How Beautiful Beauty Can Be

Tomorrow, our lives are going to change. Tomorrow brings new Oscar winners, immortalized in the annals of history. It also brings my annual fancy-dress Oscar party, which is always a monumental event. It brings more much-needed rain to the New Mexico earth.

But TODAY brings with it the launch of one of your new favorite websites, Afrobeatnik.

Here are some words we will use when discussing Afrobeatnik: fashion, filmmaking, sustainability, vintage, modern, diverse, inclusive, fabulous. And it is all very, very real.

Snuggle in for this special Saturday edition of Beauty Coup: an interview with site founder Angela Moorer – a wondrous, inspiring woman – and prepare to fall in love with Afrobeatnik. #beautyrevolution

BC: How did Afrobeatnik come about?
AM: Pretty much by me just, combining everything I cared about… I’ve been working for the past year with a non-profit with a great mission that I really support, but I’ve been doing more administrative work, and in the past there have always been more creative things that I’ve been tied to, I’ve put more creative things into what I’m doing… so I think I’ve felt a little restricted. And one thing I’ve learned, when you restrict someone enough, pretty soon they’re just gonna burst… Afrobeatnik was this bursting of me kind of being ready to do something creative, something that I care about, and to collaborate with others as well.

BC: That “combining everything you cared about” aspect, I noticed that right away. It isn’t just about representations of beauty in fashion… or on-screen, it combines both of those things and approaches fashion in an ethical manner…
AM: I mean, I’ve been interested in sustainable fashion for a couple of years now. I always wanted to work in fashion, but I never thought it was going to happen because when I got to know the industry itself I wasn’t inspired (by the fashion industry). I find myself more drawn to non-profit work, so if I was going to work in fashion it would be in some independent capacity.

We’re just kind of doing our own thing. We’re not really a part of any industry quite yet. I’m working with four different artisans …to upcycle vintage and to upcycle used materials and to share fashions that we think are beautiful. We’re not confined by anything, we’re not defined by anything, and it’s a really fun place to be. I’m excited to launch to see what the response is to it.

BC: I’m excited, too! S and I want to buy a lot of your clothes.
AM: Haha, awesome!

Like this:
skirt
And this:
dress

BC: In your own words, tell me about the mission and goals of Afrobeatnik.
We’ve got a pretty varied mission, but it’s all positive, and it’s all related in some way. The mission really started with the idea of Diversity. When I moved to Seattle from the tri-cities (Eastern Washington) there were a lot more different people. Growing up, Black History Month was an extremely scary time for me, because of the feeling of isolation – being the only black kid in your class, pretty much feeling alone in every aspect according to the way that you look. When you’re growing up, trying to figure out identity and who you are, your outside appearance impacts that… When I moved to Seattle and I found a community… I really thrived as a human being. I found that working in more diverse places, with people from different backgrounds, different countries, even… the more people I interacted with who were different from me, the more of a whole person I felt like I became. I understood the world a little better.

Another part of our goals in the Individuality aspect, which is tied to identity. Who you are within a community, while still remaining connected to that community. We tend to feel isolated by our differences, and what I would like to do is find ways to feel united by our differences – to love and appreciate all aspects of ourselves as individuals, and to love all aspects of others as well. I think they’re closely related – Diversity and Individuality – which is why I tied them both in. I wanted to make them both prominent values, but also separate.

Lastly we have (the value of) Sustainability, which is kind of just built into the way the company works. My personal preference is always thrift shopping. I barely buy anything new. For money’s sake, for uniqueness, I feel a lot of pleasure buying used. With vintage clothing especially, there’s this charm about it, this distinguished factor. You know it’s got some interesting history. So that’s why we decided to go vintage. As for the artisans – the handmade, upcycling work that we do – sometimes vintage clothing has gone through a lot, and it needs some work, you know it needs a little facelift; to be modernized in some way. Originally I brought on one person for basic repairs, but found all these items that could be turned into something really cool… So from there I brought on more artisans who were interested in upcycling things and wanting to make something new out of something old. And I think that’s what sustainability is about. It’s about reusing things …getting full use out of something, reinventing, giving new life. It’s crazy to me that some of this stuff might’ve ended up in a trash can somewhere. Our handmade collection launch is tied to earth day in April, but we’ll have a few things on March 1st as a preview.

