In Praise of Superficiality


July 10, 2013 by Katia


The hardest part about my day is staring at my growing pile of unread US Weeklys and coming to terms with the fact that the day is over again and who am I kidding, this is now officially a collection instead of reading material.

I grew up in a house where we spoke Russian and used the term crapfun (crap fun) coined by my mom. Crapfun was born out of a need to linguistically address concepts as pivotal as “guilty pleasures” and “craptastic” missing in the Russian vocabulary. This seems like a good time to point out, that this is also the nation that produced this:

Phillip Kirkorov – Diva. For nekkid guys, continue watching

Now you see why someone had to step up to the plate and invent crapfun. The problem with crapfun as a definition is that crapfun is not always fun. Because watching something like this, for example, unless you’re a die-hard fan, is no fun.  Enter hate watch, a term I came across in a Mama Pop article By Jeni Marinucci. Add hate watch to craptastic and guilty pleasure and you’ll begin to understand the vast realms of crapfun as both an activity and a genre.

Not too many people will admit to engaging in crapfun, because behind every crapfun loving soul stands a scandalized group of friends like so totally above this kind of superficiality, but some will. And those are the people that I would like to hang out with, because while they can take some crap of the fun kind, they’re not full of it. And they too are probably wondering:

Why does superficiality get such a bad rap?

The superficial is perceived as shallow, hollow, lacking any layers or depth and therefore strictly external. But hey, doesn’t the shallow keep us from drowning ? Doesn’t the external tell us exactly what to expect? Can we not cut superficial some slack then for its benefits? Yes, I know, there is no challenge in that which is strictly shallow and no secrets in what’s only external, but who said anything about strictly and only?

I’m not here to defend the superficial guy or gal whose lack of substance derives from ignorance. I’m here to defend selective superficiality as a deliberate choice. Engaging in superficial crapfun activity doesn’t make YOU superficial the same way that engaging in some weekend rollerblading doesn’t make you a professional athlete, as any reasonable non-superficial person would tell you.

Here’s a probably very partial list of some superficial things I’ve been known to do:

  • Watch The Bachelor religiously.
  • Read US Weekly and catch up on gossip online
  • Buy Vogue and People Style Watch  for the pictures
  • Shop for things that are not immediate necessities
  • Spend way too much time on social media

In an ideal world, I’d be doing all of them. In an even more ideal world, I’d be doing all of them, all the time for a living. IRL there’s a pile of magazines lying unopened on the floor next to my side of the bed and it’s not that I had a headache or didn’t want to. It’s just that between my 9-month-old, 4-year-old and blogging on my breaks, Amanda Bynes had to give.

Some of the activities on this list, if not all, have earned me a raised eyebrow from people who know me, my academic background  and book reading habits too well to be raising any eyebrows. They also knew my personal situation of being a slightly overwhelmed mom on maternity leave, raising two young children with my husband away from our families. Hold the violins. What I’m trying to say is, that if you decide to be openly superficial, loud and proud, the kind that leaves their US Weekly lying on your coffee table open on the Jersey Shore exposé, know that you’re destined to be walking through a mine field. People are often too self absorbed to take your situation as an overwhelmed mom, an overworked employee or both into consideration. They won’t applaud your efforts to JUST TRY TO FUCKING UNWIND with some legal substance, but rather use your US Weekly as an excuse to admire themselves at your expense. I could argue that each one of the activities on my list can be enjoyed on both a superficial and a more profound level, because superficiality, points out my wise husband, is not about what you’re doing, it’s about how you’re doing it. But the eye brow raisers won’t care, which is why I’m coming out to you in hopes that you do.

Ever since I’ve started watching The Bachelor a few seasons ago Mondays are much less painful. The show is a bottomless pit of bad taste and drama and I have the best crapfun time hate watching it. Why should I deprive myself of this pleasure, especially when I can live tweet about it and bond with others who think the same way. Twitter, rightfully deemed by all those Kirkegaard readers in your life as a time waster, can also be viewed as a great tool for practicing concise self expression and allows you to admire others for their ability to do the same. For some people any type of fascination with fashion symbolizes vanity and is all about the external. News flash from ancient Greece, when they formulated the laws of symmetry, they knew that the way things look had the power of bestowing a sense of harmony on the observer. Matching my son’s socks, to the underwear, to the outfit gives me a quick fix of harmony.

So you see, in some cases what we deem as superficial can actually serve as a gateway to something, uhm, deeper. But the thing is, it doesn’t have to, because the superficial has its own merits. For the tired SAH or on leave parent superficiality, however it manifests itself, is often restful and therapeutic. For the tired working parent, in a reality of constantly chasing after and stressing over, the superficial can paradoxically serve as a way to connect with ourselves by doing something which is strictly for us, and which is a means only to one end, bringing immediate satisfaction and relaxation while not being (with the potential exception of shopping) as harmful as some of the other activities designed to do the same.

So why are we so scared of being deemed superficial? Do we all have to walk around being deep all the time? Isn’t that what high school and Anne Hathaway are for?  In the core of this fear lies the surrender of control over your definition to others. If you know who you are and are confident enough in what you bring to the table, does it matter that someone else calls you superficial only because it allows them to convince themselves that they are not? That constant preoccupation of theirs with appearing deep, isn’t that a little, you know, external? God didn’t make us superficial OR deep, he made us both. Embrace it, come out.


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post on the subject “The Hardest Part of my Day”. Please visit our wonderful hosts:

Janine at Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic

Stephanie at Mommy, for Real

Kate at Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine?

Dawn at Dawn’s Disaster

4 thoughts on “In Praise of Superficiality

  1. Roshni says:

    Alas!! The video has been removed!! 😦
    I remember this post and I love that you too indulge in watching trashy TV and magazines like me!


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