The cookie bouquet marked the beginning of the end. My boyfriend, the type of guy who always sneered at sugary treats as well as the very idea of such a mediocre display of affection, sent me an ostentatious cookie arrangement out of the blue. Instead of being excited, my heart sank. The cookie bouquet made me irrationally angry, it was the sugary centerpiece meant to distract me from approximately a million broken promises.
“It’s like the candy canes that cracked Gretchen Wieners,” my friend said after I texted her a picture of the bouquet with a caption reading “passive aggressive cookies.” She was right.
Eventually our passive aggressive communication shifted into just plain aggressive communication. I was anxious all the time; my friends were worried. I was tired of being screamed at. After five years of passion and total dysfunction things finally came to a breaking point when he called and said he did not see us getting married. Ever. A week later he would call me, begging forgiveness and I would accept. A week after that I would call him and tell him I could not accept the fact that he ultimately did not see a future. I felt hollow.
I went through the required mourning period. I suddenly understood both the appeal of Lana Del Rey and "Blue Valentine." My roommate Eliza consoled me with beer, cheese, and Netflix. I spent a lot of time brooding alone in the dark. Hygiene practices became questionable and I wore a lot of sweatpants. I was a black hole.
Pro tip: While going through an epic breakup, uninstall the Timehop app on your phone. Now is not the time to be reminded of last year’s summer vacation! Watch some "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" instead. Maybe make a breakup playlist; Lou Reed and Sam Smith are prominently represented in mine.
Slowly, I began to feel like a human again. I started making plans to show my face to the world, going out with my friends from school and deciding to sign up for another round of improv classes. Still, I felt like I was in hiding. I wanted to change but I did not know how. Sometimes it’s easier to build a shield of books, gross hoodies, and general slovenliness.
Plus, I’m a grad student. Aren’t we supposed to look like we are too busy to be concerned with trivial things like makeup or fashion? Clearly a woman who doesn’t wear makeup or match her clothing must be some brilliant scholar whose mind is occupied by her serious academic thoughts.
It wasn’t until I rewatched "Mean Girls" that I realized what was missing.
"Mean Girls"is one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s an endlessly quotable film with Lindsay Lohan in her teen queen glory. At the beginning of "Mean Girls," Cady’s new friends Janice and Damian call her a “regulation hottie” and tell her to “own it.” It’s such a small moment in the movie; really Cady’s friends are simply identifying her as an empirically hot person and providing a little bit of foreshadowing. Still, hearing those words struck a chord.
I resolved that I needed to get back in touch with owning my inner regulation hottie.
First, I needed to define what my idea of a regulation hottie was. I have a more expansive concept of hotness than the original conception derived from sexy, independent women who are unapologetically intelligent as well as beautiful. I found myself admiring real women as well as fictional characters. The first person that came to mind was Donna Meagle from "Parks & Recreation." Donna has so much self-confidence and style. She’s sexy, hilarious, and outspoken. The next person I thought of was xoJane’s own Emily McCombs. Emily’s writing is the reason I originally became a fan of the site. She is honest, gorgeous, and intelligent. Emily also wrote one of my
I decided if I was going to embrace my post-breakup inner regulation hottie I needed to follow some guidelines. Here's what I came up with:
- No going crazy and buying a bunch of new clothes -– While I love a good makeover montage, financial restrictions limit making this a reality. I also realized I already had a ton of better options than the strange depression uniforms I kept putting together. Grad school casualness be damned, I starting wearing my real grown up clothes and it did help.
- Same goes for hair and beauty products –- Breakup haircuts have become a particularly unfortunate cliché. I put off drastic changes to my appearance until later in the game. Instead, I focused on self-care and looking little bit more polished.
- No alcohol as a crutch -– Liquid courage works for some people but I already spend enough time explaining my awkward behavior while sober. Besides, although some people find it easier to relax and be more social drinking, it tends to make me a bit anxious.
- When in doubt, be a Plastic -– While I have no plans to create a Burn Book filled with pictures of my ex-boyfriend, I did come to realize that pretending to be a member of The Plastics is a useful strategy on some of the hardest days. Feeling confident is a process; doing something a little silly such as emulating characters from a movie helped me not take myself so seriously.
Here's where I'm at today.