Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
Despite employing austerity measures in my home for the next month till taking the bar exam (canceling cable, putting newspaper delivery on hold, teetotaling), I could not avoid reading the New York Times Magazine article in Sunday’s paper about marriage and infidelity that has gripped the cultural zeitgeist ever since.
Ugh. It all makes me so exasperatedly hopeless. The article by Mark Oppenheimer called Marriage With Infidelities is another very well reasoned argument against being completely faithful in marriage. I strongly recommend you read it, but the gist is essentially a profile of Dan Savage, the popular sex columnist’s belief that marriage in today’s day and age should strive to be mostly monogomous. But a couple should talk openly and honestly about sexual desires and allow one another a few indiscretions from time to time so that they can remain in a stable committed relationship over time. He makes a compelling case.
I’m starting to buy that the rational reasonable thing to do is talk openly with your spouse about sexual desire and understand that especially for men sometimes sex is just sex and allowing a few flings over the years doesn’t detract from a healthy marriage. It makes sense. But the problem is, I suspect like many women, when reading this I can completely understand why it’s the logical, perhaps even smart conclusion and yet I can’t help hoping that I end up in the minority of marriages that are truly faithful and monogomous. In other words, this is all fine with me as long as I’m the exception.
So what I’m obsessing over is if intellectually I recognize that allowing a few meaningless sexual indiscretions is a smart choice, why does the thought of it make my stomach tie up in knots? Why emotionally is this so hard for me to swallow? I genuinely believe that men can have meaningless sex. (Of course some women can too, but I know I’m not one of them.) But nonetheless, I do believe a man can have sex with a woman and not cheat with his heart – as in, he still only loves and cherishes his spouse. But the thought of allowing that in my own life and marriage one day, makes my own heart feel weighted down.
Even if I tell myself, that sexual indiscretions are no different than viewing pornography, I can’t make it the same to my heart. The truth is sexual desire is so complicated. I think it’s completely unreasonable to expect that a husband never look at porn because I think it’s unreasonable to expect that over a lifetime a man would only never desire anyone but his spouse. So I would never consider pornography a betrayal because the vows of marriage are not to be pure in thought, but rather to be pure in action. It’s the choice to act on the desire that tears me up inside.
But still, why is that? I understand and expect that a husband over a lifetime will desire other women. I recognize that a man is capable of having meaningless sex that would not effect his feelings or commitment to a relationship. And yet, the thought of it happening to me makes me sick. Why am I so unevolved?
Why is it that I want fidelity so badly? Why do I want him to be all mine? To have his body belong to me and mine to him. I don’t understand it well but I know I want the act of making love to be a little piece of the world’s experience that only belongs to him and me. Something we share that no one else in the world can claim. A territory of ownership that nothing in the universe can cast asunder. Some of it is also selfishness. Part of why I hold marriage in such high estimation is to me it’s the promise of knowing you will never be alone again. You will always have someone with you. And part of ensuring that is sex. Knowing that your husband will always turn to you for sex ensures that he will always come back to you I suppose. Part of it, is jealousy. The thought of his hand on her body when I know it’s supposed to be on mine makes me seethe. I want his hand to always rove on my body and no one else’s. I want to know that I always matter to him. I want to know that when he’s away on business and at a bar and a little drunk and flirting with a hot younger girl that instead of putting me out of his mind and giving in to what feels good and natural, that he does the hard thing and remembers me and the promises he made and chooses me over the temporary pleasure the sexy girl in front of him might bring.
It’s a part of him he only shares with me. No one else. I get him. Me. Period. The End. The side of him that you see only when you lay your head next to his on the pillow belongs to me. Even if it is only sex and nothing more that is still something. Sex is a revelation of who are at your most basic primal level. You’re naked literally and emotionally and your primary purpose at that moment is to feel something that’s an expression of your most animalistic desires. So when you’re faithful, you’ve decided to share that most basic fundamental revelation about whom you are to only one person. Only your wife gets to know you like that. And that still feels special.
Are any of these feelings justification enough to remain unevolved and hope against reason that your partner is faithful to perpetuate the dying institution of marriage? I don’t know. But I know I can’t make those feelings go away. And as long as I do, the only way for me not to be miserable is to believe that someone will be faithful to me forever. I’m not naive enough to think that love always does conquer all. But I have to believe in this case, that love can conquer indiscretions.
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June 30, 2011 | 10:43 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I am back from my whirlwind weekend in France. My job as Demoiselle d’honneur is officially over. And Tess is a wife.
Going into this weekend, I didn’t really think that a French groom and an American bride would lead to a large culture clash. It wasn’t like Tess was marrying a Muslim man from Saudi Arabia – that would be something worth working up into a frenzy over.
