Thursday, June 14, 2012

ONE TIME WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, A GUY'S MOM CALLED ME AND BROKE UP WITH ME FOR HIM:  Via Linda Holmes, Amy Poehler imparts a valuable lesson to the readers of Seventeen magazine as part of a Q&A:
What is the craziest thing you ever did to get a guy to notice you?

I had no idea how to get guys to notice me. I still don't. Who cares?


  1. Tosy and Cosh10:03 AM

    As I said on Twitter, this is going to be made into a poster for my girls' bedroom wall when they are a little older.

  2. Goghaway10:43 AM

    <span>I love, love Amy for this, and that was a far better (and funnier!) answer than that dumb question deserved. But something about this is bugging me, I'm not sure what. Mostly, I think I just feel bad for the girls reading the magazine. I remember reading stuff like this when I was 13/14, and was completely desperate for any advice on how to somehow be cooler (and knowing on some level that all of the "advice" was terrible). It's super easy for an adult to say this now is what I'm saying, I guess. And at the time I had loved questions and stories about this stuff because it was nice to know that there were other girls out there who also did embarrassing things, and had no idea what they were doing.  
    All that said, I wish Amy had been my friend/spirit guide through junior high. And I was very lucky to meet my best friend in high school, who completely embodied that advice and attitude.</span>

  3. gretchen12:11 PM

    Yeah.  I sort of love this as a mantra, but also feel ambivalent about it because it's easy for Amy, a cute, funny blonde lady, to say that.  Harder for girls who feel self-conscious or unattractive, or gawky, or fat, or who just aren't funny even if they try.  (Don't try!)  I think I aspire to be Amy, but emphathize with all of those girls who aren't. 

  4. Yeah.  She's right, of course, and I'll bet she probably did feel self-conscious in high school, because the big secret that you have to figure out for yourself as an adult is that EVERYBODY felt that way.  Even the most popular kids.  At the same time, though, to someone who's in it now?  Maybe not so helpful.  That doesn't make it bad advice, it just means it's hard to hear for some.

  5. isaac_spaceman12:56 PM

    Isn't the "who cares" part still good advice for those girls who aren't Amy Poehler?  I feel like her point is that people should worry more about making themselves awesome and less about whether boys like them that way. 

  6. If she had said "Stop Reading Seventeen Magazine" then I would really applaud.

    Read the subtitle to the article - it makes it sound like she had a funny, crazy teenage life....which I'm doubting.

  7. Becca2:03 PM

    Yeah, I have to agree that this is very easy for a pretty, successful, happily married lady to say. At 38 and perpetually single, I still care if boys notice me, and I'd kinda rather hear someone say, yeah, it took me YEARS to realize you never get it right, but when I was a kid, here's this crazy thing I did. And when you're a teenage girl, it's even worse. You don't have your life to think about. Work, bilis, friends. You just have school and boys. Maybe you know that's silly, but still. The hormones insist. And there's nothing wrong with wanting boys to notice you. Achieving a balance is what's important. 

    I don't know. It's good advice for someone my age, I guess. But for a teen? Yeah. Their brains don't work the same way. Let's cut 'em a little slack.  

  8. <span>I'm with Becca and others. Telling young teens not to worry about the opinions or attention of young teens of the gender to which they're attracted is kind of like telling older teens to just not have sex. It's a nice, bright-line bromide that might lead to good results for everyone but that, in most cases, isn't going to work. I'd rather tell my daughter that if she has to worry what others think or how to get their attention, recognize that the ones whose attention she wants are the ones who respect her for who she is, treat her (and others) nicely, and care about her happiness. </span>

  9. bella wilfer3:21 PM

    I agree with both thoughts - it's a nice sentiment, but ultimately not very helpful to the 14-year-old reading Seventeen who is not as pretty/confident/successful/MATURE as Amy Poehler.  It did, however, remind me of the great line from Bossypants, where Tina Fey describes Amy in the SNL writers' room doing something unladylike and Jimmy Fallon going "ew, stop, I don't like it."  Amy turns to Jimmy and says: "I don't care if you like it," and totally shut Fallon (at the time probably the biggest star on the show) down.  That was a rad response and, to me, better than her Seventeen answer above.  Though, again, I do appreciate what Poehler was trying to get across to the mag.  

