I pick up the phone at work to call an agent. She’s reached a level of success where she has her calls placed for her and I have to go through several assistants to get her on the phone. One would think this woman might have a mature speaking voice and perhaps an impressive vocabulary. I’m greeted by an all too familiar sound which, much to my dismay, seems to be increasingly common in teens and 20-somethings. It’s that raspy sound made famous by the likes of Lauren Conrad of “The Hills”, the Kardashians, and even the adorable Zoey Deschanel. It suggests a combination of boredom, carefree/casual attitude, and lack of interest in what others have to say. It’s called “vocal fry” my friends, and it ain’t cute.
When did it become trendy to sound underwhelmed and unimpressed? Perhaps I’m being incredibly anti-feminist by saying this, but I think speaking this way does an extreme disservice to women who are probably quite intelligent (except perhaps Khloe). The combination of vocal fry and uptalk (ending a sentence like you’re asking a question?) literally diminishes the voice that women have worked so hard to have.
I unknowingly fell prey to this trend a few years ago. I had just graduated college, was spending my first summer back in the city and was feeling particularly aimless. In a voice lesson, my teacher brought it to my attention that I was talking a little too much like a bored valley girl and it was harming my vocal chords. I started paying much closer attention to my speech, and in doing so, became increasingly aware that other women were adopting these bad habits as well.
I still often sound like a little girl when I talk. I don’t always speak eloquently or use big fancy words. My voice sounds floaty and aimless if I’m not paying much attention to what’s coming out of my mouth. But as we continue to fight for gender equality, we can’t take for granted that we have been given a voice. Let’s not fall prey to sounding unintelligent and indecisive. Let’s speak with confidence and authority, making the decision to use our voices as one of the most important vehicles of expression we have been given.
Am I right? Or did I lose you when you realized this wasn’t actually about Fries?