The Pop Culture Feels, Pt. 2

As promised, more feeling-inducing pop culture. This time, however, I’ve tackled a different beast.

The Inspirational: Pop Culture for Kicking Ass and Setting the World Straight

I do, in fact, do more than just wallow, and lately I’ve found myself reading books & watching clips that give me a different kind of feels. I like to dub them “Miracle moments.” You know what I’m talking about: you’re sitting on the couch, eating rice cakes crumbs off your sweatpants and channel flipping, and all of a sudden the Miracle speech comes on and you find yourself yelling along with Herb Brooks “Tonight we skate with them. Tonight we stay with them, and we shut them down!”

Obviously Miracle is the greatest inspirational movie of all time so there’s no point even debating that. But there are smaller Miracle moments, more honest & personal, that get me fired up in all kinds of different ways.

Pop Culture for Inspiring


“Flawless” Beyonce

I woke up like this, I woke up like this
We flawless, ladies tell ’em
Say I look so good tonight

A week doesn’t go by that I don’t power sing along to this, sneering into the mirror that I do look so good tonight. This song is the fire. Beyonce dropped her album like it was nothing at midnight on a Friday, finally giving us the anthem we deserve. On “Flawless” she growls with confidence as she warns us to bow down. I beseech you to give yourself over to this song, and let it carry you on a wave of feels.

I was lucky enough to go to the On The Run tour just after my breakup, and it might have been the best possible therapy there was. For me, “Flawless” was the best moment of the night. The flashing Feminist lights we came to know and love at the VMAs. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie laying down the law about what it is to be a feminist. And Bey, standing there, holding it down and imploring us to post up, flawless.

And let’s never forget that I been preaching the gospel of Bey, long before she was rocking the feminist sign in public.


Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

“We should be able to say, ‘This is my truth,’ and have that truth stand without a hundred clamoring voices shouting, giving the impression that multiple truths cannot coexist.”

I’ve been making my way through Bad Feminist, reading Gay’s fabulous book of essays slowly as I blast through fiction left and right. This is the kind of book I wish would make it onto high school reading lists. Is it the best of the best when it comes to writing? Not quite, and there are some parts where Gay’s redundancy shouts over the important ideas she’s sharing. But what she’s saying is important, and the writing thoughtful.

Gay has a lot to say about what it is to be a feminist, a woman of color, a large woman, a child of immigrants, and a queer-identifying woman. But some of her most compelling moments come when she reminds us, and herself, that it’s okay to fail. I count myself among the titular “bad feminists” of the world, and the reminder of multiple truths and acceptable failures is one I could use from time to time.

“B” by Sarah Kay (as seen in her TED Talk “If I should have a daughter”)

“I want her to look at the world through the underside of a glass-bottom boat, to look through a microscope at the galaxies that exist on the pinpoint of a human mind, because that’s the way my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this. There’ll be days like this, my momma said.”

If you’ve ever needed the inspiration to write something truly wonderful, look no further than spoken word poet Sarah Kay. I was introduced to Kay by a TED Talk (bear with me), which she opens with “B.” She packs the joy, laughter, heartbreak and fear of both growing up female and raising a (hypothetical) daughter into just a few minutes. It’s worth a few minutes of your time just to allow yourself to be taken away by her storytelling.

And because I can’t stop at one quote from Kay: “She’s gonna learn that this life will hit you, hard, in the face, wait for you to get back up so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.” If nothing else, she’s my inspiration in knowing that some other kick ass ladies out there “get it,” whatever that means.

Watch her here. 

 Sports Moments

 “This is our fucking city”

As I found myself poring through the mental archives of inspirational movies I’ve watched recently, I struggled to find any that resonated as clearly as the aforementioned songs & snippets, or made me want to kick ass and change the world. I kept coming back to sports movies–I had recently watched A League of Their Own, Billy Elliot, and, of course, Miracle. But what can come across as artificial and manipulative in sports movies is exactly what inspires and connects people in actual sports.

Last spring as Boston was trying to find a semblance of normalcy in the aftermath of the Marathon bombing, David Ortiz took to the field and uttered those five unforgettable words. “This is our fucking city.” A beloved player defending a beloved city in the wake of something it was impossible to make sense of.

