Pro-Choice By Choice
As a liberal feminist, I believe being pregnant shouldn’t put a halt to anyone’s career. I’m also trying to be more sympathetic because I watched two former colleagues experience meltdowns trying to bear offspring. One miscarried during a client dinner. Another went through the ritual of daily injections and used a $10,000 grant from the company for in vitro. She shared every detail with our staff and I began dreaming of her fertility woes at night. Her unborn child was swimming through my slumber. On doctor-ordered bedrest for a month after the implantation took, she wouldn’t let anyone else take the reins while she was out. She checked her phone from the hospital, but felt she couldn’t harp on her team when she wasn’t at the office. I tried relentlessly to motivate her sales team, but grew frustrated when I realized she was the only one working past 5pm. When our only male sales rep took a two-week paternity leave, I found myself in an office resembling The Shining. Ironically, I had my own pregnancy scare during the initial baby boom. Maybe my body was subconsciously trying to get in on the action. I was eight days late when I began imagining how I would break it to everyone that the unwed Marketing Director—who hadn’t been trying—was with child. After plunking down $20 for an E.P.T., it turns out I wasn’t.
My lover called as I dealt with my mixed feelings of relief and disappointment. I never told him. His aunt, like a mother to him, had passed the week before and the “circle of life” metaphor of it all freaked me out. I did want to have his child someday, but under different circumstances. Gone were the fantasies of being the single, knocked-up girl at the office. I wouldn’t be a test case to see how far our society had come. In an ideal world, there would be no scrutiny for being husband-less, no pressure for a quickie wedding by my Christian mother, and no whispers as I walked down the hallway. Besides, I wasn’t 16 like Juno—wasn’t it an accomplishment to get pregnant in your 30s just a generation ago? I do understand the enthusiasm of these women to boast of fertility victory after chasing it for years. But what about the staffers who can’t have children? Or don’t know if they ever will, like me? It seems insensitive to discuss nothing but procreation. Some of the expectant mothers rush to get it all done, not even considering what will happen during their leave. It can be a lot for the staff to shoulder if a temp isn’t brought in, which is harder to justify in this down economy. When the new moms return to work, many take advantage of a flextime, a progressive perk some companies offer. But shouldn’t it be available to all employees? I may not be taking care of an infant, but I do help my disabled father, which some days can feel just as taxing. I believe quality of work life should exist for all, whether you have a mini-me or not.
Jen, marketing, Manhattan
Silly Little Rich B***ch
Not only can I not stand when people are overwhelming spoiled and sheltered, but I can’t understand how these fortunate individuals don’t get that not everyone can spend an unlimited amount of Daddy’s money with no consequences. My freshmen year of college, I had a roommate who was the epitome of a spoiled rich girl. Luckily, she wasn’t a brat—she didn’t flaunt her family’s wealth or have a superiority complex—but it was alarming to meet (and live) with someone so spoiled! She was messy, but always contained the mess to her side of the room, so I had no complaints. Her bed was always covered in shopping bags and boxes of shoes she had ordered online, and every night she would crawl under the covers and try to get comfortable under all of her crap. Finally one day she asked me how I made sure that nothing was on my bed. I didn’t understand the question. She said, “At night time, you can just get in your bed, like, there’s no stuff in your way. How do you make sure there’s no stuff on your bed?” I couldn’t believe it. “Um, I put things AWAY,” was the only answer I could come up with. Didn’t she know that dirty clothes go in a laundry bag, and that shoes go in the closet? Apparently she didn’t. Three years later, she’s better at cleaning up after herself but still doesn’t understand how well-off she is. Susanna, secretary, Battery Par
If it’s Tuesday, it must be Berlin
For as long as I can remember, Americans have been stuck with the reputation of being loud, rude, and generally unpleasant. The image of barbaric college students causing chaos in some of Europe’s most beautiful and historic cities comes to mind for some, along with materialistic and unmannerly tourists. After spending a semester studying abroad in Florence and traveling throughout Europe, I would say that Italians are easily just as loud (if not louder) and just as capable of being disrespectful or, in some cases, flat-out mean as Americans. It doesn’t matter how many times you say per favore or grazie to your waiter, he will still shove your cappuccino across the bar to you without a word. These people have absolutely no concept of the idea of “service with a smile.” When you are trying to get off the bus, passengers who are boarding won’t wait for you to exit. They will push you out of their way without a thought. On another note, I have never felt more disrespected or disregarded as a female in my life. One night while out to dinner with roommates, about 5 or 6 men came to our table (which was in a completely different part of the restaurant), pulled up chairs and started aggressively hitting on our group. After we had turned down all of their offers to buy us drinks with “No, grazie,” and they wouldn’t excuse themselves, one of my friends who spoke Italian fluently asked bluntly, “What the f*** are you doing?” and then, “Where is your wife?” (Most of the men had wedding rings on). Instantly they acted as if we were the rude ones for not obliging to be ogled and fawned over, and slowly they filtered out of our private dining room. They didn’t seem to know how to handle a group of women who weren’t interested in being treated as objects. At least American men pretend that they want to have a conversation before trying to get in your pants; some tourists assume it’s their right.
