Pop Culture

The Problem with “Body Positivity” in Today’s Culture

d16388d8a9f6aee3e184b4ebe926e62cIn an age when anything on social media can and will go viral, celebrities and non-celebrities alike are turning to the Internet to share their messages of body positivity and acceptance. With all of the cyber-bullying out there, it’s great to see people using this platform for something good! However, the messages we see online (and in our media) about beauty and body image can be a little conflicting and sometimes more exclusionary than we think.

2015 has been a big year for the the makeup-free selfie craze — and truth be told, I’m not a fan. Let me clarify: I believe we should all have the right to take as many selfies as we want, with or without makeup (until, of course, our friends stop following us on social media for our liberal use of the hashtag #SelfieQueen… sorry, guys!). :) Additionally, we all have the right to choose whether or not to wear makeup when we are in class, out for dinner, or even at the gym. However, we should do it because we feel like it… not because we are trying to make a particular statement about our media’s standards on beauty.

A big reason why I don’t buy into the makeup-free selfie craze is because it can be just as superficial as anything else, and a lot of the time, our online reactions to a celebrity’s photo are very different from our in-person reactions to a makeup-free friend or coworker. When Tyra Banks recently posted a photo of herself without makeup, people applauded her for showing the world her “real” self and demonstrating true body positivity. Meanwhile, when I forget to put on eyeliner, people tell me I look exhausted. :(

b65f127c604ae9d71f6c6c03f5747923e09b934e84aa9625869487b28a215167Makeup or no makeup, the amount of cosmetics you invest in does not determine how real you are or what your value to society truly is. As women, we are often told to wear makeup, but not too much, and don’t let the guys know you’re wearing it! We should go for that natural look that 9 out of 10 men surveyed by Cosmo claim to like, and forgo the red lipstick even if we personally prefer it. Wearing “too much” makeup (as determined by your audience) means you’re only focused on the surface level and you aren’t true to yourself. It probably also means that you have little to no self esteem and that you are too worried about societal beauty standards. And God forbid you wear any makeup when you work out!

It is important to defend a woman’s decision not to wear makeup, and to instead value her for the light she brings into the world. However, it is just as important to defend a woman’s right to wear makeup, get her hair done or have cosmetic surgery without immediately dismissing her as superficial and sad. As women, we can make body positive statements by standing up for one another, treating each other with kindness, and  recognizing that our value is not determined by our looks.

Wear makeup because you want to wear makeup. Skip the makeup if it’s not your thing. Realize that everyone’s preferences on what is aesthetically pleasing can differ dramatically, so don’t hold others to your own.

The Weekend Five: Lessons Learned From 1990s Pop Culture

Lessons Learned from 1990s Pop CultureAs someone who was born in 1990 and lived through most of that decade, I will always have a soft spot for the 90s and the music, movies and TV shows that came with it. Of course, the subject always tends to be a little overdone, but I couldn’t help but share my own feelings about that scrunchie-filled time in our history!

There are a lot of surprising lessons we can all learn from 1990s pop culture, which we’ll discuss in this weekend’s edition of The Weekend Five. Feel free to add your own to the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: Lessons Learned From 1990s Pop Culture

1. Inanimate objects come to life as soon as you leave the room.
Thanks to movies like Toy Story and the Brave Little Toaster sequels, a part of me grew up believing that whenever I left the house, my toys and household appliances gained consciousness and had conversations with each other. (I’m still not entirely unconvinced.) Now in 2015, this is probably why I can’t find a few things in my kitchen… They simply walked off to enjoy a new life.


Five Lessons Learned from 1990s Pop Culture2. If you want to be someone’s lover, you have to get with their friends.
I’m assuming the Spice Girls meant that you should befriend their friends, and not literally “get with” them. In the song Wannabethe Spice Girls make a very good point — if you’re interested in someone, you need to show interest in their friends and the other important people in your boo’s life as well. They also say something about a “zig-a-zig-ah,” whose definition happens to be one of the biggest mysteries of the 1990s.


