Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Dennis Hong’s Mea Culpa

I am sorry in wood type

The following “mea culpa” is from guest contributor, Dennis Hong, in response to his previous essay for DW and the response it received. On a personal note, I have worked with Dennis for several years and know him to be a generous, funny, smart, well-meaning guy. If there was offense taken in his latest essay, I take part responsibility as the editor and publisher of this site. While his words don’t represent my own thoughts and opinions, I am happy to continue giving him space to share them, while providing us an opportunity to engage in larger conversations about male-female relationships and friendships, feminism, and the effect of pop culture in our personal lives.

Last week I wrote an essay that many of you took offense to. Well, I’m mature enough to admit when I fuck up, so here I am to apologize. For the record, no one is making me write this, and in fact, I’m the one who suggested it to Wendy. The truth is, I didn’t realize my last “rant” would be such a touchy subject, and I had no idea the words I used, in an effort to be witty, would actually come across as insensitive. For that, I apologize.

If it matters:

I used the 1-10 scale as an ironic way to illustrate how men can be superficial, not realizing that it would paint me as the superficial one.

The “smooth and silky” hair comment was based on the ridiculous commercials that show a woman experiencing what I can only guess to be an orgasm of some sort while she’s shampooing her hair. The reference was intended to elicit a smirk, and I didn’t realize it had racist undertones.

The “buried under a mound of dirt” comment was an unfortunate metaphor for a diamond in the rough. It was meant to be a subtle compliment to all the “Jodies” of the world.

I apologize if these comments offended you. I was trying to be snarky, but I never meant to disrespect or shame anyone in any way, and I regret that the tone I intended was not the tone that was conveyed.

As much as I regret making insensitive or inappropriate comments, I can’t apologize for statements I didn’t make or suggest. Despite what some commenters may believe, I never said:

Women need to wear makeup to look better.
Women look bad if they don’t conform to some Hollywood-mandated standard for beauty.
Men have it “just as hard” as women when it comes to maintaining their physical appearance.

Please understand that my rant was directed at a very specific group of women — women who: 1) want to attract more men; 2) aren’t experiencing much success, yet; 3) refuse to put effort into their physical appearance. I stand by my point that if someone isn’t attracting whom they hope to attract, then one solution is to improve her physical appearance.

At this point, I’m sure many of you have reached your own conclusions about my character, and there’s not much I can do to change that. But that’s okay, I can live without your unwavering adulation (I’ll settle for wavering ambivalence). My main concern is that, as a self-proclaimed comedy writer, I completely misfired in this attempt at being tongue-in-cheek. My typical style is to use sarcasm and hyperbole to make my point (remember, I’m the guy who coined the term, “engagement porn”), and it’s clear this piece failed miserably at that. Or maybe it’s just an inappropriate topic for a guy to be sarcastic and hyperbolic about. Either way, my bad.
The tone I intended was not the tone that conveyed. Again, my apologies.

Whether it excites you or fills you with loathing, I plan to keep writing for Dear Wendy. I’m not asking you to like me as a person, but if I can get you to read my stuff and understand my perspective for even a fraction of a millisecond, then I’ll have done my job. If you still have any thoughts or concerns on all this, please feel free to email me personally at DennisHHong@gmail.com. I will be happy to engage anyone in discussion.

Until next time. May all our opinions be understood, and all our bangs be feathered.

Dennis Hong Headshot - SmallDennis Hong engineers happiness at WordPress.com by day. By night, he is a relationships and comedy writer, which can be redundant or an oxymoron, depending on your perspective. Dennis is the creator of Musings on Life and Love, a group blog for sharing life lessons, and LemonVibe, a relationship advice site for couples. You also can find him on Twitter (he is not the creator of Twitter).


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114 comments… add one
  • kerrycontrary February 5, 2014, 2:25 pm

    Dennis, I thought your article was silly (in a funny way) and I think a lot of people took it too seriously. So I’ll keep reading your articles!

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    • Bon Vivant February 5, 2014, 2:37 pm

      Same here.

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    • Sarah February 5, 2014, 4:23 pm


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    • Lianne February 6, 2014, 1:18 pm

      Agreed! I took it as tongue-in-cheek and did not think you were saying women need to wear makeup or the like. I will continue reading your stuff and hopefully others will remember you’re a comedic writer before jumping to conclusions 🙂

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  • HmC February 5, 2014, 2:41 pm

    I’m still not a fan of Dennis’ work generally (good thing he doesn’t care to have my “unwavering adulation”!) but I do appreciate a sincere apology. Glad he seems to understand why this one missed the mark.

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  • TECH February 5, 2014, 2:42 pm

    I didn’t take serious offense to the blog. However, I think it seemed to be purposefully provocative and probably intended to create a little firestorm. Which is fine. I understand when you write on the internet you want to get as many page views and comments as possible. But c’mon, I think you knew it would ruffle some feathers before you submitted it.

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    • iseeshiny February 5, 2014, 2:51 pm

      Thumbs aren’t working for me, so here is a manual +1

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    • Dear Wendy February 5, 2014, 2:51 pm

      I think he did think the general concept would ruffle some feathers, but I believe he was genuinely surprised that some of the language he used was specifically offensive. Like, he had no clue why the idea of “shiny, smooth hair” as a thing for women to aspire to have could/would be considered racist. He asked me to explain that to him and when I did, he genuinely felt bad and wanted to publicly apologize. I think it takes a big person to say, “I didn’t realize what I said was offensive, that wasn’t my intent, I’m sorry and I will do better next time.”

