Commentary, Uncategorized

I don’t like sarcasm.

I don’t, and I tell people that, and they think I’m being sarcastic. It’s my own personal hell.

I’m not earnest either, and I’m certainly not sincere. The problem with sarcasm though, is that its users are so self-aware.

And not just self-aware, but self-aggrandizing, smug, and giving themselves a firm pat on the back.

I’m truly not sure what is worse… the actual sarcasm or the fact that people are proud of themselves for being sarcastic.

I prefer irony, which people often confuse for sarcasm, which is why when I say I don’t like sarcasm, people give me a nod, like “I get it you’re being sarcastic!” *wink*

I used to be really sarcastic, but I was an angsty teenager, so it was to be expected. For what John Haiman calls, “the crudest and least interesting form of irony,” sarcasm has a lot of nerve being so mean spirited.

Those who consider themselves sarcastic often laud themselves for what is really an underdeveloped sense of humor. According to Oscar Wilde, “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.”

I guess that still makes it a form of wit, if you really want to get points for it, but it’s not that clever, and it isn’t nice. Sarcasm is pretty obvious, and if you’re still using it in 2014 you’re going to look like a chump.

Consider this: what you consider sarcasm may actually not be. Sarcasm is clear cut–cutting remarks stating the opposite of what you mean, with generally malicious intent.

Try Irony. Better yet, be a troll.

People often complain that when their sarcasm falls on deaf (or dumb) ears, the listener just thinks they’re stupid. If you’re trolling, your goal is to make people think you’re stupid. or just weird. It allows the user to be much more creative, and there is no victim. Importantly, it isn’t clear cut. With irony, you’re saying something that you don’t mean, but not necessarily the opposite of what you mean. There should be a lot of gray area when it comes to irony. Even you shouldn’t know whether you meant what you said or not, and you should never ever ever admit that you were being ironic. That being said, a truly special bond forms, when another person can detect your ironies.

Irony has allowed me to be a lot more open to things. I don’t have to dislike things that are popular simply because they’re popular, but I don’t have to love them either. I don’t need to be critical, because I can just like things ironically.  I relish the feeling of enjoying the simple delight of the Spin Doctors’ Two Princes, a truly magnificent song, that so many others are too cool to like. I can appreciate it for what it is: a time piece, an anthem, a huge ball of energy rolled into a song. Nothing is off limits–whether I like something ironically or otherwise, I like what I like. I can appreciate and enjoy the cultural contribution and significance of Miley Cyrus. And I think that’s what it really comes down to–a recognition of the impact that these things have on society. It took me a long time to enjoy things that I couldn’t expressly relate to. But that would have been a whole lot of culture that I would have had to completely write off. I felt that to like something, I needed to identify with it, and I was afraid to identify with anything.  Now I can even listen to country music.  Shedding sarcasm, I think, went hand in hand with ridding myself of that adolescent self-consciousness.

I enjoy the Madea movies in part because I find it funny that other people find them funny. And sometimes they’re just funny. And they’re full of life lessons.

There is one caveat though:  I don’t think there’s any way to ironically like Two and a Half Men.

It’s difficult, deep in the spectrum of irony to not fall into the hipster trap, but just remember this rule: Don’t be a dick. That should cover it.

RELATED:
Think Sarcasm is Funny? Think Again.
You Can Kick the Sarcastic Habit
How to Live Without Irony

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Uncategorized

the truth about Neknomination

Neknomination might sound like the name of an anime convention, but it’s allegedly an up-and-coming fad in which drinking game and social media are finally intertwined. Unfortunately, it’s only gaining momentum now as a result of the media coverage of two deaths this weekend in Ireland.

I would like to express my deepest sympathies for the lost lives of Jonny Byrne and Ross Cummins. This never should have happened.

I can certainly appreciate that the families of these boys will point the finger at Neknomination as the culprit in this tragedy. I would probably do the same. However this trend as much greater societal implications–is the game really to blame?

I’m from America, where drinking games are the norm, especially amongst youths. I’ve tried to bring some old classics to Ireland before–beer pong, Kings, quarters–but they haven’t caught on, and not because they require too much drinking. The Irish have no patience for drinking games because they can generally drink more and faster without the nuisance of being told when they have to drink. Drinking games, when played correctly, can actually be a great aid in pacing oneself. If you only drink when you are required to, and not in between, you might actually stay too sober (this is what doesn’t mesh with the Irish). This generation of youths though, partly through the influence of social media, are perhaps more open to drinking games. However, a drinking game where the only challenge is drinking a lot, is no game at all.

