Gentlemen. Dudes. Do you think an awful lot about your chest hair? Do you feel pressured by the media to conform to a certain standard of male beauty, a standard that begins – and ends – with your chest hair? No? Well, Stephanie Karina, author at The Thought Catalog, has your back. You may recognize The Thought Catalog as the premier thought leadership blog for twee 20-somethings, and for good reason. Behold:
The media grossly pressures you into adopting certain standards of beauty that are unattainable, save for a few lucky souls who have won the genetic lottery. They, the chosen ones, are as naturally hairless at 20, 35, or 47 as the day they first emerged from the womb, bald and ready to embrace the world with chubby arms.
Who among us hasn’t lamented the good fortune of our hairless brethren? It’s as though there aren’t enough shirts in the world to contain our shameful chest scourges.
You need to know that you are more than just your chest hair. I’m going to place full blame on the media for causing some of you to think otherwise.
Actually, their chests may not be as smooth as we are led to believe — thanks to cunning photographers and art directors who are adept at misrepresenting reality.
I would alert the media, if BIG MEDIA wasn’t already behind the conspiracy to make us all into hairless waifs.
Now, you and I both know that these media sweethearts don’t really represent the average American man. Yet, they cause some of you to remain ashamed of what you ought to consider a gift from nature.
I’m starting to wonder if this is satire. [reads other posts] Nope, pretty sure it’s not.
For example, one close male friend recently waxed his chest. Bulbous, pus-filled boils began to appear up and down his torso and sides a few days later. He discovered that he was allergic to the wax that the aesthetician had used to remove his chest hair.
One time I shaved my chest in advance of a pool party, and I received a keloid scar resulting from an ingrown hair as my prize. I blame the media.
If you want, flaunt your man fur! It is prime for cold winter months — during which it could serve as an additional layer underneath your clothing. It could buffer you against bitter winds or sloshy snowfalls — which will prove useful as global warming progresses in its current direction. That is, if global warming isn’t a lie made up by Al Gore and hippie liberals in an attempt to plot world domination!
See, I still don’t know if this is satire, meant to somehow draw a parallel between a non-existent issue and the real body images issues that women are often face. The thing is, that only works if the issue (or proposed solution, or whatever) in the satire isn’t real, or is totally unreasonable. No, manscaping isn’t a “problem,” but it’s a thing people do and I’m sure a certain type of guy might feel some amount of “pressure” to look tan and smooth like a Men’s Health cover model. Instead, she’s (ostensibly) drawing parallels between a minor, fringe issue and a real one. That doesn’t work, and is yet another example of why the The Thought Catalog is an absurd, unmitigated shithole for hack writers who put exactly zero thought into the shit they spew out onto the only site with little enough self awareness to actually publish these articles. The sad thing? This is probably one of the more readable pieces they’ve published in a while.
Do you. Do no one else.
Thanks, Stephanie. You do the same.
I get tired of seeing people in the gym toiling away for countless reps with meaningless weights. Well, not tired, I guess. It doesn’t affect me in any meaningful way. They’re the ones who get tired. But still, it amuses (or more accurately, bemuses) me. People go to the gym to improve their physical fitness, and lift weights specifically to get stronger. Why, then, do people waste so much time doing 1,000 reps with 1 lb. weights when they’d be better served doing 1 rep with 1,000 lb. weights? The answer is because people, and their prevailing wisdom, are retarded.
Somehow, at some point, we got into our heads the idea that lifting big weights will make you big, and lifting small, sleek weights will make you small and sleek. Women are especially guilty of this. It’s probably due to the fact that yes, the largest weights in the gym are typically lifted by the largest people. In fact, the opposite is mostly true. Lifting a lighter weight to exhaustion will tell the body to increase the number of muscle fibers, thereby making you bigger. This has its benefits, namely increased size (if you’re looking for that) and muscle endurance. For some people, that’s really important. Anyone who works a job that requires them to lift moderate loads over extended periods of time, mostly. But for the rest of us, the casual weight lifters just looking to get stronger? Lift heavier.
