The Hairpin
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On Hair, There and Everywhere, and Intra-Cultural Shame

“A girl told me today that I would be a lot prettier if I got my eyebrows threaded. So I told her she’d be a lot prettier if she got surgery to turn her fivehead into a forehead!!”

File that one under the “swing and a miss” column of my sick burn top hits listicle, but biting wit notwithstanding, my mother was unperturbed.

“Maybe you should start threading your eyebrows,” she conceded, staring fervently at the thicket perched above my nose like it was an unsolvable calculus problem.

I was not expecting that response. I was nine.

***

Any article trending on the Internet right now can [...]

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How I Became an Adult Backstreet Boys Fan

"Sorry, we went with another candidate."

I briefly considered putting this on my tombstone, but then I realized the better idea would be to get cremated and have a trusted friend blow my ashes into the eyes of job fair recruiters. If I were to die this instant, that is. You don't want to hire me? Too late, I fired myself from being alive.

"You'll get something,” my mom assures me. "How is your writing going?"

***

I spend all my extra money on a video player for the TV. It's small and compact enough that I could probably lose it if it didn't have wires attached. I [...]

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Two Victors

It’s only an estimate, but I’ve done the math. My father died while I was in a run-down hotel lobby in Newburgh, NY, picking up my race number for a half marathon that would begin in just under an hour.

Dad, at 62, was still an impressively healthy athlete. He swam a mile a day, rode his bike twice daily and played volleyball every weekend. One of the big regrets of his life was that he could not persuade me to take an interest in the game, despite the fact that I “had the shoulders for it.” That Saturday morning last June, while I was driving north from New York [...]

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I Came Dressed to Kill: Tracking the Nicki Minaj Makeunder

The cover art for Nicki Minaj’s new single, "Anaconda," is a backshot of the rapper squatting in a g-string. (Oh: There it is.) The visual was, almost immediately, enough to trigger some paternalistic outrage—for how dare a top rapper bare so much of herself in a genre that is so consistently respectful to women?

Throughout Minaj’s career, I’d argue, every outfit, every shift in aesthetic, has been intentional. The “Anaconda” art is a response to the criticism lobbed toward Minaj from all sides, a retort to those who consistently still say she wears butt pads, or has a fake booty, photoshop be damned. "Anaconda" is an [...]

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The Tragic History of Fallen Teen Magazines

Last week, Bop, the teenybopper magazine that's been churning out covers featuring boy band stock photos splashed atop garish fuchsia backdrops since 1983, announced they would cease publication. If you're all, "Bop still existed?" you can't be blamed to assume it had folded years ago. Most teen magazines did.

Of the dozens that have surfaced since the very first teen magazine, Seventeen, was founded in 1944, only four remain: Seventeen, Teen Vogue, J-14, and, assuming some bound pages of prepubescent pin-ups can be classified as a magazine, Tiger Beat.

Here, we look back at all the teen magazines that have folded for one reason (lame cover stars? irrelevant [...]

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Go Read Alice: The History of the Diary Novel

Recently I was thinking about books from my childhood like Go Ask Alice, Harriet the Spy, and Dracula. In retrospect, these books made outlandish claims to authenticity, but I bought them literally and figuratively because they included supposedly non-fictional diary pages. As a kid, books like Go Ask Alice seem like a curio, but it turns out they belong to a multi-century line of diary novels for girls that awkwardly straddle patriarchy and feminism.

Diary novels are a product of the Victorian era, with their own fully stocked canon and historically specific conventions; it’s an under-attended but significant genre. Most early diary novels were written by clergy who didn't actually [...]

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Why I Have To Be So "Rude"

"Rude" is the #1 song in America; “Rude” is a strong contender for the worst song I have ever heard. For the lucky uninitiated, I can only explain “Rude” like this: it’s the aural equivalent of a man listening to reggae for the first time in his racecar bed, slowly fucking the hole in a Kidz Bop CD.

Here, take a dip, the water's absolutely disgusting!

Ostensibly, the success of Magic!’s “Rude” can at least partially be explained by the history of American top 40's irregular dabbles in reggae, which have tended to appear in the form of one-offs rather than any tangible wave: “I Can See Clearly Now” in [...]

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Dude Text Decoded

We dudes can be a confusing, emotionally constipated, nearly-illiterate group of horndogs with smartphones. And since it’s 2014 and most people are paralyzed by the idea of speaking into a phone receiver, we must fumble our path to fornication via cryptic texts which barely constitute as flirting, let alone communication, most of the time.

But hey! I’m a dumb dude with thumbs and a libido! So let me pull back the Old Spice-scented curtain and let you peek inside the mind of the modern bro’s texting intentions:

hey = I am scared, unfathomably scared.

sup? = Please do not discover my insane insecurities, I do not feel cool. Ever.

[...]
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The Service Was Terrible and I Won't Be Coming Again: A Yelper Reviews Some Dicks

Tim, 29, Los Angeles, CA (✮✮✮☆☆): This dick used to be great, like, three years ago. But it’s really taken a turn for the worse over the past year—now the lines are huge, it takes forever to be served, and when you finally get your dick, it’s usually cold and too salty, but they won’t take it back and get you a new one because they’re “too busy.” I blame the neighborhood influx of hipsters—ugh, go back to Ohio, you guys! Anyway, I’m giving it three stars for all my memories of how good this dick used to be, but I guess it’s time for me to find a new [...]

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The Instagrammers of the Bay Area Femme Cartel

Earlier this year, I was walking down San Pablo around where Berkeley and Oakland rub elbows, and I saw this flyer inviting anyone, no matter whether you identified as an artist or not, to submit Instagram photos to an art collective called Femme Cartel for a show in Oakland. I was arrested by the casualness of this call for art, and the democracy, and the challenge: hey guys, you think you’re so artistic with your tilt shift and your Valencia filter? Submit and find out.

