Mindy and Me

hey everyone. This is an article that I wrote for a new zine about women in popular and alternative culture by Elly (when it’s out I’ll for sure post the link because it’s gonna be awesome) a while ago, so apologies if some of the details are a little out of date but I just really wanted to share this with y’all. 
- Lauren xo

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These days, I get really excited every Wednesday. In general, Wednesdays aren’t really that special, unless you count the fact that they’re halfway to Saturday, but since late last year, I always feel kinda stoked on a Tuesday night because I know that the next day there’ll be a shiny new episode of The Mindy Project ready for me to watch.

The Mindy Project, if you don’t know, is a really cool TV show written by and starring Mindy Kaling (she used to play Kelly Kapoor in The US Office, and before leaving at the end of Season 8 she had also become one of the show’s executive producers and wrote some of its funniest ever episodes). It is about Mindy Lahiri, who is a gynaecologist in New York City, and her seemingly never-ending quest to ~find love in the Big Apple~. If this sounds like the sort of dumbass film you’d expect to find showing at your local multiplex (“Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams as you’ve seen them so many times before” booms the imaginary trailer), then that is kind of the point: one of the show’s best ongoing jokes is Mindy’s belief in artificial romantic comedies which is pretty much always thwarted: her attempts to “Pretty Woman” a male prostitute go horribly (understandably), and when she does find a guy who’ll cry at her favourite movies with her, he has to go back to the Army the next day.

The Mindy Project, then, is a show which understands that life isn’t perfect. In particular, it understands that people aren’t perfect, and that, because they’re people, women aren’t perfect. We don’t behave perfectly, and we don’t all look ‘perfect’ (whatever ‘looking perfect’ even MEANS), but that doesn’t mean that we’re not good and kind and compassionate, and the show highlights that those are the things that really count. This is a message which The Mindy Project manages to communicate to millions of viewers, but that’s just one of the reasons why I admire Mindy Kaling so much.

A couple of years back, when she was still on The Office, she wrote a book called Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) which is about her life and her past and her career and the funny, stupid stuff she thinks about and makes lists of. Recalling reading this book for the first time is weirdly emotional for me because it was the first time I had ever discovered a woman who I genuinely felt was a hero to me. I had admired lots of women in the past (and continue to do so), but I’d never felt a resonance like the one I felt when I was reading about Mindy Kaling in her own cool, hilarious words. On a personal level, I think I feel so strongly about Mindy because she has achieved goals that I share, and I am in love with her ability to be herself, which is something that I am still learning. On a more general, social level, however, I think she is doing some really important and interesting stuff which I enjoy a lot, too.

Kind of gobsmackingly, she is the first Indian-American (let alone the first Indian-American woman!) to star in her own show on American network TV. This in itself is obviously trailblazing, especially in the white, male dominated arena of comedy. Her mass appeal clearly comes from her likability and genuine sharp wit: Mindy Kaling shows that ‘being funny’ isn’t reserved for one particular kind of person - it takes all sorts.

Also, one of the things that is often commented on in The Mindy Project is Mindy’s wardrobe choices. She always looks straight up fabulous (I wish my gynaecologist wore that many sequins) and despite the fact that she’s far from size zero, a lot of people agree. This points to an emerging body-positivity amongst viewers that you don’t really get with other shows wherein the women come closer to beauty ideals. Mindy wears clothes that are cute, and that she obviously likes and feels comfortable in, and people think she looks slammin’. This, obviously, is an awesome message in times where women’s appearances can be so harshly judged against an unattainable beauty standard - the visibility of women like Mindy Kaling smashes these standards from within and shows people that they can be happy in their bodies by basically just wearing what they want.

For these reasons and like a million more, Mindy Kaling is my personal hero. She is a woman who, whilst also embodying femininity on her own terms, symbolises feminism, equality and success; she is funny and observant and tremendously talented, and, lest we forget, she wrote the episode of The Office where Michael Scott grills his foot on a George Foreman. Mindy, for that and for everything, I’m forever in your debt.

- words by Lauren ~mwah~

♀ZINE UPDATE♀

HEY EVERYONE!