  10. Marsha3:29 PM

    It's still good advice, but it's almost impossible for a teenage girl to hear and internalize that advice if she's not already wired that way. Of course she's right, but most girls won't know that until much later. Sometimes, as Goghaway says, the message needs to be geared to what they are actually able to hear - it'll penetrate more than the stuff that is true but facile.

    I'm not saying this well, but it's kind of like when you're pregnant (or your wife is) and you think you know what it is going to be like when you have a kid. You have no idea, and everyone tells you you have no idea, but you can't hear that. You'll only see it in hindsight. And rather than people telling you that you're clueless or giving you big macro advice that you can't hear at that point, it might be more helpful to give incremental, micro advice that might be able to penetrate and do you some good.

    That said, Amy Poehler rocks my world, and this quote is awesome.

  11. bristlesage3:52 PM

    That story, I think it was even better because he said that she wasn't being cute.  You can see the excerpt here

    For me, I gotta tell you, Amy Poehler's words here would have been good to hear in high school, because it seemed I was the only girl who felt like that.  To hear that there were other women who weren't worried about that kind of attention would have been a relief.

  12. Jenn.4:37 PM

    I don't tend to agree---having someone who is successful now say that she had no idea how to get boys interested in her when she was in high school say, "who cares" has value.  Obviously, not being the object of boys' interest in high school hasn't crippled her.  Maybe being told that that is okay is a good thing.

    I'm not saying that a girl reading it who is concerned about her lack of popularity with boys is going to say, "Oh, wow!  It's all good!"  But maybe somewhere in the back of her mind, that girl will chill about it, just a little.

  13. isaac_spaceman4:38 PM

    Maybe teens can't hear this kind of realistic advice, but I don't really see an alternative.  "Do something crazy to get his attention" works in movies (or Seventeen stories) but is emphatically counterproductive in real life; "be someone other than who you are" is not realistic; "compromise yourself sexually" is gross.  The truth is that "do the best you can to be happy and secure with yourself irrespective of the attentions of the opposite sex" is paradoxically the best advice you can give someone to make them more attractive without focusing on physical appearance, and the worst thing that can happen, even if it doesn't prompt attention from boys, is that it improves one's life anyway. 

  14. Watts4:46 PM

    Buuuut... Amy Poehler was a CHEERLEADER in high school. I don't know about your high school, but at my high school, BOYS NOTICED CHEERLEADERS JUST BECAUSE THEY WERE CHEERLEADERS.

    Now, maybe Amy was a cheerleader because she liked tumbling or liked the girls on the squad or had a hankering to wear short skirts at sporting events, meaning her participation had nothing to do with wanting boys to notice her. And that's FINE.  But they probably still noticed.

    I guess the moral of the story, and what Amy was trying to say, is that "Be awesome. Hope that boys notice that. Don't do anything JUST TO get a boy's attention." And that's a good lesson.

  15. sconstant5:28 PM

    But her collar isn't popped, indicating that she wasn't doing a good job trend tracking.  Which is the first step to getting boys to notice you - expressing your individuality by following all the proper trends.

    I agree that virtually no girl who is not predisposed to thinking like this is going to read this and say "oh, ok!" and it's that easy.  But the more people who say this around girls the better, imho, cumulatively it'll have some effect, and it's way better than other advice that could be given in response to the question.

  16. Maddy7:07 PM

    Seventeen is so stupid, and this answer is pretty much a fuck you to everything they stand for.  So I like it.  (By the way, if you want to direct the teenage girls in your life to a good magazine, tell them about Rookie.)

  17. Jenn C7:22 PM

    I miss the old Seventeen, the one that published short stories and excerpts from Margaret Atwood novels.

