Beauty Standards Affect Women

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Hey all! This is a guest post from Rockyath Adechoubou, a student of women’s studies at American University in in Washington, DC. Thanks to a wildly busy few months involving final thesis revisions and graduating from college (in just over two weeks!), I’ve been on a brief hiatus myself, but hope to return soon. In the meantime, here’s Rockyath.


 

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The Body Pacifist blog discusses how the negative body-image norms that we have in our society could affect the visions that women have of themselves. If you are a woman reading this post, you may have experienced days where you were not satisfied with your body. Although there are many obstacles women experience in the workplace, the focus of this blog is how the body image expectations that we are confronted with in our daily life can also have an impact in the professional world of many women.

Indeed, in today’s society, women are confronted with a specific standard of “beauty.” A woman’s body, character, and qualifications are torn apart and broken down on TV, in magazines, and online on a daily basis. I am fairly certain that many of us have found ourselves reading magazines such as Elle or Health where we are shown articles like “7 Secrets to Being Naturally Thin” which causes women to feel as if they must adhere to the “set” standard of beauty.

Lisa Quast, a career coach and a business consultant, discussed this issue at length in an article on Forbes titled: “Why Being Thin Actually Translate Into A Bigger Paycheck For Women.” I must admit that the title immediately spurred my interest since it is an issue that women, especially in the professional arena, struggle with, and which ultimately affects their job prospects. It’s therefore important to address the problem and talk about it.

Who wouldn’t want to look like those Victoria’s Secret models, or like the beautiful size-zero actresses that we see on TV? I, myself, have struggled with body image. Sometimes, I am looking at myself in the mirror and feel as if “ I am too fat” when in fact I am quite in shape! I know that I am not skinny but I feel overweight sometimes, and why should I? Why should I be skinnier than what I am already? The opposite sex feels the oppression of body image in the media as much as women. We should begin teaching girls and boys to love themselves the way they are no matter how they look like or the size they wear.

So, seeing that in the workplace women are discriminated against because their bodies don’t conform to the society’s norm makes me kind of scared, but even angrier. Quast brings up in her article a study that shows that “Between 45 percent and 61 percent of top male CEOs are overweight (BMI between 25 and 29)” but “only 5 percent – 22 percent of top female CEOs were overweight.”  According to the researchers of the study, “This reflects a greater tolerance and possibly even a preference for a larger size among men but a smaller size among women.” (It’s worth mentioning that it has been proven that BMI is not at all an accurate indicator of a person’s health and wellbeing. As I stated before, we are all unique in body type.)

Unfortunately, weight discrimination is one of many obstacles that women face in the workplace. In this day and age, where we think we have made so much progress, it is inconceivable that women have to face so much opposition! The fact that a woman’s body is considered as an “extended” part of the resume is simply wrong. I believe that body image issues are a big problem that needs to be addressed more thoroughly. As I said before, every person should be able to feel comfortable and confident in his or her own skin. When I see young girls around me struggling with their bodies because they feel like they do not fit “the norm,” it makes me concerned about where we are heading. As a society, we need to teach future generations that they don’t have to conform to those current figures of “beauty.” We have to begin teaching young girls that “beauty” is represented in every kind of shape.

Mental Relapse… That’s A Thing, Right?

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Sometimes we've got to be our own calming manatees.

Sometimes we’ve got to be our own calming manatees.

Happy eating disorders awareness week, folks! Although really, for anyone who has, has had, or knows someone with an eating disorder, the idea of there being a week at any time in which we just weren’t aware of eating disorders is kind of nonsense. But it’s great to see resources, support, statistics, and awareness pouring out onto the interwebs this week. For those of you who were able to join me in the #AdiosED Twitter party on Monday evening, thanks for your support. It was a huge success, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

NEDAwareness week came at an oddly ironic time for me this year. Yes, I know it’s the same week every year, but it landed straight in the middle of a… well, I’m not really sure what to call it.

What exactly do you term a sudden preoccupation with your weight and the amount of food you eat, if you’re determinedly not weighing yourself and you’re eating maybe even a little bit more than you ordinarily do? Can it still be considered a relapse if to the outside observer, you’re doing totally fine, but inside you feel like everything’s falling apart?

