I had never heard of her before running across this particular article in 2011. I think her writings were a middle territory located somewhere between Dorothy Parker and Irma Bombeck. She was kinder than Parker, but sassier than Bombeck.
She was famous for her aphorisms.
An aphorism is a concise or clever statement about a principle or a truth or a bit of advice. (My friend Lynne LOVES aphorisms. She collects books full of them.)
Examples of aphorisms:
- Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late -- Ben Franklin.
- The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones -- Confucius.
- Pride goeth before a fall – The book of Proverbs in the Bible.
- For every minute you are angry you lose 60 seconds of happiness – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
- I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work – Thomas Edison.
Here’s what Mignon McLaughlin wrote. It smacked me in the face in 2011, when I first encountered it. It’s still smackable.
“As the mother of a daughter, I want to be deliberate in how I raise her with the hope that she can avoid the hang-ups and pitfalls I have wrestled with. While I have learned countless invaluable lessons from the women who raised, nurtured and mentored me, there are a few things that I wish we, as women, could UN-LEARN.
“Clean your plate. Whether you’re hungry or not, keep eating until all the food is gone. Take one look at me and you will know that I took this one to heart.
New lesson: We don’t want to be wasteful, so don’t put too much on your plate. Listen to your body. When you feel full, stop eating.
“Be ladylike. How many of us suppress our thoughts and feelings because we don’t want to inconvenience anyone with them?
New lesson: Be considerate, but always speak your mind!
“Ambition is not an attractive quality. And thus we limit ourselves.
New lesson: Reach for the stars. Toot your own horn. Conquer the world. And make a ton of money while you’re at it.
“It’s not polite to talk about money. Women miss out on hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a career because we’re not comfortable negotiating on our own behalf.
New lesson: Be discreet, but know what you’re worth and say so. Once you earn it, you need to know how to manage it for yourself too.
“He pushed you down on the playground because he likes you. What?!?
New lesson: No one gets to touch you without your permission. Boys who really like you will not be mean to you. He pushed you down because he’s an asshole. Tell a grown-up and if it happens again, knock his block off.
Just for the fun of it, here are more pithy thoughts from McLaughlin:
“No one really listens to anyone else, and if you try it for a while you'll see why.“
“I'm glad I don't have to explain to a man from Mars why each day I set fire to dozens of little pieces of paper, and then put them in my mouth.”
“If you made a list of reasons why any couple got married, and another list of the reasons for their divorce, you'd have a hell of a lot of overlapping. “
“Most sermons sound to me like commercials - but I can't make out whether God is the sponsor or the product.”
I think I like Mignon McLaughlin.