Screen Shot: What I Hate About What I Hate About Myself

I was watching the Style Network -- don't judge me, Danielle Fischel's blithe comedy stylings on The Dish deserve just as much attention as Joel McHale's over on The Soup -- when I saw an ad for a new show titled What I Hate About Me.

The promos are eye-rolling: A series of twentysomething women stand up and say "I hate that I can't have sex with the lights on!" "I hate that I can't bake a cake!" "I hate that I can't walk in high heels!" And oh, thank God, these glaring flaws will be addressed by a rotating panel of experts.

I realize this is the Style Network, so it's not like the women who are willing to bring their problems to reality TV are going to be standing up and saying things like "I hate that I can't consistently get a 20% return on my portfolio." But I do find it interesting that the examples cited as horrible, hate-worthy flaws are all things that are reflective of external signfiers of an acceptably feminine adult.

You can be stylish without wearing heels,baking cakes or having sex with the lights on -- that's why there are adorable flats (or wedges), cookies and pies, and partners who are not completely insensitive to their lovers' preferences. That this has apparently not occurred to people who ostensibly run a network devoted to stylish living calls into question their qualifications to work at a place called the Style Network. And that not being able to wear high heels should not be cause for sinking into an abyss of self-loathing? That goes beyond "My, these people at the Style Network have a narrow definition of 'style,' which is in itself both ironic and ridiculous," and into "Really? Is that all you have left to worry about in terms of inner development? Maybe what you should be working on is your sense of perspective."

It's pretty obvious the show needed a catchy hook, because Pick Up These Stereotypically Feminine Behaviors wasn't going to fly and there are already a plethora of makeover shows that allege to improve women's looks so they're more pleasing to others. But, really: hate? Reserve your hate for truly detestable character traits. Not sure what those are? Here's a hint, Style Network: Not being able wear high heels isn't one of them.

Note for those of you who want to begin the new year with a vigorous, pique-induced cardio workout: This show is premiering on January 1, 2010. You can start the new year by finding out how you fail to measure up. Hurrah!

by Lisa Schmeiser
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4 Comments Have Been Posted

oooo! I know what I hate

oooo! I know what I hate about myself: My Binfordian writing style. Can that be fixed by a panel of judges? ...wait, I think that might be what my dissertation committee is supposed to be.

That said, I can bake a cake and walk in high heels.

I imagine that something for the Style Network is inherently going to have these problems. You can't fix very many ACTUALLY hate-worthy aspects of yourself in the time allotted for TV. Nor can I imagine very many people wanting to go through that process in front of people. Hell, I wouldn't want people to see me struggle to write a paper that's comprehensible to people outside my head, much less deal with any of my issues that actually stand in the way of me getting the stuff done that I want.

I do like the makeover shows where they instill confidence in women who are having problems based on how they perceive they look. By having someone show you that you can find clothes that fit your body, that you can do your hair in a way that is pleasing to you, that you can learn to walk with confidence--that can go along way towards undoing that kind of self loathing. My issue with that kind of thing is that some people may interpret my catch as catch attitude towards these aspects of life as not caring about myself, which isn't true. I can wear the hell out heels, know how to put up my hair and apply make up with best of them--but it's more important to me that I get my report in on time. It one-dimensionalizes (totally not a word) these women's experience. That wasn't really a coherent paragraph, but I hope it got the point across.

Oh, yeah, I got what you're

Oh, yeah, I got what you're saying.

Now that I've had a whole afternoon to think about what I *ought* to have said, I think the point I should have teased out more is this: There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to walk in heels, bake a cake or have sex with the lights on. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to cultivate or refine a personal style or your domestic style -- feminism doesn't mean eschewing the pleasures of a good pair of black opaque tights or the satisfaction of whipping up a mean spinach-gruyere souffle.

What chapped was the presentation of the whole personal-improvement angle. The ads don't show a woman saying, "I hate that I can't translate my inner self-image as a well-read world-changing woman into some sort of dress style that reminds me of that too."

I mean, why can't the show have been cast in a "My life would be even more awesome if ..." angle? As in "I am rockin' pretty hard now and would reach a fabulousness level of 11 if I could do it in Cruel Shoes?" Or "I can field-strip a dead duck in five minutes, but man, I want to add to my skills with ninja biscuit-making."

It's the "There is something WRONG" with you sell I find so reprehensible. Most men's media doesn't try to tear down their readers/viewers to convince them of the value of their content. They start from the "Hey, guy, you're already dope. Become doper!" angle. Why the hell can't women-targeted media do that? What is so fearsome or threatening about a happy chick just wanting to get happier?

That's exactly what I was

That's exactly what I was thinking when I first read your post. The concept of trying to improve yourself is definitely admirable (no matter what my opinion on high heels and baking cakes might happen to be). The problem is that in the media it's usually encouraged by self hate rather than already having a positive image of yourself and just constantly working towards bettering yourself. I think the sad truth is this attitude in women has been fostered from decades of consumerism (from like what the 50's at least?). You just can't sell something quite as well by telling someone that they're already pretty awesome but by buying X they'll be that much awesomer, because they can walk away still knowing they're awesome. But if their self worth hinges on a certain product, they're that much more likely to buy it. And let's face it, media these days is driven by consumerism.

I think guys just don't have that same history of associating self worth with consumerism, so the media knows they're probably less likely to fall for that angle. Back in the day (and today too, but I won't go there), guy's self worth was more wrapped around their actions and success in the workplace. For women it had to do with homelife which revolved more around keeping up certain appearances and led to beauty obsessions. Our media as a whole is basically founded on those assumptions. I mean, c'mon where would the diet, cosmetic, and fashion industries be if we told women they were awesome?

I kind of understand how it

I kind of understand how it could come from a feminist place to want to change one's inability to have sex with the lights on. A lot of people who can't have sex with the lights on are that way because they feel embarrassed by their bodies, and it's very feminist-y to try and change that.

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