Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Stupid Girl Deprogrammer: A Primer

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.

Clip and save!

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 Mi
ss 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.

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Blogger SmartBlkWoman said...

That photo for the Jimmy Choo ad almost got me for a moment until I realized that Jimmy Choo was spelled wrong and that Nicole was looking a little too emaciated.

A like your list of books. A few of them are on my "must read" list.

April 11, 2006 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger Cocoa Girl said...

Great Post, Nichelle! Bravo! I really do hope the stupid girl trend is over!

We need a revolution, for real...the craziness has got to stop. Much of which I realize must first take place in my mind...

April 11, 2006 at 4:56 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Smartblkwoman - Hey girl, good to "see" you again. No offense to Nicole Richie, but I thought that pic was funny.

Cocoa - Thanks again, you're always so nice with the compliments. All trends come in cycles and I hope the jig is truly up for this one!

April 11, 2006 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger Glib Gurl said...

Right on! Couldn't have said it better myself. (I'm not kidding - my blog pales in comparison to yours!) Love your blog!

April 11, 2006 at 10:24 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Oh hey, don't say that Glib - your blog is pretty nice!

April 11, 2006 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger Supa said...

Wonderful post!!

April 12, 2006 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Thanks Supa.

April 12, 2006 at 3:00 PM  
Blogger Hot Grrrl said...

How funny (and ironic) that we blogged about the same ish, damn near on the same day and that further more even Oprah had a show about the same topic on Monday. Us hot.grrrls do think alike. Loved the reading list... you're a trip! Refresh my memory and let me apologize now for being so forgetful, but how did we meet?

April 12, 2006 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Hey N,

Great minds do think alike. :)
We met through our mutual pal in DC, AI.

April 12, 2006 at 11:13 PM  

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