Monday, February 9, 2015

Girls Just Want to Have Puns

Tee: Kohl's
Skirt: Modcloth
Shoes: Bongo, Kohl's
Bag: Journeys
Belt: Kohl's

Cheery Cherry Sunglasses

Dress: Kohl's
Tee: Kohl's
Shoes: Payless
Bag: Call it Spring, J. C. Penney's

Jewel Jumble Necklace

Top: Lily White, Target
Jeans: Vanilla Star (not Mossimo, which I've been erroneously crediting these last odd three years), Target
Shoes: Guess, DSW
Bag: J. C. Penney's

Top: Kohl's
Jeans: Earl Jeans, Macy's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Candie's, Kohl's

Backwoods Bling Necklace

Tee: Mudd, Kohl's
Skirt: New York & Company
Shoes: Payless
Bag: Payless
Belt: Candie's, Kohl's

I always think, "Huh?" when people say "no pun intended."  Because isn't the pun always intended, if even just subconsciously?  That having been said, I've probably logged at least one such infraction somewhere on this blog.  But I'm willing to overlook that if you are.

I don't know where Lena Dunham stands on wordplay, but I can't imagine that she'd be against it.  I've (almost) always liked Dunham, and not just because she favors Etsian necklaces that look like something out of a kindergarten teacher's closet (as documented in the February 2014 Vogue).  It's because this creator and star of HBO's "Girls" is the poster child for taking risks.  So naturally, I was drawn to her collection of essays, Not That Kind of Girl.  Like Shopaholic to the Stars, it has a strikingly hot pink, and therefore blogworthy, cover.  Which made me wonder: Is Dunham being ironic?  As in, pink is for weak girly girls?  Or is she saying the opposite, that pink is empowering?  Or maybe that it's empowering only in the right hands?  Or maybe . . . she just likes pink.  But enough about the cover and its implications; the inside has illustrations!  Check out this kaleidoscopic collage of kawaii-tastic treats including, but certainly not limited to, pretzels, eclairs, pineapples, cheeseburgers, heart necklaces, and exotic birds:


Fun and feminine, its appeal is near-universal.  Although I'm sure that there are some people out there who don't like such things, I sure as heck don't want to meet them.  Anyway, their sweetly retro vibe is in sharp contrast with the book's grittiness, setting the stage for Dunham's unique blend of dark comic naivete.  For it is gritty, despite being reminiscent of Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?  And Other Concerns.  You know.  If Mindy Kaling had been raised by an artist in Tribeca instead of a gynecologist in Boston and belonged to the dwell-on-it-until-you-land-in-the-hospital-and/or-psychiatrist's-office school of thought instead of the don't-complain-because-everyone's-got-problems school of thought.  This last bit, by the way, was a lesson that Mindy learned from her mother.  But this post isn't about Mindy; it's about Lena.  So instead I'm going to talk about something that she learned from her mother:

"Luxury is nice, but creativity is nicer.  Hence the game where you go into the ten-dollar store and pick out an outfit you might wear to the Oscars (or to the sixth-grade dance)." (107).

This spoke to me for two reasons: 1) Like so many thirtysomethings, I sometimes get sucked into the pursuit of yuppiness, a misstep that clouds my judgment, making me go all pouty because I don't have a Volvo. Or a Brita water filter.  This quote fixes all that by reminding me that yuppies are yucky.   2) My sister and I used to play the $20 challenge game in Marshalls.  Which is to say we'd go to Marshalls with just $20 and try to buy something cool (far less complicated than most card games and, in my opinion, more satisfying).  Lena's mom gives it to us straight: it's not what you have, but what you do with it.  This optimistic and free-spirited, er, spirit is woven through even the murkiest sections of Dunham's confessional, leave-nothing-out prose, echoing the theme that at the core of every artist surges the need for freedom.  Dunham is as unabashed about this as she is about broadcasting her body and her love of carbs.  Which is nice in a world where self-aware women are (sometimes) dismissed as selfish.  Reviewer Miranda July puts it best:

"Very few women have become famous for being who they actually are, nuanced and imperfect.  When honesty happens, it's usually couched in self-ridicule or self-help.  Dunham doesn't apologize like that -- she simply tells her story as if it might be interesting.  Not That Kind of Girl is hilarious, artful, and staggeringly intimate.  I read it shivering with recognition." (back cover)

When I first read this quote, my knee-jerk reaction was, "What?!  All those other famous women out there are fake?"  (I'm not kidding; I actually thought this.)  But then I remembered that fame is like any other profession, and as such contingent upon following a set of unspoken but unbreakable rules.  Dunham doesn't seem to fall prey to any such playbook, and for that she should be applauded.

Did some parts of this book make me cringe?  Well, yeah.  Some of them because they were so alien to me, others because they weren't (over-thinking oneself into a tizzy, to my relief, is far more common than I'd previously surmised).  But then, I'm always willing to put up with a little discomfort in the name of authenticity.  Add a good laugh and an even better story, and I'm zipping through it in a weekend.

Which just goes to show that you can't put a good girl down.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Love that modcloth skirt, it just looks like 80s sweetness on overload!