Posts in category Images by Beauty Is Inside
12 Similarities Between the GOP & an Abusive Partner
Excerpt from my upcoming book:
History or Herstory?
It matters whose stories get told.
Plastic Surgery & Misogyny
Portia on Body Image
Portia de Rossi, actress and wife of comedian Ellen DeGeneres, struggled with anorexia for years. Her weight hit a low of 82 pounds while filming the TV show Ally McBeal, partly due to entertainment industry pressure to be thin and also due to the shame of hiding her sexual orientation. She wrote her book, Unbearable Lightness, for anyone who's ever struggled with body image.
The above quote was from an episode of the brilliant new show, The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet, which airs on Lifetime. Watch a clip from the show here:
Courage to be Real Campaign
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
© 2010 Nancy Lynne Kanter