Fran, lawyer, Murray Hill
Sour Grapes & Vinegar
My ex-boyfriend used to refer to himself as the fine wine; that gets better with age. I begged to differ and used the most responsible ingredient for looks—genetics—to justify my aging process. But, deep inside I was terrified, to the point that I considered becoming more serious due to the newly discovered laughing lines. He insisted I was wrong and threatened to look better than me in 20 years. Now we’ll never find out and indeed I was wrong —that main ingredient for looks is confidence.
We all feed into the old tale: gray hair, wrinkles, and weathered hands are so appealing… ON MEN. Did you ever notice that Mr. Big could lose a few inches off his waist? I bet not, because his social standing, intelligence, and that sexy smirk astonishes and overwhelms. If men’s charisma is what makes us go gaga for them then why do we insist on spending our precious life on dying our hair, eating empty calories, and spending vacation money on botox. Shouldn’t our laughing lines serve as friendly reminders of how funny and awesome we are? Perhaps we are still cavemen and cavewomen living in the modern world of equal sexes. Women seek out a hunter in their partners, the ones who’ve lived life and have wrinkles to prove it. Women, on the other hand, are viewed as the bearers and who else but a youthful, rosy cheeked, long haired beauty can give man a healthy child. Even Cleopatra, before sleeping with Julius Ceasar, said “only a woman with curves like these can bear you a son.” We live in the times when many women prioritize career, have a first child in their 40s, and can surely feed themselves. But magazines still insist on emphasizing men’s wrinkles and airbrushing women’s. What a shame!
If we allow ourselves be judged solely by the appearance we might we well stop voting, running for office or reading Jane Austen. It’s not about how blue your eyes are and how perfect your nose is. I know people with jaws sharper than Beatrix Kiddo’s sword, yet they’re constantly seeking reassurance in the tinted windows of parked cars. It’s not about how well educated you are (although, knowledge IS power). I know a musician who never willingly read a book in his life, but he can go on and on about rock bands that I have nil interest in, yet I can sit and be mesmerized by the movement of his lips (which btw are nothing special). It all comes down to this: confidence is in the state of mind, confidence dictates appeal, therefore if you want to look hot believe that you are hot. Confidence is something you have to build; through life experience, books, movies, friends, family, you have to know thy self for the world to know you. Mary, sales, UWS
Wall Street W**kers
I recently graduated college and I am ready to enter the real world: the real world of accountants, brokers, and hedge funds. I’m an auditing intern at a top accounting firm, and it all sounds very exciting, but it turns out the world isn’t very real at all. My fellow male interns, let me repeat that, male interns, some of the fakest assholes I’ve ever met in my life. On the first day of my internship I decided to be nice and introduce myself to my cubicle neighbors. They were all smiles, strong handshakes, and more than willing to talk about college successes and other narcissistic crap. But this is how they act when our supervisor/manager of the company was around. When the supervisor leaves, these men are like little petty girls in high school! I talk to them, they give me the “shut the fuck up” expression on their faces. I say bye at the end of the day, they don’t even look at me. “You’ve got a lot of work John?” I would say. “Yeah, so stop talking,” John would say. Is this my future? A bunch of kiss-ass snobs? What’s a guy to do in a world of genuinely selfish asses? Or is this really how the business world is…
Billy, banking, Brooklyn
Be There or Be Square
Getting dressed is like going into battle. And when you live in this City, you better be dressed to kill. Women are catty wenches, so the minute you walk into a room, you’re going to be sized up. Sad but true. But a few wardrobe staples will protect you from the heinous glare this fall.
It’s important that you always look put together and not like you spent two hours getting ready. You won’t have to break the bank either. Well, maybe a little. Let’s start from the bottom shall we. Get ballet flats. Guess and Marc Jacobs make great pairs and they go great with everything, especially New York City streets. nobody wants to wear heels every single day to work. But the only other alternative is sneakers. Remember in the eighties when you would see businesswomen wearing sneakers with their suits? If it is heels everyday, make sure you get a decent pair. Christian Louboutin or Gucci. They’ll take you from work to cocktails.
Jeans? That’s a no brainer. I prefer a little stretch. Get them to measure you at Saks. It doesn’t always mean you get a perfect fit but at least your thighs won’t look sausages. Same with nice pair of pants. If you don’t want black, go for charcoal gray instead. Always a classic look. They’ll look so great with a silk camisole.
A little black dress. As necessary as the air that we breathe. Any style, silk, strapless, sleeveless, knee length, mini; it all comes to the same thing, simple elegance.
The right trench coat will always be in fashion. Just make sure you pick a basic color, like black, beige, or blue.
As long as you have the basics right, it doesn’t matter if you shop at Barney’s or the Gap. They are timeless. A big leather satchel is great to own because it will hold everything. but it’s an investment piece. Speaking of pieces you should have a signature one. I have my grandmother’s diamond ring. Even if it’s just a pair of aviators, it’s still part of your personal style. Big sunglasses are important though. that was just some of the basics to get you through the daily grind of living in the fashion capital of the world. Besides a barrel and suspenders is not exactly functional.
Domenica, fashion buyer, Tribeca