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Lauren Conrad & Me, The EVOLUTION

1396903625_lauren-conrad-560The first thing I did this morning was think deeply about Lauren Conrad. She’s now married, and it feels, unashamedly (though not enough that I could avoid that disclaimer), like success to me—a person entirely uninvolved in her life. See, LC and her pals were the twisted guiding light of a good chunk of my adolescence—a period when I really believed that living in a wealthy California beach town, consuming myself only with party planning and the mastery of pin straight hair, would really be rewarding. Their frivolous dramas seemed worthwhile to me, even when I could logically trace their ridiculous evolutions. Hasty exchanges at the nail salon over who to go to prom with? Bitchy girl talk overlooking the sea? THIS WAS LIVING, I told myself.

Living was not, however, my life in suburban New Jersey. Living was not my unruly head of hair that dried like that of a serial killer’s on their tenth mug shot. Living was not my lack of a love life, or sexual experiences—which didn’t begin until I was on the very late side of sixteen, and when I say begin I mean they slowly trickled in, uneventful, the powers down low still totally unrealized. Living was not brown hair (the brunettes on the show boiled down to a bible thumper and “the fat girl,” respectively), and certainly not a nose-and-ear combo (two for the price of one!) that led someone to call me “a Jewish elf.” God no, that was not living—that was existing in a way that makes you want to run…and, in my case, run towards the blonde covered beaches on MTV.

These cuddly insecurities taught me to be defensive, and often. I saw this behavior echoed by Laguna Beach’s Kristin, on a larger scale, and immediately longed to be her. Here was a girl kicking ass (female ass, mainly), and taking names (the names of hot, vaguely brain-dead, guys). When everyone around me chose Team LC, I happily scoffed—how quaint of them—and asserted my strict allegiance to Queen Kristin. Clearly this chick did not give a fuck about anything, and, well, that was the dream, wasn’t it?

But oh, little Jessica, if only I could go back and tell you just how many fucks that Kristin gave. Though she could hide it well from her fellow teens (mainly, I think, because their fear of her trumped any ability to question her behavior), anyone who was just a little older could easily see that Kristin was merely a walking shitstorm of pent up insecurities, ones she dressed up as anger or attitude and shot out towards every pretty face that came her way. While her frenemies, LC’s crew, were surely also fighting inner demons—because teenage misery does not discriminate—they managed to do it in a way that was more placid, stuffing their feelings into a bed of superficial niceties that yearned, it seemed, to be genuine.

And so, as I’ve gotten older, and allowed myself to follow the…colorful…paths of these reality stars who I once believed had it all, I’ve rooted for the other team—the team of women who gave real weight to friendship, rather than letting it evaporate the minute an inexperienced dick (quite literally) entered the picture.

For those of you who don’t pursue lowbrow news in your free time, well, Lauren’s love life has been rough. Girl has been punched in that bubbly blonde heart so many times that, even in my bitterest moments, schadenfreude is no option. The girl is basic as a white-button down, and has been looking for romance that lies in a similar category: one topped off with muted pinks and sugary icing. And, rather than lambasting any of this as I once did, I totally get it.

You know, sometimes I want nothing more than a basic white button down and a pink fucking cupcake and a sweet man to touch my damn (unnaturally straight) hair. Sometimes it just takes too much energy to be the firecracker, or the Kristin—and my continued suck-less evolution has shown me that aiming to be that girl doesn’t always end well. I’m all for standing out, shouting out, doing your own thing, but there’s also—I’ve learned—no shame in a little LC-style run-of-the-mill game.

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