I can remember the exact moment I became self conscious of my body. I was 12 and walking home from school when a boy I knew pointed at me, laughed, and said “Look how fat your legs are!”
I looked down at them and for the first time in my life I felt that my body was inadequate.
That moment has stayed with me forever, because that comment sparked a huge complex I had about my legs, something which still bothers me today. For years I only wore trousers and when I finally began wearing skirts and dresses, I always made sure I had tights or leggings on underneath, even in the Summer.
In fact, this Summer is the first since I was 12 that I have gone completely bare …
Saturday Vids: In Honor of the Endangered Species Summit
Today, I'm honored to report that I'm one of the panelists for the New York City branch of the Endangered Species Summit - an international summit occurring during March 2011. The aim of the summit, as the London branch put it, "is to save future generations of girls from the misery that turns women against their own bodies. The challenge – to make people understand how and why this is an emergency, to show them how they can do something about it, and to inspire them to embrace change."
In honor of the summit, I'd like to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite videos on the topic of body image (and how generally fucked up it is in our society).
When I was nine years old, I secretly dreamed of becoming a model.
I still wanted to be a writer, of course, but hey, a girl can dream, right? My family doctor had told my parents that because of their heights (my mom is 5’6” and my dad is 6’1”), my twin brother and I were likely to grow like bean sprouts to over 6 feet. I liked being tall for my age. Being my nine-year-old-self, I thought my potential height would be the key to becoming a model. (Also being young and naïve, I succumbed to society’s spoon-fed diet of telling girls that beauty is limited to certain numerical requirements. Thanks, society.)
I also liked the way models looked so serious as they strutted …
At some point in recent history the stance of “I Hate My Body” became a public statement encompassing an entire gender rather than a private thought held by few on particularly bad days. Somewhere along the line, women have lost control of their bodies in the name of society’s glamorization and expectation of self-deprecation. But, as I have learned over the years, loving your body is possible, even for the most self-loathing of us all.
Freshman year was a difficult one for me (a unique story, I know). Though I had been aware of my body in middle school and had brief yet unfortunate love affairs with both my hair straightener and Abercrombie and Fitch in attempts to make my body look …
I honestly don't think that the message Cover Girl Culture promotes can EVER be told to girls (and boys) of my generation too much. We need to start combating the seriously messed up body standards our culture holds us to, and we need to start NOW.
The Cover Girl Culture website describes the movie:
Cover Girl Culture: Awakening the Media Generationis an award winning feature length documentary. From posing in pages of magazines to exposing magazines comes documentary filmmaker Nicole Clark.A former Elite International fashion model turned champion for young girls and their self-esteem, Nicole gets in the face of the media and advertisers calling for responsible media for our youth!We must act now to save an endangered species - empowered girls and young women!
Cover Girl Culture explores how the worlds of fashion, modeling, advertising and celebrity impact our teens and young women. Who sets today's standards for beauty and how are these standards affecting individuals and society? Who is responsible? Are there ways this can be changed? If so, who can/will change it?
Shocking interviews with fashion editors from major NY magazines. Eye opening interviews with top agents, designers, models, advertisers and many more. An important issue addressed is the sexualization of young girls in the media/advertising. Most importantly it focuses on SOLUTIONS. (this film took 4 yrs to complete)
I was perusing the September issue of Teen Vogue and came across an article about hair, featuring Leighton Meester, one of the stars of Gossip Girl. The piece seemed inoffensive…until the second sentence:
“But ask [Meester] about her own high school days, and she readily admits she wasn’t exactly an upper-East side sophisticate. ‘I had glasses, unplucked eyebrows, and I wore hemp necklaces!’ she confesses. ‘It’s only recently that I’ve gotten comfortable in my own skin.’”
Does this make anyone else a little bit mad?
What was the most aggravating to me was that the author implied strongly that Meester dressed like that BECAUSE she had no self-confidence. She wore glasses, hemp necklaces, and didn’t pluck her eyebrows because she wasn’t confident. Apparently, everyone who …
Mad Men, Body Image and Feminist Critiques of Size-Positivism
January Jones / Betty Draper - not allowed to work out?
A few weeks ago variousentertainmentblogs and news sites were running a series of stories about Mad Men‘s Producer Matthew Weiner. Feminist bloggers and health writers soon joined the conversation. Now Mad Men is no bastion of feminist drama and critical theory, but these bloggers were veritably showering praise on Weiner. Why? Because, reportedly, he doesn’t allow his actresses to exercise and encourages them to eat plenty in order to look “soft and voluptuous” like “healthy women.”
I’m going to make this as coherent a criticism as possible, but Weiner’s comments and the subsequent feedback from bloggers anger me as symptoms of much broader problematic conversations. So I’ll break the issues down systematically:
I’ve had a theory brewing in my head recently: if all the women in the United States were a size 2 yet as a society we still struggled with heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers then the “health” argument would be very different. After watching the recent Nightline segment “Is it Okay to be fat” my theory was confirmed. The title should’ve read, “Is it okay for women to be fat?”; and then at least it would have been more honest.
It’s hard to debate health when what you’re really debating aesthetics. A serious debate on health would’ve seen men on the panel, since this issue is a societal problem and not something women should have to shoulder alone (though we often do).