BC: We’ve talked a lot about the fashion aspect of Afrobeatnik. One of the things that struck me the most was your ambition to use portions of your profits to make short films and documentaries that feature underrepresented cultures, women and minorities. What inspired you to tackle films as well as fashion?
I got into film a couple years ago… I did a certificate program at UW, and I learned a lot, it was fun… But, unfortunately, film communities are very tight-knit, and I’m not the kind of person who can’t wait around for someone to give me an opportunity. So I decided to try and raise the money to make the films I want to make. We’re at the basic stages of it. Once we start making some profits to get equipment we need and hire a mentor to help guide us, once we get those things in place we’ll begin the final idea. We’ve been throwing ideas around of what we want to do, and we’ve settled on a narrative web series featuring traditionally underrepresented women We’d like it to be funny, diverse, and full of culture, but also relatable. We talk a lot about the TV show Girls, we have discussions about all the things we think they’re doing wrong, and all the things we think they’re doing right, and I think one of the things that’s great about it is that it’s relevant, it’s current. A lot of people relate to that show. But the show obviously lacks diversity, it lacks culture. We wanted to tackle… something like that, in a narrative fashion, but we wanted to… bring in something a little bit deeper.

BC: I think that’s a really cool ambition. What are your thoughts on the importance of representative images across multiple mediums (print and screen)?
That has a lot to do with why I actually started this (Afrobeatnik), kind of my whole journey of self-acceptance and coming to terms with my own beauty and individuality. Growing up, I didn’t see people on TV that looked like me, and when I did it was always with straight hair, or really really light skin. I didn’t see myself represented in media, and I think that sends a message to young girls that they’re not important or they’re not beautiful. The message is that you need to assimilate to a certain culture or a certain ideal of beauty… when that’s the only ideal of beauty that you ever know. That’s why it’s important to get these images out there. I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about Lupita (Nyong’o), she’s all over the place , and she’d not someone you’d traditionally see in Hollywood. It’s inspirational, not only for me or for an adult who’s more sure of herself, but especially for young teenagers and little girls growing up. By sending these messages through these images, we’re confirming that beauty exists in places beyond the norm, and I think that’s incredibly important.

(Insert some serious Lupita fangirling for the next several minutes)

BC: I love your (Afrobeatnik’s) tagline, “We want to show the world how beautiful beauty can be.”
AM: Yeah, exactly.

BC: Let’s go back to the fashion. Where do you find/curate the clothes for Afrobeatnik?
There are a lot of different processes going on since we’re so new… We’re attending estate sales, those are awesome resources where you can find the best vintage. And also working with consigners in the area, which is a whole other part of outreach. We do have consigners who seem pretty interested in providing consistent inventory. Besides that, we also – mainly for our upcycling projects – what we’ll do is order wholesale vintage… We get a shipment and sometimes a piece looks great and we can sell it as is …sometimes the clothes need some upcycling done – repairs, like a hem, hole or buttons – other times the print/fabric is good but the design is not modern enough for everyday wear, so we turn it over to the upcyclers. We’ve only really started the upcycling program as of February, so… there’s a lot that needs to be tackled, so we’re trying to grow the artisan team.

BC: Who are your models?
Honestly, we’re not picky at all about our models. The whole purpose was to show real women in the clothing and to make sure the representations of women that we’re throwing out there are unique people, people who are often not seen. Most of the models are either friends of ours or people we’ve found through Craigslist. It’s interesting because people seem to be ready to hop on to a project …when they find out what we’re about. It’s great. Our models are very diverse. We’ve got all kinds of races and sizes, they’re inexperienced, and they’re real.

BC: I love it. I can’t speak for others who are ready to hop on this kind of project, but seeing that kind of wide representation (in fashion images) makes you want to get involved. I want to continue this effort to show a multitude of different types of women. I think that it speaks to people. It’s something we’re all experiencing on some level right now, as a movement.
AM: Totally.

