Body Love

I am posting the following spoken word poem in honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness week.

Also, if you have a eating disorder, or know someone with one, please check out the following links:

For Women and Girls

For Men and Boys

Stories of Hope

One of the ways women can break out of their silence is through words-writing can be a powerful tool for expression.  I would like to dedicate this section (FemiLit) of the blog to all of the voices who need to be heard, and to inspire others to speak up (or write up!) and be heard.  If you would like to see a poem/story featured, or even your something of your own featured, please write to us at stricken4macht@gmail.com.

So what, about Adele?!

Adele.

She just won the Grammy in the Album of the Year category.  She even won an award in all six of the categories she was nominated for.  I love to hear Adele sing. And I love that she is so popular.  Especially considering how her sound is so different from other popular female artists like Ke$ha, Katy Perry, or Lady Gaga for instance.

Something I’ve always admired about Adele is that she seems to not care a bit about the media’s comments on her appearance.  She is comfortable with her body and her self-image.  Yet, I’ve been wondering if she is a good role model.  She definitely has talent, and has worked extremely diligently to get to where she is today.  Adele is tremendously confident about her own image.  Yet, she was also quoted saying,

“I love food and hate exercise. I don’t have time to work out… 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’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.”

While she does put talent and merit above appearance, she also is expressing that it is acceptable to not care about health.  I think that it is reasonable to not want to be skinny, especially considering all of the other stick-figure celebrities that seem to be in the media spotlight.  But, is health something to be ignored, or underrated?  I love Adele’s dedication to her talent and music, and I respect that she is satisfied with her appearance.  These are qualities that I think people should be looking up to.  Yet, at the same time, people also need role models who care about their health.  Many people look up to Adele, and so by admitting that she doesn’t care about her health, she seems to be setting a questionable example for others.

I’m not sure if there is a real winner here.  You have Adele on one side, and on the other celebrities that starve themselves, or almost seem to sell their bodies.

As Adele stated again, “I love seeing Lady Gaga’s boobs and bum,” she says. “I love seeing Katy Perry’s boobs and bum. Love it. But that’s not what my music is about. I don’t make music for eyes. I make music for ears.”

The sad truth is, music nowadays isn’t just about selling the music.  Every music artist tries to have a unique style, be it Lady Gaga’s meat outfit, or Katy Perry’s candy-colored outfits.  Adele also has a certain “look.”  She doesn’t show off her body to sell her music.  She also ignores the industry’s pressures to be thin.  While some might say that this is what sets Adele apart from the other artists in the music industry, at the same time, every celebrity makes unconventional choices about their appearances in order to stand out.  So why does Adele’s choice to not diet cause more controversy than the lyrics of Katy Perry’s California Gurls song, or even her scantily-clad outfits in the music video?  And is it so bad not to be skinny that the media must Photoshop her appearance (this actually occurred in Vogue…)? 

Personally, I’m with Adele on one thing—you don’t need to have a “perfect” body to succeed.

What do you think, fellow Armed RevolutioKnits? Is Adele a role model? Or should someone who doesn’t care about her health be considered a role model?

-Rosie

Love the Way You Lie?

Besides the way certain music videos visually portray women and men alike, like the ones below, what about the words behind the music?  Yes, both men and women are objectified in music videos.  But for the most part, when it comes to the lyrics of songs, there is a certain kind of message being sent to girls and women.  Earlier this year, my roommate and I decided that we would be truly badass.  We would start a female hip-hop/rap group, and would be the envy and awe of all our peers when we presented how BAMF we were.  This is not a joke.  We took this endeavor extremely seriously, even signing up for a break-dancing and hip-hop course, to show how hard-core about this we were. (This course, by the way, is still rocking our socks, and everyone who can, should definitely try to hip-hop/break dancing!!!)  We proudly told our friends about our new goal, but they just laughed and shook their heads.

First, we decided we would learn the lyrics to some already existing rap/hip-hop songs, to get a feel for the rhythm and performing.  At the time my roommate was obsessed with the song “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna.  I was fairly familiar with the song, and liked the beat and chorus of it, so I was ready to learn the song with her.  This was the first time we both had actually paid attention to the lyrics.  But, not until we had gotten to the last verse did the words “Next time I’m pissed I’ll lay my fist at the drywall” and “I know I’m a liar if she ever tries to fuckin’ leave again I’ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire” slap us both in the face.  The song “Love the Way You Lie” isn’t just about simple relationship problems, it is about violence in relationships.

I was horrified that we had spent the last three hours memorizing the first half of the lyrics of this song, never mind the fact that we had heard this song numerous times before without having had caught its subliminal message.  I do think the intent behind the song may have been good, as the song certainly does draw attention to the issue of violence against women who are in abusive relationships.  Yet, the way in which it does so is, in my opinion, completely inappropriate.  If you focus on what the lyrics are literally saying, what kind of message does this song send?  Besides the repeated, “I love the way you lie,” Rihanna also sings “I like the way it hurts.”  So basically, the message to me as a woman, or even to men, is that it is acceptable to abuse and hurt women repeatedly, because they love the way men lie and like the way it hurts.  This is a form of victim blaming—no normal women thoroughly enjoys being lied to or hurt, especially by someone they love.  The song is telling me, and other women, to submit to men, and shows us an example where the woman doesn’t stand up for herself.  Furthermore, the music video makes sexual abuse appear…sexy?  Either way, this girl does NOT love the way the media lies to females about what role they should play in society.  Who is to say women can’t be empowered??

