I’m excited to announce that I will be adding a Beauty Is Inside Store to the site (coming soon)! You probably don’t know this, but when I’m not busy fighting the patriarchy, I run my own business designing handcrafted jewelry! That line is wine-inspired, so I decided to expand and develop another line — feminist jewelry and accessories — which I’ll be exclusively offering here! My upcoming book, If Beauty Is Inside, Why Do We Hate Our Guts? will also be available in the store upon completion of the book.
Stay tuned for the grand opening! … In the meantime, feel free to check out my other jewelry line! I make handcrafted, wine-inspired jewelry out of repurposed wine corks, reproductions of my wine-themed paintings paired with chandelier crystals, and other related pieces like grape clusters and clay leaf pendants. I’ve found that it’s a great way to use all the wine corks I’ve collected while running this website and my social media pages. Fighting sexism really makes a woman thirsty! ;)
NOTE: This is a guest post – a Beauty Is Inside first! Thank you to Brooke Scheinberg for writing this powerful letter just in time for Spring.
Body, it’s me. Can we talk? It’s March 20th and spring has finally arrived. As spring fills the air, there are some things we can always count on– flowers will bloom, birds will gleefully chirp, temperatures will rise, and the media will unleash its seasonal campaign begging me, pressuring me, DEMANDING me to declare war against you.
Magazines and commercials will be asking us if we’re “beach body ready.” They’ll say it’s time to “melt away those love handles” and “get rid of those extra pounds.” Body, last time I checked, we have fat covering our bones, and extra cushioning around our tummy and hips– never has this fat posed a threat to us or to anyone else for that matter, so why must it be so urgently destroyed? Why should we have to make ourselves smaller and smaller to satisfy an ideal of beauty that we never agreed to in the first place?
Advertisers will try to sell us products that will “eliminate unsightly stretch marks.” Body, last time I checked, we have stretch marks–winding, twisting, squiggly pale marks on our thighs, hips, breasts, butt, you get the picture! Despite what the media tells us, you and I know that these stretch marks signify our growth– from a little girl into a woman. These stretch marks formed because I nourished you, fed you, allowed you to develop fully over the years. Why should we feel compelled to erase the very marks that make us human? Magazines incessantly mock celebrities who have cellulite. Body, last time I checked, we have cellulite. The generations of women before us had cellulite too– it’s in our genes. My thighs have ripples and dimples, just like my mother’s thighs, and my grandmother’s thighs, and my great-grandmother’s thighs. When I look at our legs, the cellulite isn’t what strikes me. What strikes me is how our legs supported us and allowed us to stand tall throughout life’s most difficult challenges. Our legs, they did not buckle in times of hardship, heartbreak, and grief, no– our legs kept us moving through life when it seemed impossible. Though we may receive ongoing harassment about the cellulite on our legs, our legs will continue to stand tall and stand up to unrealistic standards of beauty over and over again.
We see commercials for laser hair removal, waxing, and shaving products. Body, this is no secret– we have hair. On our arms, on our legs, on our face, etc. Remember those boys who made fun of us in middle school for having hair on our bodies? Oh, the shame and insecurities we felt back then. Our dark hair carries our history and our heritage– that is nothing to be ashamed of. Those boys, I hope they’ve matured over the years. I hope they don’t humiliate their mothers, their sisters, and their daughters who grow hair on their faces and bodies. I hope they have learned to love and accept women as human beings and NOT Barbie dolls.
Body, the internet keeps telling us we need to “cleanse and detox.” If there is one thing we need to cleanse and detox, I think it is our mind. We need a 24-7 detox from the poisonous messages that have been bombarding us since we were young. Perhaps the weight we’ve needed to lose all along is the weight of society’s judgments surrounding our bodies and our worth.
Body, I want to thank you for never giving up on me. You’ve been there for me when I was not always kind to you. You don’t hold a grudge for all those years I hated you, starved you, overworked you, and treated you poorly. You’ve loved me unconditionally from the second we met, and it’s about time I returned that love. I want to cherish every moment we spend together– basking in our imperfection, existing exactly as we are, and making no apologies. Happy Spring!
About the Author:
Brooke Scheinberg is a licensed social worker currently providing clinical therapy services at a substance abuse clinic in New Haven, CT. A graduate of the University of Maryland School of Social Work, Brooke was inspired to become a social worker after seeking treatment for an eating disorder and discovering that recovery is a reality. Using her personal and professional experience, she hopes to help and inspire others on their journey to self-love.
I’ve recently seen this meme circulating around social media, so I decided to fix it. Having lost my beloved grandmother this past year, it gives me even more perspective. If I found a photo of her like the one on the right, I would be thinking, “Alright! You go, Grandma!” I would be excited to see the family resemblance, how we share a similar body shape or bone structure. I would be feeling connected to her and wondering what she was like as a younger woman. I certainly wouldn’t be objectifying her or judging her attempt at trying to feel attractive. I wouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed of her like this meme is implying a grandchild should feel.
