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post #161 of 281
I've been feeling really grouchy about the way women's appearance is supposed to define them lately. (And then I find myself attributing it to hormones, as if it's somehow unreasonable to be angry and sad when every public representation of your sex and all of your same-sex friends seem to attribute some sort of moral value to being thin and "flawless" and then everyone denies it and implies that you should lighten up )

It started when I saw 2012 yesterday. I went there fully expecting a formulaic hollywood movie, and it was fun for what it was. But I was really struck (yet again - I don't watch hollywood movies that often) by the direct correlation of thinness to goodness. The main "good" female character was bone thin. Not slim. Gaunt. And her hair was dyed and her makeup was flawless at all times. She was also the mother of two children, with whose doofus-y yet well meaning, natural hair, normal body, some flaws having (that is, *human*) father she magically falls back in love when he heroically saves the day. She has no outstanding characteristics of her own apart from her sexless yet non-threateningly attractive appearance. Contrast to the morally ambiguous sex symbol of the movie (who dies miserably of course), who is somewhat curvy and blond and made the mistakes of both being the girlfriend of the (fat) bad guy and cheating on him with an attractive (too attractive, not real) but stupid other guy, who also ends up dead of course. She also gets implants at the request of her rich boyfriend and later regrets it because "she liked how she was before" (that's when we know her life is clearly no longer worth living and she will end up dead). The other "good" woman, who is single, highly educated, and black, gets to have a tiny bit more body fat than the white matron, but she has to straighten her hair and have perfect makeup. We also never learn exactly what she is a doctor of.

Although the thinness=goodness thing also appeared in male characters, maybe what really got to me wasn't so much just the thinness but the way the female characters were not *normal* in the same way as the male characters, who were permitted foibles, makeupless faces, natural hair, slight potbellies, all while being considered heroes or sexually attractive. The female characters were just so one-dimensional. And this movie was just one of the multitude of American blockbusters that all have the same phenomenon.

So then I relate it to the phenomenon of my friends (and me in the past) so much relating to myself through my appearance. To the point of feeling bad when looking "bad" to oneself (read: too fat, makeup wrong, bad hair - all things imperceptible to most outsiders). Or the sadness of sites like www.theshapeofamother.com, which was supposed to be empowering but has turned into a horror show of young mothers confessing how much they loathe themselves because their naked bodies no longer live up to a perceived *public* (seen from the outside) standard. So many women do not regard their bodies as private, autonomous, answering only to themselves. Witness the "omg she really shouldn't be wearing that" comments.

I know the feeling. It's the feeling of being outside of yourself. It's the creepy crawly feeling of yourself on your own skin, seeing your bad hair and judging yourself for it. Restricting your movement because you are not comfortable in your own skin. Relating to yourself as an object: it just means that you relate to yourself from a (fictional, culturally constructed) observer's point of view. You aren't *in yourself*. And that point of view is drilled into everyone who has access to consumer culture of any type (so anyone who goes outside), day in, day out. Magazines, movies, interaction with friends, advertisements. The message is that we must be physically "flawless" and to be otherwise is actually morally wrong, and also that *we are being watched*.

Thanks to my lovely parents who kept me away from the crap that is American mass culture as long as they could, I never really understood my friends' very real angst about their "fat" thighs, though I tried to join in the self-hate speech for a while as a way of social bonding. I never truly hated my stomach (which is where all my fat goes) even though in my less secure days I was self conscious about it. I was lucky. How can I keep my future daughters from being sucked into the cult of self-hatred based solely on physical appearance? How can I let her keep her awareness centered *inside* her body, so she can feel comfortable with her physicality, with just *being* in her human body? How did it get this bad? Has it always been this way? Did it start with the invention of mirrors? Is it possible to be angsty about what you look like to others if you don't know what you look like to others?

Anyway, that's my rant for today. It's not like I'm the first person to ever realize the above, but it just really hit me and has been making me want to move to the woods and cut off all contact with the outside world, so I had to vent to some people whose eyes might not glaze over at the first mention of "women's negative body image related to media representations". Thanks for listening.
post #162 of 281
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ursusarctos View Post
How can I keep my future daughters from being sucked into the cult of self-hatred based solely on physical appearance? How can I let her keep her awareness centered *inside* her body, so she can feel comfortable with her physicality, with just *being* in her human body? How did it get this bad? Has it always been this way? Did it start with the invention of mirrors? Is it possible to be angsty about what you look like to others if you don't know what you look like to others?
Good questions. The answer to the first probably depends a lot on the character of your (future) daughters and how you build them up as they grow. I tell my daughters they are beautiful all the time. Besides the fact that it's true (hahaha!), I think it's important to hear. I didn't hear it growing up and although I've heard men tell me as an adult, I still doubt it at times. What is beauty, anyway? I don't know and so...sometimes I tell myself I'm beautiful and sometimes I don't think about it at all. (I'm never ugly, tho. ha!)