3. “We were on a break” is never a good excuse for anything you did to upset your significant other.
Actually, never turn to Ross Geller from Friends for any kind of relationship advice. That should be the real lesson here.


4. With the proper makeover, the nerdiest girl in school can transform into the prom queen and land the hottest guy in school.
This “lesson” eventually led to horribly unrealistic expectations for dorky girls everywhere (myself included). Sadly, my makeover didn’t come until college, at a time when nerdiness and “quirkiness” had started to become vaguely attractive traits anyway. I had to watch She’s All That many times before I realized that Freddie Prinze Jr. was never going to enroll at my school.


Five Lessons Learned from 1990s Pop Culture5. Don’t ever talk to a girl who says she just has a friend.
In his song Just A Friend, when Biz Markie asks the girl he likes if she has a boyfriend, she responds, “No I don’t. I only have a friend.” They build a relationship, but when he goes to visit her at college, he quickly runs into her male “friend” kissing her in the dorms. The moral to the story? Don’t ever talk to a girl who says she just has a friend. Ladies: If a guy asks you if you’re seeing someone and you tell him “I only have a friend,” you sound extremely sketchy. We really do have platonic male friends, but if we feel the need to mention them when a new guy asks if you’re single, the relationship probably isn’t all that platonic.

(Side Note: I know that this song came out in 1989, but it feels so 90s to me and it officially went platinum in 1990, so I am including it in 1990s pop culture!)


What are your favorite lessons from 1990s pop culture? Share yours in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: Lessons Learned from Audrey Hepburn Characters

Five Lessons Learned from Audrey Hepburn CharactersEverything I know, I learned from Audrey Hepburn.

Okay, perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but ever since I first watched Roman Holiday back in high school, I have been in awe of the glamorous actress and her equally glamorous characters. I dressed up as Holly Golightly for my decades-themed 21st birthday party (complete with the fancy cigarette holder), and whenever I’m stressed out, I’ll often turn on one of her movies to relax. (I even somehow integrated Audrey’s film characters into a blog post about balancing health and a social life.) The actress herself was someone to aspire to – a humanitarian and devoted mother.

This weekend’s blog focuses on a few of the lessons to be learned from some of her more popular roles. Share your own favorites in the comments section below!


1. “Oh, but Paris isn’t for changing planes, it’s… it’s for changing your outlook… for throwing open the windows and letting in… letting in la vie en rose.” – Sabrina Fairchild, Sabrina (1954)
Early in the movie, a lovesick and insecure Sabrina travels from New York to Paris to attend culinary school, and she emerges a sophisticated and confident young woman. The lesson to be learned from this? Sometimes, all you need is a change in scenery to become a different person. For Sabrina, that new backdrop is the Eiffel Tower, but in reality it can be anywhere – a new city, a new country, or even a new park across town that you’ve never visited before. Travel, no matter how far the distance, can change your perspective on the world, on people and on life in general. (And of course, when in doubt, Paris is always a good idea.)


Five Lessons Learned from Audrey Hepburn Characters2. “There are certain shades of limelight that can wreck a girl’s complexion.” – Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Not all attention is positive attention. Holly Golightly learns this the difficult way, as she finds herself at the center of more than one scandal throughout the film. Certain shades of limelight, in fact, can lead to a negative public perception of a person. It’s okay to make mistakes from time to time, but important to strongly consider the choices you make and align them with the reputation you want to have.


3. “When you can be fancy-free and flash a smile that folks come flocking to see, you’ll be as lovely as can be.” – Jo Stockton, Funny Face (1957)
Positivity goes a long way. Sometimes, a simple smile can make a person’s whole day that much brighter. We may worry about how well we’re dressing for our body types or when was the last time we had our roots touched up, but an even more important lesson in how to be lovely is to consider the way we make others feel and the type of energy we put out into the world.


5 Lessons Learned from Audrey Hepburn Characters4. “You musn’t give your heart to a wild thing. The more you do, the stronger they get, until they’re strong enough to run into the woods or fly into a tree. And then to a higher tree and then to the sky.” – Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Don’t go into a relationship with the intent to change someone. If the person you fall for tells you that he or she doesn’t want to settle down, believe that person. Never idealize someone to the point that their flaws or even their differences in opinion don’t exist. Recognize people for whom they are and don’t try to pin down someone who doesn’t want to be pinned down.


