I Can Cook For My Husband and Still Be a Feminist

As a writer, you learn quickly to develop a thick skin. People on the Internet will comment about, for example, how you can’t write, or how your husband is inevitably going to leave you, or how your particular style of writing is entirely responsible for any man leaving any woman, ever. And you take it, and eventually learn to laugh at it, because it’s part of the gig. You will get rejections, you will get bad reviews, you might even get nasty emails. It comes with the territory. If you want to write for a living, you better learn to accept it or get out of the game.

So it takes a lot, these days, for a review or reporter to rattle me. I can shrug off nastiness quickly. I usually share any particularly harsh feedback with my family, because if we can’t all laugh together, where’s the fun?

But a reporter asked a question recently that really irked me. I’ve been thinking about it ever since, and I know I got pretty defensive when it first came up. I tried to keep a reasonable tone, to answer the question thoughtfully, but that the question would even be asked, well, pisses me off.

It was an interview for my new book, Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time, in which I write about trying to make my life a little bit more fabulous by emulating some of the stars who seem to have it all. Jennifer Aniston. Sarah Jessica Parker. Jennifer Garner. Tina Fey. In one of the chapters, I talk extensively about trying to cook like Gwyneth Paltrow. I mention that my husband—not much of a cook himself—especially enjoyed the home-cooked meals. I also write throughout the book about my longing for a baby, and about my infertility struggles.

So here was the question: “How can you write about wanting to cook for your husband, and wanting to have a baby, and still be a part of the feminist discourse?”

I was so taken aback that I had to ask the reporter to repeat the question, and even then I had to repeat it back to her to be sure I understood it correctly.

I am a feminist. I believe that women are equal to men, and that all women should have the right to choose and live the life we want. I believe that whatever decision we make—whether it is to have a family or not, to cook for a romantic partner or not, to work or not, to shave our armpits or not, whatever—is valid as long as we’ve made it for ourselves. Our lives should not be chosen for us. Other people’s ideas of what makes a woman should not dictate what our rights look like.

The idea that you can only be a feminist if you reject the notions of starting a family or wanting to cook for someone else or wanting to feel better about your body, is ludicrous. My daughter brings me joy. Putting a meal that I’ve created in front of my husband every now and then makes me proud. I am a feminist because those are choices I’ve made. No one made them for me. My husband has never demanded a home-cooked meal. I didn’t have my daughter because someone said, “you better start popping out kids soon.” These are choices that make me happy. My career also makes me happy. And so does playing sports. And so does leaving my daughter with my husband for a weekend so I can get some much needed me-time.

If another woman chooses to eschew kids and marriage and pursue a different path, I support that, too.

Women shouldn’t have to apologize for not wanting to get married or for choosing career over kids.

But I shouldn’t have to apologize for wanting the cooking and the kids, either. I am a feminist—home cooking, baby and all.

 

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Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: On Sale Now (Also, GMA!)

JenniferGwyneth_1217-1I have three babies. My actual baby, and then two books. Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me—baby number three—is on stands… today! I can’t believe it. This book feels like it’s been such a long time in the making. When I first handed it in, I thought it would be in stores in January 2014. Then I was told March. Then June. Then July.

If you ask me, there couldn’t be a better pub date for this book than July 1. It’s light, fun beach reading (don’t believe me? Self, Cosmo and Shape.com all say so!) and out just in time for the holiday weekend. I couldn’t be happier.

I hope you will grab a copy today. Throw it in your purse (at only 256 pages, it’s light, I promise) and by the time you finish reading you’ll be channeling your inner Beyonce.

Also! I’ll be on Good Morning America this morning talking about the book and what it was like to live like a celeb for eight months (or, at least, try to). It’s my first national TV appearance and there should even be an 11-month-old special guest. I’d be so grateful if you’d tune in, or set your DVR.

Finally, in case I don’t say it enough: THANK YOU all for your unwavering support of this blog, MWF Seeking BFF, and now, Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me. It means the world to me. Thank you. Seriously.

Today, you can:
order Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me
check out the press (there’s even a picture of me in my SJP-inspired tutu)
see what readers are saying

 

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Advice to Young Writers

 

Last week, I sat down with a young woman who, maybe, potentially, wants to be a writer. She just finished her freshman year of college, and is interested in short stories and poems but, as she told me, she knows that’s kind of dreamy. She knows, as she says, that she’ll need to get a “real job” too.

