Don’t Listen To The Bitches In The Back

“What an idiot that BETTE PORTER is, why does she *actually* think she’ll win this election?”

“OH MY GOD, DRAMATIC MUCH, ALICE? STUPID BITCH.”

“Okay, wow, like that’s realistic Dani? GET A GRIP.”

“These girls are SO STUPID.”

Finely’s outfit is such TRASH.”

What is this ~nasty~ chatter, you’re wondering? Oh, let me tell you. This nasty chatter was the mousy noise of a two-party peanut gallery yammering away at the screening of the season finale of The L Word: Generation Q. The event took place at a fabulous lesbian bar teeming with more lesbians than a home depot on memorial day weekend. For those of you who don’t know, The L Word is (in my opinion) the most iconic lesbian show to ever grace mainstream media. It debuted in 2004 and lasted six seasons, which is an impressive feat — not just for a lesbian show — but for any show.

About four years ago lesbian Twitter was rendered absolutely mental when rumors began to fly about an alleged reboot of The L Word. I was working in gay media when Showtime confirmed the rumors were true and from that moment on I dedicated the next two years of my life to hyping up The L Word reboot. The night it premiered I went to an exclusive, invite-only screening at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, produced by the always-chic Ellis Girls. The energy was electric. We were so collectively ecstatic to have a show centered around queer girl sex and love again. We’d only waited a decade.

So you can imagine how enraged I was to be at the much anticipated season finale party, surrounded by hundreds of enthusiastic dykes, only to be bombarded by two negative Nancy’s lurking behind me, sipping their cocktails whilst talking shit about everything from the writing, the acting, the characters, the fashion and the actors themselves. It was blazingly clear to me from the lack of nuance in their critiques that these women were not regular watchers of the show. It’s one thing to have well thought out criticism of a show you’re rooting for, but it’s another to engage in vapid, mean-spirited commentary of a show you’re clearly not even a fan of.

Check out my debut book: GIRL, STOP PASSING OUT IN YOUR MAKEUP!

My wife could feel the hot rage boiling inside of me.

“I know, they’re so annoying babe.” She whispered gently into my ear because she’s learned the hard way that telling me to keep calm does not beget a calm reaction.

“Why don’t they try writing a hit show with stellar ratings?” I hissed back at her.

And I meant every word of my hiss. Not only were these sniveling women behind me ruining the joyful experience of watching one’s favorite show among one’s contemporaries — but they also had no idea what they were talking about. Their negative assessments were baseless. Their commentary wasn’t smart or informed. It sounded what I would sound like if I attempted to critique an athlete’s performance in a game. I know nothing about sports, so I would only be able to make low-brow jabs at the athlete’s appearance or something equally insipid.

I whipped my head around and shot them a dirty look.

“Who is that girl? She looks familiar.” I heard one say to another.

“She’s some kind of journalist or something. I’ll give you the gossip later.”

“LOL. I think I know who she is. Her writing is a waste of time.”

My first instinct was to throw my vodka soda into their faces. But then I remembered that I had paid fourteen dollars for my beloved vodka soda and I don’t want my liquor to die in vain. The liquor doesn’t deserve that.

And then I realized exactly what these girls are. They are the bitches in the back. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life it’s this: Never Listen To The Bitches In The Back. They’re in the back for a reason, honey.

Let me explain my long-standing definition of the bitches in the back. The bitches in the back are the kinds of people who stand on the sidelines of life. They’ve never braved taking the center stage. They’ve never published a vulnerable essay or had the wherewithal to submit their script to a network or book to an agent. Nor have they ever spoken about something painful on a panel or taken a stab at standup or made any of their art public. Yet, they find a deep-rooted satisfaction in making fun of, bullying or heavily criticizing those who *do* have the guts to share their work with the masses.

They seem to consider themselves esteemed experts of literature when most of them have never even tried to create a work of literature. They deem themselves worthy critics of the craft of acting yet they’ve never even taken an acting class at their local community theatre. They spew hate at bloggers but they have no idea the hard work and grit it takes to maintain a blog. They’re the first to tweet something bitchy about someone’s outfit when they haven’t cracked open a fashion magazine in the last decade.

