#SharedSecrets: Episode 9

My Secret Life as a Hot Woman with A.J. Jacobs


What makes a person a man or woman, and who gets to decide? My guest in Episode 11, journalist A.J. Jacobs, examines issues of gender, identity and vulnerability in his Esquire magazine piece, My Life as a Hot Woman. In the story, he plays matchmaker for his babysitter by setting up an online-dating profile for her and answering her messages from potential suitors.

In the podcast, A.J. talks about how the experience gave him a new perspective on men, women and the way we portray ourselves in our most vulnerable moments. He says he was especially surprised by the insights he gained about men. He expected to encounter loads of sleazy guys (and he did—you won’t believe the pick-up line he fielded from a guy who began by saying, “I’m not a gynecologist …”). He didn’t expect to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the shame and vulnerability many men feel. We chat about the other secrets he learned while researching and writing the article, and also talk about the various ways in which vulnerability is the root of living a full, authentic life.

More about A.J.: A.J. Jacobs is an author and journalist who has written four New York Times bestsellers. He is also editor at large at Esquire magazine, a commentator on NPR and a columnist for Mental Floss magazine. He is currently helping to build a family tree of the entire world and holding the biggest family reunion ever in 2015. His books include The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World; The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible; and Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection.