“My drive from work is too short for me to decide what to listen to on Spotify #firstworldproblems” was a recent tweet from the Twitter account First World Problems. The tweet reached over 50,000 people, and it was only one in a long list of mildly amusing little complaints about an easy, well-fed, upper-middle class life.
The idea of first world problems has recently become a meme, with inspired tweeters hashtagging the phrase on the back of every observation that doesn’t seem world-changing or ring out like a strangled scream from the depths of oppression. It’s kind of a fun trend. Maybe it serves to remind us all of what we already have. It offers a little dose of perspective. And when it first appeared, I was totally on board. But then I started seeing the hashtag cropping up a lot more when women were talking about all those things that get labeled “women’s issues.” Keep reading »
Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for the message “seriously, though, you’re beautiful.” And I agree with the viral clip, so many of us get distracted by all of our perceived flaws. We get caught up in criticizing our appearances and miss out on our own beauty. We are often more generous toward strangers than we are toward ourselves.
I like that the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign is pointing all of this out. I hope it starts a bunch of conversations. And I hope that my reaction is interpreted as a continuation of the conversation, rather than nitpicking criticism. Because I really don’t want to nitpick, I just want to point out some things I noticed as I was watching.
In the clip, some lovely, thin, mostly white women who are all pretty young describe their appearances to a forensic artist, who sketches them without looking at them. And then other people describe these women, and the artist starts all over again, based on the new description. At the end, the women are shown the two portraits of themselves, and they can see how differently the sketched faces turned out, based on the descriptions. They realize that they’ve been unnecessarily critical of their appearances. Keep reading »
Well, of course, someone had to take some photos of me at a party, wearing my favorite dress (should I just stop wearing the clothes I love to events where there might photos taken?), bulky, lopsided, unfortunately proportioned, and my pregnant beauty bubble, so to awkwardly speak, was popped.
No matter how many times I tell myself patiently, firmly, “NO. Don’t pay attention, the photo is lying!” there’s that part of my mind that goes “But this is the truth! THE TERRIBLE TRUTH IN A RANDOM, IMPERSONAL UNIVERSE WITHOUT A GOD.” My new tactic is better, I think. I tell myself, “So what? So what if I’m ugly?” And that is always more helpful. But at that particular moment there had been much talk of beautiful women, much instant evaluation around me of women as either pretty or dismissible, and it seemed as though it did matter, at least enough. Because even if it’s out of sheer laziness or habit or nothing important or just in passing, people seem to talk about the way women look first, and constantly, and always. Keep reading »
“When I hit my forties I thought, ‘I can’t play a sexy siren any more.’ Almost 20 years later, it’s still going on … I like to step outside of what people’s idea of me might be. I suppose that makes me a bit of a rule breaker … I think [it's] because I take care of myself, which includes dieting, exercising and minimizing stress. I joke that I’ve been on a diet since 1974, which is basically true.”
– Kim Cattrall shares the secret of her youthfulness in the May issue of Woman & Home Magazine. I’m glad she’s still feeling so hot and spry. But a 40-year diet? That sounds like the plot for a really depressing movie that I don’t want to see. [ONTD]
Once upon a time — before URLs, handles, likes and shares — I put some good old-fashioned postage stamps inside an envelope and sent away for a zine (made of actual paper!) that was filled with some very big ideas. I was 16 and the zine was called i’m so fucking beautiful, a title that hooked me instantly because at the time I was quite literally starving myself of that sentiment. I was all punk rock by day, but I had a couple of dirty secrets that did not exactly jibe with the Manic Panic and combat boots:
- I thought calories were evil. Unfortunately this didn’t stop me from willingly and regularly consuming wretched diet foods that were almost certainly concocted in the bowels of hell. Listen, when a chocolate product in a plastic tub includes instructions on how it can be enjoyed frozen as “ice cream” or microwaved into a “shake,” it no longer qualifies as food, okay? But I ate (and drank!) that sugar-free, chemical-laden kryptonite sludge like it was my duty, each scoop and sip meticulously tallied in my Calories and Fat Grams Journal, which was really more of a disturbing collection of numbers and equations scribbled on Post-Its and scrap paper than an actual journal. Think “A Beautiful Mind” for the eating disordered set.
