Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen, A Review

Anne Helen Petersen’s Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman addresses a problem I, and many other women, have been chastised for: not being “feminine” enough. My dissertation is on British volunteer nurses and … Continue reading

OMG!! A man finds a curvy woman beautiful! Give him a prize!

When you work in a university library during the summer, you end up spending a lot of time on Buzzfeed. I’m guilty of taking all the stupid quizzes (I took this one twice and still got Cora. Oh well). I know that Buzzfeed is a mix of some good journalism, trashy quizzes, and a list of things I should spend my money on. I’m usually entertained during my 8 hour shifts in a basement. However, one article posted today really pissed me off.

The title, “People Are Applauding This Man For Celebrating His Wife’s Curves on the Internet,” was enough for me to roll my eyes. I’m sorry, should we give this guy an award for loving someone who doesn’t fit the stereotypical size 0 that the media tells us to worship? All right, well let’s look more and see how it proceeds. The subtitle is “I’m not crying, you’re crying.” Trust me, I’m not crying. There are no tears. We’re introduced to Robbie and Sarah Tripp. Robbie’s instagram captures show us how much he gushes over his beautiful wife. Sarah is really pretty. She’s described as a “body-positive fashion blogger” and owner of Sassy Red Lipstick. We’re shown pictures of the couple, one of them on the beach with Sarah wearing an amazing bathing suit (seriously, I want it). Then we’re given this gem of a caption from a picture Robbie shared:

“I love this woman and her curvy body. As a teenager, I was often teased by my friends for my attraction to girls on the thicker side, ones who were shorter and curvier, girls that the average (basic) bro might refer to as chubby or even fat.

Ok fine, good job on not being a dickhead who bought in to the patriarchal ideal of beauty. You’re able to see a woman as a person and go beyond the initial look of a woman. Moving on, here’s more:

“Then, as I became a man and started to educate myself on issues such as feminism and how the media marginalizes women by portraying a very narrow and very specific standard of beauty (thin, tall, lean) I realized how many men have bought into that lie.”

OK fine, I’m happy you were able to educate yourself and realize what kind of bull shit world we live in and what your wife had to deal with all her life.  Here is the rest:

For me, there is nothing sexier than this woman right here: thick thighs, big booty, cute little side roll, etc. Her shape and size won’t be the one featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan but it’s the one featured in my life and in my heart. There’s nothing sexier to me than a woman who is both curvy and confident. This gorgeous girl I married fills out every inch of her jeans and is still the most beautiful one in the room. Guys, rethink what society has told you that you should desire. A real woman is not a porn star or a bikini mannequin or a movie character. She’s real. She has beautiful stretch marks on her hips and cute little dimples on her booty. Girls, don’t ever fool yourself by thinking you have to fit a certain mold to be loved and appreciated. There is a guy out there who is going to celebrate you for exactly who you are, someone who will love you like I love my Sarah. 

Well, porn stars are real women. Sure, not many women get paid for having sex and (possibly) faking orgasms (much respect, by the way). But they’re real. So are the gorgeous actresses who play those movie characters. Sure, they are part of the media that perpetuates the myth and ideal of a perfect women, but they are real. I bet they work their asses off and don’t eat what they want and they can afford the trainers to make sure they stay that way. I can’t call mannequins real, so I guess he wins that. Now, it’s great to see a man call other men out for not willing to give a chance to women who aren’t size 2. But I definitely don’t need a man to tell me to that I will be “loved and appreciated.” Look, does it feel good to be told you’re attractive and sexy by a guy who you care for or are sleeping with? Yes, of course. So Robbie should tell Sarah every DAMN day how gorgeous she is and how lucky he is that she married him. But should I applaud, or cry, because one guy can own up to realizing that a woman who is curvy is beautiful inside and out? No.

On the surface this is a sweet testament to a beautiful woman. But he doesn’t deserve our applause, tears, or cheering for saying he’s found curvy women attractive. It’s 20-fucking-17 and we need to be further on body positivity than we are. I know that change doesn’t happen overnight, but as a curvy woman, I’m also tired of being led to believe that I should be thankful for men like Robbie for finding me beautiful. This article is sending the message about how amazing it is that a good looking guy finds a curvy woman beautiful. Rejoice!! You, woman with a full-figure, can indeed be loved! And maybe he too will go on social media and tell everyone how perfect your dimpled butt is!

