Thursday, August 29, 2013
Posted by Maggie May
What do you see when you look at this picture?
I see a thousand nasty comments on TMZ, Jezebel, Mamamia. I see an US Magazine feature debating if she is or isn't pregnant. I see articles in women's online magazines on how to lose the last of your gut, or how to dress for one if you have it with detailed ideas of what to wear, from fabrics to cuts.
I see a national sex symbol that would, in these times, never let this image be released.
Years ago, I bought this magazine- many of you will recognize it because it's in the front of supermarkets everywhere- because it was the Best and Worst Beach Bodies edition. I like looking at other people's bodies. I like looking at celebrity bodies. I did not like the slow burn of shame that crawled over me as I looked at one female celeb, voted 'worst' body next to an image of her bending over, cellulite on the backs of her legs. I realized that if I am a feminist- I am!- then I could not buy that edition of that magazine ever again. I realized that if I am a woman- I am!- then I could not participate in shaming other women for their bodies. I realized that if I am a mother- I am!- then I could never again put my money or harder, my mouth, in use to criticize women's bodies.
In today's world, this promise to myself looks like this:
I won't buy magazines that shame women for their bodies.
I won't click on links that have images or words that are shaming women for their bodies. They aren't getting my page views, my comments, my retweets, my time. Sometimes, you know what? this is a pain. It's easy to think it's not a big deal, just click on it, who cares. I have to fight with myself, because I want to look, because I am a serious voyeur, because I am interested in everything. But I make myself imagine the link I'm going to look at is one of my daughters. Or myself. Or my best friend. And that is enough clarity for me. So the link with the 'knee vagina'? Saw the link five or six times floating around, never clicked it. The 'least sexy star' piece? Won't view it.
I'm not giving page views to any organization or person who shames women's bodies, or who creates, as would have happened with the above image, a completely fabricated and false idea of something on our bodies that is 'wrong' that could be 'better'.
Let's all steer clear of that bullshit, and make our own rules about sexy. I want my daughters to live in a world where they can look at this picture of Bridget Bardot and think nothing but 'Wow! She is divine.'
And when you see that written out- what I want for my daughters- doesn't it make you stop and think how pathetic it is that such a ridiculously easy thing to do- admire a national sex symbol!- has to be a wish? That is MESSED UP. If things are going to change, which of course they can! because we are in charge! We make the rules, we got the money and the clicky things! then we start with what we simply walk away from, don't participate in.
When Lola's friend made fun of a woman's outfit in the car last week, I was inclined to agree. I opened my mouth to agree. And I stopped, and instead briefly mentioned to them that now that they were in middle school, it was going to become very easy to bag on other girls. Second nature, off hand, even. And how hard I wanted them to fight the urge to do that, because we are all for each other, right?
We have to stick together. I told them how there were going to be lots of times the world would make a girl feel bad, and when we say mean things about other women, we are just making our own home more hostile to ourselves.
I think they heard me.