I like board games, so it’s no wonder that I enjoy drinking games. Back in Richmond, my sister and I would often turn anything from Trivial Pursuit Junior to walking down the street into a drinking game. Yes, we made up a game to drink to while walking down the street. Things were that good. I hate to see the good name of drinking games get dragged through the mud. But drinking games are only the half of it.

The other component of this is the challenge. Although the single factor tying these Neknomination videos together might seem to be the appalling vertical camera orientation, there is supposedly more to them. Participants are being accused of cyber bullying and using peer pressure to influence the nominees to do make their videos more and more extreme. That being said, I’ve watched an assortment of the videos, and many are simply chugging brews or creating disgusting cocktails that they subsequently neck. Some of them might jump off things. But then I saw a guy in a thong crush a beer, take two vodka shots, eat a raw egg, snort a line of something, and drink what he said was piss, followed by chili sauce, then windex. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be satire, but if not, it could certainly work as such. There is certainly no conclusion, to a game in which the goal is for each to one up the last, other than death.

I would guess that the persons who nominated Jonny and Ross feel pretty terrible right now. Although there must be some peer pressuring involved, no friend wants to see you hurt yourself to complete a silly challenge. Right? The videos are supposed to be funny, but then again so is the Treadmill Fail Compilation on youtube. This is the fodder of America’s Funniest Home Videos and its modern day youtube fueled counterparts. There is also a movie called Jackass that has multiple sequels, so honestly, this is nothing new. It is worth noting that the participants are overwhelmingly male, and that men have a lot of trouble shying away from a pissing contest.

I don’t really enjoy watching videos of people doing stupid things, but I will defend to the death their right to do it. This game is stupid, but it’s not the problem. This is what our culture has become.

Here are some reminders for those who have been neknominated:
– turn your phone sideways, this way the video will take up the whole screen
– this is a video, so even though you’re supposed to be drinking alcohol, no one is going to know if it’s really just juice or water
– if you plan on drinking copious amounts of alcohol, make sure you have a buddy present (this is always a good idea)
– you don’t need to drink copious amounts of alcohol, one pint is all
– please think about the safety of the stunt before you attempt it. If you couldn’t pull it off sober, you definitely won’t be able to drunk
– don’t let anyone bully you into it, it’s not worth it
– you don’t have to do it, but if you don’t want to be called a pussy just remember this: you don’t have to make the best neknomination video ever, it just needs to be a tiny bit better than that of the person who nominated you.
– drinking so much that you have blood alcohol poisoning is not impressive, don’t make the challenge about that. Stick to 1 pint, of your drink of choice. Watching someone drink a lot doesn’t even make for a particularly interesting video
– safety first, always.

This game doesn’t have to be so extreme. For every crazy video, there’s a video that’s pretty tame. Keep it light and keep it fun.

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Commentary, Uncategorized

Girls girls girls

I get along with guys; most of my friends are guys. It’s easier to trust men sometimes.
– Paris Hilton

I can’t stand hearing this phrase. Of course you get on well with boys, they’re nice to you because they want to sleep with you. And yet, girls proclaim this like a badge of honor, an achievement, when it really should be said out of resignation. There’s nothing wrong with having guy friends, a lot of us do, but it’s nothing of which to be proud. It is easier to be friends with guys. They aren’t going to feel competitive with you and they’ll put up with your shit because they’re hoping that eventually you will see them as a potential suitor. It sounds harsh and generalizing, but if you’re only able to make friends with people who also want to sleep with you, then your personality is probably defective.

It’s like betraying your own gender. I find it personally insulting, like what’s wrong with me, that you don’t want to be my friend? It’s never a necessary thing to say. So guys have a different sense of humor, are more laid back and easy to get along with, and have less drama. They don’t always want to get with you, but most of the time they do, and it’s nice to have girl friends who will never have that agenda.