BC: Do you have a Photoshop policy?
There’s no specific policy… but we don’t do retouching as far as body shape… skin… the other day I was retouching a photo where the model was sweating a bit, so I retouched that. But like, pimples, you can see on our launch flyer on our website (and below), the model had a little bit of a breakout, and that’s real and that’s natural and that’s the way our photos are gonna remain.

See?? Didn’t I tell you that you’d fall in love? If you’re in Seattle, you lucky duck, you should totally go to the Afrobeatnik launch party tonight. I would if I were you. And all of us should definitely support the Afrobeatnik website and shop their fabulous frocks and keep our eyes peeled for their savvy, spectacular web series! Cheers to these lovely ladies and their amazing work.

Afrobeatnik-launch-party-flyer-2-FINAL

Friday Feminist Funtimes Explosion

One of the best things about this blog is that now, more than ever, when confronted with feministy phenomenon, gender benders, beauty challengers, and reasons to rouse the rabble, my friends and acquaintances think of me. It feels really good to be associated with those things.

It also means that I am sometimes Inundated with uppity goings on from around the interweb world. To round out your week, dear reader, here is a sampling:

Rabble Rousing
My thoughts on photoshop have been expressed time and again on this blog. There are countless people shaking their fists at the idiotic yet still pervasive practice of skewing women’s bodies in the name of fashion/advertising/capitalism/whoeffingknows. For example:

tumblr_mgy8i33akg1s405ijo1_250   tumblr_mgy8i33akg1s405ijo2_250

I mean. WHY.

Really all I have to say about this (that I haven’t said before), is that you only get to have that baby-faced-but-grown-up-full-of-collagen-smooth-perfect-skin for a tiny window in your early/mid twenties. She doesn’t look Better! She just looks Older! Which isn’t a bad thing, but christ, let the girl be 22! Let her be as beautiful as she Actually IS.

Also. They *lowered her collarbone* ………….

TGBface1

 

You know what else? This happened.

It’s bad enough that she felt compelled to do that to herself, but can we take a moment for the headline? It says “Anna Gunn Shows Off New Look!” when it ought to say “Anna Gunn Panicked Now That Breaking Bad Is Over And She’s Considered An ‘Aging Woman’ In Hollywood So Now We Can See All Of Her Bones!”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need studies or researchers or psychologists to tell me that the photoshop job on JLaw and Anna Gunn’s “new look” are not mutually exclusive.

There is cause. And there is effect.

Ps. This is also dumb. No wonder this is happening.

The Good News
So these pictures were printed with permission on Upworthy, so I shall link you to them. It’s a magazine that doesn’t use photoshop! Here’s their policy:

Verily-Magazine-Policy-1386201629What?? Women’s unique features are beautiful?? It’s like the whole world has gone all topsy-turvy!

In addition to that radtastic policy, Verily looks like one of the coolest magazines ever, and once I’m done Christmas shopping for others, I plan to immediately gift myself a subscription. You should, too!

Side bar: I was extra tickled to see that this magazine is called Verily, as I had just watched this video, which will give you a good laugh if you’re a Shakespeare fan.

More Good News
This Man In a Tutu Helps Women With Breast Cancer

Sometimes, shamelessness is a really great quality. That is all.

A Post for Next Time
The last thing I received was a commercial made by Pantene that is extremely feministy. When I first saw it, I thought, “Get ready for the backlash!” because there are plenty of people who take issue with Feminism as Advertising Tool. But it turns out the naysayers might not be as loud as they were about the Dove campaign, because this commercial won’t air in the US. We’ll stick to the ads featuring bikini bottoms pinched by crabs, thank you very much.

S and I have exchanged some thoughts on this subject before, but in my ever so humble opinion, Pantene has taken things to a new level. So I’ve decided that I shall save my views on this commercial (and feminist advertisements in general) for my next post. It is Friday, after all. I’m sure you have a happy hour to get to.

The Gist
While we are still clearly climbing uphill, it’s important to remember that There Is A Lot To Celebrate.

Final Friday Note: Taylor Swift is My Spirit Animal
Or maybe Feminist Taylor Swift is my spirit animal? Either way, I sure do dress like her a lot.

1003793_10151781554156933_368247739_n

Friday Feminist Funtimes

Happy Friday, RLB readers!

The internets are brimming with feminist delights this fine Friday, so I thought I would share some of my favorites with you.