But while at this wedding, I realized just how different the worlds the two lovers come from are. I looked over at my parents’ table to see a bunch of well-coiffed Diane Von Furstenberg-attired Valley Jews comparing the Filet de Boeuf to the steak they had at the new Nancy Silverton restaurant last week. On the other side of the room sat a bunch of rural French women in floor length paisley dresses who know how to make their own wine/cheese/butter still smoke indoors and had probably met a Jew for the first time when they met Tess. I realized what Tess’s mother had been up trying to create a wedding fete where all these types of people could have a good time. But beyond the wedding, I also realized how relevant and present your spouse’s background can be in a marriage.
How important is it to marry someone with a similar background? For most people, we marry someone like us – similar income level, similar religion, similar political affiliation, similar age. That’s why it stands out so much and makes for such good gossip when there’s a large disparity in one of these markers. But does this convention that you usually marry someone similar to you exist because that’s the way to make for better marriages? Perhaps it’s just the result of us spending time with people that are similar to us.
But the real question for me became, when you marry someone from a different background, have you chosen to make life more difficult for yourself? It seems like the odds are so against you in making a marriage work at all that are you just worsening your odds if you marry someone from a different country, different religion, different upbringing, different language? Or does none of this matter if you marry someone you know you will love and will love you forever? Do all of these little distinctions just become details that are a backdrop to a love story?
This wedding was a beautiful romantic French countryside wedding that in some ways was probably the wedding many little girls dream about. And yet, almost everything that happened was subtly different enough to make it continually unfamiliar.
The wedding began at 2 pm at the Mayor’s office of the tiny town the Groom grew up in. The bride and groom, their parents and the witnesses (which included me) sat at a conference table while the mayor read in French the civil commitments while the guests squeezed their way into the standing room of the long oval room.
Then it was on to the church, a beautiful stone building, hundreds of years old, where a ceremony was conducted under a Chuppah, were poems were read, and songs were song, and vows were made. It was a ceremony that truly celebrated love and was all about love; yet it was hard for me not to wonder if there was symbolism in the Jewish prayers being recited in front of the abundant crucifixes hanging from the walls. Was this proof that there is a way to seamlessly meld two different religions and cultures into one? Or was it a sign of the omnipresent tension between two different worlds?
From here, there was a long cocktail hour at the winery, where as in the French custom, many acquaintances who were not invited to the actual wedding come to drink and enjoy decadent French appetizers. At around 9 pm, all the more remote guests leave and the wedding guests finally sit for dinner which meant dancing didn’t start till around 1 am and I couldn’t believe how many people were ready to bust out their dance moves in the middle of the night and continue for hours. But I will say most of the Valley Jews had left by this time.
At about 4:30 am Tess and her new husband disappear and it is the job of the guests to find them so that we can bring them French Onion soup in their “bed.” So yes, not exactly your typical American wedding but when you saw the two of them together, it was easy to believe it was all meant to be. It is an incredible thing when you can look at your best friend on her wedding day and know that this is the happiest she has ever been in her entire life. Tess was glowing. All weekend, she was beaming with infectious happiness that I’m pretty sure I started to glow too.
The morning of her wedding we were in her room getting ready and she looked at me and said “I’m getting married in France!” For her, this was a fairy tale come true and it was her fairy tale wedding. And Tess and her husband were obviously so in love it made you want to believe in fairy tales. And maybe I still do. Because at this point, when I saw how happy they were together and how in love they truly are, it really seemed to me that nothing else mattered. Here’s to them proving that dreams really do come true.
June 23, 2011 | 2:51 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
As much as I would like to continue the discussion about how beautiful and thin I am, even I am sick of the subject. I am flying to Paris today for the wedding of one of my best friends in the whole world. I will only be in France for the weekend but I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage in anticipation of this trip.
I am lucky to have some of the most incredible friends and many of them date back a long time but Tess is officially the longest. Our moms met when they were pregnant with us taking Jane Fonda’s exercise class and became friends. Tess and I were born a week apart and essentially grew up together. She remains one of my closest friends and I’m the un-official maid of honor (she’s not really having a bridal party). But this is officially the first of my good friends to get married (although I think I have two that are about to follow suit) and it’s making me sad. I feel like I’m about to lose something in my life.
Tess is about to be a wife. Except it literally feels like last night that she was on my trundle bed for a sleepover and my mom was coming in to tell us to stop talking and go to bed, and as soon as she would leave we would burst out laughing again. Now she will no longer be a single girl ever again.
It’s reminding me of a feeling I distinctly remember at the tender age of 16. Tess was the first of us to have a boyfriend and I went with her to pick out a pocket watch for her boyfriend Jonathon’s birthday. I was excited for her and pressing her for all the details of what having a boyfriend was like. What do you guys do when you’re together? How far have you gone? Does he write you notes in class? We went into a sketchy pawn shop in the Valley and looked at all the scratched gold watches. When the guy went to ring us up, the watch was 50$. She paid it and all of the sudden I felt like things would never be the same again. She was spending 50$ on a boy?! Neither one of us got much in the way of allowance and Tess especially could be a bit miserly at times so I couldn’t believe this. I knew she had never spent that much on my presents or anyone’s present. I had never seen her spend 50$ on anything ever before. Had she ever gone this out of her way to get me something? All of the sudden, boys had entered our life and I wasn’t the most important relationship in her life anymore. I couldn’t believe it. There was a boy between us.
