I read that Ashley Judd article; did you?
She responded to the media’s scrutiny of her “puffy” photos and to their speculations about whether she had plastic surgery. She wrote an articulate and compelling call for people to examine the whole culture in which it has become appropriate to publicly critique a woman’s appearance and make assumptions and judgments about it. She ends with, “Join in—and help change—the Conversation.”
So I’m all worked up and ready to blog about it, but every response I have is so ingrained with the same flawed, misogynistic ideology that I have to keep deleting it.
My first response was to be surprised that Ashley Judd is that smart, since she’s so pretty and all.
Ugh. Cringe. Why have I not gotten over the stupid fallacy that beautiful women are not smart?
WAIT… why have I not grasped the truth that smart women are beautiful because smart IS beautiful?
WAIT… why do I think I can classify women as beautiful or not beautiful? Isn’t that the problem, that we draw these boundaries around beauty and only certain women fall within those boundaries? Who am I to draw those lines?
See? This goes on and on. I’m having a pretty good conversation with myself about it already.
Judd notes that the perpetuators of this hateful scrutiny are often women. It’s usually not men picking apart women’s appearances, although they do it, too. (Have you noticed in your own life that most men tend to be more appreciative than critical when it comes to women’s bodies?) It’s women who get mean.
I get mean. I do it all the time. I scrutinize and criticize the appearance of other women. I even do that with my teenage daughter. It’s so normal for women to do that amongst themselves that I don’t even realize what I’m doing.
Shame on me. Seriously… SHAME on me. Why don’t I see what’s happening? How I’m playing right into this horrible culture and perpetuating it?
When I think about that, and why we’re so mean to each other, it reminds me of The Hunger Games. We’ve been placed in an arena and we’re fighting each other according to rules someone else created. We didn’t ask to be in the game, but now we’re here, and we feel the desperate pressure to compete. Everyone is watching to see how we do, what tactics we take. We don’t compete for food or survival; we compete for acceptance and approval. We value these things so highly that we will destroy another woman’s sense of acceptance and approval in order to hang onto our own. We become callous, vicious, so engaged in this game that we don’t even recognize that we’re all victims.
In response to Judd’s article, the reader comments got downright nasty. Even the positive comments were laced with the underlying belief that a woman’s looks are paramount. It’s as if Katniss had tried to call a time-out to strategize with the other Tributes, but they all just kept fighting.
Why can’t we stop and see how ugly this is?
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I could blog about nothing but this. The older I get, the more incensed I am about “feminist” issues. I don’t focus on them because feminism seems like an exhausting, seemingly futile battle, and I know I’m just going to sound like another woman getting older and lamenting her lost looks…
There it is again.
My voice is not related to my looks, nor will it become less relevant as I get older. And yes, I’m in a battle–with myself– to examine all the negative, misogynistic thoughts that come through my brain and replace them with truth. That battle is not exhausting, it’s empowering.
If you haven’t read the article, check it out here.