And before someone says, “My best friend is a boy, he doesn’t want to sleep with me–” FALSE. I mean, maybe, but it’s rare. Still, I understand the frustration. I know how girls can be. Two-faced, duplicitous, bitches… But what is more two-faced than acting nicer to a girl than you would if she were a dude, because you want to sleep with her? The only reasonable thing to do, is to only make friends with guys who are out of your league, and therefore couldn’t possibly see you in that light.

I guess I’m just old-fashioned. I’m a girls’ girl. I don’t like it when girls pander to guys, feigning interest in sports, video games, farts, etc. If you really like that stuff, fine. I have no problem with that. But I know pandering. I act like I enjoy burps and Age of Empires so that my little brother will think I’m cool. Okay it’s like 50% I do like those things and 50% pandering. I’m not about to forsake my gender though.

Though certain interests might traditionally be associated with men, it’s the 21st century, girls can like whatever they want. I actually only recently started liking beer. I know that the only thing, now, that would make me more attractive to men would be drinking whiskey, neat. I’m not doing it to impress dudes, they’re just characteristically more used to drinking beer, although for most of them it’s usually like Heineken, Heineken, Jagerbomb. When it comes to common interests, sometimes you have to make friends with the opposite sex by default, at least until you can find the right girls. But when I need to tell my secrets, gossip, or be that dramatic catty bitch that is the reason girls are friends with guys… I’m going straight to my girlfriends.

That being said, I haven’t gotten used to Irish girls yet. Help.

RELATED:

Girls Who Say They Don’t Like Female Friends

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Commentary, Entertainment, Uncategorized

Behind every great man…

It all started with Rita. She was so mousy and annoying. Then there was Skyler… she filled me a disdain that I couldn’t even fathom. And finally Winona, who seemed incapable of saying anything without attitude. These leading ladies are the worst. They practically infringe upon my enjoyment of these programs (Dexter, Breaking Bad, Justified) because I have to spend so much time being annoyed by them.

After hating her on Dexter, I saw Rita (Julie Benz) play a perfectly palatable hot lesbian on Desperate Housewives. I had just thought that Julie was terrible, but apparently she wasn’t. She was just acting, which meant that they must have written the character of Rita to be that annoying. And it wasn’t just me, none of the fans liked Rita, and I think that’s probably why she had to die.

I don’t know what it was about Skyler. At first I thought it was her face. Yeah she was kinda bitchy. But the writers did that to her. And though she didn’t die, by the end of the series I hated Walt enough that I had to root for Skyler a little.

I haven’t finished Justified yet, but I’m nearing the end of the fourth season. After torturing us through Winona’s drama, she started showing up less and less on the show, appearing only in 43 of 61 episodes. They created a character so annoying that they had to cut down her role.

Natalie Zea (Winona) was a little annoying on The Following, but much less so, although that could be because her role was quite limited in that as well. Still, I don’t like the pattern that is emerging.

I’m not sure what’s worse: if they meant for these women to be annoying, or if they just can’t come up with any other way to characterize them.

And let me clarify, in case you haven’t seen these shows–these aren’t the characters you love to hate, they’re just annoying.

The men are strong, dynamic, and complex. They’re the center of their TV universe.

Did the writers just get lazy and use the go-to annoying-wife stock character? And why is that even a thing? Would it detract from multi-faceted male protagonist to have a wife that wasn’t just annoying 24/7? Sure, there’s a male sitcom cliche for a bumbling, sports loving, overweight male, but that’s lighthearted and also super realistic.

Why is it like this? Maybe it’s because these men aren’t supposed to be happy. They can’t have a strong marriage and good home life and still get into the shit that they do. I know it’s not that kind of show. Is this the only way? Could they have an unstable domestic situation with a less annoying/more relatable wife? It would be nice to see, because as it is, after watching my fave shows I end up feeling a bit misogynistic and a bit self loathing.

It is important to note that while there are worthy female characters on these shows as well, but it is the wife/girlfriend who we must despise. She just can’t be cool. She gets stuck being the nagging, shrewy, voice of reason. And the cool characters always murder people, too.

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Commentary, Politics

What did Sarah Silverman do this time?

In Sarah’s new PSA, “SARAH SILVERMAN IS VISITED BY JESUS CHRIST,” she reminds us about the separation of Church and State.

I believe in a separation of Church and State,  and I believe in a separation of Entertainment and State… and also Church, if necessary. Even though  having Rudy Giuliani guest on SNL or having Michelle Obama make a cameo might be good for a few laughs, I think it is important that everyone know their place.