Feeling Like a Failed Feminist

(originally published on Progress and Tea)

I’m a feminist (gasp, surprise!) and as such there are things I know:

I know my worth as a person is not based on the male gaze.
I know that gender is a construct and has nothing to do with the sexual organs a person was born with.
I know that there are more than two genders.
I know that a person’s sex life—as long as it is consensual—is no one else’s business.
I know that it is important for women—ALL WOMEN—to support each other, be it by coming over with wine and/or chocolate, standing up for each other in public, protesting against the racist, misogynistic president, etc.
I know that equality for all means for all, no matter the person’s race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, etc.
I know that sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault.
I know, and yet…

Yet after being sexually assaulted I kept quiet for ten years and blamed myself.
Yet after trauma therapy, I still blame myself.
Yet my self-esteem went up when a person I thought was very good looking was attracted to me and wanted to have sex with me.
Yet my self-esteem plummeted when that arrangement ended.
Yet while I am proud of my independence, I want to be married and I want a partner.
Yet I’m worried when I get a cat, I’ll be considered a “crazy cat lady.”

It’s hard being a feminist. We have to be critical of the world we live in and ourselves because I believe we can always be better. But that criticism can be exhausting when it’s constantly aimed at ourselves. We can always work to be better humans, better feminists, but I feel like I fail to meet those standards I’ve set myself… I feel like a failed feminist.

While I have these thoughts I’m torn between those emotions—loneliness, shame, self-doubt, self-hatred—and being angry for having them. I feel like a bad feminist because there’s no way I would let any of my friends say these things to themselves. There is the logical and critical side of my mind that says, “You’re a great person. You’re beautiful, even if it’s not the standard. You’re smart. There was nothing you could do without risking more harm.” The problem is the other side, the side that has been raised in the patriarchal society, is louder. It says, “He didn’t like you enough, so you’re not good enough. You’re fat and ugly, and no one is going to want you. Why did you go into the house? You kissed him, thus giving him permission. It was your fault. You let it happen.” When this happens, which has been pretty frequent lately, I feel like a bad feminist. I’ve failed to believe for myself what I believe, and am willing to fight for, for others.

Feminism is a critical way of looking at the world. It demands thought and action. And it starts within ourselves. But we also have to remember that we are human—we have our faults. We have been raised in a society that has told us to think one way and it’s difficult and a lot of work to unlearn all that. My promise to myself is that every day I will work to unlearn what I’ve been taught. When I think “I’m not good enough,” I will remember all that I have accomplished. When my brain says, “It was your fault,” I will talk to myself the way I’ve spoken to the students who have come to tell me about their assault and remind myself that it was not my fault. It’s easier to fight for other people, to want to show them that they are amazing and are loved, than it is to love ourselves. But that’s part of feminism too. To love yourself the way you are, even if that means acknowledging you can do better.

Roxane Gay – Bad Feminism

A few hours ago, I had the joy of seeing Roxane Gay at Boswell Bookstore (a great local store in Milwaukee). She read excerpts for her latest book, Bad Feminist, a collection of essays. There is a paragraph in her introduction that, I believe, sums up the best ideas in feminism. 

“I try to keep my feminism simple. I know feminism is complex and evolving and flawed. I know feminism will not and cannot fix everything. I believe in equal opportunities for women and men. I believe in women having reproductive freedom and affordable and unfettered access to the health care they need. i believe women should be paid as much as men for doing the same work. Feminism is a choice, and if a woman does not want to be a feminist, that is her right, but it is still my responsibility to fight for her rights. I believe feminism is grounded in supporting the choices of women even if we wouldn’t make certain choices ourselves. I believe women not just in the United States but throughout the world deserve equality and freedom but know I am in no position to tell women of other cultures what that equality and freedom should look like” (xii). 

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