I spent some time with my eleven year old cousin last year for the first time (we've lived in different countries for most of her life), and came away from the experience absolutely, totally committed to her having a powerful, wonderful future. It scares me to know the kinds of obstacles and pain she's likely to face as a young girl growing into a woman over the next few years, and I'm disappointed that due to geographical distance, I'm not going to be able to be around to help support her in being strong in the face of those battles.
So I had a think about what I could do to provide something for her from a distance; what gift could I give her that would allow me to fulfil my commitment to her being supported and empowered as a female? The answer I came up with was: 'the combined wit, wisdom and wondrousness of all of the women of the world'
last night i began drafting my own letter but it's still in the fledgling stage and because the blog is already a favorite place to go for inspiration and enlightenment i thought i'd share one of my favorite letters to date.
I have only one piece of advice to give, and it is a question. Many women ask themselves questions all the time: ‘Is that fat free? Have I fed my child only organic food? Am I being oppressed by a post-industrial capitalist patriarchy? What are cankles?’ And so on. While having a baby, I was given patchouli oil on a stick as pain relief. ‘That’, I thought to myself, ‘is bullshit.’ Shortly afterwards, I had diamorphine administered directly to my spine. I’m not telling you to try either of these, but quite by accident it provided me with the best of all questions, and my gift to you:
‘Is it bullshit?’
It can be easy to answer. But sometimes the bullshit can be hard to spot. Below, is my advanced checklist:
1. Does it make me happy?
If this is the case, carry on! It is therefore not bullshit, and no other questions need to be asked.
2. Do I have to buy anything?
You don’t have to buy stuff to feel good about yourself. This took me 20 years and an unfortunate couple of months wearing harem pants to work out. Ask yourself:
Do you feel unable to grasp what is happening in Syria unless it is explained next to a picture of some shoes? If so, you are reading Grazia magazine. Put it down.
Does the advertising feature a subliminal shot of Rachel Weisz jogging while pushing a buggy? It is definitely bullshit.
3. ‘The science bit’
People are going to tell you a lot of stuff that is definitely true because it is called science. You may be under the impression, as is the hair product industry, that you cannot ‘hear’ science unless, like a dog whistle just for ladies, it is related to you on the frequency of Jennifer Aniston. This is not science, this is bullshit.
Here is my checklist:
Do 9 out of 10 women agree, or has it actually been subject to a double-blind, randomized placebo controlled test?
If it’s a book telling you how to raise your kids, is it a part of a long term academic study at an accredited university? No? Is it actually just someone telling you shit that they think?
Does the book contain a soft-lit picture of the author resting their chin on their hands and wearing something floral? Yes? They are a maniac.
4. Does it make me feel like crap?
You do not get Lady Points for physical or emotional pain. Look out for this:
Is your partner a) Horrible or b) Nice? Make your mind up. Don’t put up with a).
Is it about childbirth? Does the word ‘natural’ actually mean ‘slightly better at being a woman’? This is weapons grade bullshit. Do what you want.
Is it on the Daily Mail’s website? Are you reading it ‘just for the celebrity news?’ In 14 countries outside the EU this is classified as self-harm. Don’t make me stage an intervention.
5. Does it keep me at home when I would rather not be?
It is possible that the current mania for home cooked and homemade everything… may just be about keeping you at home. I have come to know this as Homemade Bunting Bullshit. If you like to knit your own yoghurt then I love you, you are a hero. But personally, if somebody tells me to pipe home cooked lemon curd into my madeleines, I expect that to be a euphemism.
So there you are. Don’t worry! Just have a good time and know bullshit when you see it. And don’t wear harem pants.