The whole Stupid Girls controversy has given me an idea. It has become increasingly apparent to me that a lot of people are getting sick and tired of the sh*t on the radio and the video. Heck, Video Killed The Radio Star and the Bona fide Singer. Now, far be it from me to judge anyone, but I thought that since being a Stupid Girl is rapidly going out of style, a handy little primer would be helpful for those witches who want to jump ship now before it sinks.
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Tip #1: Read, read, read!I know that The Devil Wears Prada and The Truth About Diamonds can be heavy duty, but I think the following books will be extremely useful in your Stupid Girl transition.
1. Golddigger: The Life and Times of Peggy Hopkins Joyce by Constance Rosenblum.
Peggy Hopkins Joyce was the original Stupid Girl - a woman with absolutely no talent who became famous for absolutely nothing. Her sex life, six marriages and the loads of jewelry and money that she got out of men made her tabloid famous in the early 1920s - but by the 1950s she was forgotten and died broke.
2. Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia by Stephen Fried. I remember being completely engrossed in this book when it came out, years before the HBO movie made Angelina Jolie famous. Gia Carangi had all the things that so many young girls thought they wanted - even though she famously didn't care for any of it. One of the first real supermodels, she developed a heroin addiction before dying of AIDS in 1988 at age 26.
3. When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings. You need to read this no matter what color you are because you need to know that there were generations of women that fought like hell so you wouldn't have to be "stupid!" If you don't know names like Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Victoria Earle Matthews and Mary Church Terrell shame on you girlfriend! Toni Morrison called this book "History at its best - clear, intelligent, moving," and you know she knows what she's talking about.
4. The Beauty Myth: How Images Of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf.
This was helpful with my some of my own deprogramming. Wolf tackles the unrealistic beauty standards that have dogged women for decades and the lunacy of how we often sabotage our health, careers and peace of mind by being complicit with these impossible standards.
5. Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman by Michele Wallace
Uh oh, I'm gonna get in trouble for this one. Michele wrote this in 1976 when she was just 26 years old. She was vilified and the book was trashed as a black male bashing manifesto. I didn't take it that way. In fact, reading it more than twenty-five years after she wrote it and (going by her black male and female critics) expecting it to be trite, I was rather stunned by its prescience. The main thing I remember is Wallace's account (just a few years after the fact) of the crude sexism that Shirley Chisholm put up with when she ran for president in 1972 - including a very telling anecdote about Redd Foxx on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson talking about Chisholm. Especially in light of the recent wave of articles and statistics on black men and women lately, I think in many ways you'll find this book rather sobering. Read it and weep. And then read something light and fun (but not stupid!) so you don't get depressed.
Tip #2: Listen, Listen, Listen
I'm not going to add explanations or any cute zingers because I know you're already smart and are only pretending to be stupid!
1. Video by India.Arie
2. We Need A Revolution by Esthero
3. Stupid Girls by Pink
4. I Love You Just The Way You Are by Billy Joel
5. Unity by Queen Latifah
6. Independent Women Pt. 1 by Destiny's Child
7. Beautiful by Brent Jones + The TP Mobb
8. Keep Young and Beautiful by Annie Lennox
9. Mistreating Me by Leela James
10. My Life by Mary J. Blige (actually, if you've been stupid long enough, the whole CD will come in handy.)
Senator Barack Obama (Buh-rock Oh-bah-muh) has a podcast. Even if you don't live in Illinois, subscribe to it on iTunes and take five minutes out of your day to learn something that can replace sample sale talk at a cocktail party (unless you're talking to me at that cocktail party - if you know about a good sample sale - holla!)
Tip #3: Watch and learn from ex Stupid Girls who learned their lessons and made successful transitions.
Take Vanessa Williams. The very first black Miss America (and still the only Miss America most people can name) had her title stripped away for that infamous Stupid Girl move in her youth. But she didn't stay down for long - Platinum albums, Grammy nods, Broadway (I saw her, she was great!) Through all of her ups and downs, she keeps it classy, not ass-y, and she's still around more than 20 years later while the Miss America pageant itself has been relegated to irrelevancy in the American imagination.
Tip #4: Go and get something to eat.
Really. It's alright. In high school, I flirted with bulimia (my doctor told me that my stomach looked like "a piece of chewed meat.") That was one thing, but my biggest Stupid Girl move came when I, Miss Bookworm, was actually proud of being denied the opportunity to give blood in our school blood drive because I had lost too much weight in one week! Silly me - I remember smiling to myself and thinking, 'Oh good!' Dumb! Abandoning your Stupid Girl status does not mean that you have to turn in your Fabulous Card. Au contraire mon ami. Sleek and toned is one thing, emaciated and irritable is another. I recommend a happy medium. And a large cheeseburger!
* Photos on the top and bottom via Gallery of the Absurd.
Labels: Barack Obama, Books, Vanessa Williams, Where Have All The Black Girls Gone?