A woman is a blank canvas; emphasis on blank. Her face, in its natural and undisturbed state, is a tragic waste of Sephoric potential. Her body, with its propensity to store what medical professionals refer to as "belly fat," is rubelike in its inelegance. The love she feels for chocolate is rivaled only by the love she feels for her children (or, if she's unfortunate enough to possess a cursed, non-functional uterus, the dog she purchased from a breeder on Craigslist). Her mind is a cloud of confusion; she knows not what she does, nor who she is. She has a job, but she wants a career. Ah, but what career does she want? She cannot say. She is a walking existential crisis, adrift on a sea of meaninglessness in which she will eventually drown. She is a cipher, placed on this Earth by her male Creator solely to purchase products and services. And what better place for her to do just that than...THE ULTIMATE WOMEN'S EXPO?!?
I am, in the interest of full disclosure, a woman. (If this shocking revelation offends you, feel free to stop reading this and cleanse your palate with a Hemingway short story or eight; I'll understand.) But I am no ordinary woman. I am a woman who was, mere days ago, #blessed enough to attend the Ultimate Women’s Expo. This is my story. (NOTE: Story edited by a man.)
The Ultimate Women's Expo literally puts women in boxes.
I arrived at the Los Angeles Convention Center at the unethically early hour of 10 AM on a Saturday, ready for my agency to be stripped away and replaced with heavily discounted leggings and reminders of my overwhelming unattractiveness.
My first stop, naturally, was the Cotton Candy Liqueur Tasting Pavilion. A thimble's worth of the liqueur, "a subtle blend of ultra premium French vodka with ripples of cotton candy natural flavor for [my] pleasure and elation," was handed to me by an overly enthusiastic woman, the type I imagined would revel in publicly walking "for the cure."
The irony of being told that my liquor had to taste like candy in order to be consumable was suitably delicious; the product itself, however, tasted vile. I needed to get its noxious flavor out of my mouth, stat. Luckily an adjacent booth gave away free vodka shots, served sans mixer and thus sans carbs, in plastic cups normally reserved for dipping sauces. I downed one; it was, after all, going to be a long afternoon.
A homeless woman wheeled her belongings, which included a handicapped placard, two canes, and an insulated KFC bag, up to the bar after me and shamelessly started shootin'. I admired her moxie, as well as her oversized Lakers jacket.
A woman in the corner, which the guide informed me went by the name of "Dr. Lori," yammered into the void about how the mercury in our dental fillings was making us sick. Her speech, albeit impassioned, was acknowledged by no one. Her audience, if you could call it that, consisted of two abandoned preteen boys eating hamburgers with their backs to her. In the distance, a line snaked around the complimentary manicure area. Dr. Lori, bless her heart, was not in her element.
The other seminars, with titles like “How to Feel Good Naked in 26 Days!" and "Get Your Hand Out of My Purse! I'm Not Giving You My Money!" and "Change the Way You Feel About Jewelry...Forever!" sounded far more apropos for the environment. I envisioned Dr. Lori sitting alone in her car after the expo, wondering what went wrong. I, in typical female fashion, wanted to hug her.
Booths abounded, many of which purported to empower women via the strength of small businesses, so long as said businesses involved selling their friends lube and contraptions like "That Crazy Wrap Thing," a belt-like apparatus which alleged to “tighten, tone and firm in as little as 45 minutes” and was “seen on the set of Sex and the City 2!”
Lured by the siren song of a wheel I could spin to win free Best Buy gift cards, I made the mistake of wandering into the booth of a scared, desperate-looking man who ran a website wherein users would receive cash back on their online purchases. He validated his clearly fly-by-night operation by claiming that it was somehow affiliated with the "number five guy at Microsoft."
I took one of his free fun-sized 100 Grand bars and didn’t look back.
There were multiple pole dancing fitness booths, the most depressing of which I visited whilst a mother holding the hand of her adorably mouse-eared daughter, who couldn’t have be more than seven years old, silently watched a woman gyrate her mound.
Another booth sold a book designed to help white devils smoothly interact with their non-English speaking help. Maid to Translate: English to Spanish Housekeeping Translations sought to “bridge the communication barrier between [me] and [my] housekeeper."
I made a silent vow to consume enough complimentary alcohol to steal said book and tell the schlubby, middle-aged white guy running the weight loss coffee booth (which sported a banner that read, "Coffee Makes My Clothes Fall Off. I No Longer Need Tequila!") to go fuck himself.
Keynote speakers included Hilary Duff's sister, Dr. Oz and Muhammad Ali's daughters, Kim Kardashian's divorce lawyer, and the broad who played "Hot Lips" Houlihan on M*A*S*H.
I felt cheated; past Ultimate Women's Expos touted GOPlus-sized talking head Meghan McCain, feminist icon/Jenny Craig spokesperson Kirstie Alley, and “Hanoi” Jane Fonda. Most of the women on my expo’s roster of D-list celebs were published authors, albeit authors who had either written books about themselves, motherhood, or entertaining. Regardless of who was speaking, the content was always the same: meaningless, buzzword-laden, empowerment-centric double talk.
Each speech was reminiscent of the faux self-help comedy of Kate Berlant, yet disgustingly sincere. More people stood in line for chocolate wine than paid attention to Joan Van Ark, who, with the poise and dignity of someone addressing the Supreme Court, read carefully prepared lines about her “husband, former NBC News personality John Marshall" and “soul food.” I chalked the crowd’s apathy up as a small victory.
My adult acne, while succeeding in keeping me young at heart, also keeps me shackled to the makeup counter. Whenever I commit the fatal error of going au naturel, I'm usually treated with the same respect by the public as a hobo who just shit themselves on the bus.
Regardless, I arrived to the expo makeupless, with my honest-to-God mug on display for all the world to see and judge accordingly. In the presence of dozens of makeover booths and their man-made perfection, I resembled an enormous, oozing pore. Desperately desiring an Empowerment Boost®, I waited patiently in line to get my face fixed.
A young woman with a meaningless collarbone tattoo asked me what shade of lip color I preferred. "I don't know," I sighed. "Dark, I suppose?" She worked for what seemed like hours on my horrible visage, endlessly drawing over my eyebrows and lips like an artist dead-set on perfection. I closed my eyes and listened to the expo’s cacophony of crap: stun gun demonstrations droning on in the background, weak applause, and cash registers ringing.
Finally, my best self (as pictured above), with its fuschia lips and cartoonish eyebrows, was revealed. She had done everything BUT cover up my acne, as if to mock me for impotently attempting to be a “real” woman. I immediately rubbed it off in the bathroom until my face became red and inflamed.
A man with a megaphone asked the crowd, "Who wants free lip gloss?" His adoring public literally screamed in desire. I was surrounded by women who were condescended to, patronized, and infantilized, told to suckle at a teat filled with Adult Chocolate Milk.
And y’know what? They loved it. Watching a group of gals publicly whiten their teeth as they scrolled through their iPhones, I remarked to my friend Julia that they appeared to have no dignity. Julia, the sage of the expo, replied, "you lose your dignity as soon as you walk through the door.” The enemy, it appeared, was within. But it looked great.
More adventures with Megan:
I Spent the Evening at Chuck E Cheese's, the Most Magical Place on Earth
I Went to a Nightclub For the First Time Ever
It's 2013, Who Still Listens to Limp Bizkit?