My older dd couldn't care less what ppl think of her looks. Ppl have stopped us in public to tell me (why me and not her? I haven't a clue...it grates the nerves) how beautiful she is and at most, it annoyed the crap out of her. She doesn't understand why her looks are important to anyone. She just came out that way. (We had a talk about how her looks bring joy into other ppl's lives and that's why they stop us and tell us how beautiful she is. She accepted that, but still remained slightly annoyed about it.)

My younger dd is 5 and already scrutinizes herself in the mirror. She says she's fat (drives me nuts b/c she's not even slightly overweight) and things like that, but she's more into princesses and iCarly. (Don't blame me. I really, really tried.) So, of course, she's going to notice physical appearance more. Plus, she's all muscle and solid foundation and her older sister is twiggy, so the difference in body types is really striking in her mind. She just came out that way, too. I mean, I'm sure society has played a role in her opinions, but she came out geared toward caring about those things.

I have to spend more time cultivating positive self-talk with regard to my 5yo b/c she cares how she looks compared to others. It's an annoying thing sometimes, but it's our current reality. We deal with it the best we can given our circumstances.

I don't know that any of these issues began with mirrors. I mean, standing water has always been available. Different people struggle with different issues. I'm sure that patriarchy plays a huge role, tho. Our daughters are all the more reason to address sexism in all forms, IMO. I'm convinced, tho, that there have always been females who cared more than others about how they looked. It seems pretty natural. The problem is when whole segments of the female population are looked down upon because they don't look like one particular model or something.

I've stopped watching TV and movies (for the most part...I'll watch some movies, but I'm very picky) due to the poor messages being sent. Not just about women, either, although I get sooooooo tired of those. So, I feel your pain.
post #163 of 281
Hi everyone! It's been quiet around these parts lately.

I'm bringing up some older topics because they've been on my mind lately.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ursusarctos View Post
Yes. This. I see now how this happened to my mom. When I thought of her as nagging and uptight about chores, she was just trying to get a little help cleaning up a house that we *all* messed up. Since none of us liked cleaning, and my dad wouldn't clean given the choice, we saw my mom as this crazy woman who insisted on us cleaning, like it was her thing or something, and if she just wouldn't be so uptight then everything would be fine. I'm so sad about that now. She must have felt so alone. I also think that my parents' backwards relationship conditioning from the 60s didn't allow them to see that this was the actual situation, so there was just resentment and misunderstanding from all sides.



Uh huh. My own relationship with a not-at-all-old-school man is exactly what has led to me understanding my mother so much better than I did before. Again with women being saddled with the "lifestyle police" role - girls are taught to "see" dirt, boys aren't (this was a big one in my childhood, I remember - because boys are "naturally" dirty and untidy so why teach them to clean and pick up?). So who sees that an apartment is dirty and needs cleaning? The woman. Since the man doesn't see it, she is forced to ask for his help in cleaning if she doesn't want to do it herself, which, when the request is repeated (which it will be because the man continues to be passive about mess), can often become "nagging" or can be interpreted as nagging by the man, who has been trained to think that cleaning is unnecessary and to be avoided unless someone (mother/wife figure) makes you. So when the man continually avoids cleaning the woman gets frustrated and will overreact to things that she would have been more reasonable about had the man just done it himself without her asking. I remember my mother being distraught over having to ask my dad for the gazillionth time to wash dishes or something. I didn't understand her rage at having to ask. Now I do.
Men are overwhelmingly not taught to take care of themselves, let alone others, nor to take responsibility for the upkeep of shared spaces. No wonder married men do so much better psychologically than unmarried men. It's a crying shame, for the girls who have to take on the burden of responsibility for everyone's wellbeing from such a young age, and for the boys who are not taught that caring for themselves and others improves everyone's quality of life and so end up with major handicaps when living alone as adults and later in relationships.