5. When in doubt, break the rules and take a mental health day. – Princess Ann, Roman Holiday (1953)
This lesson isn’t a quote from Roman Holiday, but it does partially sum up the film’s premise. Princess Ann has grown weary of her press engagements during her tour of Europe, so she escapes to spend a day as a Roman tourist, making a few unlikely friends along the way. The film ends on a bittersweet note, and she ultimately returns to her duties as princess, but Ann does have the opportunity to experience Rome from a different perspective and make lasting memories of her time in the ancient city. Sometimes in life, it’s okay to take a break from your obligations and do something exciting for your own well-being. Recognize when you are being stretched too thin, and do something about it.


What are your favorite lessons from Audrey Hepburn’s iconic movie roles? Sound off in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: Modern Twists to Your Favorite Disney Movies, Part II

Modern Twists to Your Favorite Disney MoviesFor many of us, Disney’s animated movies were a huge part of our childhood. Twenty years later, it can be fun to watch these movies as adults and relive that simpler time in our lives.

Of course, as we indulge in the classics, it’s fun to ask ourselves how these movies would differ if they took place in modern times! Back in March, I went through the plots of a few Disney favorites and came up with my own versions of these movies in 2015.

However, there are still plenty of popular Disney movies that I didn’t get to write about last time around! This week, I share my present-day plots for five more Disney movies. Enjoy!

The Weekend Five: Modern Twists to Your Favorite Disney Movies, Part II

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)
Meet Snow White, a beautiful girl who “hates drama.” Unfortunately for Snow White, drama seems to follow her everywhere, because everyone is jealous of how beautiful she is. Her own stepmother tries to ruin her life by placing a virus on Snow’s Macbook and iPhone, hoping to cut off the girl’s communication with the outside world. This backfires when Snow White meets a group of seven computer engineering students at the local college, who help fix her Apple products and ultimately invite her to move in with them. Her boyfriend isn’t thrilled about her living with multiple guys, but as she explains to him, “Girls just don’t really like me!”


Modern Day Twists to Disney Movies2. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Needing an escape from her boring life, Alice decides to visit a new bar in town called The Rabbit Hole. After taking a shot of something that says Drink Me, Alice finds a passageway to a secret club downstairs called Wonderland. There she is introduced to a strange underground music scene and makes a few bizarre new friends. She finds herself especially intrigued by a guy she meets, known only as The Mad Hatter, and accepts his invitation to an Unbirthday Party the next night. However, after spending more time with these new friends over the next few weeks, she realizes how weird and flaky they really are, and ultimately goes back to her regular life.


3. Peter Pan (1953)
Career-driven and successful Wendy Darling loves her boyfriend, Peter, but worries about the fact that he still lives in his fraternity house five years after they graduated from college. After work each day, she takes care of Peter and his frat brothers by cleaning the house and cooking them dinners, and finds herself wishing Peter would apply for a job already. In the end, she dumps him for an older guy who happens to have a job and a boat.


Modern Twists to Your Favorite Disney Movies4. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Aurora is placed under a sleeping curse, in which she sleeps through several world wars and significant historical events. When she finally wakes up, she must adapt to a changing world. One day, she hears a beautiful singing voice in the forest, but is saddened to discover that it is in fact Justin Bieber.


5. Aladdin (1992)
Aladdin falls for Jasmine, an Instagram-famous lifestyle personality who lives in his hometown and has no idea that he exists. To make matters worse, her boyfriend Jafar has reached a similar level of online fame, mostly because of his flair for ironic facial hair. In a fit of desperation, Aladdin turns to local social media/PR agency Social Genie, who helps him to create popular social media profiles that transform his image. Jasmine quickly falls for Aladdin. In the end, she learns that his awesome online life was completely fake, but still decides to give him a chance.


How do you think your favorite Disney films would have gone in 2015? Share your ideas in the comments below!

