Archive for the 'Media' Category

07
Sep
08

A Pause For Politics

I’ve been putting this off for a few days now. It is time for a little venting about the election. Because this is not a political blog I will make this brief.

Sarah Palin: On the one hand I am happy that there is a vagina…I mean a woman, somewhere on someone’s ticket. And even though I don’t agree with some…most…all of her political opinions I also feel like it is a good thing that a female politician has well defined and strong positions. Unfortunately I have not had a chance to hear her speak about said strong opinions because she has been too busy giving us the run down of her not so small family, the six degrees of her military acquaintances, and the personal chef that was part of her gubernatorial package. And that is all I have to say about that. Actually there is a lot more but that is all I am going to say here.

Secondly, I know that my handle includes the word intellectual, but I can’t keep that identity up always so after watching both conventions, here is a set of words and phrases that I never want to hear again:

1. Glass ceiling (since no one has used it correctly yet and both parties are lacking some serious historical facts here)

2. Drill baby drill (seriously?)

3. Fight for our country. (Its just overused and archaic, its time for something else)

4. Executive experience (again some grammatical issues and just completely unnecessary)

5. Negro (yes you Huckabee, we aren’t Negroes any more, we’re coloreds now.)

And lastly, did anyone see Palin’s young daughter lick her hand and fix the baby’s hair? Wow. Both conventions were quite the spectacles. And in case anyone was unsure, for the sake of my uterus, I’ll be voting for Obama. End political rant. Have a great week everyone!

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01
Aug
08

People For the Ethical Treatment of People

In the wake of the election I have been thinking a lot about the media. The more I think about it and observe things the more I realize how much influence the media has on our cultural ideology. This is a scary concept. Mostly because the media, in my opinion, is so far removed from real life and this imaginary ideal is what people are judging themselves by.

But I think what scares me most is the response, or lack thereof, on the part of our culture. I wonder if I was just naive before or if I missed something. But at what point did racial slurs, misogynist language, and fat hatred stop setting off the radars of journalistic integrity?

It seems that every journalistic piece concerning weight loss or the so called”obesity epidemic” includes some horrific headline. Take this one, for instance. Regardless of what terribly biased and unresearched material may exist in the article, look at the title. Who’s your fatty? When did name calling take the place of truly witty headlines. And what does this say about the publication. When did mean spirited journalism become okay?

But again, what frustrates me more than anything is that true criticism of the media rarely goes beyond water cooler talk and a few radical (and awesome and necessary) blogs. At what point did people just begin to ignore these terrible stereotypes and allow slurs to become a part of everyday news reporting?

So, in my revolutionary thinking, I have committed myself to always look for a larger forum in which I can voice my criticism and my refusal to allow the media to determine how I judge myself and others. But the one thing I wish I was better at is getting other people to do this with me. Its important to put the financial pressure on these television networks and newspapers and radio programs to get some of their integrity back and stop perpetuating slander and prejudice against already marginalized groups.

That was such a soap box. I suppose I have even my own special form of idealism. Maybe its my pessimism that prevents me from being more effective.

11
Jul
08

Battle of the Bods

When I saw the advertisements for this show my feminist light bulb was flashing red. I was disgusted. So I went to the website to see if this was really as revolting as it sounds. And yes, people, it is. Let’s go over the the shows format.

First there are the women. All skinny. Mostly blond and white. These women are rated by a group of men, again athletic and mostly white. The men rank the women on a scale of one to five based on certain body parts. For instance, the clip I watched was breasts. They are ranked in comparison to each other, by the way. This is the most disturbing part to me. Not only are we going to value them like cattle, we are also going to pit them against each other.

But wait. There’s more. While the men are busy hacking their brains to rank the women, the women are then asked to rank themselves trying to match the men. So, what you hear in the female conversation is some women say “I don’t like my breasts, so I’ll rank myself number 4”. It’s terrible.

What shows like this do, besides the usual female objectification women are measured by their bodies bullshit, is perpetuate the idea that self hatred is normal and criticizing others is normal as well. At the same time, it creates this narrow one dimensional “norm” for women.

I almost feel like its a waste of breath to complain about these things but I can’t help myself. It seems that the secret to reality television these days is to pit women against each other and devalue every redeeming quality they may have.

23
Jun
08

Making Waves?

