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If You Don’t Want to Have Kids, You Don’t Have to Want a Career Instead

It wasn’t until this year, at the age of 26, that I started to seriously consider the idea of just…doing nothing. Since I was very young I’ve known I didn’t want kids, but in their place, I pursued an MA and a career. Those seemed like my only choices, but at a certain point, I…

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If You Don’t Want to Have Kids, You Don’t Have to Want a Career Instead

It wasn’t until this year, at the age of 26, that I started to seriously consider the idea of just…doing nothing. Since I was very young I’ve known I didn’t want kids, but in their place, I pursued an MA and a career. Those seemed like my only choices, but at a certain point, I started to just like my life as it was—doing enough work to earn enough money, and then hanging out with the people I love and occasionally going on vacations. I like my life, and for the first time, I don’t necessarily want to strive for any larger goal.

But, of course, I feel guilty—as if I’m disappointing not only the success-obsessed, driven teenager that paid her way through an MA program by bartending 60 hours a week, but an entire generation of #hustling #girlbosses with pseudo feminist mugs. Since time immemorial, women have been pushed into having children, sidelining their own passions and work in service of the family unit. Post-war, second wave feminism did away with some of that—women could work, they could have a baby, they could have it all. In recent years, we’ve started to believe we can just want the career—to hustle and travel and wear designer suits.

These developments have been important and positive for many women, but more radical, perhaps, is the idea that we can do neither. Currently, if we aren’t either working on a career or having a family, we can feel as if we’re failing. But we the pressure to succeed and achieve in at least one of these realms, and increasingly both at once, feels like we’ll never be left alone to be content with doing our job and coming home. Work can be the thing we do in order to enjoy our free time—it doesn’t have to be a lifelong career, and we don’t always need to be pushing to be the boss. Forget having it “all”—why aren’t women allowed to just have “some,” and be happy with it?

I’m not the only woman starting to feel uncomfortable about the conflation of feminism and capitalism. In an essay from her recent book Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino writes of this endless strive for optimization and perfection. The ideal woman is, she writes, “sincerely interested in whatever the market demands of her” and “equally interested in whatever the market offers her.” She discusses this optimization through the lens of exercise classes and the workplace, discussing the ways we’ve been led to believe we need to constantly be striving to make our lives “better.” Even self-care has been marketed back to us as something that we can be good or bad at. Perhaps we are finally waking up to the idea that we’ve been conned—that in falling into the optimized lifestyle trap, we’re missing out on the life we actually deserve.

“I feel the need to make my job a much bigger, more defining component of my life due to the fact that I’ve not started a family,” Siobhán, 30, said. “I feel like there’s a social expectation to be visibly productive. And if you’re not literally producing small humans then you’d better be doing something just as consuming.” She believes there’s a gender divide. “I think a single, childless man with a good career just gets a kind of socially acceptable bachelor status, whereas a single, childless woman with a career has ‘made sacrifices,’ or is inherently ‘lonely,’ or maybe just a ‘massive bitch.’”

Danielle, 28, feels similarly. “I’m not interested in a career instead, which makes me wonder if I don’t have any ambition or if there’s something wrong with me, or I’m just lazy,” she said. “It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve settled into the fact that I am not a career-oriented person. I want to have a job that I can leave at work, and that pays enough for me to enjoy my life and time outside of work.”

There’s an expectation that modern women should fill any downtime with side hustles or organized “self-care” activities. “As a woman, I feel like even my free time needs to be some sort of self-development: meditation to calm my anxiety, journaling to help with my mental health, exercising,” Danielle said. Maddie, 24, agrees. “I think men have more flexibility when it comes to hobbies. My relaxation through my hobbies is more likely to be seen as time wasting, but a man’s is more productive. In my relaxation time I absolutely feel smothered with guilt. I’m constantly thinking of the money I could be making instead of enjoying my time.”

While it seems counterintuitive to ask for help on de-optimizing your life, I turned to women’s empowerment coach Hueina Su. “We have been conditioned and expected to be the caretakers for everyone,” she said. “Women nowadays are expected to perform and succeed at work like their male colleagues, while also continue to take care of their husbands, children, and aging parents at home. We bought into the belief that we can and should have it all, otherwise we feel like a failure.”

Su believes women are often driven for the wrong reasons. “If we drill down to why they are so driven to perform, perfect and excel at everything, the underlying, hidden motivation often comes from a need to prove their worth, because they don’t feel good enough or worthy as who they are,” she said.