Of course within a few months that relationship was over and Tess and I stayed best friends without much really changing. And Tess has always been a great friend to me both in and out of relationships over the years. But I guess it hit me at that moment, that no matter how close you are to your friends, when you get married, you’re marrying your closest friend and you vow to always put that person first. As it should be – you build a life and a family together with your spouse not your BFF. But it’s just so concrete now. He comes before me.
So I’m still sad. I feel like I’m losing one of my friends – not completely, just a little, like she’s moving far way and I know I’m being selfish but I can’t help it - I don’t want her to go. Once she leaves for this journey nothing will ever be the same. She is about to pledge herself to this man and it scares me a little. I’m not ready! But she is - she’s getting married after all. I just don’t want things to change. But I fear soon I’ll need to make the same journey myself or get left in the dust.
I just want to stay the way I remember us. Getting in trouble in Ballet class for talking, making our own perfume out of water and eucalyptus leaves, dancing around her living room while her Dad videotaped us, getting our first pair of high heels. I have so many vivid memories of when I was young but the scary thing is, I’m much closer in age to being the mom in those memories now than the kid.
But at the end of the day, so much of our youth was about finding someone to love us. And now she has. And I adore her fiancé. And I have no doubt that he will love her forever. And when I see how happy she is, sometimes I get so happy for her, it feels like it’s all happening to me. She’s about to be a bride and wear a wedding dress. It’s really happening to her and it couldn’t have happened in a more perfect way with a more perfect guy.
Once in college I had a crazy roommate with an even wilder mother who had been through a few marriages. But I’ll never forget some sage advice she handed out frequently, “girlfriends are like cockroaches. They were there before the men, they’ll be there after the men.”
I don’t think in this case, there will be after the men. But maybe it should just be amended and we could say “They were there before the men, and they’ll be there with the men.”
My best friend will be married. It’s the end of an era for us. But the beginning of something so new and magical and so exciting for her that I can only assume, it will all keep getting better for both of us. A bientot et Felicitations pour mes amies! Grosses Bissous!
June 22, 2011 | 10:00 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
So I was just about to post regarding the dinner I just had with my new inamorato and my parents, when I noticed Ilana Angel had already posted on me. We met for lunch yesterday and I knew she would write about it but I’m still a bit shocked at how much my earlier pieces must have gotten to her – she mentioned to me that my letter to her made her cry. In just this new piece she says of me: dumb, ridiculous, offensive, having an unhealthy view of my body, a broken spirit, clearly has issues, doesn’t appreciate my body, issues with weight, dumb views, in need of therapy, struggles with being good enough; and when that ceased to be enough she said my writing was painful to get through, ramblings, silliness, garbage, and she criticizes me for commenting on her life (not like she has done anything of the same to me). She’s made sorority rush look like a koombaya drum circle. She even got a crack at my nail polish in – Actually, she’s right I desperately need a manicure, but you try fitting that in when you’re four weeks away from taking the California Bar, trying to hold down a writing career, leaving for France the next day for a wedding, in a new relationship and meeting up with Mommy bloggers who write mean things about you on the internet so they can feel better about themselves! Sheesh!
In law school, one of the first things they teach you in your legal writing class is to never make ad hominem attacks. This is when during an argument, one makes an attack on the person’s character or actions in order to discredit the truth of the claim being made - like saying A’s argument is false because A is dumb, for instance. Perhaps I’m unusually thick-skinned or perhaps her polemic is just so far from the truth that I can’t take it seriously, but I hardly feel moved to do anything more than roll my eyes at this. It’s so ridiculous it’s not worth arguing against and I don’t believe in making ad hominem attacks so I will refrain from saying anything more about her.
I will say though, that I am disappointed that she didn’t challenge me on the substance of what I was saying. I’ve heard from a lot of different people over the last week regarding this topic and some of it has been truly enlightening. I especially appreciated being pointed towards Susie Orbach and Charlotte Cooper. There are very valid arguments against what I was saying and I truly was hoping to hash them out with Ilana, analyze them and hear something challenging that would inspire me or change the way I think. I did attempt to bring these arguments up with her but they were quickly dismissed of course, as she seem much more interested in scrutinizing my personal life so that she could tell me what was wrong with me instead of engaging me.
I was hoping to talk about two points. The first is that one of my precepts is that I continually acknowledge that the world we live in is one that rewards thin people and I never try to challenge it but just work within those confines. Well, one reader suggested to me that this is what some people said during the civil rights movement particularly regarding segregation and if everyone just accepted the premise that some white people were racist and there was nothing to be done about it, the world would never change. That really struck a chord with me. Perhaps we should all be challenging this precept whenever we see it. Perhaps every time a skinny girl cuts the line at a club it’s akin to a white person sitting complicitly at the front of a bus in the South fifty years ago just saying, well what can I do about it? Perhaps we should all be encouraging each other to constantly fight this – refusing to be given priority treatment based on the way we look, or standing up for others when they’re not given the same benefits that we are. Perhaps this is really a fat activist issue?
