Weekend Reads #146

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Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

This coming week is Spring Break for my middle schooler. And while we have no grand plans, I plan to take off the week so we can possibly do some day trips, or at least have a relaxed week as a family where I am not tethered to my laptop. I think we all need the break.

I will have scheduled content, but next weekend there will not be a Weekend Reads as this Saturday post is something I work on all week. I will be back the following Saturday.

Weekend Reads

You are not the person you were before the pandemic. (Fast Company)

Why this wave of anti-Asian racism feels different. (The Atlantic)

I wish I could forget my memory lapses. (Tue/Night)

Why YKK zippers are the brown M&Ms of product design. (The Prepared)

Americans are starting to buy real clothes again. (Washington Post)

Pop culture lists are not activism. (Vox)

His mom taught him to quilt. Black artists guided his style. (WBUR)

He had an R.V., a camera and a plan to document America. Was that enough? (New York Times)

Cindy Sherman on her first ever non-photographic works. (Vogue)

I loved this peek into one of my favorite neighborhoods just down the street from me: How one stretch of Hyattsville small businesses survived the worst year ever. (DCist)

Is this the end of the ‘Girl Boss'? (Elle UK)

Instagram is making a kids’ app. Here’s what parents need to know about social media Jr. (Washington Post)

Pandemic parenting is impossible. American work culture is a big reason why. (Vox)

Welcome to the Dissociation Generation. (The Cut)

This 62-year-old mom always wanted to dance. During the coronavirus, she had the chance to flourish. (The Lily)

My white adoptive parents struggled to see me as Korean. Would they have understood my anger at the rise in anti-Asian violence? (Time)

Why are plus sizes always the first to go? (InStyle)

The Black ‘Godmother of Grunge’ who inspired your fav bands. (Zora for Medium)

The filibuster’s racist history, explained. (Vox)

Could D.C. statehood reach all the way into the prison system? (Washington Post)

The tube top’s radical potential and why liking fashion isn’t unfeminist. (Dismantle)

This was shared in a Facebook group I am a member of; it's old but worth reading (and possibly, re-reading). Everything you know about obesity is wrong. (Highline for Huffington Post)

In case you hadn't heard of this: please read and share. I saw a video on social this week on how this signal is used beyond video calls and can help you recognize when a child or adult is being taken against their will. WFN announces ‘Signal for Help’ program, a new lifeline for those trapped at home with abusers. (Women's Funding Network)

And finally, the piece I read this week that hit me the hardest and had me constantly thinking about it and thinking about my role in society. Also old, but worth reading: What happens when societies don’t invest in civilizing themselves? (Eudaimonia&Co for Medium)



We're working on having our kid see all the movies we loved over the years, the movies that are iconic and age-appropriate, the ones that are referenced in TikTok trends and memes. Last weekend, we watched Dirty Dancing, and dude, that movie still holds up. And it kept our 12-year-old engaged the entire time.

Good music, good dancing, Patrick Swayze so young and beautiful, Jennifer Grey so relatable and timeless, and me now the age where I sympathize with Jerry Orbach and see the pain/questioning/heartbreak/concern on his face as a parent.

And watching Dirty Dancing is a great time to discuss how abortion is legal… for now, but it's still near impossible to get one in many parts of America, and how if it is illegal it's not that it won't happen, it just won't happen safely.

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This week we also saw Mr. Soul!, the documentary about Ellis Haizlip and his show Soul!, the first Black variety show on American television. I had heard of the show, and seeing some of the clips made me wonder if there were reruns of it on TV at some point for it looked so familiar.

Soul! was on national TV from 1968 to 1973. The show was produced and hosted by Haizlip and offered through NYC public TV station WNDT (now WNET) and shared nationally through PBS.

Soul! was a groundbreaking series, hosted by a Black queer man, showcasing iconic Black artists and voices such as James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Muhammad Ali, Stevie Wonder, Nikki Giovanni, Bill Withers, Gladys Knight, Kathleen Cleaver, Jesse Jackson, The Delfonics, The Last Poets, and a famous interview with Louis Farrakhan where Haizlip questioned The Nation of Islam's view on homosexuality. The conversation between Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin is also an iconic episode.