The biggest barrier women face seems to be the idea that we have inherent worth: that we deserve to be alive, deserve to be happy, even if we are doing “nothing.” Su echoed this idea – saying that If you want to de-optimize your life, it’s critical to believe that you are inherently worthy, and to identify what success and happiness means to you. “We must learn to redefine success for ourselves, instead of letting society and other people dictate how we live our lives,” she said

We are expected to be caregivers and often fall into believing that we are worthless if we aren’t fulfilling that role. If we aren’t caregivers, then we must contribute to society as high-achieving workers. That stops us from taking time for ourselves, from considering what we want rather than what we feel we need to do. There’s no clear-cut answer to feeling less guilty for just existing, but a good start is to take time for yourself that isn’t organized or easily optimizable. “Whether you want a career, a family, or not, it’s your choice. You get to choose what makes you happy and fulfilled,” said Su.

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Here’s What JUUL Allegedly Thinks of Its Customers

JUUL’s marketing strategy over the years has essentially positioned the company as the Cool Girl of the tobacco industry; JUUL isn’t like the other girls that want to get people hooked on cigarettes that will eventually kill them, JUUL wants to hold its customers’ hands and lead them gently toward a better, and a claims-to-be…

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Here’s What JUUL Allegedly Thinks of Its Customers

JUUL’s marketing strategy over the years has essentially positioned the company as the Cool Girl of the tobacco industry; JUUL isn’t like the other girls that want to get people hooked on cigarettes that will eventually kill them, JUUL wants to hold its customers’ hands and lead them gently toward a better, and a claims-to-be healthier (yet unproven), lifestyle. Its branding and advertising has centered around the idea that cigarettes are bad and JUUL is good. “Make the Switch,” the company encouraged (until a month ago, when the company pivoted away from the slogan in a series of internal decisions). “We certainly don’t want youth using the product,” the company said, as it pulled flavors from shelves.

A lawsuit filed this week by Siddharth Breja, a former JUUL executive, makes it seem like the company never actually believed any of its own moral signaling. The lawsuit claims that former JUUL CEO Kevin Burns brushed off concerns that his company was shipping at least a million contaminated pods earlier this year, dismissing his customers as “drunk” people who “vape like mo-fos.” As BuzzFeed News reports, Breja alleges he was wrongfully terminated in March 2019 for raising concerns about the shipment of bad pods.

Are you a current or former JUUL employee? We’d love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Hannah Smothers securely on Signal on (908) 485-7021, or email hannah.smothers@vice.com.

This is damning for a company that has held its nose above the fray of third-party and counterfeit pods, which JUUL has openly and consistently blamed for containing unregulated, potentially harmful contents. According to details from the lawsuit obtained by BuzzFeed News, in February 2019, Breja protested selling pods that were nearly a year old by the time they shipped, and asked the company to at least include an expiration or manufacture date on the packaging. Burns allegedly shot this down, saying, “Half our customers are drunk and vaping like mo-fos, who the fuck is going to notice the quality of our pods.”

The answer to that is… a lot of people. The problem with having an extremely devoted customer base is they tend to be a bit obsessed with the product. Stan culture misses nothing. A smattering of posts from the r/juul subreddit complain of declining pod quality; while these complaints aren’t necessarily related to the shipment mentioned in the lawsuit, they show how dedicated and attentive avid JUULers are. Posts from the subreddit routinely compare clarity of pod juice and complain of anything suspect, like leaking pods or pods that are already brown (signifying age, perhaps) when opened. It’s impossible to speak to the mental state of the people posting about pod quality online, but even if they are, in fact, “drunk and vaping like mo-fos,” they’re still very much noticing the quality of JUUL’s products.

Update: On Wednesday evening, a spokesman for Kevin Burns passed along the following statement to VICE: “I never said this, or anything remotely close to this, period. As CEO, I had the company make huge investments in product quality and the facts will show this claim is absolutely false and pure fiction.”

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There Is Such a Thing As Too Much Yoga

From not stress-eating entire tubes of unbaked crescent roll dough, to only smoking like one or two cigarettes, and only when you’re drunk, and only every two or three weeks, the key to living a healthy lifestyle lies in practicing moderation. The same goes for yoga, if this latest news is to be believed: A…

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There Is Such a Thing As Too Much Yoga

From not stress-eating entire tubes of unbaked crescent roll dough, to only smoking like one or two cigarettes, and only when you’re drunk, and only every two or three weeks, the key to living a healthy lifestyle lies in practicing moderation. The same goes for yoga, if this latest news is to be believed: A British physiotherapist named Benoy Matthews told BBC News that he has seen a rise in serious hip problems among yoga instructors. The problem lies with people pushing themselves too hard in an effort to achieve all the “prescribed” poses, even when your body is screaming “NO PLEASE NOT THE TRIPLE HEADSTAND WITH LOTUS LEGS I HAVE A WIFE AND KIDS” because it literally can’t stretch that far.