The other point that I struggle with is a feminist argument. As long as women continue to use their appearance as a currency, can we ever truly be equal to men? If you’re an ambitious young women, being attractive doesn’t hurt – just look at Sarah Palin. Trading off your looks and sexuality becomes a tool in your box that you can use to get what you want whether it be interviews or jobs or free drinks. The question the becomes, if you are using your appearance to get your desired ends, are you inherently unequal to someone (usually men) who can get to those same ends without having to debase themselves by appealing to the voyeuristic nature of men. When men hire other men physical appearance is usually irrelevant but when men hire women, a pretty woman has a leg up. As long as this is true, can women ever truly be equal?
I brought this all up to Ilana. She mostly seemed very uninterested in the whole issue but we did talk about it enough that she commented that if a man perceives that she’s flirting with him and he uses that fact to give her some reward that the only one doing anything wrong is the man. It’s all on him, she said. I could see my hope for someone to challenge my way of thinking was not to be fulfilled that day.
Ilana wants me to apologize. But I stand by what I said. I truly am sorry if it hurt her or anyone else for that matter. All I can say is that sometimes the truth hurts. I may seem young and naive to her – well I feel young and like I’m at the beginning of the experiences life has in store for me so that makes sense. I don’t pretend to have any of the answers. I’m on the journey just like everyone else is. I’m just trying to call it like I see it at this point in time.
I will say though, it was a bit of compliment when Ilana mentioned that she thinks I don’t know that I’m beautiful. I have been called many things in my life, but modest about my appearance is not usually one of them. Perhaps I really am turning over a new leaf?
**UPDATE** 6/22 12:50pm Thank you to the reader who notified me that Ilana has edited her blog since posting and taken out some of the most offensive language about me and added a section that finally agrees with my whole point - namely that we should all try to get in shape. But it was up for a long enough time that I feel justified leaving this here. The list at the top was verbatim her comments regarding me.
June 16, 2011 | 8:50 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I wrote a post called You Should Get Skinny which suggested in its most reductive form that to date in a certain pool of men, you have to get thin. (I hope you read the nuances to this premise in the post here before proceeding because a lot of the debate misses my essential point.)
I posted a follow up to address the plethora of nasty comments I received, which you can read here.
Yesterday, a popular blogger on this site, Ilana Angel wrote some critical thoughts on my post here which were at times a bit confusing (when she talks about being rejected by men for her weight), genuinely funny (when she threatens to sit on me if I don’t change my mind), and a bit mean spirited (in the comments section she says of me: “her views of other women make her ugly. She might as well weigh 1,000 pounds because that is the weight her ugliness puts on her soul.”
I have not communicated with her at all until now and thought I would use my blog today to respond to her with an open letter.
You seem like a very sweet charming person who writes honestly about her life. I appreciate your thoughts and your sharing of personal struggles about this sensitive subject. But my opinions remain unchanged.
I’m sorry you think my soul is ugly. It’s not easy for me to tell this truth but I can’t make it go away by ignoring it. You seem to be perpetuating the idea which we have all heard before: love your body the way it is and someone great will come along and love you regardless of the way you look. It’s a nice sentiment and perhaps genuinely useful for women who hate their immutable body type (ie – hating your curves, wishing your breasts were bigger or your butt was smaller.) But for millions of girls, this sentiment is just promoting a hypocrisy that frankly I’m tired of pretending doesn’t exist. We can go into every high school in the country and tell overweight girls to love their bodies, but when the guy they like time and time again chooses to date girls that are in shape we’re sending mixed messages. When every female movie star, musician, every woman on billboards and magazines and in advertisements looks slim, how can we expect otherwise? The world we live in is not always the world we want to live in. I’m not trying to pass judgment on these facts and say that any of it is right, but merely that it is true. Thin women are rewarded in today’s society – why not make yourself thin and reap those rewards yourself? (Did you see this recent CNN article about a study showing thin women make more money than their heavier counterparts?) After I read your post, I was discussing it with a friend and I asked her to name a celebrity that was a size 16 cause I wasn’t too sure what that necessarily looks like. She couldn’t come up with one.
Of course, for every generalization, there are the non-conformists who choose not to abide by the rules society has set. Choosing not to buy into this may be the higher ground here. Choosing not to buy into the “thin aesthetic” of today’s world may be the more moral way of life, but you have to recognize that the majority of people and by extension the majority of men don’t or can’t feel the same way. Telling yourself otherwise is simply being in denial. You’re date with Dean, seems like a good example of this. Of course, the guy sounds like a jerk and the note he sent you was tacky, but the fact remains, many other men in the world want to date someone thin but are just too polite to voice it. It’s like we all have to pretend that this practically universal American truth doesn’t exist so that we don’t hurt people’s feelings. I don’t see how living this truth but pretending it’s not there is the answer to all of this. (Since my first post, I have had many women come up to me or write me saying how true this all is but how they would never admit it publicly.) Telling everyone to love their bodies no matter what, without recognizing the consequences of that in today’s society is dangerous and hypocritical.
