In Other Words: ‘I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman’
Review: ‘I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman'
At the time this essay collection was published in 2006, Nora Ephron was 65 years old. After a career of blockbuster romcoms and bestselling novels, Ephron channeled her years of industry experience to reflect in this collection of essays on the inevitability of aging, parenting and the men who have done nothing but disappoint her.
Ephron’s essays range from how she isn’t good at having a purse, to moving in and out of a beloved apartment, to rubbing shoulders with famous cookbook authors. The essays themselves are engaging, anecdotal blurbs about her life. Filled with her signature wit and conversational writing style, they are very easy to speed through.
However, as a wealthy white woman living in New York City, some of Ephron’s essays come across as tone-deaf and superficial. In “On Maintenance,” she explains her strict beauty regimen and after passing a woman experiencing homelessness on the street, she fears she is “eight hours a week away from looking exactly like [her].” This trend continues throughout other essays where Ephron seems to obsess more over vanity and material things than the people or places that may help her through her negative feelings about aging.
However, when Ephron does discuss the topics that mean the most to her — reading and love — she seems most connected with her writing. One essay depicts the state of enthrallment she entered when she read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, describing that “each minute I spend away from the book pretending to be interested in everyday life is misery.”
Her final essay, “Considering the Alternative,” is the most profound, where Ephron recounts the death of her best friend. She asserts that growing older does not necessarily mean growing wiser or more content and the pain of losing people she loves never becomes any easier.
While I Feel Bad About My Neck has its glimmering moments, many of the essays do not feel particularly relatable to Ephron’s audience. For someone with such an interesting life, the repetitive emphasis on her love for material things feels less like a conversation about womanhood and more like a flaunt of how much money she is able to spend on mundane things.
In other words, 3/5 stars.