We talked over lunch about what she’s reading, what she’s writing, and how one goes about getting a book published. In many ways, she reminded me of me, and upon thinking about our conversation, there are some things I wish I had told her. The same things I wish someone had told me.

First, writing really is dreamy. Literally. You can escape into the fantasy worlds of your dreams, or relive your most treasured memories, or date Prince Charming, all on the page. You can write the story in which the younger you exacts revenge on all the high school mean girls, or give your favorite character the perfect family you’ve always wanted. But writing is also a real job. It involves sitting in front of the page even when you want to be watching Grey’s Anatomy or going out to dinner or joining your friends at Six Flags. It means getting rejected sometimes (and by sometimes of course I mean lots of times), and dealing with various bosses who have their own agendas. It means doing the work you sometimes don’t want to do, and dealing with the people you sometimes don’t want to deal with. It is a real job, and one that can pay bills, if you treat it as such.

Also, if you want to write, WRITE. Don’t let anyone—your parents, your professors, the crabby reporters who say nobody reads anymore—tell you it’s not a worthy pursuit. Stop thinking about if you can do it, or if you should do it, and do it. And if you want to be published, you need to pitch your story. If getting published isn’t important to you, and you want to write for the love of writing, great! Really! But if you want to get published—in a book, a magazine, a journal, a website, a newsletter, whatever—you need to send your work out into the world. Start a blog. Send an essay to HelloGiggles. Check out Medium. Prove to your parents that writing is worthy by writing, and show them you’re willing to do the work to get other people to read your writing.

And another thing: When people ask you what you’re reading, don’t say Ernest Hemingway if you’re actually reading Candace Bushnell. There is no shame in reading Sex and the City. You’re reading, after all, which—don’t you read those crabby reporters?—is more than most people. If you’re reading Fifty Shades of Grey, own it—and then start a conversation about the craziness that is the Fifty Shades phenomenon. It’s so much better, and smarter, than spitting out the first “smart” name you can think of. Believe me, I made that mistake once. I was in a journalism class and a teacher asked me my favorite magazine. I said The New York Times Sunday Magazine. It made me sound smart, I thought, and I did like that magazine… the few times I’d read it. The correct answer, of course, was People. And when the professor subsequently asked me who was on the cover of the Times magazine that week and I said, “Was it, uh, that girl?” I did not sound smart. I sounded like a person who just got caught trying to sound smart. People is just as worthy an answer. There’s a reason it’s been in print for 40 years.

And, finally. If you want to be a writer, and you meet with someone who is there to give you advice, and she mentions books you might want to read, authors you might want to look up, or websites you might want to pitch, do not smile and nod and say thank you. Write it down. Then smile and nod and say thank you.

 

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Reunited and It Feels So Good

I love pop culture, as you know. But what I really love is ’90s pop culture. And what I really really  love is when ’90s pop culture BFFs pull off a modern-day reunion. Like the selfies above. The top, from Thelma & Louise, 1991. The bottom, from Susan Sarandon’s Facebook page, 2014. (Can we all just agree that these women are ageless?) Thelma and Louise basically stand for all things best friendy, and just seeing these pics reminds me why I started my partner-in-crime search in the first place.

In other ’90s-pop-culture-friendship-reunion news: Lifetime is set to air The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story. You read that right. Bayside is back, y’all.  The movie, which will air in September, will be about the behind-the-scene shenanigans of everyone’s favorite Saturday morning teen sitcom. You know, before Screech became a porn star. Lisa Turtle for president is all I have to say.

I will also admit, right here, right now, that I bought a number of hats at Contempo Casuals in an attempt to be more like Blossom and Six. I have a picture of my 5th grade BFF and me wearing our hats with giant flowers on them. I’d say it’s not my proudest moment, except I’m kind of into the fact that my 10-year-old style could best be described as Clarissa-meets-Blossom. I’ve never since been that much of a fashion risk-taker (that might be a good thing). All this to say: Yay! The Blossom folks reunited yesterday!

We live in a culture hungry for nostalgia. So I say thank you to my childhood heroes for feeding that craving. And, also, Party of Five, we’re all waiting.

Which old TV gang are you dying to see again?

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Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me – Two Weeks!

In anticipation of the release of Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me, I sent an email this morning to friends, family and supporters of my first book, MWF Seeking BFF But then, I realized, you guys are, like, my biggest supporters out there. You are the people who have cheered me on as I stumbled through friend-dating, and chime in when I post random celebrity musings on this blog. You are, simply put, the best.

