Posts in category Celebrities

If Men Posed Like Women …


The media's treatment of women as sex objects is a ubiquitous fact of life. Advertisements, fashion spreads, comic books, movie posters -- nearly everywhere you look, women are shown in various stages of undress and posed in positions that make them look vulnerable, submissive, and sexually available. Conversely, men are depicted in positions of power or dominance, e.g., standing while a woman is reclining, being fully clothed while she's undressed, etc. These differences reinforce inequality between the sexes. Really, how powerful can a woman feel when she's half-naked and awkwardly contorted?


It's an interesting social experiment to see what happens when men are placed in these typical "female" poses.

The image below features two Vanity Fair covers: the top one with fully-clothed fashion designer Tom Ford, along with a nude Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson; and the bottom one is a Vanity Fair spoof of their own cover with a fully-clothed Paul Rudd and a pretend-nude Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Jason Segel. In a separate issue, Vanity Fair also did a photo spread with comedians Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Tina Fey, but posed them as typical sex objects. As Entertainment Weekly asks, would it be "... just as uproarious if some of those ladies vamped ironically in body stockings[?] ... Men being objectified is so silly as to be hilarious, but it’s better if funny women are also hot."


Here's a similar set of images showing nude female models huddled together and then one with the guys from the "Jackass" TV series and movies: 


The following "men-ups" were created by photographer Rion Sabean to parody classic pin-up poses. According to Rion, his work focuses on "... gender and sexuality, wherein I attempt to bring light to the scrutiny and judgments of a society that defines human beings under rigid, antiquated terms."


Artist Paul Richmond created a similar series from a gay male perspective. "I began the Cheesecake Boys series to rectify the inequalities in the underwear-flashing art genre known as pin-up," said Richmond.



Here's Richmond explaining how he came up with the concept, along with more examples of his work:



Fantasy author Jim Hines parodied women's poses on the covers of fantasy novels by trying to replicate the poses himself. (He also did a series posing like the men on romance novel covers). "... [M]ost of these covers are supposed to convey strong, sexy heroines, but these are not poses that suggest strength. You can’t fight from these stances. I could barely even walk," said Hines.



  Do these images look ridiculous? Silly? Maybe even homoerotic? Once men are placed in the same sexualized poses that women are traditionally seen in, it becomes clear how absurd -- and sexist -- these poses truly are.  

A Woman’s Declaration of Independence

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book -- If Beauty Is inside, Why Do We Hate Our Guts?: Pop Culture, Sexism, & Body Image. Read the first chapter here.


It's time to declare independence, to separate ourselves from the bad habits, the stifling expectations, and the negative messages that no longer serve us (assuming they ever did).


It's time to declare independence from media messages that tell us we're ugly if we don't look like the "flawless" images of celebrities on the screen and in the magazines. It's time to stop buying into the manipulation and stop wasting time trying to chase an illusion that doesn't even exist.


It's time to declare independence from the belief that having the perfect body will make us worthy of love and respect. We're already worthy of love and respect in the bodies we have now -- no amount of weight loss or plastic surgery will increase our value.


It's time to declare independence from dieting, from deprivation, from seeing food as the enemy. The American weight loss industry makes nearly $60 billion a year trying to convince us that we're not good enough -- if diets worked, would they be this profitable? It's time to stop contributing to their false sense of hope.


It's time to declare independence from body loathing, from looking at our bodies with disgust instead of love. It's time to appreciate all of the amazing things they do for us -- the jiggly arms that give great hugs, the flabby thighs that carry us through the park, the droopy breasts that fed a child, the wounded heart that still knows how to love, the exhausted brain that still manages to tell our lungs to breathe.


It's time to declare independence from spending so much time, energy, and money trying to fit into someone else's idea of whom we should be. It's time to put ourselves first, to focus on our own desires and do what we want instead of what's expected of us. It's time to trust our instincts and become someone we're proud of. 


