Kelly Oxford isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. “I just got my period while getting an MRI, don’t fuck with me,” she tweeted last year in just one of thousands of no-holds-barred revelations. The Edmonton-born, L.A.-based author has been writing about herself and her children—ages 15, 13 and 8—for two decades: first as a blogger in the late ’90s (her confessional-style approach to parenting paved the way for many mommy bloggers to come) and later on Twitter, where her witty observations and unique brand of humour have amassed a huge following (765,000 to date, including celebs such as Jimmy Kimmel and Ryan Gosling).
No matter the medium, Oxford’s voice stands out because she strikes that perfect balance between funny, fabulous and real. (She’s like the BFF who’s fun to party with but also the first person you’d call if you were going through a breakup.) On Instagram, for instance, 39-year-old Oxford recently revealed everything from the Valentino dress she wore to a Vogue party to news of her separation from her husband of 18 years, James, to the untimely death of her beloved poodle, Lou. “I choose to share everything,” says Oxford matter-of-factly. “I can still find humour in the things that aren’t so great.”
Oxford’s new book, When You Find Out the World Is Against You, is an extension of her social media brand (clever, insightful, self-deprecating) and a follow-up to her 2013 New York Times bestseller, Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar. She once again bares it all in a series of nostalgia-inducing personal essays, some LOL funny—including a hairy-thighs discovery and perm treatment gone wrong at overnight camp—and others poignant, like the time she had her first real panic attack. (Oxford gets strong feedback from fans when writing about anxiety.)
A standout essay, “#NotOkay: The Day My Outrage Went Viral,” outlines a recent social media campaign that inadvertently transformed Oxford into a women’s rights activist. When the Donald Trump “Grab them by the pussy” scandal broke in October 2016, Oxford tweeted, “Women: tweet me your first assaults. They aren’t just stats. I’ll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me. I’m 12.” More than a million women responded within 24 hours (more than 30 million within a week). “I definitely didn’t expect that kind of response,” recalls Oxford, whose story got picked up by media outlets around the globe. “I was shocked by the content that was coming in but more so by the number of actual tweets: a minimum of 50 every time I reloaded my phone [each minute]. I’ve talked about assault my whole life with friends; they’ve all been sexually assaulted, and I figured everybody—beyond the scope of women I know—has probably had a similar experience.”
While the #NotOkay campaign thrust Oxford into the media spotlight, she remains driven and down-to-earth. “Everyone tells me all the time, ‘Just get an assistant’ and I’m like, ‘I can’t! I can’t!’ I’m a control freak. Or maybe it’s a matter of not wanting to impose on anyone,” she reasons. Oxford’s daily uniform consists of jeans (Madewell and Levi’s Re/Done are faves) and a basic tee layered with plaid. She also sports groovy oversized frames that give her a distinct grown-up-hipster look.
Though she naturally appears camera-ready, Oxford is most comfortable behind the scenes. She has written several TV pilots and, more recently, a screenplay for Sony Pictures. (Seth Rogen is producing, Oxford hopes to direct.) Called All the Way, it’s a coming-of-age tale about a group of high-school girls on a quest to lose their virginity. “It’s like a 2017 version of Clueless,” says Oxford, who picked the brains of 15-year-old daughter Salinger and her group of friends from the Valley. “It’s about teen girls and that age where they go from wanting to do everything together—going to the mall, having a sleepover—to wanting to become autonomous, and the conflict it generates. I wrote about that under the guise of four best friends who decide to lose their virginity at the same time. We’ve seen it a million times with boys but never from girls. It will be interesting from the female perspective.”
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