As old stalwarts of Dames Nation are well aware, Taffy Brodesser-Akner is the queen of our hearts.
Every week we aren’t screaming this at Taffy, we are displaying phenomenal restraint.
Content Warning: We know diet culture & its many discontents can be tough to deal with and triggering for many, so if this is something you need to not read for your well-being, scroll directly ahead to the Mini-Break announcement (starting with the Audrey Hepburn GIF below).
But even with our established delight for Taffy's every word-- something that stretches back to the very first link round-up we ever did, wherein we sharedher barn-burner of a piece on Britney Spears’s Vegas residency-- we found ourselves particularly impressed with the piece she recently wrote for _The New York Times Magazine_ about Weight Watchers’ struggle to rebrand itself and her own messy feelings about food and dieting. It’s an extremely personal piece that’s also phenomenally reported and admirably invested in all the nuances this complicated terrain presents.
And because we always love added content for context, here’s Taffy on NYT’s The Daily podcast, being interviewed by Michael Barbaro at his sensitive and insightful best. We also love the inclusion of field recordings of Taffy talking with women at Weight Watchers meetings. Pair both with this excellent & infuriating piece on the very problematic history of “healthy” and “clean” eating crazes, many of which follow a familiar pattern of starting in a genuinely helpful place of wanting to encourage people not to eat poison (in the 1800s, we’re talking about _LITERAL_ poison, since there were no food safety regulations) and then devolving into a pseudo-scientific ultra-prescriptive paranoia.
Ideally, how Your Dames will be spending large swathes of the next couple weeks.
We Your Dames are going to be on hiatus for the remainder of the summer. Dame Sophie’s Consort is taking her back to the Green Fields of England and Dame Margaret is too jealous to possibly continue on in the absence of her writing partner. Next week, we will have a wonderful guest issue edited by our #DamesPals Racheland Naomi (who many of you may know from noteworthy links shared here previously or Toastie Twitter, where they both shine), and there may be some special #BonusContent from us on either the 25th or the 1st. But, for the most part, you’ll be hearing less from us for a bit, and we did not want our absence to take you by surprise.
Dame Margaret’s Usual Miscellany
It is important, at this moment, to note that Dame Margaret has tried these very sunglasses on-- THIS SPECIFIC PAIR-- and that they could ONLY look good on Meryl Streep.
Speaking of established favorites, let us again sing the praises of Alice Bolin, whose perceptive piece on the pop culture depictions of working at women’s magazines and their persistent allure was an extremely delightful read that left yours truly with a burning desire to rewatch The Devil Wears Prada and begin the FreeForm series The Bold Type (which I shall be discussing in the near future on my TV podcast). The way Alice balances just criticism with the limits of this fantasy with honesty about its continued appeal particularly impressed me. (Also, it's Alice's birthday today. Happy Birthday, brilliant lady!)
And speaking of persistent but also toxic fantasies, have you ever wondered what goes into planning a billionaire’s wedding? Well, Julia Rubin of Racked has you covered with this long, delicious piece about how the 0.1% of the 0.1% get married, full of tantalizing quotes like “You’ll never see or hear about the vast majority of high-end weddings that take place. ‘Ninety-nine percent do not want it discussed, talked about, featured in wedding magazines,’ Sarah Haywood says of her clients. ‘I don't really want them either because the average wedding magazine, what they think a luxury wedding is, they'd pee their pants if they came to one of ours. It's a different level, so I don't want them condensed into, ‘Oh, the bride wore this, and this cost this.’ They always want to know what it cost, but it’s vulgar to discuss what it cost at that level. It is just not nice to talk about what it cost.’” In a week during which Hillary Clinton attended one such wedding in a beautiful caftan, I feel this is a dream with which we all deserve to check in.
It also puts me in mind of the excellent and 100% Dames Approved book Crazy Rich Asians and its forthcoming film adaptation. Were you aware that this film will be the first romantic comedy to feature a majority Asian cast, and only the SECOND Hollywood-funded film with one? As shocking as that sounds, it’s absolutely true-- and reading about how challenging it was to make The Joy Luck Club in 1993, despite the phenomenal success of the novel upon which the film is based, it rapidly becomes less surprising. And while I imagine that the import of this step forward is easy for everyone in Dames Nation to imagine, it hit me especially hard in the wake of reading Nicole Chung’s wonderful piece for Hazlitt, “Magic Can be Normal”, on the impact of seeing Asian actors in Shakespeare production, and the concrete impact representation can have on our self-image.
While we sang the praises of NPR Music’s project Turning the Tables last week, I wanted to call further attention to its continued unfurling. This week, the editors have started sharing pieces in two complementary series. One, “Forebears” highlights women like Dinah Washington and Wanda Jackson, whose career peaks fell prior to the project’s 1964 cutoff. The other, “Shocking Omissions”, highlights albums that did not make it onto the final list of 150 but still merit shouting-- a series I’ll be watching carefully for mention of my beloveds Neko Case and Aimee Mann. And, as a cherry atop the sundae, many of the women who contributed to the list got to take over the All Songs Considered podcast to discuss their picks and share insights about the process. All of these things and more can be found at the NPR Music vertical dedicated to the project.