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      • TECH February 5, 2014, 2:59 pm

        Oh, I agree. I have no doubt that the apology is genuine. And I have no doubt that he didn’t realize some of the language would offend people.

      • Dennis Hong (@DennisHHong) February 5, 2014, 3:02 pm

        Yes! I meant to ruffle some feathers, not choke the entire chicken.

      • Addie Pray February 5, 2014, 3:11 pm

        Lol. Also, you said ruffle and I’m eating Ruffles right now. Coincidence? I think not. (But I don’t know what it means. Except that it means I can’t eat a sandwich without chips – it’s impossible for me; I need a bite of chip for every bite of sandwich. But back to Dennis and how horrible he was. … Except I didn’t think you were that horrible.)

      • Banana February 5, 2014, 3:36 pm

        That’s racist.

      • Diablo February 5, 2014, 4:39 pm

        Dennis, please tell me you did NOT use the term “choking the chicken” without being aware of its connotations! What are you saying, that your intention was not to choke the chicken unless you saw some shiny smooth hair? I’m OFFENDED!!!! HULK SMASH!!!

        (DW commenters: if the above comedy joke, offered with mischievously humourous intent, offends you, please email your responses to Woody Allen.)

  • Morgan February 5, 2014, 2:45 pm

    I liked most of the article. I tend to agree with your basic premise, in that the standard of beauty women at this point includes makeup. Even if I wear no foundation or concealer or anything else, I always wear mascara. Why? Because I’ve been wearing it for so long that I literally do not recognize the person in the mirror as me without it. And that’s sad and pathetic in a way, but I’ve made peace with it.

    The hair thing though…. Man. And I’m sure you had no idea the thousands of dollars and hours out of the week that go into hair, especially for women whose hair is naturally textured. (I hate that my little sister can just shower and when it dries it looks like bachelor contestant at the rose ceremony hair. How out hair is so totally different is a cruel cruel genetic trick) And I believe you didn’t think about the implication of shampoo commercial hair being that standard of beauty, and what that means for women of color. And if you learned something from hearing that feedback, then good. It was a productive discussion.

    Still laughing at the (totally well intentioned) comment about loving how curly hair feels after a blowout though. As if a blow dryer and a round brush were all it took to tame these curls 😉

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    • jlyfsh February 5, 2014, 2:47 pm

      if only all it took was a blow dryer and a round brush, if only!!

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    • SisiSodaPop February 6, 2014, 2:22 pm

      Just wanted to make a quick comment that even some women of no (less?) color have textured and curly hair that’s almost impossible to tame without tons of time and money.

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      • Kate February 6, 2014, 2:32 pm

        Yeah, that’s true… This one woman I work with is Jewish and has very tight curls and a LOT of hair. She gets blowouts but her hair is never super straight and shiny, it will still have a lot of wave to it. She also gets Keratin treatments and I think she did those Brazilian blowouts that had formaldehyde in them. Some hair straightens easily and some doesn’t. I can’t do my own that way, it takes a professional and a lot of muscle.

  • Addie Pray February 5, 2014, 2:48 pm

    I chalked it up to LA. Something about LA that makes even nice normal guys turn a bit superficial.

    No offense to Dennis!
    No offense to LA!
    No offense to people who wear makeup!


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    • LlamaPajamas February 5, 2014, 2:59 pm

      Agreed! AP, how many times did you end up getting asked out that day?

      I’m also posting a confession here since this happened right after the deleted confession post yesterday: I booked a llama for my wedding in October without asking my fiancé or future mother-in-law first (the wedding is at her house). It’s not my fault though – everyone thought I was kidding when I asked if a llama could come. I’m obsessed with llamas, why would that be a joke? Honestly I’m surprised more people don’t do this. Our wedding photos are going to win every contest in the world.

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      • iwannatalktosampson February 5, 2014, 3:06 pm

        You’re doing life right.

      • Addie Pray February 5, 2014, 3:08 pm

        In my wedding rule book, inviting a llama is…. more than fine, it’s preferred! I love you.

      • LlamaPajamas February 5, 2014, 3:11 pm

        Thanks, AP and IWTTS! I was feeling a little guilt along with my excitement but now I feel much better. The llama’s name is Whoopie Pie and he’s going to be the guest of honor at the reception! If Mr. LlamaPajamas minds I’ll just remind him that he’s the one who wanted a wedding in the first place – I wanted to elope. He could have avoided all the llama drama with an elopement.

      • Addie Pray February 5, 2014, 3:13 pm

        I personally think the llama should walk you down the aisle.

      • LlamaPajamas February 5, 2014, 3:51 pm

        I’d love that but the llama lady thinks just going to the reception will be best for him. I’ll make do with a photo of him cutting the cakes with us (there are going to be, like, 20 desserts including at least 2 cakes at my wedding or else I’m not going). It’s going to be a wedding llama and sugar spectacular.

        Oh, and I love you too!

      • TaraMonster February 5, 2014, 5:08 pm

        I wish the thumbs were working. I want to thumb up all your llama related comments.

        Now I’m disappointed I’ve never been to a wedding with a llama at it.

      • Addie Pray February 5, 2014, 5:09 pm

        me too! i have the most boring friends ever.

      • rachel February 5, 2014, 3:09 pm

        So…we’re all invited for llama rides, right?

      • LlamaPajamas February 5, 2014, 3:12 pm

        Llama rides for everyone! And they’re excellent head boopers.