The Weekend Five: Modern Twists to Your Favorite Disney Movies

Modern Day Twists to Your Favorite Disney Movies!After a fun-filled trip to Epcot last weekend, it’s safe to say that I have Disney on the brain! A child of the 1990s, I loved picking up a new Disney movie in its colorful plastic case and playing it in our VCR (which had to be replaced, after one of our Disney movies got stuck in there). Even in my twenties, I’m quick to pop in a Disney movie whenever I’m sick or in need of a reminder from my childhood.

Of course, watching these movies as I’ve gotten older, I realize that many of them would be a lot different if they were written today. Our thoughts on marriage, beauty and women’s roles have significantly evolved in the last century, and with the ever-growing influence of technology and social media, it’s interesting to think about how our Disney favorites would differ in a modern-day setting.

This weekend, I’ve taken five Disney classics and revised the plots to take place in 2015. Let the madness begin!

The Weekend Five: Modern Twists to Your Favorite Disney Movies

Modern Day Twists to Your Favorite Disney Movies!1. Cinderella (1950)
Ella escapes the confines of her strict stepmother’s home to attend Coachella, where she meets and becomes infatuated with DJ Charming. When she flees from the festival to meet curfew, leaving behind nothing but her custom-made flower head wrap, DJ Charming launches a social media campaign (#FindElla) to find her. Meanwhile, as one of the film’s subplots, her stepmother’s cat Lucifer becomes a viral Internet meme and soon has his own line of merchandise.


2. The Fox and the Hound (1981)
When Tod and Copper’s owners recognize the unlikely friendship blossoming between their pets, they photograph the two animals playing together and create a blog documenting the relationship. The blog goes viral, and Tod and Copper are even featured on Ellen.


http://www.dumpaday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/the-little-mermaid-funny-font2.jpg3. The Little Mermaid (1989)
Plagued by pollution and the ongoing threat of global warming, the creatures of the sea send Ariel ashore to speak with the humans about these atrocities. There she falls in love with Eric, the son of an oil tycoon, and feels voice-less in a society still dominated by patriarchal values. In the end, Ariel saves the planet and ultimately agrees to marry Eric, but mostly because she thinks his dog is really cute.


4. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
At the heart of Beauty and the Beast is a love triangle for the ages. Should she choose Adam “The Beast” Rose, a hairier-than-average guy whose anger management classes have proven ineffective thus far? Or should she choose Gaston, her handsome neighbor who frequents men’s rights message boards and complains about “female privilege”? In the end, Belle realizes that she’s too good for either of these men, and instead chooses the cute guy she met at the bookstore. Meanwhile, her father (a software engineer and app developer) invents Words with Friends.


http://www.dumpaday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/the-little-mermaid-funny-font2.jpg5. Mulan (1998)
Mulan joins the army without disguising her female identity. She is celebrated for her bravery, strength and creative problem-solving skills. She returns home a hero.


If you enjoyed these modern day movie adaptations, you’ll love my modern day endings to these classic romantic comedies! Go check them out.

What are your favorite Disney films? How do you think they would play out in 2015?

2014: The Year in Review

I'm pretty sure I had one of these.

I’m pretty sure I had one of these.

Can you believe it has been 15 years since the major Y2K scare? Luckily, a lot has changed since the days of pleather pants and Ricky Martin, and I have finally grown out of those bell bottoms I wore as the clock struck midnight. Thank goodness our computers continued to function and the world didn’t end!

2014 was a landmark year of its own, with plenty of interesting pop culture events and trends to reach the masses. I’m still not entirely sure what an Iggy Azalea is or why parachute pants are making a comeback (sorry, but no one looks good in those), but I am happy to report that starting this year, So It Must Be True will begin compiling an annual Year in Review, summarizing some of the highlights of the last 365 days.