- I kept a stash of “thinspiration” featuring pictures of models I tore from magazines (‘90s-style! Old school!). I wanted to be that kind of beautiful. And the more I stared at those images, the more fervently I started to believe in that waifish brand of perfection. So I made myself sick chasing sizes that were smaller than the small sizes I already wore. I developed a mortal fear of weight gain. And while my weight fluctuated up and down and back up again as I abused it with brutal cycles of starvation, bingeing, and purging, I was never anywhere remotely close to being plus-sized, full-figured, curvy or any other palatable euphemism for that oh-so-terrifying F-word.
Keep reading »
“Can I touch your belly?” my friend squealed, rushing towards it, hands outstretched.
Then she stopped in her tracks. “I mean,” she said, suddenly bashful, “only if it’s okay, of course! Are you letting people?”
I am five months pregnant. And I keep reading on the various boards and sites where all of the talk is pregnancy-related (it feels pretty trashy, honestly, but I’m a little addicted to babycenter.com) about how this is the time when everyone starts wanting to touch your belly. It’s true, this is definitely that time. BUT, boards and sites immediately clarify, you don’t have to let them.
This point is very important.
Actually, reading current pregnancy forums gives one the impression that for most of history, pregnant women’s bellies were just constantly being groped by grabby, entitled strangers on public transportation and in the grocery store, and then finally we got feminism, and then, thank god, AT LAST, we could say, with the deepest relief, “Get your hands off my pregnancy, jackass!” Keep reading »
Sometimes I’m walking outside and a guy I don’t know calls out a compliment. Sometimes I like it. I smile for a second and go on with my day. And it has been pointed out to me that this is probably very bad.
There are lots of reasons why it’s bad for men to compliment women on the street. They are objectifying those women. The women might not want that attention, and it can feel invasive and uncomfortable. It can feel inescapable. It can sometimes take on an aggressive tone. It can be harassing. Sometimes it is. And that is not OK. Really, not at all.
But sometimes it isn’t harassing at all. Sometimes it’s nice. And it’s interesting to me that this feels like a sort of shameful and risky thing for me to admit. As though I have just failed feminism. As though I owe feminism more, and I’m letting womankind down, and I have gotten mixed up and forgotten some of the basic rules and regulations. I should consult the manual immediately. Keep reading »
I used to feel like I was lucky for having zero body image issues. Those insecurities completely surpassed me well into adulthood, because up until about around age 25, I had a very conventionally attractive body: a slender frame with an hourglass figure. I could wear anything I wanted. No one — not my mother, not men, not random strangers — criticized my body. Body issues (too big! too small! too squishy!) were simply not something that crossed my mind.
But I was aware body insecurities concerned — even consumed — a lot of people, in particular women. A close friend struggled with anorexia. Family members were bullied for their size. I read fat acceptance blogs online and books like Lessons From The Fat-O-Sphere by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby. As a feminist writer, I was keyed into the way our society privileges the skinny. Still, for a long time, it was not something I directly understood.
But body issues didn’t skip me entirely: they just came later in life. Keep reading »
A Swedish department store is at the center of a maelstrom of controversy after it used larger mannequins in its in-store displays. Spotted in a Swedish H&M, the move was lauded by the group Women’s Rights News for offering up a more realistic example of what women’s bodies look like, and more than 30,000 commenters responded.
The decision certainly makes sense in light of research that shows that female consumers respond negatively to skinny, beautiful models selling them consumer goods. For reference, the new curvy models are much closer to the average size of American women — a size 14 — than the typical model form, which ranges from between a 4 and 6.
And in light of the fact that nearly 70 million American women are overweight, stores would likely benefit from using mannequins that actually look like us. [Yahoo]
I am 19 weeks pregnant. In pregnancy, everything is measured in weeks, and I keep wanting to wish my fetus a happy beginning-of-the-next-week birthday. Because we made it this far and we should celebrate, damn it. But I guess that gets a little excessive. People keep telling me, “You barely look pregnant!” And it’s frustrating, because I am really, really pregnant. I know, because of all the barfing I endured for three months. (So much barfing! Dear God. I can hardly look at a saltine now without a rising sense of dread.) I know, because of the boxing match that seems to be going on endlessly between my very enthusiastic baby and any part of my body he or she can reach. Believe me, I am quite pregnant. So when people tell me, “I can’t even tell!” I have this weird reaction. I know that they are complimenting me. They’re suggesting that I look thin, and I’m supposed to appreciate that. But I also have to resist the urge to stick my belly out and say, “No, no, seriously, look closer! This is the real deal!” Keep reading »