In this collection of nine essays, Jia Tolentino speaks for our generation…and does a great job. How we see ourselves is a result of several forces reflecting that self right back at us. The rise of athleisure…the weight of religion…reality tv…weddings. I, too, see myself a certain way based on what I’m shown [particularly in the media] as proper or ideal. This problem is particularly heavy for women, so these essays felt very yessssss to me. Whether it is reading marriage plot novels or buying into those #Girlboss vibes, I find I am constantly re-jiggering how I fit myself into society.
Each essay has moments of doom and gloom when it comes to a society that asks us to play a certain role (“Reality TV and Me” and “Always Be Optimizing”) or condemn/extol certain people (“We Come From Old Virginia” and “The Cult of the Difficult Woman”). Working so hard to fit an ideal (à la virtue signaling in “The I In Internet” or playing into the wedding industry in “I Thee Dread”) threatens to break us. We look for ways out (“Ecstasy”). Perhaps the way out is to approach life the way Tolentino does. By trying your darndest (and yes, you might fail at this sometimes) to do whatever the heck YOU want to do in the moment.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
Pair with: White Claw (lime flavor)