Comedians will always make fun of politicians. Will Ferrell playing Janet Reno playing with a Simba doll really spoke to me as a child. For a long time I couldn’t help envisioning George W. Bush as Will Ferrell, either. These are funny caricatures.

Then there’s the fact that  Arnold Schwarzenegger was Governor. Reagan was an actor too, right?

I know, I know, all politicians are just actors anyway. But where do we draw the line” I think that there should be a line.

I might look up to famous actresses for hair and beauty tips, but any interest in their political ideologies is purely incidental. They certainly have a right to express their views, and I’ll let comedians have a lighthearted politically fueled joke now and again, but past that I think they are out of their depth.

Do I need to remind you that a lot of actors are way into Scientology?

Here’s the thing–I don’t mind a bit of political discussion, except that I don’t really pay attention to politics that much, and I’m not going to try and discuss something that I know nothing about. Nevertheless, it makes me cringe majorly when someone who knows even less than I do makes a completely uninformed political critique. I currently live outside the country, and I’ve traveled quite a bit, and everyone, especially cab drivers, wants to talk about American politics. And how informed do you think they are? I know that Americans are overwhelmingly ignorant, but people that don’t even live in America aren’t exactly keeping abreast of US current events either. And everyone knows that Hollywood may as well me its own universe, so take that into consideration.

Some actors are incredibly intelligent, like Dolph Lundgren, but most just normal people who have lots of things to do besides think critically. So… what do we do when they start taking it upon themselves to inform us about politics?

I thought that The Sarah Silverman Program was really funny. She just plays this ridiculous character who does stupid things and is kind of a bad person. Funny.

Those who know me, know that I’ll be the first to analyze humor until it isn’t funny anymore. And I don’t like jokes. I don’t like things with a punch line, generally, and I don’t like sarcasm. I like a good characterization and I like irony. I like things that are funny because they’re true, or funny because they’re so untrue.

It isn’t the be-all end-all of humor, but I think that a comedians tweets can be a pretty good assessment. Don’t get me wrong, I know how hard it is to write funny tweets, and I probably never have. But neither has Silverman, which is pretty disappointing. I was following her because I thought she was going to be funny, but she wasn’t, so I stopped. At some point she got serious.

It’s super uncomfortable for me to watch someone trying to funny whilst being self righteous and clearly trying to impart a message. It will only be amusing to people who already agree with what she’s saying, who can commend themselves for being on the right side of the so-called joke, and find her oh-so endearing.

I am truly not sure what she wanted to get out of it, but the main message is this: states are trying to limit where abortions can be executed. These states are controlled by the Christian Right, but because there is a Separation of Church and State, they shouldn’t be letting their religious views influence legislation. WAIT, WHAT? That is not what Separation of Church and State is about. It’s about the government not establishing an official religion, and not prohibiting anyone to practice their’s.

Her points about “one nation under God,” and “In God We Trust,” though somewhat valid, ignore the fact that these could be applicable to any number of deist religions. It’s been before the Supreme Court before, and they basically said, “what’s the big deal?”

Silverman’s problem is that a lot of  people use their religion as a source of morality, and this morality is in contradiction with what she deems her freedoms.

People forget the historical context of Separation of Church and State. It comes from a history of religious oppression, not Godlessness. We are supposed to have freedom, and no one should be forced to practice a religion or give up their beliefs. But unless your religion tells you that you must have abortions, then the separation of church and state would not be infringing on your rights by telling you that you cannot.

Think about it this way: Mormons can’t drink alcohol, there are tons of Mormons in Utah, so Utah has super strict liquor laws. Would I want to party in Utah? Of course not, but these laws were put in place by the officials elected by the people who live there. It’s what they want. Our legislative system isn’t perfect, but this is how it works. So some states will restrict abortion, because that is what their constituents want.

Abortion advocates want abortions to be super accessible and easy. You shouldn’t even have to think about it. Meanwhile, they will also say that it doesn’t “cause mental instability.” Well honestly, if it is really no big deal and you will still want it even if you have to drive a few hours, then fine. But if it isn’t worth it to you to travel across state lines or to a hospital in another county to get an abortion, you probably didn’t really want one in the first place.

