Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
EVER SINCE Miley Cyrus dressed up like a little goat at the VMAs and trotted around bleating on all fours, a new phenomenon has hit the Internet—one spawned almost entirely by fortysomething mommy bloggers. I refer to it as the “Open Letter” fad, wherein an epistolary blog post is written to Miley (or teen girls in general), warning young women all over the world about the dangers of tush-shaking and back-arching and acting like the sexpots that minivan moms generally are not.
What started as a seemingly earnest attempt to caution the younger generation about how to conduct and dress oneself has turned into a holier-than-thou slutshaming trend—a craze that’s starting to stink an awful lot like an attempt to generate blog traffic (at best) and women ganging up on women (at worst).
Well, gather round, ho-bags and hussies and floozies and strumpets and garden-variety sluts, because this minivan-driving 40-year-old mother of two boys who sometimes wears Crocs with capri pants has an open letter for you, too. It goes:
Dear Teen Girls,
Do you babysit?
Because honestly? That’s really all I want to know (and am privy to know) about girls between the ages of 12 and 21 these days. Do you have childcare experience? Do you know basic First Aid? Can you drive yourself to my house? And what do you charge? Not for handjobs or underage beer runs or stolen class notes. What do you charge per child, per hour, and can you keep my sons alive while I go to Target alone? Can you, Mikaylah, keep my kids from mortal wounds while I go buy detergent all by my goddamn self?
Who am I, someone who is not your mother, to tell you what length your skirt should be? While I’m sure it’s very effective to receive fashion advice and sexual tips from a stranger who shops at Ann Taylor Loft and whose ass resembles a Trapper Keeper (I know you don’t know what that is), I’m going to refrain from too much unsolicited advice here.
People are going to tell you that reputations can never be recovered and that regrets of the sexual kind are permanent and that the only people that people remember from high school and college are the loose girls.
Well, rest assured young ladies of the night: people also remember assholes and freaks and the guy who fell off the back of the bleachers drunk and the teacher who always had toilet paper coming out the back of his pants and the girl with the funny laugh and the fellow who played a mean bass and the wallflower who had an amazing singing voice and the math whiz and the boy who always brought an onion sandwich to lunch and the sweet young thang who may or may not have been a little easy.
Also: memories fade. And memory fades. And wounds (save for those mortal ones I previously mentioned) typically heal.
How do I know this? Well, not too much from personal slutty experience, really. On the whore-o-meter, I usually measured around 66 degrees. I was one of those houses where you always had to wear a sweatshirt, but that occasionally ramped up to 79 in the summer and got a little hot and bothered.
And I know this not because I’ve pulled a Miley (though now a video may appear from 1992 proving otherwise), but because I’m old. I know this because I’m almost 41, and at this age, you start to realize that making mistakes isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s trying to always avoid making them.
Look. I’m not suggesting you girls go slut it up, but I’m also saying don’t be afraid to live a little. Soon enough, your tits will look like something on the IHOP menu and, if you’re like me, you’ll wish you had more pictures of you arching your back and fewer of you in a Kurt Cobain flannel looking like Gunnar Nelson. You might regret that hook-up or that one-night stand, but you might also regret not taking a semester abroad or joining the comedy troupe or being so paralyzed by advice that you did nothing—except what someone else told you to do.
I realize that by taking this stance, fate may have a good chuckle on my behalf and someday send my boys home with girlfriends dressed only in bras and hot pants. Girls who eat ice cream cones with their hands tied behind their backs and pay for everything in singles. And if that’s the case, I don’t know what I’ll do. I guess give them spoons and trade them Jacksons for 20 one-dollar bills. And maybe treat them to a Gap gift card.
But in the meantime, I’m going to occasionally give a little cheer here and there for the little sluts everywhere. Shake your moneymakers now and then, girls. Soon enough, the only thing you’ll be shaking is your head, at the 2028 VMAs, when someone who’s more or less what you once were starts acting like a barn animal and you have to pretend to be more horrified than entertained.
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.
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