It makes me sad that the ones I’ve seen sharing this meme are other women. Come on, ladies. We can do better than this. There’s enough misogyny in the world. We don’t need to participate in it ourselves. :(
Something else to consider for those who take issue with the photo on the right: in a society in which women are routinely objectified and treated as if our bodies are our most valuable attribute, is it any surprise that some of us might internalize that to a degree and just want to feel like we’re one of the beautiful ones too?
If you’re not following Beauty Is Inside on Facebook, you might want to head on over there! We just celebrated 40,000 members! I post more regularly over there. You’ll find hundreds of thought-provoking images and articles, and you’ll have the chance to participate in the often lively discussions. Come join us! :)
In the past several years, Halloween has morphed into something really scary. Not because of the blood and gore, creepy decorations, or traditionally spooky costumes, but because of how it reinforces the cultural narrative about women.
Halloween used to be the day when you could put on a disguise and pretend to be someone else for the night. For women, it could be a reprieve from the daily pressure to look thin, beautiful, and sexy. But instead of a day off from that pressure, Halloween is now a day to amp it up. Nearly every option for women is a sexy take on a traditional costume, from fetishized caricatures from porn to the totally absurd, such as the Sexy Hamburger, the Sexy Crayon, the Sexy Skittles, the Sexy Sponge Bob, and the Sexy Nemo (the clown fish from Finding Nemo). I just … I … have no words:
But it’s not all just harmless fun. Even child characters in fairy tales have been made into sexed-up costumes for women, e.g., Sexy Little Red Riding Hood, Sexy Goldilocks, and Sexy Alice in Wonderland. (See more examples here).
In addition to fairy tale characters, here are a few other ways for women to dress up as sexy little girls — the Sexy Girl Scout, the Sexy Schoolgirl, and the Sexy Baby (WTF is wrong with people?!):
What’s so troubling about these costumes is that:
“… [M]any of the ‘sexy’ costumes are highly sexualized versions of characters who are supposed to be little girls … The fact that many women dress up as sexy little girls points to both the sexualization of female children and the infantilization of adult women.”
The sexualization of girls teaches them early on that their value lies in their appearance, their bodies, and their sexuality. The American Psychological Association found that sexualization damages girls’ feelings of self-worth, impairs their mental functioning, and contributes to eating disorders. In other words, it fucks girls up. The infantilization of adult women reinforces attitudes that women should be treated as naive, dependent, and incapable of making intelligent decisions or holding leadership roles. In other words, it fucks women over.
Another disturbing trend in sexy costumes is linking sexuality with violence. Here are some creepy sexy costumes, such as female versions of horror movie serial killers — Sexy Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Sexy Jason (Friday the 13th), and Sexy Michael Myers (Halloween). I guess the Sexy Body Bag (seriously, who comes up with this shit?!) fits in here as well :/ :
Of course, many Halloween costumes are intended to be frightening or gory, but turning a male horror movie killer that often targets scantily-clad female victims into a scantily-clad female horror movie killer has some interesting connotations. Horror movie killers tend to murder (punish) the sexually open “whores” early on, while the good girl “virgins” often escape (reward). Underlying the sexy female killer is a misogynistic fear of female sexuality and power — it threatens conservative social attitudes about women owning our sexuality and our bodies. It also sparks our own conflicted feelings about sexuality or our insecurities about other women being competition or threats. Since all of these fears are uncomfortable, they must be buried or “killed”.
Clearly, there are lots of “sexy” costumes for women, but those for men are a bit different. This Tumblr page has tons of examples of the same costume idea, but different versions for him and her. The differences are quite striking when you look at them side-by-side. His costumes are typically silly, while hers are always sexy. Here are his-and-hers versions of Tigger, Skunk, Firefighter, and Astronaut:
Making sexy versions of non-sexy characters like Tigger or Skunk invariably make sexiness cross into absurdity. However, sexing-up women’s costumes of traditionally male careers, such as Firefighter or Astronaut, is another breed of animal. First, how could women realistically fight fires in a mini-skirt, garters, and fishnets or work in zero gravity in a mini-skirt and a top that low-cut? The answer is that they can’t. And that speaks to deeper cultural beliefs about what women should and shouldn’t do. Underlying sexy costumes such as these are sexist beliefs about a woman’s place in society. Women taking on traditionally male roles is treated as absurd in itself, and the only way to make it okay is to sexualize it. This reinforces beliefs that we’re primarily sexual objects and that we don’t belong in certain careers or positions of power unless we’re there to support men.
