An Open Letter to the Coworkers Who Compared Me to Anastasia Steele

Posted on November 7, 2012 by


My dearest darlingest fellow ticketing clerks,

“Oh my GOD, she’s Ana Steele! You’re Anastasia Steele!” you squealed at the beginning of a disagreeable office-wide phase that lasted for weeks.

My response to this sort of nonsense, prompted only by the apparent misstep of drinking hot Twinings English Breakfast in the morning instead of the Tim Horton’s IceCapp that somehow remained de rigeur in the ticketing office all summer, was usually to smile at you with a look of murder in my eyes or protest with minimal effort. There was simply no arguing with you. Yes, I know. I’m an English major with light brown hair who likes tea. The resemblance is striking.

Now, though, since I am a badass, I will respond with that most daring of counter-arguments: a (mostly) flippant illustrated list of the ways in which I am nothing like Anastasia Steele.

5. I own more than one skirt and at least attempt not to look like I just rolled out of bed most days

This point is superficial but touchy. I know plenty of people who don’t feel comfortable in skirts for one reason or another. I also realize that not everyone gets as excited by clothes as I do. But Anastasia Steele struggles to look “semi-presentable” for an interview with a billionaire.

She criticizes her own appearance constantly, yet it never occurs to her to try mascara or mousse or mess around with clothes. My preferred method of self-soothing is imagining that Coco Chanel is my guardian angel. In this respect as in others, Ana and I are not kindred spirits.

Coco would back me up on this one.

4. “Oh, you know. The usual. The classics. British literature, mainly”

This is also my answer to the question of what I read, but my definition of the classics goes beyond a high school reading list. As an actual English major, I make it a point to know and love books. Lots of them. Plenty of different kinds. This is just what one does when one studies something at the university level. That is the point. I’m just as excited about the Mitfords as plenty of my friends are about post-colonialism or Oscar Wilde or… Fifty Shades of Grey? That may not be the best example. The point still stands.


My thesis topics judging you.


One of the point in which darling Ana and I are supposedly similar is our love of England. “Oh my GOD, your favorite city is London? You’re just like Ana!” No, I’m really not.“It’s the home of Shakespeare, Austen, the Brontë sisters, Thomas Hardy. I’d like to see the places that inspired those people to write such wonderful books.”List of authors that requires no thought to compile aside, this is ridiculous. It gets worse when one realizes E.L. James is English and starts to wonder if she has gleaned her understanding  of her own cultural heritage from costume dramas and high school classes. Or if she merely assumes Americans do so.

Compare this to my time in England, the arguable highlights of which were seeing the first place Nancy Mitford was wonderfully mean and meeting real live hedgehogs. That last might be a bit twee and idealized. But who doesn’t love Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle?

This is exactly how England feels.

2. I understand what my sex drive is, and I do not anthropomorphize it

When I first read Fifty Shades of Grey, this was the first funny bit I brought to Ariel and Matthew’s attention. One’s sex drive or sense of self-worth is not a little goddess.

At least, mine is not. I can’t really speak for anyone else.

If you persist in comparing me to a twit who insists her sex drive and her id are a goddess, I will choose an inner goddess. She will be Eris. And you will be sorry. This is not a goddess, though it is mostly inner:


1. I make a valiant effort not to be a doormat and comparing me to one is both insulting and problematic

All right, this isn’t the flippancy I promised, and since you, coworker, have seen me in customer service mode, you may think I am, in fact, meek, subservient, and malleable. Nope. When I’m being ridiculously sweet it’s because it’s my job. If someone came into our office and asked to buy natural filament rope and masking tape all while insinuating that he wanted to use them on me, I would not react especially calmly. Also, it would be strange since we sold tickets.

Not true love.

Ditto telling me what to eat. Or what to wear. Or pressuring me into sexual acts I’d told him made me uncomfortable. Fundamentally, this is not okay. Thank God for Chaucer. Should you feel the urge to compare me to a literary character, I recommend following the example of my new favorite professor and telling me how much I remind you of Alisoun, the Wife of Bath, who, like Coco Chanel, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Nancy Mitford, and I, refused to put up with any nonsense.

Yours truly,


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