This is just a quick update on the Mrs Mia Wallace 2 zine. The deadline for submissions of any kind is going to be THE 28TH OF JULY which gives you a couple of weeks to whip something awesome up. If you are planning on writing/drawing/doing anything at all, it would be really cool if you could email me at riotgrrrlsnotdead@gmail.com telling me what your piece is gonna be about (the ~theme~ is female characters in TV) and your anticipated word count. Thanks a lot guyzzzz happy writing/drawing/whatevering :3

Lauren xoxo

Anonymous said: hey, it'd be really cool to see some more stuff about women of color in your zines & posts.

hi! thanks a lot for this, it is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and I agree that I could and should discuss women of colour more, however I would like it to be noted that although most of my writing is not necessarily ABOUT women of colour, it’s also not necessarily ABOUT white women either: my intention has always been that the stuff I cover is universal and can be applied to people/women from all walks of life (so for example, the last zine covered stuff about media beauty standards and language reclamation and I think/hope that stuff like that is relevant to everyone!).

However, I of course understand what you’re saying and I would love to discuss more stuff which directly involves women of colour - so for example, if you’re a WOC band member or musician and you’d like to be featured in the good grrrl bands section of this blog I would be straight up buzzed to hear from you - because I think it’s not only important for people to hear about the achievements of women of colour, but because I want to learn about them too, and one of the things which I love about writing this blog is that it always helps me to learn more.

I’m really sorry if up until now you’ve felt disappointed or offended by a perceived lack of coverage of WOC issues, and it’s definitely something I’m trying to rectify. I hope that over the next few months and especially in the next zine (Mrs Mia Wallace #2!) you notice a difference, and I’d really like to hear your feedback at any point!

lots of love, 
Lauren xo

byrontobuffy said: Hello! I saw the post circulating about Mrs Mia Wallace #2 - what kind of timeline are you looking at for submissions? It's something I might be interested in doing, but only if I can put in the time to do it properly :)

hey there! thanks a lot for your interest, really cool to hear :3 I haven’t set a date yet just because there’s no big rush to get it done at the minute, but right now I’m looking to have everything together for the last week in July. if on the basis of that info you wanna submit then please drop me a line at riotgrrrlsnotdead@gmail.com - I’d love to chat with you about ideas!xo 

DO U LIKE TV? DO U LIKE WOMEN? DO U LIKE WOMEN ON TV?If the answer is ‘YES’ to any or all of those questions, you should totally write something about your favourite cool female characters on TV for tha next riot grrrl’s not dead zine MRS MIA WALLACE #2 which is gonna be all about wom(e/y)n in television. This zine is a follow up to the first Mrs Mia Wallace zine which was about female characters in cinema and I want this one to be bigger and even better. Any kind of writing - long, short, academic, rant, expressions of casual admiration or outright adoration, prose, poetry, whaddevaaaa - is welcomed (and if writing’s not your bag, I’d love to work with any interested illustrators) and I would be really really excited to include your work - I’m looking to cover a wide and diverse range of characters so the more submissions the better!Thanks a lot everybaaaady, and if you’re interested please get in touch on here/twitta/facebook/email (riotgrrrlsnotdead@gmail.com) and let me know which character/s you’d like to cover - I’d be happy to hear from any of you so yeah please get in touch!Lauren xoxo

DO U LIKE TV? DO U LIKE WOMEN? DO U LIKE WOMEN ON TV?

If the answer is ‘YES’ to any or all of those questions, you should totally write something about your favourite cool female characters on TV for tha next riot grrrl’s not dead zine MRS MIA WALLACE #2 which is gonna be all about wom(e/y)n in television. 

This zine is a follow up to the first Mrs Mia Wallace zine which was about female characters in cinema and I want this one to be bigger and even better. Any kind of writing - long, short, academic, rant, expressions of casual admiration or outright adoration, prose, poetry, whaddevaaaa - is welcomed (and if writing’s not your bag, I’d love to work with any interested illustrators) and I would be really really excited to include your work - I’m looking to cover a wide and diverse range of characters so the more submissions the better!