It's time to declare independence from shame, from the belief that we're not good enough, not beautiful enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, not clever enough, not sexy enough. It's time to declare that we are already enough -- that we are perfectly imperfect exactly as we are.


It's time to declare independence from the oppressive labels of virgin or whore, straight or gay. Our sexuality does not define us. It can't possibly define what kind of person we are or what's in our hearts or our minds. Any attempt by others to claim otherwise is an attempt to control us, to police our behavior, and to shame us so that they don't have to examine their own ignorance and fear.


It's time to declare independence from the belief that we can bring sexual assault upon ourselves based on how provocatively we're dressed, how flirty we act, or how drunk we get. The only person responsible for a rapist's behavior is the rapist himself. We have a right to feel safe in the world.


It's time to declare independence from legislators who think the female body should be controlled by wealthy, middle-aged, white, conservative men. Our bodies belong to us -- it's time to declare our freedom to make our own decisions about them. Because if we cannot, then we are truly not equal citizens and this country as not as free it claims to be.


It's time to declare our independence from any force that tries to hold us down -- especially those forces that limit us from within.

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SLUT: See Limbaugh, Unevolved Troglodyte


Rush Limbaugh has been all over the news since his misogynistic rant about Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student who testified before Democratic members of Congress about birth control coverage being a necessary part of women's health. His rant went on for over three days, during which he called her a "slut" and a "prostitute," along with about 50 other insults. Apparently, each of those insults has now cost him an advertiser, as 50 of them (so far) have pulled their ads from his show. Granted, one must wonder why they ever decided to advertise with him in the first place. As a man who regularly spews sexist manure and the one who coined the term "feminazi," it's obviously not his first sexist rodeo. However, this time enough people grabbed the bully by the horns and put pressure on his advertisers to try to make it his last.


After several advertisers initially dropped him, he made a half-assed apology to Fluke, during which he just reiterated what he'd previously said. At that point, you'd think he might slither away from sexist rhetoric until the heat went down ... but nope. Just last week, he made demeaning comments about author Tracie McMillan, including calling her an "authorette" and stating: "What is it with all these overeducated white women?"


Actually, what is it with all these sexist and ignorant old white men? Clearly he's threatened by "overeducated white women" and "feminazis" -- and rightly so. We tend to think women should be treated with respect and fairness. And when we're called things like "slut," "prostitute," "overeducated," and "feminazi" by a cave-dwelling radio personality, we're likely to call him on his shit.



The most disturbing thing about Limbaugh's vile comments are that he isn't alone. Attitudes such as his underlie legislative and religious efforts to politicize our reproductive health and police our sexuality, and they also underlie violence against women in general. It's all about control. The attacks on reproductive rights aren't even about birth control -- they're about woman control. And words like slut are used to shame us, silence us, and put us back in our places.


One thing that cave-dwelling troglodytes are good at is lighting fires. And Limbaugh certainly lit a big one this time.


Referring to a woman as a "slut" and a "prostitute" for sharing her beliefs about birth control, saying that ”she wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex” and that she should post a sex video as repayment -- these statements aren't merely the sexist tirades of a bloated blowhard -- these are inflammatory comments on a grander scale. They contribute to a culture in which demeaning women is normalized. He's fueling the fires of those who share his misogynistic views, fueling their anger toward women for being immoral sluts because they dare to have sex without shame. He's fueling the justifications of those who see women as sexual objects who owe them sex. He's fueling the anger at women who dare to turn down sexual advances. He's fueling the claims that women ask to be harassed or raped because of how they act or dress. These words fuel the fires of those who share the opinion that women should have no voice, that we should be silenced so that we can't challenge their dominance. These are the beliefs underlying the verbal attacks by trolls on online comment boards when a woman dares to speak her mind. And these attitudes are the beliefs underlying more severe misogyny.


