Friday, August 14, 2015

Miley Cyrus as Body Image Advocate?

In a world full of politically correct celebrities all trying to say the right thing for the right press, you have to admire Miley Cyrus for being true to who she is today.

Photo by Mark Seliger via Marie Claire
In her interview with Marie Claire, she speaks about the difficulties of “being” Hannah Montana.
From the time I was 11, it was, 'You're a pop star! That means you have to be blonde, and you have to have long hair, and you have to put on some glittery tight thing.' Meanwhile, I'm this fragile little girl playing a 16-year-old in a wig and a ton of makeup. 
While we are quick to judge celebrities who dare complain about their seemingly charmed lives, it’s good to be reminded that even those in the spotlight struggle with the same issues as those of us in the shadows.
I was told for so long what a girl is supposed to be from being on that show. I was made to look like someone that I wasn't, which probably caused some body dysmorphia because I had been made pretty every day for so long, and then when I wasn't on that show, it was like, Who the fuck am I?
I can relate to what she says. Who amongst us has not ever presented ourselves to the world one way and then wondered who we really are when we step off the stage (literal or metaphorical).

What do we do this information? Can we change ourselves by not changing ourselves to be who we think others want us to be?

Perhaps if we have role models stepping up to those pressures for us, we can.

Strippers' Rights

In her New York Times Op-Ed, Stop Stealing From Strippers, Antonia Crane explains well the injustices done to strippers and defends strippers' rights.

Lauren Kolesinskas via

She’s one of the only other stripper/writers I’ve seen address the pay-discrepancy between what people think strippers make and what they actually do. Her main point for this essay is to point out how unfair it is for strippers to have to give away so much of their income.
Strip clubs have provided me and many other dancers with steady income for our entire adult lives. I’m thankful to have enjoyed decades as a paid entertainer. But we deserve the same protections and respect given to any employee in any other work force. We are night laborers who have found a way to offer fantasy, entertainment, intrigue and human contact in an impersonal culture. We want to see a safe and sexy dance floor in every strip club in America. And we deserve to keep our tips.
I’ve fallen prey to all of the pay-outs that Crane describes: the percentage of our earnings that have to be given to the club, to the manager on duty, to the DJ and even to the “house mom.”

That these payouts are accepted practice in clubs all across America is truly unfair and exploitive. While many may disagree with the stripping profession, exotic dancers still deserve to have workplace protections just like any other profession.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pregnant and Naked? How About Pregnant and Dressed in Walmart Clothes?

I’m Pregnant…See?

No, I’m not pregnant, but these celebrities are. Guess how I know? Yeah, because they’re naked.

Naya Rivera, of Glee fame, posed for Yahoo! Style according to Celebrity Baby Scoop.

And Kim Kardashian took a selfie to quiet her naysayers who said she was faking her pregnancy.

Vogue writer Patricia Garcia thinks Kardashian is now a “Role Model for Pregnant Women Everywhere.”

Although from the comments section, I would say that most readers disagree heartily with that term being applied to a naked pregnant woman.

Look, I’m all for women posing nude, pregnant or not, if it makes them feel good and empowered. I’ve been known to do it myself (although not while pregnant, which I actually kind of regret).

But at this point, when it’s been done to death, and we’ve already seen the aforementioned celebrities nude or all glammed up, it’s not like it’s really such a shock anymore.

I’d really actually rather see a pregnant celebrity pose in some clothes from Walmart or something along those lines.

Photo of pregnant Sheila Hageman wearing cheap maternity clothes
Now that would be different! We would see them in a different light. They would be taking a risk.

As viewers, we would have the opportunity to feel like they were really trying to relate to the “real” woman (and by that, I don’t mean that they aren’t real, I just mean it in the terms of them having different photographic experiences possible to them than the majority of pregnant women).

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

BuzzFeed Staffers Face Their Body Fears Head On

A lot of women have browsed through a Victoria’s Secret catalog and felt less than stellar about themselves.

We know. We talk about it. We write about it.

We don’t often talk about how men feel when seeing a Calvin Klein ad though.

Leave it to the BuzzFeed staff to face these issues square in the body.

While reading the comments the ladies made, I really felt the women were being honest and I felt they were really looking at the experience.

