Above are photos of Jennifer Love Hewitt that have been showing up everywhere since they were taken in December. They were used as evidence that she has gotten fat.

Jennifer Love Hewitt responded to the criticism:

I’ve sat by in silence for a long time now about the way women’s bodies are constantly scrutinized…To set the record straight, I’m not upset for me, but for all of the girls out there that are struggling with their body image…A size 2 is not fat! Nor will it ever be. And being a size 0 doesn’t make you beautiful. … To all girls with butts, boobs, hips and a waist, put on a bikini – put it on and stay strong.

Janice Dickenson, a former model, went on The Today Show and defended Jennifer Love Hewitt…by calling Tyra Banks fat: “You want to see someone who’s fat, I’m sorry, Tyra, Tyra Banks is fat.”

There’s an interesting discourse here. Jennifer Love Hewitt responded by saying “A size 2 is not fat!” Janice Dickinson defends her by comparing her to a woman who supposedly is fat. So the ultimate message isn’t necessarily that women shouldn’t have to be thin, but that this particular woman isn’t fat. That could lead to a useful discussion on empowerment–what’s the difference between empowering an individual woman (“I’m not fat!”) and empowering women as a group (“We need to fight against this idea that only one body shape is acceptable”)? Is the discourse we find here really liberating to women in general, or just to those who are a size 2 or smaller?

Most female celebrities, when photographed in an unflattering manner, disappear for a month and then reappear in transformed bodies that have been starved and exercised until they are worthy of display; they are then welcomed back with open arms and their transformation is praised. It might also be interesting to use Hewitt’s responses in a discussion of how difficult it is to try to resist hegemonic ideals of beauty–how do you defend yourself and respond to mainstream ideals when you’re one of very few people even trying to do it?

NEW! (Oct. ’09) Kristina V. let us know about a recent issue of Shape that features a significantly slimmer Jennifer Love Hewitt along with information on how she lost weight:



The website also has images of other celebrities (including 2 men out of 13 photos) who have lost weight:




Don’t misunderstand me: I am not surprised that Jennifer Love Hewitt eventually felt the pressure to slim down. Is it somewhat hypocritical? Yes. But it doesn’t seem surprising that someone who faces such intense scrutiny might find it difficult to individually try to resist beauty standards that are so widely held in her social world and might eventually choose to try to conform rather than resist.

But it’s disheartening to see another female celebrity lose this battle, even if it’s unsurprising.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

Here is a link to a website called Hunting for Bambi that says it is “a highly unique, niched, and controversial comical video series that spoofs hunting.” It spoofs hunting by filming men shooting naked women with paintball guns.

You can buy this DVD. Note that the men are in a Hummer.
I’m not sure what they mean by spoofing hunting. Is it making fun of the stereotypical hunter? Or of hunting itself? Or is it a “spoof” that’s supposed to actually appeal to the supposed targets of the joke? Regardless, it’s interesting that the parody uses women as prey as the source of the joke.

Here is a link to the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative, a publicly-sponsored marriage-promotion program. The idea behind it is that increasing marriage, particularly among poor women, would decrease poverty and, therefore, welfare rolls.

Here is a link to the parenting section. Among other things, couples will learn “the benefits of marriage” and “strengthening the father-child bond.” Nothing is said about the mother-child bond–presumably it’s just fine. Note also that in the artwork for the page is very gendered–the woman is holding the baby, the male figure is standing over or protecting her. If you go to the photos section (pictures of actual participants), there are pictures of men holding their babies.

It might be useful to read the article “The Marriage Cure,” by Katherine Boo, in the August 18 & 25, 2003, issue of The New Yorker as well–Boo follows several poor black women as they go through the program and try to figure out how to find marriagable men (and it is made clear to them that they need to look for a man, any man).

I’m going to use this in my Intro to Sociology course as a way to discuss the idea that poor women wouldn’t be poor if only they would get married–to anyone.

Jessica Simpson wore a pink Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys quarterback) jersey at a recent game. In case you didn’t know, they are dating. This was the first time she went to one of his games and actively acknowledged their relationship.

The Cowboys lost. And here’s the fascinating thing: She was immediately blamed for the loss. This photo, where she looks sort of pouty and upset, has popped up everywhere, though there are photos available where she looks happy and is cheering. Here is a Dallas Morning News column addressing the blame put on Jessica Simpson.

These two Jessica masks are available here; the idea is that fans of the teams the Cowboys are playing should take them to games to throw Romo off so the Cowboys will lose (another mask is available at RuinRomo).

This whole story of Jessica causing the Cowboys to lose was a big enough deal that yesterday, while sitting in a restaurant, I saw ESPN announce that she will not attend the upcoming Cowboys game against the New York Giants. FOX News added the story to their website. This is news! In this article, Romo insists he is focused on the game, not Jessica.

This fits in with a long line of women being seen as a threat to men’s performance in male-dominated arenas (sports, the military, and police forces in particular). When I taught Sociology of Sport we discussed how in the early 1900s single women who attended baseball games would be harassed, spit at, and sometimes removed from the game by other fans who felt they were going to distract the players and make them lose. There’s also the long-standing belief that men shouldn’t have sex before a game. Women sap men’s strength (think Sampson and Delilah in the Old Testament), and men who become romantically/sexually involved with women risk becoming weak (i.e., feminine) and failing in the masculine world.

This story might be a good addition to the pictures of pink athletic team jerseys.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

Here is a link to a website sponsored by Tampax and Always about their work with the UN to give pads to girls in Africa, supposedly because these girls miss school each month because they don’t have pads to wear.

Here is a t-shirt you can buy to support the program. It says “Use your period for good”:

The t-shirt costs $21.99. Of this, $1 goes toward the program.

This brings up all kinds of issues–for instance, where does the other $20.99 go? To Tampax and Always? What do these companies stand to gain from this? Positive publicity or lifelong customer loyalty in Africa?

It could also be used as part of a discussion about consumption and activism–the idea we have now that you can just buy something if you want to fix a social problem. If you pick up any fashion magazine, there will be a page or an article in it telling readers they can change the world by buying some product–nevermind that only a tiny part of the purchase price goes to the charity.

For other examples of shopping as activism, look here, here, and here.


“Please keep stealing our stewardesses. Within two years most of our stewardesses will leave us for other men. This isn’t surprising. A girl who can smile for 5 1/2 hours is hard to find. Not to mention a wife who can remember what 124 people want for dinner. (And tell you all about meteorology and jets, if that’s what you’re looking for in a woman.) But these are not the things that brought on our problem. It’s the kind of girl we hire. Being beautiful just isn’t enough. (We don’t mean it isn’t important. We just mean it isn’t enough.) So if there’s one thing we look for, it’s girls who like people. And you can’t do that and then tell them not to like people too much. All you can do is put a new wing on your stewardess college to keep up with the demand.”

Dorotha found this here.

Pink camo + Dora the Explorer = cutesy toughness for little girls.

Pink camo + vinyl pants = sexy.

Special edition Hard Rock Barbie with pink camo punk-ish outfit and guitar. This could also be used as an example of the commodification of countercultures.

This print, on a girls’ outfit, is called “butterfly camo.” Note the spots are butterfly-shaped.

Did you know there’s a website with tons of pink camo clothing?

I found all these here.