Episode 94: Wear Sunscreen
Published May 26, 2017.
Aminatou: We're all fans of something. I am a fan of Keanu Reeves.
Ann: Oh, I'm a fan of RuPaul and Michelle Visage. Let's be real.
Aminatou: Ooh. But everything is changing about the way we consume culture. The nature of fandom is changing too.
Ann: Hosted by Ross Martin, FanMartin, Fan Club is a brand new podcast about the future of fandom, why we love what we love, and it features some of the smartest people in entertainment across music, food, fashion, art, and media.
Aminatou: Like Charlamagne and Tom Colicchio. You can subscribe to Fan Club now at v.viacom.com/fan club or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Summer's right around the corner, I'm taking a lot of trips, and I'm going to be on a lot of planes, Ann.
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Aminatou: VIM & VIGR offers designer FDA-listed compression socks in a range of adorable fabrics and styles including argyle, polka dots and stripes.
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Aminatou: Don't get caught on a plane without your compression socks this summer. Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.
Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.
Aminatou: I am Aminatou Sow.
Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman.
Aminatou: On our agenda today we're going to have a sexy Keanu update. We're going to discuss this amazing slideshow on Good Housekeeping that features friend of the podcast Ruth Ann Harnisch and other aspirational older ladies. We're going to discuss buying sunscreen and some SPF expertise. And of course we would be remiss if we did not check in with our sentient Cheeto of a president. A lot of activities happening there. Strap in for the ride.
Aminatou: Hi, we're in-person today.
Ann: Oh, we've each got our own cushion on a single loveseat. This is heaven.
Aminatou: This is a very exciting today. We've done a lot today, Ann.
Ann: Listen, there's something about being productive alone where you're like no one is going to actually know that I slayed all my work today when you work alone. But like the fact that we were productive side-by-side, I'm like I know what you did today and I'm proud of you.
Aminatou: I know, you slayed today. I am really proud of you.
Ann: Oh, the constant affirmation of if only we could work side-by-side every day.
Aminatou: I know. In fact, I'm proud of every single member of Team CYG including our very own Carlie Yanse (?).
Ann: Oh. We have so many exciting things in-store, but big news, we're launching a merch run for the summer season which goes live next week. You can find it June 1st on our website, callyourgirlfriend.com, where we are going to be selling for pre-order a new run of incredible stuff to get your summer set.
Aminatou: That's right. You know, some summer additions. I really want to stress that a lot of the stuff will probably be only available one time.
Ann: It's true.
Aminatou: This is your chance to get in on the Call Your Girlfriend beach body experience if you will. And, you know, at Call Your Girlfriend we believe that if you have a body you have a beach body.
Ann: It's true. Is your body on a beach? It's a beach body.
Aminatou: [Laughs] Man, I really wish that this was us announcing our swimsuit line. But you know what? That's a 2018 situation. Swimsuits for All, please call us. But yeah, I'm really excited about the shop. And, you know, all of the initiative and work that Carlie puts into it. This round was really fun, like of stuff to do and put together.
Aminatou: June 1, get all your coins ready.
Ann: And on next week's episode we're going to chat with Carlie a little bit and tell you more about how and why we made some decisions about merch, a little bit of an extension of our biz episode, and talk about all of the great stuff that you can find there because we are super, super excited. And as we've already discussed we're turning to consumerism in these dark times so we might as well do it in service of the podcast.
Aminatou: Yeah. Callyourgirlfriend.com/shop. The chilliest retail experience.
Aminatou: Another big announcement is that we are still selling tickets to our show in Philly at what's the place called? The Troc?
Aminatou: The Trocadero. Philly people -- Philly listeners of this podcast, you really took to heart our asking of recommendations. The really delicious restaurant suggestions and amazing cocktail bar situations that you've all sent in, I'm sorry that we can't say thank you to all of you individually, but for real, thank you so much. You know our vibe so well and we're really excited to come party with you in Philly. Come see us July 16th at the Trocadero in Philly. You can still get tickets. They're going really fast. We're really excited to be at the Philly Podcast Festival.
Ann: Yeah, and there's a link on our website, callyourgirlfriend.com, on the events page and you can also go to phillypodfest.com and get your tickets there.
Aminatou: I feel like we're being very biz-announcements. What else is going on?
Ann: You tell me. You've been busy.
Aminatou: Well, oh yeah, I've been very busy. This week a really, really fun project that I worked on this summer finally launched. It's called On She Goes, and you can find it at onshegoes.com. It's a wonderful digital platform for women of color who are interested in travel, and I was lucky enough to host the podcast for it. It's seven bomb episodes talking to all sorts of different women from Roxane Gay to Jenna Wortham to the amazing Lydia Polgreen of The Huffington Post and her wonderful partner Candi Feit. Tons of fun lady updates and just talking about the blessing the opportunity and the challenges around traveling when you are a lady of flavor and a woman of color. You know, it was fun. I feel like it was my podcast side project last summer where I didn't get to do it in Ann and Gina but . . .
Ann: Your podcast side piece?
Aminatou: I know, my podcast side piece.
Aminatou: Our pal Brittany Luse who hosts for Colored Nerds and a new show that's coming to Gimlet called The Nod called me a podcast hoe this weekend and it made me very happy so I'm going to be making a dad hat.
Ann: Slash a nameplate necklace.
