How To Tell If The Dog In A Movie Is Going To Die

How To Tell If The Dog In A Movie Is Going To Die

There are a lot of things that can ruin a movie, like a bad storyline, second-rate special effects, an unbelievable romance, or Tara Reid, but nothing wrecks a movie quite like an animal getting killed. Of course it’s gut-wrenching when any animal (except a shark or a mean dinosaur) dies in a movie – I’m thinking of Bambi’s mother and Mufasa and getting a bit misty – but when a dog dies in particular, you want to rewind your entire life and decide to take a nap instead of watching the movie in question. You want to brainwash yourself and return to that sunshiney place of ignorance where that fictional dog lived, safely contained in its 90 minute Blu-ray adventure.

If you’re nodding your head right now, chances are you’re like me: You can easily keep a dry eye through any number of human deaths in a movie, but you become hysterical at the mere thought anyone might touch a hair on the sweet Beagle’s kissable head. The outcome of the movie Titanic or Game of Thrones weighs heavy on your heart, but you’ll survive. Yeah, it’s unfortunate many of the characters didn’t make it, but they’re human beings and we can totally get more. People are a dime a dozen, but where else can we find a talking Golden Retriever or an Alaskan Malamute that rescues skiers from an avalanche other than in movies that by all rights should have a happy ending?

There is rarely legitimate reason for the dog in a movie to die. Whenever a dog dies in a movie, I imagine the screenwriter sitting at their writing desk, adjusting one of those adjustable Pixar office lamps thinking, “What’s the most messed up thing I could do? Hm, I could give the guy who just fell in love terminal cancer at a time in his life when he should be at his prime… No. Too Nicholas Sparks. I know! I’ll have the spunky little girl kidnapped and strapped to a bomb! Too predictable… Wait a second. I’ve got it. I’ll have someone shoot the family’s Labrador Retriever in a scene that doesn’t further the plot in any conceivable way.”

Maybe you’re thinking about a movie like Cujo, where the dog in question is kind of crazy. Or perhaps you’re thinking of Old Yeller or that scene in Of Mice and Men. These dog deaths are still heartbreaking, but those aren’t the kind of unexpected losses that makes you want to bawl for the rest of your life and give up movies forever, because no film has enough entertainment value to compensate for the possibility of seeing a loveable dog die. Over the years, I’ve become better at identifying when a movie may lead to an unexpected dog death. If you want to absolutely certain, you can check out Does The Dog Die, recently featured on Long Awkward Pause, it’s a database that allows you to search movies to see if any dogs are killed or injured. But in case you happen upon a movie and the battery on your phone is dead, look out for these movie dog death warning signs.

There’s An Adolescent Who’s a Loner

It’s often a boy with shaggy brown hair and a twinkle in his eye that screams, “I summon you plot to show me how unfair the world really is!” If the movie you’re watching features a kid who’s being bullied or doesn’t fit in at school and through some unlikely series of events (like a wily stray outsmarting an overweight dogcatcher) the kid becomes a dog owner, just assume the dog is going to die by the end of the movie. This is especially true if the little munchkin is afraid of the dog or doesn’t want to take care of the dog.

The Mom Or Dad Didn’t Like The Dog, But Now The Dog Has Become A Member of the Family

If the mom or dad has been particularly bitchy to the dog, but then based on the dog’s performance through some traumatic event has decided to embrace the pet as a member of the family, letting him or her sleep on the bed and eat “people food,” the dog is almost definitely going to die. In the movie business, this is what they call the Heartwrenching Acceptance Switcheroo. The Heartwrenching Acceptance Switcheroo tricks viewers into thinking the dog is invincible, because surely if the skeptical head of the household can accept the animal, it can survive anything for movie purposes! It’s come so far! You are wrong. No dog is safe.

