Ashlyn McDonald, Anil Singh, Benjamin Letta, Lillian Espinal

Jia Tolentinl’s two essays, “Always be Optimizing” and “I Thee Dread,” are related in the theme of what a traditional woman is supposed to be. Tolentino uses references to different activities and businesses in order to describe this perfect woman: Sweetgreen, Barre, Lululemon, and marriage. Jia uses a mix of her own experiences, own opinion, and historical background to write these two essays. Tolentino’s essays also share her opposing viewpoints on weddings and workout activities for the “traditional woman”. 

Not knowing these two essays were written by the same author, there are subtle similarities that connect the two. One thing we noticed is that the language Tolentino used in both essays are exactly alike. The technical term to describe her writing style is informal diction which means “the relaxed, conversational language that we use every day.” She writes in a way that the narrative sounds as if she’s speaking directly to the audience. 

Some characteristics of the writing further show her authorship. Tolentino has opposing ideas of traditional concepts that people tend to and will follow. She has no problem with the quality but instead how it has flaws. Her essays bring to light these flaws that she sees in marriage and different activities for the perfect woman. She has political views that are linked to progressive ideas. In the two essay’s Tolentino both compares the traditional wedding, workout, diet, apparel all as a financial gain and how all of them are also changing as decades pass.

Works Cited

Tolentino, Jia. “Always Be Optimizing” (63-94) in Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion. New 

York: Random House, 2019.

Tolentino, Jia. “I Thee Dread” (263-292) in Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion. New York: 

Random House, 2019.


  1. katrinethis says:

    Great work. You talk about how her language in the essays is like she is talking directly to an audience, but what effect does that have when you read the essays then?


    1. When reading the essays, the effect it brings to the audience is an engaging perspective when reading her experiences in both essays including myself the reader.


  2. kaylagoodlin says:

    Which theme do you think Tolentino focuses on the most in her writing?


    1. I believe the theme Tolentino focus on most in her writing is about the problems with culture. While she criticizes the concepts of how women should act in society and brings up ideas about feminism, Tolentino wants to discuss the inequalities about traditional culture.


  3. Hi Ben! The way that your group described the diction in which Tolentino writes, is very interesting to me. I can tell from your response that her writing appeals to you. Considering the fact that Tolentino offers opposing views to show her passion for the topic, is this something you would do?


    1. If there was topic or discussion that I would opposed to based on our climate or current event, then it may be interesting to do for writing.


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