Hay ladies! Turning 30? Time to crawl into a hole and die.
That is, of course, unless you have a man, a sexy bra and tons of cash. That’s right! Ever helpful, Glamour and Huffington Post have teamed up to squish women down, down, down just a little further and reinforce heterosexism and classism while they’re at it.
Because what was popular and relevant 15 years ago is important news today, Huffington Post has reprinted a list of 30 things that every woman should have and know by the time they are 30. The list was originally published by Glamour and apparently “became a popular chain letter” — because you know how popular it is for women to hate themselves! Not only will you never be good enough but you should share this vomitous list with all your best girlfriends so they too have 30 good, concrete, written-down-in-print reasons to hate themselves if they don’t measure up.
And because a “popular chain letter” wasn’t enough, they’ve turned the hate-yourself phenomenon into a book! From the description:
Featuring advice, wisdom and observations from an array of prominent and beloved women, 30 Things is an essential guide (and perfect gift) for women on the brink of 30 — and for those who are already there! Fifteen years ago, Glamour published a list of distinctive yet universally true must-haves and must-knows for women on the cusp of and beyond the age of 30 titled, ’30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.’ It became a phenomenon.
“Universally true!” Like evolution, purses are a universal truth.
In any case, the original list has experienced a resurgence.
Did your friends share this on the interwebs? Because mine did. Were you baffled and appalled? Same.
In order to address and cope with the mass confusion that this list is either fun or useful and in case you don’t want to read through the yuck, I’ve created a brief summary of the list. Let’s take a look all together now for the sake of mutual rage sharing:
1) Be heterosexual and obsessed with men.
First things first. Boyfriends make the lady. If you don’t have a boyfriend, you don’t exist. Also, your boyfriends, past and present, make you.
2) Invent class mobility.
If you aren’t middle to upper class by the time you’re 30 (because poverty and lower-class status slip away with age), you are a huge loser. You must have new furniture, expensive things that you’ve bought for no reason, and outfits (to impress men with, of course).
Apparently, because I don’t have a black lace bra there is something terribly amiss in my life. I’ve always wondered where that empty hole in my heart came from.
4) Become a career lady! Carry briefcase. Erase and resolve all problems and life circumstances.
By 30, you must have somehow have managed to establish yourself in a career (hey graduate students and folks who were too busy trying to get by to build the fancy-pants version of their resume!), have a perfect relationship (with a man obv) and have decided whether or not you want kids. After 30 it’s basically too late to do any of these things.
And there’s more. Stuff about “getting away with drinking and drugs” (which I can only assume is a reference to wrinkles and presenting one’s self as a proper lady) and having a skin-care regimen — but I won’t go into all that because it’s boring as shit. Just like this list wants you to be! Turning 30 means becoming a boring, conformist, privileged a-hole. Avec fancy suitcase.
Not only is this list one that excludes any choices that divert from the straight-up middle-class, heterosexual, Western, prescribed norm — but this isn’t even the norm! Do we really need to know the name of the best tailor in town? I get my pants hemmed at the laundromat next to the grocery store. Because it’s next to the grocery store. Eff off.
How about this, Glamour/HuffPo: I keep drinking, try to avoid making my life revolve around the men in (and out) of it and not worry too much about my suitcase? I’m pretty positive that feeling bad about my income, career, relationship status and lack of lacy black bras is never going to feel empowering. And do me a favour, folks — stop sharing this crap.
If the world really looked the way Pamela Redmond Satran seems to think it should, it would be boring and oppressive. The fact that anyone thinks the world should look this way makes me feel like we have a lot more work to do.
Women will be a lot better off once we stop giving them lists of things they should be and things they should buy in order to count as successful women.
All that said, I’ve taken it upon myself to compile a more useful and practical list of things you should know (but, honestly, that I am still working at myself), maybe by the time you’re 30, but really whenever:
1) Too small shoes will always be too small. They will never “stretch” — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Buy comfortable shoes.
2) Do your very best to ensure that your life doesn’t revolve around a man. Men are fine and good and sometimes great, just as women are fine and good and sometimes great. But you will be told, often, that your intimate relationships with men define you. They really don’t.
3) Value your friendships and put work into them. Friends are important. Make an effort.
4) It’s ok to watch TV. Don’t feel guilty about it. That’s dumb. Intelligent people can watch TV and be intelligent at the same time. It’s a fact.
5) Spend lots of time cuddling with dogs. Unless you don’t like dogs, in which case, don’t, but I really can’t alter this advice with any sincerity for people who don’t like dogs because dogs are what true love and joy and unconditional love look like.
6) Wine and cake?
7) Don’t believe people or lists that tell you that your life should look like some kind of dumb, imaginary rom-com life or that you should be married or have babies or have some kind of career or a certain amount of money or material things or anything else. Those lists are full of shit and will only make you feel bad about yourself which is a waste of time because the whole world already spends an inordinate amount of time trying to make you feel bad about yourself because you’re a woman which, according to dominant culture, means you are always flawed and that your life is less important than a zygote’s.