Don’t forget that rape/incest/birth defects make up a tiny tiny percentage of all abortions. That is a different discussion.

Sarah Silverman, give it up. If you’re trying to convince people who already agree with you to nod their heads, mission accomplished. But your skit was all over the place, except for your observation about NCIS, which was spot on.

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Music

Del Amitri hits Dublin

I could not have predicted, by any guesstimate of the imagination, how last night’s Del Amitri show would go down.

When I was growing up, their hit single “Roll to Me” got played just about every day on B103 in Richmond, Va. I didn’t like it much. I found it a bit presumptuous for him to call me “pretty baby,” and also assume that he was the cure-all for my life. In retrospect, I can appreciate it for what it is. It’s another song with a catchy hook and a message that is so emblematic of the 90’s.

Look around your world pretty baby is it everything you hoped it’d be? The wrong guy the wrong situation, the right time to roll to me.

The 90’s guy is really caught up on his feelings, and he is a very supportive partner. He’s always there for you, even just to talk.

If you wanna call me baby, just go ahead now and if you would like to tell me maybe, just go ahead now. And if you wanna buy me flowers, just go ahead now. And if you would like to talk for hours, just go ahead now. 

Wait that’s the Spin Doctors. What I meant was,

And I don’t think I have ever seen a soul so in despair, so if you want to talk the night through guess who will be there…

But the point is that you’re better than the other guy.

Marry him, or marry me. I’m the one that loves you baby can’t you see, I ain’t got no future or family tree but–I know what a prince and lover ought to be.

The 90’s guy is the ultimate sensitive wears-his-heart-on-his-sleeve guy. And it’s also a total facade. The nice-guy archetype has been played out, and once the nice guy’s love has been requited, he’s not so nice anymore. The 90’s guy will say just about anything to get in your pants. But he’s a rascal, we forgive him.

Most people don’t know this, but Del Amitri actually has other songs, a ton of em.  They formed in Scotland in the 80’s, and made some hits in the 90’s. I was 7 when Roll to Me came out, so I knew attending their show at Vicar St. yesterday I would be younger than most of their fans, but I truly did not know what to expect.

They hadn’t played a gig in 12 years before this tour, so them coming to Dublin was a pretty big deal. But I wondered–did they still have a fan base? Did they ever have a fan base? You see, all I really knew about them was this one song.

It’s important to know that in the past year my theme song had become Two Princes, and my sister’s was Roll to Me. We put these songs on at any time when we deemed it appropriate to play a theme song in our lives, whether we were walking down the street with our crew, sitting at a bar, or just cruising around town. These songs got played a lot, and often competitively.

When I heard that Del Amitri was playing in Dublin, I knew that I had to go. My sister was back in Richmond, so there wasn’t a chance, but I knew she would want me there, especially after my husband won tickets from a radio station.

I’d already gotten to see the Spin Doctors last summer when played a festival in Virginia. Let me tell you, Two Princes was exactly what it was cracked up to be. The boys still had it, only they were missing about half of their audience. See, the festival was outdoors and it was raining lightly. By the end of the set, only their true fans remained, and they did a meet and greet with everyone. It was pretty cool. But the Spin Doctors’ MO is different from Del Amitri–they had a new album.

So, what would a show be like for a band that had a hit in the 90’s and then didn’t tour for 12 years? Cursory fans like me who grew up hearing one single? People who embraced them in the prime of their lives? Scottish music aficionados?

The doors opened at 7:30, with the opening act appearing at 8:30. We had a drink in the bar area of Vicar St. and eventually wandered into the venue a little after 9. We wandered in and wandered right back out, wondering why the floor area was full of tables and chairs, when our tickets said standing. It was set up for a comedy show or dinner theatre. But we were in the right place. This was disappointing–I was hoping to claw my way up to the front, seeing as the fans couldn’t be that enthusiastic, and certainly wouldn’t want to put up a fight, right? I had been told that Irish people didn’t like being in front of the stage for gigs, nevertheless the seats were filled from the stage all the way to the back wall. The fans were incredibly enthused, and really quite robust for septuagenarians; whether or not they would have put up a fight remains a mystery. We walked up the side, and eventually found seats about halfway to the stage, sharing a table with two dudes.