Check out my debut book GIRL, STOP PASSING OUT IN YOUR MAKEUP

They’re the kind of people who pay money to attend a screening of the only lesbian TV show on a major network, only to stand in the very back with sour expressions planted onto their faces, as they loudly complain about how much they detest said show.

I’ve been dealing with the bitches in the back for as long as I can remember. I came out of the womb expressive, so I’ve always been bitch-bait. And the wrath of the bitches used to hurt my feelings, majorly. I’ll never forget the onslaught of nasty comments I received after I finally mustered up the courage to write about my depression on a major media outlet. It wasn’t the vitriol from the faceless men who live in their parents’ apartments that bothered me. The rape threats and death threats didn’t even upset me that much either because it’s safe to say the humans behind those were evil. And I don’t care if evil humans think I’m a good writer.

But the bitches in the back really knew how to dig their proverbial acrylic nails into my spine with their biting sarcasm and minute grammar corrections. (I’m sorry but if you read a powerful essay in which someone is revealing their deepest traumas to the internet with the intention of bringing awareness to a globally neglected subject, and you feel the need to comment about the importance of an oxford comma, you need to get a hobby.) The reason these people got to me is that their comments poked at my deepest insecurities. I’m not smart. I shouldn’t be writing. I’m sophomoric. Vapid. I shouldn’t have wasted their time with my words. No one cares. I’m a narcissist for sharing my story. 

I have yet to meet a creator that doesn’t suffer from some sort of imposter syndrome. It’s in the nature of artists to constantly question their talent, to feel embarrassed by their naked vulnerability, to fear that they’re frauds. Hell, I’d argue that it’s in the nature of most people to incessantly worry that they aren’t good enough. The only difference is, the working artist, puts their work into the world despite their nagging phobia that they have nothing of substance to offer.

Check out my debut book: GIRL, STOP PASSING OUT IN YOUR MAKEUP

But sometimes the artist puts their work out and the bitches in the back pipe up and make them feel seeped in shame. They did the scary thing only to be publicly torn down and now they want to hide forever. And the best way to hide is to sometimes quit your passions and join the bitches in the back. Because guess what? It’s safe in the back. It’s dark. No one can really see you. No one will be able to tell that you secretly wish it was you on that stage when you’re lost in a herd of hate.

So if these bitches are such clear cowards why are they bitches so triggering to us? Because they remind us of the most triggering time of our lives: Middle School. They’re the girls that made fun of us for wearing Dr. Martins to school in the suburbs (whatever, we were ahead of our time, and plus they wore Uggs). They’re the girls that made us decide to never throw ourselves out there again because they called us fat when we took to the stage at the school talent show. They’re the boys that told us to shut up, we suck, we’re ugly, go die in a fire.

But here’s why you, little sister, should never let these snakes dim your fucking sparkle: The bitches in the back, I believe are frustrated creators to paralyzed in fear to ever go after their dreams! Why would you comment on the “quality of the writing” on a total stranger’s article unless you secretly believed that you had a great essay stewing inside of you? Why would you get so pissed about the writing of a dumb internet essay unless you were seething with jealousy? Unless you wished it was you, goddamn it, with the successful blog! You wouldn’t. You wouldn’t be compelled to read the piece if you weren’t in some way, invested. It’s the same reason that outwardly homophobic people that bully the gays, are usually gay and closeted and thus bitter that they don’t get to fly the rainbow flag at Pride in ass-less chaps.

What kind of sad existence is it to never have the courage to create but to constantly criticize those who do? To get off on projecting your frustration with yourself onto others?

That being said, I don’t actually feel bad for the bitches in the back. I feel bad for the creators they stifle. But I can’t bring myself to empathize with an adult bully. And that’s what they are: adult bullies.

And here’s the big sister mantra I recite to myself that I want all of you to live by: Unless you’ve actually done the thing that I’m doing, I don’t care what you think of my thing. Because making anything and putting it out into the world is hard. It takes a surplus of focus and imagination and courage and hard work and resilience to rejection. So until you’ve done this extremely hard thing, your criticism bears no meaning to me. I mean try it. Try writing a book. Try selling a book. You won’t. Because you’re investing your limited energy in resenting art created by others. And resentment isn’t just “swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die.” It’s taking a gun to the head of your productivity and fire shots. Nothing will kill your dreams like drowning in a pool of jealousy.

