Three years ago I sat on my porch and launched Literally, Darling filled with half hope and half agony. This year that anniversary, May 7th falls on Mother’s Day weekend, which is fitting as for the last few years, this site has been my baby. To some it may be considered a passion project, to others an absurd time suck they can’t fathom putting the blood sweat and tears into when it’s not their full time job. I’ve been astounded by the people I’ve met, the writers I’ve been able to mentor and been mentored by, the dedication, and the unbelievable response we’ve had. To think that we began on a trip to the beach filled with ranting over the state of women’s media and to see where we are today, astounds me. I can only hope to still be here, looking back at where we’ve been and contemplating our future for many years to come.
So to celebrate our third birthday, let me introduce you to some of my staff at the age of three (or thereabouts). Below they’re recounting their favorite personal pieces on LD and those of their colleagues, companions, and fellow darlings. So take a peek and discover something new, or remember some old favorites.
Even though I wrote this nearly a year ago, I feel like I still have to explain and qualify my anecdotes about India and my “thoughts” about women in India constantly. This article, for me, was a perfect way to voice my frustrations with the narrative of women in India (and, broadly speaking, other “developing” nations) that is all too common in America.
As Kylie Jenner continues to appropriate and co-opt beauty “trends” from black women and treat them as novel (*cough* “boxer braids” *cough*), Lauren’s words still ring true in my head. Even in a post-Lemonade world, we still inconsistently accept black beauty (and the beauty of other women of color).
This was the most personal, raw, and difficult piece I’ve ever written. I remember one day feeling hopeless beyond repair and just putting words to (computer) paper. I wrote this before I joined LD and never found a good outlet to publish it. Luckily, LD came into my life a short time later, and the rest is history. This is one I am proud to share with people, and I hope I captured the feelings of growing up without a mother.
I have a deep love affair with Southern Gothic novels. I revisit Gone With The Wind at least once a year and The Fall of the House of Usher is perhaps my favorite Edgar Allan Poe piece, so this one fascinated me to no end. Growing up in the (pseudo) South, I was never really sure if Southern life was the way it was described in these books. Also, Katie is a fantastic writer in general, so it’s a fantastic read.
This piece is special to me in part because it broke me out of a stretch of writing burnout. I was horrified by the passing of anti-transgender legislation around the South, and I knew that as a non-American who has lived and studied here for five years, that I could offer a different perspective. I often find it difficult to reconcile my love for my adopted home with its inequality and prejudice. But what I said in my piece is true: Mississippi, and the rest of the South as well, has progressive, loving people who are fighting to make changes, and it is so important that we contribute our time, money, energy (and votes) to help—but most of all, that we don’t see the South as a lost cause.
Julia’s piece, about the Christmas she spent in France while studying abroad, has all the makings of my favorite kind of story: a portrait of a family, holidays, travel, wanderlust, reflecting on what it means to be home. I’ve lived far away from my family for years, but I am always excruciatingly homesick during the holidays—her words brought me some timely comfort and reminded me that, despite the distance and flux in traditions, families never lose each other.
For me, this was the most holistic article I’ve written. It was true to me and what I believe, and felt personal, but also universal at the same time. It unified my mother and me over an issue, and opened eyes of some of my ultra-conservative friends, which felt important to me. It was a chance for me to be honest, and take a stand about an issue I still believe is ridiculously polarized.
This was a piece that quite literally made me yell “YAS” the entire time I read it. I know I’ve never been in head-over-heels, all-consuming love, but the message of what it means to have daddy issues is what transcended this article. I have never been able to put into words what it means for me to have my daddy issues, but Kristin captured it perfectly, even though our types of issues vary vastly. I loved the voice, and the truth behind it.
Throughout my entire life, I have struggled with my body image. As Mindy Lahiri would say, I fluctuate between chubby and skinny, and my body and I have never gotten along very well. This article hits home by discussing to toxic relationship women form with their bodies thanks to society’s warped idea that “skinny” is the ultimate goal. I loved the honesty Rachel infuses in this article, acknowledging that body positivity is an ongoing journey that doesn’t happen overnight. My relationship with diet, exercise, and my weight will never be perfect, but this piece assures me and all struggling women that we aren’t alone.