A common criticism of my generation is that when we were growing up in the 80’s or 90’s, all children were told that they did a great job on everything regardless of their actual performance for fear of giving children low self-esteem. Years later it turns out we have the highest self-esteem of any generation but we’re generally lazier and less productive than previous generations. But when you get to the real world, just believing you’re good at everything isn’t going to get you very far – there is a very real cost for not working hard. So now we’re telling all women to love their bodies and that love will come to them regardless of appearance. But the fact is rewards don’t come equally to women for loving their bodies. If you’re choosing not to buy into any of those rewards, again, good for you! But you can’t pretend we live in a world where all you have to do is love your body and expect to be treated the same as the people who take care of their bodies. Winston Churchill said truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but, in the end, there it is. We can keep telling every woman to love their body no matter what, but every time millions of American men choose the pretty thin girl, well, the proof is in the pudding.
Now, this is the hardest part for me to say. Actually, I feel terrible saying this directly to someone but again I believe truth deserves to be addressed and discussed. But there’s another element to this all. You and I move in different worlds. You are in your forties, a single mother, and a professional organizer. One day I too hope to be a mother in my forties with a career that makes me happy. But right now, I’m not and as you acknowledge we are in different places in our lives. Would we run into each other at same bars, same events, same concerts? No. Which is as it should be - I don’t want the life I have now in twenty years. But the fact is we do move in different circles, which means we’re going to be looking at different pools of men. I don’t want to offer a strong opinion about how to date as a divorced mother because I know nothing about it – I can only speculate that most of what I think is important now will get turned upside down and be displaced by things most mothers and wives want in their forties which I imagine is to be happy and healthy and have the same be true of your family. But for now, I am who I am and I love the life I lead. It sounds like you love yours too! That’s great and I’m happy for you. But my advice and previous blog entries were really addressed to women in a different place in their life and simply may not apply at other times in a woman’s life.
You also suggest that at one time you were married to one of these “top-tier” men of which I speak despite being on the more corpulent side. But you also said that you divorced him soon after because he was abusive. I’m sorry you had to go through that and inspired by your story about ending up so happy on the other side of it all. But, a top-tier guy is not abusive. Nor does he cheat. I don’t care how good-looking he is, how much money he makes, or what kind of job he has. I’m not looking for a walking check-list; I’m looking for love that lasts which requires finding a man who respects you, honors you, and walks the journey of life at your side till death is the only thing in the world that separates you.
But really, I just use “top-tier” as an inadequate shorthand for the type of men in the world of young professionals in which I am looking. You are looking to date men in their forties possibly with kids. I’m not. I came under a lot of fire for admitting that I have expectations for a mate. You and many others think it’s superficial for me to want these things, but I happen to think it’s more practical than anything else. I want him to have gone to a good school or at least be well-educated and smart so that he can challenge me intellectually. I want to share common interests such as travel, politics, an ongoing desire to learn, plans for a family, so that we are stimulated by each other. A man who likes similar activities means we can spend time together doing things we both enjoy such as being active, being outdoors, listening to npr, dining out, drinking bold red wines, sharing life with friends, seeing indie movies and listening to good music. I want him to be successful enough to be able to provide for a family. I want him to value the things I value such as being ambitious, working hard, education, certain social issues, dreaming big and accomplishing a lot, and cultivating a good relationship with your family. And yes I want to be attracted to him –he certainly doesn’t need to have an overly toned ripped vaseline-slicked body. Just cute enough that I genuinely desire him. Does that really make me more shallow than anyone else?
Lastly, I will posit this to you. Do you wear make-up? We all just want to be the best versions of ourselves. I have grown to love the features I have. When I was 16 and saw every other girl at Calabasas High come back from winter break with their noses bandaged from a “non-cosmetic” rhinoplasty they needed because of sinus trouble, I went through a period where I desperately wanted a nose job. I got over it, thank god! But I still wear concealer under my eyes and mascara almost every day. I like the way I look better with it on and I feel like the best version of myself when I wear it. Men are going to be more attracted to you, the prettier you are. Again, this is the world we live in. I would never have plastic surgery on my face to become someone else’s perfect ideal. But I don’t see the problem in recognizing that we all want to be attractive – for me to be the most attractive version of myself, I wear a bit of makeup and I exercise. There are always exceptions, but in broad general terms, women usually appear prettier to men with at least a touch of make-up on. Likewise, in broad general terms, women usually appear more attractive to men if they look toned, fit and in shape. I’m not saying everyone should have surgery and starve till you can count all your ribs. But I really don’t understand why I’m being villainized for speaking a truth that we all inherently know and live out every day. More men being more attracted to you = more men in the dating pool to choose from. There are always outliers and I hope you do find yours. The faith that you will and your confidence will only help you, I’m sure. But if you’re less risk averse, why not appeal to a broad section of men?