So, since you all fulfill the role of supportive friend as much as anyone I might meet for coffee, I figured I’d post this note to you, too. Oh, and again, THANK YOU.

—-

Dear Friends,

As you may know, my next book, Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time, will be in bookstores soon. Two weeks from today, in fact.

To those of you who have already pre-ordered: Thank you!

And to those who haven’t–want to??

If you’re not sure, would it help to know that Cosmopolitan named Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me one of three books to take to the beach this summer? Or that Flavorwire called it a summer read that will make you smarter?

Think of it as Us Weekly meets The Happiness Project — celebrity reading you don’t have to be embarrassed about!

Selling books today is harder than ever. Especially for a relatively unknown author like me. This is why I’m asking for your help: Pre-orders are vital because they contribute to the first week’s sales (the most important week!) and they help build buzz for new books. If you might pre-order the book today, I’d be forever grateful. (Did I mention it comes out July 1? Right in time for holiday weekend beach reading?? Just saying.)

Please forward this to friends, family members, or anyone you know who loves reading, gossiping about celebrities or supporting authors. Or who loves you and by extension loves me.

For more information on Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me, you can read an excerpt, check out the early press, or see what readers are saying on Goodreads.

Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU!

Rachel

P.S. Set your DVRs! I will be on Good Morning America discussing Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me on July 1

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Do You and Your BFF Want to Be On TV?

Two things I love: BFFs and reality TV. And here comes a reality show about BFFs. Score.

Did you meet your best friend in an interesting, unusual or funny way? Do you have a great story that started your friendship? Like, maybe you met your bestie while running from lions who were chasing you through the jungle? Or, something less dangerous but equally as surprising?

If so, you and your best friend could be featured in an episode of a new television series on a major cable network! Here are the deets: “VPEtalent and an award-winning production company are seeking a pair of best friends with one hell of a story to tell.  Whether the two of you survived a major catastrophe, were caught in a ridiculous love triangle, or outran the law together, we want to hear the outrageous, unimaginable experience that brought you super close to a complete stranger.”

For more information, or to apply—or nominate someone—fill out this application.

And don’t forget the little guys when you’re rich and famous.

Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me comes out in less than three weeks! There’s nothing better than word of mouth to help a book succeed. Won’t you share the news with your BFFs (and anyone else you know)?  They can:
pre-order the book
read an excerpt
check out the reviews
see what readers are saying
Thank you!

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“Celebrities Give Too Much Advice, and People Listen To It Too Much”

Graduation season is my favorite time of year. Not because I’m getting a diploma (haven’t since Northwestern 2004–Go U NU!), but because in an effort to seem hip, prestigious universities invite funny celebrities to give commencement addresses. I’ve enjoyed plenty of wisdom dispensed via YouTube from the likes of Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler and Ellen DeGeneres, and I love it.

You see, I’m the kind of person who loves a good life lesson. I relish hearing how other people tackle their day-to-day—celebrities especially, because then maybe I can incorporate their rituals into my own daily life, and seem almost as put together and glamorous as they are.  In my upcoming book, Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me, I spend nearly a year trying to better myself by emulating the lives of the celebrities that I admire. Jennifer Aniston’s body? Tina Fey’s work ethic? Julia Roberts’s zen? I want it all.

One of the celebrities I admire most (as you know) is actress and writer Mindy Kaling. This year, she gave the commencement speech at Harvard Law School. In her speech, she deals with people like me, who want answers and advice from A-listers like her.

“Celebrities give too much advice, and people listen to it too much,” she says. “Actresses can become nutritionists, experts in baby care, or in environmental policy. Actors can become governors, pundits or even high ranking officials in religions made up a mere 60 years ago.”

It’s true that the Gwyneth’s of the world are no longer just actresses, but lifestyle experts with million dollar brands. It’s also true that I, and sometimes even Mindy, eat it up. Who can resist?

To see Mindy’s take on celebrity advice-givers, go to 12:45 on the video at the top of the page. Or watch the whole thing because, well, it’s fantastic.

Is she right? Should we quit taking advice from celebs? Or is a role model a role model,  famous or not?

Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me is out in three weeks, and I need your help! Pre-order sales are vital to a book’s success–all early orders count toward the first week’s sales, which is the most important week.  I would be so grateful if you might:

Pre-order the book 
Read an excerpt
Follow me on Facebook or Twitter

Thank you!

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