Weightlifting, like any other physical exercise, is something we get better at with practice. If you practice lifting light things over and over, you’ll get better at that. Conversely, if you practice lifting heavy things fewer times, you’ll get better at lifting heavy things. Consider the functional applications of that kind of strength. Do you anticipate a time where someone will approach you and say “Excuse me, would you mind helping me lift this moderately heavy thing up and down several times?” Doubtful. Instead, you’re more likely to have someone say “Please sir, will you help me lift this extremely heavy thing beneath which I am trapped, so that I may live?” Suddenly, those bicep curls don’t seem like such a good idea. Big biceps are nice, but having a strong back, legs, and shoulder cradle is a lot nicer.
If you’re still of the “lift big to get big” mindset, maybe rethink your strategy. Why do 20 lat pulldowns when you could be eeking out 10 pull-ups? Why do a bunch of pointless leg extensions when you could power through a set of 5 heavy squats? I’m not saying there’s a problem with lifting for size, or that you can realistically have one without the other (you can’t), but remember: Lift heavier, and get stronger.
Though I’m by no means a recent college grad, like many of them I find myself nosing around for job opportunities so I can do things like pay my rent, feed myself, and drink with reckless abandon. Finding a job can be one of the hardest things in the world, but sometimes you think you’ve hit the jackpot – you apply for a position, and within days the company can’t seem to get ahold of you fast enough. They, despite having a name along the lines of “XYZ Business Consultants,” inform you that they’re a “marketing company.” Well shit, how cool is that?!? Everyone wants to work in “marketing,” right? Well, I’m here to tell you to watch out for these companies, because nine times out of ten, they are bullshit.
What they usually end up being are MLMs, or Multi Level Marketing companies. That’s just a fancy name for a pyramid scheme. This is how they work: As an employee, you go door to door, six days per week, selling something. It could be coupons, sports tickets, or services for a “known” company. You work strictly on commission (usually about $10 per sale), but your main focus is on advancement. You do this by doing well enough to warrant them sticking new recruits underneath you. The company grows not through the sales you make, but by the number of people you’re able to add to the base of your “pyramid” – that’s what makes it a MLM.
The interviews go something like this: You go to the office, and the “manager” speaks to you for around 15 minutes about the company, overhyping what they do and downplaying the real nature of the business (note that the script they follow makes them come across as very candid). If they like you (they will), they send you to the second “interview,” which is just you going out into the field with a salesperson. At any point, if either you decide you’re not interested or they determine you “don’t have what it takes” (there’s a lot of ambition/work ethic shaming that goes on), they will leave your ass in the middle of nowhere. I’ve seen this happen myself, when I was dumb enough to think these were legit opportunities. When the other “candidate” with me decided he was done, the salesperson just pulled over and left him somewhere in VA Beach. If you make it through the “interview,” you go back to the office around 8pm, where they’ll offer you the “job.” I declined, because I don’t entirely hate myself.
The “marketing” buzzword is how they draw young people in, so it’s important to know how that whole part of a business works. There’s advertising, which is what you see in print, the internet and on television. It’s collateral designed to compel you to take action and drive you into the arms of a salesperson. Usually, this is contracted out to large agencies that are very clear about being creative advertising firms. Then there’s sales, which is pretty straightforward. Whether inbound or outbound, the goal of sales is to get the customer to agree to a purchase. Finally, there’s marketing. Marketing can do a couple of things. One aspect is the creation of internal collateral. This can be anything from website or catalog copy, or brochures used by the salespeople. It’s their job, once a potential customer is compelled by an ad, to provide more information and act as the final push to get them into a sales situation.