Aminatou: Yeah, but you know, working on this project was really fun. My producer Bari Finkel at Pineapple Street Media was the best and I feel like she -- I was really nervous of working with someone who was not Gina and then realizing that actually lady-powered podcasts are run by the best women in the business.
Ann: Twice as good to get half as far so you know they're good.
Aminatou: Yeah, you know? And it's like I was really -- I was a little apprehensive about that and it turned out to be like . . . I learned so much about being a professional this summer from Bari and I'm really grateful for that. So if you want to hear all about ladies of color and travel and fun stories go to onshegoes.com and everything is available there.
Ann: Yeah. But is it on Apple Podcasts, Amina?
Aminatou: It's not yet available on Apple Podcasts and it will be soon enough but I really think that if you want the full experience you should actually go to the website because it's its own digital platform. There are great stories from a ton of people. And, you know, if you're a lady of flavor you will totally understand. If you are not, I think that it will be a wonderful opportunity to expand your horizon.
Ann: Yeah. I mean I definitely have listened and I love it in that way though that in the way travel puts you out of your comfort zone and gives you a different perspective on the wider world and on your own life, it's almost this double-mirrored experience of that where you're listening to people who have a different life experience from you talking about the experience of seeing the wider world in a new way. I kind of loved it. I know, I mean, I'm very happy. I'm a happy listener who's not the target audience, so just saying.
Aminatou: Yay! You know, I'm only ever performing for an audience of one so I'm really happy that you like it. [Laughter] But yeah, I'm excited that this is out in the world.
Aminatou: You know, like one amazing blessing of being together this week in Brooklyn is that we get to watch TV together and we get to watch movies together.
Ann: The glue that holds this friendship together.
Aminatou: I know, shout out to Fios on Demand. [Laughter] I have told Ann how much I enjoyed the John Wick movie series and it has been a delight to watch them anew with her and I'm so glad I got to experience this with you.
Ann: Okay, let me tell you that John Wick 1, whatever, a very long appetizer to just prepare you for John Wick 2 which features 100% more Keanu in a turtleneck, which features much, much more Keanu in a Henley. Like all of the garment upgrades that I was really looking for.
Ann: I mean, look, like John Wick 1 had some suits and I was like this is fine. There are more bulletproof suits in John Wick 2. But I'm just like the overall styling and placement of Keanu in John Wick 2, way better.
Aminatou: I know. You know, Henley is maybe the hardest look to pull for anybody. It's just like it's very hard. But when you look good in a Henley, you look good in anything. First of all, Ann is great. She predicted like every single plot point, like duh.
Ann: It's not rocket science. [Laughs]
Aminatou: It is rocket science to me. [Laughs] It's just like asking all these hard questions where I'm like don't ruin the movie for yourself, please. But also, I don't know, it's like I noticed more of the anime vibe of the whole thing and just how aesthetically pleasing -- you know, it's like I finally took a break from objectifying Keanu enough that I was paying attention to the cinematography of this movie.
Aminatou: Which, I don't know, it was really good. But also we were talking about, you know, it's like sometimes I struggle with this and how can I be the person I want to be and watch so much violent action movies? And, you know, part of it is this is how I turn my brain off. This is my "Can I listen to hip-hop? It's so misogynist" conundrum that a lot of people have. I don't believe in that construct for hip-hop which we can talk about another day. But for action movies it's like a thing I used to struggle with and then now I'm like actually, no, this is a high artform. It is how I turn my brain off. And also this movie series specifically exists in a universe that I'm okay with it existing within.
Ann: Also we've talked about this before but the reason why action movies are my -- like a thing I like to turn on when I am relaxing is because a romcom is like I'm sorry, I'm on constant watch for gender dynamic problems and the way certain characters are portrayed. Also rom coms won't stop making the lead character a journalist and so then I'm also critiquing this on a professional level where I'm like are you kidding me? She's writing? She's going to go sleep with a guy she's writing a cover story about? This is so embarrassing. Why are you doing our professional wrong? Why are you doing all women wrong? But in an action movie universe where I'm like Keanu is just killing everyone on his way. There's like virtually no plot.
Aminatou: For good reasons. For good reasons.
Ann: I know.
Aminatou: He's hurting.
Ann: Listen, he is in so much pain.
Ann: And also the fact that I am not a professional hitwoman trying to retire, a.k.a. I don't really identify with the character construct of John Wick, it's great for me. I'm like this is how I can truly relax. It's the best.
Aminatou: Yeah, I know. Fantastic movie series. If you really want to turn your brain off and you're somebody who is not averse to watching people die a lot, like I will not lie there's a lot of blood and guts in this movie, get a little stoned, turn on John Wick 1 so you can enjoy John Wick 2 eventually.
Ann: Do a face mask.
Aminatou: That's right. It's perfect. Okay. Speaking of other sexy things, can we talk about this Good Housekeeping insane inspirational as a slideshow? I'm losing my mind.
Ann: Yeah, okay. Well this is one of those things where the premise of the slideshow is basically women who were kind of corporate-like warriors or were really accomplished in one job and have taken off in a different direction. And the most noteworthy thing, even though I don't think it's explicit, is they're all well over the age of 50 I believe. Right?