      • AliceInDairyland February 5, 2014, 3:23 pm

        OMG OMG OMG. As someone who would like a baby animal parade/home grown petting zoo at her wedding if she ever gets married.. I want to say thank you. Although llamas are often kind of evil in the context of veterinary work, they are pretty crazy-amazing too and hopefully yours is really nice and doesn’t spit on your wedding dress. (I have gotten spit on by every llama I have ever touched)

        Now question, do alpacas make you as happy or is it just not the same?

      • LlamaPajamas February 5, 2014, 3:41 pm

        You do vet work? That’s awesome! I love alpacas, too! My fiancé is from Vermont and I did a little online research for fun things to do when we went to visit his family last summer. I just so happened across a farm that advertises Soul Mate Llama walks so of course I had to sign us up (one of the reasons I’m marrying Mr. LP is because he’s an excellent sport and humors me endlessly). We ended up having a blast and I’ve been visiting llamas and alpacas in my area (Philly suburbs) ever since. I asked the soul mate llama lady if she’d bring a llama to our wedding but I’d love to have a whole petting zoo! I’ve never been spit on even though I tend toward force snuggling. I’m not wearing a fancy wedding dress (I’m going for a casual, chiffony, navy blue dress) so I’m not worried about getting dirty!

      • AliceInDairyland February 5, 2014, 4:41 pm

        Yep, I’m in veterinary school and I have a love of small ruminants (sheep and goats) and I really like pseudoruminants (llamas, alpacas) because they kind of get lumped in with them too. Every llama/alpaca owner I have ever met just like… LOVES their animals SO much and I love that. This wedding sounds SO AWESOME and this is going to be so great and we are just going to HAVE to see pictures afterwards!!

        I want a llama to guard my herd of goats/miniature cows in the future… apparently they are like amazing and will just stomp at coyotes and tell them to fuck off if they try to steal baby lambs/kids/etc. You will have a true animal bad-ass at your wedding.

      • Addie Pray February 5, 2014, 4:49 pm

        you should call them “pseudodeodorants” because a) that’s what i thought you wrote out at first and b) that’s funny and c) pseudoruminants is obviously not a word – you can just make stuff up geeez

      • AliceInDairyland February 5, 2014, 5:14 pm

        I’m an almost-doctor. Part of my job is to make up long words to confuse you…

      • LlamaPajamas February 5, 2014, 5:01 pm

        I love sheep and goats, too! Really I love any animal that will let me snuggle it. I went to a wedding on a farm last summer and got to play with baby cows and a goat that I totally bonded with then later found out is a total a-hole. I tried to make friends with a sheep at Mount Vernon a few weeks ago but it accidentally bit me (not hard though). I’ll definitely share wedding photos this fall!

      • lets_be_honest February 5, 2014, 4:08 pm

        You are the coolest person I’ve ever not met.

      • iwannatalktosampson February 5, 2014, 4:10 pm

        FB! Skank.

      • LlamaPajamas February 5, 2014, 4:41 pm

        I want to like this but a) the thumbs-up buttons aren’t working and b) I’m a little afraid of IWTTS. But thanks!

      • lets_be_honest February 6, 2014, 9:52 am

        Only a little?

      • starpattern February 5, 2014, 5:18 pm

        Oh my god, this is awesome. I really hope this catches on.

  • XanderT February 5, 2014, 2:48 pm

    Dennis, I thought your article was great! And I even stood up for the makeup wearing set. 😉

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  • muchachaenlaventana February 5, 2014, 2:50 pm

    Eh regardless, the rant inspired some lively discussion and debate, which I definitely appreciated.

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  • Michelle.Lea February 5, 2014, 2:55 pm

    I still don’t agree, but understand it. and I understand putting on makeup to attract someone. I just don’t know if it’s something for someone to ‘try’ when they’re trying to attract someone if it’s not part of their regular routine.

    Or, what AP said. Because well, AP said it! 🙂

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    • Addie Pray February 5, 2014, 3:13 pm

      Duh, WMLS!

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  • AliceInDairyland February 5, 2014, 3:22 pm

    Relevant/not relevant:

    Today Benjamin and I got the floor plans back for our remodel (again) and they made the master bathroom like this suite deal with a walk in closet, and then a room with a sink and a dresser and a bench, and then a separate room with a toilet and big shower. And we were looking at it for a while and then I was like,

    “Why is there a bench there?” and he was like, “I don’t know.” and then I was like “So you can watch me put on my face every morning admiringly.” and then we both laughed and laughed and laughed.

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    • LlamaPajamas February 5, 2014, 3:44 pm

      It can be a bench for baby bunnies! Or chinchillas! Your little baby farm animals can rest there while you get ready in the morning. 🙂

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      • AliceInDairyland February 5, 2014, 4:43 pm

        OMG yes. OMG yes I am running away to tell my Benjamin that right now.

      • Amanda February 5, 2014, 5:27 pm

        I’m totally thinking of getting a chinchilla bench for my apartment now. I’m sure my landlord won’t mind..

      • Addie Pray February 5, 2014, 4:47 pm

        FAT RATS!!!

      • AliceInDairyland February 5, 2014, 5:14 pm

        Whhyy, why are the thumbs not working?!