Disclaimer: I am fully aware that outside stressors in my life are taking their toll on my mental health, and they are doing that in the way they have decided to do since my mid-teens. At the moment, I am working two jobs, taking a full load of university courses, trying to raise almost $1500 to publish a literary magazine, navigating at least three university bureaucracies, trying to figure out how to spell bureaucracy, learning how to do basic html code, and finish a 335-page senior thesis in the next three weeks. Oh, and find out what to do with the rest of my life post-graduation. I recognize that my inherent inability to say “no” to anything is beginning to wear on me, and I’m coping with it as I usually do. But knowing that this is the case doesn’t make it any easier.

Instead of going back down the eating disorder path physically, I feel as if I’ve been taking the opposite road. I cannot actually motivate myself to do anything besides my (not-insignificant) walk to class and to work every day. The gym? Forget about it. Healthy eating? Okay, but once I’m through with dinner I’m going to barrel through that ice cream, because I’m stressed, okay, and sugar makes me feel better.

Briefly. Until I realize that I’ve felt this way before, during the early stages of recovery, when I was rapidly gaining weight like nobody’s business. It’s the same feeling of fear. Of being out of control. Of disgust and shame and wanting to talk to anybody about it but not being able to because I’m supposed to be better.

I had to stop and look at this image for at least five minutes when I first saw it. This is actually scary accurate. That's why it gets included in this post, and you get a bonus image. Puts things in a really visual perspective.

I had to stop and look at this image for at least five minutes when I first saw it. This is actually scary accurate. That’s why it gets included in this post, and you get a bonus image. Puts things in a really visual perspective.

Is this a rant-post? Partially. But I also think that there should be more attention paid to relapses that don’t involve resorting to behaviors. I haven’t stepped on the scale in over two weeks, admittedly partly because I’m afraid to but also because I can’t see what good that would do. I haven’t skipped a meal in months – in fact, I just came from a snack. To all intents and purposes, these are the fluctuations in the eating patterns and exercise habits of a recovered person. Vegetables and time logged on the treadmill take a back seat during the final semester of university, when there’s more things to be done than there are hours in a day. Maybe that’s normal. But I don’t feel recovered. I feel just as out-of-control and afraid as I did months and months ago.

And yet, because physically I’m healthy and functional and not losing weight, you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who would treat this as a relapse. I don’t need to go speak to a medical professional. I don’t need intervention. What I need, most people would tell me, is a nice long nap and a dose of perspective. But that’s not helpful in the midst of this.

Those are some of the complications of recovery that I never thought about until I experienced them. People expect you to be “better” once and for all. Particularly in my position, when I spend so much time writing about eating disorders, talking about recovery, organizing recovery-based events, and what all. People assume that once you’re “recovered,” you no longer need support and your mental state will take care of itself. This is not always the case.

During #AdiosED, one tweet particularly stood out to me, and I bring it back for you here because it’s the most honest thing I’ve read in a long time.

True facts. But the need for a hug doesn’t stop after you’ve been labeled (or have labeled yourself) recovered. Hard times still show up. There are still days when it’s hard to think about inhabiting your body, or look at it, or move around in it in certain ways. I had hoped that there wouldn’t be, but sometimes there are.

If you have a friend in recovery, and you’re comfortable talking with them, ask them how they’re doing from time to time. Be prepared for celebrations if they’re invited, but also be prepared for an honest, open discussion about how sometimes things are still hard.

And if you’re in recovery, and you’re feeling like you’re having a rough time, either mentally or physically, don’t lose hope. This will pass. It won’t go on forever. Because you are stronger than your eating disorder. It puts up a hell of a fight, but you don’t have to take it. Even though it’s hard at the moment, I don’t plan on taking it.

Join Us on Monday for #AdiosED!

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February is National Eating Disorders Awareness Month! If you’re looking for a way to celebrate your recovery journey or that of a loved one, if you need support and inspiration during your process and are on the lookout for resources,  if you want to educate yourself on what eating disorders really mean in our society and in our lives, or if you just want to spend some time on Twitter with me and my colleagues, have I got an event for you.