Start with this primer over at Refinery29, on some of feminism’s fabulous future faces. (Today is also apparently alliteration day at RLB – see? I did it again!)

One of my personal favs from this list is Laverne Cox, who is one of the best parts of the great new Netflix show, Orange is the New Black. I made the mistake of marathon-watching it, and am now twiddling my thumbs awaiting Season Two. Ms. Cox is a smart, talented and savvy transgender activist who should definitely be on your radar. She also happens to be Goooooorgeous.

Next, the fiercest, funnest (first?) feminist rag ever, BUST magazine, gives us a glimpse into the genuinely diverse look book from Debenham’s, a department store in the UK. These images make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. PLUS, their PR director should be happy to know that the campaign is already inspiring others to create their own Real People in Great Fashion look books. Am hell-bent on getting my act together and following Ms. Jennie’s lead with an RLB Model Community Project of our very own. Stay tuned!

And Lastly, I give you your Friday feminist moment of zen.

thelma and louise

 

Orange is the New Skinny

There are a few other posts I have in the works (e.g., Women Who Kick Ass on TV) but today I read this article that a friend of mine posted in facebooklandia, and it got me thinking about #5.

Strong is the new skinny.
Fit is the new skinny.

Or the extra bewildering…
Sore is the new skinny.
You can google that one if you want. It’s basically a tumblr of fitspo porn, so I’m skipping the link.

The stand apart here is Healthy is the New Skinny, and we’ll get to why in a minute. If you clicked on all the links, you can probably guess where I’m headed.

First, we’ll acknowledge that Jezebel has already addressed the NY Post article (Strong is the…) and with their usual flair and panache. This is one of their posts that reminds me why I started reading Jezebel in the first place. It isn’t overly snarky or negative; it’s clever and astute and makes succinct, insightful points. The post is summed up with:

Being strong and formidable shouldn’t be approached as a goal that pleases others; being strong and formidable are their own rewards. And women don’t need a “new skinny.” They need to be left the fuck alone and given the space to exist for themselves.

The fundamental truth here is this absurd idea of a ‘new skinny.’ This is a play on words to indicate that skinny was the Old Ideal, which means that whatever word you put in its place (strong, fit, …….sore?) is now the New Ideal.

So far the only group or organization I’ve seen that is using this oh-so-cleverness in any successful way is Healthy is the New Skinny. Call me crazy, but I agree that Healthy, in fact, should be the New Ideal. HNS goes so far as to actually represent a variety of women in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes within their website-blog-modeling agency. Yes, modeling agency. They also have a non-profit body image program, and an HNS shop where you can shop clothes on “more realistic bodies,” because let’s be honest. Even among our thinnest, lithest friends, do we actually know Anyone who is built like Giselle?

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 5.13.17 PM
So while I still find the ‘new skinny’ concept to be a bit contentious, if anything is going to replace skinny as an ideal, healthy is what makes the most sense to me. Healthy is something we all can (and probably ought to) strive for. Regardless of height, age, shape, weight (ohmygod I can’t say this enough please let this sink in: REGARDLESS OF WEIGHT), muscle mass, hair color, straightness of teeth, broadness of ribcage, cancer diagnosis* or number of limbs, healthy is attainable. We can all make choices that support, improve, and maintain our health and wellness. These choices are personal, and we need to make them for ourselves, based on what we feel enriches our lives.

This is NOT to say that in ALL CASES healthy = attractive or vice versa.

For example, I would probably be thinner if I was vegan. So many actresses are vegans these days, and the majority of them attribute their svelte figures to their everything-free diet. Good for them! However, there are some skinny-ass vegans who do not look healthy to me. (I suppose some people might find fragile bones and sallow skin attractive?) Me personally? I will never, ever, ever give up cheeseburgers. My body is prone to anemia, and so from time to time it craves a g–damn cheeseburger. Sure, sure, spinach is high in iron, I know. So fine, put some spinach on my cheeseburger.