  • PumpkinLatte February 5, 2014, 3:34 pm

    You know, Dennis, I really appreciate this. It takes a lot of guts for a person to admit that they’ve said something offensive and to apologize for it. Thank you. I feel like this last week I was in the Twilight zone because it seemed like there wasn’t going to be any conversation at all about the response your article received, like we were just supposed to brush it under the rug. Anyways, I’m glad that you will be continuing to guest post on Dear Wendy.

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    • lets_be_honest February 5, 2014, 4:00 pm


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  • sophronisba February 5, 2014, 3:34 pm

    Dennis, I liked your essay and didn’t find it offensive, it was obviously tongue in cheek and it would never occur to me to be crushed because someone said hair should be smooth and shiny (like every hair ad out there). My hair and I are at war and that’s just between the two of us. I didn’t see the comments, but I suppose an unholy screech must have gone up to make you apologize. Don’t take it personally, commenters on this site have even driven Wendy to the wall upon occasion.
    And now to engender another screech, I’d like to put out there that the number of men writing for and commenting on the site has really dwindled. There is a certain amount of jumping down other people’s throats that goes on here, and If even a known and well-intentioned good guy like Dennis is made to regret his input, we soon won’t have to worry about hearing from the dudes at all…

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    • Dear Wendy February 5, 2014, 3:44 pm

      I’d like to go on record saying that the jumping down of throats is not just a guy thing. Or, more specifically, my throat has been jumped down A LOT lately. That shit gets old after a while.

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    • CatsMeow February 5, 2014, 3:57 pm

      I know! We’re such man haterz around here…. We better not call out a man’s insensitivity for fear of driving them away!

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      • Addie Pray February 5, 2014, 4:07 pm

        the thumbs aren’t working so i’m going on record here to thumb up you with words

        also, your mom drives them away.

      • HmC February 5, 2014, 4:14 pm


        Occam’s razor (because Painted Lady reminded me how much I love this principle). Sometimes a bunch of people get pissed off by something you said because you said something shitty. Sometimes that’s all there is to it.

      • iseeshiny February 5, 2014, 4:20 pm

        +10,000 Everyone gets an opinion, including the opinion that someone else’s opinion sucks.

        But real apologies are really hard and I’m glad there was one!

      • CatsMeow February 5, 2014, 4:25 pm

        Yes, this is a sincere apology and I like it.

      • HmC February 5, 2014, 4:28 pm


      • Northern Mermaid February 5, 2014, 11:05 pm

        Cats for the win.

    • Diablo February 5, 2014, 4:47 pm

      There are definitely treacherous waters i don’t wade into on the site, and I haven’t exactly retreated from all possible controversies here. I treat more or less all of the peccadillos and inconsistencies of modern life as funny, but my attitude is not always shared by highly sincere (and often brittle) people. So yeah, there are things I don’t get into, and not just things like rape, where I actually don’t think i have any experience or basis to comment. I mean things where it’s just not worth the argument.

      That being said, I say anyone who can’t stand to be flamed should not comment on the internet. Poor little fellas! They should just continue hiding in their apartments crouching behind the drapes. I prefer an honest shellacking if you think I’m off base. Dennis is a comedy writer, so he’s got to be used to heckling.

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      • Diablo February 5, 2014, 4:53 pm

        As if a guy’s apartment would have drapes!

      • mrmidtwenties February 5, 2014, 8:51 pm

        I wish I had something witty too add, but just too agree with @Diablo and there are certainly topics I won’t even try to get into because it’s either not worth the argument or I’m not near enough an expert or have any basis to comment.

      • mrmidtwenties February 5, 2014, 8:53 pm

        Also I’m so manly and tough I don’t even know what a drape is or what it does?

      • Mr. Cellophane February 6, 2014, 6:29 pm

        Girls scare me.

    • Guy Friday February 5, 2014, 8:37 pm

      Don’t worry, sophronisba. You’re NEVER getting rid of me 😉

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  • CatherineAnne February 5, 2014, 3:48 pm

    Dennis, the ONLY thing you did WRONG was allow the article to be posted on a feminist website. Knowing Wendy and her readers, you should certainly have known that this audience was the wrong one. Your article was well written, funny, insightful, clever, and sarcastic, and the tone was fine. It seriously bothers me that you’re apologizing for your opinion.

    The fact that Wendy posted your piece though she doesn’t agree with it indicates that she’s an intelligent person who values others’ opinions and their right to have and voice them. She obviously respects you as a person and a writer, though she should have known how her audience would take it. The reactions by her readers, though not at all shocking, indicates that the vast majority of people in this community take themselves and their ‘feminism’ far too seriously. (RAHH BUT FEMINISM IS THE MOST SERIOUS THING EVER yeah yeah yeah).

    Wrong audience, yeah. But you shouldn’t have apologized for anything else.

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  • rieux February 5, 2014, 3:49 pm

    This is a really good apology. As one of the people who hated your piece (and still kinda hates it but that’s ok) I’m glad that some of what I thought you said was not your intent, and that you took the time to publicly and sincerely apologize for the places where your expression went awry.

    Onward and upward. Keep checking your privilege Dennis! It’s good for ya.

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  • Portia February 5, 2014, 3:58 pm

    Ok, now that the hyperbolic language is gone, I’ll respond to the general premise of the rant.

    I appreciate the apology, think it was very sincere, and recognize it took a lot of courage to put your words out there. Do I agree with you that women should shake things up in their lives to find partners? Yes! You were frustrated with your friend complaining about her love life and having your advice shot down. I think we’ve all been there.

