1)There is much that's wrong with this Caitlin Flanagan piece, but let me note one flaw: much of the media that she cites as extolling the Boyfriend Story isn't consumed by many (any?) actual teenagers. My cousin's daughters -- the little flower girls in my wedding -- are positively obsessed with High School Musical, for example. I believe they're 6 and 9. I sat through it once with them while babysitting, and it reminded me of the Sweet Valley High and Babysitters' Club serieses that I consumed in the antediluvian 1980s. The target demographic of this stuff consists primarily of girls in what Freud quaintly called the latency period -- girls for whom the hormones haven't yet kicked in, but who are kind of curious about what their glamorous big sisters and their friends do at parties. Like those series, HIgh School Musical was sanitized enough not to scare off media savvy parents. I doubt any actual 16-year-olds anywhere would admit to enjoying High School Musical, any more than there were any 16-year-olds in 1989 identifying with Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield of Sweet Valley High.
2)People with bigger bully pulpits than I should should probably be yelling more about this.
3)Ways that the wedding industrial complex is vexing me, #280: my dentist offered me a series of tooth whitening treatments as a more or less free wedding gift. (More or less = it looks like I might have to pay for an extra cleaning beforehand because insurance won't pick up treatments off the six month cycle, but the cost of that is modest.) The catch: I am not supposed to touch anything seriously staining between July and September, i.e. life without iced coffee for a month and a half. In D.C. In late summer. Now... if I had the kind of self-restraint that let me give up my pleasant vices for forty days at a stretch, I'd still be a Christian. As it is, I'm an atheist who's left staring into the gaping maw of eternity with no comfort better than the Peet's in my hand. Trade-offs.
Along with her sales pitch came that Look, the Look patented so well by the foot-soldiers of the Wedding Industrial Complex. But it is the most important day of your life! You'll have those photographs for years! What are you, one of those worshipers of Gaia and Mother Earth who wants to spend her nuptial frolicking in the fields with unshaven underarms? And I am all like, actually, I was president of my law school's Federalist Society; not one of a demographic usually mistaken for a Gaia worshiper. But I do have one of the normal Federalist weaknesses; I'm not good at recognizing social norms. Do normal women all do this in preparation for weddings? Is this an addiction I should probably do something about anyway?
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