Things I Read That I Love #273: Books In Which Measurable Cerebral Activity Is Virtually Absent.

We were so braindead on Thursday night, which was the longest day in American history, that we forgot to schedule this post to publish on Friday morning, as it usually does! Sorry for the delay!

HELLO and welcome to the 273rd installment of Things I Read That I Love, wherein I share with you some of the longer-form journalism/essays I’ve read recently so that you can read them too and we can all know more about Hello Kitty! This “column” is less feminist/queer focused than the rest of the site because when something is feminist/queer focused, I put it on the rest of the site. Here is where the other things are.

The title of this feature is inspired by the title of Emily Gould’s tumblr, Things I Ate That I Love.


The In-Between Space, by Andrea Bennett for Hazlitt, September 2018

On gender expression and labels and the bodies that adopt them.

My favourite photo is probably the one of Eartha Kitt, in mid-swing, playing baseball. Most of the other photos and icons—not to take anything away from these women, who are all great women—don’t include people like me. I don’t and can’t see myself in these rich icons: their small breasts, their bony shoulders, the ease with which a pair of trousers glides past their hips and thighs. Taken together, with Mettler’s narrative, “tomboy” is a way of being a woman that fits quite neatly into what we expect of “woman”: a conventional BMI, tousled hair, a camera-friendly approach. Bodies with hips cocked, odalisque’d across the hood of a ‘50s car. Style from brands and stories that are very parochially New York, or what you’d call continental, European. Style that reaches out to rich woman who want to marry rich men to let them know that everything will be okay: here is a way forward that will still appeal to the men and women in your social niche.

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong, by Michael Hobbes for The Huffington Post Highline, September 2018

This piece went wildly viral and I hope it actually changes something.

What Do We Owe Her Now?, by Elizabeth Bruenig for The Washington Post, September 2018

An extraordinarily written piece, constructed over three years of intermittent reporting, about a girl who nobody believed was telling the truth when she was raped at a party in high school in 2006.

“I Remember Thinking, Ugh, This is Bad”: Scenes from teenage party life in the ’80s, an oral history from The Washington Post, September 2018

I can say things have changed, maybe, but I wouldn’t say they’ve gotten any better. This is a really interesting approach to the current conversation — so many voices about the sexual environment at high school parties in the ’80s.

How Maya Rudolph Became the Master of Impressions, by Caity Weaver for The New York Times Magazine, September 2018

It’s Caity Weaver writing about Maya Rudolph so you’re gonna wanna show up for this.

Separate from the irrefutable fact that God looks like Maya Rudolph is the equally remarkable revelation that Maya Rudolph looks like God — that is, she looks at you the same way, you must imagine, that God takes in his creation: happy to see it, while somehow existentially disappointed in it, but forgiving of it and still maintaining affection for it, even though it has absolutely let him down in some indefinable way only he can understand.

Forty Years Young: Hello Kitty and the Power of Cute, by Julia Rubin for Racked, November 2014

Racked, one of my favorite websites of all time, is shuttering — which means they’ve assembled some handy guides to their best longform and other features of the past four years, including gems like this one.

“…to call it cuteness is just not enough—it goes beyond that. It’s a feeling that you get from looking at Hello Kitty that’s almost like being in love. It’s this insatiable hunger.”

Between Victimhood and Power: The Female Detectives of Television’s Crime Dramas, by Annie Manion for the Los Angeles Review of Books, June 2015

I really loved this. Another thing I’d like to read is a few paragraphs about this particular style of female detective — and journalist, sometimes — that has cropped up over the past few years who is profoundly self-destructive, usually promiscuous, often a heavy drinker, perhaps has suffered one or more tragedies, but is also very gifted, and there’s a benevolent male superior trying to reign her in a lot. There’s always a scene where she shows up after a rough night and everybody is like, “what’s up with her?” You know the type?

How Puerto Rico Became the Newest Tax Haven for the Super Rich, by Jesse Barron for GQ, September 2018

There’s a part near the end when he says, “most of the people who spoke with me for this article seemed unsure of how to talk to a reporter, and it was not uncommon to spend a relaxed afternoon with a person and receive several urgent messages the next day,” and I feel like that part says a lot.

The Deferential Spirit: On Bob Woodward, by Joan Didion for The New York Review of Books, September 1996

This is what it is to get roasted by Joan Didion! It’s a truly delightful piece of writing that I believe was posted on Longform this month in reaction to the recent release of Bob Woodward’s book, Fear, about the Trump presidency, for which he didn’t speak to Trump, which you can read about here.

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2645 articles for us.

5 Comments

  1. I am 25, afab, 5 ft. 1 and weigh 160 lbs. I wear a women’s size 6/8 and am medically “obese”. This is the 5th year that I have refused to be weighed at any doctor’s office. I started this practice not to receive better care (because I don’t look “obese”, I am only occasionally shamed by doctors to lose weight) but as a small act of resistance to fat-phobia in the medical system. I often wonder if we could shift focus away from weight if more people simply refused to be weighed. I still think that it would take some time for doctors not to discriminate/shame solely based on appearance but this refusal feels like a really good place to start taking some agency back. Some days I feel strong enough to tell intake nurses why I don’t want to weighed and other days I simply state that I don’t need to explain myself but I am not stepping on the scale. I’d love to hear feedback/critique/alternative forms of resistance from anyone who wants to share.

    • Hi Scarlet – I found your comment fascinating because I use a strategy that on the surface will seem almost opposite to yours but my goal – taking agency – is exactly the same. So I realized at one point that I didn’t like how my body felt, but I did not want to do that “go on a diet, starve myself, freak out about my weight and whether I am skinny enough” schtick because, you know, patriarchy sucks and all that. I knew that per weigh-ins at the doc my weight had slowly gone up over the years but I realized that very-rare frequency of weigh-ins meant that each data point assumed far too much importance. If I weighed two pounds more this time than last time, what did that mean? Anything? Who knew? And since it wasn’t even the same scale each time, and who knew how often they calibrated their scales (probably never), and it wasn’t the same time of day or amount of clothing or anything, I just wasn’t willing to make any decisions (or trust anyone else’s recommendations) based on data I knew were cruddy.

      So I started to weigh myself every day, right before I got dressed in the morning. It did briefly feel like a burden because like most of us I had that stupid voice in my head freaking out if I gained at all. But I kept reminding myself that wasn’t the point (and telling the voice to screw itself) and before long the sheer routineness of it and the number of data points did make each new one feel way less important. I got a good feel for how my weight changes over a month with my menstrual cycle, I got much better at paying attention to what I felt like if I had eaten too much or if I was still hungry (and by “too much” I mean “more than I needed to sate my hunger and enough to make me physically uncomfortable,” NOT “an amount that would make me gain weight, oh horrors”). I could see that the fact that I felt better on days I exercised was NOT tied to whether my weight changed.

      tl;dr You used refusal to participate in data collection to feel healthier; I used a whole lotta data collection, under my control, for the same purpose. Here’s to doing what you need to be your best self!

      • Larrann-

        !! How fascinating that our strategies seem to be “opposite” one another. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m so glad to hear that you have and are continuing to forge new understandings with your body in order to reclaim agency. YES to always becoming our best selves! I’m curious if your relationship with your doctor(s) has changed as a result of your practice. If so, in what ways?

  2. One of the saddest things I read in that obesity article was ‘Nearly half of 3 to 6 year old girls say they worry about being fat.’ This is one of the many problems in our society that we really need to fix.

  3. Just in to say I devotely follow all the “Things I read that I love” and they’ve led me to SO many great pieces. Thank you! Also, glad the Racked archives remain online.

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