Erin – Copy Editor
Believe it or not, this is probably the article I reference most often to demonstrate my writing chops. I re-read it every now and then and always end up giggling at myself. Plus, Chuck Tingle has been undergoing a renaissance lately—it’s always nice to see how far he’s come in his career.
(I’m going to cheat and pick three: one for each year!)
Let Him Kiss You – 2013
This guest author has produced some truly beautiful writing for LD. The image of looking in the visor mirror after the tryst and telling yourself how to act and feel is powerful and memorable.
I do not give a shit about beauty products. This article is so much more than that. It is a descent into the terrors of mortality via softness of hands.
This article has it all: culture, family, captivating writing, and oh yeah, food. Honestly it belongs in the New Yorker but I’m glad we have it here.
Kim – Asst. Entertainment Editor
I think this is the most personal piece I’ve written and published to date. The feedback I got after this one went up was overwhelming in such a positive way. Friends and family alike were reaching out to tell me they were moved by my writing. Even my sister, who the article is about, got emotional after reading it and she went on to share it with her friends and coworkers. To write something so personal and hear that people were touched by it means the world to me. As do all three of my sisters—and I think this piece stands as an example of how deep my love runs for them.
This one really hit home for me personally. Since graduating from college, I’ve been dealing with anxiety on a daily basis. Reading about someone else’s experience with an anxiety disorder gave me comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in this battle. And when I have those waves of anxiety pull me down, I think of this article (and Kelsey!) and I remember that what I’m feeling is not weird. It’s not unusual. It’s not silly.
This was the first article I wrote for LD, before I was even officially a contributing writer, and it was by far the most fun I’ve had writing anything in my life. I’ve re-watched this show more times than I’d like to admit, and it never gets old. Writing this article essentially consisted of me rage-typing all of my pent-up anger about these characters that I love to hate and then crashing my computer at least three times while searching Tumblr for the perfect GIFs.
Ever since Gilmore Girls started, sick days always involved laying on the couch watching episode after episode with my mom from our DVD box sets (we’re the OG binge watchers). After spending a day with us, my college roommate commented that my mom and I gave Lorelai and Rory a run for their money in both our coffee consumption and speed-talking abilities. My mom usually expresses a little more sanity in her outfit choices, and named my brother after herself instead of me, but this show, and anything written about it, always reminds me of why she’s the perfect role model.
This piece was a chance to turn my tragedy into something positive. It was therapeutic to tell my story and spread awareness at the same time. I received a lot of feedback from terrified women who were pregnant after multiple miscarriages and their doctors would not adjust their thyroid meds. They were able to take the link to the National Academy of Hypothyroidism’s pregnancy guidelines provided in the article and share them with their doctor. Friends, family and strangers read it then shared their own stories of loss with me. It was heartbreaking and yet refreshing to open up the lines of communication concerning something often hidden and considered taboo. It floored me when something I wrote moved so many people.
I love everybody’s writing but I distinctly connected to this piece—and not because my mother is terrible! Gretchen so bravely and honestly points out some important issues in this piece: We are all human and none of us have cookie-cutter lives. I know many people who can relate to Gretchen’s relationship. There is something so special about reading the story of someone else sharing your struggles. Relating to others validates us and makes us feel like we are not alone. Something amazing happens when we open up about those not so “shiny and happy” sides of our lives. I think talking openly and honestly about these uncomfortable topics is often the catalyst for change.
While this may not be the best piece I have written during my time at LD, it is my favourite because it is evidence of how self-aware I have become as an almost adult. For me personally, the piece is an almost-romance story, a confession and a long over-due apology. It also happens to be my work friend’s favourite thing I have written and we talked about it yesterday while eating curry. So it is very special to me.
If I were to put into words what this piece means to me I would do it a disservice. Instead, I urge you to read it for yourself. I cried reading this piece—it has stayed with me, and made me proud to be part of the community of women who write for this site.