Aminatou: Yeah. It's like the slideshow is entitled 10 Power Players Blazing New Trails Beyond the Boardroom: Why 50-Plus is #ThePerfectAge For Getting These Go-Getters to Lead the Charge. I read a lot of this kind of content. I believe it's the first time that I've seen a list that I'm actually inspired by.
Ann: So this is something I think about a lot, like writing for women's magazines and getting asked to interview another 22-year-old actor who . . . or someone whose first album has just came out, I'm definitely interested.
Aminatou: Or somebody who's 22 and they call them trailblazers, you know?
Aminatou: I'm like you have nothing to teach me.
Ann: It's like your dad was a record producer or whatever. Often -- often they're . . . this is not to say that everyone who is making things like movies, art, music, whatever at a young age is not that interesting. But I won't lie, I am so much more interested in the experiences of women who have several decades of twists and turns and different professional experiences. I don't know, I am just so hungry for that. And it's very clear by the choices made by a lot of magazines or equivalent slideshows to this that the assumption is women exclusively aspire to be doe-eyed 22-year-olds when in fact I aspire to be a 50-something woman who's like "Yeah, I'm on my eighth career. I've crushed it in all of them. What do you need to know? I'm feeling great in my body and my skin and my life." That's what I want.
Aminatou: I look amazing. Can I tell you about -- okay, let's address Ruth Ann Harnisch who looks the most babe -- like I can't even handle what is happening.
Ann: Wait, Amina, who is Ruth Ann Harnisch?
Aminatou: Ruth Ann Harnisch is a very important friend of the podcast who runs the Harnisch Foundation. You've heard her on this very podcast. And Ruth Ann's whole thing, she's a journalist, she's a philanthropist, and her entire mission in life is just like advancing gender and racial equality. Like big mission but she's actually doing it. In my own personal network I know so many people who have benefited from the trail that she's actually blazed, but also how she always puts her money where her values are and we're all so lucky to be recipients of that.
Not to minimize how smart and amazing she is. You know, I don't want to objectify people but this outfit is flames-on. On every single level, like strong looks everywhere. But also, you know, every one of these slideshows goes with a quote and hers is so powerful. She is 66 and says "In this decade I'm aware that there is a reason for joy and gratitude in every single moment. I was the first woman in Nashville to appear on an evening news seat followed shortly by Oprah Winfrey and I'm old enough to be fearless. What can be done to me that hasn't already happened? I've survived major crises in every decade. I know that I have the capacity and willingness to lead, that leaders are always needed, and I was born for this moment. So are you." Are you kidding me?
Ann: So good. So good.
Aminatou: Goosebumps. Goosebumps. I say this as somebody who has been on an important list before that has greatly benefited from her career.
Ann: Talk about that.
Aminatou: Shout out Forbes 30 Under 30, technology.
Aminatou: I'm very grateful for that or whatever, but the thing I think that's really powerful for me about this is just how thoughtful it is in the sense that you hear like a really good piece of insight from every single one of these women. As Valerie Jarrett said on this very podcast, "You can't be what you can't see." And as I'm going through this kind of moment of like, you know, mild insecurity about career and what I'm going to do and all the choices that I make now affecting choices later on in my life, it's so amazing to watch women who are over 50 not be afraid to start over and just say "I have the confidence to do all of the things that I'm qualified to do," you know? "And there's nothing I can't do." And make a space to make you feel like you can be a part of that also.
Ann: Yeah, and it's interesting too. I went back to my alma mater, the University of Missouri, earlier this year and got a lot of questions of the kind of like "What would you tell yourself when you were college age?" variety. And one of the things that I kept thinking about is you don't know like -- it's impossible to plan ten steps ahead, like no way. You just have to kind of figure out what is the first step you want to take? And these women are a really interesting lesson in oh, once you've taken ten steps, eight of then totally unexpected, what does your life look like? How are you feeling about things? And the way that that affects the changes that you want to make for the future.
And I love what you said about in a moment of insecurity or indecision being able to say here are these women, none of whom decided at the age of 18 that they were going to be whatever they are today and set out to do it, but women who made responsive decisions based on their skills and the time and their industry and all of this stuff. I just -- I love that.
Aminatou: Yeah, and also just the level of confidence too that comes with doing something for long enough and also really listening to your gut and being confident in your own place in the world. There's something that's so unshakable about that, you know? And I think that that's the thing too that these ten women push consistently over and over. Susan McPherson who runs McPherson Strategies is on here. I know firsthand that she's a very generous human being.
Ann: What is McPherson Strategies?
Aminatou: McPherson Strategies is Susan's like power connector business where she . . .
Ann: What? That's a business?
Aminatou: Listen, this woman will connect you to anything that you need to do. She is kind of an expect in sustainability and in building deep like institutional reserves of goodwill. Like hearing her say "The biggest gift of being this age is the depth and breadth of the relationships I've developed. I've been interested in talking to people and hearing their stories. That was true when I was a waitress in my teens and it's true now that I'm the CEO of my own business. I'm proud to facilitate connections that pave the way for entrepreneurs, corporations, non-profits, and others to drive progress."
Aminatou: Like this is wild. All of this is wild. Oh, then I was reading too this one about this woman Stacia Pierce. Stacia Pierce, 50, founder of Life Coach 2 Women and author of 21 books.
Ann: How is that even a thing?
