Posts in category Competition
Also consider this when someone else is judging you. Too often, we take things personally when it’s really about the other person’s issues.
“While this won’t apply to everyone who enjoys wearing lots of makeup or who tans, I find that, for some people, they are already feeling the pressure of standards they cannot live up to. Makeup and tanning are a way of compensating. So, if we turn around then and call this woman a whore or a fake bitch (or whatever our insult of choice might be), we continue the process of victimizing her and degrading her body. We become a part of that vicious cycle.” – Laci Green
This is me. Don’t think for one second that posting a picture of myself with dirty hair, no makeup, and in unflattering lighting didn’t take some ovaries! Like many women, I’ve struggled with not feeling pretty enough, thin enough, perfect enough. I’ll be the first to admit that I think I look the best in the photo on the right. It’s the photo I use on the back of my book and on the About Me page of this website. I am definitely a product of our beauty-obsessed culture. But this is also me sacrificing my vanity for the greater good. How can I talk about body acceptance and the need to fight against sexist and oppressive imagery if I’m not being real with myself? It takes courage to be real. So everyone, this is what I look like in the morning. Deal with it.
The media manufacture female insecurity for profit. They invent flaws in our appearance and pressure us to fix them. They segment the female body as if it were a bucket of chicken — we’re just legs and breasts and thighs. They convince us that our bodies are too meaty and fatty, our skin is too greasy, and our hair is too fried. They manipulate us with idealized images of hot chicks who were perfected by plastic surgeons, injectable facial fillers and paralyzers, professional photographers, makeup artists, special lighting, hair stylists, fashion designers, and finally photoshopping. And then we compare our real selves with this illusion. It’s not a fair fight.
A woman’s appearance is always treated as relevant. Tabloids critique female celebrities for gaining weight or having the “worst beach body”. The Playmate of the Year is featured on the evening news. Political commentators assess female candidates’ appearance almost as much as their political beliefs. We’re trained to think that our sexuality is our primary source of power. I discuss this in my upcoming book, If Beauty Is Inside, Why Do We Hate Our Guts?: Pop Culture, Sexism, & Power. In the recent documentary Miss Representation, the filmmaker also examines how our culture’s sexualization of women actually minimizes our power in society. Just think about it — if the most powerful women in the country are reduced to their looks, how can any of us expect to be treated with respect?
It starts with respecting ourselves and having the courage to be real. We have to stop allowing the media to define us in such a superficial and demeaning way. When we pull back the curtain, we see that the sculpted and perfected illusion is just a real woman who has more in common with us than we think.
I wasn’t exactly excited to share my naked face with the Internet, but I put together the above image so that you could see the reality behind the special effects. I’d love to see models and celebrities do the same, but their careers depend on them maintaining the illusion. So for now, maybe it’ll just be up to us regular women. And that brings us to Beauty Is Inside’s new “Courage to be Real” Campaign!
The “Courage to be Real” Campaign is about cracking the illusion of perfection that makes us hate our bodies and compete with each other. I challenge you to be courageous and send in “before and after” photos of yourselves, along with what was manipulated in the “after” photo. Send your photos to email@example.com. I’ll collect them all in a photo gallery on this site, and I’ll also post them on the Beauty Is Inside Facebook page and on Twitter @_BeautyIsInside.
Come on — if I did it, so can you! Together, we can inspire other women and girls to have the courage to be real themselves.
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?
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?
The Playboy bunny logo has become a part of pop cultural imagery and can be found on hundreds of products, e.g., jewelry, handbags, t-shirts, and bedding. These products aren’t just trashy and tacky, but they’re subtle examples of how pornography has gone mainstream.
Below is a little something for the guys to remind them that wherever they’re from, they can always smell like a dirty old man in a smoking jacket.
Introducing Eau de Douchebag, by Playboy.
It’s a little hard to read, but this collection includes the following four colognes:
Miami Playboy — Inspired by Palm Beach retirees in unbuttoned Tommy Bahama shirts exposing grey hairy chests and gold chains. Has a hint of coconut and Viagra.