Example number two: It’s patently ridiculous how many times throughout my life I’ve been told some version of, “you’re a really sexy smoker.” And you know what? In all humility I have to admit – it’s true. I love smoking, and for some reason I look hot when smoking, and mmmmm, yum, cigarettes. BUT, I feel far more beautiful when I’m not smoking, not just because my skin looks much better, but because I don’t wake up with a mouth that tastes like I swallowed an ashtray. And der, smoking ≠ healthy.

So I choose to eat cheeseburgers and not smoke.** These are some of my healthy choices, and they are mine for my reasons. Your choices are yours, and even if our choices are the same, our reasons are probably different. Which brings me to my final support of Healthy as the ‘new skinny’ : Agency. When women make their own healthy choices, and determine what is best for themselves at any given point in their lives, this means women are taking agency over their own bodies, minds, and spirits. Trying to crush that agency is why absurd beauty ideals exist in the first place. It’s one more tool for a patriarchal society to make women feel they are Less Than, and that without this kind of ass, those kinds of boobs, and that kind of face, we are somehow Other.

What we can do is change the conversation to one about what makes us feel beautiful to ourselves. I for one will be eating a cheeseburger tonight.

*just want to ward off anyone who might think that disease makes a person unhealthy. healthy choices are not taken away from you because you are diagnosed with a disease. disease is not by default the result of unhealthy choices.

**…the majority of the time. as a human, I am fallible, but I choose to not smoke most of the time.

Versatile Real Living Beauty!

Sometimes S and I are distracted by Life. Things happen – happy things, sad things, exciting things and traumatic things – and we are pulled away from the world of blogging. Hence, our neglect in thanking Jennie Saia from Tip of My Tongue for awarding RLB with this nifty honor! She has christened us as:

versatile-bloggerVersatile Bloggers!

Isn’t that sweet?? We here at RLB do try to cover a multitude of topics, even if they are all rooted in the same idea. Turns out that promoting confidence in women by exploring how we’re represented in the media does inspire quite a variety of subject matter.

So, here are The Rules for this award:

1. Make a post about the award.
2. Share 7 random facts about yourself or your blog.
3. Link to 15 other blogs (ideally with less than 200 followers) that you enjoy and that haven’t gotten the award before (if they have, it’s usually posted in their blog side bar).
Seven Random Facts
Since S and I co-author this blog, we shall share seven random facts about the Collective Us:
  1. When we lived in the same city (505 Represent!), we religiously watched Mad Men every Sunday while E’s husband made us dinner, and then we would dissect every moment over delicious grub. We miss those Sundays.
  2. E once used a flawless “Penelope Cruz” accent in a play that S wrote.
  3. We wrote a TV pilot! And it doesn’t suck!
  4. One of the really sad things about our friendship is that we don’t wear the same shoe size.
  5. A nine-year age difference has only enhanced said friendship. E mainly attributes this to S being the most grown up 25-year-old ever. She is so with it, sometimes E feels juvenile next to her.
  6. …except when S says “wh00t”. E does not get “wh00t”.
  7. As far as barricade boys go, E is on team Goldilocks and S is on team Freckle.
Les-Miz
Fifteen Blogs
Here are the blogs that we would like to acknowledge, and the definition of ‘versatile’ fluctuates with each. Por ejemplo, some of them blog about a variety of foods they like to cook and consume, some of them cover a plethora of fashion topics, and some of them challenge the notion of diversity in daily life. Some of them just blog about a lot of different things. Please take some moments to enjoy the following:

Cheap Wine and Panty Lines

My Left Tit

Nine Thirty to Five

Condorcat

Foodtuitive

Classic Rants

Sweetie and the Kitchen

White Tribal Chief

Living la Vida Tractor Blog

She Travels

and we went

Daydreaming since 1985

(it looks like these last two have slightly more than 200 followers, but the idea of clever, entertaining husband and wife bloggers was too adorable to resist):

Fish & Bicycles

Reality Sandwiches

Confession time: Our final nominee is actually a blog that we contribute to. But! Other people contribute to it, too. And! It’s a brand new, clever and campy turning of the tables on male celebrities, giving them a dose of the body conscious wringer that female celebs are put through on an all-too-regular basis. So, in the name of shameless self-promotion, give a visit to:

Hollywood Meat

Well, there you have it. We hope you enjoy these blogs, as we do.

