Young and Restless
On Sundays, I keep up with the Kardashians. On Fridays, I snuggle up to a Nicholas Sparks and a Channing Tatum movie, or both. And on Wednesdays, we wear pink.
Any day of the week, I am memorizing chemical structures and prescription drug names so that one day you can show me your festering pustule and ask me to recommend an ointment.
It may be hard to believe, but Kardashian and scholar are not mutually exclusive. You can like the first and be the other, yet I find myself treating my love for celebrity gossip and all things “girly” as though it were that embarrassing lover that I only met behind the bleachers every Friday after school. And when I do publicly discuss the latest Jolie-Pitt gossip, I can hear eyes rolling in their sockets, most of which belong to the male population.
I get it. Most guys don’t understand why the Poehler-Arnett divorce feels like my own personal tragedy. They ask if it’s “even a real thing” when I tell them my favorite colors are pink and glitter. They have no idea why it’s necessary to have a shoe for every possible occasion (over-the-knee riding boots, nude kitten heel, camouflage combat boots for fulfilling equestrian dream, afternoon tea with the queen and zombie apocalypse, respectively.) I don’t expect most guys — or even many girls — to find interest in my interests. I just expect some form of mutual understanding.
I don’t see why my interests are any more or less frivolous than the predominantly male interests of playing video games, ogling at dream cars and playing fantasy football. Of course, I believe that appreciation for certain highbrow culture, such as art, literature and classical music requires higher cognitive participation. However, when watching sports is laudable, but watching “The Bachelor” is laughable, I cannot quite catch the discrepancy.
Whether you’re Team Tebow or Team One-F-Jef, we are all rooting for and living vicariously through an idolized stranger. Yet somehow, it is more socially acceptable to have these boyish obsessions over girlish ones.
Oh Erin, you’re turning everything into a feminist issue, you bra-burning scoundrel. This is true, and that I am. I would like to live in a world where professional women can openly read People magazine instead of smuggling them under their skirt suits, a world where Hillary Clinton can rock a new stylin’ up-do and still have a kick-ass foreign policy, a world where Elle Woods is not the only openly girly professional I can name. We perceive interests in romantic-comedies (rom-coms), fashion and celebs as just frills and fluff, created for the bored housewife or ditzy Valley girl. Yet for things that are labeled as guilty pleasures, we sure have strength in numbers. People magazine has a circulation of more than 3.5 million. We are on the seventh season of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” There were sold out midnight showings for “The Vow.” If anything, we are in the majority, yet we feel the need to preface our interests with, “It’s a guilty pleasure, but …”
On the first day of “Intro to Screenwriting,” my professor asked everyone to name their favorite movie genre. Everyone seemed to be on first date behavior, keen to show the breadth of his or her intellect, cautious not to become that kid who everyone judged silently. “Inception” had just come out, so of course the majority of the class claimed to “really love movies that made you think.” While the rest of the class were naming psychological thrillers and quirky indie films, my inferiority complex was desperately trying to come up with a movie that didn’t star the likes of Meg Ryan or Hugh Grant. Was “The Sound of Music” still hip?
“I really like rom-coms and sappy tearjerkers. ‘The Notebook’ is classic,” my professor said during his turn. We all laughed, assuming he was parodying silly teenage girls. Then we all quickly swallowed our laughter when we realized he wasn’t kidding.
“I love rom-coms, too,” I felt like I was finally admitting my problem in an AA meeting, though at that point I just sounded like I was kissing up to the professor. I was now “that girl.”
We feel inclined to conceal our love of rom-coms, fashion and celebrity gossip, in fear of being labeled stupid and petty. We are advised that to be taken seriously, you need to leave the girl talk at the salon. As a woman soon to enter a professional field, it’s difficult not to take this double standard personally. Caring about the latest fashion trends does not mean I care less about school and work. Reading and watching all things Nicholas Sparks will not make me a less competent pharmacist. So next time I admit to owning 100 pairs of shoes, spare me your phlegmy scoff, then take some Mucinex to clear out that mucus.
Erin Young is an Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy senior. Her column “Young and Restless” runs alternate Tuesdays.