Douchebag Decree: Elizabeth Wurtzel Thinks You're Ugly

Elizabeth Wurtzel, lawyer, memoirist and pretty lady, is heartbroken that you aren’t trying harder to look hot. And what’s worse? You’re ruining feminism.

Douchebag Decree logo in red and blue letters it says Ye Olde Douchebag Decree. Bitch hereby declares the following person a total douchebag

The real problem facing today’s feminist movement isn’t the GOP’s War on Women or racism and a lack of intersectionality. Nope, if we consult Elizabeth Wurtzel’s latest print-only piece for Harper’s Bazaar, we feminists should be most worried about “the onset of slovenliness.”

Wurtzel on concern-trolling her heart, which has been broken by New York’s sloppily dressed youngsters:

When I look at the meticulous style of these women [Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin] and then walk around Manhattan—New York City, the international capital of fashion and beauty—and see women in their twenties who have already given up, my heart breaks. I am not a mean person, but the sloppiness angers me because it is about a wounded world.

a phone pic of Wurtzel's article
She looks BETTER NOW, you guys.

Wurtzel’s essay contains almost as many egregious fallacies as it does words. It is bursting with essentialism, sexism (notice Wurtzel does not seem to care how men look—this “effort” of which she speaks is strictly for the ladies), classism, and straight-up rudeness. While I understand that the piece is meant to be inflammatory, it is just beyond. Here is but a sampling of the bullshit found on page 364 of the latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar. This way, you don’t have to spend $4.99 to read it yourself:

“[Being gorgeous] just takes discipline.”

Wurtzel is a thin, white, blond, able-bodied, highly (Harvard) educated, wealthy, successful cis woman. Congrats to her for “eating leafy salads” and using “Fresh Sugar Rosé lip balm [at $22.50 a tube],” but her looks—and the privilege that comes with them—don’t just come from “discipline.”

“The current state of slovenliness is a sign of a nation in decline and of a despairing distaff population.”

Awwwwwww. Poor widdle wadies are so sad they aren’t even taking the time to do “Gyrotonic sessions three times a week”! (As Katie J.M. Baker points out, Gyrotonic sessions are $80 a pop. What?) Wurtzel’s definition of “slovenliness” appears to be “lack of makeup.” Notice again that she is just talking about women. How, exactly, does she get “a nation in decline” from “a nation of women who are wearing less lipstick than they used to”?

“When we were growing up, not all girls were winners just because they participated.

Oh did she say winners? She meant to say “pretty.”

“Catcalls are not a feminist issue. Apathy is.”

The fuck?! Why doesn’t she tell Hollaback! her theory on catcalls not being a feminist issue? And since apathy in this context means ignoring expensive, unrealistic standards of beauty, well, I’d say apathy is a feminist issue in the exact opposite sense of how Wurtzel means it.

“Obviously not everyone is born beautiful, but everyone can become so.”

When “Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and Naomi Campbell” are the benchmark, everyone CAN’T become beautiful. Nor should they be expected to, by Wurtzel or anyone else.

But wait! There’s more!

I long for the impossible standard of female beauty as a daily chore for all, not because I want the world to look better—I want it to be better. I want everyone to try as hard as I do to please be gorgeous, because it’s not that hard, girls. Looking great is a matter of feminism. No liberated woman would misrepresent the cause by appearing less than hale and happy.

Did you catch that? If you aren’t pretty enough you’re MISREPRESENTING THE CAUSE OF FEMINISM. Feminism isn’t about equality, or affecting change, or shifting paradigms: It’s about looking hot. When Wurtzel hits the town, “construction workers still whistle, which is nice.” This means she’s a good feminist, doing good feminist work! If you are not as hot as her, you just aren’t trying hard enough. And if you don’t want to try harder, you are a bad feminist. You are actually undoing the hard work of feminism by not wearing enough lipstick!

