The Hairpin
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In Defense of an Unlikable Protagonist, When the Unlikable Protagonist is Yourself

There’s this thing I’ve done since I was a kid that I rarely talk about—mainly because it’s embarrassing. Anytime I’m alone, I'm probably scripting scenarios in my head of how my life should go. Not the kind of fantastical daydreaming that encompasses what would happen if the fates were ever to align and I finally got to meet my pun-loving idol Dave Coulier; actual, real-life situations ranging from romantically tense showdowns with men (that never actually come to fruition), to the mundane small talk I practice to ensure I’m the most charming customer in the cramped waiting room of my local auto body shop.

Maybe it's a childhood tic, [...]

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A Cool Hip Writer Who Has Definitely Had Sex Profiles Cameron Diaz

It is always hard to know what to wear to meet an icon.

I imagine this is what Cameron Diaz is thinking as she heads to our meeting in a dirt hole behind a Chinese restaurant somewhere near the Lower East Side. I love this hole; it is dark and and wet and fecund, like…well. Wet holes, I write in my notebook, oooh. The actress enters the gaping chasm—like a mouth, like the void, like… well—and seems perturbed, a propitious beginning.

“Does it bother you that I’m high right now on four kinds of Vicodin and a drug used to treat alopecia in animals?” I ask. “Does it?” [...]

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Forgotten Monsters

Garfel: Over the years, Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid was radically changed from her original form. The sad, painful dancer who turns into depressed seafoam after her one true love weds another became Ariel, a sexy, wide-eyed redhead, who successfully wins her man without even a small jig. In this same manner, Garfel, an ancient Norse demon who kept little Vikings awake for centuries, has been softened for weak modern children. Once known as a mostly-dormant feline beast whose ravenous appetite and formidable rage exploded only at the beginning of each week, today he is a cat who is funnier when he is not even around. His nemesis, Odin, [...]

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Our Eyebrows, Our Selves

I’m not sure when I decided that my eyebrows—thick, dark, and joined—weren’t considered attractive, but I was a preteen when I realized that I would have to do something about it. When I was 12, I begged my mother to let me get the offending patch waxed. Getting my eyebrows “fixed” was Step One of the makeover process that I just knew was necessary if I was going to be a pretty teenager. In teen magazines and on The O.C. (everyone’s favourite show in 2003), I saw smallness and whiteness celebrated in bodies, in clothes, and in upturned noses. Even Kristin Kreuk, the only image of non-white beauty [...]

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Stories Like Passwords

This past spring I attended a writing residency at an artists’ centre in Banff, Alberta. For seven weeks I lived in a dream. My studio was a refurbished boat in the middle of a small forest on top of a mountain; I spent my days floating inside, working on my terrible novel, and my evenings walking into town to buy overpriced wine. There was a large writing program already in progress when I arrived at the centre, and though there were men there, the people I’d connected to almost instantly were a group of women; all different kinds of writers, all different ages, all at different points in their careers. [...]

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Carry That Weight: The Revival of Feminist Performance Art

Mattress Performance: Carry That Weight began nearly five weeks ago. Throughout the performance the artist Emma Sulkowicz, a 22 year-old Columbia University senior, will carry a boxy blue mattress everywhere she goes on campus. Weighing in at fifty pounds, the mattress stands in for the mattress on which she was raped by a fellow student. Sulkowicz’s work is profoundly simple: a young woman visually manifests the psychological weight of the crime committed on her body and demands recognition of that burden. Carry That Weight is a purely visual performance, one so piercing it resists language.

Like most performance art, Sulkowicz’s piece has clearly defined parameters, [...]

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The Best Time I Thought I Was Going To Die In The Italian Woods

“You don’t have to speak Italian, it’s completely fine. Non ti preoccupare.”

The fact that my boss couldn’t get through the entire reassurance in English should have been a tip off. But it wasn’t. I accepted the job, an offer almost too good to be true: myself and my first-ever Serious Boyfriend would be working in Italy for a now-defunct government program that sent Italian government officials’ children away from them for a few weeks every summer.

A regular summer camp in most of its programming, we would teach English for three hours total each day. In return, we would be housed, fed, paid, and free to roam the [...]

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A Reasonable Conversation About Taylor Swift's New Album, Which Is The Best Album Ever

JEN VAFIDIS: HI JANE. There is a new Taylor Swift album out today, and it is already totally undeniable. The first single is a #1 hit, the second single was #1 on iTunes within 10 minutes of its release, and Taylor has been teasing us via Instagram about these new songs for what seems like years. It’s only been a few weeks, but still. I love her, you love her, let’s talk about her.

JANE HU: When I tell people that 1989 is going to get me through the rest of 2014, I’m 100% not exaggerating. Even though the three pre-releases have really sent some MIXED SIGNALS about [...]

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Perverts & Prisons: Madeleine Holden on John Grisham

The internet throngs daily with bad opinions, but every few weeks an argument will emerge that’s so thoroughly wrongheaded and deeply reprehensible that we're all forced to engage with it. Last week it came in the form of statements made during an interview with once-popular crime novelist John Grisham. Grisham, in case you missed it, issued a suspiciously impassioned defence of middle-aged white men who are imprisoned for accessing child sex abuse images, arguing that these men are harmless because they don’t physically touch children and should therefore be receiving more lenient punishment; and and if that sounds like an alarming position for a best-selling author and lawyer [...]