The moral aspect of this all, may be hard to grapple with. Paying thin women more obviously is a prejudice that should be addressed but you can’t ignore that there are very real subtle subconscious reactions people have based on your physical appearance. Just because we “shouldn’t” have them or we think “it’s wrong” doesn’t make them go away. It’s time for us to face the facts of the world we have created. Pretty young thin women get a disproportionate amount of society’s attention. Do they deserve to cut the line at a club? Who knows but probably not. But the fact is, when I want to get my friends comp’d to an event I’ve been invited to, it’s much easier if I mention that they are hot single girls. We all know this. It’s in movies, on tv shows, happens in front of us, happens to our friends, and is what we expect from life. So if we all know this, why then are we better off convincing the heavier girl who wants to get into this club that she should love her body despite the fact that she will never get to cut the line as opposed to saying, in a few months you could easily tone up, and get to cut the line yourself? WHY OH WHY? Why can’t we just be honest with young women about that? You can try to convince the girl that the club’s not that cool and it’s probably not (it never is), but if she still wants to get in, why is telling her to love herself over and over better than telling her that if she really cares she could probably be one of those girls. If she doesn’t care, good for her! Go home, love yourself, and watch Sex and the City reruns. But if you’re standing in the back of the line saying to yourself I wish I were one of those girls, why do we women respond by lying to each other and saying just love yourself and you’ll stop wanting to get in and you’ll be happy ? Hogwash! Take care of your body, throw on a dress that’s flattering and then return to the front of the line and get what you wanted!
Faith is an amazing thing. But sometimes, faith can be a poor substitute for logic and reason. Here, the logical conclusion is that you’re looking for the rare exception. Faith that you will find the exception no matter what, may prove to be true for you. But pretending that it’s the likely outcome is illogical.
If you are still interested in having lunch, I’d love to take you up on the offer - contrary to popular belief I have been known to eat once or twice a month. And if you want a sandwich with a big delicious piece of bread might I suggest Bay Cities Deli in Santa Monica? We can even get coffee after so you can be sure I don’t throw it up!
“He who dares not offend cannot be honest.” Thomas Paine
June 14, 2011 | 10:10 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
Yes, I Still Think You Should Get Skinny
So as you may know, a while back, I posted a blog about why I think you should get skinny. You can read it here. It was reposted as the “this” on Jezebel which you can find here. And since then, I’ve been taking in what has been a surprisingly vitriolic response. Much of it has been interesting, amusing, and sometimes painful. Although all has been informative so thanks to those of you who shared (minus the racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic slurs of course).
I’d like to clarify a few things. Firstly, I think some of us have different ideas about what the term skinny and thin mean. I use them broadly. Skinny to me doesn’t just mean someone rail thin. I have a good friend who probably weighs 30 maybe 40 pounds more than me at the same height and I still think of her as thin for her body type. She keeps in shape, eats pretty healthfully and just has a body type with a larger frame than mine, who looks athletic and curvy and yet I still think of her as thin. So when say I think you should get skinny, I really mean, get toned, in shape, and thin for the type of body you have. The truth is, women are much harder on other women’s bodies than men are. I don’t know if a boyfriend would even notice five pounds difference on most women. Men just know what they are attracted to or not. The fact is, for whatever primordial reason leftover as a vestige of survival instincts, aesthetic beauty has a huge impact on men’s sex drive. And for a relationship to survive, a man needs to be attracted to his mate. And to most men in Western society that means being fit and thin for your bodytype. You might not like this, but I don’t see how railing against it is going to do anything about it. It’s the world we live in. Arguing that it’s wrong, doesn’t mean that suddenly men will be attracted to you despite your physical appearance because you have the more equitable argument.
It’s not easy for anyone. When I wrote my last blog and included the details of my own weight fluctuations, that was especially difficult (and by the way my yoga teacher commented to me that he’s definitely seen me gain more like ten as opposed to five pounds in the past which I thought might make you all feel better.) And so much of the actual numbers has to do with your genes anyway that focusing on your weight at all is completely beside the point. My point is do what you need to do to feel like you are taking care of the body you have. If you’re truly taking care of your body, then you’ve probably achieved what I mean by saying feel thin for your body type.
But there’s no way to ignore the plain truth that if you want to find yourself a good catch, you’re going to have to make yourself into a good catch. You’re going to have to look like the kind of woman that a man wants to show off. For most men, that means a woman who looks in shape.
