Friday, July 11, 2014
Marie Southard Ospina introduced me to #StopTheBeautyMadness, a new media campaign meant to attack the exclusionary beauty ideals that govern women's lives. I can't speak for the rest of the world, but American culture violently judges the bodies of marginalized women. These infrequent covergirls and oft-targeted victims include (but are not limited to) fat women, women of color, transgender women, women with disabilities, old women... and especially women who fall into more than one of those categories. Even those of us who conform to the general mainstream ideal are taught that we can always be skinnier, have better skin, bigger boobs, etc. It really does a number on your self-esteem.
There's nothing wrong with being pretty, or wanting to be pretty. The problem arises when 1) the only consideration is other people's aesthetic pleasure, and 2) the definition of "pretty" reinforces oppressive standards. Erin McKean's essay "You Don't Have to Be Pretty" says it all. (See the rest of the ad campaign here.) And now, I want to end on a positive note: I mentioned that marginalized women are rarely featured on the front of a prestigious magazine like Vogue. Fortunately, that's not always true!
Definitely pick up this issue at the grocery store, or read the profile on Vogue's website. Lupita Nyong'o is an actual princess. I can't believe that I still haven't seen any of her movies... 12 Years a Slave just sounded so heartrending; I don't think I could take it. But, like, I need to join the zeitgeist!