Enjoy my last article of 2014 below and have a very happy, healthy New Year! Feel free to add your own categories in the comments section below. :)

2014: The Year in Review

  • faux_outrageTheme of the Year: Faux Outrage.
    Yes, 2014 was definitely the year of Faux Outrage, expressed mainly through social media shares of popular opinion piece articles. We became especially sensitive to all issues, even those we secretly didn’t know or care much about, in the interest of portraying ourselves as Social Activists. Through Facebook and Twitter posts, we shared our outrage over very minor issues and often glossed over the much more major ones. While political correctness and kindness have always been undeniably important, 2014 was the year that we berated each other mercilessly in order to show how accepting and supportive we really were.
  • Word of the Year: “Appropriation.”
    In the interest of Faux Outrage, we often accused even the most harmless of events to perpetuate “cultural appropriation” or “misappropriation.” For many of us, this was the first time we had ever seen or heard this word, but we were excited to use it even when cultural appropriation wasn’t happening. (Note: This is a very real thing, and we should be mindful of the way we treat other people and their cultures, but 2014 often misused and overused the term when it really didn’t apply.)
  • article-swift-0607Celebrity Makeover of the Year: Taylor Swift.
    In 2014, something miraculous happened for Taylor Swift. She transformed herself from “the girl who goes from boyfriend to boyfriend and writes songs about each of them” to “the girl who values her female friendships (and probably, in secret, still has some boyfriends here and there.” T. Swift became known for her signature red lipstick, her chic sense of style, and her coterie of superstar celebrity pals. If Taylor Swift was friends with Lena Dunham and Emma Stone, then how bad could she really be? Taylor Swift also seemed to become a lot more self-aware in 2014 as she fully transitioned to the genre of pop, writing songs that poked fun at society’s perceptions of her. What will Taylor do next?
  • Most Disliked Celebrity of the Year: Justin Bieber.
    My mom has said that if Justin Bieber were her child, he would be in time-out by now for his awful behavior. Does anyone still listen to his music?
  • 532047_10151365719858869_358177475_nSuperfood of the Year: Kale.
    As we aim to #eatclean as part of our New Year’s Resolutions, we can’t forget how much kale has dominated our Pinterest boards in the last year. Other foods that run closely behind: sweet potato (the paleo community’s Superfood of the Year), quinoa, and cauliflower (which has lent itself to gluten-free rice, pizza crust, mashed faux-tatoes, and so much more!).
  • Hot Button Issue of the Year: Feminism.
    Every year, we pick a new cause to make ourselves feel particularly important and well-informed. When I first started college, that cause was environmentalism, as everyone began to concern themselves with global warming. However, as the years wore on, more and more people stopped biking to classes and bringing recyclable bags to the grocery store. In 2014, everyone became a feminist. Many of us were feminists to begin with, but now it was especially in vogue to post Jezebel articles about slut-shaming, body-shaming, and every other kind of shaming imaginable. My personal favorite articles were those that accused certain celebrities of being or not being feminists. When Shailene Woodley (mentioned later in this article) announced that she was not a feminist, the Internet nearly broke. I’d like to think that many of the feminists that emerged in 2014 will continue to defend women’s rights in 2015 and beyond, but the cynical part of me fears that feminism has become just as much of a trend for the sake of being a trend as anything else.
  • TV Show of the Year: Orange is the New Black.tumblr_mr3p0tsiSl1sdc0bvo1_250
    When Season 2 of the Netflix original came out in 2014, social media exploded with posts about the show and the binge-watching that went along with it.  This show received tons of award nominations in the months to come, and will be bringing much of its well-earned popularity with it into the year 2015.
  • Actress of the Year: Shailene Woodley.
    Oh, Shailene, you strange forest nymph/child of the moon. Shailene Woodley, who was known for a few of her roles prior to 2014, suddenly went from pretty-but-unmemorable-unwed-teen-mother-on-television to quirky-nature-loving-movie-star. The young actress had several major movie roles this year, but was even more known for her interesting interviews and homemade remedies for everything imaginable.
  • Actor of the Year: Chris Pratt.
    After getting in shape for Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt was not only the lovable goofball from Parks and Recreation, but also a total stud. His bodacious new bod, coupled with his funny quotes and infectious smile, made him 2014’s most likable heartthrob.
  • 675d8cc18205907f363667eae27740d6Clothing Trend of the Year: Crop Tops & Dresses.
    Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, girls aimed to show off their belly-buttons. Crop tops and cropped dresses have emerged in 2014 (popularized by Taylor Swift and other celebrities), this time showing off the upper ribcage but leaving the navel to the imagination. I’m not sure if this will ever be a trend I decide to follow, but if I ever do get that six-pack I pray for every year, this trend will at least help me reveal part of it to the world.

