On Tampons in Space, Shine Theory, and Why We Should Look for Inspiration in Other People

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 presetReal talk: it’s tough out there for a lady, sometimes. From dating (“Girl, I want to get you naked and paint you green like the avocado that you are”), to the mental and emotional luggage women carry (body image stuff), to the vicious debate over the decisions I can and cannot make about my uterus, sometimes I just want bite someone. Or do this:

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Like, hey male friends: please don’t slap my butt in the backyard at a party. And hey there, sir – Mr. CVS? You’re buying tampons for your wife, and our eyes met. You weren’t spotted by the Eye of Soran. Everyone here is here because someone got their period. Can we get over it? Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, was sent into outer space with 100 tampons for seven days. 100 tampons. Seven days. What’s worse, is the engineers tied them all together like little sausages, because, I don’t know, they thought somehow that one out of this enormous amount of tampons would be lost on a spaceship? Like, get your s*&$ together, NASA.

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If someone were to ask me: “What makes you a woman?” I would probably nod and back away slowly. The question too big. I am enough of a feminist to know not to answer: “Because I like wearing lipstick, and got my period at such-and-such age.” What about the women who have always identified as such, but were born male. Girls who shunned the corsages and dresses at proms. I also know better than to define us by our struggles, which would be lame, sad, and inaccurate. So I would respond like this: Well, today, I saw an order form awash with pastels and classic cookies – Samoas, Tagalongs – and I remembered I’d sold 92 boxes. I met up with one of my best friends last night, and we went to Forever 21 and she smoked a cigarette as we sat on a granite bench near the L’Occitane, and we talked in a familiar way that you talk to someone you’ve been best friends with since you were eleven. I read The Idiot all Saturday afternoon, and then obsessed over a sweatshirt of a rabbit wearing a beret, and I don’t think those things need be mutually exclusive.

Being a woman for me, has meant my heart strings are tugged when I listen to I Will Always Love You. Plastic chokers in middle school. Finding solace in Go Ask Alice. Putting my feet in silver stirrups. Chatter between women in a nail salon where an oil painting of Halong Bay hangs above the sink.

These days, women don’t just “want it all,” they want to “do it all.” From the potter with her Esty shop in Berkeley and the thick rope necklace, to one of my best friends who already owns her own home, we women should surround ourselves with women who inspire us. I want to watch Iris on Netflix, and establish #accessoriesgoals. To look forward to the 60-year-old version of myself, who will have traveled the world, and maybe learned another language, if only badly, and for fun. Aminatou Sow, Karen Thompson Walker, Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The second prong of this, since it is rough out there sometimes, is I want women around me who will support me. Women who will like my outfit selfies. Who will exude vibes of support, not competition. Like this:

“I put up all my walls. Like defenses are up. Archers. Catapults. Vats of boiling oil…”

“Yeah, he’s like outside, but there’s no intercom. He can’t even press the button for right now. That’s perfect. Keep it like that.”

I think every lady needs A) kick-ass lady friends who are like-minded, and B) some inspiring women who have done something they want to do but haven’t yet. People you can kind of mentally tuck in your back pocket, and from their place there, they rub off on you. Ann Friedman calls this “Shine Theory.”

For me, I can remember a really clear example of this. I was sitting on the white-tiled floor of Whitney Whiting’s living room eating banana and marshmallow sandwiches and watching this black-and-white movie, where Moondoggie corners Sandra Dee in a wood-paneled seventies family room and I decided then and there, regardless of the fact that I had no license, and no surfboards, and no one to go with, I would be Gidget. I would become a great surfer.

Gidget is not the best feminist icon. Sandra Dee kind’ve acted like an idiot, and frankly, the real Kathy Kohner – I have it on a good source from someone who worked with her at the Duke’s in Malibu – is kind’ve full of herself and mean-spirited. But Gidget was the perfect role model for me in one way: she did something that a lot of people said she probably couldn’t do. Or shouldn’t do. And maybe that’s the mark of a well-lived life. You did things you wanted to do, but weren’t sure you could. And I think seeking inspiration – and support – elsewhere, is a good tool for helping you and I do that.

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I am going to try to post on Fridays moving forward (maybe more during the week). Stay tuned!

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