    But I still think your specific comments contribute to a culture that expects such a high standard of beauty that women are starving and deforming themselves and putting their lives at risk to attain. When I think about the countless hours I wasted in my youth trying to teach myself to use make-up or burning the hell out of my hair, I only feel regret for not using it to do things I loved or learn new skills that would actually help me later in life, like cooking or coding or even reading more. These days, I don’t wear make-up, I still can’t match clothes, and usually end up wearing what I’d call “grad student chic,” even when I go out dancing. Plus, I didn’t set my significant other up with unrealistically high expectations for what I was going to put into my appearance later on (I think this is something that “Jodie” is trying to get at when she says she shouldn’t have to be fake). You don’t think that contributes to marital arguments in the same way other best-self dating behaviors do?

    So here is my suggestion for you, and men out there to agree with your rant: I think that instead of trying to convince women who are comfortable with how they look (Jodie seems to fall into this category) to gussy up to find a man, you should encourage men to take a crash-course in the effort it takes women to look like this idea of a minimally dressed up woman. Even the “natural” look takes far more time than most men would anticipate. It’s such a tired cliche of straight men complaining that it takes their date forever to get ready – what do they think these women are doing, catching up on their correspondence? I do almost nothing to alter my appearance (save zit-fighting measures) and it takes me much longer than my guy to do the shower-and-get-ready dance because of the few ideas of beauty I’ve acquired from culture that I can’t quite shake. Just thinking about all the effort I would put into my hair and make-up exhausts me. It’s true that I’m not actively looking for a man in the way Jodie might be, but if she’s ok with waiting for the guy who’ll see her for the diamond in the rough she is, more power to her.

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    • LlamaPajamas February 5, 2014, 4:15 pm

      Thank you – this is exactly what I was thinking but couldn’t articulate. The issue is so much deeper than just wearing make-up or trying to look presentable to those you’re trying to attract romantically, and I’d like to think that Dennis is learning that.

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      • Portia February 5, 2014, 4:18 pm


        Man, I should really be working on my dissertation instead of this… Good thing I don’t spend hours of my day doing my hair and make-up so I can actually get some of my own work done. 🙂

      • LlamaPajamas February 5, 2014, 4:25 pm

        Ha! I totally related to the “grad student chic”. What are you studying? My first MA is in anthropology (then I decided to be a librarian) so I’m extra sensitive to cultural ideas of how women are supposed to look and perform. It gets exhausting, yo.

      • Portia February 5, 2014, 4:33 pm

        It is exhausting! If I went into any other field, it would probably be anthropology or psychology because the effects of culture on individuals fascinate me (also, Temperance Brennan on Bones is my hero, although her disconnect between knowing so much about how culture works from an academic point of view and very little in her own life does get a little tired after 9 seasons). Anyway, I’m studying linguistics and hopefully almost done, so I’ll have to celebrate on DW when that happens.

      • LlamaPajamas February 5, 2014, 5:06 pm

        Linguistics is fascinating – good luck finishing up! I used to love Bones but found her disconnect really annoying. I just watched an episode from this season and hate that she’s married to Booth.

    • AliceInDairyland February 5, 2014, 5:04 pm

      I do really love this. I kind of stuck in my heart sad-love this. I tried to articulate this in my post on the original thread but you did it much more eloquently. There is a double standard to this whole “look good” thing when it comes to time, effort, expertise, and money between the genders. And so naturally we are sensitive to a privileged section of society writing tongue and cheek about a situation that hits home for a lot of us.

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  • barleystonks February 5, 2014, 4:06 pm

    For the record, I thought it was a great tongue in cheek piece, although I can also see where a lot of people took it too literally.

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  • Regina Chapman February 5, 2014, 4:11 pm

    I think it’s really big-hearted of you to apologize in such a sincere way, but the sentence about ‘I *will* keep writing for Dear Wendy’ made me kind of sad. I mean – OF COURSE you will! It disheartens me that you were actually made to feel unwelcome by the comments. Heated discussion okay, but I think it turned into a bit of an ad hominem attack at some points.

    I understand that these things will get to you, and that sometimes it’s not possible to keep a professional distance, but as a self-proclaimed comedy writer – AND the sole male author on a largely female advice site – you’re *expected* to stir the pot, and take some heat for it. Okay, so this time the pot spilled over. You’ll do better next time. I think it’s an excellent approach to view this from a professional standpoint: ‘So why did this comedy piece not work as comedy?’ I hope you do NOT approach it from a standpoint of ‘So why does everybody hate me right now?’ Because – hopefully! – nobody does, but even if they did, it was *not* your intent to be malicious with your initial essay, and you do not deserve personal attack over this, in my opinion.

    I’m looking forward to more of your essays!

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  • Amanda February 5, 2014, 4:15 pm

    As someone who was offended by the piece (granted I have more baggage than the luggage carousel at La Guardia), I really do appreicate this apology. I do usually enjoy your writing so I can honestly say, I do look forward to your next piece!

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  • mylaray February 5, 2014, 4:25 pm

    I appreciate this apology and I did like the meaning and intent of the original article, despite not liking the way it came across. I still don’t agree with it completely because I think people should present themselves honestly and while sure, wearing makeup could help Jodie attract more men, I don’t think she would attract the types of men she’s looking for. I think it’s more of a self-esteem/confidence issue, which makeup can help, but that’s not for everyone.

    Also, I really do like having different voices on here, even if I completely disagree with it. It’s nice to see other perspectives, which is why I like this site so much.