What trends and events do you think everyone will remember from 2014?

Sound off in the comments below!

The Weekend Five: TV Crossovers That Need to Happen

82705raven_01Because I’m a fan of so many TV shows, you’d think I would love crossover episodes. After all, wouldn’t it be awesome to see some of my favorite characters from two or more TV shows, duking it out on one set? Sadly enough, I’ve never seen a crossover episode that I really enjoyed. (I am hoping that the Family Guy/The Simpsons crossover this fall will change that!)

To remedy this horrible problem, I took it upon myself to create five brand new TV shows that involve character crossovers. These shows range from comedy to drama to reality, and will hopefully make the work a lot easier for the writers, as the episodes practically write themselves! Sit back and relax with a bowl of your most buttery popcorn as we flip through these five amazing TV show crossovers.

The Weekend Five: TV Crossovers That Need to Happen

1. That’s So Raymond (That’s So Raven + Everybody Loves Raymond).
Sports writer Ray Barone (Ray Romano on Everybody Loves Raymond) finds himself teaching journalism classes at a San Francisco high school, until one day he begins having visions of the future. His long lost cousin, Raven Baxter (That’s So Raven) teaches him how to harness his psychic powers, but the two get into plenty of costumed hijinks along the way. The show features Raymond’s nagging wife Debra, several sassy catchphrases (“That’s so Raymond!”), and Ray Romano’s glorious Muppet voice.


1994b04a592e32d67f6d1c08f81e88d02. Boy Meets Girls (Boy Meets World + Girls).
Cory Matthews (not yet married to Topanga, with whom he is currently on a break) and the guys from Boy Meets World decide that New York is the perfect place to spend their twenties. They move into the apartment across from Hannah Horvath and Marnie Michaels (Lena Dunham and Allison Williams on Girls). Cory finds himself fascinated by the younger, fast-talking Shoshanna, while Shawn falls for troublesome Jessa, whose past may be darker than his own. Meanwhile, as part of her quarter-life crisis, Marnie hooks up with the ambitionless Eric Matthews, much to her own chagrin. The show features clever commentary on the millennial generation, Shoshanna’s bizarre hairstyles, Skype dates with Mr. Feeny, and a lot of Lena Dunham nudity.


3. America’s Next Top Teen Mom (America’s Next Top Model + Teen Mom).
Tyra is always looking for a new spin for her competitive modeling TV show. Why not add MTV’s famous teen mothers into the mix? The young contestants are judged based on their smize, the number of weaves they can wear in one episode, their ability to text and drive, and how well they deal with their baby daddies. The show features lots of tears, a weekly discussion about the contestants’ “realness,” a screaming Tyra Banks, and Jenelle Evans’ hot lawyer.


once-upon4. Once Upon a Grimm (Once Upon a Time + Grimm).
Once Upon a Time and Grimm, both heavily focused on fairy tales and folklore, hit the small screens around the same time. Putting them together for a spin-off TV show (or at least a crossover episode) would be a no-brainer! Nick Burkhardt, a Portland homicide investigator and Grimm (a hunter who perceives supernatural forces and can fight them), finds his way to the East Coast town of Storybrooke. He and his partner, Hank Griffin, team up with Emma Swan (the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming) to vanquish whatever villain is currently haunting Storybrooke. Meanwhile, Monroe (a blutbad, much like The Big Bad Wolf) begins an illicit affair with Ruby (Red Riding Hood/Werewolf Extraordinaire). Police Captain Sean Renard takes a liking to Evil Queen Regina (the Mayor of Storybrooke) and they bond over their shared knack for interior decorating. The show features true love’s kiss, several magical fight scenes, Nick Burkhardt’s concerned face, good triumphing over evil, and too much clever dialogue for its own good.