Aminatou: I have not done 21 of anything that is productive in my entire life. But like she says, "At 50 I have an unwavering confidence and I know my worth. Journaling is a huge part of my self-discovery. If I could hand everyone a journal I would. I'd say this blank book right here is how you'll find your voice, learn to trust your gut, and figure out what you want." Goosebumps. Real-time goosebumps right now.
Ann: Journals are real. That's good advice.
Aminatou: Oh, I don't know. Good job, Good Housekeeping. Good job, L'Oral Paris.
Aminatou: I might become a Good Housekeeping . . .
Ann: Oh, is this a spon-con?
Aminatou: Oh, this is definitely a spon-con.
Ann: Wow, good job whoever set up this spon-con deal.
Aminatou: Yeah, no, this is great. This is a great partnership.
Ann: Also, really interesting just thinking about this as spon-con and the way we often critique empowering gone awry where I'm like you know what? You don't need to make me a L'Oral product that is like with feminism on the packaging about how it's going to make me feel good about my face or body. All you need to do is bring me stories of women who are relevant and interesting to the life I want to lead.
Aminatou: I feel like it's broken my cynicism about what this kind of content usually is.
Ann: Wow. And also we love Ruth Ann.
Aminatou: Yeah. Also, yeah, I'm like I love older ladies. I aspire to be one one day.
Ann: I know. And shout-out to all of our listeners who are in fact older women. We got an amazing email. I know we talk a lot about the life and struggles of somewhat younger women, but we got this incredible email after we said it was our Friend-a-versary and podcast-a-versary. It says "I love your podcast and can't wait to see you guys in Philly. As I'm a bit senior compared to the two of you I must tell you that my bestie and I have been friends for 40 years. We have been through many good and bad dates, crazy road trips, husbands, and ex-husbands. Now at 57 she is the sister I never had."
Ann: "And I am still picking out her outfits for special occasions such as life. I'm her stylist friend, confidant, etc. So ladies, please continue to cherish one another. I get tears when you talk about how you met, started your business, and how you both are secure enough to allow others the true benefit of your friendship." I love it.
Aminatou: I feel like those ladies just offered us -- like that was a gift. They're the ones doing all the heavy lifting.
Ann: She also said "Wish I had you two around when I had a period," which basically is we definitely need to do a menopause and perimenopause episode at some point.
Aminatou: Oh, 100%. Okay.
Ann: Anyway, shout-out to Barb. We'll meet you in Philly.
Aminatou: I know, can't wait to meet you, Barb. That's amazing. Aww, so many feelings today!
Ann: I know.
Aminatou: I'm like I don't want to talk about the hard things because I like talking about the fun things.
Ann: Listen, this episode is like a lesson in accentuate the positive for sure.
Ann: Hey Amina, guess where my boobs are right now? They're in a Third Love bra. [Laughs]
Aminatou: I'm so happy for you, Ann. Third Love uses thousands of real women's measurements and super-smoothing memory foam to create bras that fit better and feel great. There's a perfect bra for everyone and you can find yours in just seconds by answering a few simple questions from Third Love's fit finder.
Ann: You can also try their bras free for 30 days which means you just pay $2.99 for shipping and one of Third Love's signature 24/7 bras is on its way to you. You can cut the tags off; you can see how it fits in your life; you can put your boobs in it; wash it; wear it. You might even forget it's on. You can also return or exchange it for free if you don't love it.
Aminatou: Go to thirdlove.com/girlfriend now to find your perfect-fitting bra and try it for 30 days. That's thirdlove.com/girlfriend to try your new favorite bra for free. Thirdlove.com/girlfriend.
Ann: Amina, what are you going to do when your empire expands?
Aminatou: Girl, I need to hire, hire, hire. That's the only way the empire is ever going to expand.
Ann: Do you know where to post that job to find the best candidates? That can be hard.
Aminatou: Thankfully I know what Zip Recruiter is. It's a platform where you can post your job to 100+ job sites with just one click. Then their powerful technology efficiently matches the right people to your job better than anyone else.
Ann: That's what makes Zip Recruiter different, because unlike other job sites Zip Recruiter doesn't depend on candidates finding you; it finds them. In fact, over 80% of jobs posted on Zip Recruiter get a qualified candidate in just 24 hours.
Aminatou: No more juggling emails or calls to your office. You just screen, rate, and manage candidates all in one place with Zip Recruiter's easy-to-use dashboard.
Ann: Find out today why Zip Recruiter has been used by businesses of all sizes including one-women lady empires to find the most-qualified job candidates with immediate results. And right now CYG listeners can post jobs on Zip Recruiter for free. That's right, for free. Just go to ziprecruiter.com/call.
Aminatou: That's ziprecruiter.com/call. One more time, to try it for free, go to ziprecruiter.com/call.
Ann: What do you want to talk about next?
Aminatou: I want to talk about my sunscreen buying adventures.
Ann: Oh, it's almost summer.
Aminatou: It's almost summer so the summer skin struggle is real for me. Also it's funny, I'm getting all of my skin problems in adulthood that people like -- I was a teenager that like never had acne.
Ann: Oh my god, me too!