The Movie Has Been Otherwise Upbeat And There’s No Reason The Dog Should Die

So everything’s been going great in the movie. The dog has settled into its home, and it probably has some adorable routine with the kids where it carries their backpacks to the car or changes the baby’s diapers or something. At some point in the movie, the dog probably woofed in response to a question and everyone viewer laughed in unison because it’s almost like that darn dog understands English! Well, I hate to tell you this, but don’t get too attached this pooch, because he or she probably isn’t going to live. I know you’re naïve and you think “this isn’t that kind of movie” or “there’s no way they’d kill the dog,” but believe me: They will kill the dog, and you will wish you forget all the backpack carrying and the intelligible yapping.

The Dog Has Its Own Music Score

Sometimes movies with dogs will create a music score that plays every time the dog is on screen. Whether Fido’s tearing through the garden or going for a walk, there will be this brassy triumphant music that slows to a spritely woodwind lull, heavily accented by the sound of a piccolo. If the dog has its own song in a movie, know that at some point – probably when you least expect it – this song will be slowed down as the prematurely dog dies out of nowhere. Beware dog-specific music tracks.

The Dog Becomes A Hero

If a movie dog saves anyone’s life, please grab the tissues, because that dog probably isn’t going to survive in the end. This is especially true if the dog becomes a hero in the neighborhood, beloved by all the townspeople for its heroic efforts. Any movie dog that survives against all odds — like coming back from a war or being the lone survivor of an earthquake — will probably stay alive in the movie just long enough for you get attached before something horrible happens to it.

There Are Lots of Scenes That Show The Dog Alone, Especially Walking

Any dog that gets too much solo camera time in a movie isn’t going to live. As a viewer, it might seem like this is the director’s way of helping us get to know the dog on a personal level. Look! There Fido is running after a squirrel. Now he’s laying on the floor with his chin on the ground. Isn’t he sweet? Yes, he is. He’s perfect. He’s everything a movie dog should be. Unfortunately, he’s not gonna survive, because this is a subliminal isolation tactic used by only the most heartless moviemakers to make us think the animal star of the movie is going to be okay. Be wary of too many dog scenes.

There are some notable exceptions to these criteria, but don’t say you haven’t been warned the next time some freckled boy and his little sister lose their best friend to Hollywood’s heartless whims.

This blog post was inspired by the trailer for the movie Max, a film that I — as a two-time German Shepherd owner — will never be watching unless someone kidnaps me and tapes my eyeballs open in front of the TV. This isn’t intended to spoil the movie for you, but if you get through that trailer thinking Max is going to live happily ever after, I’ve taught you nothing.

25 Lessons You Learn In A Quarter Century

25 Lessons You Learn In A Quarter Century

I’ve been 25 for just over 48 hours, which means that it’s officially been long enough for me to start dishing out advice about the things that a person should know by this age. Articles enumerating what people have learned by their current age are a dime a dozen on the Internet, but this list is a mixture of profound realizations and humorous meditations we’ve all faced — very much in keeping with the spirit of being in your mid-20s. With eras and light years measuring chronology, a quarter century may not objectively seem like a long time, but when you’ve actually lived it, it feels substantial. And it is. A person’s first 25 years encompasses both their birth and their becoming an adult. Learning to walk and learning to drive takes place within this period. It’s a transformative period of incredible growth and a lot of learning curves. Of all the lessons to be learned in a quarter century, here are 25 of the most important ones.

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How A Quarter-Life Crisis Feels A Lot Like Whack-A-Mole

How A Quarter-Life Crisis Feels A Lot Like Whack-A-Mole

Prior to humblebragging my recent vacation, I’ve been away from this blog for a while. I wish I had a simpler explanation for my absence, like a wealthy but morally unscrupulous man flew me to Dubai for a month or I had the kind of writer’s block that can only be remedied by closing the ol’ laptop and becoming reacquainted with the world that exists outside my imagination, but neither of those justifications are true – especially the first one, and not just because I don’t have a valid passport. I’ve been avoiding blank pages. When you’re a writer, an empty page beckons the same often unflattering reflection we sometimes try to avoid seeing in the mirror. I’ve been afraid of what might come crawling out in my prose when I Swiffered the cobwebs from my mind.