A Refreshing Dip in the Pool

Who else is tired of shopping for bathing suits that are modeled by 5’10 women who wear a size two? All of you? That’s what I thought.

Enter Modcloth, a website known for it’s bevy of adorable dresses with vintage flair. Turns out they also sell bathing suits, and they oh-so-casually use models who are, well, more People than they are Models.

What I mean is that shopping for bathing suits on Modcloth doesn’t generally leave one with the feeling of “that’s cute, but how would it look on me?” They do use the term ‘plus size’ which I know is contentious for some, but on Modcloth this is plus size and this is plus size. It isn’t a one-plus-size-fits-all situation. The other models represent a variety of body types as well, such as this girl, or this girl, or this girl. Oh and this girl!

Lastly, I love how their main swim banner features two very different types of women, without comment. It’s just a little nod to ‘hey guess what – we all wear swimsuits!’

Where there’s room for improvement: The two-piece section would lead one to believe that women over a certain size do not wear bikinis. Also, they feature a woman of color in their swim banner, but all of the models in the actual collection are white. This makes me want to tell Modcloth that they can go ahead and be fully awesome, not just halfway awesome.

It’s still nice to see a clothing retailer headed in the right direction where models and swimsuits are concerned. So in summary, Modcloth deserves our feedback, support and encouragement.

Do I have to say it? Is the pun required? …Go ahead ladies, dive in!

bathing suit

Women in Ads and Magazines: An RLB Chat

This morning S and I were chatting via gmail, as we are wont to do, and we decided that our conversation about how women are portrayed in magazines would make a pretty stellar blog post. Herein, a glimpse into the minds of the RLB creators…

(Note: Because I copied and pasted the chat, the “me” that appears is me, Elizabeth, and the “Sha” is S, because I have her listed in my email contacts as Sha Na Na Na. Naturally.)

me:  What I really want to do today is write a blog post about how this happened.

Sha: Hmm what do you think of it?

me: When I first read a quote from it I was pretty uppity, but then
1. I realized he was speaking at a Feminism in Media conference hosted by COSMOPOLITAN magazine and
2. He has some valid points. I won’t say, as many have, “at least he’s being honest” because being honest doesn’t equate integrity. If he followed up with “and I think this is a problem and we all need to work together to fix it,” well then sure. But he doesn’t. He’s all Shrug, this is the way the world works, which is the BS part for me.

Sha: I wouldn’t expect somebody in his position to recognize this as a problem

me: Right.

Sha: Because he sells these magazines

me:  mmhm

Sha: And they do sell. And I also agree with him that women’s magazines are much worse

me: See, I don’t know about Much Worse or The Root of the Problem. They are at fault, surely…

Sha: I see them as worse because they manipulate women directly

me: …but my Vogue doesn’t have ads of women in bikinis pouring milk on themselves. Or whatever.

Sha: Hahaha, unless it’s a new beauty treatment.

me: Haha.

Sha: Women’s magazines and men’s magazines are both guilty of objectifying women, totally. They just have different goals.

me: Exactly.

Sha: Women’s magazines want women to feel like shit so they buy stuff, and men’s magazines want to sell more magazines. And also stuff.

me: So they turn women into objects.

Sha: To sell objects

me: Yes.

Sha: So the images of women are presented differently in each. He’s right that the women in men’s magazines are more diverse, which is interesting, because a women’s magazine would have you think that all women look like 100 lb aliens with no pores, and that that’s what men want, lol.

me: Hahaha, right? When most men in fact prefer women who are human, and even (gasp) a little “flawed.” And he’s also generalizing, about women’s magazines. Glamour has taken leaps and bounds in this arena as of late,

Sha: Oh right I’ve heard about that.

me: whereas Cosmo is offensive just by existing.

Sha: Hahaha. The industry is just really fucked

me: Well yes. Women in media, in general, are not well represented.

Sha:  HENCE the blog. lol

me:  Haha huzzah! And I don’t think you get brownie points just for being “honest” about it.

Sha: No, he’s sleazy. But I would expect him to be, I guess? I don’t expect the editor in chief at Cosmo to be a good person either, or hollywood studio executives. They don’t want to upset the status quo, that’s how they make their money

me:  BUT THEY ARE CREATING THE STATUS QUO. Sorry for the shouty caps.