Hollywood Playboy — Inspired by short, balding, beady-eyed sleazebags who prowl Sunset Blvd. and try to get laid by name-dropping and claiming that they’re producers. Has a shallow and superficial scent.
Vegas Playboy — Inspired by married engineering conference attendees who high-five their buddies while getting lap dances and shouting “Vegas baby!” and “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!” Has a slight fragrance of stripper sweat and glitter.
Malibu Playboy — Inspired by homeless 45-year-old surfers who reminisce about their high school glory days and call everyone dude and brah. Has an underlying whiff of rotting seaweed and ocean at low-tide.
I grew up in the suburbs of Southern California. Early on, I learned that there were subtle rules of what constituted an acceptable skin color in a primarily-white school. And these rules were separate from racial differences — they were the rules about what white skin was supposed to look like. In my case, I was indeed white. The problem was that I was too white. I was Casper-white, glow-in-the-dark white, butt-white … the ugly shade of white. To the other kids, my pale skin and dark hair contrasted in a bad way. Where I was from, you were supposed to contrast in a good way, meaning blonde hair and tan (but still white) skin. I got accused of being goth (that’s like emo to those of you born a little later); I wasn’t, but my corpse-like skin tone was what goth kids dreamed of. The popular kids regularly sneered that I should get a tan, and damn if I didn’t try.
I desperately wanted to be tan, because tan = pretty. Over the years I tried everything. I wore coffee-colored pantyhose under skirts and even shorts(!) on 90-degree days. I sunned myself on towels in my parents’ weed-covered backyard. I over-baked in tanning beds until I got bulb-burn-stripes down my body. I broiled in the Acapulco sun like a crustacean on a BBQ until my bright red legs made standing so excruciating that I had to seek medical help. (As I was basting myself with the 0-SPF coconut oil I bought from a beach vendor, a passing woman stopped to tell me how beautiful my light skin was. How ironic.) No matter what method I tried, my skin only managed to turn from white to pink to red. And then ultimately to freckles. I just hope that I won’t develop skin cancer due to my efforts.
I’ve since given up on achieving that sun-kissed look. The sun never even hugged me, no matter how hard I chased. Apparently, he was just not that into me. He always made promises like a big tease, and then ended up burning me over and over again. Trust me — the sun’s not that hot. Even if he fulfills his promise of a glowing tan, you’d better get yourself checked out. No one wants to bring home an outbreak of melanoma. Since I kicked the sun to the clouds, I use alternative methods of tanning. I now slather or spray stinky-smelling and streaky tanning shit. Or I just wear pants or a maxi-dress. (And that way, I don’t even have to shave.)
It hurt to be judged for being too white, and I absorbed the criticisms as much as I did the damaging rays. No girl wants to feel ugly.
Women all across the skin color spectrum are affected by beauty standards. These standards come from both the dominant culture, as well as from each minority group within. In the Hispanic culture, skin that’s “too dark” isn’t generally considered attractive. Darker skin indicates more Indigenous blood than the preferable Spanish European blood. I’ve heard several people comment about the good-looking gueros (light-skinned males and females). I’ve heard women gossip about their friend’s new baby: “Mira la morenita, la pobrecita” (Look at the little dark one, the poor thing). The telenovelas (soap operas) popular on Spanish television channels primarily feature light-skinned actors. Skin color doesn’t just matter outside of their community — it also matters within.
In the soon-to-be-released documentary, “Dark Girls,” the filmmakers examine how attitudes about skin color affect women. They focused on dark-skinned African-American women, but as I watched the preview below, I could empathize with the self-disdain. One woman talks about how she felt about her skin as a little girl: “I can remember being in the bathtub asking my mom to put bleach in the water so that my skin would be lighter and so that I could escape the feelings I had about not being as beautiful, as acceptable, as lovable.”