  18. isaac_spaceman8:05 PM

    I miss the old Ranger Rick, which was the greatest wilderness-themed vanity periodical about the titular raccoon ever hastily assembled into 24-point type from half-formed thoughts.  Surprisingly good advice.  How do I get a boy to notice me?  Tip over a garbage can and get your head stuck in a jar of rancid peanut butter!  It never doesn't work! 

  19. isaac_spaceman8:06 PM

    This comment needs a fucking editor.  Gah. 

  20. kenedy jane10:41 PM

    Great option for tween girls - Discovery Girls.  Fabulous.  Was created by a mom who was appalled by the choice of magazines for her daughter when she was in the hospital.  They go to a town and shoot regular girls for the magazine spread.  Girls also write articles for the magazine.  If they are coming to your town, you apply and they seem to choose a lot of diverse girls.  My daughter had the opportunity to be in it when they came to town, then she and one of her friends got the chance to meet Alexa Vega and write an article about that.

    They also do round tables with the girls during the days of the shoot and talk about different issues.  And it does include the embarrassing moments, etc. that are so necessary for those magazines.  It was loved in our house where I banned Seventeen and Cosmo pretty much until she went to college!

    Oh, and I love Amy P.

  21. Goghaway11:53 AM

    <span><span>You and Marsha both said what I was trying and failing to articulate. I definitely had a wonderful mom (as well as teachers) who told me that I should be myself, have fun, do things I was passionate about, and not worry about what other people thought. But I don't think I ever really believed it until college. And weirdly, I had a full-circle moment a few weeks ago- I volunteer in a tutoring program, and the teen girl I was tutoring broke down mid-session, telling me about her prom drama. We've agreed to meet for ice cream next summer (she's going to college in the fall), and we have a $5 bet that she will have forgotten the boy's last name. I don't know if she listened to my advice or not, but I think she was feeling silly, and ultimately I wanted her to laugh about it a little and feel like she had somebody on her side. I think that's what I really was really looking for when I read those articles. Poehler's advice is excellent, I guess I was just adding an addendum, similar to Russ was saying downthread. You're not a loser if you do care (you feel the way you feel), and no sweat if you do embarassing things in high school (everybody does). The people who respect you and care about your happiness will have your back no matter what, and let the little stuff slide.</span></span>

  22. Marsha1:09 PM

    "Do something crazy to get his attention" is an even worse plan today than it was when we were in high school, given cell phone cameras and Facebook.

  23. bella wilfer1:34 PM

    Thanks for linking to the excerpt - I just love that anecdote (and you're right, it's even better with the detail that he said she wasn't being "cute").

  24. The Pathetic Earthling3:37 PM

    I don't know how long you've been commenting here, Bella -- a while for sure -- but I just noted that you are Bella Wilfer, not Bella Wifer.  I swear I have adult-onset dyslexia.

  25. Marsha4:58 PM

    I thought it said bella wifer too. Huh. Sorry about that!

  26. Anonymous6:59 PM

    When I was 14 I attended an away football game wearing a fireman's helmet (the real kind that weighs about 15 lbs). My best friend wore a pith helmet (we found an amazing garage sale). I don't regret that at all*, but I am glad it happened about five years before Facebook hit high schools.

    *Yes, it was to get a boy to notice me (Boys who date you for several years after you wear a fireman's helmet** to their football games are perhaps worth getting the notice of), but it also wasn't untrue to who I was. I wasn't the kind of girl to scour Seventeen for ways to attract a guy, but I was the kind of girl who liked to spend weekends scouring garage sales for ridiculous costumes with her best friend and then wore them to get grilled cheeses and french fries in small town diners.

    **There was a significant time lapse between the helmet incident and the dating. The helmet did not lead directly to the dating and may have, in fact, postponed it (in case we have any teenaged readers contemplating similar action)

  27. Rebecca7:14 PM

    I spent a significant part of my Monday having complicated feelings about this:

  28. I retain an irrational fondness for raccoons because of that magazine.

  29. Marsha11:59 AM

    I don't know who you are (with the fire hat above) but your comment, especially the nested footnotes, is made of awesome.