The other function of marketing is for metrics-based sales planning. They’ll take sales results, online data, focus groups, and various other tests to help determine how and to whom the company should be positioning their product. This is the primary function of external “marketing” firms. They either already have data that would otherwise be costly to obtain through primary research for a company or, in the case of smaller firms, they have the capabilities to collect this data that the company simply does not. This is why a lot of recent grads, after joining a legitimate marketing firm, get jaded with the practice. It’s not glamorous and creative like they hoped. Instead, it’s pouring over spreadsheets to see which people, of which age group, in which geographic area purchased a given product or service.
The MLMs have gotten slick with their own marketing, and can appear as legitimate businesses. The one that contacted me recently had a nice looking web page where they even featured their management team, had a well-written (but vague) mission statement, and included links to their Facebook and twitter pages. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if you’re being courted by a MLM, but here are some giveaways:
- They call themselves a “marketing” company, but their website makes little to no mention of their process/strategy. Even more telling, they don’t tout any kind of metrics-based approach. Remember, that’s the primary function of external marketers.
- They talk about being a “sports,” “entertainment” or “business” marketing firm. MLMs want to attract type-A, competitive people (particularly men), and know that these are desirable fields for those types. Be especially wary if they say something like “You’ll do well here if you’re a former athlete.” In the sports and entertainment industries, the marketing is typically done in-house. Don’t think for a minute that it could ever be so easy to be considered for a marketing position with the Washington Nationals.
- Their entry level position is called something like a “Junior Executive.” The people who glom onto MLMs tend to have a very inflated sense of self, while at the same time are too dumb to realize that what they’re doing is a scam. What kind of person could call themselves a “junior executive” while selling crap door to door with a straight face? That’s right, a self-important, go-getting moron.
- They’re only hiring for entry level positions. This isn’t entirely unheard of, but realistically no respectable company has only ONE type of opening, and when they do they’ll usually come out and say that it’s entry-level sales (thereby disqualifying them as a marketing firm). When you see that, it’s a good indication that the only way to advance is by climbing the pyramid from within.
- The management team seems young. At the place that contacted me, the “president” of the company couldn’t have been more than 25, and he only started there (at the bottom, of course) in 2010. His LinkedIn profile refers to the firm as a being in the “Marketing and Advertising industry,” while the “CEO” (only 27 himself) lists it as “Management Consulting.” In no way are two under-30 dipshits from middling schools equipped to run legitimate marketing firms.
- They place heavy emphasis on “entrepreneurial spirit,” “unlimited income,” “a team environment” and “passion for advancement.” The first two are just codewords for “this job pays by commission only.” No reputable company would take a fresh college grad and place him in a commision-only sales position, because sales is a nuanced field that takes time to learn. The last two refers to the cult-like atmosphere MLMs cultivate. They do chants in order to get “psyched up” every morning. It’s a tactic used to promote group-think and hide the fact that you’re working six days per week for little pay for a sham company.
- There are no real qualifications for getting hired. Real marketing firms look for people with genuine quantitative abilities. MLMs make their requirements, if they have any, intentionally vague and universal. They need to cast a wide net in order to find the few who will drink the kool aid.
- Rather than emailing you to set up a phone interview, they call right away, or email and ask you to call them. The people who “advance” within the pyramid are by default the slickest talkers, so their odds of recruiting people increase when they can speak to you one on one, when you don’t have much of a chance to process what’s being said.
I’m sure there are more indicators, but these are the ones I’ve noticed. The bottom line is, use your common sense. If it seems too good to be true, and they’re a little too eager to talk to you, it’s probably a scam.
Started doing the advice column thing this week, and the first one is up at AskMen. They’re calling it “Man to Man,” which keeps with AskMen’s heavy-handed “better man” theme, but isn’t bad as far as advice column names go, I guess. The formula for any good advice column is a balance of seriousness and silliness, which is what I went for here. A sample:
Hi Ian Lang,
Here’s my question: How can I let a woman know that I’m only interested in having a sexual relationship with her without coming across as cold and insensitive?
