I’ve been making my way through Roxane Gay’s AMAZING book Bad Feminist, which you should go out and read ASAP. As Gay talks about her own experiences, the flaws in our looks-obsessed and patriarchal society, I’ve been trying to come to terms with my own biggest flaw as a feminist.
After struggling with my weight for my whole adolescence (and, let’s be real, still struggling a little – my relationship with my physical form will always be at least a minor battle), then losing quite a lot of weight through calorie counting and Jillian Michaels tapes; which leave you with some CRAZY messed up ideas about beauty, then realizing what a toll those standards were taking on my mental health and outlook on the world and other women on my life … I FINALLY (with a LOT of effort) reached some version of body acceptance. This battle, though, has left my staunchly, unapologetically feminist self with one little blip.
I have ingrained VERY deep in me the weight loss culture and traditional societal expectations of what “healthy” is and how to be desireable. They’re bullshit. I’m fully aware of it.
And yet I occasionally make “she’s so skinny you’d never think she eats a donut!” jokes – they’re nervous ticks, really, at this point. Empty words I say in conversation that I know don’t add anything, things I don’t really believe in. I know size is no way to judge a person’s diet, fitness, or health. I know that perfectly healthy people eat donuts.
I do these things WAY less than I did when I first started successfully losing weight; far less than I did when I finally started getting help to bring myself out of my messed up body image crap and accept and love my natural body type that came when I exercised regularly and ate a balanced diet. They come up once every few months. But when I say these things, they bother me for WEEKS.
I don’t believe them. So why do I say them?
I’ve already decided that every time I make one of these comments, I’m going to give $5 to SPARK. They do amazing things to promote healthy body image and healthy sexuality. But I call attention to my flaw because I think that everyone can relate to it. One of the biggest hurdles to self-love is how ingrained these ideas are in us. I don’t have an answer of how to fix them – but at the bare minimum, we all need to be more aware of them, call out media which uses them, and tell them: we are not. buying it.
Enrique Jones has expanded his “Because of Them, We Can…” series to Women’s History Month, and the results are wonderful.
A few highlights:
I haven’t been updating here with all the awesome things I’ve been doing at work, so here are my posts from the past couple of months:
A Grant for the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media Is a Grant for Little Girls Everywhere 12/10/12
We Could all Learn Something from Capuchin Monkeys 12/5/12
Rochelle Ballantyne is Kicking Some Serious Chess Behind, But She Couldn’t Do It Without the Help of After-School Programs 11/15/12
Malala Yousufzai Reminds Us What We’re Fighting For 10/11/12
I used to weigh twice of what I weigh right now.
Note: This is an extremely difficult post for me to write about an extremely personal journey, so please – if you have nothing nice to say, please don’t say it. Feel free to click “More” to hear about my roller coaster couple of years and share a moment in having a think about the messages we send about women & their bodies. Thanks!
Julia Child would have turned 100 years old today, and my social media feeds were abuzz all day with delicious recipes (like this one. and this one. and this one…), funny YouTube videos (like this one), and clips from Julie & Julia (like this one).
But there was also quite a bit of discussion about whether or not Julia advanced feminism or set us back. This boggles my mind. The thought process, it seemed was that since Julia was a woman cooking on TV, and making cooking and being in the kitchen her primary business, she turned the clocks back a few years.
I understand the thought process – really, I do. But I don’t agree with it – not one little bit. Here’s why.
1. Julia wasn’t exactly your average stereotype of a meek Holly Homemaker. At 6 feet tall, Child was a formidable life force. She was vivacious, with an appetite for life – it just so happened that her greatest passion was great food.
2. Julia didn’t play into gender stereotypes. Sure she loved to cook, but she also never had children; finding fufillment in her career, friends, and marriage to her completely adorable husband (seriously, if you haven’t yet, read My Life in France – THEY ARE THE CUTEST EVER)
3. Julia built an empire. Talk about a savvy businesswoman! Child wrote a number of books and was the star of a syndicated TV empire from the 1970’s until her passing.
4. Julia was FEARLESS. She walked into a culinary world in a foreign country that was entirely male-dominated and made it her own. She de-boned ducks, cooked live lobsters, and sliced up fish with the best of them – heck, some days I’m still grossed out by stuffing a roast chicken! Julia revolutionized the world of food in American culture. Speaking of which…
5. Julia not only made it OK to spend time in the kitchen again, she made it an art. Just watching one of Julia’s TV shows makes you marvel at her culinary prowess and ease in the kitchen. She was a strong, independent woman in the kitchen and in life, and her enjoying cooking had no bearing on her capabilities outside the kitchen. This is also the issue I take with the idea that if you’re a strong independent woman, you can’t be a good chef also. I love to cook and love to be in the kitchen, but part of why I love being there is because society places less of a pressure on me to fit into that conventional role of homemaker than it did on my grandmother or mother. Julia helped create that divide – that food and cooking should be enjoyable, a treat, not a chore.
So happy 100th, Julia! You were an incredible woman and one of my biggest role models. You taught me to love food, enjoy preparing it, and above all to enjoy life. I hope you were pleased with my celebration of your life – cooking your roast chicken recipe, watching an episode of your old cooking shows, and drinking a tres large glass of wine with my meal.