Nina said:
Honestly, I wish we could go back to wearing old-timey full-coverage swimsuits. I also have fairly large boobs and it’s really hard to find a suit that lets me move around and NOT flash people. I assumed these models just got made up, put on the swimsuit, struck a pose and got the shot. Easy. But it wasn’t easy. The sand was really hard and hurt my knees. It was freaking cold that day and I did not want to wet my hair in the ice water of the Pacific. I struggled to make my body even somewhat resemble the model’s, no matter how much I sucked in. 
Looking at these models was just a constant reminder that never in my adult life have I been that skinny or white, so I can’t pretend that I relate. It sucks because there are different ways to represent “bikini bodies” and beauty in general, but we’re force-fed one image. I wish I could see someone like me in a magazine, but I’m still waiting.
While I want to believe the men are speaking honestly, there was more of a level of snark like this was all just a big joke.

Logan said: 
Almost every single male underwear model looks like he was sculpted by someone trying to create the ideal man. The funny thing is, when I look at these ads, I don’t even notice the underwear. It’s just more like, damn. How do you get that ripped? 
The confidence behind my pose was certainly tough to fake. I had a fairly “natural” pose, but a thousand questions popped into my head while I was doing it: How do my arms look? Do I have that line in my stomach? Can you see my flat butt from this angle? How’s my package lookin’? WHAT DO I DO WITH MY FACE? I was really afraid that my arms would look scrawny, my legs would look really white, and my stomach would be…awkward. 
A great way to feel insecure is to compare your body to that of an underwear model. Or to anyone else, for that matter. You just have to learn to appreciate your own body, which is tough, but necessary. I’m not there yet, but I’m on my way.
But, of course, for the women, the Victoria’s Secret brand is much more of a presence in their lives than the Calvin Klein ads are for the men.

Because it’s not just VS that can seemingly taunt women with high expectations of what it means to look like a woman—it’s every magazine on the grocery store stands, it’s every newsstand, it’s every billboard. It’s the culture.

For men, it’s much more—once in a blue moon. So it’s more of a joke. It’s more of a humorous exercise in imagining what it would feel like to really feel the need to look like one of those men.

But they know at the end of the day, it’s all just a joke. Men have not been ingrained to compute their value or their worth based on their looks.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Boy/Girl. Blue/Pink. Yawn! Let's Get Real!

My kids are constantly surprising me in opposing directions.

When I suggested to my son that he play with dolls with his sister, he was quick to point out “Dolls are for girls!”

He certainly didn’t get that from me. (And yo, those superhero action figures are dolls!)

Then the other day, he reached for a pink version of something (I honestly don’t remember what it was; I’m lucky I remember their names), and my daughter shouted, “You can’t pick that one! It’s pink!”

And he stepped up to the plate and announced, “I can like pink!”

And I was like, “Yeah!”

Now we’re talking! I’ve always told my three children that just because society labels everything boy—blue and everything girl—pink, doesn’t mean that has to be the way we see it.

The big box store Target agrees. They are going to move forward with phasing out gender-based signage in both the toys and bedding section.

The majority of people are happy, proclaiming this a step forward in the fight to remove gender-specified items from our consciousness.

Some people argue that Target is just giving into the latest politically correct fad.

Come on! We all know it’s silly to label certain toys “girl” or “boy.”

Why would we want to box kids into being what the world expects?

I want my kids breaking molds and being whomever they wish to be—whether it be in pink or blue (or purple or green, etc. you get the point…)!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Can We Have Positive Body Image Even With Surgery?

What’s even more complicated is how we can be positive role models for an issue that we ourselves feel so complicated about.

Let’s break it down into simple terms: Iggy Azalea is a controversial Australian rapper who said, “I don’t think positive body image means always having to be 100 per cent natural.”

She’s had a breast augmentation and a nose job.

After she was already famous.

So, it’s not like she was trying to make herself fit some stereotype in order to be seen and celebrated. And there was certainly no way of her fans not noticing the changes. So, she didn’t try to hide her surgeries.

The question becomes, why?

If one has already become successful (looking the way one looks naturally), why would one want to change that look?

“I try to be body-positive, whether you’re just loving your natural self or you want to make changes…It’s important we have that conversation, because we have this Photoshop conversation a lot of the time, but it’s a bit more invasive or taboo for people to talk about the surgical ways we sometimes enhance ourselves. That’s very relevant to girls who are looking to you, or aspiring to you. As much as people should know you’re Photoshopped, they should know if you’re surgically enhanced. It’s too unfair [otherwise].”

I applaud Azalea’s honesty. And I get that people do see this whole beauty ideal as some sort of competition in a way.

Who can be thinnest? Who can be most beautiful?

But is the answer to give in to the pressures? Whether of society’s or our own making?

For young girls, knowing the truth does not always equal an ability to rationalize that they do not need to meet those beauty standards.

They may intellectually understand a photo is photoshopped or a model has had work done, but what they see is the finished product.

They see what they want to be, and they’ll do anything to get there.

The Beauty Race is a dangerous game indeed.