In anticipation of the release of Magic Mike XXL, The Pool’s Lynn Enright wrote about how the original Magic Mike and it’s buffet of abs and men’s muscled curves helped her get over a heartbreak. It’s a piece about learning to respect strippers, falling in brain fog lust, and Channing Tatum’s V – that bunching of muscles in his lower abdomen that makes your body groan yes. It’s also a really empowering article about female sexuality.
“Just like that, seeing Channing Tatum dance and, yeah, take his clothes off, suddenly, I understood lust. Aged 29, the true meaning of a word I’d known since childhood became clear to me. Of course, I understood tortured romantic love, and the clinging, sexy desperation that accompanies it, and fancying someone who you also know is very brainy, and thinking someone who has read lots of the same books as you has nice eyes, but that sort of pure lust – I’d never felt that.”
If you attended college, you’re somewhat aware of the weird world that is competitive debating. Writer and former world champion debater Sally Rooney’s essay for The Dublin Review on this foreign land and the allure it held for her is one my must-reads of the year.
“College debaters are just students wearing ill-fitting formal clothes, and most of them aren’t even very good. But, crucially, some of them kind of are. When I first started attending college debates, I was a nearly friendless teenager living away from home for the first time; for me, the most talented speakers seemed to possess a subtle power and command that was almost glamorous. I started watching debates every week, just sitting in the audience, mostly on my own. I studied the speakers’ retorts and gestures, and tried to replicate them in everyday conversation. I even nursed intense romantic obsessions over droll counterfactuals.”
Growing older means many things. You reconcile yourself to the fact you can’t please everyone. Your smile’s brackets grow more stubborn. Politicians inspire a wash of grey anger every time you listen to Morning Ireland. The people around you start to get sick. Stylist and journalist Jo Linehan’s essay for The Coven on her aunt’s Alzheimer’s made me stop still earlier this year. It’s beautiful and will resonate with anyone who has to watch a loved one fade away.
“Before, my visit was a welcome detour in the day. I was quizzed and questioned, every achievement and travel noted, she garnering every detail of my life’s developments, mentally bookmarking them to relay to customers and townspeople later, “My niece Jo …” Now, that wonder never passes her small, straight lips.”
Jerry Saltz: How and Why We Started Taking Kim Kardashian Seriously (and What She Teaches Us About the State of Criticism)
I think 2015 was the year we started seeing Kim Kardashian as more than the celebrity of the moment, and I wish detractors would read this piece and genuinely consider the points it makes about our modern culture.
“I think that we may be turning a corner away from what I think of as takedown culture. Of writers, commentators, critics, or those in authority taking to the airwaves or wherever and laying people low, grousing, snipping, passing all sorts of extraordinarily general disparagements of whole professions or trying to take someone out altogether. It all comes from cynicism, the feeling that the system is corrupt and that everything is rigged and nothing is what it seems. We all love a good critical catfight, but somehow, with these catfights and cynical demonizations becoming the way of mainstream media, I perceive the wider culture and the art world slowly trying to separate out and isolate this behavior for what it is: Headline-grabbing, grandstanding, gasbags, people scared of change, or afraid of going deeper.”
Women’s media is obsessed with confidence. So much so that the coupling of the words ‘imposter’ and ‘syndrome’ now evoke a drawing blood reaction in me. I know it exists. I know women have suffered a millennia of mistreatment and internalised a severe lack of certainty in our abilities. But I don’t know if the daily dump of mantras and genteel advice on how we should believe in ourselves will actually change things. I want practical resolutions. Which is why Mindy Kaling’s Guide to Killer Confidence, published in Glamour, spoke to me like a clanging bell. It is an ode to hard work and a large dash of entitlement. Forget the feel better pastel quotes on Instagram – channel Mindy instead.
“Confidence is just entitlement. Entitlement has gotten a bad rap because it’s used almost exclusively for the useless children of the rich, reality TV stars, and Conrad Hilton Jr., who gets kicked off an airplane for smoking pot in the lavatory and calling people peasants or whatever. But entitlement in and of itself isn’t so bad. Entitlement is simply the belief that you deserve something. Which is great. The hard part is, you’d better make sure you deserve it.”
Huge generalisation, but the two markers you’re a woman in your mid-twenties are a Mists of Avalon attraction to astrology and an agony aunt column reading habit. Dear Polly is New York Magazine’s sage giver-of-advice and her responses are always ace and empathetic. There are a host of entries I could have spotlighted, but this missive from a woman whose own professional and personal life is happy but whose family is riddled with broken relationships, “intense grief and helplessness” and mental illness, felt universal. It’s not so much a problem, as dealing with life. Polly’s reply is on point. Yes, it can seem helpless, but don’t forget you can help yourself sometimes.
“I don’t have a lot of concrete advice for getting through this on a mundane level. Without a doubt, you need to exercise vigorously at least five days a week. Your sanity will pay a big price if you don’t. You should get plenty of sleep every night on a regular schedule. You should eat very healthy things. Tell your friends you need them. Keep a journal. Take exceptionally good care of yourself, every step of the way. Read great books and watch sad movies and connect with the heaviness in the world and witness how other people have done so without sinking completely.”