That’s the kind of generous find-the-silver-lining mood I’m in this week as I contemplate poor armless Kristen Stewart and Barbie-legged Beyonce up there. I mean, the more you know, right?
When images look this fake, you can’t interpret them as a reflection on yourself. Well you can. (Little kids do it with Disney princesses all the time.) But you’re a grown up (I presume), so you’re old enough to know better. Now the trick is how to remember this when you’re looking at the not-so-obviously-altered-but-still-totally-fake images that wallpaper the rest of our media-saturated world…Any ideas?
Nope, today’s post isn’t about beauty or body image. We’re mixing it up a bit over iVillage, so be prepared to roll with it — and today I’m talking about new data that shows 43 percent of Gen X women (that’s those of you aged 33 to 46 — so technically, not me. I’m an X-3 years, or a Y+ or something) aren’t having kids.
Which is higher than ever before, so at first you’re all, hooray! More lifestyle options for everyone! Being single or married without kids doesn’t make you sad — it often makes you the most interesting (and well-read, well-traveled, well-dressed and well-rested) person at anyone’s dinner party.
Last year, during Fat Talk Free Week, I had to give a stern talking-to to diet guru and “mental toughness expert” Steve Siebold for the hate-filled press release he sent around saying we protest Fat Talk Free Week and instead, constantly find more ways to tell fat people how fat and lazy they are. Nice guy, that Steve.
This year, it’s Deputy Kelly Osbourne (she of E! Fashion Cops) who seems to have missed the memo and is instead Fat Talking It Up, body snarking on Christina Aguilera. I’m not too worried, because you know Christina. Words can’t keep her down.
Quick disclaimer: It’s iVillage (not VA) style to turn headlines into rhetorical questions. Of course you all know that my answer to that question is “a thousand times, yes, good Lord, stop asking me that!”
So the critical tone of my review of America The Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments isn’t about finding fault with its premise. Director Darryl Roberts and I are five by five on all of that. So much so that I was a little hesitant to be critical out here in blogland — I want to unabashedly support such a big, bold step for body positivity in general and not get caught up in semantic debates. I hate when activists waste time arguing with each other that could be better spent working for the common good.
“Pretty is not enough,” explains this new Bare Escentuals ad campaign. “Pretty is nice. It’s fine. [...] But beauty? Beauty can change the whole world.”
That’s because pretty — as in just a pretty face — “is what you are,” but beauty is “what you do with it.” Bare Escentuals wants us all to “be a force for beauty” because “when you put pretty into action, there’s NO LIMIT TO WHAT YOU CAN DO.”
Confused? But sorta inspired? Maybe suddenly thinking about buying a new eye shadow?
Then this ad campaign hit its mark. And I am thoroughly annoyed.
This isn’t the first time a cosmetics company has borrowed positive body image rhetoric to sell lip gloss and foundation. Last year, COVERGIRL’s “Stand Up For Beauty!” campaign featured Drew Barrymore, Ellen Degeneres and other celebrities defending beauty as some kind of inalienable right of women, then gave away $50,000 to the winner of their YouTube video contest who talked about how she was beautiful even though she had to wax her mustache.
As I explained yesterday, I’m giving a lot of thought to difficult body image conversations this week. And when I saw some new research that found the biggest deciding factor in our body image at any given moment is the opinion of others, it was a bit of a “oh, duh!” moment.
Fat may not be contagious, but fatphobia definitely is.
In this same week, I read Thin is the New Happy, a pretty wonderful body image memoir by my friend Val Frankel, who got down into the lion’s pit with her body demons and lived to tell the tale. Part of her “Non Diet” strategy (which you know I love) involved turning off all the negative Fat Talk once and for all so she really could not diet and not feel guilty about it. So I decided to ask her how she did that when everyone around her was still Fat Talking away, and, as the science shows, those opinions mess with our heads whether we like it or not.
Like yesterday’s post, this was all much more cutting-edge and relevant when we first ran it over on Never Say Diet right after Chris Christie made his no-really-guys-for-reals-now announcement that he wasn’t running for president.
Still, maybe you’re still pondering the nuances of the whole fat candidate thing. Or curious to know Bill Clinton’s Body Mass Index when he held office (hint: He wasn’t too thin). In which case, you should click right over to find out why I’m calling hypocrisy when red state Americans get hot for plain-spoken “just folks” candidates who want to shoot guns and drink beer just like them — but draw the line at a candidate that maybe looks just like them. Not cool.
One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is how much easier it is to talk the talk on the positive body image front than walk the walk. When I’m tucked away in my office, downloading all these thoughts into blog posts and articles, it’s pretty easy to feel great about my body, because it’s like I barely even have a body. I’m more like a head and a set of hands attached to a keyboard. (That got weird. Stop picturing me as floating Futurama heads with hands!)
But when you go out into the world and start interacting with people, it gets a lot trickier. Some of my friends know I write about this stuff all the time, so they get very defensive, adopting a sort of “I want to rag on my body today, so shut up and let me!” crouch before I even say anything. This is fair. I am the sort of person who frequently says too many things far too emphatically (especially if wine is involved). My friends are probably right to try to stave off my soapbox moments before they start.
Sorry, y’all. Not only is it yet another ode to my girl crush, Melissa McCarthy, but I’m a week late in telling you, my beloved Beauty Schoolers, about it. Yikes! Sometimes the Never Say Diet posts stack up before I get the complimentary Beauty Schooled posts written to match.
Anyway, I rewatched Bridesmaids the other weekend and it’s just as good the second time (plus when you’re On Demand-ing it, you can make an ice cream run during the dress shop scene if potty humor is not your jam!) plus then Melissa won her Emmy and did SNL and all that jazz. And there’s this whole weird Marbles Hargrove character that she invented on YouTube.