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  • ApresMoi February 5, 2014, 4:37 pm

    Hmm. I’m torn about this apology. On one hand, I think this whole article fallout was a good learning opportunity for all, and I appreciate someone who can take criticism and make it constructive. On the other hand, I ‘m a little disappointed you even felt the need to apologize. It was soooo completely clear that you were being tongue in cheek throughout the article. I love this site, and I’ve learned a lot from Wendy and the commenters but is there really a need to take every little thing so seriously? I agree that we are driving away male voices (or just dissenting voices) when minimally offensive suggestions get completely piled on on a regular basis.

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  • AliceInDairyland February 5, 2014, 5:21 pm

    Okay but for realsies not about llamas and chinchilla benches…

    I’m glad that there was a response to the article and that this was the response. I don’t get overly “rawr” about this subject because like I said on the other thread.. I’m mostly oblivious to it. As oblivious as you can be about this sort of stuff when the world is literally saturated with media telling women that they aren’t trying hard enough.

    Articles can be tongue in cheek, but the context is also important. And the context of this conversation is this: http://www.upworthy.com/5-reasons-why-my-girlfriend-thinks-shes-not-beautiful-enough-no-matter-what-anyone-tells-her-5?c=ufb1 (ugh upworthy, but whatever)

    I’m not saying we all have to hold hands and tell everyone they are beautiful no matter what all the time. And I’m not saying that no one should ever try to be pretty or sexy for themselves or even for another person. But I am saying that I think that message has been broadcasted loud and clear since I learned to comprehend human speech. “You’re not good enough to be loved the way you are” seeps into us no matter how many Dove commercials you watch. So even if the intentions are good, and the writing was quippy, I think the concepts just go really deep and need to be thought about.

    I’m looking forward to another article though, and I think it gave us all a lot to think about which is always important.

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    • LlamaPajamas February 5, 2014, 5:35 pm

      A million thumbs up!

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    • iseeshiny February 5, 2014, 7:17 pm

      Yes, Alice gets all the thumbs!

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  • Kate February 5, 2014, 5:29 pm

    I’m usually very pro-makeup, and particularly today, thank god for concealer because I have one of those big zits where half of the left side of my nose is swollen and painful. But anyway, did anyone see an episode (it was on today, office is closed due to snow) of one of those MTV shows where this blond girl wears way too much makeup and her sister is concerned about her and gets her to go out with “no makeup” on, but really it’s just a normal amount of makeup? So I have to say, she really did have too much makeup on. Her eyes were so beyond smokey, they were completely black. And she was orange-tan. With “no makeup” which was actually probably about what I normally wear, she looked really pretty (though still too tan, because I think she really goes tanning, god help her skin when she’s 30). But she was so uncomfortable she said she could never go out like that again.

    Anyway, I guess the point is, MODERATION in all things. Extremes, like way too much makeup or the refusal ever to wear any cosmetics at all or dress appropriately for the occasion, are not healthy.

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    • jlyfsh February 5, 2014, 6:25 pm

      I don’t know the refusal to wear make-up is unhealthy? Why? I mean I get why it’s not ok to pick on someone for their choices, but not wanting to wear make-up isn’t quite the same as that episode on MTV. Which yeah I’ve definitely seen. She has some serious self esteem issues.

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      • Kate February 6, 2014, 2:03 pm

        I think extremes of anything are usually not good. To me, if someone says, I will never wear any makeup ever, even on my wedding day, or at work to look pulled together, or at any other occasion, and/or they actively refuse to wear the clothing that’s called for on any given occasion, then that’s extreme. Same as if they insist on always wearing as much makeup as that girl in the show (or, ever see the “Denise” episode of What Not To Wear, where they gave her a make-under, she looked gorgeous, and went back to making herself a caricature?), or always dressing inappropriately or in some sort of costume.

      • jlyfsh February 6, 2014, 2:09 pm

        Eh we’ll have to disagree. I think not wearing make-up even on your wedding day by choice is not the same thing as not being appropriate for say a work event. And even then you can look appropriate without make-up. Wearing jeans and flip flops to a corporate meeting I get. But, dressing appropriately and choosing not to wear make-up I don’t find that to be on the same level.

      • iseeshiny February 6, 2014, 2:11 pm



        Sorry I have this cold I get sometimes? It pops up when I’m trying not to sound defensive and also when I think it’s kind of gross to judge people on what they choose to do with their bodies provided they are following basic standards of hygiene and don’t smell offensive or something.

    • Jessibel5 February 6, 2014, 1:39 pm

      That “no makeup” thing is a THING. It comes from what I guess you can term the “Beauty Industrial Complex”. When models are asked to come to a shoot “no-makeup” they don’t mean no makeup. They mean “Base Zero” which is foundation, blush, concealer, undereye concealer, lip balm, eyebrow gel and mascara. It takes at least 14 products to look like you’re wearing no makeup. It creates this false sense that women look like this naturally. This is why you can roll your eyes at any person who says “women are so beautiful without makeup, they shouldn’t wear any”. Noooooot really. There’s a really awesome blog about what a scam the makeup industry is called Beauty and the Bullshit. I learned through that one that cosmetics ads are crazy staged and controlled, and not only that, but the company doesn’t even solely use their products! They use competitor products as they see fit!