As you can probably tell, this is the “silly” part. A snippet of my response:
If she were interested in this arrangement, that would probably be clear, so you must be talking about a scenario in which she wants a real relationship and you do not. If that’s the case, why do you think this is an OK thing to vocalize? No matter how you word it, you’re essentially telling this person that while you think her sex parts are dynamite, you’re less enthusiastic about her personality. That’s a pretty sh*tty thing to say to someone’s face. Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot, and a woman told you that she appreciates your personality but doesn’t find you attractive enough to screw. Chances are you’d deny her invitation altogether, and maybe buy a fedora and grow a neck beard and start yelling about “the friend zone.”
Generally, I love and encourage commenters, both good and bad. As a writer, it keeps you honest. Sometimes they offer valuable, critical input. Other times, they don’t. For example, a comment from my latest article about advice:
He caught me red-handed. Here I was, thinking I was positing helpful advice acquired through years of experience, when all I was really doing was tossing another log onto feminism’s testicle consuming fire.
Before I even start the advice column thing, here’s some to get you started: talking shit about feminism will never, EVER get you laid. Not once, not ever. A woman doesn’t have to be a bra-burning, armpit combing feminazi for her to be turned off by your disdain for the movement that affords her just about all of the political and social freedoms she enjoys today. Yes, there are likely some “feminists” out there who would like to see men subjugated the way women once were, but those aren’t most feminists, and not even “real” feminists. Modern feminism is, above all, about equality. Things like not being talked down to in the workplace, or not having politicians tell them what to do with their bodies. Equality is not a zero-sum game. Men do not have to give up anything to afford the kind equality most women seek.
I don’t even consider myself a feminist, but most of the things they ask for just seem like common sense to me. If you, as a man, can’t see how AT THE VERY LEAST not taking offense to that benefits you as someone who wants to meet women and maybe touch their lady parts, then you’re blind.
No one’s saying you have to agree with my (or anyone else’s advice). Just don’t be a jerk about it.
Since the song came out, Robin #Thicke has defended its questionable content by saying that the whole point of it is to make fun of the kind of guys who act/think this way. At first, I kind of figured it was a response meant to deflect the question and/or screw with people. But then I started thinking “is there a way this could actually be true?” Turns out, there is, or at least I think there is, and it’s simple: Imagine the falsetto parts of the verses as the “smooth” things this would-be lady killer wants to say to his intended, and the full-voice parts are what actually comes out.
Let’s set the scene. It’s Saturday night, and our protagonist is in “da club,” as they say, where he spied a lady he’d like to talk to. The problem: what the hell does he say to her? Pickup lines are old news, and with the loud music a simple “hey what’s up” isn’t going to lead to much. He needs something a little more… open ended.
If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say
If you can’t read from the same page
“I like that. It’s poetic. Metaphorical, even. What is it I’m trying to say? From what page am I reading? Bitches love this artsy stuff. I bet she’ll respond with something flirty. Ok, let’s do this. Let’s blow her mind.”
MAYBE I’M GOING DEF,
MAYBE I’M GOING BLIND
MAYBE I’M OUT OF MY MIND
“Shit. That’s not what I meant to say at all. I’m not nearly drunk enough. Or too drunk, I can’t tell. Yeah, that’s probably not the best thing to say to a girl when you first meet her. ‘Hi, I’m only approaching you because I’m blind, can’t hear your voice, and am crazy.’ Good job. Oh well, next one.”
Our Protagonist moves around the bar until he finds another potential candidate. “She’s hot, but not, like, THAT hot,” he thinks to himself. Perfect. This time, maybe something a little more direct is in order. Nothing too obvious, but maybe not trying to be so abstract will keep him from tongue tying himself.
What do they make dreams for
When you got them jeans on
What do we need steam for
“This is PERFECT. Heavy on the innuendo, but nothing inappropriate. Solid gold brother, solid gold.”
YOU THE HOTTEST BITCH IN THIS PLACE
“SHIT. Why did I say that? There goes all the innuendo. That wasn’t subtle. That was the opposite of subtle. Wait… maybe she didn’t hear me? She’s into this. We’re dancing! Awesome!”
