Living like Lana Del Ray

'Lana Del Rey appeals to good girls because she’s the quintessential romantic bad girl: sultry, pouty, with thin white tee shirts and tiny denim shorts, the kind of girl who’d be leaning up against her boyfriend’s hot rod in the school parking lot. And what makes her most appealing is her vulnerability – that hidden sweetness, and softness, that gives her a kind of frayed innocence beneath that bad girl image. Critics have dismissed this image as highly calculated; but having a calculated image never stopped the same critics from praising Lady Gaga. I think the real reason they despise Lana Del Rey’s image is because it challenges the feminist idea that women should ball up their vulnerability and stuff it in the back of a dark, dark closet because it’s totally useless and also highlights gender differences, which are verboten. Women don’t have a special kind of vulnerability that’s different from men’s – stop singing about it! You’re just pretending, putting it on for a show...

So why am I, self-proclaimed good girl and sensible dater, so seduced by the idea of living a little bit more like Lana Del Rey? Because she feels everything so keenly.

She (I should say, the character she “plays” in her songs) doesn’t live according to a careful formula for avoiding pain, bad experiences, or risk. She doesn’t follow the “rules” for obtaining her own coin-operated boy. Okay, so she pushes her rule-breaking to a fault, but there’s something to be appreciated about being unafraid of being foolish in love.

Ultimately, if you make all the right decisions, you still aren’t guaranteed a tranquil and pain-free existence — the world is too chaotic to allow for that. And while it isn’t a reason to cave into complete hedonism, it is a reason to take a few risks here and there — perhaps even emotional risks. Lana Del Rey’s retro heroine feels so keenly because she’s made herself vulnerable to feeling, and to pain. Vulnerability isn’t a simple concept and it doesn’t mean a person is weak. It means she’s not so afraid of life that she hides all her best parts behind a bristly husk. There are different kinds of vulnerability as well, and many that actually take great courage — especially certain shades of vulnerability in love. It’s possible compulsive rule-followers like me have followed our patterns more out fear than wisdom. And that’s why a good girl like me likes Lana Del Rey. A craving to be a little less wise and a little more vulnerable. A craving to be less numb. And a craving for the kind of music that is unapologetically feminine.'


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