Tag Archives: kim kardashian

Female Bodies: Endlessly Contested Obsessions

There have been a few things on the internet this week that made my spidey senses tingle, reminding me that women are first and foremost things for people to judge and argue about. Never mind that they are also humans that work and breathe and make completely autonomous decisions on the reg. As far as our culture, especially digital internet culture is concerned, they should always be pretty and ready to be appraised.

Mean-Girls-GIF-Regina-George-Rachel-McAdams-You-Think-Youre-Really-Pretty

This week Calvin Klien launched a new campaign. It’s typical for them, black and white and slick. But there is something different, although when I first saw the photo I myself didn’t notice it.

CKmodel

That’s Myla Dalbesio. She’s a model. She looks pretty great in that simple black lingerie. NBD.

A Twitter-storm erupted when Elle tweeted:

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Because some people think that a size 10 isn’t plus size. I would agree. And some people say ‘Well it’s fashion and for the fashion industry she is large.’ And yea, I guess. But ew. And of course there were a range of other lewd and vapid comments, but what stuck out to me is this need to define what she is. I mean, can’t she just be a model? Like, a beautiful model? I of course agree that we need to see a wider range of body types in the media, but it’s about so much more than that. Because redefining beauty is not just about expanding the range of sizes a woman can be while still being hot.

And then, well, then there was Kim.

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She ‘broke the internet’. She ‘did it again.’ Kayne tweeted his support:

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And everyone has an opinion. Some shamed her, because she ‘is someone’s mother’. Which is ridiculous cause babies are made with sex. Right? That’s not new news, is it? And some people are sick of her, and I’ll admit I am sick of her. And I’m sick of how her butt is always emphasized, and I’m uncomfortable with the racialized history of this type of photo. And the amount of photo shopping that I’m guessing happened here, to tip this photo over the top, is also problematic.

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But it’s not new. Is it? I mean, the whole shoot was recycled ideas the photographer already did. And haven’t we seen this before, in general? Is this so shocking? Is it really necessary to argue about what she should be doing with her body, if mom’s can be sexy (duh), if she has no talent (duh), etc? Why can’t we look right past her (I know, I know, ‘that ass tho’) and talk about the culture we all perpetuate that allows this photo of this actual famous person to exist? Because this photo, of a sexualized backside and a shiny shiny white-ish woman, this is what we push as an ideal of beauty. This is what we encourage young woman to aspire to.

growup

Quick, name a female scientist (that is alive, not Marie Curie.)

I’m gonna go with Emily Graslie, seen here reading her mail and talking about gender gaps in STEM fields.

Now name a female novelist (again, who is alive.)

Here are two dope women writers, chatting with each other and positively thrilling me. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian American novelist, and Zadie Smith is British and too smart for me.

Quick, think of 3 female role models that aren’t role models because they always look perfect and seem to have it all (this unfortunately leaves out Beyonce although her work ethic makes her worthy of role model status in my humble opinion.) Feel free to leave your pics in the comments.

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Because one of the important things to remember is that no matter what else we require of women, we require them to be beautiful. And I get it, we all like to look at beautiful things. But people aren’t things. And men don’t have these same kinds of standards. They can be professional or smart or powerful or parents or hardworking or famous or entrepreneurial, without also having to look flawless all day every day. But women must always exist in these contested spaces. Is she pretty enough? Is she a good mother? Can she be a feminist icon while also being sexy? Is she too sexy? Too crude? Can women be funny?

The topic of ‘is she good enough’ is always up for debate.

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All of this chips away at women’s humanity. We are not objects to be argued over. Our bodies are our own. So too are the choices we make. If Kim wants to get lathered up with baby oil and let them photo shop her waist so she can continue to make money off her ass, that’s her choice. I don’t wanna talk about it, but she’s allowed. And she should be allowed without all the subsequent chatter. Like the photo or don’t, but remember that she is an actual human, with a family, with friends, with a real life. Same goes for Myla. Why should she have to deal with the ‘is she or isn’t she plus sized’ conversation? Plus sized is a made up thing. It’s not real. People are just people, with bodies of different shapes. Who. Cares.

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And before the ‘they put themselves out there to be judged’ brigade starts in, I will remind you that these kinds of arguments do not happen around men. Even male models, who make money off of their body and image do not occupy the contested spaces their female counterparts do. We do not pick apart male actors or celebrities in the same way. Because we don’t feel ownership over male bodies. We don’t feel entitled to enjoy or critique male bodies in the same way we do with female bodies. This entitlement contributes to the endless arguments, it contributes to internet harassment and street harassment and rape culture. And I’m sick of it. It’s exhausting.

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Here is a newsflash: adding your voice to the endless debate over who is beautiful and who is worthy will not end the centuries of violence and control enacted on the female body. If we spent half the energy we expend on judging women on thinking about how we could change the conversation and change the world, then we could actually get down to the work of making this world a better, safer place for  all those that are currently being disenfranchised by ‘the man’. Stop staring at Kim’s ass and arguing over which number size is too big for models, and let’s make our voices heard about the stuff that matters.

Robin is Out, No One’s Surprised

Robin Roberts, ABC Good Morning America star, came out publicly on Facebook this week. It was simple, it was no frills, it was throughly banal. As it should be.