There’s so much I’ve wanted to say, but I couldn’t figure out why it felt so important that I say it, let alone how, when, or if I even should. That eager reluctance has felt like the kind of secret whisper you only hear when you hold a conch shell to your ear: it’s only as real as you want it to be. Since about February I’ve felt numbed by a cocktail of ambition, restlessness, confusion, fear, and acquiescence. It isn’t the result of any specific event but rather the symptoms of what has become my own personal Blue Period; only I’m not sure how the Old Guitarist at the end of the tunnel is going to manifest itself yet. As profoundly lonely as it feels sometimes, I know many of my friends are experiencing the same thing to varying degrees, and being privy to our distressed group messages is what ultimately convinced me that — for better or worse — I needed to face the blank page again.

Continue reading “How A Quarter-Life Crisis Feels A Lot Like Whack-A-Mole”

Photos From The Cabin Trip (Minus 30+ Selfies)

Photos From The Cabin Trip (Minus 30+ Selfies)

I have no problem admitting I’m that annoying person who forces people to say cheese for four group pictures, analyzing the believability of every person’s smile until everything about the picture is just right. Maybe it’s a side-effect of growing up with social media and the untold pressure of posting compelling pictures of me and my friends hanging out at the mall when I was in high school, but I just feel safer with hundreds of image files saved on my computer. The “You’re Not Living In The Moment!” argument against picture-taking has always bothered me, because I see nothing wrong with saving a tangible little piece of your life to daydream about later–kind of like in middle school when some QT (which is preteen for “cutie”) would borrow your pen and you’d preserve it in your desk like it was an artifact. Photos are the currency of our memories, and should Earth ever be taken over by a race of unusually sentimental lifeforms who determine socioeconomic status by one’s photo library, I’ll be set. 

I also fancy myself a bit of an aMaTeUr PhOtOgRaPhEr, but I don’t tell people that because it’s like insisting Lolita is your favorite book or claiming to enjoy classical music: It could be true, but it could also be one of those lies we use as quirky personality filler. I like to think my interest in photography has some legitimacy because it stems from a genuine desire to create art that’s long been hindered in every art class I’ve ever taken by my complete inability to hand draw anything recognizable. But not everyone is complaisant about how shutter-happy I can be, and as evidence, please see Mike’s crabby face — most commonly seen before his second cup of coffee and whenever people are getting too close to him at the grocery store — come to life after I asked him to take a picture with me in an open field:


For the most part, he was a patient and willing participant; besides I’m not too proud to use self-timer. The cabin where we stayed and Northern Wisconsin in general were just too beautiful to put the camera down for too long — it’s been a long time since I’ve felt surrounded by nature that felt so unapologetically alive — so I hope you enjoy scrolling through these* as much as I enjoyed taking them.

*These photos do not include the embarrassing amount of selfies I relished taking in seclusion on the lake.

Continue reading “Photos From The Cabin Trip (Minus 30+ Selfies)”

5 Often Forgotten Things To Thank Mom For This Mother’s Day

5 Often Forgotten Things To Thank Mom For This Mother’s Day

If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of feeling like a bad daughter or son for Googling, “When is Mother’s Day? Did I miss it? Will my inheritance take a hit for this oversight?” and being confronted by a date in May that’s always much sooner than you expected, let me be the one to tell you that Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 10th. If your mom is anything like mine in that the two things that make her most happy in the world are having less knick-knacks to dust and thinking about her retirement spent raising my future children, finding the perfect gift for the woman who literally will not accept anything you spent money on can be tough. But I’m not going to tell you what to get this year. Chances are, you’ve got a valid 20% off Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupon, and come Sunday your dear ma is going to be the new owner of the latest Keurig – the very one she once claimed “is probably an expensive hunk of junk just like the printer with all those damn replacement ink cartridges.” A comparison that only a mother could make.