Sha: Hahaha. I think that we create it, by buying it. The collective we. If we stopped buying it they would stop making it that way.

me: True… I think it’s a cycle, because we are in a consumer culture, and we are desensitized. So yes, I agree with your point, but

Sha:  But we can make choices in what we consume. I don’t know if there’s like a male magazine equivalent to Bust Magazine? Is there?

me: I don’t think so. But let’s take Dove, as a for instance.

Sha:  yes

me: Great Real Beauty campaign, right, but so many women say

Sha:  right

me: “That corporation also owns Axe body spray, so they’re hypocrites, so I won’t buy Dove”

Sha:  ah

me: But by not supporting the campaign that’s great, aren’t we sending a message that it isn’t important to us? Unless you’re writing to them saying “I will not buy Dove until you stop making Axe,” then no one knows about your principled protest. And like you said, our dollars matter. So buy Dove, not Axe. Amiright?

Sha: Right, yeah that does make sense.

me: It’s not productive to say All Women’s Magazines are to blame, because they’re not all the same. We have to support the pieces that resonate with us. I subscribe to Glamour, not Cosmo. Bust is a women’s magazine, and it’s amazing.

Sha: It’s like the indie flick that gets great reviews and makes no money

me: Exactly! It’s why box office earnings are so important. Opening weekend, specifically. But I digress.

Sha: The thing about advertising and magazines, because most magazines are mostly about advertising, is that even if it seems good… like the dove campaign, for example, and even if good things come from it, like the dove campaign, we are still just being sold something (soap), but also a feeling…

me: Of course. I say better that feeling of positivity and acceptance than feelings of worthlessness and insignificance.

Sha: …and I’m sure that even though there are well-intentioned people who worked on the Dove campaign along the way, and they were glad to put it out there, it was backed by people who were like, “You know what women seem to want right now? Acceptance. Let’s sell that to them so they will buy this soap.”

me: Which again, in my opinion is a better message, and a result of what women want right now, what we are demanding, which speaks to your point that our dollars do our talking. So ultimately I think if more media responded that way – “this is what women want so let’s give it to them to sell our product” – that’s essentially a good thing! They’re going to try to sell us shit no matter what. That part isn’t going away.

Sha: Haha that’s true.

me: Personally I’d rather have diversity and acceptance selling me things than Rosie Huntington Whitley draped over a fur rug in her panties. (Added after chat: Omg I just said that off the cuff, but look! It’s almost an actual thing.)

Sha: Well we’re both from a demographic like that and plenty of companies use that on us. But not all. Many of them don’t need to use it. Like men’s magazines!

me: Way to bring it full circle! And I suppose my biggest issue there, is that the kind of objectification in men’s magazines is the sort that leads to perpetuating the treatment of women as objects.

Sha: Yep.

me: And in women’s magazines, the objectification makes women feel like they Should be treated as objects. So all around, things need to change, and if it’s one greedy corporation at a time, so be it.

Sha: It’s a gross business. I don’t know what it would take to change it but talking about it is definitely a start.

Elizabeth’s Summary: Talking about it is absolutely a great start. We can see the ripple effect that these conversations are having – there are countless grassroots campaigns that have set out to spark the necessary discourse, in order to change the way women are portrayed in the media and the way we see ourselves in everyday life.

Together, these campaigns have already had a powerful effect on representations of women in commercial media (as evidenced by the ads below, which were unheard of in popular culture before the body image movements of the last several years), but there is still a long way to go. Our voices, our insistence on respect and real representation, cannot be too loud or too prevalent. This is how we will change the story.

On that note, here are some steps in the right direction: 

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Yes! More women of color! More women who are curvy!

Dove-Campaign-for-Real-BeautyYes! Not all women are under 25!

nikethighsYes! Women’s bodies are strong, healthy sources of support for how we live our lives!

And if this:

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Leads to this:

real real women
Then let’s demand more of it!

This link is also posted in my summary above, but y’all should check out Beauty Redefined! It was pure coincidence that I stumbled upon these amazing ladies while doing my google search for diverse ads. Show them some love and support. And let’s plaster the world with their amazing post-it notes!

beauty-redefined