Educating Education: Pt 1. Mad Lib Subversion
When it comes to activism, humor is not my go-to move. In other contexts, I can rock the dorktastic timing and geekified wordplay with the best of them, but when my activist feathers are ruffled, taking a moment to laugh does not usually occur to me.
Which is why I was really grateful, yesterday, for a reminder.
The backstory is pretty simple: Deliveries for my current job landed me in our university’s education office , one of the few departments that — in my four years’ here — I’ve never actually entered. When I walked in, I almost immediately noticed a sign, posted to an external cubicle wall, bearing that old Weight-Watchers and pro-ana favorite: “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
Now, I knew this message was probably not intended maliciously. In all likelihood, the person responsible is totally unaware of the recent controversy around this exact slogan, totally unaware of the phrase’s popularity in the pro-ana community, and totally unaware of how it might trigger the many, many college students with EDs. Said responsible party is probably also unaware that restriction is far more dangerous than being overweight, that BMI is not correlated with health, or that the obesity epidemic is socially constructed. As I reminded myself in my frustration, most people don’t know these things. Which is why my response to the situation, — via Twitter — was simply “Looks like ‘Education’ could use some.”
However, at the time my options felt limited. My anger was limiting my ideas to covert talking-to’s and scathing letters. …And then I got this response from the fab blogger behind Telephone Panic:
You should cross out “feels”, “tastes”, & “good” and play some deliberate madlibs.
I suddenly remembered something important: activism can be silly. In fact, we can be at our most effective when we have a sense of humor. No one likes getting their flaws and failures pointed out, especially when they never intended to offend. So how much better is it when someone calls you out in a light-hearted way? How much more fun is it to be educated when you’re giggling a little in the process? Thus, the first phase of my “Educate the Education Department” project was born.
Mad Lib Subversion.
I put out a call on Facebook and Twitter, requesting two verbs and an adjective from anyone willing to play. I told no one what we were editing. In keeping with our format, the results were totally nonsensical:
- Nothing smushes as sparkly as skinny jumps.
- Nothing tickles as corrugated as skinny slaps.
- Nothing frolics as lumpy as skinny bedazzles.
- Nothing tickles as lovely as skinny giggles.
- Nothing obfuscates as frenetic as skinny wavers.
- Nothing tiptoes as dazzling as skinny trips.
- Nothing inundates as Rubenesque as skinny illuminates.
- Nothing finds as red as skinny works.
- Nothing builds as unlikely as skinny chases.
- Nothing pontificates as ramshackle as skinny bludgeons.
- Nothing weaves as woozy as skinny transcends.
- Nothing watches as crazy as skinny waits.
- Nothing saunters as befuddled as skinny acquiesces.
- Nothing snorts as good as skinny tickles.
- Nothing humps as sexy as skinny dumps.
- Nothing illuminates as heartbroken as skinny implies.
- Nothing ponders as ephemeral as skinny moseys.
- Nothing shatters as serene as skinny creates.
- Nothing plays as sleepy as skinny evolves.
- Nothing pounces as twinkling as skinny gambols.
If you’re trying to make sense of these, stop. They don’t make sense. And that — I realized, as the illogical results kept pouring in — is what makes them radical. Because the original phrase — “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” — does not make sense either. So the next time someone spouts this nonsense to you, tell them “nothing tiptoes as dazzling as skinny trips” or “weaves as woozy as skinny transcends.” And when they look at you like you’re quoting “Jabberwocky,” return the favor. Because these slogans make the exact same kind of sense:
The Mad Lib Subversion project will be delivered to our education department within the next week or so. In the mean time, you can be a part of Phase 2 by replying (in the comments, @missmarymax on Twitter, or via my FB page) with how you’d fill in the blanks, now that you know what you’re doing. Have a different sort of logic you want to share? Go for it. Fill in the blanks: Nothing ___ as ___ as [skinny] ____. (Feel free to edit out “skinny” too, if you prefer.) Write the message YOU want to share. Let’s rock this silly revolution together.