Category Archives: gender

Trayvon, Feminism, and Other Light Topics

images 8I could be wrong, but I bet a bunch of us feel unsettled yet again by the latest news.  Trayvon.  His killer goes free.  A woman in FL gets 20 years because she shot a gun in self-defense.  Like my wise friend said, “Were we really surprised by this?”  No, we weren’t…but we’re still saddened over it.

And…I’m going to save my specific opinions on these topics for those unlucky enough to be my facebook friends…but it got me thinking.  About being judged by your appearance.

And before I go, let me clarify:  I know nothing about being black.  I try to, but cannot even imagine the silent injustices one experiences on a daily basis if you are.  So, can I say, “I know exactly how you feel!”  No, no I do not.  But I do know how it is to be judged on your appearance, and that’s how I  *try* to identify.  I also know what it’s like to be in a gender that is still viewed as unequal.  Case in point:

It was 2002, and I was working at a large ice cream store in a nearby town.  I did some admin work for the company; I was basically an assistant who did the menial work while I was home from college.  I, despite being unhealthy at times, have always took pride in my appearance, and dressed up every day for work.  Skirts, dresses, heels.  Nothing inappropriate, just tasteful.  Since I didn’t work in the ice cream stand, I didn’t have to wear shorts and sneakers, so I didn’t.  Just wasn’t my style.

One day, my friend and boss came over to me and whispered something I’ll never forget.

“Amanda, the big boss (names have been hidden) wants you to stop wearing dresses and skirts because the boys are getting distracted by you.”

Legit.

And can I tell you?  Not that it matters, but I’ve never been a risque dresser.  (I use the word risque because I hate the word slut because….it’s a discriminatory female word.)  No plunging necklines, no skirts above the knees.  Just a crotchety old elderly female owner who came from another time and wanted to set me back 50 years, too.  (And, she was probably jealous.)

Never MIND that men actually do have accountability when it comes to the question of, “Hey, should I drool over that woman I find attractive?” or “Hmmm, maybe I should be professional and appropriate and buckle down to work.”  Which is what women have been doing for centuries while we smile on the inside about your charming sense of humor or bulging biceps.

Anyway, once again, I was sent the message, “Hide your body.”

And,

“It’s your fault.”

Which is funny, because there are sexual harassment laws which protect us today from situations like that.  Situations in which I could have been considered the victim if I was talked to, looked at or touched inappropriately.

Just like Trayvon was the victim.  And again, it’s his fault.

Because of appearance.

And so many people will try to contest that he wasn’t a purely innocent victim, that he fought back…because the people with power don’t want to work hard and look at the fact that we’re stuck in the 1950’s in some ways.  Because they’ve never had to.

What’s your take on all of this?

Blissful Body Fridays: How Being A Kid = Loving Your Body

Me, before I cared.
Me, before I cared.

In case you didn’t know, Good ol’ New England is having a heat wave; the temps are expected to hit 93 before the end of today.  So naturally, I went to Revere Beach this morning with my 17 month old daughter.  It was 85 degrees by 9 in the morning.  Crazy.

I grew up overhearing tales of the old Revere Beach from my mother; she regaled us with stories of cotton candy and vomit-inducing roller coaster rides with her cousin.  It’s nothing like it used to be; it used to be a resort area filled with amusements and fast food.  Now, after a couple of conspiracy-story fires that were set, it’s just quiet.  Which is fine.

I camped out right where the dry sand met the wet, mushy stuff.  My daughter wanted nothing to do with the cold, rolling waves, but loved the sand.  So she literally bathed in it.  While I was leaning over to make a sandturtle, she had dumped a pile of sand on her head.  A thick layer of sand coated her scalp.  I groaned inwardly, but laughed to myself.  Because the best thing that’s ever been taught to me was by my daughter – the art of letting go.  The art of getting messy and not caring what things look like.

Before I had her, I would spend 20 minutes on my eye makeup.  I would have long pedicures at home and just curl my hair for fun sometimes.  Now, I don’t have time for that stuff.  Which sucks, sometimes, but it’s great, in another way.

Why?

When you are eating a mud pie and smooshing it all over your face, you don’t care if your blue veins are showing through your pale Irish skin.  You’re having fun and marvelling at the fabulousness of having mud pie ALL OVER YOUR FACE.  When you’re throwing sand in the wind, you don’t pay attention to the cellulite on your thighs because you’re jumping in big, funny lunges to avoid getting sand in your eyes.  And when you’re picking up shells, you’re not caring about your untoned tummy, because you are collecting little magical treasures, one at a time.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still have control problems; you’d probably all laugh at my nighttime routine, which is OCD-esque and consists of this strange “sweep-the-entire-house-feed-the-cats-change-their-litterbox” routine.  But spending time has done wonders for my body image; I use my body in way more fun ways now than I ever did.

Do you remember that time?  Before you hit puberty and all hell broke loose?  When you made soup in the ground with sticks and leaves?  When you rode bikes just as fast as the neighborhood boys?  When girls were equal to boys and just as capable?

It’s still there.

You can still have it now.

Have a blissful Friday.

 

Media Mondays: The Abercrombie and Fitch Debacle

So by now we’ve all heard about the Abercrombie and Fitch ridiculousness.  Let’s review a couple of facts/key players.

There’s this guy, Mike Jeffries, the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch –

mikejeffries

 

And he said this –

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

He also said –

“I don’t want our core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing our clothing.”

And A&F does not provide women’s XL sizes OR pant sizes above a size 10.  Which is stupid, because people’s mere height can warrant a size 12, but I digress.