Robin at the Academy Awards, rocking post treatment hair and her epic smile
Robin at the Academy Awards, rocking post treatment hair and her epic smile

Robin has been excellent at everything for awhile now, from her days as a standout college athlete all the way through ESPN and onto Good Morning America with ABC. I’m not a huge fan of GMA, but I am a huge fan of Robin. Her personal story, mainly her difficult journey with cancer, touches me in a deep and resounding way. She is smart, poised, pleasant and accessible. And it matters that she came out.

For better or worse, celebrities are harrbingers of American culture. We look to them for cues like what to want, how to look, and to gauge where the American dream is. Sometimes, this is really really depressing.

Beautiful but vapid, rich and famous because... well... yea... UGH
Beautiful but vapid, rich and famous because… well… yea… UGH
This kid needs to chill with the obnoxious tats and stop taking hospital selfies
This kid needs to chill with the obnoxious tats and stop taking hospital selfies

Sometimes, it’s really pretty.

Always classy (this is clearly an excuse to post a photo of Mr Clooney, thanks for obliging me)
Always classy (this is clearly an excuse to post a photo of Mr Clooney, thanks for obliging me)

And in cases like this, it is an important weather vane. Robin’s sexuality has been an open secret for a long time, but this level of nonchalance still feels new. Celebrities have been coming out with varying degrees of success for awhile, but not long ago it was still a huge risk.

Ellen lost everything, before she got it all back and more with epic dance moves and a beautiful wife
Ellen lost everything, before she got it all back and more with excellent dance moves and a beautiful wife
You were watching American Idol going, hmmmmm, there's something about this kid...
You were watching American Idol going, hmmmmm, there’s something about this kid…
I think he's gotten even more gorgeous since coming out and becoming a dad. Damnit.
I think he’s gotten even more gorgeous since coming out and becoming a dad. Damnit.
Arguably the most liked gay celebrity. Look at that precious family. I melt.
Arguably the most liked gay celebrity. Super talented triple threat proven staying power, & look at that precious family. I melt.

I’m happy the main reaction to her photo caption was a shrug. But still,  even today it’s important when main stream culture gets reminded that they already know and like gay people. When this happens, it makes ‘gay’ less over there, less scary, less other. I’m not saying that her coming out is going to change the minds of biggots, but it chips away at the people who are ignorant. Because, like it or not, people feel as if they know her. So now, just maybe, someone who thinks they don’t know anyone who is gay (which probably isn’t true) can now watch Robin in the mornings and feel as if they have a personal connection with gay culture and gay people. And I’m hopeful that the first step towards complete love and acceptance of all people is getting to know ‘the other’, and realizing they are just as unique and stupid and clever and fucked up and optimistic and cynical and hard working and fun as you are. So I applaud Robin yet again, for breaking her own story in the perfect, understated but self-assured way. Let the flannel and OITNB jokes commence!

Body Insanity

Ok well, I can be silent about this no longer. This commercial has been making me livid.

Ok well here’s the thing. Peddling ass to sell clothes is nothing new, but good lord. This is just so over the top. It can’t even see the top. Kim is gorgeous. Seriously, I think she is mindblowingly beautiful. And I mean, her body is sick. Just, wow. So I get it, great choice.

BUT. First of all, you don’t get that body by wearing shoes. Same with Brooke Burke. That kind of body takes hard work and self control. And it takes a lot of time and brain space. Kim’s body is her product, and it must be the focus of her day to look that good. For women who have 40 hour work weeks, homework and classes, kids and life-partners, this kind of attention isn’t always possible. But instead of admitting that, we search and search for the quickest way to the perfect body, and now these shoes promise that. It’s a big fat lie they tell us, trying to convince us that just one more purchase will help us look like Kim.

Now I haven’t really even mentioned my issue with Kim K, the fact that her fame sprang from a (bad) sex tape, the fact that this commercial exploits her hyper-sexualized status, the racial issues in her and her family’s exoticism, or her overall success based on nothing but extreme physical beauty. It must be exhausting to be her, although getting paid to tweet would be kinda baller. But even with all of that, my main issue with the commercial is still how it attempts to trick all of us into thinking that shoes can replace working out and give us a great ass. Without a combo of genetics and hard work, Kim’s ass is out of reach. Our obsession with getting it is just another way to limit our thoughts, control our mobility, and contain our freedom.

And so furthermore, it’s imperative to stop thinking that we need Kim’s ass, when we all have so much else to offer. If having a great body is a priority in your life, I’m all for it. If working out and eating well is fulfilling, then you deserve it. But if you can’t take that time, if you don’t have it or it isn’t fun, then just don’t take it. Do things that make you happy. But don’t make this outrageous purchase, that for sure won’t sculpt your ass. Especially if you aren’t walking. (But then if you’re walking, thats already being active which will burn calories with or without fancy shoes. God, these people really suck.) The only way to get a great body is hard work and self control. And if you don’t wanna work hard and embrace moderation, it doesn’t make you a big fat failure. It makes you a person with realistic priorities and varied interests. And you’re probably also beautiful already. They don’t want you to believe that, but don’t be fooled. Kim is extraordinary, but your beauty lies in everything you have that she doesn’t. Like you’re real, you exist without cameras and makeup, you’re smart and accessible and not famous and interesting. She looks great sweaty, but so would we all with professional makeup and lighting. The shoes don’t even factor into the equation, they’re just a useless prop designed to make us feel inadequate. And why would we trust Kim on this? What has she ever done that screams honorable, reliable, trustworthy or honest? The only thing being a sex goddess requires is that she be beautiful and stay still long enough to get the shot. (And those are her limitations. Different but just as powerful, and just as restrictive.)