But perhaps more than a Keurig, an expensive necklace with stick figure birthstone children on it, or and edible arrangement whose surprising inclusion of mango will be make your mom more emotional than Bruce Jenner’s interview, mom’s deserve a little appreciation for all that they do. They’re supportive, patient, and selfless. Who else besides your mother will ever be to say you’ve lived in her womb and in her basement? With that in mind, let’s a take a second to appreciate all the little things moms do that make them who they are so you can thank your mother for one of the things below.

1. Moms will always remind you of your most embarrassing moments during times of great joy.


Are you graduating? Getting engaged? Earning a promotion? Having a nice day? If answered yes to any of these questions, call your mother. While you’re excitedly chatting about your new apartment or the hundred dollar bill you found on the subway (just kidding, no one carrying hundred dollar bills is on the subway – you probably found a puddle of urine that you thought was a hundred dollar bill), your mom will interrupt with what you think is some important announcement about her health or the status of the neighbor’s husband who had a stroke three months ago: “You know what was I thinking about the other day while I was plotting world domination? Do you remember that time you had an accident in first grade, and when you got the nurse’s office you said you sat on a brownie? You smelled so bad, and no one believed you. Now what’s this about an investment that just made you a million dollars? I bet even a million dollars wouldn’t be enough to make that nurse believe you didn’t poop your pants if you went back in a time machine to when you pooped your pants in first grade, but go on, sweetie.”

2. No good mother will let you live your life with an extra of everything.


If moms had their way, every child would have a house that they live in and a house just full of spare everything. An extra umbrella. A spare winter coat. Scissors. Shoes in every style. PLASTIC BAGS. Once you’ve given birth, you move into the “just in case” universe, where it makes sense to spend money on things you don’t need “just in case.” Because what will happen if you don’t always have a tissue with you? Or a little flashlight? Or a pound of frozen ground beef?

3. Moms will never let you forget that kid from elementary school who moved away in fourth grade.


Moms have a lot to keep track of – like the software upgrade notification that’s been sitting untouched on the computer for two days because they thought it was one of those viruses hiding in a big horse – and they may sometimes forget to respond to that text message you sent, but you know who they never have and never will forget? Tommy Tibetanstein from Miss Barandes’s fourth grade homeroom. Your memory of Tommy is foggy. You never went to any of his birthday parties (thereby proving you weren’t friends), and you can’t even picture his face anymore. You think he might’ve kicked you on the monkey bars once—but no matter. Your mom inexplicably remembers that he moved away in fourth grade, and she also knows some private detail about his family, because apparently moms divulge everything standing on the sidelines at the playground: “I remember his mother [note: when moms talk about other kids’ moms, they refer to them only as “_____’s mother”] told me their aunt is a fugitive. She’s wanted in Indiana for killing a man in Indiana for being a man from Indiana.”

4. Moms will provide a full report on anything that has worn out. Ever.


Moms become experts in a lot of fields like diaper changing and spawn philanthropy, but their true métier is remarking on how things have worn out. Remember that favorite pair of shoes you had in high school that you wore every single day until your mom picked your right shoe up one day, studied the sole, and confronted you: “You need a new pair of shoes! Do you see how the design on the sole is worn out here, here, and…HERE? And look at the inside! See how the fabric is wearing out? There’s going to be a hole soon.” If anything wore out too soon or in an unexpected way (remember that remote with the power button that didn’t hold up?), moms will bring it to your attention.

