I’m on my work computer so I won’t get into the nitty gritty of my responses to some of this text but suffice to say that overall I really, really liked this essay collection. Do you enjoy feminist considerations of pop culture and our modern world, presented with wit and candor? Then grab Trick Mirror and be prepared to be both delighted and enraged (I mean, it’s feminist considerations of pop culture and our modern world, of course you’re going to be enraged).
There are broad swaths of Tolentino’s experiences that I cannot speak to (I am white, my parents are not immigrants, I was not on a reality TV show as a teenager) but we’re the same age, from the same state, went to similar schools, and came to appreciate and understand feminism at roughly the same time. So I was fascinated by this book and seeing both a reflection and distortion of myself (trick mirror, get it?)
In one of my favorite essays, The Cult of the Difficult Woman, Tolentino really digs into the recent fascination with celebrity feminism. I absolutely loved her phrasing here:
Analyzing sexism through female celebrities is a catnip pedagogical method: it takes a beloved cultural pastime (calculating the exact worth of a woman) and lends it progressive political import.
C’mon, that’s brilliant. But also, how quickly have we turned from celebrities refusing to acknowledge that feminism exists (I see you, like 2014-era Taylor Swift) to openly embracing and championing progressivism and feminism (2019 Taylor Swift). And that to me is impressive. Feminism has turned the corner from “man-hating she-devils” to something people actually talk about and seem to understand. Tolentino also does a wonderfully insightful bit about biblical Delilah that I loved.
Then there was I Thee Dread which, as someone currently planning a wedding, I braced myself for but Tolentino pulled from the Amy Poehler school of “Good for her, not for me”. She wasn’t attacking women for planning fabulous weddings – she went after the society and industry that made us think they were required. I particularly liked:
…planning a wedding is the only period in a woman’s life where she is universally and unconditionally encouraged to conduct everything on her terms.
Not at all untrue. The r/weddingplanning subreddit helped me reframe the idea of a Bridezilla – women have been told our entire lives that our wedding day is the best and most important day we will ever have and it must be perfect and we’re supposed to do it all ourselves and it must look effortless, but this is the real world and real things go wrong outside our very limited control and in that kind of high stress, who wouldn’t have a bit of a freakout (this does not discount the women who turn into actual nightmares and like demand that other couples reschedule their family planning because wtf?)
Anyway. I liked it. You probably will do. I’m still planning my fabulous wedding.
Bingo Square: The Collection
BOOM. Done. Gently drop the mic and walk away.