bodies


Super creepy TAB commercial:[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDBJ2ktSZpI[/youtube] Another doozy from Molly M!Here’s another on the same theme (youtube says it’s from the ’60s):[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbVyDYqsEK0[/youtube] Here’s another from 1982:[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhGJvGhIzaw[/youtube] And this one, from 1984, cannot be beat for it’s essential ’80s vibe:[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kymo2Vj6nw[/youtube] 

These advertisements, the first two for a brand of jeans called Apple Bottoms, all fetishize black women’s behinds:


Underneath Beyonce’s name it says: “The body, the booty, the backstabbing.”

In this two-page spread, the body isn’t necessarily black… but it might be an interesting question as to whether the viewers assume, or might be expected to assume, it is.

Text:

MY BUTT is big
and round like the letter c
and ten thousand lunges
have made it rounder
but not smaller
and that’s just fine.
It’s a space heater
for myside of the bed
It’s my ambassador
to those who walk behind me
It’s a border collie
that herds skinny women
away from the best deals
at clothing sales.
My butt is big
and that’s just fine
and those who might scorn it
are invited to kiss it.

I think it’s interesting the way this poem pits “skinny women” against women with a big butt… so valorizing the big butt but only by taking down the skinny (white?) girl.

Divide and conquer.

You might pair these images with this post about a Pilates DVD.

These three confessions, from Post Secret this week, illustrate that “ethnic” hair carries meaning (in the first authenticity, in the second ugliness, and in the third it’s left open) and how some women feel about that:

Shameless self-promotion… and some really interesting findings regarding knowledge and frequency of orgasm in a non-random population of undergraduates. This first graph shows the percent of male and female respondents who (1) correctly located the clitoris on a map of the vulva and (2) correctly answered a series of true/false questions about the clitoris.

You’ll see that there is surprising little difference between men and women (considering that women have had access to a clitoris all their lives and men have had access only recently, if at all), though you’ll see that men are more likely to think most women will have an orgasm from penile-vaginal sex (most women don’t) and women are more likely to think the g-spot is another name for the clitoris (it’s not). These two cancelled each other out such that the average knowledge score for men and women was statistically the same. The same!

 

It’s this next graph that’s the real kicker. This graph shows the relationship between how well a woman scored on the clitoral knowledge tests (on a 0-5 scale) and how frequently she has an orgasm during masturbation and with a partner. You’ll see a nice positive relationship between knowledge and orgasm in masturbation and no relationship at all between knowledge and orgasm with a partner. (For fun, notice that the average score on the clitoral knowledge measure for women who’d never had an orgasm with a partner and who always do is the same. Also notice that there are 124 women in that never category, it’s not just a handful of women who are somehow “dysfunctional.”)

So, for some reason (feel free to speculate), even when women know about their own bodies, they either keep it to themselves, or have partners that don’t want to hear it, or both.

You can download the paper here.

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:

cover-shape

jennifer_love_hewitt

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

christina_aguilera2

mariah_carey2

seth_rogen

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.

These images, via NPR, are of 86-year-old Zhou Guizhen. We were hesitant about posting them when they were first forwarded to us (without information of where they came from) because of concerns about how the pictures were taken–were they taken by a tourist, who was viewing this woman as a freak to laugh at? We were also concerned that presenting these pictures would objectify her, turning her into evidence that non-Western societies are barbaric and backward (and, therefore, that those of us in the West should pat ourselves on the back for how enlightened we are). This would be similar to how Muslim women who wear veils are used in discourses about how oppressive and barbaric Muslim societies are, with no allowance for the many meanings a veil can have and the fact that women are actors in their societies and may not all view the veil as automatically or unequivocally oppressive.

Ultimately we decided to post them when we were able to ascertain that they are publicly available. Also, the very fact that we ourselves struggled with what to make of them and how to present them, seemed to indicate that they are very powerful images that bring up complicated ideas about women, bodies, objectification, and how these are connected to judgments of the modernity or backwardness of cultures.

We post these pictures with the intention that we view this woman as a human being who embodies a complicated tradition. This means that we refrain from calling her, her body, or her culture any names that we would not want to be called ourselves (names like “grotesque,” “ignorant,” or “barbaric”). We hope that, as we view these images, we are mindful of the ways that bodies are altered across the globe and throughout history… not only in places that we do not understand, but in places that we understand only too well.

— Gwen and Lisa








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.

http://www.bigcuties.com/