Single-Minded: ‘White Girl Problems’

Black girls have them, too.

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Sitting through Eat Pray Love, the movie in three parts based on the best-selling book in three verbs, the same three words kept coming to mind: white-girl problems.

Earlier that day, Twitter suggested I follow an entire feed, @whitegrlproblem, dedicated most hilariously to the pretend crisis of #whitegirlproblems. Each new tweet is a punch line delivered to more than 23,000 followers about the pitfalls of being young, bored and of means: Sort of like a Gossip Girl-inspired twist on @shitmydadsays, an avatar that closely resembles what I imagine Jane Eyre to have looked like complains, I miss me. #whitegirlproblems, This European sizing is going to give me an anxiety attack. #whitegirlproblems, and Would you consider me self-centered? #whitegirlproblems.

White-girl problems, the feed suggests, are poles apart from the rest of our problems because, really, they aren’t problems at all. In Eat Pray Love, Julia Roberts plays Liz Gilbert, the real-life author of the memoir of the same name that tracks her journey from unhappily married life in New York to finding God to his/her greatest gift: love. Liz’s problems in the movie are as follows: a husband who loves her too much in suburbia; clinging too much to a hot, unemployed actor in Manhattan; eating too much pasta in Italy; controlling too much of her mind in India; and having too much sex in Bali.

It’s a film about how excess in any form can paradoxically leave a woman drained of her own muchness. The whole 2 hours and 13 minutes reminded me of the best line in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Upon her return to the real world, the Mad Hatter finds Alice lacking: “You were much more … muchier,” he tells her. “Youve lost your muchness.”

But is lack of muchness a real dilemma in a world where folks are used to going shoeless through airport security? Perhaps. After all, these days we’re living in a world where flight attendants slide out of emergency exits to avoid annoyed passengers. Still, I couldn’t help wanting to shake some sense into the 30-something and very successful Liz, screaming her awake from this dream of escaping to finding yourself, “Get over yourself!”

If there was an echo in my own head, I ignored it.

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