We can’t control how others treat us, but we can control the way we treat ourselves. Why do we keep trying to find ways to separate and judge ourselves? I was teased about being too white, so I learned to view my white skin with disdain. It’s sad enough that darker-skinned minorities are discriminated against by whites based on skin color, but even sadder that some would do the same to themselves. Please note that I am not saying that being “too white” is at all comparable to the racism experienced by people for being “too dark.” The only aspect I’m comparing pertains to beauty standards. Clearly, there is a long and painful history of racism and discrimination in our country. What I can relate to is how it felt to be a little girl who thought she wasn’t pretty enough because her peers judged her based on an arbitrary rule about the amount of melanin in her skin. If I could’ve added self-tanner to my bathwater as a kid, I would’ve done it.
It’s heartbreaking to think that an innocent little girl would feel so ugly that she’d want to add bleach — or self-tanner — to her bathwater. But it’s also a reminder of how we as women don’t need others to hold us down. After awhile, we learn to do it to ourselves.
It’s hard to be a woman. So much is expected of us: we need to be the perfect wives/girlfriends, selfless moms/friends/daughters, successful businesswomen — all while being beautiful and thin. We’d like to think that since other women face similar challenges, that they would support us in ours. We’d like to think that we’d do the same for them. But sadly, this is often not the case. We tend to compete more than collaborate. We pick each other apart with the same critical eyes through which we see ourselves. Deep inside, we think that by knocking her down a few pegs, we might not feel so deficient in comparison. But it never works. In subtle ways, Sell-Out Sisters sabotage the collective power of us all. It’s not just the mean girls who’ll throw a fellow sister under the bus.
30 Signs of a Sell-Out Sister:
- comparing and competing
- judging or insulting ourselves and other women
- accepting the media’s superficial definition of femininity
- minimizing our opinions
- judging another woman’s choice to work or stay at home with kids
- making snide comments about another woman’s looks
- supporting companies who demean women in their advertising
- agreeing with the media that any amount of fat is unacceptable
- buying into the $55 billion-dollar-a-year diet industry
- agreeing that physical imperfection is ugly
- making fat jokes or laughing at them
- gossiping about a woman sleeping around
- going to movies that treat women as primarily sex objects
- accepting sexism and misogyny without questioning
- calling other women sluts, cunts, bitches, or whores
- not speaking up when we’re offended or we disagree
- sabotaging another woman’s career advancement
- devaluing our internal qualities
- interfering with other women’s reproductive freedom
- trying to silence other women
- embracing the porn star/stripper conception of femininity
- flashing our breasts
- watching shows in which women compete based on looks
- being publicly sexual with other women merely for male attention
- treating ourselves as objects for men’s arousal
- believing that being sexy is the most important quality in women
- idolizing celebrities and models as beauty ideals
- idolizing celebrities and models as actual role models
- seeing beauty ideals as obtainable if only we tried hard enough
- buying tabloids that gossip about which celebrities have packed on the pounds
NOTE: NSFW image below
I had just finished writing this post when I received an email forward from someone close to me. It was a perfect example of a Sell-Out Sister. The woman who sent me this has been morbidly obese for much of her life. Since she was a child, she’s been ridiculed and treated poorly due to her weight, and this treatment continued into adulthood. This makes her selling out particularly sad.
Here’s the email:
|Subject: FW: Garlic Warning!!!!! Must Read This is terrible !!!!!!!!|
OMG…this is really terrible. And I have been touting the benefits of garlic for years!!!
I hope this doesn’t happen to anyone I recommended it to.
For years, doctors and scientists have told us that some foods are good for us, only to be told later that they bad for us, and again they tell us that some foods are bad for us, and all the time they’ve been good for us… and there doesn’t seem to be much proof either way to suggest what is good or bad… until now, that is.
Garlic is definitely BAD for us if it’s true that “You Are What You Eat!”
You have been Garlic’d. Now you’re it!!
Just imagine what women could do if we worked together instead of against each other.