Be A Good Citizen And Make A Republican Uncomfortable Today

Photo by Alex Wong for Getty

Make a monster cry

It's easy for any ethical person living in America to feel helpless these days. And, when I say "these days," I really mean every day, ever, because, let's be honest, living in America has always been an ethical compromise in the best of circumstances. But it's been particularly hard lately as news has spread about the Trump administration's policy of separating children from their parents, all of whom have come to America to seek asylum. And it's only grown more difficult as Trump and his flunkies have doubled-down on this evil policy, even invoking Bible passages once used to defend slavery to support their cause.

In the last couple of days, as outrage over this policy has grown, advice has proliferated on how to help ameliorate this crisis and a nationwide protest march has been planned for June 30. But what if donations and marching don't feel like enough? What if you still feel like you need something more to do? Like you're not sacrificing enough in this fight for our country's future? Well, the first thing you can do is probably donate more money (because if it doesn't feel like you're sacrificing by giving money, then... you're probably not giving enough). But the next thing you can do? Make a Republican uncomfortable today.

Last night, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was met by protestors from the Washington, D.C., branch of the Democratic Socialists of America (Metro D.C. DSA), as she went to have dinner at MXDC Cocina Mexicana. Though the members of Metro D.C. DSA were unable to get close to Nielsen (who is protected by the Secret Service), they were able to shout things at her like, "How do you sleep at night?" and, "Aren't you a mother, too?" and, "End Texas concentration camps." 

Though Nielsen attempted to ignore them by looking at her phone, eventually she left the restaurant and, I assume, got her Mexican food fix elsewhere, because Mexican food is delicious and the Trump administration has no sense of irony.

The Department of Homeland Security tweeted a response to the night's events, and tried to downplay what happened, but the fact that they even needed to issue a statement in the response to a spontaneous protest, is proof that this type of civic engagement is an effective tool to wield against not only this corrupt administration but anyone who supports it. 

This means that you should feel free to heckle Sarah Huckabee Sanders if you see her; ask her if she lies to her children as much as she lies to this country. If you happen to see Ivanka Trump on a beach this summer, ask her why she supports the inhumane policies of her "daddy," and question whether or not "feckless cunt" isn't just part of a lesser known Chinese proverb about what to call someone who's an immoral coward.

But it also means that if you have Republicans in your life, people who support Trump in any capacity, play them the audio of children being separated from their parents; it means constantly questioning these people about their refusal to see the humanity in others; it means asking them how they're comfortable with aligning with the values of white supremacy. 

This might make you uncomfortable, too. It will inconvenience others, perhaps. It could lead to awkward situations, and you might be surprised at who you wind up alienating. But this is one of those times when there is actual moral clarity around an issue, a definite right and wrong side. Come down on the right side of history, and make a Republican uncomfortable today.

Nail polish is for novices

Fashion label The Blonds is known for its high-intensity looks that you'd only wear if you wanted to stand out (and who doesn't?). For its runway shows, wild press-on nails are the beauty step that can't be missed. So, since the brand has partnered with CND since it was founded, we thought it best to get prepped for the show with Jan Arnold, CND's co-founder.

See why you should take your nail look from a zero to a 10, in the video above.

Shot by Charlotte Prager
Edited by Gretta Wilson
Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Production Assistant: Polina Buchak
Featuring Jan Arnold of CND Nails and The Blonds



Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

It would've been nice if someone said the word "fat"

Back in November, Rebel Wilson claimed to be the first plus-sized lead in a romantic comedy when she appeared on Ellen to talk about her role in Isn't It Romantic. Wilson was not only wrong, but she was—even if inadvertently—erasing the work of Black plus-size actresses like Queen Latifah and Mo'Nique, both of whom have expansive resumes that include romantic comedies.

Wilson's comment isn't the first example of white women taking up a little too much space in the fat acceptance ethos. It's actually quite common. But there is a reason why women like Wilson—women who are blonde, pretty, successful, and white—get put front and center in calls for body positivity. In the same way that feminism—the movement from which body positivity was born—has often failed to address how gender intersects with other identities like race and class; so, too, has body positivity been championed as a cause for otherwise privileged women. And that's why it's no surprise that Isn't It Romantic, which aspires to be both a spot-on mockery of rom-coms and a celebration of body positivity, is actually a perfect example of how very white both the movie genre and the body positivity movement tend to be.

