Stop Telling Women To Smile

A week ago I was sitting at my favorite coffee shop, notebook in hand and a coffee on the table.  I pulled out my mirror to see if I had anything on my face, quickly fixing my concealer that was out of place from my oversized sunglasses.

“Your makeup looks fine!” a stranger next to me declared.  I looked over, laughed, and continued to set up shop at my seat.

He didn’t stop there.  “You know, most men would say women look best without makeup.  It’s Sunday!  Don’t wear makeup!”

Newsflash: I wear makeup for me, not you.

I love to dress up, wear red lipstick, and don my Karen Walker shades.  Not looking for validation, on most days I simply want to write in peace; the last thing I want is to have strangers approach me to give me unsolicited advice or flirt poorly at a coffee shop.

Nevertheless, whether or not it was meant to be a compliment, it was still suggesting I change who I am or what I do.  That never sits well with me- flirting or not.  It’s manipulative, and it’s unwelcomed.

Here’s a comprehensive list of things women don’t need to hear from a man:

  • How to wear our hair
  • What clothes to choose
  • How long our hair “should” be
  • When to wear makeup
  • That we should smile

Maybe some women need the words of the opposite sex to gain their confidence, but I am not one of them.

“The sexualization behind telling women to smile is alarming. It makes women feel that we are only meant to be happy and pretty and it’s a passive way to engage into an unwanted conversation.” –

I’ve had ex-boyfriends try and dress me up in the shortest of skirts, 6 inch heels, and cleavage revealing attire.  That’s just not my style.  I’ve even had an ex ask me if I was going to a funeral because I was wearing all black.  Didn’t you know black is slimming and chic?  Just look at Audrey Hepburn.  I doubt she cared what other people said about her little black dress.

The guy at the cafe went on to later tell me how our meeting was “serendipitous,” in which I immediately rolled my eyes.

No, you just sat next to a woman and started telling her what to do and not to do.  Also, I have no interest in a divorced 50-something who was thumbing through his “Plenty of Fish” app.

Women can have it pretty rough out there, but as long as we hold our own and stick to our laurels, we will be just fine.

Just don’t tell me to smile.

Inspired by Stop Telling Women to Smile, a street art project addressing gender-based street harassment.

Where I See Myself

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“I want to write. I want to write stories that make people feel less alone than I did. I want to make people laugh about the things in life that are painful. That’s what I want to do.” –Hannah, Girls

I am finally finishing Girls, one of my favorite TV shows.  Over the past couple of years I’ve been absorbed in my own life, without HBO (until now) or television in general.  However, it’s a good thing I am finishing the series when I am, because the synchronicities between Hannah Horvath and myself are out of control.

Not only is she an only child from Michigan like me, she moved to New York City with the dream of becoming a writer.  She got herself into ridiculous situations, met a plethora of crazy characters, and even was published in the Modern Love section of the New York Times- yet another goal of mine.

When asked where she wanted to be in three to five years by author Chuck Palmer (who stated how much he loves Traverse City, my hometown), she told him she wanted to write.

The vulnerability of writing is powerful, healing, and helpful to others- and like Hannah, I want to write to make people not feel so alone, too.

I’ve never been good at “jobs;” as a creative person, I’ve struggled in office environments.  I’ve had creative differences with people I have worked for.  I have had a vision, a dream, and a wild streak- something that employers generally don’t value or understand.

Freelance writing is something I am looking to do full-time, yet working on my book is my top priority right now.  In addition to writing two Modern Love stories, I have an outline for a fictional, yet semi-autobiographical book based on my life in New York City and beyond.

We will see where my path leads, but I know who I am, and I know what I am good at.  I know my dreams and goals, and in this chapter, I won’t let sitting at someone else’s desk get in my way.

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Stop Letting Distractions Stand In Your Way

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Living life in limbo is inevitable from time to time, but today I had an epiphany:

When you’re working toward a goal, don’t try and fill your life with other things to provide comfort.

Keep moving.  Focus on your mark.  You’ll get there.

I chatted with a friend about this earlier today- we are both writers working on our own brands, yet we have both been guilty of letting distractions alter our mindset.  Why on earth would we let other people, places, or things stand in our way?  While she’s out in Los Angeles working toward her dreams, and I’m here in Boston working on mine. It was wonderful and perfect to connect with her about where I’m at right now, because she’s in the same spot, too!

Oh, I just love how life works out.  Just as we started to feel a bit irritable and discontent about our “distractions,” we both passed the tests and recognized that we need to get back to work.

People and situations will come into your life when they’re supposed to, but don’t try and manipulate the situation.  Whether you’re filling your time with a new TV series or going out on dates for no good reason, stop.  I’m serious.  Everything falls into place as it should, including those uncomfortable moments.  Don’t dig yourself into a deeper hole and get off track.

Each moment teaches you a lesson- so remember your goal, stay on your path, and you’ll be just fine. ❤

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