Let me give you a typical anecdote. My friend Ted a few months back met this girl Lianna at the Other Room on a Friday night (aka Westside singles central) and was smitten immediately. She was unusually beautiful and a bit exotic looking so she stood out among all the bleached blonde smoky-eyed wannabe actresses in this town. Within minutes of their flirtatious banter, he was calling her FW for Future Wife; he put her in his phone under Future Wife! Not that he is looking for a wife of course, but in his mind, this was the kind of girl that might change his opinion about marriage one day - in other words the crème de la crème of the girls he meets. I saw him the next morning and he was going on and on to me about how he’s never been more taken with a girl so quickly. He had a brunch date with her for Sunday morning and was looking forward to it more than he’s looked forward to any date in a long while.
I talked to him Sunday night to get the follow-up. It was fine he said, but I’m not gonna call her again. After a little prodding, I finally got him to admit it the reason why. When he met her at the Other Room, she was sitting down at a table the entire time and it was very dark. Even though she was still beautiful to him during the day in the bright Santa Monica sunshine, she apparently had an extra 30 to 40 pounds on her in the wrong places he emphasized. Now this surprised me coming from Ted. He actually doesn’t like girls who are too skinny. He once showed me a picture of a girl he was dating in a bathing suit to show me how hot she was and I was shocked at how voluptuous she was. He really does like a girl to look at least healthy and I’ve heard him complained in the past about girls being too skinny. So to hear him say that he was not gonna ask her out again, meant that she legitimately had some extra poundage. He couldn’t help feeling less attracted to her he admitted. And let’s face it, if a man is simply not attracted to a woman, it seems pretty unlikely that his brain will convince him otherwise as would be necessary to pursue a relationship.
Ted is a great attractive guy and there are just so many pretty smart accomplished girls for him to choose from, especially in LA so he knows he has the luxury of not settling for someone he’s not attracted to. And after this day-date why should he give her another chance when there are other pretty girls that he is attracted to? So poor Lianna will wonder why he never called her and console herself and tell her that one day the right guy will come along and that’s probably true, it just in all likelihood won’t be Ted or a guy like Ted. And I feel for bad her. But I can’t make him call her. And she needs to get real. She needs to date down or slim down or she’ll constantly be disappointed.
But maybe you know a girl like Lianna who actually did end up with a top-tier guy and this proves to you that love is blind and conquers all and one day prince charming will come for all the zaftig good-hearted accomplished women out there. The fact is those couples are the outliers. Those men are the exception and by and large, you’re statistically very unlikely to meet them. Dating requires casting a large net. The more people you meet and interact, the more likely it is that you will meet that special someone. So if you’re really serious about looking for someone, you want to be as attractive as possible to as many men as possible. If you have completely let yourself go and are totally out of shape, you’ve just cut out a huge swath of men. If you wanna do something about it, you can try to change the aesthetic image of beauty that hundreds of millions of people have been conditioned to respond to and which giant industries spend billions of dollars to promote. Or you can lower your expectations and accept that you’re not going to end up with the hot educated smart successful man of your dreams. Or you can eat healthy and work out. Doesn’t eating salads and going to yoga seem so easy compared to all that?
June 10, 2011 | 10:24 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I’ve been really depressed all week. My roommate and I just split a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Everything But The while listening to Bon Iver in the middle of the night and trying to name the one or two people in the world we know would absolutely never cheat on their significant other. I blame Anthony Weiner.
I’m supposed to be studying for the California bar exam which if you think is anything less than three days of psychological warfare watch this (it’s streaming on Netflix). I’m normally very efficient under a lot of pressure and can force myself to study or work for long periods of time. But this week, I’ve been exceptionally neglectful of my work. Why? Because I’ve literally been obsessed with Weinergate. I’ve read everything about it, I keep checking the Huffpo for updates, I’ve made a point to watch the Daily Show coverage, and followed it all on Twitter. It’s all just so sad and it’s made me completely depressed. He didn’t even cheat and I’m still just in this dejected misanthropic mood wondering if there’s a point to any relationship?
I think I’m looking for an explanation to it all. Actually, I’m looking for something really bad – I want to know that he’s a dog, that he really did cheat and he’s cheated on every woman he’s ever been in a relationship with, and that there were signs about the type of man he is.
I want to know that he’s dirty down to the core because then, then I can know that he’s different from the perfect guy I have in front of me. Then I can know that this pathetic excuse of a man is nothing like the sweet honest guy I’m dating now, Mr. Dreamboat; that they exist in different worlds. Because if Rep. Weiner is not like that, if he’s just a pretty decent guy who got carried away with flirting online, he doesn’t seem that different from Mr. Dreamboat. I’m desperate to ask Mr. Dreamboat about this all; I want to know when you hear about Weinergate, are you as shocked and puzzled by it all as I am? Or does it seem like just one bad decision away from something you might find yourself in? Could you see how in a certain set of circumstances you might find yourself having a little harmless fun on the internet and that this guy is not that different from you? I’m desperate to know – is this just what all men are like in a way that requires understanding from a gender that can never understand what it’s like to be male? I don’t want to be naive but was I wrong to be shocked by this? Am I just kidding myself for thinking I’m dating someone who I think would never do that to me?