If Elizabeth Wurtzel wants to wear $22.50 lip balm and go for daily walks, that’s great. Keep it up, you 45-year-old hottie, you! But attempting to shame young feminists for their “slovenliness” and reinforcing the very standards of beauty so many feminists have fought to change is absolutely unacceptable. And to make this ludicrous argument about women’s looks in the NAME of feminism? Please.

Turn that shaming finger back around on yourself, Wurtzel! We don’t do Gyrotonic sessions, we wear whatever the hell lip balm we want (or not!), and we don’t care what you think.

Previously: Don’t Let Chick-fil-A Distract You From the Douchiness that is the Latest Hooters Campaign

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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23 Comments Have Been Posted

SO many comments come to

SO many comments come to mind, but I don't think I have time to write all of them down. I think a nice *facepalm* sums it up though.

someone missed the boat

If she still thinks a woman's primary function is to be decorative, then she has missed the point of feminism. If she only derives self-confidence from being beautiful, I feel sad for her.

Feminism has always been about choices. The point is you don't have to do something just because you're female. You do it because you want to, whether it's no makeup or you apply it with a paintbrush, whether you want to be a homemaker or secretary of state.

A better defintion is freedom

A better defintion is freedom of opportunity and expression. Reducing feminism to choices perpetuates the status quo's misunderstanding (and subsequent abuse) of feminism that means every choice a woman ever makes automatically empowers her from the choice itself rather than the freedom to make mistakes.

Oh, Wurtzel. As a weird looking girl who's heard her fair share of "you'd be so much prettier if you just _____" you'd think by now society would recognize that women who forgo the effort have different priorities.

And again...

The diminutive term "girl" that she uses quite often herein doesn't help her case much either.

No wonder she needed prozac.

This really doesn't surprise me as Elizabeth Wurtzel is an over-privileged, conceited, man-chasing, narcissist. Having read three of her books (Prozac nation, More Now Again, and Bitch) I have previously found her to be a bit hideous and this just confirms my suspicions. I suspect much of her unhappiness (depression, addiction, blah blah blah) probably stems from her ridiculous ideas about life and her poor self-image issues. With a Harvard education you'd think that she could have become a better journalist and actually write about some real issues from time to time.

I never know what the hell

I never know what the hell Elizabeth Wurtzel is talking about. Neither does she.

I shared this link on

I shared this link on Facebook, and my brother commented, "She's like an aesthetic Ayn Rand." PERFECT.

Oh my goodness, I wish there

Oh my goodness, I wish there were a "Like" function for these comments, because that is indeed perfect.

Now I'm going to have to look

Now I'm going to have to look up "Wurtzel" and see who the hell she is. Hopefully I've never paid her any money for anything. Who does she think she's pleasing, running a campaign like that?

Wurtzel Pretzel

I was initially confuzzled about this piece. I thought, "maybe these vile statements are being taken out of context. Maybe Ms Pretzel is trying to be satirical, or profound, in attempting to describe the depths we have sunk to as a culture."

I do not know if she outright says it (maybe she doesn't even mean her article to be taken this way) but I think there is a connection between feminism and standards of beauty and by extension the state of society. I remember an article I read in Ms. (back when it was a paper magazine) that described how in decades of relative female equality, like the 20's or 60's, women were portrayed as unattainably thin, "tomboyish," or prepubescent (think flappers in the 20's or Twiggy in the 60's). Conversely, in the decades of backlash, women were more voluptuous, glamorous (movie stars of the 50's & glamazons of the 80's).

With all of the political rhetoric and hyperbole these days, it seems we are going back, or there is a serious backlash against women. I don't know if there is a pattern to it, maybe it has something to do with war or general world weariness, but we (as a society) are once again longing for the nonexistent good old days where Mom stayed home and baked muffins for the kiddos while dad was off at work. Simultaneously, women are expected to be perpetually thin & young.