5. Moms can simultaneously complain about you being a financial burden while also refusing to let you pay for anything.


Kids are expensive, and at a certain point in your life, you have to forgive your mother for some gentle ribbing about your history of glomming off of her and jeopardizing her future retirement at Del Boca Vista, but what’s perhaps most maddening is that while moms are snarking about how expensive you are/were, they also will not accept any repayment of any kind. Bought her a wallet she liked? “Let me give you the money for that. How much was it?” Take her out to a nice dinner? “I’m not letting you pay for that. I’ll give you the money in the car.” Buy her an electronic device that will improve her quality of life? “That’s too much. I don’t need that.” It’s a never-ending cycle of guilt and rebuffed generosity with moms.

But really, give your mom a call this Mother’s Day, and maybe this time bring up the pants-pooping accident or the whereabouts of Tommy Tibetanstein yourself, because we all know the conversation is probably going to end up there anyway.

The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge Has Nothin’ On These Lip Challenges

The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge Has Nothin’ On These Lip Challenges

Unless you’ve been too busy throwing a rager to celebrate Hubble telescope’s 25th birthday (who know Hubble was a Millennial?), you’ve probably stumbled across at least one of the news stories circling the Internet this week about the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge. I’m sure you—like me—assumed that the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge dares participants to overdraw their lips while getting injections and seeing how long they can deny accusations that their face looks completely different in a I-saw-my-doctor way and not a I’m-growing-up-voluptuously way. But no!

In reality, the KJLC (Are we using that acronym? Does it too strongly imply Kylie Jenner and Lauren Conrad are working on a clothing line?) involves shoving your lips into a shot glass, sucking out all the air to create vacuum seal, letting all the blood rush to your lips, and removing it so you can post a few selfies. If you look really ridiculous or you’re fortunate enough to get some bruising or cut your lip on the glass, you might even get retweeted on Twitter by 263 strangers basking in schadenfreude. Seeing all those people posting pictures and videos of themselves looking like Janice from the Muppets made me realize that these viral “challenges” that are more about putting yourself at risk for an embarrassing trip to the emergency room rather than actually pushing the limits of your mental and physical strength are totally in right now.

Unfortunately, many of us have actual responsibilities and can’t leave the house looking like we just fellated an entire beehive. So in the spirit of the many unique challenges I’ve tried alone at my house, like the Eat An Entire Package of Fig Newtons Challenge or the Three Hour Netflix Pee Delay Challenge, I’ve found a solution. Because I know a lot of us would like to participate in the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge, but are prohibited by our common sense and our natural lip preservation instincts, I’ve come up with a few lip challenges we can try instead.

1. The Gentle Questionably Consensual Kitty Kissies Lip Challenge

Subtly pucker your lips—somewhere between making a fish face and duck face—and find a (preferably familiar) cat. Ensnare said cat using cat nip or empty tuna promises. Cradle the cat in your arms, and place your lips to the top of the cat’s head, bestowing upon the feline a gentle kissie it will surely lick itself to rid of as soon as it can claw its way out of your arms.

2. The Attractive Duck Face Selfie You Can’t Post Because It’s a Duck Face Selfie So It Dwells In The Annals Of Your Camera Roll Threatening To Embarrass You If You Forget You Saved It And Anyone Swipes Through All Your Pictures Lip Challenge

Make yourself selfie ready. For some, that involves a hair flip, a nose and/or teeth check, and a lip gloss application. Take 7-24 selfies for practice (we all know the first 7-24 are usually throwaways), and then—against your better judgment—make a duck face in spite of the stigma. Take a selfie where your eyes are sparkling, your hair is perfect, and your cheek bones are poppin’, but even though it’s the most attractive selfie you’ve taken in months, refuse to post it anywhere (even to Facebook) because your lips don’t look casual enough for public consumption.

3. The General Lip Use Lip Challenge

Use your lips as you normally would to eat food, blow kisses to the TV, make fart sounds when no one’s home because you have the maturity of a rowdy nine-year-old, make faces in the mirror to remind yourself how unattractive you could be if you really tried, and fake smile at a relative telling you another elaborate story about someone you’ve never met. As necessary, apply some chapstick when your lips get dry. Lick lips when eating ice cream or botching an attempt to be sexy.