      Not that I don’t wear makeup. I love wearing makeup, and I love being “base zero” at the very least. I do this for myself because it makes me feel awesome, and that’s whyone should wear makeup. If it makes you feel awesome, then go forth! If I were dropped on a deserted island and I could only have two makeup products ever again? Concealer and mascara. If I could only ever have one….that’s tough. I’m imagining the perpetual sunburn on my face would cover up any blemishes I have, or at least dry them out, so I may have to go with mascara. But if sunburn wasn’t an issue, absolutely concealer. But then again, maybe I should now change my answer to “SPF 30 BB Cream” to avoid the sunburn issue altogether…

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      • Jessibel5 February 6, 2014, 1:46 pm

        Clarification: Women ARE beautiful without makeup, but the people who usually say that are the people who are bemoaning the heavy makeuped women, and don’t realize what the “no-makeup” look that they’re hoping for actually entails.

  • Lindsay February 5, 2014, 5:47 pm

    I appreciate the apology. I would disagree, though, that you can’t apologize for statements that you didn’t say. In my past journalism experience, it’s somewhat assumed that if someone misinterprets what a writer says, then the writer is somewhat to blame in not being clear enough or not being aware of his audience, etc. Now, obviously, if someone pulls something completely out of their ass, then that’s on them. But I was a person who commented on the idea that men have it as hard as women, and I got that from the comments about how you take care of your appearance and are advising men, as well. I realize now that it’s not what you meant, but intent vs. impact, you know? I just know that when I worked at a newspaper, if someone misinterpreted an article and thought it was saying something incorrect, we’d run a correction and try to figure out how to do better next time. Just telling them they were wrong and we wouldn’t apologize wasn’t an option. Not placing expectations on you, but just saying that writers DO have a responsibility to not be misinterpreted, to some degree. Just something to keep in mind for the future, because in a lot of situations, you don’t get a totally open forum to explain what you meant the first time around.

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  • Dennis Hong (@DennisHHong) February 5, 2014, 6:39 pm

    Thanks, everyone. I do appreciate the feedback you’ve all given, whether or not you agree with me. See you soon.

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  • MissDre February 5, 2014, 6:53 pm

    Just going on the record to say I wasn’t offended at all. It was meant to be a joke. I laughed. I always love to hear from Dennis.

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  • Lovelygirl February 5, 2014, 7:35 pm

    I enjoyed Dennis’s witty sarcastic yet informative essay. Not sure what was so offensive. I do know women that need this advice and finally it was a funny way to deliver the message. I’m happily married but sometimes it’s important to be reminded to shave my legs more than on e every 2 weeks and put the extra effort into making myself look hot for my husband 🙂

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  • Cassie B February 5, 2014, 8:04 pm

    Overall, I thought your article was interesting– I definitely agreed with your main idea, and laughed at some of the descriptions you included (feathered bangs! Hah!). I even posted a picture of your lady love in the forums. I did think that some of your word choice was off, though, and I think that was why it was ill received more than anything else.

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  • Fabelle February 5, 2014, 8:46 pm

    I mean, no one thinks you’re a terrible person, right? This site is sort of intimate enough that well, even without the editor’s introduction here, we KNOW Wendy knows you & you must be cool, & I feel like most people gave you the benefit of the doubt—but you happened to touch on mad hot button themes? Outrage in the comments..outrage in general public opinion doesn’t always warrant an apology? It just means you said some th ing that sparked a discussion

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  • thewriteway February 5, 2014, 8:52 pm

    By the time I had gathered my thoughts on what to say to this piece last week, it didn’t seem like anyone would really read it. So that said, I was one of the ones who was a little put off by the article and I appreciate the response/apology.

    I am still very much self conscious in my own skin and know the pressure is there to do what I have to to attract a guy if I ever want to get a boyfriend/relationship. Last week, I tried going out to the hockey game in a different outfit instead of my usual hockey jersey and jeans. I had seen a lot of other girls at games decked out and prettied up, and part of me thought I had to be that way too. So I still wore jeans, but I also added a scarf, my new black boots and a sweater and left the jersey home. I also wore a new coat that I had purchased on clearance. And you know what? Yeah, I’m happy I at least tried this new, prettied-up look, but I HATED it. I didn’t feel like myself at all, and I kept wishing I had just kept the makeup, jeans and boots and thrown my jersey on…what the other girls looked like be darned.

    I have been trying to make more of an effort to look nice when I’m not at home working. (Because face it…I’m never going to get all dolled up for as long as I’m working at home and no one I work with can see me. I will of course adjust accordingly if I ever get an office job.) I try to wear the aforementioned above sweaters and jeans out to dinner, and I make sure I have makeup on. For me, that’s foundation, blush and maybe some lip gloss.

    I realize that men are visual and know they like/go for girls that take care of their appearance and I honestly want a relationship someday. But how can I get past feeling self-conscious and weird when I try to doll up? I feel better when I dress up, but my confidence is dashed when I see a girl in nicer clothes and more makeup walk by, and in a way, I still feel ugly.

    Any ideas?

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    • dabbler February 5, 2014, 11:19 pm

      some guys love to see a woman in her favorite jersey. just sayin’.
      i say wear what makes you feel most confident. who cares if you’re wearing your ‘pretty’ clothes if you’re hiding in a corner all night?
      and seriously, don’t compare. that doesn’t do anyone any favors.

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  • Dennis Hong (@DennisHHong) February 5, 2014, 10:04 pm

    Just to clarify one thing for those who believe that I didn’t need to apologize… thank you for the support, and I’m glad that you “got” the piece as it was intended. (Phew!) And like I said, I do stand by my original point.