Aminatou: All of my peers dealt with like acne and pimples and whatever, and this face, smooth as a baby's butt. And then my hormones got out of whack later in age. But, you know, got a take. It's like in the same way we go to doctors for the bod, you've got to go to a doctor for the skin because it's the biggest -- it's the largest organ that belongs to you. But yeah, so it's like I've been really into going to the dermatologist lately, and one of my big struggles, like women of color problems -- especially like black women problems -- is sunscreen, because I grew up not wearing sunscreen and that's a big no-no.
Ann: For every skin type and color, yeah.
Aminatou: Yeah. For every skin type and color, but also just like the lack of education generally that there is around black, dark skin and sunscreen. I'm glad that beauty publications, or some beauty publications at least, are focusing on this. And in fact on Into the Gloss, one of my very favorite blogs to read, there is an entire sunscreen diary from a woman who just writes about trying to find the perfect sunscreen. Like she's a black woman, about finding the perfect sunscreen for her skin. And so I've been vicariously living through this and definitely ordered a bunch of the ones that she was trying to see what works for me. And Into the Gloss is the company that brought you Glossier that we talk about a lot on here and they have a sunscreen product that's coming out.
But there's all these other options. And that's the problem, right? You have to try so many things to see what works for you. So I feel like, Ann, that's going to be my next week when all of these sunscreen show up.
Ann: I did that thing last year -- I think it was about last year -- I read some article about oxybenzene and other shit that is in many sunscreens and freaked out about it and went to -- there's a small beauty shop in LA called Larchmont Beauty Center which is a delight.
Aminatou: I'm familiar.
Ann: Yeah, I know. I feel like most people I know have cruised through there at some point. But anyway, I was like listen -- you know, in that way that is maybe irrational, like sometimes you're in a mood and you just read something about how something's really bad for you and you decide to go with it, I was like "Can you recommend me a sunscreen -- like a face sunscreen -- that doesn't have all of the bad stuff in it but is still going to work?" I don't want to have just a cone of zinc on my nose.
Ann: Like something that's a little more low-key.
Aminatou: A cone of zinc?
Ann: A little more low-key than that. And I've got this French brand. What is it called?
Aminatou: Because you're worth it? [Laughs]
Aminatou: Oh, I know what you're talking about. Levin?
Ann: Yes. I was going to say Aveeno. French Aveeno Avin. No, Avin.
Ann: But anyway, so yeah, so I've been wearing this Avin SPF one bajillion. But it's pretty good, I've got to say, because one thing about it is that you -- and I don't know if this is what it's made of. You really have to work it in, you know? Otherwise it shows up on your skin. And I'm like maybe that's also one reason why it's working so well for me.
Aminatou: Yeah. Also another huge problem with darker skin tone.
Ann: Yeah, you've got to work it in.
Aminatou: You know? You've got to work it in. I'm always out here looking like -- I don't know if you're familiar with this Australian tennis player Lleyton Hewitt who like . . .
Ann: Of course I'm not.
Aminatou: Listen, I don't know your tennis-watching habits from before I knew you.
Ann: Zero tennis. [Laughs] I've watched no tennis.
Aminatou: Lleyton Hewitt is Australian, and my favorite time of the year was at the Australian Open when, Ann, this man would just show up on the court with like insane amounts of zinc. Actually everything I know about white people and zinc on their face is because of this player.
Ann: He looks very aggressive according to Google Images.
Aminatou: Just Google him with like zinc.
Ann: Every single photo was him making like a "Yeah!" brofist.
Aminatou: Listen, he was a really good player.
Ann: Was? What happened?
Aminatou: I mean he's retired.
Aminatou: You know, there's a companion article to the journal that I talked about on Into the Gloss also that answers all of your beauty questions from how much sun exposure can you get and all this stuff. The thing that I love the most about it is that all the people that answer the questions, they're kind of the dermatologist superstars. So every time I see their names I'm like "Ah! That lady's the aesthetician all the celebrities go to."
Ann: The dream team.
Aminatou: This person -- exactly, it's the dream team. And they answer all of your "I have acne-prone skin and I worry about reapplying sunscreen, like how much do you change it?" And somebody actually explains to you what the fuck UV rays are because I don't know how much SPF you're supposed to wear.
Ann: It's true. Stuff like UV rays, and like what's a broad spectrum? All this other stuff.
Aminatou: Oh, I don't even know what that means.
Ann: Yeah, I know.
Aminatou: I see that on the box and I don't know. Also what I . . .
Ann: Like I am a broad on a spectrum. [Laughs] Oh, man.
Aminatou: I just want somebody to make sunscreen that smells good, that will melt into my skin well, and protect me from sun cancer. That's all I want.
Ann: Listen, it's not too much to ask.
Aminatou: Lot of questions. We'll link to all of this on callyourgirlfriend.com so if you have questions about not burning your face with sun rays because we have no more protection from the sun because of our government, this is like you'll know where to go. I'm so angry right now.
Ann: You need to know what to slather on your already perfect beach body.
Aminatou: Yeah. I'm like, you know, elections have consequences. We elected the wrong person and now you have to invest more money in sunscreen because everything is melting. Everything is melting!
Ann: Yeah, and do it now because who knows what's going to be happening ozone-wise in another 30 years?
Aminatou: Oh my god.
Ann: Both sunscreen and melting and like being politically despondent are a nice segue into Cheeto Watch.
Aminatou: Okay, Cheeto Watch. What is happening/what is not happening? Crazy shit is happening right now. One good thing is that the president is out of the country which means that this would be a great time for a military coup.
