes, so that they waver, floating, translucent, over my face. All of these other faces taunt my own. And they’re the pretty ones. They are how I should have looked, might have looked, if I were luckier.


And I think it’s fair to think that way, because it’s true, there are so many images of beauty that we’ve all memorized. And there is so much certainty about them. And there is so much belief in beauty as something critical for girls and women. And when people don’t like the women who write things on the internet, they call us ugly.

“UGLYUGLYUGLYUGLY” yelled a man from the comments under this blog. A scream of rage. How can such ugly an woman be allowed a voice? Ugly women are worthless! Women who say things that people don’t like are ugly! Being ugly is the worst thing a woman can be! 

But it isn’t the disappointment in my appearance that I want to address, now. Because I think that’s fair and to be expected.

Instead, I want to remind myself of the ways I have surprised myself by being better than I expected.

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Kate on November 30th 2012 in beauty, body, nose, perfection, weight

horrible fragility

I used to think that if I could change something about myself it’d be my nose. I’d give myself this straight, fine, elfin nose that authors are always ascribing to the faces of graceful women characters. The kind of women who look good even when they’re really tired.

And then I thought that it would be my neck. To be a graceful woman, you need a long, slender neck, according to so many movies. I have watched too many movies, probably. I probably care too much about grace.

And then, later, I thought, no, I need my legs to be different—longer, leaner, more coltish. Coltish because we women are always basing our beauty on very young things.

But right now, I don’t really care about any of that. If I could change something, it would be inside my head. I would change this strange fragility. This dangling blown glass orb of my mind that catches the light and spills tiny rainbows everywhere, but that is always waiting for the fall. That shudders at being brushed against, spinning, bobbing, set into frantic motion.


Of course I’m a writer, I think sometimes, when I’m angry at my mind. Writers are classically depressed, stereotypically anxious. Writers dance along the thin line of sanity, slipping eloquently over sometimes, describing it in all the right adjectives.

Writers are often a little unhinged.

Or maybe they just tell us about it.

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Kate on September 14th 2012 in being sad, fear, life, perfection

stop waiting to be prettier

You know that moment, where you’re gripping some of your side fat in the bath, and you just ate all of the leftover spaghetti at once, with pesto and tomato sauce and grated cheese and, weirdly, liverwurst, and you’re thinking, “Tomorrow I will go to the gym. And then I’ll go every day after that, for the rest of my life. And I will lose weight. It’ll be easier than I expect it to. And then my hair will grow out and it’ll be thicker than last time. And then I’ll be prettier. And then I’ll wear sleeveless dresses all the time and I’ll be happy”?

(like this! source)

That moment is lying to you.

I don’t know when I learned it, but somewhere along the way to twenty-six, I had very deeply, very seriously internalized the idea that after I got prettier, things would be better.

You have to think that way, to get cosmetic surgery.

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Kate on September 12th 2012 in beauty, body, nose, perfection

the extreme importance of letting yourself be occasionally ugly

First, winner of the bra giveaway is M, from comment #51! M, please send me an email and I’ll hook you up! HAHA! Sorry. 

I was hanging out with my mom and her friends from high school the other day, and they were like, “Are you going to write about this?” Because people always say that to me. And then they said, to each other, “She’s going to write ‘They were so old! It was kind of sad. They seemed to be trying to look good, but they were just so old and sad…’”

In reality, I thought they were awesome. Fantastically witty, playful Jewish women who do voices and gesture big and tell lots of jokes that start “So a rabbi and a priest were on a plane…” I got that wonderful feeling that I want to always get—that one that goes “God, I have a lot to look forward to.”

But anyway, we started talking about body image, because my mom was like “so Kate is writing this book about body image!”

And I was like, “Um…sort of. But we definitely don’t need to talk about that.” Because it is embarrassing to just start talking about how I learned to hate the way I look. And how I got two nose jobs. (For some reason, writing about it feels completely different.)

I like the part of the story where I start this blog and start to feel good, but it takes a while to get there. Which is what makes it a story, I guess.

But my mom wanted me to talk about body image. She’s got to be proud of me, she’s my mom.

And we all ended up in this big conversation about beauty and everyone was talking about how hard it is to convince yourself that you look good, especially if your mom told you things like “honey, you should really go on a diet.” And how it continues to be hard for a very long time. Maybe your whole life. How do you even get to that place, where you feel beautiful?

I think you have to work on it, like anything else, I said.

Some of the women seemed a little skeptical, and I was embarrassed. Here I was, telling a roomful of fifty-somethings to “work on it.” I had this niggling, jittery sense that I was forgetting some critical piece of the puzzle.

I looked down at the tablecloth. I muttered something about self-acceptance being a journey. And then I remembered.

“It’s not just about feeling beautiful,” I said. “It’s about letting yourself be ugly, too.”

And everyone looked at me. Because that maybe sounds stupid.

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Kate on September 3rd 2012 in beauty, being different, body, fear, nose, perfection, uplifting

cold feet

I made my biggest decision, choosing a husband, without even a moment’s hesitation. I met Bear, he had an incredibly sweet face, his insulin syringes made me feel at home, and he was so comfortingly hairy.

“It seems fast,” he said, of friends of ours, “To get married after only two years.”

“How long would you wait?” I asked.

He blushed. “I don’t know, five?”

“No,” I said. “Two is good.” I heard my own voice, but I was a little amazed at the confidence in it.

“Wait,” he said, staring. “You would marry me?”

“Of course!” I said. “But you have to really ask.”

He made a shocked sound, somewhere between a laugh and an exclamation. And then he was silent, grinning.

We had known each other for, what—four months? But I was positive. I had already chosen.

And after I’d chosen, I sailed through the rest. The engagement, the wedding—I didn’t pause for a second. People think that’s the hard part. Committing to another person for your whole life.

But the hard part for me has been the house.


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Kate on July 2nd 2012 in fear, life, marriage, new york, perfection