Their flyer encouraged women, people of color, young folks, and LGBT folks in particular to press send. It was a very East Bay outsider moment [...]

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Waiting On Hollywood's LGBTQ Literacy: An Interview with Amy Sohn

In Amy Sohn’s new novel, The Actress, a millennial starlet is explicitly cast as the girlfriend of an older, closeted gay male heartthrob. Maddy Freed, an indie actress whose star is on the rise, is invited to read for an Oscar-worthy movie role opposite Steven Weller, two decades her senior. Maddy is instantly taken with Steven, a celebrated actor with a multi-decade career.

Steven has always been ripe for tabloid fodder given the endurance of his career. But despite cycling through an array of girlfriends (and one wife) over the years, gay rumors tail him constantly. Maddy, aware of the rumors, dismisses them as such and pursues a romantic [...]

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Anger Problems and The Trivia Superteam

A couple of days ago I started trying out this thing, vaguely related to my yoga practice, wherein I am basically supposed to “speak softly or medium-soft” for 40 consecutive days. There are a lot of ways to interpret this directive, which I like to think was translated from Gurmukhi and originally said something like, “Try not to spend all your time just going off on shit.”

The night before the challenge was to start I went to dinner with my boyfriend at his friend Mark’s house. I get along fine with Mark, but Mark had a friend there, and right away, I could tell Mark’s friend probably didn’t know [...]

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Ask a Jeweler: A Buyer’s Guide to Diamonds

This is the second installment in a series about diamonds. For part one, click here.

As you can see by Marilyn’s facial expression, buying a diamond is equal parts exciting and confusing. I’ve tried to answer some FAQs to help you get the best diamond for your hard-earned money.

How is the quality of a diamond determined? How do these factors affect price?

The price of a diamond is directly related to its rarity. The more difficult it is to find and manufacture a particular diamond, the more expensive the diamond will be. A stone’s rarity is majorly determined by its carat weight, color, clarity and cut, otherwise [...]

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My Struggle Bingo

Instructions:

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The Breast of Times: Ten Years of Irrational Nipple Controversy

No body part inspires puritanical pearl-clutching in decent Americans quite as much as the humble nipple. Ten years ago, Janet Jackson slipped the nipple heard ‘round the world, prompting comic levels of outrage and morality policing. This summer, the MPAA banned Eva Green’s Sin City 2 poster for hinting at the possible existence of a nipple through her sheer robe. In between, there was a decade’s worth of similar incidents regarding this particular brand of anatomical exposure:

Janet Jackson at Super Bowl XXXVIII

The nipple-baring that started the national conversation about wardrobe malfunctions took place at the 2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. When Justin Timberlake dance-ripped Jackson’s top, viewers [...]

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Apologia

Have you seen that Pantene commercial that’s been making the social media rounds? The one that asks why women are always apologizing?

I’m the first half of that commercial. I am an apologizer. You know: one of those insecure, irritating, thoroughly un-empowered women who can’t stop saying “I’m sorry” even when they haven’t done anything wrong. “I’m sorry, can I get past you?” “I’m sorry, I ordered this with no mayo.” “I’m sorry to bother you, but our meeting was supposed to start half an hour ago.”

It’s the worst type of un-feminist stereotype: the woman who feels ashamed of existing, ashamed of taking up space, ashamed of asking [...]

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How to Live with an Ex in Five Simple Steps

New York is a town with a double edge. It’s a city where you can cheap out and spend a day in The Met for a $1 (and almost feel good about it until you realize you should have given at least $5, why are you so cheap?), but then afterward, go for a walk in Central Park and not think twice about forking over $4 for a so-so cup of coffee.

It’s a city where you can have a negligible amount of money in your checking account and a non-existent savings, but when you walk around the West Village—and specifically West 10th Street—stalkily peering into the windows of the [...]

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"Did Something Happen?": On Elena Ferrante's 'Abandonment' and Jenny Offill's 'Speculation'

I went on a trip back home to Texas last weekend with Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment and Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation in my backpack. I had no idea what either novel was about when I bought them; it surprised me to find that both were narrated by women whose husbands are having affairs.

We live in a world that is alarmingly full of options, which is why people have affairs and why I like plane rides in the company of books good enough to keep you off the expensive wifi: I read Offill’s book in one sitting and Ferrante’s in two. The authors’ [...]

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On Pheasants and Polyamory

I found the pheasants accidentally. I’d gone looking for the avenue of shoes on Brush Street, a new art installation in Detroit, and got a bit lost. When I stopped to orient myself, I saw a single pheasant through a thicket of tall grass in a vacant lot next to a sagging two-story. The house had an old Ford F150 parked in front. I saw an empty kiddie pool, a plastic circle in turquoise with green fish printed on the bottom. I heard soft crowing, and walked stealthily towards the sound

As I approached, I saw more pheasants through the tall grass. I wanted to make out details, but the [...]

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Talking to Tina Haver-Currin, Steadfast Pro-Choice Protester and Gentle, Brilliant Troll

I first caught wind of Saturday Chores, Grayson and Tina Haver-Currin’s ingeniously weird pro-choice protests, on Facebook. Of course I did a double-take at a photo of Grayson, the bearded, metal-loving music editor of my local alt weekly, holding a sign that said, “I Love Turtles” (full disclosure: I’ve written a couple of things for the Indy Week under Grayson’s purview). A week later, I saw Tina foisting a poster that said “Bring Back Crystal Pepsi.” I don’t think it gets more metal than standing on the side of the road surrounded by hateful right-wingers, standing up for both absurdity and common sense.

I emailed Tina, one [...]