Ann: Stop it!
Aminatou: If we lived anywhere else. [Laughs]
Ann: Honestly, I can't even . . .
Aminatou: This is how you know I lived in civil unrest.
Ann: I know, it's like . . .
Aminatou: Any president would go on a trip and you're like for real? You're going to leave the throne unattended? It's over for you.
Ann: You're like a civil unrest bootstrapper where you're like "I survived it. Anyone else can survive it too. I made it."
Aminatou: Listen, so far this movie is nuts. Like for . . .
Ann: The movie of the Cheeto era?
Aminatou: Yeah. The movie of the Cheeto era is nuts, right? There were like these great pictures of the day they left to go on the trip. It's like everybody left to go on the trip except for Mike Pence.
Ann: Where did they go?
Aminatou: They went to the Middle East which according to Trump is only Saudi Arabia.
Ann: Not Israel?
Aminatou: Yeah, yeah, yeah. He's in Israel going "Oh, we just came back from the Middle East." And there's an amazing clip when he says that moment. A man in the room like rolled his eyes like the entire way. It was amazing. So yeah, they're in the Middle East and now they're in Europe. By the time this podcast airs, who knows? Maybe they'll be in jail, hopefully. The trip is very weird. It's like you can't be going on tour when you have broken everything here. It's like this is a bad -- it's a bad situation.
Ann: Also this is a continuation of Ivanka's dad meeting men on the global stage who you and I are very skeptical of but other people love to love, like i.e. our Canadian scammer friend Justin Trudeau, i.e. this pope who everyone loves but we know the truth. Seeing . . .
Aminatou: I know. But Ann, the pope looks just as annoyed as we did in all the photos.
Ann: I know. I was just about to say that's part of the problem. They come out so well next to Ivanka's dad next to all these photo memes.
Aminatou: Yeah, that you forget.
Ann: You forget.
Aminatou: This is all enemy -- this is all enemy territory right here.
Ann: Everyone is scamming, yeah.
Aminatou: Everybody's a scammer. It's really interesting that the story of the election was don't elect the lady president because her entire family is grifters. And I do not see a world in which President Hillary Clinton is taking Chelsea Clinton on world trips with her. It's like your adult children need to stay home. This makes no sense. Ivanka's traveling with her dad. Every country that they go to, people are like "Hey, can we give money to the women's fund that you put in?" I'm like that's the literal definition of pay-for-play. That's literally what that means. If there was no fascist implications to everything that was happening here this whole thing is actually hilarious. Like it's really fucking hilarious. But then you realize that millions of people are like -- lives are at stake.
Ann: Oh, god, also the orb fondling photo. We haven't talked about that.
Aminatou: Oh, I'm so scared about the orb. So here's what happened when Trump met the president of Egypt. "'You are a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible,' President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt told him. 'I agree,' Mr. Trump responded cheerily as laughter rolled through the room. A few moments later Mr. Trump returned the compliment in fashion. 'Love your shoes,' he told Mr. Sisi."
Aminatou: Boy, those shoes, man. This story makes me so happy because I'm like all of these people deserve each other. I love that he had to go to like ostentatious, Arabic extreme, golden, beautiful shoes, like that whole stereotype. It's like the love he doesn't get in America he's getting in the depths of the Middle East is killing me. Did you see the pictures of them on the golf cart in Saudi Arabia?
Aminatou: Here's the best part about the fucking golf carts: Saudi Arabia is always going to Saudi Arabia. They made Melania ride in the back of the golf cart because she can't ride in the front with the king and Trump. Like they're like "No, for real, this is what's happening." You're like I don't respect this but I respect your consistency. They're like all the women here ride in the back.
Ann: Oh, god.
Aminatou: It's awful. It's so awful. But it's also like very telling how well they're being embraced in these countries. There's just something about the kind of capitalism that they push and the kind of capitalism that let's say somebody who runs a caliphate is really down with and how they're all complicit with each other. It's like the story of the election is that these countries are enemy countries, you know? And they're all bad and whatever. Then he goes over there and he gives the mildest speech about how oh, really, we're all the same person. And it's like yeah, no shit, this is where you get all your money from.
Ann: That is like one of the most annoying narratives, like both in post-election America but also in foreign dignitary speeches of just like "We're all in this together." And it's like yeah, we literally live on the same Earth or in the same country but almost all of the policy disagreements or problems that arise are because we are not all in this together in the same way. There are differences in power dynamics based on all this other stuff like gender and race and class, and it's like just being like "Yeah, yeah, really we're all fundamentally . . . it's one race, the human race."
Aminatou: No, no. They're like we're all fundamentalists. [Laughs]
Ann: Yeah, and maybe that's the real meaning, like you can hear this however you want.
Aminatou: Yeah. You know, it's like the king of Saudi Arabia is probably like "Yeah, I love that you like to control your women like I like to control my women."
Ann: So much in common!
Aminatou: We have so much in common. Also the amazing photos of Steve Bannon literally sitting next to his Wahabi counterparts. It's like yes, you guys are all ministers of Islamic affairs in your own version. I don't know, I love seeing this as America also exports its extremist clerics. We think the terrorism is one way. I'm like no, no, this is global terrorism.
Ann: This is a two-way trade agreement for religious extremists.