Part of my compulsive analysis of this stems from the fact that I have been cheated on. For the most part, every woman who enters a relationship expects monogamy. So when you get cheated on, you have to admit to yourself that you were wrong about him. You thought you knew someone and you were wrong. When that happens to you once, it’s hard not to wonder with everyone you date, if you could be getting it wrong again. I didn’t think my ex would ever cheat on me and he did. I don’t think Mr. Dreamboat would ever cheat on me, but if I was wrong once before, why should I be any more right now? Maybe it’s all just luck and opportunity anyway. I can’t even imagine Mr. Dreamboat would engage in these stupid ridiculous time-consuming Weiner-gate antics, but I doubt Huma Abedin expected this from her husband either. (Actually the most shocking of all is how did a Congressman have time for all this? I barely have time to reply my text messages let alone have multiple online relationships via multiple platforms!)
But I don’t want to be depressed about this anymore. I’ve been in that silly romantic stage the last few months where you constantly feel like you’re walking around high cause of the omnipresent euphoria you feel, knowing you’re falling in love with this incredible human being culminating in a brilliant weekend away last weekend. And suddenly this week, I’ve been feeling like what’s the point. Maybe things were so good, I started to create this drama in my head to sabotage myself? Maybe I’m just afraid of getting my heartbroken into a million little pieces? If I tell myself not to expect anything from him, I can’t be hurt when I found out that he’s not much different from what I fear all men might be like.
But no matter how cynical my head gets, no matter how strong an argument my brain formulates, no matter how many statistics about male sexuality I read, for better or worse, my heart is stronger. I believe in love and I believe in it forever. I believe in it with the same fervency the devout believe in God with. I believe it makes life worth living for and I believe it can last and I believe some men have to feel it as strongly as I do and that some men can choose love over desire. I believe that to the core of my being. So what can I do? Maybe I am wrong. But I’d rather be wrong and still get to believe in a lasting true love than right and give that up. And so maybe my new inamorato is not that different from the men of Weinergate. But maybe there’s just a fine line between the temptation to act on primitive impulse and restraint. But I believe there’s still a line. And I believe I’m in love with someone who remains on the side of restraint. I believe I’m in love with someone who would not engage in Weinergate behavior not because he doesn’t feel the impulse, but because he feels enough love to chose restraint over temptation. Foolish? Perhaps. But tonight, I get to spend with my lover who makes me feel eternal love is possible again. If you’ve ever felt that, you know there’s nothing foolish in that.
June 10, 2011 | 3:14 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I apologize for the delay in posting. I’ve been plagued by a few things lately. I graduated law school, had a birthday, have been out of town in Coachella then Mexico and then Iowa. But the truth is, the reason I haven’t posted anything lately is I’m in a new relationship – more than that, I’m in love. For only the second time in my life, I am truly madly deeply in love – and I’m afraid to write about it. The whole time I’ve been blogging about dating, I always said that real life was more important to me than my writing – that if it came down to relationship or a particular writing project, I would pick relationship. But what does that mean? No one wants to think they pick their job over their boyfriend. But it doesn’t present itself to you in a black and white binary option. Is writing about him completely off limits? Is just writing bad things about him off limits? If he doesn’t want to be included at all can I even mention my relationship? It’s the little choices, that we don’t even realize we’re making day in and day out that determine whether we’re choosing our relationships or our careers. And so I haven’t written anything about him. I told myself I would bring it up to him first and talk to him about how to deal with it. But I haven’t done that yet either. Instead, I’m choosing now to write about it first, before talking about it. Does that mean I’ve already chosen my blog over him? It’s all scary. All choices seem wrong. But I’ve got to do something – and this is what I chose. I’m a writer who writes about herself. I can’t sacrifice all of that for someone. But should I?
Most girls I know would say that their family comes first. But I’ve only been dating Mr. Dreamboat for three and a half months to be precise. Is that long enough to sacrifice certain career choices for? Won’t every woman I know judge me and scoff and say how can you sacrifice yourself for some guy you’ve barely been dating? But what if he’s more than just a guy I date? It feels pretty serious right now and the relationship is better than anything I had dared hope for. Isn’t that worth considering when choosing whether or not to possibly violate his privacy for? And don’t I owe him some privacy anyway? My family has already had some pretty serious talks with me about things that I’ve written about that have been embarrassing or caused strife within their social circle. How does Howard Stern do it?
Without making much of a decision, I think I’ve decided this. I’m going to continue to write about me. That means some of it will include writing about us. Mr. Dreamboat’s not really much of a blog reader so I’m not really worried about him reading what I’m writing. I know you think that is completely impossible and for most people you’re probably right but trust me on this when I tell you, he’s probably one of the few people left on earth who is not desperate to read other people’s opinion of himself. (I told him one of his best qualities was that he doesn’t really know what Twitter is.) But I don’t want to use him as fodder either. That means sacrificing attention and material for something I consider more sacred – putting him and my relationship first. I don’t know if I will succeed. But I know I have to try.