    At the same time, given that the funny comments I thought I was making were taken as anything but funny, that was a miserable failure on my part as a writer. So, while I’m not apologizing for having an opinion, I do apologize for voicing it poorly.

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  • bittergaymark February 5, 2014, 10:42 pm

    By all means — lets ALL be pissed off at Dennis! And EVERYONE knows that looks have nothing to do with why men are attracted to women — or women are attracted to men. Since it appears that many breeders (well, more than enough to warrant this rather absurd apology!) are so damn touchy on this subject — then by all means carry on! Continue running around looking like total shit. Clearly, it’s what many of you are best at anyway — considering the slop I see every time I leave my house.

    Don’t EVER fix up. And then sit around wondering why nobody EVER fixes you up.


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    • Nina February 7, 2014, 10:50 am

      Yes!! Thank you BGM.

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  • Northern Mermaid February 5, 2014, 11:00 pm

    Thanks for the apology, Dennis. I was definitely in the “incredibly offended” camp, but mostly for the hair comments (I’m a curly headed minority) so that was REALLY touchy for me. Thanks for being willing to listen and learn.

    You are definitely witty and sharp tongued, which is not a bad thing. As women, I think most of us (if not all of us) have heard a million variations of “if you want to get a man make yourself look better.” I’d like to see what you have to say on some other subject!

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    • Addie Pray February 5, 2014, 11:11 pm

      I was in the “I can see why people would be offended” camp but not really offended at all but more so I was in the “there’s a point to be made in there, somewhere” camp but also in the “of all the funny things and observations to talk about and all the problems in the world to highlight or mock why would Dennis settle with a piece about how ladies should wear make up” camp (I mean, not that everything has to be deep and solve the problems in the world of anything) and also in the “I think Dennis is a funny and well-intentioned guy so if he wanted to poke more fun at how shallow men are, he went about it in an odd and not so clear way” camp.

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      • Northern Mermaid February 5, 2014, 11:25 pm

        You just want to go to everybody’s camp! Which is fair, because usually there are s’mores at camp.

      • Northern Mermaid February 5, 2014, 11:27 pm

        But yeah. I really agree with your last sentence.

      • Dennis Hong (@DennisHHong) February 6, 2014, 12:29 am

        Well, I think people have lost sight of the fact that there was kind of a personal reason for my posting it….

      • Addie Pray February 6, 2014, 12:50 am

        Oh yeah – Jodie! How is she? Did you show her the piece and everyone’s reaction?

      • Northern Mermaid February 6, 2014, 12:57 am

        Ok. So, I mean this in the most sincere, not sarcastic way possible at all.

        When I read your piece, I really thought “Jodie” was made up. You offered us so little about her personality, all you told us was that she was a 5, and an “Olive Garden” (which, btw, my mean catty self thought that was kind of funny. I’d like to think of myself as more of a Chillis, since I’m mostly white with a big helping of Mexican) and that she felt like she didn’t need, or shouldn’t need to wear make up and that men should accept her as she is. After that, you asked those of us “Jodies” of the world to listen up.

        Maybe if you’d told us a little bit more about Jodie–about something she loves, or how she has Ruth’s Chris eyelashes in an Olive Garden face (to continue your metaphor), or how occasionally she throws on a dress for an after work event and looks beautiful, or every once in a while she wears a peacock blue flannel that makes her skin color look great, we would have understood that you were talking about a person that you actually knew—as opposed to a construct to launch into a rant about women who want boyfriends who don’t wear makeup.

        I hate to pile on to you after such a sincere apology, because you really were incredibly sweet to apologize and to ask about why people were offended by the hair comments and to explain yourself. As someone who might actually be a consumer of your writing—I like humor writing, and observational humor, and even some snarkiness—I think you’re capable of good work and really would like to see more. But anyway, that might be why people lost sight that you were really writing about a personal experience.

      • Addie Pray February 6, 2014, 1:04 am

        Lol at the Chilis comment. I for one aspire to be the Outbacks blooming onion.

      • Northern Mermaid February 6, 2014, 1:07 am

        I mean, I like to think of myself as something slightly higher end than a Chilis, but I can’t think of a higher end national Mexican restaurant. If everyone was from Anchorage, I would say that I like to think of myself as a Serranos, but only AKchic will get it.

      • Dennis Hong (@DennisHHong) February 6, 2014, 12:40 pm

        No worries. I’m happy to discuss. Yes, there is a specific woman I’m referring to, and I actually made a conscious effort to keep her vague out of respect for her privacy.

        Yes, she has other “issues,” all of which her close friends know and talk about, but I wanted to focus on the one that I thought could be a quick and simple fix. All the other self-esteem stuff I figured would be outside the scope of a DW rant… because, you know, serious shit and all.

      • Dennis Hong (@DennisHHong) February 6, 2014, 12:46 pm

        And no, I haven’t shown Jodie the piece. Full confession: she’s actually not a close friend (that’s the main reason I thought I could write about her in the first place), and in fact, most of the criticisms I made about her are based on the comments that I’ve heard from her mutual friends (one of whom I’m close to).

        Okay, that’s enough detail. Any more, and I might get in real trouble. 🙂

    • CatsMeow February 5, 2014, 11:58 pm

      Right? Poor word choices aside, it’s not original and not something I haven’t heard a million times in a million other places.

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  • Ran February 6, 2014, 7:06 pm

    Dennis, do you wear makeup to change your appearance? What hair products do you use?

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