“The most common way people give up their power
is by thinking they don’t have any.”
~ Alice Walker
Quote shown at the beginning of “Miss Representation”
Last week, I attended a screening of Miss Representation, an amazing and heartbreaking film about how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in the United States. The film touched on body image, sexism, racism, the systematic demonization of feminists, the nauseating objectification of women, and many other issues that outraged and sickened me. Images of high school girls crying because they hate themselves, political leaders being dismissed for their fashion choices,and bikini-clad body after roiling bikini-clad body made me dizzy with dismay. And, if I’m being honest, it made me call into question my work, my writing, and my goals. I want women to be empowered, and in a moment of panic I questioned the value of style advice as a tool for empowerment. After all, the problem is that women are increasingly taught to believe that the ONLY thing that matters about us is how we look. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to contribute to that insidious lie.
Originally posted 2011-10-24 06:07:24.
Compliments are controversial around these parts. I’m a fan of both giving and receiving them, and feel that doing so is beneficial. But I’ve heard you folks say time and again that compliments can be tricky, confusing, even painful depending on how they’re presented and how the person receiving them interprets them.
Since I am fascinated by all things style and body image, the compliments I tend to encourage have to do with those two topics. And what I’ve learned is that when some people are told, “You look great today,” what they hear is, “You look better today than you usually look.” That when some people are told, “You’ve got gorgeous hair,” they feel uncomfortable accepting praise for something that is genetic, inherited, and mainly beyond their control. That when some people are told, “You look fabulous in that dress,” they feel the underlying implication is, “You have conformed to social beauty norms. Good job.”
Originally posted 2012-09-11 06:20:25.
I had a long, enlightening conversation with a bra fitter a few months ago. We were deep in a discussion about style, dressing, and body image when she said that in her profession, every customer she’s met and helped felt has vulnerable and self-conscious.
“No one is happy with what they have,” she told me. “They all want what they haven’t got.”
I thought about my own breasts. I have always wanted them to be bigger. Always. And it wasn’t until I started complaining about them in front of my friends with larger busts that I learned many women would so much rather have small breasts than large. Or even medium. I’ve always had thick, wavy hair and always wanted thin, straight hair. Again, people have told me they’d kill for my hair. (Hopefully not kill ME …) And then I thought about an L’Wren Scott quote I’d seen years and years ago.
Originally posted 2013-01-10 06:15:59.