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A Cool Book Review by a Hip Writer Who Has Definitely Had Sex

I got my first asymmetrical haircut when I was 8. My mother was in the kitchen, reading, and I walked in with a pair of scissors. "Fuck you, Mom," I said, as I sliced off half the hair I’d grown as a protest against traditional masculinity. “Fuck the whole world.”

My mother doesn't understand me, still, to this day. She doesn't understand my smoking, my drinking, my casual drug use, or my biting and contemporary parody Twitter accounts. To her credit it is impossible to truly know anything. That, like how to make a bong out of a bottle I found in the garbage, is something I know.

One [...]

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Worst Behavior

From the outside, Toronto seems like a utopia: the world’s greatest rapper calls this city home (that’s Drake, if you haven't been paying attention), gay couples are free to get married, our healthcare system is beleaguered but subsidized, and our film festival is a barometer for Oscars. Torontonians are a happy clash of cultures; almost half the population are native speakers of another language. Vogue recently named our bustling Queen West the second hippest neighbourhood in the world. THE WORLD, YOU GUYS. VOGUE.

But in the tense run-up to the municipal election later this month, there’s been a lot of drama that exposes the [...]

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Faux Feminism in Trademark Tweeds

Karl Lagerfeld's decision to close this season's Chanel show in Paris with a faux feminist protest march is, in runway terms, possibly the worst political and aesthetic decision since Rodarte presented their Fall/Winter 2010 Juarez-themed collection.

Worse yet, major international news outlets are lauding it as a revolutionary move, with some writers going so far as to compare the aesthetics of the show to the May 1968 student riots. As people discuss whether or not feminism is a trend, it seems as if people are missing a lot of what's really, truly awful about this show.

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The Best Time I Was Almost an Actress

I was obsessed with movies and television as a child. So obsessed that I’d spend hours quoting dialogue, singing Wizard of Oz songs, trying to force a British accent (alone), all while telling myself—in the A&E Biography narrator’s voice—that I was the next Judy Garland.

Actually, I liked to tell myself that Harrison Ford or Tommy Lee Jones—who would obviously eventually come to see me as a daughter —would stumble upon me during one of my Broadway renditions and pluck me from my boring suburban life, casting me in every movie they signed on for.

The A&E Biography episode went a little something like this:

“And when Harrison Ford [...]

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A Man Walks into a Bar

A man walks into a bar. He takes a seat at the bar, nods to the bartender, orders a Corona. The man is alone. He is the joke.

A man walks into a bar. His girlfriend is at home, alone, watching a Parks and Recreation rerun. She would love to have a drink, relax with a beer at the bar, but the man seems to have forgotten to invite her. Just like he forgot that they made plans to go to IKEA last week.

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Ghosts Of My Youth

The first ghost story I ever heard was from my mother. She described how once, while sleeping in an upstairs bedroom in her sister’s house, she woke to the feeling of twin icicles curling around her ankles. They were hands, but she didn’t see a body, exactly. More like an abstract interpretation of a body, female, crouched at the foot of the bed. It yanked once, hard, and she opened her pink teenaged mouth and screamed, causing it to let go and vanish. The details shift uneasily when she retells this story—sometimes there is a horrible, unseasonal rainstorm beating the roof, sometimes she is 15, or 17. But these two [...]

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Spell Book of Beauty

I’ve talked about makeup as magic before—it bleeds through my work. Sometimes I take the message literally and make beauty a ritual to do in the dark. And you know, it’s always worked, even if not entirely in the ways you would expect it to. Here are a few of my favorite spells.

For Recovery & Purification I do this in the dark times where I relapse into “It was my fault” territory, when I am preoccupied with what I could haves and should haves and what my demons are doing now. Take some clove and burn it in a stone bowl, put it on the ground and start [...]

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How to Change Your Name in 41 Easy Steps

1.) Practice saying your new name. Say it aloud to friends, family, and police officers. Ask yourself these questions: Can I pronounce it? Can I spell it? Can I remember it?

2.) If you are changing your name as part of getting married, proceed to step 2b.) If not, skip to step 3.

2b.) Go online and print out an application for your marriage license. On the application, there will be a question asking what you want your new name to be, followed by a large blank space. Whatever you write here will be your new name! Congratulations! Mazel tov!

2c.) The application will most likely have some rules [...]

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Patriarchal Parody: The Rom-Com Logic of David Fincher

Disclaimer: If you don’t know what happens in Gone Girl by now, please send me an email explaining how that is even possible. Otherwise, be warned spoilers lay ahead.

Like six million other people, I read Gone Girl. I’m assuming that, like many of those six million people, I read it in a matter of days (one and a half, to be precise). I binged on Gillian Flynn’s easy-as-breathing prose and nearly ripped out the last page of each cliffhanger-concluding chapter in excited frustration. When I finished, I texted the friend who had loaned me the book, admitting I’d skipped dinner plans to stay in and read. She replied [...]

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The Best Time I Was a Teenage Ayn Rand Worshipper

We all make mistakes. It’s a platitude offered by well-meaning adults when they need a limp defense for an inexcusable action; like Britney Spears’ 55-hour marriage to her high school sweetheart, or pretty much anything that’s ever appeared on Amanda Bynes’ Twitter. But I believe in forgiveness above all else, because I harbor an equally disturbing secret: I was a teenage Ayn Rand worshipper.

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Book Titles, Answered

A: My natural habitat being systematically destroyed in the name of advancing civilization.

A: Technically, they count electric sheep while they're still awake, trying to drift off to sleep. Then they generally dream of naked lady androids, or of writing midterms at the local electric school they're unprepared for, while wearing electric underwear with a Batman motif.