This Monday, February 24th, Adios Barbie and the National Eating Disorders Association will be hosting our second annual #AdiosED Twitter party, from 8-9pm EST. We will be using the hashtag #AdiosED to organize our conversations around eating disorder recovery, support, and education. Are you doing anything Monday night? Cancel it – this will be an amazing conversation!

Our theme for #AdiosED 2014 is mythbusting, particularly in terms of diverse communities. When eating disorders are represented in the media (and I’m not talking about “does she or doesn’t she need rehab” tabloids, which is a topic for another day), they are primarily represented as a rich, upper-middle-to-upper-class, cis-gendered, late-teens white female problem. Now, if the number of hyphens and commas I needed to use to make that sweeping generalization is any indication, this cross-section of the population clearly does not represent the reality of those who suffer from eating disorders. Possibly you’ve seen the hashtag #eatingdisordersareforwhitewomen, which evolved out of this post on Black Girl Dangerous about the whitewashing and limited representation of eating disorders. If not, check it out.

Clearly, this representation problem needs to end. Eating disorders are shrouded in enough myth and misunderstandings to lose yourself in. They’re lifestyle choices. They’re extreme diets. They’re not real mental illnesses. They’re something you want to have, because then you could finally lose weight. Nobody but celebrities and spoiled rich girls get eating disorders. None of this is true. And the more accurate information we can get out there, the better.

And that’s where #AdiosED comes in. Our discussion will be moderated by our five amazing panelists:

Other eating disorder specialists and activists will be in attendance to help answer your questions and shatter destructive eating disorder myths once and for all.

So what do you say? Will you join us Monday night at 8pm EST and help us say Adios to EDs? I’ll be there – will you?

For more information and to RSVP, visit our Facebook event here. You can also read a more in-depth version of our panelists’ biographies here, and view the transcript of last year’s #AdiosED event here.1002646_620178184697787_646126749_n

Looking for a Body-Positive Internship?

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Hello, my dear and lovely readers!

If you’ve been with me for some time, and/or you read the one-paragraph bio that I knocked out under the “About” tab, you know that I blog in a few other places than here. In fact, I work as the associate editor for the amazing body-positive website Adios Barbie, which has been providing body-positive resources for bodies at a variety of intersections of identity, and questioning the status quo about our bodies, since 1998. They’re amazing. (We’re amazing?) If you haven’t checked us out and you’re still in the mood for some positivity, discussion, and awareness – of course you are! – make sure you check us out there.

But you don’t need to stop after you’ve looked! Adios Barbie is currently accepting internship applications!

Yep, get excited! You could get involved in a well-established, well-respected, and pretty freaking awesome body-positive community right now, just by sending in your application. Adios Barbie is where I got my start blogging and dealing with these issues, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. So you should all totally get on that.

Plus, it’s a virtual position, meaning that you can join our team from the comfort of your living room! I go to work in my pajamas – what’s not to love?

Interested? For more details, keep reading…

Six-Month Internship with Adios Barbie
Positions Available: 4

Adios, Barbie: The One Stop Body Image Shop for identity issues including size, race, media, and more!
Since the dawn of the world wide web (or at least since 1998), AdiosBarbie.com has been the only site whose mission is to broaden the concept of body image to include people of all races, ages, cultures, genders, abilities, sexual orientations, and sizes.

Adios Barbie seeks diversity- not only in content, but also in our team. Thus, we want folks of all backgrounds and experiences to apply. We believe feminism is for everyone and urge folks who take a stand for or are feminists of color to apply as well.

This groundbreaking movement is seeking enthusiastic, change-minded people to join in the body-positive revolution. Four six-month internships are currently available with the possibility of advancement to a permanent role with the team at their completion.

We are looking for interns in three different fields: Writing/Publishing, PR/Social Media, and Advertising/Marketing. Please see below for the duties and responsibilities required of each position.

Want to intern with Adios Barbie but feel that you have a different skill set? Send us a pitch! Let us know how you can help, and we’ll consider your idea!