In the film, Wilson plays Natalie, an architect based in New York, who is single and plus-sized—the archetypal rom-com underdog. Very early on in the movie, she endures the double humiliation of both being hit by a runaway food cart and then accosted by its owner for not stopping it with her "cement truck"-like body. At work, Natalie is similarly disrespected: The office manager hands off troubleshooting tasks to Natalie; another colleague always tasks Natalie to throw out his trash; her assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) won't stop watching movies (rom-coms, naturally) while in the office; and Natalie is so afraid to present her ideas for more innovative parking garage designs that she isn't even widely known in the firm as an architect, and is treated like an intern.

But is Natalie just a doormat? Or is it that she isn't asking for what she wants? And isn't very nice about not getting it? If Natalie's life is any example, the bar on suffering is set pretty low for white women. In her personal life, Natalie lives alone with her dog, and seems to be pretty well-off, financially; her best friend is actually her slacker assistant, Whitney, and she's close with another coworker, Josh (Adam Devine), who gives Natalie constant emotional support. She's decidedly anti-romantic, having been told by her mother from a young age that there's no such thing as real-life fairy tales; she's level-headed and practical. But also, she's filled with self-loathing. This leads her to be crass, sarcastic, and disconnected from people. And it was this last part that was hard for me. As a fat Black woman who grew up broke, does not have an assistant, and would get fired if I didn't do my job well, it was hard, if not impossible, to root for her.

For Natalie, though, everything changes when she bangs her head while fighting off a mugger. Her mundane life is tinted through rosy rom-com glasses. Suddenly, all the things that sucked about her life are gone, and everything is beautiful and perfect. But was her life so bad before? It didn't really seem to be.

And yet, looking around the theater at the mostly white, female audience, I accepted that my feelings didn't seem to be shared. But that almost seems to be by design; this feels like a movie for a white, female audience. There is only one person of color in the movie who even has a name: It's Isabelle (Priyanka Chopra), who shows up about halfway through the film—after everything has been rom-com filtered—as a yoga ambassador and swimsuit model. But a name is all Isabella has. A supporting character at best, she doesn't have any connection to anyone other than her white boyfriend, and is sketchily drawn. We learn nothing of her familial or ethnic background, and, even when she is shown at her wedding, there is nobody from her family celebrating with her. This huge oversight is particularly bizarre, given that Natalie has already bemoaned the lack of diversity in romantic films.

Another huge oversight? The presence of the word "fat." I don't think I heard it used a single time. Natalie only references her weight indirectly, by commenting on the appearance of straight-sized women; when talking about her own body, the word "fat" is replaced with "girl like me." But by ignoring this aspect of herself, and refusing to address it head-on, Natalie is succumbing to the same fatphobia that shapes her world, whether she identifies it as being a problem or not.

Before her life becomes a rom-com, Natalie feels invisible at work and in the world. Some of this is certainly her fault, but fatphobia is also at play. Fatphobia chips away at the humanity of fat people from different angles. It means that Natalie gets used to being dehumanized; she doesn't expect others to have empathy for her when she's physically hurt, because they don't value her body. And it's no coincidence that Natalie's fantasy world includes a magically bigger apartment with unlimited clothing options, because discrimination against fat people isn't just a matter aesthetics and preferences—it affects everything from our ability to dress ourselves to our ability to make and save money, since there's a price to pay for being fat, even if it's just having to pay more to travel. Just as much as gender and race intersect with fat bodies, so, too, do economics and class.

I knew I could count on a plus-sized white comedian to take down a genre of films that prioritized thin women. But I ventured to see if Wilson could go further than that, and challenge what it means to be white and well-off and fat in the process; it isn't just about taking down rom-coms but about doing so in a way that isn't just a mouthpiece for white feminist values. But, in the end, that isn't what happened. Isn't It Romantic is fine, but it needed to do more than target an audience of girls who are 10 to 30 pounds overweight and still too jolted by the word "fat" to ever apply it to themselves, so they go for acceptable alternatives, like curvy, plus-sized—or thicc, if they're hip. But I'm not afraid to say I'm fat, I'm just disappointed I will be waiting even longer to see a realistic reflection of that experience onscreen.

Isn't It Romantic is in theaters now.