Sharp Objects: The Reality of Women

One episode until the season finale, I found myself unable to stand the screams inside my mind that anticipation would have caused. In an attempt to stay true to the version of the work that I had been eagerly following for seven weeks, I bought the book online and spent almost 18 hours immersed in Gillian Flynn’s dissection of the psychosis of women. I literally could not stop reading.

It’s been years since I felt I had to shower off the words that I had read. The “Praise” section of the novel quotes Stephen King – “I found myself dreading the last thirty pages or so, but was helpless to stop turning them. Then, after the lights were out, the story just stayed there in my head, coiled and hissing, like a snake in a cave.” Poignant.

In synopsis, and without spoilers, Camille is an alcoholic investigative journalist who is recently discharged from a psychiatric facility for self-harm. On assignment, she returns to her hometown of Wind Gap to investigate the brutal murders of two young girls. In the midst of her own recovery, Camille must face her judgmental small town, the unforgiving eyes of her mother, and her personal demons. (This does no justice.)

Sharp Objects had a way of getting into the darkness of a women’s mind, life, ways, and subtleties. An ugliness you are familiar with, as a women. It is a deep-rooted, unapologetic shamefulness we know oh-so well, but that only rears its head when we can artfully deflect it.

I related to the women deeply. Camille – a beauty just wanting to get out of her skin, literally and figuratively, doing everything she could to become everything on her inside, on the outside. She became screaming words. A sweaty, drunken, sticky mess butchering the silent bull she becomes in her mother’s china shop. Relatable. Adora – poised porcelain perfection. In flowing floral day dresses she floats through life with her blonde hair and piercing eyes, kissing the backs of her admirers and judges alike. You imagine her lowered, measured, pained tone poking holes in your back of your eyes. Her sheer helplessness contradicting her inability to feign incapacity infuriates you more than her manipulation of her children. Admirable. Amma – a teenage rebellion if you ever saw one. Beautiful, homely doll on one side; sexual, excessive explosion on the other. Authentic.

What Sharp Objects taught me most was that women endure. We are all of them at our best and at our worst. We are villainous, strong, unrelenting characters when we are pushed and we have no conscience. And sometimes, just sometimes, that’s perfectly fine. We gnaw through society’s expectations, grinding our teeth and swallowing acid, all the while smiling and waiting for the validating smile; the envious whisper; the knowing hug; the lustful eye; the silence of our success.

Sharp Objects made me feel like I could open my box of ugly just temporarily and feel no guilt for vicariously eating every chocolate in the box. And when I was done, I could put on my spanx and a slash of red lipstick and no one would ever know.

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