4. The Anxious, Bad Habit, Slightly Painful Lip Biting Lip Challenge

During a time of intense stress (the real kind that happens at school or work or the imagined kind when you just have one episode of 30 Rock left to watch on Netflix but you JUST HAVEN’T HAD TIME TO WATCH), use your bottom and top rows of teeth to trap your unsuspecting bottom lip. Curl your top lip back and use your front teeth to grab a little bit of the first layer of skin on your bottom lip. Tear it off and eat it like a savage, because for some reason that’s going to make you feel a lot better about your tough week at work. Live with bite mark craters on your bottom lip for a week, remembering what a bad habit lip biting is. Hate yourself a little.

5. The Lip Line Pimple That Everyone’s Going To Assume Is Herpes Lip Challenge

Get a huge zit right on your lip line. Confirm that it is in fact a pimple and not a cold sore as most commonly develops right on your lip line. Stare at yourself in the mirror wondering what deficiency in your hygiene practices would lead to a zit adjacent to your lips. Realize that even though you know it’s a zit, everyone you come across is going to assume you have herpes labialis. Mourn.

6. The Kissing A Mirror Because You’re Alone, A Potential Sociopath, And You Sometimes Get A Weird Satisfaction Out Of Seeing Your Lip Print On the Mirror Lip Challenge

Verify that you’re in a part of your residence where the probability of any other human beings seeing you do some really weird stuff is low. Find a mirror and take a look at yourself, fixing your hair if necessary. Look left and right, and if the coast is clear, press your lips to the cool reflective surface, imagining that you’ll see a perfect kissy print that you’d find on a Valentine’s Day card when you finally remove your lips. Step back from the mirror and see the disappointing smudge your thin lips left behind like goo from a snail. Question every part of your existence.

7. The Welding Your Lips Closed Because You Might As Well Lip Challenge

Take a sip of water or lick your lips to create some normal lip moisture. Do an activity that doesn’t involve opening your mouth, like staring at your computer for three hours or watching a Lord of the Rings marathon. Notice that because you haven’t opened your mouth in so long, the moisture has essentially sealed your lips shut. See how long you can not open your mouth noW that you’re aware your lips are stuck together. Eventually, break the seal and open your mouth, acting like you just removed the duct tape that was covering your mouth in a kidnapping situation. Wonder why you’re not in an insane asylum.

Images: Kylie Jenner/Instagram; FunnyPokemon/Twitter

Lane Bryant’s #ImNoAngel Campaign Still Misses The Mark

Lane Bryant’s #ImNoAngel Campaign Still Misses The Mark

On Monday, Lane Bryant revealed a new body positive campaign featuring models Ashley Graham, Candice Huffine, and more using the hashtag #ImNoAngel. The advertisements are being used to promote Lane Bryant’s Cacique bra collection. The campaign challenges beauty standards, perhaps most notably by denouncing the term “Angel,” which has become synonymous with Victoria’s Secrets famously slim print and runway models. As a woman who spent most of her life being fat and who still bears the stretchmarks, loose skin, and cellulite that have inspired their share of body shame since losing weight, I strive to be as body positive as possible. Even though I waver in my own efforts to embrace my body unconditionally, I think every woman deserves to feel confident and sexy in her own body. Despite supporting beauty in its many shapes and sizes, sometimes these body positive initiatives miss the mark for me, and Lane Bryant’s #ImNoAngel campaign is the newest addition to that list.

Maybe I’m on the Internet too much (not maybe; I am), but has anyone else noticed that there are certain causes that women are invariably criticized for questioning? I imagine that the nature of what those exact issues are varies based on your geographic area, your political leanings, your religion, or your social circles, but the two big things I wring my hands over having divergent opinions about are feminism and body positivity. Perhaps it’s because I work out a lot of my views on these matters through both reading and writing things online, but asking questions or criticizing anything deemed “feminist” or “body positive” usually results with the dissenter feeling like Tyrion Lannister on trial. That might be an exaggeration, but I know I’m not alone in feeling like David facing the Goliath of Things Modern Women Should Support Universally.

