COSMOPOLITAN.COM – Have you ever received an unsolicited dick pic? If so, it’s not your fault. You did nothing to deserve this, so don’t waste your precious time trying to rationalize it or make excuses for the pig in his mother’s basement with Cheeto powder lending a Donald Trump-like complexion to his milk-white hands.
Thing is, when I receive one, I can almost guarantee why I’m getting it. Save for a single letter (she writes hers with one S), I have the same name as a Victoria’s Secret model. We both appear in magazines, but for different reasons: She gets front and center(fold) with the mile-long thigh gap and magical cleavage, and I hide my too-short frame behind puns and other nerdy forms of syntax.
Sharing a name with a prominent swimsuit and lingerie model has its ups, because my friends say it works in my favor to be associated with a famous person, but if I had to choose, I’d be called Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or Mayim Bialik, or Sarah Silverman — names that align more squarely with my targeted personal brand. Instead, my inbox is a nightmare-ish hellscape full of scummy creeps failing to realize I am the wrong one.
I was in eighth grade when a boy and I had an hour to kill before a movie. He picked up a copy of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue to read while downing a Subway sandwich. There, my pseudo-doppelgänger was splayed in all her svelte glory. “Damn, now that’s a hot Marisa Miller,” he said with his mouth ajar enough for me to see the chewed-up pieces of meatball marinating in his mouth as he salivated at the sight of her (Who orders the meatball sub!?!?! That’d be a hard swipe left today). I tossed my sandwich in disgust, thanks to both the meatball display and his comment, starving throughout the movie.
As a journalist, I’m constantly looking at myself through Google’s lens. The search results need to be pristine, because I never know who’s looking at my credentials. I make an active effort to ensure there are no pictures of me partying, no gossip about me, and of course, nothing overtly sexual. And yet even the narrow Google image search of “Marissa Miller writer” leads to results of a woman in a shiny leather dress so tight I can’t help but imagine her intestines rearranging in her torso. “Marissa Miller journalist” reveals an even more provocative array of image results: a full chest with nipples conveniently covered in beads, and a nude woman who appears to be somewhere around seven months pregnant. It’s not just that I don’t want someone to mistake me for a woman who is scantily clad on the Internet (Not judging! Just not the image I personally want to put out there!) — it’s that we all know certain companies tend to disregard candidates who may leave to start a family.
True, I’m not aware of an instance in which a hiring manager confused me for the blonde bombshell, but that hasn’t stopped me from worrying about the possibility. After all, as of a few months ago, I, too, was platinum blonde, and I have been told by what I hope are credible sources that my blue eyes, too, are ~bedroom-esque~. In a climate where sartorial modesty is so firmly tied to professional success for women, I can’t help but resent that my name holds me back from the digital version of myself I try so desperately to be.
When I worked as a social media manager at a modeling agency a few years ago, appearance pervaded the corporate discourse. Much to my chagrin, my colleagues made the link. “You’re like a shorter version of her! Similar hair, similar eyes, similar bone structure, but like … different, you know? She’s so hot though. You’re really cute too. Don’t worry.” The “cute” stamp of approval from these tough critics would have otherwise painted emoji hearts on my eyes, but the part where they threw me a bone relegated me back to my desk where I could bury my perceived inferior face in some tweets at my computer.
Still, dick pics and unflattering comparisons aside, sharing my name with a badass who campaigns against SeaWorld on behalf of PETA, and whose proceeds from her online store go to the American Cancer Society, really isn’t so bad. In fact, I even feel a kinship with her. Being compared to her so frequently and seeing her face pop up every time I search myself has cemented her in my mind as an elusive peer, or a cool older sibling, or at the very least, a celebrity that maybe wants to meet me as much as I want to meet her. I just want to call her Mars Bar, like friends have called me for years, or Rissy, like my parents have cooed at me since I was born. Miller the Killer to bros. Eminem to acquaintances. Missy to childhood friends.
Sometimes, I’ll even dive into the troves of my closet and try on all my shortest bandage dresses and tiniest bikinis in front of the mirror, standing on stilt-like heels wondering if there’s any chance I could pass for the model. Then I quickly remember pulling off those outfits requires good posture and an immaculate diet, two things I can’t claim to have. At least behind the keyboard writing puns, I can curl up with a tub of hummus and slouch as much as my little heart desires.