For those who know me well, and even a few who don’t, the fact that I am even aware of this may come as a shock. After all, I care nothing about fashion of any kind unless it comes from a thrift store or is a pair of converses. But I must say when this came up on my news feed I just couldn’t help myself. Apparently Vogue Italia’s July issueis a special one. It features Black women only, and issues related to Black women. (Side note: I haven’t read the issue, ergo, I have no clue what said issues are. I am always suspicious of blanket statements such as this one, but I am only the messenger). I never know what to think when confronted with things like this. But I  must say, the editor of Vogue Italia really surprised me with some of the interviews I have been reading. For instance:

I thought, it’s ridiculous, this discrimination,” said Mr. Meisel, speaking by phone from his home in Los Angeles. “It’s so crazy to live in such a narrow, narrow place. Age, weight, sexuality, race — every kind of prejudice.”

…Mr. Meisel has his own theories about why black models, save for the token few, have disappeared from runways. “Perhaps the designers, perhaps the magazine editors,” he said. “They are the powerful people. And the advertisers. I have asked my advertising clients so many times, ‘Can we use a black girl?’ They say no.” The concern is that consumers will resist the product, he said. “It all comes down to money.”

Basically, Meisel (a fashion photographer) has decided to tackle every issue of racial and size discrimination in the fashion industry in one neat little issue. Apparently, it’s just that simple. Put an issue with black women and a spread with Tocarra (America’s Next Top Model’s original plus size poster child) and all is right with the world. I suppose having an all-black issue fudges the stats in terms of how diverse Vogue Italia might be, but dedicating a specialized issue in this way regardless of the statement it makes still leaves black women or plus size models in the margins. This is something that frustrates me, especially with fat women who statistically make up the majority.

Ok. Here’s my thing. I am all for exposing discrimination and fostering dialogue about potential prejudices, whatever they maybe. But one aspect of the fashion industry that really burns me up is the fact that designers, magazine editors and models are all willing to criticize an industry while participating it all at the same time. So it seems almost hypocritical to me for this editor to vent frustrations with the lack of black models and the refusal of advertisers to use black models. It seems hypocritical when you think about how much money this person makes by participating in this system.

I do think it’s important to criticize our own communities and change things from the inside out. But it’s awfully pretentious to climb on that high horse and act like you have not contributed in some way.

But what is really frustrating to me is the fact that I can’t decide for myself the best way to go about this. I do think it’s important to change the mainstream ideology but can that be done from the inside? I want to say yes but I just don’t buy into this all the way. Is it possible to be a part of the system and criticize it or does it always have to come from the outside? Which way os more effective? I wish I had answers.

12
Jun
08

My Beautiful Mommy?

The other day in class, one of the students, who also teaches women’s studies at another university, said that she honestly believes that the way we as a feminist community will able to change society is by teaching our daughters. I would take that one step further and say we should teach our sons as well, but I really think she is on to something. The next day, I excitedly read my new issue of Bitch magazine. In it, I found a review of this book written for children with mothers preparing to have plastic surgery.

I am positive that this is not what my classmate was talking about.

I was in such disbelief about this ridiculous piece of literature, that I went to my local bookstore and read it for myself. What a waste of paper this was. The author should have marketed a series of refridgerator magnets that read “Feeling like shit about yourself is totally fine. Just have surgery.”

Seriously, when the mom explains to the kid why she is having surgery she says something to the effect of: when you get old you get wrinkly, things sag, and you gotta have surgery to make yourself pretty again.

What the fuck?

I want to make something painfully clear here. This book is being marketed to children between the ages of 4 and 9. What kind of message are we sending children so young? Children that young have enough to worry about. Why add a fear of getting old and an anxiety about their bodies?

And besides, when did something like going under the knife become fairy tale material. I read the book and I can tell you there was not one page dedicated to the fact that mommy could die from surgery. Or what happens when you read your kid the book and then something goes terribly wrong and you don’t come out “prettier”? What the fuck do you do then?

I am so sick and tired of the nonchalant way in which society at large deals with the problem of hating one’s body. People treat it like getting your period. It’s as though it’s just a part of life that you have no control over. This is why I love the fatosphere. It’s a community in every way, teaching young women (and old) how to love themselves and that they have more control over this process than they think.

So, in light of this new information I decided something. If the powers that be decided to render all birth control methods incapable of working on me (which is my worst nightmare but altogether possible) and I have a daughter I am going to write a little book of my own, since it’s seems to be trendy these days. The title of this book will be: Don’t Believe Anything You See on TV, and the Things You Read Are Probably Bullshit Too! So there you have it. 

30
May
08

Where are the men?

So, grad school (specifically my Masculinity course) has me thinking.  It seems that women are the crux of the FA movement (I too am guilty of perpetuating that trend). This is understandable for reasons that would take another post to explain, but I think we all get the picture. But I/we should not forget that men are also subject to the same expectations and anti-fat rhetoric. It seems, according to the literature I’ve been reading day after day, that physicality has been a defining characteristic of manhood since the founding fathers. Some things never change.