Seated next to Norway’s biggest Del Amitri fan and his son (who was 2 years younger than me!), this show was already blowing my mind, and it had yet to begin.

I was wearing a T-shirt with an open chambray button down and some leggings. I thought this was appropriate 90’s era concert attire–if I needed to, I could take off the button down and tie it around my waist. If I had plaid flannel, I would have worn it. Looking around, we could have been at any local pub around Ireland: men sitting around tables with white hair, button downs, and sweaters, drinking pints.There were a few T-shirts here and there. This could have been a very subdued occasion. Not so.

When the band came on, these guys were 42 again. Dancing between the tables, standing on the stools, and shredding on air guitar, not to mention spilling beer willy nilly. And they knew all the words. All those other songs that Del Amitri has that aren’t Roll to Me–people know those songs. With the first few chords of each song, there were cheers from the audience–recognition of what was coming next. A few songs sounded familiar to me, but I was holding out for my sister’s theme song (how jealous would she be?!). Then, when they finally played it, it came and went all too quickly. 2.5 minutes just isn’t long enough. I really think, if you’re reading this Justin, you should just loop the song, make it twice as long. No one will notice, except that they will feel twice as satisfied. That being said, my new Norwegian friend, Rolf, said that it’s probably their worst song.

This could be my most unique concert experience yet, and I was once pepper sprayed by a veteran. The energy was better than I could have ever expected, especially after seeing the demographic. Between the bra-less urchin dancing like she’s been touched by the Holy Spirit, the rowdy Scots shouting from the balcony, and Rolf beside us, singing every word in his Norwegian accent, Del Amitri must be doing something write.

And it just goes to show: if you ever wonder if a band has die hard fans… it does. I once met someone who loved Howie Day.

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Uncategorized

my worst fear, realized.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be so many things. A chump wasn’t one of them.

I wanted to be a model, a lawyer, the president, a fashion designer. My parents were always telling me how pretty and smart I was, and hey, it went to my head. I went through an awkward phase or something in High School and in College, and a few years after… and not getting much attention from boys, I wasn’t sure where I fell on the pretty spectrum. That hurt, but it wasn’t my worst fear. I still thought that I was pretty, it had been ingrained in me from an early age, and anyway I was afraid of boys. A few years ago, I wanted to have a go at being pretty again, with some renewed confidence courtesy of the opposite sex. I went to what I figured was the most reputable modeling agency in Richmond, Modelogic-Wilhemina. It is attached to a big name, and Richmond is a very small market. I was so nervous going to it, I mean, what could be more pressure than having someone else judge you on your looks? Was I pretty enough to be a model? That was the question.

As it turned out, that wasn’t really the question. I was being judged on something else entirely.

I brought in some casual headshots, and talked to the agent a bit, giving her my background. I told her that I was a flight attendant, and I found out that I worked with one of her friends. This was a nice connection, but it wouldn’t make me pretty.

They told me they would email me in a few days.

I nervously opened the email. They wanted me to come in again! She said “We feel you have something to offer this market.”

Here I did a bit more digging. I guess I shouldn’t have been skeptical, but I wanted to be prepared.

About a week later, I went back to the agency for a second meeting. At this point it became a sales pitch for modeling classes and comp cards, with a thousand dollar price tag.  And then I realized–this was my worst fear. Being someone considered vain enough to spend thousands on glamour shots, just with the possibility of getting my face out there. They thought that I was a chump.

Of course, they said I could get my pictures done elsewhere, but from what I read online, they were unlikely to accept them. Even those who did pay for their vanity package didn’t necessarily get work. I’m not saying it’s a scam, but just really savvy, fairly ruthless business ploy. They invest no risk in paying for the shots, and in fact make money selling them. And if you do get work from them, they get their commission. Their books are filled with girls who are pretty, but who may never get work, and who the agency doesn’t believe in enough to invest in photos.

I might sound bitter, but I’m only a little.  While being viewed as a chump is pretty horrifying, I didn’t go for it, so at least I have that little shred of self respect.

Although there is certainly a standard of beauty in our society, beauty is still subjective. I’m not really worried about being unattractive, although getting society’s seal of approval via acceptance to a modeling agency would have been nice. Still, besides little tweaks, you can’t really change how you look, bar surgery. But if you’re a vain chump, that’s something of your own creation, and something I will have to battle with for the rest of my life.

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