Exclamation marks, body shaming, Hillary Clinton and other regrets from the last decade


Happy New Year. The 2010s are over. Looking back, I must say, regrets I’ve had a few, but then again, a few too many to mention.

Looking forward, here are some random and decidedly not earth-shattering questions I’m asking myself at the dawn of this new decade.

1. What does it mean to live a life without exclamation points? I don’t know, but as 2020 dawns, I certainly hope to find out. I’ve decided to join the grumpy grammarians and those who are just sick of feeling obligated to add at least one or possibly three (but never two apparently because that’s just wrong) exclamation points to every text, email or social media post they write. Why?!!! The truth is we’ve got to stop exclaiming like this! Donald Trump’s often sub-literate tweets have only made our penchant for exclamation points/marks worse. Now everyone does it. Pathetic!!! POTUS even lies with exclamation marks.

We now use exclamation points for anything and everything banal or important, as if our very existence needs to be exclaimed about. Going to store! Brexit a done deal! Bored!

Exclamation marks used to be limited to expressing great excitement, or warning of danger. Now our warm notes of congratulations or thanks seem insincere without a few !!! Think it’s time to call it quits! I mean quits. So when I text after you’ve knocked yourself out making me a fabulous meal Lovely dinner, thanks, you are the best please don’t fret that somehow your meal or friendship wasn’t worth an exclamation mark. They are just worth way more than that.

How can I authentically appreciate anything if everything is just !!! Plus think of all the time we’ll save by not adding those gratuitous exclamation marks. Or at least severely rationing them.

2. Will body image ever not be a thing this year or in years to come? Ask the great singer and gorgeous woman at any weight Adele, who recently separated from her partner and released some photos showing she had lost a significant amount of weight. She looks so much better, the internet drooled. How did she do it? And then of course the backlash got real. Hello, who cares about her weight? As one tweet said “Adele dropped her husband, dropped some weight and probably about to drop an album…”

And we know body image will be with us forever because of men. No, not because of that much analyzed and reviled male gaze, which apart from celebrity and fashion culture is hardly the only societal pressure on women to be thin. Many women cite their mothers or grandmothers who pointedly ask them about their weight or have modeled behaviour for their daughters that showed that no matter the lip service being paid to being healthy instead of thin, being slender was by far a disproportionate value in their own self worth.

I mean because of men obsessing about their own body image. Now once ordinary “schlubby” male movie stars are dieting and sculpting their bodies into muscular masterpieces so they can be action heroes, like “Silicon Valley’s” Kumail Nanjiani, who used to come off as normal/nerdy even as the romantic lead in the film “The Big Sick.”

Nanjiani recently shared on Instagram a newly perfected body that he worked on for his role in Marvel’s “The Eternals.” He was honest enough to admit in his “thirsty shirtless” pose that he could not have achieved this perfection without dieting and training for over a year and more importantly having it all paid for by the “biggest studio in the world.”

Nanjiani was then lauded for being honest about the work and outside money it took to look like that. I do like it that he let ordinary guys off the hook. Don’t try this at home.

But I don’t think he deserves that much praise for admitting the truth. Women have been talking for years about impossible standards and what it takes for their bodies to look a certain way, some of them ending up with serious health problems as a result. I guess there’s no way a male action figure could look, well, normal.

3. And finally, because I am downsizing my material possessions if not my weight: Is it safe once and for all to get rid of my excellent Hillary Clinton memorabilia? I mean is it for sure now that she’s never coming back in 2020 as a desperately parachuted in Democratic presidential candidate when the old guys—Joe Biden, 77, Bernie Sanders, 78—suffer from failure to launch because of their electile dysfunction?

I’m talking stuff that could be worth something if Hillary, 72, still flukily becomes president. That crazy clunky battery-operated doll in my office with the quintessential Hillary hair who tinnily sings “Stand By Your Man.” The heart shaped metal campaign button from very early days with Bill. The backstage in Toronto picture of the two of us when I was covering a speech she gave just before selfies took over and rendered such formally posed pictures obsolete?

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OK, as we enter 2020 her time is officially over right? Even if 45 is thrown out of office, there are no roads that lead to Hillary. Done. Wait. Let’s revisit just before the Democratic convention next summer. Kidding! (OK, I’ll give that one exclamation mark.)

Enjoy your new decade.


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