Take sports for example. Athletes fair very well in the income hierarchy. We as a society, economically speaking, value the superb physical strength of athletes even more than teachers. But think about how much less women athletes get paid for the same thing. It just goes to show how significant these physical attributes are for men. Before anyone gets angry, I realize how much dedication and work it takes to be an athlete. I myself was an athlete at one time or another. I have a great amount of respect for people who exemplify the skill and dedication it takes to be the best. But I resent the fact that society places a higher worth on physical strength than the strength people have in between the ears.

The most depressing example of the kind of fat hatred that men must endure occurs in Hollywood. In movies, it’s like fat men are only qualified to play two roles. The first being the comedian. Don’t get me wrong. There are a number of respectable fat funnymen. But there should be just as many leading men. It’s like these men aren’t qualified to play serious roles. Secondly, fat men are relegated to the position of sidekick. Which in theory is a derivative of the comedian, because the sidekick provides comic relief. (Think Superbad, if anyone has seen it). 

I don’t think that anyone should be the subject of ridicule. And although the movie industry would never admit it, I believe that these men are cast for the apparent comedy of their looks as well as their acting ability. This is really unfortunate.

When am I going to get to see that leading man with a little meat on his bones (or a lot). I want a love interest I can wrap my arms all the way around. After all, when I fantasize about my completely fictional but nonetheless entertaining happy ending (Hollywood style), the man there with me is always a big, broad shouldered, no stranger to good home cooking, piece of…well you get the picture.

So, while there are some trailblazers changing what we see on television (Monique, pre slimfast Queen Latifah, and my personal favorite Nikki Blonsky, who is absolutely adorable),where are the leading men that break the trend? Have we really come that far?

22
May
08

In Protest of Competitive Weight Loss

Everyone will have to forgive me for being absent. I just finished moving from my small suburb to the big city! I have officially completed my first week of graduate school. So far, so good. Class has given me much to think about and write about. But before I get to the academic things I want to weigh in on something. I am continually disturbed about this whole Torrid boot camp thing. I know everyone has said their piece about it but I still haven’t had a chance to really rant.

Let me just say that this news was the last straw for me. I am so over the whole idea of competitive weight loss shows. I think we need to start boycotting and writing angry letters. Its been a while since I’ve written an angry protest letter. Just thinking about it makes me…I digress.

I know that humiliation is at the root of every reality television show. Fat people deal with enough scrutiny about their weight on a daily basis. I don’t see the appeal of repeatedly standing on a scale and listening to a host of “expert commentary” based on the number that appears on the scale all in the name of a prize that you probably won’t win in the end. These shows talk about so many different things. But at the end of the day, everyone watches to see that number on the scale. When one doesn’t lose weight, they are subject to the criticism of the panel as well as their peers/teammates. Here we go again. Size is something to be ashamed of, so now we are going to “motivate” you through complete disrespect and outward displays of disappointment junior high style.

The one thing that bothers me most is the competitive aspect. These shows claim to be educating the masses about healthy eating and dieting. At the same time, the contestants are rewarded regardless of how they lose the weight. For instance, in the most recent season of celebrity fit club, Tina Yothers admitted on that last episode that she followed a diet of strictly protein in preparation for the last weigh in. Dr. Ian, expert panelist, mentioned briefly that protein-only was not a healthy way to lose weight. But at the end of the day, her team won partly because of her strategy. It’s as though the shows say one thing and do another. They’re supposedly promoting healthy lifestyles, while rewarding the by-any-means-necessary approach to weight loss. Seriously, what the hell?

Lastly, competition implies that there can only be one winner. Only one person can look the best, and be the healthiest. It’s like saying that everyone else isn’t good enough. Warning Feminist Soapbox Ahead: Women! Beauty is not a competition. Stop it. Seriously. Just stop it and get over yourself. I mean it.

OK, I’m back. It scares me that Torrid is even participating in this weight loss boot camp thing. Regardless of their involvement, I just don’t think that a company can promote body acceptance by making fashionable clothes in a variety of sizes and then turn around and assist in the production of a show that centers on the idea that women need to compete in order to validate how beautiful they are.

So, it really is the last straw for me. I am now boycotting competitive weight loss in all its forms. Who’s with me?

Buy the way, if any one can manage to get a hold of the most recent issue of Ms. magazine, the cover article concerns body image and the media. The article mentions the positive effects of blogs like this one, and others in the fatosphere. So, I want to say kudos to those who are brave enough to keep writing about Fat Acceptance and cheers to Ms. magazine for recognizing their achievements.




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