5. Orange is the New Scandal (Orange is the New Black + Scandal).
Olivia Pope fixes things. But when she finds herself sentenced to a year in federal prison for the crimes she has committed, she can no longer play her role as Washington D.C.’s resident fixer. Instead, she begins helping her fellow inmates with their own issues. She gets Red back to her job in the kitchen, prepares several inmates for their appeals, puts an end to the prison race wars, and even works to improve Crazy Eyes’ image. The show features emotionally-charged prison visits from President Fitzgerald Grant, flashbacks to Olivia’s fabulous coats, a developing friendship between Olivia and fellow prisoner/hairdresser Sophia (who helps her maintain her beautiful hairstyles), and a significantly improved prison system.


You’re welcome, TV viewers.

Love Lessons from the Movies

e9431ded-5a77-4fec-8942-d8f5b0a500dbRegular readers of my blog will know that I love to write about romantic comedies. From the gender stereotypes they perpetuate to the misconceptions they give us about love to the modern-day endings to classic rom coms, I don’t know if I’ll ever get tired of watching, swooning over and criticizing these films. :)

Of course, the romantic comedies we watch can actually teach us a lot about love and relationships! Below are some of the lessons I’ve taken away from these films, which will hopefully enhance your love life and bring you the happiness you seek!

  • High school is a drag, especially when it comes to dating, but if you change everything about your appearance and personality, you will finally find true love. – Grease (1978)
  • Living under the sea is a drag, especially when your only friend is a flounder, but if you sell your soul to a sea witch in order to change your appearance, you will finally find true love. – The Little Mermaid (1989)
  • Don’t fall in love with a womanizing slacker. Instead, fall in love with his workaholic brother who tried to ship you out of the country so he could complete a business deal. – Sabrina (1954)
  • When you love someone, the best way to show that love is by yelling at the other person. – Katherine Heigl movies
  • Women are most charming when singing among nature or not talking at all. – Sleeping Beauty (1959)
  • If you really want to be with someone who is otherwise engaged, you should wait to reveal your feelings until that person’s wedding day. – Various films
  • If you begin a friends-with-benefits relationship with someone, you will ultimately fall in love and end up together. – Friends With Benefits (2011), No Strings Attached (2011), various other films
  • If you’re otherwise sweet and easy to relate to, then it’s okay to steal your best friend’s fiancé. – Something Borrowed (2011)
  • It’s not an inappropriate age gap if the older person in the relationship is undead and still looks like a teenager. – Twilight (2008)

Readers, what are some of the lessons you’ve taken away from the movies you’ve watched? Sound off in the comments section below!

The Role of Women in Romantic Comedies

sandrabullockIt has become a widely accepted fact that the plots of romantic comedies are just not realistic (for further proof, see here and here). Growing up with the now often-parodied teen flicks of the 90s and early 2000s, I can attest to the fact that the movies I watched when I was younger played a huge role in the misconceptions that I and so many of my peers had when it came to relationships. If a guy treats you poorly, he likes you. If you argue a lot with another person, it means you have chemistry. And if all else fails, you’ll probably just wind up with your best friend anyway.

I think we can agree that these misconceptions are harmful, but until recently, I didn’t stop to think just how harmful their portrayals of women could be. Most female characters fall into two categories: desperate to fall in love and get married (think of Ginnifer Goodwin in He’s Just Not That Into You), or too career-driven to ever want or attract a man (Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice, The Proposal, Miss Congeniality or perhaps any other movie she has ever been in). Let’s call this second character Jane.

No-Strings-Attached_240These movies do an incredible disservice to Jane and characters like her because they paint them as cold, out of touch and clearly Missing Something. In fact, there is usually a best friend character prone to “messy” relationships who summarizes this sentiment early in the film by stating that Jane is so set in her ways and afraid of getting hurt that she risks finding true happiness. Also, would it kill her to put on a little more makeup and wear her hair down once in a while?