Various outlets and sources have been reporting for years that 2 Much 2 Yoga can cause serious injury, with the associated risks often differentiating by gender. Men often let minor injuries build up until they have to hit up the emergency room for something way more serious because they’re too concerned about seeming brave and invulnerable, while women, who tend to be more flexible, can put wear and tear on their hip joints and other parts of the body if they don’t give their increased flexibility the proper support.

“What’s achievable for one might not be achievable for others,” Matthews said to the BBC. “People tend to do the same set positions, rather than what’s achievable for them.”

In the worst case scenarios, Matthews warns of keyhole surgeries and even total hip replacements.

“We all know about the health benefits of yoga—I practice it myself,” he said. “But, like anything, it can cause injury. We can’t put it on a pedestal.”

The Cut seems to think that this rise in yogi hip injuries has something to do with Instagram—that we’re all trying to do impossible poses that push our bodies beyond their limits for the sake of likes and posi comments. That’s-a spicy take-a-ball! But also a somewhat reachy take-a-ball, since not everyone who does yoga is doing yoga on Instagram.

It’s not clear why we lean so hard on new health activities, especially low-impact ones, that we crush all the life out of it. But what we need instead of “more yoga than a body can possibly bear” is to do things in moderation. You like yoga? Do yoga, but not so much yoga that you hurt yourself. If you feel pain, stop, maybe seek help, and/or rest up. If part of your yoga practice is to put yourself more in touch with your body, why not start by listening to her horrible screams of agony?

“You have to know your limits,” Matthews said. “I don’t want to denounce yoga, after all it’s been going for thousands of years. But you have to understand yourself.”

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Would You Take Poop Pics for Science?

What can be learned from a humble piece of poop? What we expel is but a reflection of what we consume and what lies inside, hidden from view. In this way, to examine our poop is to examine ourselves… Or at least this is what the creators a new, crowdsourced poop database believe. Scientists with…

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Would You Take Poop Pics for Science?

What can be learned from a humble piece of poop? What we expel is but a reflection of what we consume and what lies inside, hidden from view. In this way, to examine our poop is to examine ourselves… Or at least this is what the creators a new, crowdsourced poop database believe.

Scientists with Seed Health, a microbial health company, are crowdsourcing a dookie database with the ultimate goal of using pictures of human waste to train an artificial intelligence platform launched out of MIT to recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy poop. They hope to collect at least 100,000 poop pics, which a team of seven gastroenterologists will take notes on to train the AI platform. Developers hope that the database will ultimately help people with chronic gut conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, according to the Verge.

Science can often sound kinda boring, but this is one instance where it’s actually very cool. For instance: Before launching the campaign to source real poop pics for the database, scientists started training the app that people will use to submit dump photos to recognize different kinds of poop by molding Play-Doh into poo shapes. Play-Doh kinda looks like poop just straight out of the little plastic tub, but, for accuracy’s sake, the developers molded it along the Bristol stool chart. This means they ostensibly shaped some of the Play-Doh to look like diarrhea, which is… pretty impressive! As the Verge reports, the scientists also 3D printed a whole-ass toilet, to emulate how things would look in real life.

But now the real work begins. Seed just launched its proprietary app for safely collecting the data, along with its campaign to collect the 100,000 poo pics. People who wish to contribute their waste to science can do so by going to seed.com/poop on their phone (not a laptop), and clicking on the button that says #GIVEaSHIT. They’ll then be asked for an email address and whether they’re a morning, afternoon, or evening dumper. From there, one is able to submit poop pics with anonymity—all metadata will be separated from the pics, for privacy and HIPAA compliance, before the photos are annotated by scientists.

It is, apparently, already very much a thing to post pics of poop online: There are multiple subreddits (which I will not link here) developed to poo rating and discussion; posting dookie pics on Instagram is so popular that it has its own community of #Poopstagram-ers (yes, this is allowed by Instagram’s terms of service). This seems extremely intimate and vulnerable, given what poop can reveal about a person’s lifestyle, but I suppose that’s the beauty in posting. Now interested parties can build upon the urge to share their toilet achievements by doing so for science, for the greater good of health and mankind. Onward and upward.

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