Internship Descriptions

Writing and Publishing

*Note – Two positions available

  • Research and develop content
  • Obtain web content in various forms (print, podcast, videos, etc.) for sharing and publication
  • Write one original piece (journalistic article, commentary, media analysis, etc.) per month
  • Have interest and experience in the field of their internship.

Public Relations and Social Media

*Note – One position available

  • Increase the visibility and impact of the organization
  • Maintain and develop media lists, press releases, and basic PR functions
  • Promote Adios Barbie using social media tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr
  • Communicate and interact with the public via social media
  • Familiarity with WordPress, basic html, and google analytics a plus

Advertising and Marketing

*Note – One position available

  • Assist in fundraising
  • Perform administrative and editing tasks for Adios Barbie
  • Create and promote Kickstarters or other fundraising campaigns
  • Help to create advertising strategies – both to bring advertisers to the site and to spread the word about Adios Barbie
  • Familiarity with Photoshop and design a plus

Ideal Candidate Charactaristics

We are actively seeking candidates who are:

  • Sensitive and compassionate with a working knowledge of the following issues and how they intersect: media literacy, race, gender, age, identity, size, ability, and body image
  • Driven by a strong work ethic and the ability to take initiative needing limited supervision
  • Team players who are open to collaboration

Notes

The internships are virtual positions; thus, applicants must have reliable high-speed internet connections and be skilled and responsible regarding electronic communication. Since the positions are remote, anyone anywhere in the world can apply.

Adios Barbie is run entirely by volunteers. As such, these internships are unpaid.

The time required is negotiable. However, interns should expect to devote an average of ten hours per week to their projects.

How to Apply

Applicants must submit:

  • A resume
  • A letter of interest, including how both you and the organization can benefit from this collaboration
  • A writing sample of 300-800 words on a topic relevant to the work of Adios Barbie

Applicants are encouraged (but in no way required) to submit:

  • Examples of previous related work
  • Links to blogs or other portfolios
  • Letters of recommendation
  • List of relevant coursework

Please indicate in the subject line which position you are applying for.

Interviews will be held via Skype.

Deadline for applications:
Monday, February 17th, 2014

Send applications and questions to:
Pia Guerrero, Founder/Editor
info@adiosbarbie.com

 

via Internship.

If you’re interested but the timeline poses a problem, contact us at info@adiosbarbie.com and let us know, and we can talk about your schedule.

Can’t wait to read your applications!

The Body Monologues

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So this'll make sense later...

So this’ll make sense later…

Some of you might remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that I would be participating in a body-image-themed slam poetry monologue event on my university campus, called The Body Monologues. I mentioned that for the first time ever, I would be getting up on stage in front of potentially hundreds of people and poetry-slamming my way through my own recovery story, which, though I’ve written about it pretty regularly for over a year, is something that made me want to curl up in a hole and hibernate until after the event.

Well, the performance was yesterday. Was I scared out of my mind? Absolutely. Did I need to pump myself up by listening to Two Steps From Hell the whole afternoon beforehand and doing weird stress-relieving exercises backstage for two hours? You know it. (Side note: the best way I’ve ever found to get rid of stress is to stand on one leg while reciting the “to be or not to be” soliloquy from Hamlet silently in your head. People look at you weird, but it’s impossible to be nervous while focusing on both your balance and the Bard.) Did I almost leave the auditorium midway through because for some reason our director thought that it would be a good idea to let me go last, giving me plenty of time to freak out? Yeah, that too.

But I did it.

And I killed it.

This turtle is PUMPED.

This turtle is PUMPED.

I had the whole monologue memorized, I delivered it like I’d done it in front of people hundreds of times, and I even got the audience to cheer while I was still speaking, which made me feel as excited as that turtle to the left. Maybe it helped that the entire auditorium was darkened, so I could barely see that there were even people there, and it was like me practicing in front of the mirror. Except the mirror got excited with me.

And that, my friends, is pretty awesome.

I’m not going to give a rundown of the entire night (mostly because I spent the better part of it standing on one leg trying to remember what came after “this mortal coil,”), but I’m so proud of all the participants in The Body Monologues. We told our truths even though it was scary, about our battles with and for our bodies, our processes to self-acceptance, our struggles, the expectations of others, around subjects ranging from race to gender to sexuality to agency to size to age to everything. It was empowering. It was amazing. It was brave. And I’m so happy I was a part of it.