I discussed the show with my mom and she thinks my dad used to watch it. Old episodes of Soul! are available at Thirteen with a membership. Soul! was canceled due to lack of funding, but it was clear it was racially motivated and this documentary goes into it with clear detail and examples.

Mr. Soul! likely will be available again on your local PBS station; it is considered an episode of Independent Lens; you can also watch it on the PBS Passport app or via the different screening options found on the movie's website.

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I don't have much time for podcasts; I can't listen to anything other than classical and ambient music when writing, I don't drive much these days, and most of the time when I am not working I am in a room with other family members. But this week I had one morning where I woke before the alarm and the kid slept in a bit, and I was able to get in an episode of the podcast, “Under the Influencer with Jo Piazza.”

This was an episode that many of you sent to me asking if I listened to so I HAD to find time to do so! While the focus was on mom bloggers, the episode, “Burning Cats” discussed the hatred that women bloggers and influencers receive from fellow women. It included an interview with a popular ex-Mommy blogger that received a lot of online hatred, as well as the founder of a blogging snark site where I was “lucky” enough to be mentioned quite a lot in the mid 2010's.

That period of time was extremely difficult for me and my family. My child started kindergarten, I shattered my right radius and was in and out of casts and braces for over a year, work was busy and especially hard with only one hand, one of my husband's childhood friends died from opioid overdose, and we were struggling financially with the out-of-pocket medical bills from my arm injury.

I know they say don't read the comments, but that's easier said than done, especially when your Google Alerts are pinging you, you're receiving nasty anonymous comments each morning in your inbox, and when you check your analytics you see hundreds of visits from a certain post being linked on a snark website or message board.

And then you read the comments and anonymous individuals are saying they know you IRL, sharing truths and lies, or don't know you but share times they've seen you in person and watched you shop, eat, or even cuddle with your husband on the lawn at a concert. They say your child is ugly, your husband is gay, and you suck at what you love doing most.

There's that hokey phrase that hurt people hurt people but it is true. When I was at my lowest is when I was reading the most snark about celebs and about my influencer peers. Misery loves company, and there's something about a community of people that hate the same things you hate. Even if you're a lurker and not actively participating, the sense of communal annoyance/rage/frustration/jealousy is addictive and just sends you deeper into the depths.

I escaped from being obsessed with snark about me and my peers when I got uber-analytical and made an Excel spreadsheet where I tracked the snark – who was making the comment and tallying which comments were constructive, which were kind, and which were just outright mean or lies. It really made me see I was focusing on the negative, and that negativity was coming from a select few, not the entire world.

I am now too passe/old/boring to be a regular on snark sites and I am grateful to that. I see younger influencers sharing how they're getting criticism and hate comments and I am sympathetic. If your life is your job and your life is being criticized, it's hard to not take it personally and it's impossible to ignore it because it can affect your income and future.

It's not on influencers to get a tough skin, to not read the comments. It is on us, the consumers, to stop consuming hate. Whether it's ragging on Chrissy Teigen, judging Harry and Meghan, or criticizing a Mommy Blogger for how she handles parenting, hate following isn't just hurting the recipient but ourselves.

And with the shittastic year/s we have had, we deserve to have our short attention spans focusing on that which can soothe and uplift so we can get through what comes next… together.

For Your Entertainment

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Lido Pimienta has been into music since a child, joining her first band at age 11. However, migrating from Colombia to Canada at age 19 truly impacted her direction with music and her focus on Afro-Colombian rhythms with lyrics addressing racial and cultural issues.

Pimienta rose to prominence when at age 31, she won the 2017 Canadian Polaris Music Prize. Critics deemed her, “The future of Canadian rock and roll” and “The artist of the year.” Her third album, Miss Columbia, was released last year.

Pimienta, a queer Black Colombian woman of African and Indigenous Wayuu descent, explores her role in society and her relationship with Columbia in this album. I didn't know of Pimienta before I came across some of her videos on YouTube and don't want to paraphrase all I read about her so instead I encourage you to read this piece from NPR about her and her latest album.