I’m sure some of you ladies out there would agree that when you ask questions about even a small aspect of something that’s overwhelmingly positive and empowering to women, the response can get nasty pretty quickly. So if you take issue with anything you read here today, all I ask is that you keep in mind that we’re on the same page. My criticism of this one body positive campaign does not make me anti-body positive. It also doesn’t make me a fat shamer or any other kind of icky thing that a woman becomes when she tries to make sense of our culture using her own lens.


So, this Lane Bryant #ImNoAngel campaign. I think it’s problematic for a lot of reasons. First of all, I don’t like how Lane Bryant is taking a subtle dig at Victoria’s Secret, partially to get more publicity. “Look! These beautiful women have different body types and are therefore unwelcome in Victoria’s Secret cheesy, exclusionist runway show. They’re no Angels! Get it? Media outlets, will you pick this you up now? We mentioned Victoria’s Secret! See! That’s Bryant with a ‘t’.” Yes, brava, Lane Bryant. For this progressive campaign, you’ve successfully put together a group of models who would be beautiful at any size, but because most of them have a little more meat on their bones, they likely would not be scouted to be the face of Victoria’s Secret new bra that adds 15 cup sizes and costs $60.

I’m disappointed that Lane Bryant – a major name in the plus size industry – would try to piggyback their campaign on Victoria’s Secret’s notoriety. I mean, would we even be talking about this advertisement if it didn’t take a little jab with the #ImNoAngel angle? That feels disingenuous to me. If Lane Bryant truly wanted to denounce VS, why use their language? Why define women of every size by the “angel” terminology that excludes them? By proclaiming, “I’m no Angel,” women are still holding themselves to the Victoria’s Secret standard as if it’s a legitimate unit of measurement. You’re not an Angel? Cool, me either. Luckily for both us, “Angelhood” isn’t a real thing to which we should aspire. #ImNoAngel has this subtle way of shifting the blame from Victoria’s Secret’s company culture to its models, who are blameless in this. The Angels are thin, and perhaps they are presented as the “ideal” by the company, but that isn’t Adriana Lima or Candice Swanepoel’s fault. They don’t make the casting decisions. All the Angels are guilty of is wanting to work for a high-profile brand.

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Maybe the #ImNoAngel bit is an attempt to reclaim the term for all sizes, not just those who fit Victoria’s Secret standards. Well, reclaiming “Angel,” feels a lot different than taking back the term “fat” or “plus size.” I don’t think we should care about whether or not someone fits the mold of a Victoria’s Secret Angel, because “Angel” isn’t a term that’s routinely alienating women on a daily basis. Even if Lane Bryant is supporting the world’s many non-Angels, in doing so they’re maintaining the same troubling standard, just repurposing it so that it works in their favor. I don’t think we should ever celebrate people for not being things. I mean, not to get too crazy here, but the fact that #ImNoRobertDurst doesn’t exactly shed light on who I am as a person. The same applies to #ImNoAngel. Okay, so we’ve got women with different proportions who aren’t Victoria’s Secret Angels. Is that really how we want to celebrate every woman who doesn’t fit the VS mold? Why can’t we add more to this conversation instead of simply negating the the construct that already exists? I think #ImNoAngel really stinks in that regard, but #ImNoLaneBryantMarketingStrategist.

Moving beyond the #ImNoAngel stuff, can I let you guys in on a little secret that might be polarizing? I’ve never blamed Victoria’s Secret for not equally representing women with proportions like mine, past or present. Maybe it is unfair that VS doesn’t showcase every height, weight, boob size, hip width, or BMI, but I understand that like any other company, Victoria’s Secret has its own brand identity, and even though it might be limiting or unfair, it’s pretty much been the same for as long as I can remember. VS typically casts tall, thin models whose breasts haven’t been enhanced. That excludes a lot of women — fat and otherwise — but that’s Victoria’s Secret’s prerogative.


