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On the Turtleneck Brazenness of Elizabeth Holmes

Elizabeth Holmes and her turtleneck. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

There are two reasons I dislike my colleague Emilia Petrarca. The first is that she introduced me to Olivia Jade’s videos and now I love them, which I hate. The second is that she looks cool in turtlenecks and I do not.

I know.

Still, Emilia makes me want to wear a turtleneck. She’s always talking about them: “My First-Date Turtleneck Has Never Failed Me,” etc. “Finally, Horny Turtlenecks Are Here.” “Who Are These Dogs Wearing Turtlenecks?” And that’s just publicly. This had led to me trying on at least one turtleneck in a store, during the wintertime, before ultimately deciding to not buy it. I know that doesn’t sound like something by which to be particularly aggrieved, and that’s because it isn’t.

Okay, what does this have to do with Elizabeth Holmes? you’re wondering. I clicked on this because it said Elizabeth Holmes. I know you did. That’s why I wrote it. Here is one thing I admire about Elizabeth Holmes other than the weird shit with her voice which I absolutely love and cannot get enough of: She just decided to wear a turtleneck because Steve Jobs wore one, I guess, and then she just wore one forever.

That is incredible dedication to the turtleneck, which is a clothing item that is both uncomfortable and not particularly flattering on most people. (No offense.)

Beyond this, Holmes often wore her hair in Olivia Palermo’s famous (yes? Please don’t interrupt) “turtleneck hair tuck,” tucked behind her turtleneck with a bunch of messy little hair wispies out in front. Did it look good? No. Did she keep doing it anyway, because she wanted to wear that turtleneck with her hair tucked in the back, I don’t know why?

And I admire it. (In loose terms.)

I can’t wear a turtleneck because I do not have a very long neck. Wearing a turtleneck, for me, calls to mind the true from-above view of a turtle, meaning that my “shell,” by which I mean my turtleneck, lies right against my “turtle head,” by which I mean my human head. It is not flattering or cool; it is Uncle Fester. It is bad.

Still, I have the desire. In fact, I was Steve Jobs for Halloween just this past year, though I have to admit I opted for a mock turtleneck. It felt powerful. It felt simple. It felt wrong. (And everyone asked if I was Elizabeth Holmes. Uh — does Elizabeth Holmes have glasses?)

I long for the low-key dork sexiness of a standard turtleneck tucked into jeans. I long for the messy, blonde, put-togetherness of an Olivia Palermo™ turtleneck hair-tuck. I long for the ability to telegraph the idea that I am in possession of knowledge and abilities that I absolutely am not. And yet, unlike Elizabeth Holmes, I am unable to reach for it.

Yes, Elizabeth Holmes pretended a lot of stuff pretty good for a little while. But what she also pretended pretty good? Was turtlenecks. Which is what I wish I could do, too. But I never will. Thank you.

On the Turtleneck Brazenness of Elizabeth Holmes