Because I don’t have a recording of me getting up on stage and actually reading the piece (I may later, I’m not sure, but I think the event was recorded), I’ll provide the text for my performance below. Imagine me, if you will, standing on stage all by myself, doing that weird thing I do with my hands when I’m nervous, and then beginning…

——–

Bilingualism

Did you ever do that thing, when you were a kid,
and you still liked to play with words,
so you would say the same one
over and over and over
until all you were hearing was sounds and not the sense of things,
you were just making noises with your face
but it was so strange
to think that your mouth could make that sound?

The first word I remember making mean nothing was pilot.
I was about seven years old.
I found it in a book and read it
over and over and over
Pilot, pilot, pilot, pilot
until what the hell was I even saying,
what was a pilot, and why did we call them that,
and why did it sound like an infectious skin disease
if you said it more than four times in a row?

The next word I remember mutilating was
fat.

I heard it everywhere,
in the subterranean murmuring of strange couples at restaurants,
in the spreadsheet charts of your friendly neighborhood doctor’s office,
behind the masked words of my friends and teachers and
total strangers that I thought were saying things
about a person they hadn’t even noticed was in the room.

I started speaking a different language
than everyone around me
for whom fat was just fat
-is fat just fat for anybody?-

I was bilingual
in English and
anorexia.

My language didn’t have a dictionary.
You translate it by instinct.

You look great.
Translation: you looked way better before,
but you look fat now,
and I’m trying to be nice.
The road to pulling the verbal trigger
is paved with intended compliments.
Saying nothing would have been better.

If you want to gain weight, you should start eating more protein.
Silent response:
Thanks, Doctor Oz.
If you want to cut off your arm,
I’ll go get you the best saw from the tool shed out back.
It’s that easy.
You did tell me you’ve got a nasty paper cut.
Why not go all the way?

Gotta admire your willpower. I mean, you always eat so healthy.
Meaning:
I am always watching you eat,
and I’m quietly judging every bite you force yourself
to put into your mouth,
waiting for you to slip up and inhale that sleeve of Oreos
while the devil on your shoulder is whispering
for you to sell your soul to Trans Fats.
Those whispers you thought you heard in the restaurant?
They were real.

How about you try starting therapy.
To be followed by,
How about you try seeing a different therapist,
and then
How about maybe you stop going to therapy.
How about I start starting and stopping seeing a therapist.
Your coping mechanisms are not responding.
Have you tried turning it on and off again?

If you don’t try harder to get better, you never will.
Response: Thank you.
That was a motherfucking
breakthrough.
Do you mind if I take notes?
They gave you a PhD to tell people that?

I write my check and smile
and vow never to come back.

The voices have taken a Sharpie to my vocabulary
and every second definition from the top
has been replaced with
worthless slash hopeless slash not good enough slash failure slash disappointment slash
fat
slash
fat
slash
fat
slash
fat
slash

You know what?
I’m through repeating myself.

I want you to hear my voice rise up like a phoenix,
a phoenix that doesn’t care if being a phoenix is a cliche because that’s what it is,
I’m a motherfucking phoenix.
And if you know the rhythm of bilingual repetition,
self-translating self-destruction with an eating-disorder-to-English dictionary,
that if anybody anybody tells you that recovery isn’t possible
they can go fuck themselves
and I will burn anyone who tries to say it with the flames of my motherfucking phoenix wings,
because I’m coming up on one year and five months
and I am alive,
and nothing I say is repetition,
anymore.

———

An Open Letter To Downton Abbey

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TRIGGER WARNING and SPOILER ALERT
 (season 4, episode 2)

Dear Downton Abbey,

First, let me make one thing very clear: I adore you. I’m coming from a place of love. My favorite bag for the longest time was my canvas tote screen-printed with “What is a weekend?” (I carried my books to the library in it on Saturday mornings.) I firmly believe that Dame Maggie Smith is a god in human form. And I’ve been shipping Sybil and Branson for longer than was reasonable, especially as I continue to do so long after Sybil’s death. So I’m not writing this out of spite, or any deep-seated dislike of English period dramas. (My friends and family can attest to this.)

