I didn’t get my first pedicure until two years ago, when I was 35. I know what you’re thinking: “Why would you deprive yourself of a stranger massaging your feet for $45?!” Well, the reason, dear friend, is because I thought my feet were totally gross and nail polish would look terrible on them. You know what I’ve come to learn, though? EVERYBODY’S FEET ARE KIND OF GROSS. And toenails are plain old weird. Like, why do we still have them if not for decorative purposes? I’m not going to be swinging from trees any time soon.
I’ve come to realize this is a metaphor for life. Stop thinking you’re so unique and that your drama is yours alone. We’re all in this together. Also, some things are just NOT a big deal.
I recently finished reading Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl. I was underwhelmed, to say the least. Here’s why: she wrote as if her experience living in New York and then going to a liberal arts college and then moving back to New York to make art was somehow special and unique to her. That having lots of bad sex in her twenties and being an anxious mess were her experiences alone. I love the show Girls, but Lena needs to get over herself. We all have ugly feet.
Speaking of Girls, I can’t watch that show now without thinking of something my father said. A few years ago, we were sharing our favorite television shows with each other and he brought up Lena’s show. “It’s okay, but I just don’t care to see that kind of nudity. Her body. It’s not what I like.”
My stomach dropped. This comment was wrong on so many levels. 1) I’m his daughter; 2) I’M HIS DAUGHTER; 3) What kind of person thinks anyone wants to know their sexual preferences in a casual, sober conversation?; 4) part of the point of the nudity on Girls is that no one – especially women – needs to ask for permission to exist. Our bodies are just part of who we are. Another point, crucially, is that real people do not all look like Gal Gadot and this has to be okay, because we all deserve to be seen, because sometimes the most radical thing you could possibly do is be yourself.
My father could have made a career out of saying things no one wants to hear, and not in a profound, “he’s got a point” kind of way. Don’t shrug people like this off, don’t think that language doesn’t have an impact. Don’t think that this isn’t one of the myriad reasons Sheryl Sandberg went into a meeting and saw women sitting off to the side instead at the table.
Don’t wait for permission to sit at the table. Don’t even wait to be invited.
If there is no table for you to sit at, go find one or build your own.
By the way, if you want to get your nails done, it doesn’t matter what the end result is. If the person looking at you doesn’t like it, they can go watch another show. They’ll miss out on your fabulousness, and that’s their problem.