I intimately understand how frustrating and hopeless it feels being an overweight woman who’s underrepresented and slighted at just about every turn — and that’s never more apparent than when it comes to fashion and lingerie – but should does that make it fair to hold these companies like Victoria’s Secret accountable for the deeply-engrained flaws of our culture? I don’t think so. Maybe through the years I’ve gotten good at separating my capitalistic sensibilities from my life experiences as a fat woman, but I’m not (and have never been) angry that certain companies choose not to offer larger sizes or feature models with waistlines more representative of the general population. Obviously it would be ideal if every clothing store used models with every shape and sold clothes of every size, but I’m a realist, and I know that logistically that’s probably never going to happen.

I love that thicker models are starting to get more of the campaigns they deserve, appearing in magazines like Sports Illustrated. I wish that there were more stylish clothing options for sizes 12 and beyond. But that doesn’t mean I see any sense in going to the mall, playing a game of eeney meeney miney moe with all the retailers who have decided not to diversify their models or sizes. That’s a losing game, and that’s not how I think we should approach body positivity. My body positivity is the kind that doesn’t require affirmation from Victoria’s Secret, Lululemon, or Abercrombie & Fitch. I don’t want retailers to make changes because their practices were criticized enough that they were obligated to do so as a public relations move; I want Victoria’s Secret and others to change because they want to, because it makes sense to them to do so, and because they believe it’s right. Nevertheless, that opinion puts me in the minority.

The #ImNoAngel campaign has become the Internet’s darling, spawning several other articles besides this one. Unfortunately, a lot of them are using phrases like, “Lane Bryant’s new ad campaign is redefining sexy!” Ugh. This always happens when body positivity gains a little momentum; people react as though being body positive is some progressive, newfangled idea that sounds pretty neato. Believe it or not, the concept that fatter bodies can be – gulp – worthy of ogling isn’t new. See the medieval art of Peter Paul Rubens:



From here, the conversation usually devolves into a debate about whether using thicker women in ads glorifies obesity (lol), but let’s not go down that ridiculous rabbit hole today. The point I’m taking my sweet time in making is that many of the articles, blog posts, and tweets that support Lane Bryant prove just how much further body positivity still has to go. The notion that an average size or fat woman — who jiggles and eats complex carbs and doesn’t do Crossfit — can be sexy isn’t new, and we need to stop acting like it’s some grand, forward-thinking overture every time a company does something mainstream enough for us to comfortably talk about supporting body positivity. Sexy does not have a defined set of qualifiers, especially when it comes to size. Not to steal the Internet or Lane Bryant’s thunder, but this #ImNoAngel campaign is not the first time double-digit-sized women have been sexy. It’s great that Lane Bryant is elevating different body types to coveted the sex appeal pedestal, but this isn’t groundbreaking stuff; if we’re serious about being open-minded about size acceptance, we need to stop being so surprised by it.

Ultimately, Lane Bryant’s new campaign isn’t bad. How could it be? Lane Bryant is giving women with different, less-glorified proportions a powerful platform to be seen and hopefully inspire change. Any time someone is talking about positivity, it’s a good thing. But I won’t sit here and pretend that #ImNoAngel is perfect or that it’s wholly representative of what I envision body positivity to be. It’s not. #ImNoAngel relies on press from swiping at Victoria’s Secret, the alleged oppressor in this situation, and it measures women using the same standards that got us to this place in the first place. More importantly, the response to #ImNoAngel shows that even though we’re taking steps in the right direction, we still have a long way to go.

Images: plusmaleblog/tumblr; Candice Huffine, Lane Bryant/Instagram; Giphy