No, what I’m trying to do is speak to you like I would any friend who has made a terrible, disappointing choice that caused me to seethe in anger for longer than ten minutes. Keeping aggression inside is not healthy or helpful. Consider this my constructive criticism.

Why, why, why did you have to end the second episode of your new season with a melodramatic, completely pointless, vicious and gratuitous rape scene?

No really, why. I want to hear your reason.

It certainly wasn’t to drive forward an existing storyline. The rapist, one Mr. Green, the valet of a passing houseguest, was completely phoned in for this episode. He appears out of nowhere. He doesn’t even get a first name as best as I can remember, and if there’s a less distinct name than “Mr. Green,” please let me know. He seems to have no other purpose other than to seduce Anna and then rape her when she refuses his advances. After which he promptly disappears into the night. He was created to fill the role of Visiting Rapist. So clearly, writing a rape scene for its own sake was your goal.

It also wasn’t to pick up a dragging storyline and spur things along. You have no shortage of drama. You have Edith and Gregson’s (slightly unrealistic, but I’ll go for it) divorce-clandestine-not-secret-romance, you have Lord Grantham’s total inability to cope with anything that happens around him (I could rant about his character too, but that’s not the point), you have Mrs. Crawley’s mourning and you have Thomas Barrow, an enigma unto himself. But none of these have the sensationalism factor of a rape. Sex sells, and violence sells, and when you bring them together you know you’re going to get people talking. There’s a reason I’m not writing a blog post about Branson’s class standing and existential crisis.

Although I would like to. Because that’s my favorite part of the whole show. #TeamBranson.

You might argue, and not without reason, that you’ve leaned towards the dramatic and the violent before. You’ve almost given Mrs. Hughes breast cancer, you’ve had Matthew crash his car into a tree (though really I’m told that was a casting issue with Dan Stevens, so I’ll let it slide), you’ve killed Sybil. You killed my Sybil. But I let that go, because you had narrative work to do there. You were able to humanize Mrs. Hughes in a way that might have been difficult otherwise, and to look into Edwardian and Georgian medical practices, which the dork in me liked. You were able to deal with the issues of primogeniture and patriarchy in the estate system while having Mary navigate the aftermath of Matthew’s death. You gave me this tragic and beautiful storyline with Tom Branson holding a baby he loves while trying to fit into a world that is not his. Go you. All these things are great.

What has Anna’s rape done for the story, except sensationalize the reality of sexual violence that happens to someone in the United States once every two minutes, or an estimated total of 237,868 people per year?  What has it done except force her pain and suffering and abuse into the limelight, glamorizing and dramatizing the very real pain of sexual assault and violence that an estimated 35% of women in the world have gone through?

Don’t tell me that you’re trying to raise awareness. The only possible constructive message to be taken from this scene is that rape is “a thing that happens.” Women are already very aware. 

You’re trying to get people to talk. You’re appealing to an audience you think you have that glories in violence and sex and rape and murder and torture and vulgarity and violence and nudity, because that’s what modern culture tells you people are into these days.

Here’s a hint: maybe that’s what people watch because that’s what they’re given.

I can’t even think of a show within the past five years that hasn’t featured murder, death, assault, or sexual violence of some kind. Some of these are dealt with tastefully, some of these are not. But this isn’t ancient Rome, and I don’t need to watch somebody be fed to the lions to be entertained.

No. Actually, I'm not.

No. Actually, I’m not.

I think it’s possible to make a show where the drama comes from the human interactions on-screen. And so far, Downton, you’ve done a great job with this. If you want to have cruelty and underhand manipulation, do it like you’ve been doing it with Thomas Barrow. He’s my secret second-favorite character, which I realize is weird, but you know why? Because he’s a villain and he does evil, seemingly purposeless things, but they’re not exploitative or sensationalized or gut-wrenchingly awful, and his motivations are there and waiting for me to parse them. I think of him as an Edmund figure from King Lear (please humor me, non-English-literature-people): I can’t justify anything he does, but I can see why he would behave that way. And it’s just soul-wrenching enough that I can sympathize with him, and I want things to work out for him in the end. Treat your villains as people and your victims as people, not as mindless rapists and plot devices. It’s just offensive to everyone involved.

