When Sarah and I decided we wanted to talk about teenage girls, especially using a quirky sidekick character from a short-lived television show of the mid-nineties as the conduit to the discussion, I have to admit, I hesitated.  Who in their right mind would ever take us seriously?

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C'est Nous: A Conversation In Solidarity with the Girl

SARAH: Both of us took some serious umbrage with Emily Keeler’s review of Kate Zambreno’s most recent book Heroines in the Los Angeles Review of Books, and our frustrations with that piece tie rather nicely together with a lot of other conversations we’ve been having lately about public performances of femininity (and the Perils Thereof). I’m not even sure where to start unpacking the review, but I think one point of entry is the idea–which is certainly not limited to a single reviewer–that women’s attention to, and interest in, fashion and presentation is inherently problematic, shallow, and invalidating of our intellectual capacities. That “a glittery silver toenail polish from OPI’s Swiss collection" has no value as a signifier (as opposed to, I guess, a byline in the LARB). (To be clear: I haven’t yet read Heroines, though I’m a fan of Zambreno’s earlier novel Green Girl and her blog, Frances Farmer is My Sister.)

MEG: Clearly there’s about five hundred directions in which we could take this, and I’m not sure where to start either.

As for your not having read the book yet, it seems that Keeler’s criticism is about a lot of ideas beyond the text. I think this was part of our “WTF, LARB“ response.  It was partially a defense of Kate, whom I know we both think is brilliant and like As A Person too, but also a reaction to what we both find to be a familiar and tired critique of the ladies at large.  Emily Keeler is talking a lot about women and fashion and hysteria, more so than about Kate’s book.  I find it interesting that she liked Green Girl (which is rife with such "shallow” obsessions like clothes, makeup, sex, etc) but disliked Heroines for these same motifs? I have a lot to say but am still trying to get to the root of what upset me so much.

Keeler writes: “What does it mean to reject the psychopathology offered by Zambreno–as a reader, as a writer, as a woman? To disinvest myself of disorder in my response to this text? To reject hysteria and mania, to refuse the glamor of the broken woman writer?”

Which is not something I entirely disagree with.  It would certainly be nice–or at least more productive–to disinvest myself of disorder, to “fix” everything, per se. I don’t think being a broken woman is particularly glamorous; I would like for eating disorders to not exist and I would like if we weren’t fascinated by coked-out tragic starlets in the tabloids.  It would be real nice if nothing about being a lady related to the aforementioned psychopathologies. But this simply isn’t how it is, and to ignore (and scorn) the messy neurasthenic (and her wardrobe and makeup) doesn’t make any of us better.  We don’t need to refuse or reject the hysteria – but not-refusing isn’t necessarily praise, either. It just is, and it’s worth thinking about.

Keeler also reacts against the rigid gender binaries set up in Heroines (“HIM” and “HER”) which is of course something I’m also down with.  But I don’t read anything Kate’s ever written, or any l'écriture féminine for that matter, as an endorsement of those binaries as much as an indictment of that system, a testimonial to how shitty and confusing it can be living in a world that’s set up like that.

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As a woman with writerly delusions, I took it personally. It validated so many secret worries, the worries above and beyond “is my writing any good.” Is anyone gonna care? Should I just keep trying to figure out what I want to do, even if nobody will ever pay me? Am I being a bitch for writing about this? Does this matter?Am I pretty enough for people to like me, or too pretty to be taken seriously? If I ever create anything noteworthy, will people spend the next century and a half critiquing my looks and my sex life, pelting me with insults for trying too hard to be one of the boys? If one of the most famous female novelists of our time is still critiqued for her looks and sex life, what the hell can I expect? And Wharton was straight! I’m not! It’s entirely hopeless! Why even bother?
—  Meg Clark, on Jonathan Franzen’s New Yorker article about Edith Wharton. 
karine basilio for dress to kill magazine

I worked my ass off on this editorial (I work for Karine Basilio, the photographer who did it) and it was oddly gratifying seeing it up on FGR today.  To be honest these things are way more complicated than they seem (you try figuring out how to get a model into the Empire State Buildling to shoot from across the street with a 400mm telephoto lens that comes in a small suitcase, sneak through the public library in Bryant Park with two 6'0" Amazons in glittery suits and stiletto heels, climb around on Midtown rooftops, and then figure out outfit and hair changes in the back of a moving van in the middle of Times Square – did that sound silly and shallow? It was also difficult, and fun, and I think the results are damn gorgeous.) and also so much more of a creative and team effort than you probably think when you flip through these in magazines and just gloss over them as shiny images.

So, Karine Basilio for Dress to Kill Magazine. Also, let’s take a moment to admire Tammy’s styling (look at all that Jen Kao and that gold Reem Acra suit!) and Heather Koenitzer from Muse, who’s probably one of my favourite new faces we’ve worked with (and was also an absolute sweetheart.) Rest of the spread after the jump. 

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cool spark of the week: charmdesign
my sister was perusing etsy and found these great bags. She shared them with me and I thought they would make a great spark for the week.

they are by etsy designer ranja lee from charmdesign.

here is a cool one called “fan flowers”

This is another summery one called “siler leaves”

this one is called “charm forest” – it would make a great fall bag

they range in price from around 27-30. they could make fun bridesmaid gifts! or just a gift to you! Check them out at the etsy shop of Charmdesign

(the images are from charmdesign’s site)

now our luck has changed and the lights are red.

Obnoxious meta-post, just for now! Just a few things:

■ Domain! Finally. You are now reading  HTTP://MORNINGMIDNIGHT.COM . Ooooh.  Any old links to the Tumblr address ( WILL still redirect here, and if you subscribe through Tumblr you’ll still be fine.

RSS: This means that is the new feed address – though again, the Tumblr one will still be working as well.  Bloglovin etc should also still be working fine, but if you want to update, whatever.