WRT "crazy, nagging" moms and "cool" dads, I feel like this is coming up a fair bit with my family. Both DH and I work, but when it comes to the homefront, I do alot of the "keeping things running" work. Perhaps that's because I'm the one who needs the routine of it all? IDK. But I'm really starting to see myself approaching the "wig out over little things" and "nagging" threshold. I try to watch how I'm presenting things, but then get irritated with myself because I shouldn't have to sugar coat that sort of stuff, KWIM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ~D~ View Post
I wanted to comment if that's ok. I've been b/c I really think I have a lot to learn on this for many reasons. But this is what I really wanted to say about the word 'girly'... Chirp, I looked for a definition for this word and this all I came up with:
girl⋅ie
  /ˈgɜrli/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [gur-lee] Show IPA
–adjective Informal.
1.featuring nude or scantily clad young women: a girlie show; girlie magazines.
–noun
2.Offensive. a term of address used for a girl or woman.
Also, girly.

Origin:
1940–45; girl + -ie
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.
Cite This Source
|
Link To girly
girl·ie also girl·y (gûr'lē)
adj. Often Offensive

1.Featuring minimally clothed or naked women, typically in pornography: girlie magazines.
2.Weak, timid, or effeminate. Used of men.

So if something is deemed 'girly' it literally means offensive and weak? Wow.
Sigh, wouldn't it be nice if something derived from any way to say a female person wasn't an insult? From girly to slang for parts of the female body, to things relating to women? I know I've has a hard time with this myself. I used to do my darnest to not be "feminine" or "girly" but then I realized that's not doing any good either. Though I'm still in a feminine/masculine limbo, I still can't get over the negative connotation of wearing a skirt/liking pink/ looking pretty.
post #164 of 281
I am really late to this and have thus far only read the first page, but wanted to pop in and be counted as one of the MDC radical feminists! Hello!

Most of my activism at the moment is centered around my university- I am the president of the school's feminist collective, have put on events such as Take Back the Night, Reproductive Health Film Series recently, currently planning a Vagina Monologues performance, have hosted homebirth and birth options panels, myself and collegues are bringing the Sakia Gunn film project along with the director to my school and I do alot of other awareness/conscoiusness raising there. Am also interning at a Girls Rock organization right now and am taking a trip to Juarez in March to work with immigration and women's issues on the border. Not much time to do anything outside of that, but I try! It is tough because it is easiest to do work where I spend my time, but at times I feel like the work I am doing has very little impact on those around me.

Anyhow, I love to see that there are others around here! I also tend to have socialist leanings as well and am really interested in prison-abolition, immigration issues and of course reproductive health issues.
post #165 of 281
Quote:
Originally Posted by doulatara View Post
I am really late to this and have thus far only read the first page, but wanted to pop in and be counted as one of the MDC radical feminists! Hello!

Most of my activism at the moment is centered around my university- I am the president of the school's feminist collective, have put on events such as Take Back the Night, Reproductive Health Film Series recently, currently planning a Vagina Monologues performance, have hosted homebirth and birth options panels, myself and collegues are bringing the Sakia Gunn film project along with the director to my school and I do alot of other awareness/conscoiusness raising there. Am also interning at a Girls Rock organization right now and am taking a trip to Juarez in March to work with immigration and women's issues on the border. Not much time to do anything outside of that, but I try! It is tough because it is easiest to do work where I spend my time, but at times I feel like the work I am doing has very little impact on those around me.

Anyhow, I love to see that there are others around here! I also tend to have socialist leanings as well and am really interested in prison-abolition, immigration issues and of course reproductive health issues.
right on! I should check the university I'll be starting this Fall to see if they have anything like that too.
post #166 of 281
I'm here too- although like many others, somewhat inactive compared to younger days!

I teach childbirth education and really feel that empowering women and helping them understand their birth choices is an important feminist endeavor.

I'm sure that at some point in the future I'll become a bit more politically active- growing this baby and raising my DD into a strong, powerful woman is my main concern right now though!
post #167 of 281
I started reading this thread and discovered that I guess I can be considered a radical feminist! I didn't know that... but I find myself in agreement and sympathetic to the conversation here.

I've recently started exploring feminist thought in relation to my personal crusades of reproductive freedom during childbirth (see my sig) and family policy. It led me to apply to a PhD program in Women's Studies and I'm waiting to see if I get in. I hope I'll find out by the end of next month.