These words aren't uttered in a vacuum. Especially when they're uttered by a media personality with millions of like-minded viewers. Violent actions are precipitated by violent beliefs. In the same way that a disease epidemic affects the weakest members of society first, so does inflammatory rhetoric. Limbaugh reinforces the beliefs of those listeners who share his sexist views; those who have anger issues, antisocial personalities, or other psychological disorders may indeed act out that misogyny. His words fuel their beliefs and their justifications for treating women as objectified less-than-human beings. Thousands of women in this country are physically and sexually assaulted not only by strangers, but also by men they know, including their own partners. Men who see women as equals and deserving of respect do not generally beat and rape women. They also don't call us sluts or prostitutes or try to control our bodies.


A disturbed person may be the one who ultimately lights the match, but vile-hate-spewing-"entertainers" like Limbaugh are the ones providing the gasoline. And both need to be extinguished.


Who’s Hotter?


I recently posted an article about the image below, which is currently circulating around the Internet. As I mentioned in the previous post, this faux-empowerment message just ends up pitting thin girls against curvy girls, feeding the comparisons and competitions, and separating us all. As a result, we fight against each other instead of fighting against the beauty pressures that make us feel insecure in the first place. Here's the original image:


What's the next logical step?


and then what about this?


Haven't we all had enough? Isn't it about time that we move past the pettiness and start working together?


Real Women Have … Bodies


The other day, my friend shared this image on my Facebook wall. I'm sure she had good intentions, as did the creator. At first glance, it seems like a girl-power-feel-good-kind-of-message that challenges the pressure to be thin, similar to the "real women have curves" mantra made popular by the movie of the same name. It seems to be about women celebrating their curves, accepting their bodies, and not buying into the extreme dieting mentality.


But it's not. This image is about shaming thin women about their bodies under the guise of empowering heavier women. It's just the other side of the same coin.


What about women who are naturally thin? Or naturally not as curvy? Are they less hot? Are they not real women? Comparing is just one more way for us to separate ourselves.


Most of us struggle with our weight, so being in the public eye would most assuredly have an impact on how celebrities feel about their own bodies. Heidi Montag had 10 plastic surgeries so that she could look hot enough. Tabloid rumors have accused Nichole Ritchie and Keira Knightley of having eating disorders, and Kirsten Dunst was on the cover of Star Magazine for having one of the "worst beach bodies," so it's not as if any of them are being celebrated for their bodies at the moment. The media's pretty arbitrary anyway about what constitutes the hot-kind-of-thin vs. the anorexic-kind-of-thin. It's a fine line, and those celebrities who cross it are publicly shamed on tabloid covers. I'm sure Bettie, Shirley, Elizabeth, and Marilyn faced their share of scrutiny and pressure as well based upon the beauty standards of their time. Elizabeth Taylor, for one, suffered from both eating disorders and substance abuse. Considered by many to be the most beautiful woman in the world, she was once quoted as saying, "I don't like my voice. I don't like the way I look. I don't like the way I move. I don't like the way I act. I mean, period. So, you know, I don't like myself."

Beauty is subjective. Others' opinions about us are irrelevant -- what matters most is how we see ourselves.


The body snarking, the gossipy headlines about who has anorexia or who's getting fat, the who's hotter comparisons -- these all promote the age-old competition to determine the fairest of them all. And eating disorders are part of this futile attempt to fit what society deems "hot".


There's value in simply being who we are, whether we're thin or fat or have curves or not. So, in response to the question: "When did this become hotter than this?", here's another question: Why do we have to cut someone else down to feel better about ourselves?

Don’t Cha Trust Her


I found this stylish top in the Junior's section. Now why would a girl want to wear something like this? To display how competitive and untrustworthy she is? Or just to be mean and bitchy?