Maybe some of us are just so goddamn *tired* we don't give a shit anymore. We have given up. Chain me to the stove if you want to, at least I won't have to go to work 60 hours a week and come home to clean the house. Oh wait a minute, you don't *actually* want me barefoot & pregnant, you *want* me to work 60 hours a week and come home and clean the house - without bitching about it. Then again, it would be really nice if some miracle man were working, making some money, and paying some bills. That's not happening either, because they are busy playing video games and looking at porn. Some of us are just so sick of fighting, we just want society to make up its fucking mind. We are done wearing make-up and the latest fashion because none of that matters when the bills don't get paid. We are done fighting for our rights because we are just trying to survive.

I don't know. Maybe Ms. pretzel was trying to point this conundrum out? Then again, maybe she's just a shallow, vapid, bleached asshole.

re: mention of Ms. magazine

Um, Ms. Magazine is still in print ... though it went through a few periods when it wasn't. The print issues average about four a year.

See for yourself at <a href="">their website</a>. Sandra Fluke is on the cover of their current issue, and their 40th anniversary issue is due to hit newsstands carrying it in about a month or so.

Some of their back content can be accessed online at their website

My apologies for the "plugging" and straying a bit off-topic. I agree with most everything said here re: Elizabeth Wurtzel. All she's ever been to me, is "one hot priviledged mess." Enough said.

She's trolling, right?

"Looking great is a matter of feminism. No liberated woman would misrepresent the cause by appearing less than hale and happy."

Sorry honey, I'm unlikely to look "hale" ("strong and healthy") every day. Most often that's because I've spent eight years living with spinal injuries and nerve damage, and subsequently am not as strong and healthy as you'd like.

Does that mean I can't be a feminist any more? Because my pain kept me awake until 6am and now I lack the energy and inclination to doll myself up like I'm going to my high school prom?


I'm just really, really tired

I'm just really, really tired of hearing people's opinions on women's bodies. Whenever someone asserts that how we appear is more important than who we are and how we are, they're obscuring actual important Realities, and it's just so exhausting!

Wurtzel seems to be going for transgressive here, right? Like she's the Feminist who will Go There and tell the rest of us how it is and what to do? Problem is, she's engaging in a really old and tired practice- What's a pretty girl like us doing not smiling? - or something like that.

Funny that she notes Michelle Obama. Remember how several years ago, several right-wing pundits could write of nothing more than her arms (they were muscular, they weren't covered, etc)? Here, we are to heed Wurtzel's call to look like meticulous, professional while married types and to look at what Michelle Obama is wearing. At this point, I know way too much about Michelle Obama's appearance and not enough about this woman's brain. I think I may have to read one of her books, now, to help me detox/balance this.

Disappointing. I really rather enjoyed her book Bitch- In Praise of Difficult Women, years ago.

Shut up, you utterly irrelevent woman.

Having just googled "Elizabeth Wurtzel" for some recent images, I would have to say she's not living up to her own standards. Check out her Twitter and Wikipedia pages- she actually looks a bit disheveled. Scraggly unflattering long bleached blonde hair with dark roots, (how anti-feminist of her to skip the salon!) and no dress sense to speak of. Not to mention a really tacky tattoo. Clearly she's slim, white, and moneyed, so I guess this is what she means when she says she's making an "effort".

Maybe if we all led such a life of privilege we could dedicate more time to appearances. Or perhaps she should just concentrate less on lip balm and more on becoming a better journalist.

Hey, I'll wear $22.50 lip

Hey, I'll wear $22.50 lip balm and take $80 fitness classes if she's willing to pay for it.

Well, I can't say I'm

Well, I can't say I'm surprised by this latest outburst of bullsh*t on Wurtzel's behalf. After I read about this horrible piece on jezebel, out of curiosity I did a quick search on google and read another article she did for elle magazine, the basic gist of which was 'Oh, hey, I'm really pretty'.
How on earth someone could ever confuse striving to fit into this very narrow definition of 'pretty' or 'beautiful' with feminism truly is beyond me.
It just sickens me that people like that get published on what seems to be a regular basis.