Aren’t convinced? Take for instance the song “Just the way you are” by Bruno Mars. While I will admit that in this song Mars does, on the surface, sing empowering words of praise and support directed at women ( i.e.‘Cause you’re amazing/
Just the way you are’), at the same time, do women really need someone to tell them that they are amazing?  Are women so insecure that we require a man’s reassurance? How many times have you heard a girl ask if she looks fat?  A boy? For those of you who are now thinking that I am being too harsh on Mars, and that he really just wanted to sing a nice song: do you hear many songs from a female singer telling a man how amazing and beautiful he is? Just the way he is?? Or does that sound a little ridiculous to you?  Why don’t men need reassurance as well?  The truth is because women also DON’T need reassurance. We don’t need the media, or anyone to influence our self-esteem—so why let the media continue to lie to us?

A few days ago, my roommate again was telling me about how much she dreads the upcoming Valentine’s Day.  She isn’t the first one to tell me how inadequate she feels because she doesn’t have a boyfriend.  But why should anyone be made to feel worth less than what they actually are? No Hallmark holiday should influence a person’s sense of self-worth.  Yet, it’s come to this, hasn’t it?

I don’t have a solution. And, I obviously can’t control the media. But there is still a choice for all of the women out there, isn’t there? You can certainly sing along with your friends to a catchy song, ignoring the lyrics. But, you can also take a stand, and call out the lies the media perpetuates. Don’t let others determine who you are for you.

And please, if nothing else, stop second-guessing yourself!! If someone compliments you, don’t hesitate for even a second to accept it! Girl, you ARE amazing, so stop acting like it might be otherwise!

What do you think? Do you know of other songs like this?

Peace,

Rosie

All-the-rage Weight

I can remember being told in my middle school history class that way, way back in the middle ages, when class divides were huge(r than they are today, apparently), it was fashionable to be curvy because it showed that you had more than enough to eat. Weight was a class statement, a physical demonstration of how wealthy you were–and probably how healthy you were–in comparison to the leaner, poorer peasants and servants doing much of the manual labor.

“No sex appeal to that bean pole!”

I really did think that that fad had gone out of style with the feudal system, but then I saw this post on the blog Loose Garments with vintage advertisements encouraging women to buy products to gain weight: http://loosegarments.com/2012/01/25/surreal-vintage-ads-our-obsession-with-controlling-womens-bodies/

It got me thinking how much style has changed over the generations, and how much the desired shape of women’s bodies has changed.

The Victorian-era, turn-of-the-century woman wore corsets and sought an S-shaped curve to her body. We can just imagine the torture she had to go through to get her waist that tiny, especially compared to her bust size. Her posterior also looks a little too small for her frame, which means that either the bust is a little emphasized or the rear end made a little more subtle.

We can marvel at the sacrifice women made and how crazy they must have been to even go near those corsets. But when you think about how much time, money, and comfort women have sacrificed for style over the years, it’s not so shocking. It’s also not shocking that there’s room to speculate about tampering with the form of this woman to make her more appealing, given the amount of tampering that advertisements undergo today.

According to PLUS Model Magazine, the majority of plus size models are between the sizes of 6 and 14, while more than half of women wear a size 14 and up.

The mother in Hairspray may have been skeptical that Jackie Kennedy ratted her hair to make it bigger–“How else would it look that way?” her daughter asks; “I believe her hair is naturally stiff,” the mother responds–but we all know better, right? Really, we often forget that though women from different decades can look so different, their bodies haven’t changed. Each woman’s body is different, certainly, but women in the early 1900s did not just magically have skinnier waists, 1920s women smaller busts, 1980s women bigger shoulders–it’s all about what’s fashionable, and therefore emphasized. To put it shortly, our bodies just don’t look fashionable by themselves. Everybody “knows” that our society today emphasizes being thin, but it seems like we often forget that desirable body shape, like big jewelry or poodle skirts, changes over time.

From Plus Model Magazine–this spread of nude “plus-size” (often average weight) models made news recently.

Way back in the day, the fashion of weight was associated with health—though their definitions of health and our definitions of health are much different, of course. But maybe we should try to get back to that. If we, as a society, quit responding to 000 models (I mean, really, their jeans probably couldn’t fit my little sister), companies will stop using them in advertisements and on the runway. And if we as a society quit buying drop-weight-fast products and getting ourselves nipped and tucked, maybe the excitement surrounding that would disappear too. You can say whatever you like about self-expression, but ask the girls who got made fun of for being flat-chested or having labia that are “too large” why they’re getting breast implants or labia reductions, and you’ll see we’ve got bigger problems to think about than protecting free expression.

The answer, of course, is not to regulate these things more harshly, but rather to eradicate the stigma and the source of the problem. What if no woman felt that her breasts were too small or too big? What if no woman ever felt like she had to lose weight for any other reason than to improve her health? What if modeling companies stopped seeing models as mannequins, lifeless forms to drape clothing on, and instead used real women whose bodies add life and curve and reality to clothing?

Think about it.

Peace,
Annie