Aminatou: [Laughs] It's like yeah. Also, Ann, your favorite artist Toby Keith was . . .
Ann: I hate you so much.
Aminatou: Ann's favorite artist Toby Keith was on deck in Saudi Arabia when Trump was visiting, that he did a man-only concert because women don't get to enjoy life over there apparently. According to the news, some people say. Not me. Some people say.
Ann: Just when you thought you couldn't hate all of these people any more.
Aminatou: Yeah. I'm like Toby Keith, what? People who listen to Toby Keith music stereotypically here are the same people that are like call it extremist Islamic terrorism. What are you doing doing a man-only concert for the king of Saudi Arabia?
Ann: Toby Keith! Yeah.
Aminatou: What a fantastic racket. Are you kidding me? Because I bet you he gets paid bazillions of dollars to do this.
Ann: Yeah, and does not have to reconcile this with his post-9/11 hit about how we need to explode all Arab countries because, yeah, no one is holding him to any account.
Aminatou: Also seeing Melania and Ivanka's whole empowerment lady scam that they're running out there in the Middle East, I'm like really, this is where you want to take your brand of empowering women? And their audience is responding to it very positively. That's the thing about it that's terrifying.
Ann: Yeah, and it's just there is a part of me too that's like -- I know that we joke about this because that's the only way we can get through the week, but laughing about the all-dude Toby Keith concert or the weird glowing orb photos, it's like, you know, it's really hard to step back then and just be like oh, god. We joke so we don't completely despair, but it's like . . .
Aminatou: Yeah. We joke so we don't fall into Handmaid's Tale, you know what I mean? It's crazy.
Ann: Yeah. I mean -- ugh, that's a future episode.
Aminatou: I know.
Ann: Of like consuming news like this while also watching The Handmaid's Tale, like the specific psychological torture that that is.
Aminatou: Speaking of psychological torture . . .
Aminatou: Opinion pieces are so hard. Opinion pieces in The Washington Post can literally be some of the worst things you'll ever read. But Kathleen Parker's at it again. [Laughs]
Ann: She's at it again.
Aminatou: She's at it again writing -- let me read to you just the headline of this opinion situation. "Melania and Ivanka Trump show the world what feminine power looks like." Throw up all over my computer. Can we give the people education on who Kathleen Parker is for one minute and why you can't trust anything she says?
Ann: Well, she's a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist so one would think those are some pretty good credentials. It was in . . .
Aminatou: No, that just means you're good at takes. You're good at hot takes.
Ann: She's a professional hot taker. That's what I'd say.
Aminatou: An award-winning hot taker.
Ann: An award-winning hot taker, pretty morally bankrupt and deeply conservative. But occasionally she notes when things have gone totally off the rails on the right. Like in 2008 after she had been known for quite some time as a conservative columnist she was like "Step down from the ticket, Sarah Palin. You are clearly bonkers."
Ann: So, you know, I think that sometimes if you say a few things that are normal in the context of like an otherwise . . .
Aminatou: We forget that you're bananas.
Ann: Exactly. Or you get a reputation for being a fair, balanced, and level-headed commentator from the other side of the aisle.
Aminatou: But yeah, don't trust her.
Ann: Yeah. So . . .
Aminatou: Yeah, she writes this really awful thing about how, first of all, she uses the Lilly Pulitzer dictum, being happy never goes out of style. Let me tell you . . .
Ann: It's out of style right now. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Let me tell you, yeah, it's literally out of style until we get a new president. So don't get it twisted, Kathleen. And this is conservative propaganda at its best, right? It's like you take these two very privileged American women, they go to the Middle East, and instead of wearing the regular outfits that they were they just wear a suit and a shirt that buttons all the way to the top and do whatever the modesty -- the faux American modesty abroad can look like. And they sit next to their husbands and they don't say anything in the room and they're beautiful prizes. And, you know, that's what feminine power is. It's like how do you use your works to guile people? To beguile people into doing something for you. And actually it's like this is garbage. You know what feminine power is like? It's when you actually have a woman who is the decision-maker!
Ann: Or maybe a Secretary of State who's a woman? Could that work?
Aminatou: Also, listen, two words that should also make you run. It's like run. It's like close the computer, run, don't trust this person. It's feminine power. Like literally there is nothing inherently powerful about being feminine. It is a garbage, very cis-censored, nonsensical . . .
Ann: It's cool to live your truth as a feminine person. It's just the idea that that is where you derive your power . . .
Aminatou: Yeah. Yeah, but it's like saying that, you know, here's how you find power in your oppression. You know what you mean? And it also makes you kind of this conniving person, like people don't expect you to be a powerful person because you're supposed to be subservient to a man but here you are. It makes me so angry because of the actual political moment that we're in that a woman like this -- and Kathleen Parker is no stranger to sexism and understanding power dynamics and how the levers of power work or whatever. The fact that she would write garbage like this and think that it is, you know . . . it's scammy. It's like really scammy and gross.
Ann: I had a slightly different take on this column and on their whole Ivankia -- Ivanka and Melania . . .
Ann: Ivankia. Oh my god. Ivankia's like, you know, decisions when it came to this trip.
Aminatou: Like their image dressing situation?