OK, so, the best point I can think of is the one my friend Brennan said.  She said something like, “I think the psychopathology is pretty clear here.”

She’s right.  I mean, he’s 65, and appears to have had a lot of plastic surgery done.  HE appears to be the one with the image problem, not US.

He reminds me a lot of the guy who wrote Maggie Goes On A Diet, which I blogged about here.  The guy who wrote that book had weight issues of his own at one point, if I remember correctly, and then proceeded to project his shit all onto 8 year old girls who should supposedly lose weight and then magically gain self-worth (basic plot of the book).

So, I’m guessing Mike Jeffries is the same.  Mike Jeffries was unpopular at some point, or was “fat”, or was “ugly”, and rose above it in his mind by changing his appearance and creating a company who markets only to the pretty person he’s always wanted to be.

So do we need to be mad at Mike Jeffries?

(Well, duh, at least a little bit.  I mean, I did scream, “BOYCOTT!   BOYCOTT!”  in front of the A&F store at the Burlington Mall, embarassing my boyfriend and brother – )

Not really.

Yup, that’s right.  We need to feel sorry for him.  Because somewhere, way below the money and power and Botox, there is a little boy who is screaming to be liked.  To be approved of.

And that’s his shit.  Not ours.  We are doing just fine.

(Image provided by roadtripparenting.wordpress.com)

 

shhh

Blissful Body Fridays: Things They Don’t Tell Fat Girls

Happy Friday, all!

So, my awesome feminist friend Maggie from college posted a link on her FB page recently.  It is from The Militant Baker,  a fab blog about body love, feminism, and cats (I’m a fan already).  In it, she acknowledges the nuances of the human body and shatters misconceptions about them.  My fave part?  “Everyone has rolls when they bend over. Everyone.”  Without further adieu, here is…

 

Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls…SO I WILL.

 

That’s it folks, short and sweet this Friday.  Have a good one!

Media Mondays: Too Fat to Cheer, My Ass

Welcome to Media Mondays, my weekly post on something ridiculous and stupid I spotted this week that involved the objectification of women’s bodies.  Please feel free to pass along stories you hear at any point; I will profile them on my blog.

 

******

 

This is Kelsey.  Kelsey dances for the Oklahoma Thunder.

kelsey

 

Kelsey was the subject of a literal poll taken by a literal news station (CBS Houston) regarding whether or not readers thought she was too fat to cheer.

Yup.

Since this story broke and it met a crapload of criticism, CBS Houston removed the post.  Who in their right mind approved this?  Someone from the 1950’s via a timewarp?

You know, the first thing I thought of was really inappropriate, but it’s what I thought and here it is:

It’s not like we’re posting pictures of white men and asking, “Do you think his dick is big enough to give him enough macho arrogance he has to embody to maintain his corporate asshole job?”

(So sue me.  It’s what I thought.)

I’m thinking society has fallen pretty low to have to post pictures of women’s bodies for ratings, probably KNOWING that it would cause a firestorm, probably KNOWING that blogs like mine would cover it.  They’re probably not that stupid.

(Or are they…?)

Argh.  And then there’s the “this is nobody’s business but her own” duh viewpoint.

When will we learn?

(Image provided by landthieves)

 

Aya De Leon

Recently, my friend Liz sent me the link to this stunning blog entry.  In it, the fabulous Ms. Aya De Leon wittily takes on the media and its inability to make her feel her body is inferior.

Read and enjoy!

Screw the Easter Bonnet…

gender stereotypes start young...
gender stereotypes start young…

“What is she wearing?”

I was asked that question 35 times the week before Easter.  It was as if my child was going to a debutante ball.  I tried to shrug off vague annoyance and proceeded to judge myself for having that vaguely uneasy feeling.  But after judging myself as a “think-too-much Mom”, (Yes, I have been told that, even though I was under the impression it is 2013) I snapped upright and paid full attention to that feeling.  I was annoyed, because –

Girls are supposed to be pretty and feminine and all decked out for everyone else’s enjoyment.  Raiiight??

Perhaps boys’ mothers got asked as much; I don’t know because I haven’t had the chance to ask my mama friends yet.  But I have an inkling that the pressure is on the girls, yet again, to step up to the plate and look pretty.  The fashion industry snaps us up at birth by making girls’ clothing more fun.  I’ve heard a million times from mama friends in hushed tones, “I love putting him in this suit, but it’s much more fun to look in the girls section.  You have so much more.”

Can I please put my daughter in ripped jeans and a wife beater next year?  Please?

OK, I’ll calm the feminist rebel in me for a second.  Do I love dressing my daughter up?  Of course.  Is the baby girls’ clothing department aesthetically pleasing?  Hell yes.  But does your happiness and satisfaction lay in my daughter’s appearance?  No it doesn’t.  And my daughter and I also don’t want your projections of what a little girl should act or be like.

And even though I try to shield myself from the judgment, I then feel like I have to wipe off every frickin crumb off my daughter’s face and straighten out every hair from her ponytail.  Aaaaand, the funny thing is, I don’t, because a kid’s job is be messy and ruin her clothes and fall sometimes.

And the bonnet!  The f^%&ing Easter bonnet.  I had a million frickin comments from people because she wasn’t wearing one.  OK.  If they only knew putting (and keeping) a hat on my kid is like trying to write with a gummy worm.  Or something.  And I’m not going to put my kid in something she hates just for appearances.

I’m not saying change tradition and stop parading kids around in their Sunday best once a year.  I’m just saying, be aware.  Body image and gender stereotyping stuff starts YOUNG.  And it’s not me “thinking too much.”

(Image provided by zulily)