So far, we’ve only looked at sexy costumes for women, but men have a few choices as well: the Breathalizer (Get it? You “blow” into that straw between his legs), the One Night Stand, and the Pimp (Parents — make sure to teach your sons early that women are “hos” to exploit for money and status!):
There’s obviously a discrepancy between men’s and women’s sexy costumes:
“… [W]hen women go sexy for Halloween, it usually means being seen as a sex object for others. When men go sexy, it means joking about how men should be sexually serviced, have access to one night stands, or being in charge of and profiting from women’s bodies. A different type of ‘sexy’ entirely.”
That’s it. I’m skipping Halloween. These are all just too scary for me. :/
“Little Boy Gets Rejected, Doesn’t Understand Rejection And Gets Pushed Over By Little Girl”: In this 2-min video, the little boy keeps going in for a hug and the little girl keeps pushing him away. Repeatedly. This would’ve been a perfect opportunity to teach the boy about consent and that no means no. Instead, the parents film this interaction for 2 minutes and post it to youtube. While they presumably find this “cute” or “humorous” behavior at 2 or 3 years old, it’s teaching damaging lessons to both the little boy and the girl. This won’t be so cute when they’re older.
(I’d recommend muting the sound – it’s just goofy, annoying music.)
Political commentator Keith Olbermann goes off on the NFL’s acceptance of sexism and violence against women. This rant comes after the league punished Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice with a mere slap on the wrist — a two-game suspension — after he knocked out his girlfriend then dragged her unconscious body out of an elevator.
Watch the video:
Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)
This phenomenal woman truly showed that when beauty is inside, it shines outside too.
(Quote from Huffington Post)
A significant aspect of a culture that condones rape is teaching women how to avoid being raped instead of teaching men not to rape. Rape prevention is treated as women’s responsibility, and we’re taught early on about how to take precautions so that we can allegedly guard ourselves against it. Inevitably, discussions about sexual assault devolve into victim-blaming. What was she wearing? Why did she drink so much? Why did she go back to his place if she didn’t want to have sex? The focus shifts to whether a woman acted or dressed in such a way that she provoked the man’s lust (because boys will be boys, right?). Therefore, if a woman dresses provocatively, she’s essentially provoking a man to take advantage of her — she’s “asking for it.” Lieutenant Joe Kenda, retired police detective and host of the television documentary program, “Homicide Hunter,” sheds some light on what really causes sexual assault.
Via Huffington Post:
“Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) ripped apart the stereotype that women are ‘too emotional’ on Wednesday, moments after Senate Republicans blocked a procedural motion to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act. …
“Mikulski sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would cut into the gender pay gap by holding employers more accountable for wage discrimination against women. An effort to begin debate on the measure failed 53-44, with all Republicans and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) voting against the cloture motion. All Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voted in favor of advancing the bill.
“Mikulski’s comments were not just directed toward her Republican colleagues, but were also a thinly-veiled shot at former CIA director Michael Hayden. On Sunday, Hayden suggested that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was ‘too emotional’ to have produced a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s use of torture post-Sept. 11.”
Here’s an old school response to sexism that unfortunately is still relevant today.
“A lost D.H. Lawrence essay in which the famed author issued a major takedown to a misogynistic contemporary has been found in a library in New Zealand.”
Lawrence was the author of classic novels such as Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Women in Love. Regarding the newly-discovered essay:
“Lawrence wrote the piece some time in late 1923 or early 1924 in response to an essay published in Adelphi, a literary magazine … That essay, which ran under the byline ‘JHR,’ was a viciously misogynistic treatise called ‘The Ugliness of Women.’ Its author argued that ‘in every woman born there is a seed of terrible, unmentionable evil: evil such as man — a simple creature for all his passions and lusts — could never dream of in the most horrible of nightmares, could never conceive in imagination. … No doubt, the evil growth is derived from Eve, who certainly did or thought something wicked beyond words.'”
Here’s an excerpt of Lawrence’s enlightened response:
After the recent Comedy Central roast of actor James Franco, Sarah Silverman admitted to having her self-esteem take a hit as the roast devolved into jokes about her “advanced” age. She discusses her reaction during an interview on W. Kamau Bell’s Totally Biased.
“Me being old, first of all, at the roast? — completely took me by surprise … Because it’s personal, that is just so woman-based. I wasn’t even the oldest one on that dais. I’m the same age as fresh-faced new star W. Kamau Bell! I feel like it’s a part of, as soon as a woman gets to an age where she has opinions and she’s vital and she’s strong, she’s systematically shamed into hiding under a rock. And this is by progressive pop-culture people! You know what I mean? It’s really odd! I feel bad that it cut me. Because I should be like this about it (brushing her hand off her shoulder). I feel like your joke is that I’m still alive. My crime is not dying.
And I feel like, I just did this special and it made me think of something I said, which was — to so many women, especially when I watch Real Housewives — (muffled, through gritted teeth) which I watch, I wish I didn’t, but I do — I just want to say, ‘Your heartbreaking attempts to look younger is the reason your daughter doesn’t dream about her future!'”
Watch the interview here: