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Newsletter editor Lily here.
This week, writer Sarah Miller published one of the best pieces I’ve ever read on the subject of the diet industrial complex. She covers our society’s rampant fatphobia and how many harmful things we say to people about their weight every day, ranging from “you’d look hot if you lost 20 pounds” to “it’d be better for your health for you slimmed down.” She’s also honest about her feelings on the current body positivity movement, which doesn’t necessarily celebrate bodies unless they fit within socially acceptable proportions and mostly transformed conversations around weight into ones about “health” and “wellness,” both thinly veiled codewords for weight. But above all, Miller perfectly describes the feeling of realizing how much time so many people (particularly women) have spent in their lives worrying about their bodies purely from a vanity perspective.
I have tried not to be very political in this space. Early on, I wrote a lot about politics because politics have become so heavily about gender. But Chairman Mom has grown and expanded over three years, and I know not everyone in our community agrees with me politically, so I’m careful not to alienate anyone.
But, of course, I now find myself feeling completely alienated by both parties. I am clearly wildly out of step with what either wing of the country wants. So here goes. A rare post about politics.
We’ve had a lot of threads on Chairman Mom about spirituality. A surprising amount, actually. So many that we gave it a tab.
There are threads on how to raise your children with a sense of spirituality if you aren’t religious, and how to reconcile what you believe with what others believe when those things come in conflict.
But I’d say the majority of threads have to do with getting over, making peace with, or maybe celebrating how you were raised. One of the biggest surprises about Chairman Mom is how many women I’ve gotten to know who were also raised by evangelical parents (and who are no longer evangelical). That was something I spent many years hiding in Silicon Valley.
I haven’t read Jessica Simpson’s Open Book, nor have I seen the Taylor Swift documentary on Netflix, but I did read this great BuzzFeed article about both a few weeks ago. It spoke to what it felt united the two: The thin line between the industry’s demands that female stars keep reinventing themselves, showing new facets, giving us new reasons to stay interested — but doing so all within an acceptable range of the type of woman that women in music are allowed to be.
The most interesting aspects were about Simpson. The demands put on her, and the debate of powerful men in her life over what sacrifices she had to make to “be Jessica Simpson.”
ICYMI: This year we are putting all of our event focus and dollars behind buying dinner for every working woman in America.
Last Friday, Femily Howe and Mags Amiano aka “The Seesters” hosted our first Chairman Mom dinner in Alameda. It was absolutely phenomenal. There was so much they brought to the dinner that I wouldn’t have been able to bring, wouldn’t have thought of, or wouldn’t have been quite “me” but was so delightfully them.
In terms of what they were able to bring: The diversity in terms of experience, LGBTQ identity, industry, age, and race. They showed how diverse rooms can be when that’s your number one priority, not a surprise given all the work these two do when it comes to real diversity and inclusion. They advised that future hosts start with diversity first. Make your list of amazing women from underrepresented groups to invite and if there’s room, add in the white/cis/hetero women. The results paid off massively. The conversation was truly mind-expanding. It was a rare dinner where I can honestly say I had a major takeaway and learning from every single attendee. TMI, but I had to use the restroom for about two hours because I didn’t want to miss a single comment.
Newsletter editor Lily here.
I started feel a little off last Thursday when I went running; my chest felt tight and I was suddenly coughing, so I cut my workout short. The next day I headed upstate for a preplanned trip to visit my mom, and by Monday, it was official: I was definitely sick with some sort of respiratory illness. I was praying it was maybe a weird cold and not the flu, but only time would tell.
I’m generally one to let these things pass with minimal meds and mostly sticking to the usual wellness advice (drink lots of water, rest, eat your fruits and veggies), but my mom immediately leapt into action: She probably bought out an entire Walgreens with the amount of NyQuil, DayQuil, Zicam, Vitamin C tablets, and cough drops she purchased. She got a new thermometer because she said her old one was faulty. She offered to brave a snow storm to get me food from my favorite restaurants in town. (I declined!)
As a journalist and someone who half of my industry already hates, I frequently feel like it falls on me to call out horrible sh*t, especially related to gender.
I still feel that pressure. But recently, I had an epiphany: Why exactly is this my job? Why is it my responsibility? This is a question I have never thought about before because, for a while, it was part of my job. In fact, even when I was putting my livelihood and safety at risk, everyone still acted like I wasn’t quite doing enough for the industry.
As a white woman, I agonize constantly about cultural appropriation. I’ve traveled all over the emerging world, learned how to cook local meals in friends’ kitchens, and collected local art and jewelry and textiles as I go. I’ve frequently been gifted these things. Is it wrong to enjoy them, remembering how these experiences immeasurably expanded my life?
Let’s go back even further. I grew up in a predominantly black city in the South. Everything I think of as the culture I was raised in is appropriated from black culture. The food, the music, the slang, the style, the art….All of it.
Evie and I had a rough morning.
It was a Wednesday and I had to be in Palm Springs for a work meeting ASAP, but I’d delayed my flight (and kept people waiting) in order to take the kids to school. I wasn’t going to see them for a few days and I desperately wanted that extra bit of momming.
Evie is always hard to motivate in the mornings but this morning in particular she took 20 minutes longer than Eli to get ready for school. Twenty minutes. I don’t even think I could move that slow if I tried. It was like this.
I was a literature major in college, and the one book I always regretted not tackling was Ulysses. My advisor was a James Joyce scholar and I loved The Dubliners and Portrait of an Artist, and the dense quality of Joyce’s writing, that you had to read it along with an annotated guide to get half of what he was even trying to do. (These are only things 20-year-old literature majors “love.”)
So since I tackled Proust and Moby Dick last year, I decided I would do Ulysses next.
It’s been FAR HARDER, far less enjoyable and taken me far longer.