Thanks a lot everybaaaady, and if you’re interested please get in touch on here/twitta/facebook/email (riotgrrrlsnotdead@gmail.com) and let me know which character/s you’d like to cover - I’d be happy to hear from any of you so yeah please get in touch!

Lauren xoxo

hey everyone. just a note on the last post I made: its purpose was twofold, so I’ll explain both:

1) to introduce “An Open Letter” which is going to be a new feature on the blog where I/other people can basically write an open letter to anybody I/they want to (obviously in terms of stuff to do with feminism/riot grrrl/gender equality). I’m really keen to get some more submissions this summer and so if you wanna write a letter just email it over to riotgrrrlsnotdead@gmail.com! I’d love to hear from you. 

2) to herald the coming of this summer’s zine project. Mrs Mia Wallace is BACK, but it’s gonna be about female characters on TV this time around, and again, I’d love to include your thoughts. Mrs Mia Wallace was a huge success last time around and I really want the same again (perhaps on an even bigger scale), so if you have an idea for an article (can be short, long, casual, academic - anything you want!) I really wanna hear from you at the above email. 

thanks everybahhhhdy!xo

An Open Letter to Amy Poehler

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Dear Amy, 

Hi. I really admire you and I wanted to write about it. Since I first became interested in your work, I have kind of idolised you, and that is mainly because everything you do seems positive and enthusiastic in a world where being positive and enthusiastic isn’t always the coolest thing to be. But you make being those things cool, and you make a space for women who are criticised by their peers for being those things (for some reason, if you’re a girl and you’re not apathetic about everything around you except for Keeping Up With The Kardashians and juice cleanses that can go against you a bit. Which is a shame.) to be accepted and appreciated for actually making some kind of contribution, ‘cause everybody loves some Amy Poehler.

Although you’re a mainstream figure (you hosted the Golden Globes this year!), you’re bringing views which aren’t necessarily part of the mainstream fabric into the periphery of a lot of people who hadn’t necessarily considered them before. As one of the driving creative forces behind Parks and Recreation, you present a likeable self-identifying feminist heroine and show that feminism isn’t at all scary - it’s for regular people like me, my friends, Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt (hell, even Ron Swanson’s a feminist!). Parks and Rec often also goes to show that feminism is really fun and rewarding too (holla @ u, Pawnee Goddesses). Though people might not realise it (and that’s partly why it’s so good - you make an able, smart woman the norm), your portrayal of Leslie Knope is one of the most positively influential performances on television because it places a capable woman with lefty ideals in a position of accessible power (Leslie, who adores waffles and her hometown, doesn’t feel too far removed from her viewers) for audiences who might not identify as feminists, but for whom she represents a female voice who challenges the boring/no fun club/man-hating preconceptions that many people still hold about feminists.

During your time on SNL, you again ingratiated yourself as a sharp, witty woman in a field made up so largely of men - even now, comedy feels like a bit of a boys’ club, but that didn’t faze you (although to be fair, SNL has always been supportive of its female talents). You became the only woman (and the third person ever) to ever be promoted from SNL featured cast to full cast during your first season, because you were literally just that good. You’re a great example to all women (and, just like, humanity in general) of using your talents and doing what you love in order to go as far as possible, and if that’s the only message you’re going to send to the people who admire you, it’s not a bad one.

Of course, however, that’s not the only message you’ll send. Your "Smart Girls at the Party" initiative encourages young women everywhere to be themselves and to be unafraid of this bullshit which says that being enthusiastic isn’t cool. You inspire so many girls and women every day, and you have influenced so many people just by being you, unapologetically. 

So thanks, Amy, for inspiring me, and making room for girls like me to just ‘be’ in the world. You have helped me a lot. 
Love from Lauren xo

Anonymous said: OMG have you seen that Mermaid Killer has a Riot Grrrl dress?!?! I have one it's so comfy alisukhgnrkjdnskg and I LOVE Felicity Jayn Heath so much!!!! I wish you would interview her for the zine!!!!

hey! I haven’t, and I’m not sure about Mermaid Killer. if this is something more people would like to see I’m happy to look into it though!

LADIES IS PIMPS TOO

my name's Lauren and this is a webzine where I write stuff about feminism and popular culture.
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