There is something about sports as a binding agent that gives them the power to inspire, either by way of victory on the field or in moments of terrible sadness. Now is this strictly a sports moment? No. Neither was three nights earlier the crowd taking over singing the National Anthem for Rene Rancourt at the first post-marathon Bruins game. These moments inspire, invoke some sort of visceral feeling, but aren’t truly about the sports. But then again, neither is Miracle.


Olympic Weekend Essentials

The 12-year-old girl in me still wants to grow up to be her

I admit it, I’ve been infected with Olympic Fever. Not having a job makes this a lot easier, since I can pretty much watch every event. Yesterday I sat and watched Women’s Judo because, well, why not? I’ve discovered within me a strange ability to care about white water kayaking, and my love of watching gymnastics and love of watching water sports have met in the middle at synchronized diving. In short, the Olympics are awesome.

And, yes, I’m one of those people who whine about the NBC coverage (they didn’t even show the Russians on the podium getting bronze and silver in the women’s gymnastics all-around, panning right to Gabby Douglas). But I also play right into their hand by watching all four hours of prime time coverage.

So in honor of the Olympics I’m doing an extended roundup of Olympic-related Weekend Essentials.

Get your national pride on this weekend


The Olympics, silly! Although, if you’re feeling NBC fatigue you can extend that Olympic spirit with a little movie break–Miracle, anyone? There’s no way you can watch Miracle and not get wrapped up in a little bit of USA chanting. Or, if you’re pressed for time, just watch this forever adorable video of the little boy reenacting the Herb Brooks Miracle speech.


There is no lack of Olympic coverage to read, but in my opinion the Grantland articles have been great. Check out this piece by Brian Phillips on Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics. It’s an entertaining read, but also raises some interesting points about issues around the sport, including gender and intensity. He notes that it’s often the female sports that are relegated to the “It’s not a sport” category (e.g. rhythmic gymnastics), despite the fact that they require extraordinary skill and athleticism.



There are a lot of options here. The most obvious, of course, is to eat Olympic-themed food. Check out Six Sisters’ Stuff for a great roundup of various Olympic snacks, from Olympic ring cookies and donuts to Olympic torch cupcakes.

Snacking in style

If you’re not particularly interested in baking Olympic goodies, there’s always the pretend-you’re-in-London route. Eat fish and chips and drink a cold beer (or cider if you’re me). This also gives you the opportunity to go to a pub or sports bar where you can be surrounded by aggressive amounts of Olympic spirit.

Grease in its finest form


Pretty much your only option here is to listen to the Chariot’s of Fire song on repeat. Ideally you’d run down a beach while listening, but you can substitute pretty much any slow-motion action and be fine.

If you’re trying to get into Olympic shape, however, you can check out these workout playlists from Women’s Health. I spent half of last night making some workout playlists of my own since mine were a little tired, and they actually have me a little tiny bit excited to work out (but not that much..).


I highly recommend getting your Olympic sparkle on in a gold, silver or bronze dress that is wholly inappropriate for summer. Topshop can deck you out out in this entirely sequined dress that has the benefit of being the color of a medal with the pizazz of a gymnast’s hair glitter.

Be the medal

As with food, however, you’re not without options. Getting into the Olympic style here in the States might require more patriotic apparel.


My personal favorite approach, however, is to watch the Olympics casually in this Vivienne Westwood Union Jack gown, paying tribute to England and the London Olympic Games. Nothing screams “sports fan” like a floor length gown.

With all the money saved not going to the Olympics it makes sense to spend $3800 on this dress


While you’re watching you may just want to support athleticism in general, forgoing national pride. In that case, Ashish has the sweatshirt for you. And while you’re at it you may want to check out the nail art of Olympic swimmers. I know that personally this option (wearing a sweatshirt and painting my nails while watching the Olympics) is the most likely plan for my weekend.

No need to pick sides with this look

I apologize for the excessive amount of Olympics-related links you were just inundated. Can you tell I’ve gotten a little to into it? #TeamGabby

Go forth and get into the spirit Or don’t.. whatever..

(Image sources: Gabby Douglas, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Olympic ring cookies, Fish and Chips, Clothing images from associated links)