Never mind the fact that Jane loves what she does for a living and is well suited for it. Pop culture tells us that the woman who focuses “too much” on her career is simply doing so to distract herself from finding a soul mate. Only when she lets her hair down (literally and figuratively) and demonstrates some form of vulnerability, perhaps by crying or getting drunk in front of the male love interest, does she open herself up to a happy life. Only then does she truly become the character we like and root for. After all, what man would want to be with a woman who enjoys her job?

In real life, there are gradients between these extremes. Women who love their careers and enjoy being in a relationship do exist. In addition, there are plenty of men who like independent women. Why do we have to box ourselves into these two very limited categories? (And for the women who don’t ever visualize themselves in a relationship, who are we to judge?)

ginnifer-goodwin-purple-nails-he's-just-not-that-into-you-nubar-pasadena-purpleWe value a woman’s willingness to be in a relationship as a trait to be valued, but not her independence. In the movies, Jane’s “independence” is clearly just a wall she put up after someone hurt her, a wall that is meant to be broken down by the male lead. (Jane’s best friend or love interest in the film may actually use the whole “wall” metaphor in a big speech that makes her realize just how closed off she has been the entire time.)

If a woman rejects a man or decides to put her career first, pop culture labels her as cold. (Tweet this!) What the movies – and the people who watch them! – fail to think about is the fact that we all have different priorities at different points in our lives, and while a woman may hope to marry and have babies someday, she might not be ready for that stage.

There are a few exceptions to the romantic comedy genre that don’t posit relationships and careers as an either/or for women, but all too often, pop culture dictates that we must choose (and that “career” is the wrong choice). Society – and women especially – need to remember that these options are not mutually exclusive, and that they can have both.

The Five Most Popular Themes of Country Music

conway twittyLast summer, I found myself listening to country music. I’d grown sick of a lot of the Top 40 songs on the radio, and decided to give a new station a try. During that time, I developed an appreciation for artists I’d never heard and a genre I’d never enjoyed until then (except for this song, which introduced me to country music in my childhood… thanks, Mom).

Although I still wouldn’t call myself a diehard country music fan, I did pick up on some common themes the longer I listened to it! A few years ago, I wrote about the popular themes of pop music and rap music, so of course I had to follow up with a blog all about the popular themes of modern country music!

Disclaimer: This was all written in good fun, so I hope no country fans take offense to it! I like to poke fun at all genres. :)

The Five Most Popular Themes of Country Music

1. Nostalgia for summer, small towns and women.
Country artists are a nostalgic bunch, and many of their songs seem to be inspired by idyllic summers in small towns (which are written to be better than larger towns and cities in every way). These memory-laden songs often, though not always, reflect on first loves — whether or not those relationships are still intact. Country songs often reflect on a simpler time, when life was easier and things were done the “right” way.


8ee9ee46742eb5b888815f5ffd8045772. Sweet, sweet revenge.
For every nostalgic country song, there is at least one revenge anthem to counteract it. In Carrie Underwood’s song Before He Cheats, she digs her key into the side of her ex’s “pretty little souped-up four wheel drive” and carves her name into his leather seats… pretty vengeful, if you ask me! Of course, Miranda Lambert’s Gunpowder and Lead is easily my favorite song in this category, even if the lyrics are actually quite terrifying. (Guys, revenge solves nothing, okay?)


3. Pickup trucks.
Not to stereotype, but pickup trucks are a big deal in country music. These songs don’t resonate as much with me as many of the others, but there’s something to be said for how much the artists care about their vehicles!


4. America.
Say what you will about country musicians, but they are nothing if not patriotic. :)


5. Long-lasting love and heartbreak.
Compared to other genres of music, I’ve heard fewer country songs about one-night stands and many more about long-term relationships, marriages and deep heartbreak. Pop music may have some romantic songs that hit the charts (here’s looking at you, John Legend), but I’m not sure if any compare to the sweetness of Thompson Square’s song Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not? or Gloriana’s Kissed You Good Night. Of course, these are common themes in all genres of music, but it would be crazy not to bring it up for this one because it comes up quite often.


What are some of the common themes you’ve picked up on in country music?