I feel so lucky
You wanna hug me
What rhymes with hug me?
“I really hope I didn’t say that out loud. Shit, I did. Haha, she said ‘rub me.’ That doesn’t even rhyme, really. I think I’ve met my dream girl. Uh oh, we’re really grinding now. I wish I had some real gangster-type shit to say to her. That would be tits.”
One thing I ask of you
Let me be the one you back that ass to
Go, from Malibu, to Paris, boo
Yeah, I had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you
So hit me up when you passing through
I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two
Swag on, even when you dress casual
I mean it’s almost unbearable
Then, honey you’re not there when I’m
With my foresight bitch you pay me by
Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you
He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that
So I just watch and wait for you to salute
But you didn’t pick
Not many women can refuse this pimpin’
I’m a nice guy, but don’t get it if you get with me
“Damn, what a sick rhyme. I’ve been working on that one for weeks. My bros say my flow’s improved A LOT. Time to field test it, as they say.”
Shake the vibe, get down, get up
DO YOU LIKE IT HURT, LIKE IT HURT?
WHAT YOU DON’T LIKE WORK?
“Christ, who am I, James Brown? Whatever, she liked the enthusiasm. I think she’s, like, really drunk. Or maybe I’m just that good. Yeah, I bet that’s it.”
As the night progresses, the duo decide on taking the party to his place for some post-club revelry, and maybe, if our protagonist is lucky, some sex (or at least under-the-shirt-but-over-the-bra boob touching.
“Whew, I still have some weed left. God, this stuff is shit. It’s like the stems grew their own stems and that’s what I’m left with. Hopefully she won’t notice if I play up the stickiness.”
Baby can you breathe? I got this from Jamaica
It always works for me, Dakota to Decatur
“Perfect. I’ve never been to either of the Dakotas, and I don’t even know where Decatur is. But Jamaica’s a place with good weed, right? Saying I take it with me from Dakota to Decatur (which I’m pretty sure is in, like, Turkey or something) makes me sound like a world traveler who’s badass enough to not worry about the implications of transporting drugs across international boundaries. Ok, time to… Wh- What? She just took it and smoked it? No explanation needed? And now she wants me to go get a condom? THIS IS THE BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE!”
Later, as he’s in the bathroom searching for is long-expired box of condoms, he gives himself a pep talk…
No more pretending
Cause now you winning
Here’s our beginning
Yes, champ. Winning indeed.
From that perspective, the song’s explanation makes sense. These guys who think they’re master pickup artists don’t realize that their occasional success is usually just due to their finding a girl who was out to have fun and get laid herself. Not convinced? What would that same kind of douchebag say to himself if he saw a girl he wanted dancing with another man? Would it be something like… this?
OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature
Just let me liberate you
You don’t need no papers
That man is not your maker
Yes, the guy (who is not you) with whom the lady is dancing is clearly holding her under some kind of spell against her will. If only you were there to “save” her, big guy.
What about before these guys go out for the night in their roving bro-packs? What kinds of things might they say to themselves in order to “hype themselves up?” You’d want to say something encouraging and affirmational, right? Something like…
And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me
I rest my case. Never doubt Robin #Thicke
I wrote this last week, but it’s still super popular so I figured I’d share it here with the subset of people who follow my blog but don’t read AskMen, which I assume is around 2 people. I think people enjoy reading things they can relate to, and most of AskMen’s readers are either approaching their late 20’s themselves, or passed them by not so long ago. A snippet:
It’s great if your first real, adult relationship results in a lasting marriage, but if not? Welcome to your first real, adult breakup and everything that comes with that. Those pitfalls are also, I think, what makes the 20s so significant. You’ve gone from an age in which you had a lot of support to an age in which not only does life get harder, but you’re expected to handle it much more on your own. If you can limp across the finish line into your 30s, chances are you’re much better off than when you started. Your teens might be when you’re ushered into adulthood, but your 20s are when you lay the groundwork for the man you’ll eventually become.
Read the rest at AskMen.