“I love it when you call me “señorita”…I wish I could pretend I didn’t need ya…But every touch is ooh-la-la-la…It’s true la-la-la…Ooh I should be running…Ooh you know I love it…” –Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello
[Photos via hello ancolie]
I published my second piece on The Fix last week about something that has always baffled me — this notion that there’s a “right” and “wrong” way to grieve. Grief is such a personal journey, so why do people think it’s OK to tell others how to do it? These are the words I wish someone would have said to me 16 years ago.
As I’ve mentioned countless times on this very blog, I never understood this whole idea of grief-shaming until my father died. While his death was traumatic, hearing people tell me how I should grieve was just as traumatic. Please, please, don’t be that person!
Here’s an excerpt of the piece, in which I also talked to a therapist who specializes in grief to get an expert’s take and advice…
I learned pretty quickly that talking about death on places like Facebook makes some people uncomfortable. We may be a society that lives our life online, but for all the sharing we do on social media, there’s still this stigma associated with posting about our grief and the loved ones we’ve lost. It feels like an unspoken rule of sorts: grieve in silence. Don’t talk about it.
But here’s the thing about grieving: You’re never going to please everyone. You’re never going to grieve the “right” way because there is no right way to grieve. That’s something that took me a while to learn and understand. At first, I was afraid of what people would think or how they would view my grieving process, which included writing about my father’s suicide regularly on my blog. I even began to feel as though I needed to hold myself back and not talk about it, but you know what? That wasn’t good for me. In fact, it stalled my grieving process, and that wasn’t healthy.
You can read the full piece here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo
Happy Monday, friends!! Well, as you can tell from the time of this post, I didn’t make it to the library today!! You know I love going there to get lots and lots of work done, but the easy breezy summer is working against me, I guess!! But still, I thought today’s motivational quotes could honor libraries for all the splendor that they are!! Remember how thrilling and exciting it was to go to the library when you were a child? It was one grand adventure, and thanks to Ms. Bear, my sister and I had adventures at least three times a week! Getting lost in the stacks and reading all the newest issues of your favorite magazines…ahhh, what wonderful days!! Here are five quotes to celebrate all the wonderful things libraries have to offer, in the summer and every day of the year…
Look, friends!! Even Whitney is excited for the first day of summer!!! Happy Summer Solstice to you!! What are you doing this weekend?? I’m super excited to binge more of Designated Survivor!! We’re on season two and I can’t believe I’ve never watched the show until now! It’s SO good — definitely recommend if you’re looking for a new show to watch!! Thanks, also, for your comments on my Taylor Swift post from yesterday!! I really appreciate it, as always!! Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, and here are my favorite finds from the wonderful Web…
This bride will be the 11th woman in her family to wear an heirloom wedding dress.
I’m so excited about the movie musical of West Side Story, aren’t you??
Cool dinosaur news!
What a pretty emerald ring!
My Little Pony introduces a same-sex couple and I’m here for it!
Plus, check out these great reads by women writers…
[Bottom photo via Unsplash]
Let it never be said that Taylor Swift doesn’t know how to market herself. The pop songstress has spent more than a decade in the spotlight honing and crafting her message, but, ironically, it’s her latest music video for “You Need to Calm Down” that could have used a lot less of Swift marketing herself.
On the surface, the video is a colorful bop taking aim at homophobia and haters, with a name-drop shout-out to GLAAD, a revolving door of celeb cameos and a plea at the end to support the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity; it would provide civil rights protections in areas such as employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.
Swift’s petition in support of the Equality Act has reached more than 350,000 signatures, and while it’s encouraging to see such support for civil rights, the singer’s new video just seems to hit all the wrong notes. Both the song and accompanying music video feel incredibly off-key and tone deaf. While the pop star’s intentions were for the release to be this huge LGBTQ anthem, the execution delivers a muddled mix that felt more opportunist than genuine activist — one that more often felt insulting and harmful to the very community she seeks to help.
Full disclosure: I say this as a former Swiftie, the name used to describe Swift’s legion of fans. There was a time when I’d listen to her albums on repeat and spend hours decoding her autobiographical lyrics; I appreciated and applauded her authenticity. But that authenticity never seemed to extend beyond her music. Over the years, unlike other musicians, Swift remained tight-lipped when it came to social issues. Only last year did she dip her toes in the political waters for the first time by breaking her silence during election season — it was a move that was met with criticism by some, who said it was too little, too late. Last fall, I wrote this blog post about her not speaking out when it came to political issues.
While Swift’s political silence was bad enough, it’s her statement with “You Need to Calm Down” that feels incredibly misguided and damaging. A Vulture headline asked the pointed question, “Where Is Taylor Swift Going With This?” and, well, that’s exactly what I’ve been wondering myself. Don’t get me wrong: We desperately need allies and activists. We need people like Swift using their platform to raise awareness and advocate for equal rights for LGBTQ people.
But for all of Swift’s desires to be that ally, the video shows us that Swift still has a lot to learn. For one, she seems to conflate her experience with criticism aimed at her as a celebrity and public figure with the long history of very real systematic hate, discrimination and violence that happens daily against the LGBTQ community. I get it. No one likes to be the subject of criticism — we all know I’ve been there many times. But the two are not the same and they never will be. It’s insulting and disrespectful to equate the two.
There’s also an incredibly danger in Swift centering herself in the video, like when she and longtime rival Katy Perry donned burger and fries costumes and hugged it out as a way to tell us they’ve put their feud behind them. All that seemed to just detract from the more important messages of the video. And, her seemingly using an entire community of people as a prop or a gimmick screams cultural appropriation at its finest; there’s advocating for a marginalized group and then there’s profiting off a marginalized group, and Swift’s video felt very much like the latter.
While I’m glad to see Swift (finally!) taking a stand, the optics of “You Need to Calm Down” wasn’t the way to go about it. As Vox’s Rebecca Jennings wrote…
These are questions that relate to the value of allyship in general — what purpose does it serve, exactly, for a pop star who has built a career on breathlessly romanticizing straight relationships to take on the mantle of gay rights? This isn’t so much about artists having to “stay in their lane” but about the fact that maybe there is a better way for Swift to support social causes instead of putting herself in the center of them.
It’s been 13 years since her first single — from singing about real-life experiences with heartfelt lyrics to co-opting cultures? I just can’t get behind this new Taylor Swift. She needs to check her privilege and her platform. In the end, I can’t help but notice the irony of the song title itself.
You need to calm down…
Maybe Taylor Swift should take her own advice.
What are your thoughts on the song and video, friends? Have you been a fan of Swift through the years? Do you think this new era of hers will create lasting change? Let’s chat… xoxo