Tinder is a terrible hellscape but this piece from L.A.ist’s Editor-in-Chief Julia Wick which translates stock phrases from men’s Tinder profiles into their real-life meanings is (1) absolutely everything and (2) broadly applicable to profiles even OUTSIDE of L.A.
And finally, if Tinder is a terrible hellscape, at least gin remains a fortifying fluid for the ages, as Alexander Chee’s incredible paean to it so effectively conveys. This is the kind of piece that will either leaving you DYING for a martini or, if you’re like me, dying to be the kind of person who LOVES martinis instead of shamefacedly finding them always to be too much clear liquor in one go.
Not NOT the way Dame Margaret usually makes her gin & tonics at home
Dame Sophie’s Slightly Unhinged Link-o-Rama
Real-time footage of me.
Fronds, I’m going on vacation and am a weird combination of filled with giddy anticipation, juuuust about out of gas, and starting to get a little frantic about the laundry & packing I need to do before hitting the road, so this is a little more scattered and weirdly lengthier than usual. I neither travel nor newsletter light, I guess?
First, a little roundup of all the perfect wonderful Hot Fuzz-iana from the giddy perfection of the livetweet session we hosted on Sunday last:
First & most importantly, read this perfect piece from Avidly on the glories of Point Break.
If you liked Alice Lowe’s deadpan performance as the vocal frying supermarket announcer, you may be very taken by her performance in her directorial debut, Prevenge, about a pregnant woman who believes her in utero child is directing her to murder people. Mark Kermode has already identified it as one of his Top 5 movies of 2017 so far.
You remember the reporter who had an untimely appointment with a huge chunk of church masonry? He’s played by DJ & podcast host Adam Buxton, the brains behind the iconic cartoon imagining what went on behind the scenes at the recording of David Bowie’s weird, wonderful song “Warszawa”. I estimate that I’ve watched it at least once a month since Bowie died & it’s always a balm for my soul.
You may recall that Fairy Godmother of The Lady Internet The Toast came back for one glorious day last month (if you missed it, go enjoy that new content now!). Relatedly, former Toast editor Nicole Cliffe and A+ Twitter storyteller is back as a regular presence on Twitter, which is cause enough for celebration on its own. Current favorite thread: her white-hot rage at Prince Henrik of Denmark’s inability to just accept the fact that his wife is the Queen and he is not ever going to be the King. It’s pure gold. WELCOME BACK, Nicole! PS this trailer for Season 2 of The Crown makes me think it won’t be QUITE as annoyingly Prince Philip-centric as earlier reports led me to believe. I’m keeping hope alive. Claire Foy forever!
Tunes tunes tunes! This week, both Kesha and Bomba Estereo blessed our ears with new albums. Also, it’s getting near the end of the summer for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere and you may need some extra-summery tunes to accompany you. In that case,please enjoy either Summer Reading: Half-Drunk on Rosé and/or Steamy & Sentimental or both!
Two items I’m including on spec (meaning I haven’t had time to read them but they look super-promising) are these likely-to-be-complementary pieces on suburbia, one on how most representations of life in the ‘burbs get it wrong by not imagining it with sufficient complexity and another on how the fancypants suburbs of Los Angeles’ West Valley gave rise to the sounds of Hoobastank, Foxygen, Incubus & more.
Leading publication of the resistance Teen Vogue continues to educate us all with this global historical round up of non-binary people through the ages.
If you enjoy Sarah Blackwood’s Parenting By the Books column at the Hairpin, or Victorian novels, or personal essays that manage to be both finely observed and emotionally wrenching (or all three), beloved Internet Ladyfriend Kate Washington’s essay on finding, resenting, and relying on her modern (yet old-timey) sense of duty to carry her through the last two years of caring for her husband through two harrowingly serious bouts of cancer is going to be just the thing for you. Have your hanky ready, because the tears will flow.
There is something extremely satisfying in this tale of the first-generation immigrants from Hong Kong & Taiwan who bought (!) the formerly whites-only (?!) gated street (!!) in San Francisco for a mere $90,000 (!!!) two years ago and who are now contemplating charging its residents for the privilege of parking their vehicles there. It’s a tale that wouldn’t be out of Place in Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians series (no, we're never going to stop yelling about it! Also, it's an ideal summer read).
Do you, like me, live with a never-ending To Be Read list? I usually feel very positive about this nearly infinite source of possibilities, but occasionally one likes to clear the decks. One also occasionally sees the look of skepticism on one’s partner’s face when one brings home yet another book one couldn’t possibly leave at the library booksale or local bookstore or what have you. In that case, one does well to follow the suggestion of noted Twitter Smarty Dahlia Adler & create a customized To Be Read Bingo Card out of the 24 or 25 books one most wants to read next.
Yes, my beside table is a real mishmash.
Each time you get BINGO, you can buy or borrow something new. I should probably go through two of these before I even set foot in a bookshop of any kind, but let’s be real, I am totally going to buy 2 or 5 books in England (for one thing, I need Sue Perkins’ memoir, and maybe a Ruby Tandoh's latest book). Anyway, if you do this, and feel like sharing, post your BINGO card with #TBRBingo & please do @ me! (And because I’m an incorrigible suggester of yet more things to read, I’m very happy to share this list of 12 Books on Immigration, Youth, & Latino Identity That Will Enrich Your Life)
Bye, lovies, be good! Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you,
regardless of what the name of this newsletter might suggest!