This is my first post on LD and I think, naturally your first [insert whatever you choose] is your favorite and most memorable. The response to this piece went way beyond whatever expectations I didn’t know I had: Two days after it went up, I got a message from a woman who told me she cried reading my piece, she thanked me for writing it. She told me she’d wish the piece existed when she was younger, she needed it. This was my first time writing about race or beauty and to leave that impression on someone meant the world to me. It let me know that what I have to say matters and that my choice to be a writer and share my experiences was the right thing to do.
I have a tumultuous relationship to food and it’s been that way for as long as I can remember. This piece connects to me for that reason and I honestly think emotional eating is something we don’t talk about enough—it’s not like the fix for it is to stop eating, that’s not good either. The way Madison describes her guilt about eating is something I’ve experienced as well. This piece lets me know the struggle is not just my own.
This is one of the only perspectives/news pieces I’ve written, and I really enjoyed getting to dig deeper into a topic I care a lot about. I used to try and avoid controversial topics, but this situation made me too angry to not sort out in writing. It also taught me that sometimes that can be a good thing. I spent a lot of time writing and editing this piece, so it felt good to finally post it. It’s certainly not perfect, but I’ll always be proud of it.
Many pieces on this website have stuck with me, several of which are mentioned above. This one really hit home. I heavily relate to every single word. In fact, I think my reaction was, “Wow, she put the thing into words.” Writer’s block is something that every writer faces, but I stumbled upon this article at a time when I really needed it. I was burned out and not liking anything that I came up with, so I needed the reminder that others face the same self-doubt that I was feeling. And that sometimes, you need to push through it, take a deep breath, and begin anyway.
Hope – Co-Founder, Associate Editor, Business Manager, Culture Editor
This is definitely not my most popular piece on Literally, Darling, or even the one I’m proudest of, but it helped me in a way that many of my articles don’t. Admitting my depression and unhappiness with my circumstances was a big step for me, and this article was the first time I fully allowed myself to acknowledge it, and channel it into a venue that I hoped would be accessible and relatable to others.
For full disclosure, I’m a fangirl of anything that Julia writes. But I related to this article so deeply, and not just because I had the same feelings when I was in college. This was the article I had desperately wanted to read when I was still in school and feeling self-conscious about my penchant for lying on Friday nights about why I really couldn’t go out (when in reality, I just really wanted to hang out with my bed). Although I know that Julia and I are definitely not the only party-averse out there, it’s not a narrative that I’ve found often in an approachable way. There are few women writing about these feelings, and even less who manage to do so without casting aspersions on their party-friendly comrades. This article is a perfect example of what I hoped Literally, Darling could accomplish—provide a home for narratives and feelings that so many of us have, but rarely see represented.
Katie – Founder, Editor-in-Chief
As I sit here with the pearls around my neck gifted to me on my 30th birthday, I am reminded of this narrative piece I wrote last year. It reflects on a lifelong journey to become a lady, from a young child playing with fake pearls, to a young woman borrowing her mother’s for luck. This piece is very much a huge part of who I am as told through the eyes of a seemingly innocuous piece of jewelry. I really enjoyed playing with the juxtaposition between who we are inside and the armor we use to project who we want to be.
Choosing this as my favorite piece on LD is not at all fair to the brilliant pieces that have been published over the last few years. But it perhaps hits at the heart of what I’ve loved the most about this site. Beyond the strong voices, the cleverness, and the deeply relatable pieces are the people I’ve been blessed to call my friends. Every day I get to work with my sister and my best friend, Hope Racine on this site we’ve created. Every day I get to chat and run amok with these women I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know and have come to love. And this article, written by my sister to me on my birthday, and given to me simultaneously with flowers and a scrapbook of notes and letters compiled and sent from my beloved darling writers, still makes me cry. Because one day, long after our servers shut down and our words are wiped from the Internet, I will have the memories of a life made better by these people.
Happy Birthday Darlings, and thank you.