Issue #129: How (And Why) I Replaced Self-Worth with Self-Love
And 10 of my favorite poems.
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📺 “One Day” on Netflix: Like most other Millenials, I’m guessing, I’ve read the book and seen the Anne Hathaway movie—I know the story by heart. And yet, I couldn’t stop watching episode after episode of this charming new adaptation about the bookish girl who strikes up a lifelong friendship with a popular, if passionless, guy on their last day at University of Edinburgh. It’s told one day at a time, each episode a year apart, starring Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall.
📚 Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly: “I know nothing about this woman,” Greta thinks of her crush’s ex while gazing out the window of a university library, “but I assume she’s blonde and called Natasha and they used to sit in little dark cafés talking about Proust.” Deadpan, anxious observations abound in this novel that alternates between the first-person perspectives of siblings, Greta and Valdin, queer 20-somethings navigating the dating scene in Auckland and, on a convenient, lovelorn whim, Argentina. I’m also curious to read Private Equity by Carrie Sun, out today!
🎥 ‘Lisa Frankenstein,’ in Theaters: “Critics hated it,” my mom warned me, when I told her I was on my way to see Diablo Cody’s latest movie. Once parked, I pulled up the Rotten Tomatoes (51%, admittedly not great) to discover an almost 50/50 gender split among reviewers. In watching it, I was reminded that aggregates are rarely worth trusting to find gems. Delightfully ‘80s, with an ‘Edward Scissorhands’ meets ‘Heathers’ bent, it admittedly isn’t saying as much as Cody’s other hits, ‘Juno’ and ‘Tully,’ but is a sweet love story that made for the perfect solo date.
TW: I briefly touch on disordered eating and suicide in this post.
It’s a familiar story: From the outside, my life has always looked close to perfect. I was a straight-A student, never skipped a workout, applied expensive foundation full of “clean” ingredients every morning before work, married my college sweetheart.
I diligently followed the rules and squeezed myself into tiny boxes, only glancing up from my contortion to ask, “Like this?” Everything, including the entirety of my self worth, was predicated on society responding, “Yes, like that.” It hardly mattered that inside—I have a feeling you can relate—my mind was a battleground of cutting self assignations, a chorus of reprimands that I should squeeze tighter, fit better.
The thing is, I am really good at folding into those tiny boxes. I didn’t even have to think twice about who was constructing them or why, because they worked for me. I spent most of my adolescence and early adulthood training to fit into them, a nearly-accomplishable feat considering they were custom-made for me: a white, able-bodied, resourced, thin woman. The fact that I felt like “perfection” was within reach may have contributed to the malice of my punishments.