Ann: But yeah, this column -- so first of all it should be said that Kathleen Parker, kind of like we were saying before, is no big fan of the Cheeto himself. But I think that there's this interesting thing too that's happening where it's like okay, if you don't want to be outright resistant to or critical of him you can sort of praise the women in proximity to him while saying like "Oh, he's of course vulgar and terrible and doesn't read but look at these smart women in his orbit. This is a sort of way to kind of keep your standing in your political world view without challenging it too much." The thing I don't like about this that's so weird is it's actually just like a classic talking about women's clothes as the extent of their political leverage, you know?
Aminatou: Yeah. It's like all -- because they can't open their mouths, all they have is how they dress.
Ann: Yeah. And it's like, you know, the idea too of dressing only the sort of representation like Melania, for example, is putting forth when she's on these state trips. It's like what are you doing back home? Like you can write this glowing article about power.
Aminatou: Her cause is bullying. Her cause is Internet bullying, but she doesn't deal with our biggest Internet bully.
Ann: I know, it's her cry for help.
Ann: She's like can everyone get onboard with bullying, please?
Aminatou: The last thing I will say about this is from the Obama era Alyssa Mastromonaco who used to work for President Obama wrote this book Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And I haven't read the book yet but I was listening to an interview that she did where she talks about a trip to Saudi Arabia and how they had been told that the protocol was her and I guess the other lady staffers wouldn't get to meet the king and shake his hand. Then as soon as they got off the plane the plan changed, like the Saudi Staffers were like "No, no, go in the line. Meet him." And it's actually hilarious. She talks about it on the Crooked Media podcast, one of the Crooked Media podcasts.
But this story, I don't know, it made me laugh so hard because she was like the president didn't expect that he was going to have to introduce him. And then he's like "Here is this man. He's my speech writer. Here's this man. He has an important job," or whatever. And the minute he saw the women he was like "This is Alyssa. What are you doing here? What's going on? You were not supposed to be in that space." And I was like whoa, and this is our liberal president who is trying to cal-tal (?) to the regional and cultural norms of this place. It is not new that this president would do that because this is clearly a calculus that every presidency has to make but it's in stark contrast to the ways that they talked about Islam and cultural norms and those kinds of countries. So all of this is to say that I'm angry. I'm angry. I'm angry about all of it.
Ann: Well, it's also a question of how women -- I don't know, I think about . . . I saw astronaut Mae Jemison speak. Maybe we talked about this earlier this year. And part of her talk was about not just how and if you get a seat at the table, but what you do with your seat. And that's a way I think a lot about a position of being First Lady or White House staffer like Ivanka. It's like what are you doing with your seat at the table? And there's an interesting line to walk here. Recognize that if you are praising women for their progress in that country while sitting alongside leaders who choose to continue to hinder their rights you are actually being used as a puppet, right? Like they can sort of say . . .
Aminatou: No puppet. No puppet. No puppet. Which if you remember this moment from the debates you're on my level. [Laughs]
Ann: Ugh! But, you know, it's all about like the juxtaposition, right? Like if she had chosen to kind of take interest in the rights of women not while sitting right next to these people, sure, praise women for their efforts to make change in that country but then turn to the leaders sitting right next to you and say "Hey, what are you doing to help them? What are you doing to enable them gaining more rights as opposed to hindering that?"
Aminatou: That's what's hard and that's what makes it hard too is to have the real conversation about people that we know and people in general who say "I want to help from the inside and I want to do whatever." It's like I'm sorry, we don't have enough trust built up that I believe that Ivanka's sitting in these rooms and using her powers for good, or that she even has -- and to be fair to her too, she doesn't operate in a system where she's empowered to say that too, you know what I mean? Or do anything.
Ann: Of course. Of course. That's part of it.
Aminatou: All of this is to say congratulations. You played yourselves. So this makes me feel mad. But can I tell you one really funny thing to come out of this trip is that we have so much more footage added to the reel of Melania and her husband pretending to hold hands.
Ann: Oh my god, all of the awkward hand grabs, not misses. Yeah.
Aminatou: This, actually -- like the biggest scam of post-election is the fact that Melania is angling for a divorce and we all have to pay for it.
Ann: Okay, that's not the biggest scam but I appreciate you paying attention to that.
Aminatou: [Laughs] I'm like are you kidding me? I am under assault and you get a second home and free security. You get all of this shit? That footage always constantly makes me laugh. It's like every time they come off a plane or whatever it's like if she's not swatting his hand away they're doing the fake like our hands are brushing then she just cringes and slaps it away. I'm like this is -- like four years of this reel is going to be amazing.
Ann: What if he's actually physically toxic to the touch and she's just protecting herself?
Aminatou: Listen, I've seen how orange he is. Of course he's toxic to the touch. [Laughs] Oh my god, Melania, wear sunscreen girl.
Aminatou: SPF one bajillion for you.
Ann: Save you from the brozone layer.
Ann: You can find us many places on the Internet: at our website, callyourgirlfriend.com. You can download this podcast anywhere you listen to your faves or on Apple Podcast where we would love a review from you. You can tweet at us at @callyrgf or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook where you have to look it up for yourself and on Instagram at Callyrgf. You can even leave us a short voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. Our theme song is by Robyn and all of the other music you heard today was composed by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs. This podcast is produced by Gina Delvac.
Aminatou: See you in Philly!
Ann: Oh my god, see you in Philly and on the Internet and on Instagram and everywhere. And on the sofa!