So, Downton Abbey, the ball’s in your court. I realize that Season 4 is already done filming, and that it’s already aired in the UK, and that you’ve probably already set the script for Season 5. And I will continue cheering from the comfortable sidelines of #TeamBranson, but it’s my responsibility to hold the things I love accountable.

As Dame Maggie Smith would put it, if she had access to the internet: “I’m a media-literate feminist, Mary, I can be as contrary as I choose.”

All I’m saying: just think about it. It didn’t work.

Until next Downton Day,

-Allison

My End to the Jennifer Lawrence Debate – From So Many Heartbeats

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Note: Hey there, everyone! This week’s post is, in fact, not from me at all, but a cross-post from Grace over at So Many Heartbeats, a really lovely person starting a really lovely body positivity and feminist blog. Here’s a quick taste of things to come over there, and definitely check out her site when you get the chance! I’ll be back with my own blogging later on, particularly when the madness that is working two jobs and writing a senior university honors thesis calms down just a tiny bit.


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There has been a lot of buzz lately of whether or not actress Jennifer Lawrence is a body-positivity heroine or its antithesis. Oddly enough, both sides of this argument cite the same interviews and YouTube videos but interpret them very differently. So, because I created this blog so I could weigh in on topics just like these, here I go.

On one side, J-Law lovers boast about how Jennifer Lawrence is championing over the cruelty that is Photoshop and Hollywood, saying things like she would never lose weight for a role and that society’s ideals for women’s bodies are harmful and unattainable. She talks about keeping her adolescent audience in mind when preparing for her role as Katniss in The Hunger Games, saying she wanted Katniss to be a strong female role model for young girls, instead of another waif of a woman whose main goal is to “get the guy” at the end of the film.

Cool. I’m all about women speaking out and standing up for their bodies regardless of how they look. I’m all about questioning ideals. I’m all about strong female protagonists in films that pass the Bechdel test with flying colors.

But as soon as Jennifer Lawrence’s fans flooded Tumblr in her honor, a whole stream of bloggers emerged saying, “Hold up, your fave is problematic.” Like I did with the first side of the argument, I read their evidence with an open and curious mind. Yes, Jennifer Lawrence did say a pretty trans-phobic statement during an interview with Ellen DeGeneres. Yes, she did kind of say that eating disorders are “dumb” rather than serious mental illnesses (which, I admit, really hurt me personally. We didn’t choose to have disordered eating, and we certainly should not be blamed or labeled as “dumb” for our struggles). Yes, Jennifer Lawrence is still an attractive, white woman. Despite not being the Hollywood size 0, she still generally fits into a mold of being presentable to society.

This is where my opinion of Jennifer Lawrence starts to deviate from this line of thinking. The “What does she know about being a fat and unattractive woman in America?” is thin-shaming and has no role in my body positive movement.Thin-shaming and fat-shaming are two sides of the same coin; both objectify women and deem them incapable of cultivating their own opinions and having their own independent experiences regardless of how they look. There’s actually no difference is saying that Jennifer Lawrence can’t talk about body acceptance because she’s not a size 16 and saying that Melissa McCarthy can’t talk about her favorite vegetable stew because she is. [Note: I have absolutely no idea what size Melissa McCarthy is, nor do I care.] You see? Body-shaming is body-shaming, objectification is objectification. Reducing women to their outward appearances and denying the fact that they– gasp!– are capable of producing independent thought contributes to the continued oppression of women worldwide.

So now, I’m throwing my own argument into the mix. Can we stop idealizing Jennifer Lawrence into being a perfect role model? Can we let go of the idea that “perfect” even exists? Can we stop thin-shaming her into submission by nitpicking every word that comes out of her mouth? Can we recognize that she is just another human being who is brave enough to share her unpopular opinions, but will also make some insensitive comments sometimes, as we all inevitably do? Can we all just relax about Jennifer Lawrence?