So if you have some bitches in the back in your life, fuck them. Live your life. Do you. Make your art. Put your words, your music, your opinions, your face, your body, your story out there. Listen to people who are creating, for they might have some valuable feedback for you. Listen to your audience, the people who consume your content, and want to see you win, for they might also bestow you with some words of wisdom. Listen to yourself, for your own knowing is usually the most spot-on.

But the bitches in the back? Their opinions are fruitless. Why would you let anyone who has never dared to step into the spotlight dull your shine, girl? Close your ears to them and keep creating.

And one day while they were busy being bitchy, you’ll have made something you’re proud of.

My debut book GIRL, STOP PASSING OUT IN YOUR MAKEUP: THE BAD GIRL’S GUIDE TO GETTING YOUR SH*T TOGETHER is available NOW on AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound, and BAM! If you send me a screenshot of your order, I’ll send you swag!


Praises for GIRL, STOP PASSING OUT IN YOUR MAKEUP

“Zara has the rare talent of marching into the deepest, darkest moments of life—the mascara-teared and alcohol-soaked—scooping them up, and thrusting them into the light with amazing clarity, forgiveness, and compassion. As her editor at Elite Daily, I had the honor of watching Zara blossom into the emotionally raw and poetic writer she is now. Her gripping first-person narratives help every woman (including me) come to terms with her own demons or insecurities in a refreshingly comfortable way. There’s a reason she’s built up an army of ‘babes’ who are empowered by the words of their dear big sister, Z: Her candid honesty and no bullshit advice are simply addicting.” 

– Faye Brennan, Sex & Relationships Director, Cosmopolitan

“Reading Zara is like reading your own thoughts—only sexier and much more brilliantly written.”

– Kaitlyn Cawley, former Editor-At-Large, Bustle Media Group and former Editor-in-Chief, Elite Daily

“Reading Zara’s writing will make you feel like you’re at your cool-as-hell big sister’s sleepover party. You will be transfixed by her unflinching honesty and words of wisdom, and she’ll successfully convince you to not only ditch the shame you feel about the raw and messy parts of yourself, but to dare to see them as beautiful.”

– Alexia LaFata, Editor, New York Magazine

“If Cat Marnell and F. Scott Fitzgerald had a literary baby it would be Zara Barrie. She’s got Marnell’s casual, dark, downright hilarious tone of an irreverent party girl. But then she also has Fitzgerald’s talent for making words literally feel like they sparkle on the page. You instantly feel more glamorous after reading a page of Zara’s writing, even when the page is talking about getting into a screaming match with her girlfriend outside of a bar on a Sarasota street corner while high on benzos. I’ve always been a fan of Zara’s writing, but Girl, Stop Passing Out in Your Makeup takes it to the next level. With shimmery words that make her dark stories sparkle, she seamlessly manages to inspire even the most coked-out girl at the party to get her shit together.”

– Candice Jalili, Senior Sex & Dating Writer, Elite Daily

“Self-help meets memoir. Party girl meets wise sage. Beauty meets reality. Zara Barrie is the cool older sister you wish you had. The one that lets you borrow her designer dresses and ripped up fishnets, buys you champagne (she loves you too much to let you drink beer), and colors your lips with bright pink lipstick. She’ll take you to the coolest parties, and will stick by your side and she guides you through the glitter, pain, danger, laughter, and what it means to be a f*cked up girl in this f*cked up world (both of which are beautiful despite the darkness). Girl, Stop Passing Out in Your Makeup is for the girls that are too much of a beautiful contradiction to be contained. Zara is a gifted writer—one second she’ll have you laughing over rich girls agonizing over which Birkin bag to buy, the next second she’ll shatter your heart in one sentence about losing one’s innocence. Zara is the nuanced girl she writes for—light, irreverent, snarky, bitchy, funny; and aching, perceptive, deep, flawed, wise, poised, honest—all at once. Perhaps the only thing that can match Zara’s unparalleled wit and big sister advice is her candid humor and undeniable talent for the written word. Zara is one of the most prolific and entertaining honest voices on the internet—and her talent is only multiplied in book form. Girl, Stop Passing Out in Your Makeup is for the bad girls, honey.”  

– Danya Troisi, Executive Editor, GO Magazine

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