Yesterday, I had the special opportunity to attend a MomsRising event at the WA State Capitol. They hosted a dance party with a live children's band in the hallway between the Senate and House chambers. There were probably 50 kids with parents there. I was really happy to be involved in an event like that and I hope that there are more like. In the past when they've had events at the capitol but they've always been earlier than my kids wake up and an hour from home.

Well, I'm here! I'm looking forward to joining the conversations!
post #168 of 281
Quote:
Originally Posted by doulatara View Post
I am really late to this and have thus far only read the first page, but wanted to pop in and be counted as one of the MDC radical feminists! Hello!

Most of my activism at the moment is centered around my university- I am the president of the school's feminist collective, have put on events such as Take Back the Night, Reproductive Health Film Series recently, currently planning a Vagina Monologues performance, have hosted homebirth and birth options panels, myself and collegues are bringing the Sakia Gunn film project along with the director to my school and I do alot of other awareness/conscoiusness raising there. Am also interning at a Girls Rock organization right now and am taking a trip to Juarez in March to work with immigration and women's issues on the border. Not much time to do anything outside of that, but I try! It is tough because it is easiest to do work where I spend my time, but at times I feel like the work I am doing has very little impact on those around me.

Anyhow, I love to see that there are others around here! I also tend to have socialist leanings as well and am really interested in prison-abolition, immigration issues and of course reproductive health issues.
that's a huge amount of work you're doing! I am very impressed.
post #169 of 281
Can I join you ladies?

I'm not too much of an activist these days but my ideas are more feminist than many of my friends understand. T^T
post #170 of 281
welcome sleepingbeauty.
post #171 of 281
I think I'm a radical feminist. I mean, define "radical". I'm definitely a feminist.
post #172 of 281
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teenytoona View Post
I try to watch how I'm presenting things, but then get irritated with myself because I shouldn't have to sugar coat that sort of stuff, KWIM.
Yes, IKWYM. I basically try incredibly hard to be civil and reasonable at all times so that when DP reacts to my requests as if I'm "nagging" I can call him on it. That is, I don't try to soften or sweeten my normal, reasonable requests for help but I do make an effort to be pleasant and patient, just as I would like to be approached. If DP then chooses to accuse me of "nagging" I refuse to engage with his childish reaction and tell him calmly that I am not nagging and he knows it and could he get over it and just help me out like my adult partner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teenytoona View Post
Sigh, wouldn't it be nice if something derived from any way to say a female person wasn't an insult?
Sigh, yes.
post #173 of 281
Wow, I'm really late too but I'm joining!
post #174 of 281
Me too. I definitely consider myself a radical feminist.
post #175 of 281
joining you.
post #176 of 281
Has anyone read this blog?
http://apronstringz.wordpress.com/
Awesome
post #177 of 281
I need some help. I remember linking to some information on maternal feminism I'm pretty sure from MDC but now I can't find it. Does anyone here remember or know of some info on maternal feminism? I remember seeing a blog post on it and now I can't find it.
post #178 of 281
Thread Starter 
Sorry, I'm no help jenneology. Maybe someone else will know.

Topic: I don't know if this mentality is prevalent among most/all cultures, but I have regularly heard from black, American men that societal/cultural ills will correct themselves when women get their stuff together, esp. black women. It cheeses me off to hear men blame women for social ills and refuse to acknowledge the parts men and patriarchy play in forming cultural norms. The only thing I hear black men taking any responsibility for is being absent fathers and when I tell them that may be a better thing than they realize, given many of their sexist, etc. ideas, they get upset with me.

Anyone else encounter this mentality? If so, how do/did you deal with it?
post #179 of 281
Jenneology, there is an old thread that also had a lot of book recs for maternal feminism or at least mothering and feminism. maybe that's of some help?

here
post #180 of 281
Bumping this thread--anyone still here? Count me in, 100%.

I'd love to hear about if and how you manage to maintain any kind of activism in your life as a mom. My daughter's a year old and I'm wondering how the heck to do anything other than be her mom. I'd love to volunteer with at-risk moms but I can't seem to figure out a way to do it (I don't have childcare and I'm a SAHM). Also, what have you been reading? I've been feeling out of the loop since finishing my university education and becoming a mom, but I'm easing my way back into brain-exercising stuff with My Mother Wears Combat Boots and The Future Generation--good stuff, and easy to read, which I have to admit is important for me these days, as much as I wish it wasn't
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