And if you are intrigued by Pimienta and not fluent in Spanish, take any of her song titles and Google it with the word “lyrics” and you'll find the lyrics and also the ability to have them translated into English. This is a great hack for any non-English singing artist, and a great way to learn words in other languages.

Pimienta's video for “Come Thru” mesmerized me; I couldn't not share it with you:

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Ali, I am grateful for your writing and presence pretty much daily. I’d be more verbose but simplicity, in this case, speaks better.

  2. Oh, the obesity article. Deep breath. I appreciated the callout that it’s one group that does not support each other very well. There’s certainly been a rise in fat acceptance, but so many of us have to dig out from a lifetime (generations!) of fat shame to get there. When they say: No one’s looking at you! Or: “No one is as hard on you as you are on yourself.” Ya know, that’s just not true. Lots of folks are not. Some are, and viciously so. I always notice people’s weight and it’s a been a huge effort to turn off that part of my mind. I work on it all the time so that I don’t damage myself or others anymore.

    And the idea of the “good fatty”. I rush to mention the last hike I was on, or hint at virtuous eating habits, so that I can be a good fatty. For many years took solace in being the “okay kind” of fat — meaning, small waist — or that I was just thick or kinda fat, not fat-fat. Of course that was bullshit framing to begin with! I see that now. But when those things weren’t even true anymore it forced me to start doing the work of loving myself as is. I have a long way to go.

    It’s really hard to still want to make some changes — my fitness level is not good — without falling into traps of diet culture. The more I think about weight/food the more obsessed and miserable I get. But if I ignore it completely, the more weight I gain. I’m naturally a couch potato. There is some magical place where I accept myself yet also fuel and exercise my body and it doesn’t become obsessive. I don’t know where that place is yet.

  3. As always, great content on the Weekend Reads. The Fast Company article is so spot on. And I have always looked for YKK zippers, but now I know why.

    Enjoy your spring break week.

  4. The obesity article says it all.

    After a (long) lifetime of obesity and failed weight loss, I became intrigued by the side effect weight loss of the newest drugs for controlling blood sugar. I got a healthcare professional to prescribe one of them for me off-label. I lost ten pounds in the first month which I’ve done many times before. This time, however, I ate tiny amounts of food and felt full and did not obsess over what I could or couldn’t it. It feels like a chemical gastric sleeve
    I’ve scheduled a full endocrinology workup and hope to hell I get a doc who will try to figure out why this person doesn’t lose weight on 1,000 calories a day.

    I’m angry nonetheless, when I think of the missed jobs, promotions, relationships, travel opportunities and just plain lack of respect I’ve felt.

  5. I also spent a decent chunk time on a blog snark site (until the ads tried to hijack my computer on a daily basis and the owner blocked everyone who gently asked about that), and I was happier once my account was locked and I found other things to do with my time. It’s still difficult for me to give grace and space to the handful of influencers who believe themselves to be life/fitness/parenting coaches and take money for classes. As the wise man Mr. Brady said, “caveat emptor.”

    On a lighter note, the nap dress trend finally hit mainstream media because my husband just read an article on CNN about it and is as puzzled as I was last year when I first saw them.

    Enjoy your weekend and spring break!

  6. “Additionally, for brands like LOFT that still operate physical stores, stocking an extended size range in-person at every spot is a large financial strain while also raising space issues (imagine stocking jeans sizes 00-26 on the small racks available now).

    If 70% of American women are plus size, then it would seem to me that the *small* sizes are what are creating financial strain. I recall the time I went into an athleta store and found most of the larger sizes gone while they were drowning in small sizes.

    Another reason I call BS on this: Loft was bought by a private equity firm Nov 2020. We all know the drill: private equity company destroys company by loading it up with debt & cutting costs into the bone to try to service that debt. In this case, the people who made the decision to expand sizes are no longer calling the shots at Loft.

  7. So much “YES” to the practice of “stop consuming the hate” and stop spreading the hate. We all deserve joy. Say something complimentary instead. Maybe even say something kind about yourself and move on.

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