Heather Havrilesky is the GOAT of advice columnists.
A fellow Duke graduate from the early ’90s, I’ve watched her career closely. From Salon to New York Magazine to Substack, Heather’s made her name as a loquacious, straight-talking advocate for women. She is deeply empathetic and speaks to the pain women feel far better than I do.
Havrilesky has gotten the most attention for her Ask Polly column and for the hubbub around her book, Foreverland: On the Divine Tedium of Marriage. Most famously, she published a piece in the New York Times in which she criticizes her husband while declaring him her favorite person. This, in and of itself, isn’t unusual. Familiarity can breed contempt and building a life with someone can be challenging. The reason Havrilesky’s piece went viral was that it sounded like she had more contempt than love for her husband.
Havrilesky’s unparalleled ability to air her dirty laundry gives permission for other women to feel more fully themselves.
This is a good thing – especially for women who have contorted themselves to become people pleasers without ever being pleased themselves. Her Ask Polly columns regularly make me want to scream, “Yes!!” at the end, when she exhorts her anxious and shame-filled readers to embrace themselves, speak their minds, and feel their feelings, the world be damned.