Yeah, it definitely baffles

Yeah, it definitely baffles me how people like this are given prominent platforms from which to air their neuroses.

So many feminists still let

So many feminists still let those who oppose feminism define their identity, Ariel Levy's "Female Chauvinist Pigs"-style. When all you're thinking is a very reasonable <i>I am not less of a person when I wear lipstick because I like to</i> others take it as defensive backtracking <i>Don't worry, I love men, I wear lipstick, I'm not one of those hairy-legged, mannish radicals! Of course we don't deserve political equality if we let ourselves go like our first wave sisters who didn't focus on how fun we can be</b>. Same with feminists who insist they're empowered by shaving all their pubic hair, that it insults them to assume they're following a porn aesthetic when they just happen to like it better. Point is, <b>we don't live in a cultural vacuum and other people's ideas do influence how you view yourself</i> even if it makes you uncomfortable to admit it. Just like the mainstream ignores instances of racism that aren't as explicit as walking into a Sikh temple with a gun, people ignore nuance.

Wurtzel obliviously, honestly believes she's helping us become better people when we're easier to look at. When we play along with the superficial, it's easier to believe our convictions are not as important to us as getting by.

so I'm a bad person....

...and I was kind of with her for a bit. Maybe not the whole doll yourself up part. I could care two shits if you're wearing fancy lipsticks and whatnot, but- I do see way too many young women in awful health, eating really bad food consistently, and wearing unflattering sweatpants everywhere (not just for a quick trip to pay some bills, or to grab some groceries, but like never getting dressed, ever really). I think this is detrimental to an individuals self esteem- male or female. I also think it's just sad as a society when we've crumbled to the point where no one makes an effort to be healthy, or put on a pair of pants with a zipper, or proper footwear.

She totally lost me though when she focused on women entirely, used the word "girls" too much, made an emphasis on make up, and acted like being a bum is somehow related to feminism. WTF? I fail to see how throwing on my husbands flannel, skipping the mascara, and forgoing the sexy stuff is any any way going to change my thoughts, beliefs, and feminists theories. I would like some actual proof on that one....

while i don't think you are a

while i don't think you are a bad person, i am disappointed to find that you believe your opinion on someone else's clothing choice is in any way valid

how can you possibly know that sweatpants have a direct impact on someone else's self esteem?

is it possible that *you* feel unhappy with your body when you don't spend time and effort to conform to a standard of beauty each time you leave the house?

perhaps all the sweatpants wearing folks you see walking around your town no longer buy into that standard and are, in fact, blissfully happy with both themselves and with you


if you do a little research and reading, you realize what a sad twit this woman is.
too bad, when this woman has the opportunity to speak up and out, she 'wastes' it with this garbage.

We don't need this kind of in-bitching

Jeez, sisters, what's with all the vitriol at ... another sister?!?

This site writes and posts some great shit, but I was royally disappointed with this piece. I am not sure I can comment on Wurtzel's essay in Harper, as I try to avoid doing that kind of stuff on the basis of a few quotes, but even if I could comment on it, and found it a pile of garbage, I would disagree with you here.

Bitch having been the first feminist book I read, at a time when feminism was about as uncool as jihadism is nowadays, I can vouch for Wurtzel as a card-carrying feminist.

So while the big picture items we all agree on, like equal pay and opportunity and control over our own bodies (in the West... not to mention the few issues that need sorting in, e.g., Saudi Arabia), remain a problem, let's avoid this in-bitching and direct our energies at those. There are thousands of more deserving douchebags out there, among the patriarchy!

Wurtzel is not a feminist.

Wurtzel is not a feminist. She is a narcissist masquerading as a feminist. True feminism empowers both men and women with more choices and more responsibilities. In Prozac Nation, Wurtzel spends 200+ pages whining about her life, her parents, her boyfriends, etc. without ever taking responsbility for her own choices. She is privleged elitist who enjoys bashing the less fortunate.

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