When I saw this t-shirt, I was immediately reminded of the song "Don't Cha" by the Pussycat Dolls. Granted, with their highly-sexualized image, the Pussycat Dolls are hardly models of progress, so lyrics such as theirs should come as no surprise. In case you haven't heard the song, here's the chorus:

Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me? Don't cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me? Don't cha, don't cha, baby Don't cha wish your girlfriend was raw like me? Don't cha wish your girlfriend was fun like me? Don't cha, don't cha

Pop culture seems to treat petty competitiveness and insults as part of being female. The idiotic t-shirts, the man-stealing songs, the catty reality show contestants, the magazine articles about "What Makes Men Cheat?" -- they all regularly remind us that other women are threats. Until she proves she's our BFF, she's the enemy or worse -- the frenemy -- so we'd better watch our backs.

Chasing the Deep


The media teach us

that our primary goals as women

should be weight loss and the pursuit of beauty,

and this is particularly true of celebrities.


Maybe it's time for us all to stop chasing pavements

in that direction

and instead,

start rolling in the deeper goals.


  Original Quote: "I love food and hate exercise," she laughs. "I don't have time to work out. Go buy my record; then I'll be able to lose weight. I actually don't care. I don't want to be on the cover of Playboy or Vogue. I want to be on the cover of Rolling Stone or Q. I'm not a trend-setter -- I'm a singer. I never want to be known for anything else. I'd rather weigh a ton and make an amazing album then look like Nicole Richie and do a shit album. My aim in life is never to be skinny." -- Adele    

Flaw-Free Face

In Defense of Duckface

According to Urban Dictionary, duckface is “the face made if you push your lips together in a combination of a pout and a pucker, giving the impression [that] you have larger cheekbones and bigger lips.”
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are the most notorious celebrity duckface posers, but if you have any youngish female (or sometimes male) friends on Facebook or MySpace, then you’ve undoubtedly been introduced to this infamous facial expression. You may even be guilty of posing like this yourself (Don't worry, I won't tell ... as long as you promise to stop).

What makes a duckface stand out is that it looks so contrived – it’s an exaggerated sexy face, which just ends up looking decidedly unsexy. A duckface pose is often captured in a self-shot cellphone photo at an angle from above, head slightly turned and cocked to the side, and eyes half-closed in a seductive squint. Many times it’s accompanied by cleavage, a peace sign(?), and other duckfaced friends.
I considered posting a photo of myself here to demonstrate duckface, but I had to delete it because I'm just too vain to immortalize myself in a photo that way. My goal isn’t to make fun of duckface though – that’s already been done in several places:  on here, and over here, and even in a song.

When I first saw these, I admit that I found them amusing. But the more I thought about it, the more I saw duckface as a response to a culture that pressures women and girls to constantly look sexy through never-ending examples of what “sexy” is supposed to look like. Full, pouty lips like those belonging to Angelina Jolie are beauty must-haves. If we weren’t born with those, we can buy beauty products that claim to plump up our pouts with the tingling sensation of menthol. We can learn makeup tips like using a neutral lipliner just outside our natural liplines and dabbing a touch of highlighter at the center of our bottom lips. We can apply shimmering lipgloss that ends up sticking to our hair in the wind. If we’re really serious about it, we can get lip injections that offer the duckface look without the daily upkeep.
Or we can just strike a pose.
I find it sad that girls as young as 11 years old would try to capture this look, as someone I know recently did. However, I remember being around 13 or so, posing in the bathroom mirror, mimicking the models in the magazines myself. They were the examples of what women were supposed to look like, and I wanted to look like them.
When you really think about it, the aim of a duckface pose is to achieve that alluring and glamorous pout that appears throughout the media, to look like one has those kissable lips that every lip product or cosmetic injection claims to provide. Duckface is simply an unsophisticated and exaggerated attempt to look like this:

Only a select few have either the genes or the money to pay for the cosmetic procedures, makeup artists, stylists, lighting experts, and photo retouchers to transform them into the “right kind” of sexy. It seems kind of unfair - we’re expected to emulate the ads, but then we’re mocked for trying.
Somehow, duckface doesn’t seem so funny after all.