Pop Goes the Revolution

Thirty-five isn’t what I would call old, but it’s old enough. It’s old enough to remember a time when daily doses of feminism were only found when sought out. To get a regular fix of Girl Power, you needed Bust or Bitch or Ms. Magazine on your nightstand, Ani or TLC in your discman (what’s up, 90s!), and Thelma & Louise on a constant loop in your DVD player.

What a revelation to look around nowadays and find that feminism is Everywhere. On TV, in the movies, in comic books (!!), music videos, and spilling from the pens of former CW stars. The Lady Movement has gone Pop.

But don’t let that fool you. It doesn’t mean we’ve won. On the contrary, the message of each and every one of these women is (in essence) that feminism is still needed. Sexism still thrives, male privilege still exists, and there is still a lot of work to be done.

All the same, I have to say… Seeing so many of us fighting the good fight? Feels pretty f*cking good. Here’s a sampling of delights to fuel your feminist fancies:

MUSIC VIDEOS
Colbie Caillat – 
Try
I’d heard her name but never her music. Time to give her a listen.

Jenny Lewis – Just One of the Guys
So much to love in this gender bending song and dance. Special props to Annie’s faux-break dancing, for making me bust a gut.

TELEVISION
Viola Davis speaks
to seizing a role in television, where female characters are almost always more dynamic than their silver screen counterparts.

“I have gotten so many wonderful film roles,” she acknowledged. “I’ve gotten so many where I haven’t been the show — I’ve been invited to fabulous parties to hold up the wall. I wanted to be the show –  to have a character that took me out of my comfort zone, and that happened to be on a Shonda Rhimes show. So I did the only sensible thing and took it.”

Orange is the New Black got **12 Emmy Nominations** because it’s one of the greatest shows ever!! Laverne Cox is the first trans actress to be nominated for an Emmy!! So Stoked to see these ladies on the red carpet, struttin’ their stuff.

OITNB

(Let’s hope the TV Academy gets their sh*t together next year for Tatiana Maslany and Orphan Black.)

COMICS
Um, the new THOR is a WOMAN.
As if that isn’t enough, the series writer Jason Aaron drives home the fact that this new character is no spin-off, sidekick, watered-down version of Man Thor: 

“This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”

Get it, Marvel!

STARLET SMARTS
Leighton Meester
isn’t the first person who springs to mind when thinking of feminist actresses. A lot of you may not even know who she is. Before today, I mostly knew her as Blair Waldorf (aka, she of the enviable wardrobe) on Gossip Girl. After today, I will know her as the actress who wrote that kick-ass piece for the Huffington Post about playing the character of Curly’s Wife in Of Mice and Men.

starlet feminists

 

Emma Watson has stated her feminist views before. Now she’s following in the Jolie’s footsteps by working for the UN. Emma “Hermione Granger” Watson will be joining the gender-equality branch, focusing on work with the HeForShe Campaign. Of this new adventure, Ms. Watson states:

“Women’s rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life that I can’t imagine an opportunity more exciting.”

Our little witch is all grown!

COMMERCIALS
Some of you will nay-say this to rooms of your own and back, but I Like What Pantene Is Doing. #NotSorry.

 

There you have it, renaissance women! Not only is our revolution being televised, it is Everywhere. And because no pop culture feminist blog post is complete without her:

sparkle bey

#SashaFierce

#beautyrevolution

Why the New Name? or How Real Living Beauty became Beauty Coup:

The Internet is a strange place.

When I was 15, that series of crazy dial-up noises would connect me to a chat room – before the phrase had nefarious connotations – where I could talk to people from around the globe. My “handle” was DelphiniumTwinkleQ. The Q was silent, because I was 15.

theinternet

This chatting with people who lived All Over the Planet felt like magic. When I was in China two years later, my mom and I could send a piece of “e-mail” to my dad, and we would get his reply the very next day. It was a crazy, topsy-turvy, whole new world.

a whole new world

Almost 20 years later, we are immersed in that new world, our lives all but run by the technological advances we’ve made. Through social media we reconnect with old friends and cultivate professional relationships. We develop creative projects with people who live on different continents. We write blogs and meet strangers and those strangers become friends (hi, Jennie!). Some of our closest friendships evolve primarily through texts, emails, and instant messaging chats. We share our opinions and are cheered on, challenged, shamed, scolded, bolstered and championed by the voices of people we will never meet. We rally behind causes with countless like-minded unknown individuals, and we change the world.

This is what I see happening right now with how women are perceived and valued. We are rising up as a collective voice to challenge absurd standards of beauty, to recognize our inherent diversity, and to be valued for all that we are.

we can  do it

Thanks, in part, to the Internet, companies are dropping sexist practices, a teenager in Pakistan stood up to the Taliban and started an international movement, there are more shows to watch (good shows!) featuring a variety of complex female characters, women are shattering glass ceilings left and right, a toy company aimed at training girls to be engineers aired their best ad yet during the Advertising Mecca, and like our efforts here at Beauty Coup (BC Represent!), numerous self-confidence movements, features, and projects (fun projects! clever projects!) emerged, showing us what women really look like (even celebrity women), spreading joy, and bolstering a sense of self-worth in women and girls.

Real Living Beauty served us well. It helped me and S (and sometimes Lou) introduce ourselves to all of you. It allowed us to share our many (many, many) opinions. It provided a forum for us to discover and share a wealth of wonderful people, projects, shows, books, programs, and so on and so forth, and to call out the jerkwads who really get it wrong. And we’ll continue to do all of that.

However. It’s time to call this Internet phenomenon what it really is: A Revolution.

Many women have argued that to convince all women that they are beautiful is counter-productive, because it’s still a focus on Beauty. I disagree. I believe these are the seeds of the Revolution. As long as women are caught up in insecurities about their physical appearance – consumed by “Am I too _______?” or “Am I _______ enough?” – they cannot focus on the things that truly matter. When women feel beautiful, when they Believe They Are Beautiful, they are able to set aside cosmetic concerns and put their energy into so much more.

Revolutions can start anywhere – lunch counters, basements, buses, campuses, meeting halls – this Revolution started on the Internet. This Revolution starts with Beauty. If we do not feel Less Than due to the supposed confines or mythical shortcomings of our physical appearance, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

limit

Some of you will say that feeling beautiful isn’t important. That women can accomplish anything even if they don’t feel beautiful. I don’t entirely disagree. What I will say is that the efforts to make women feel less than beautiful, to sidetrack us with the idea that we must be vigilant about improving our appearance in accordance with the standards of men, these are tools of oppression. If we already feel beautiful, we become impervious to those methods of control. We become greater than our oppressors. We stand up, and we demand our due.

beyonce-you-ready

And because I couldn’t pick just one:

rock this b

And:

high five

Welcome to Beauty Coup.
#beautyrevolution

Beauty Coup

Real Is as Real Does

Happy Monday, RLB readers!

I hope you’ve had you’re caffeine, because it isn’t even 9:00 am, and my double shot of espresso has me all ready to rouse some rabble.

At this point, it might seem like I’m harping on the subject. It’s possible that some of you are wondering if we’re going to change the name of our blog to Feminist Ads Are A-Okay! or Brought to You by Dove Real Beauty

I promise, as the Oscars draw nearer there will plenty to say about women in Hollywood, and when the school year calms down S will have more time to dig up kick-ass lesser-known lady artists to introduce you to.

For now, we’re going to talk about the Aerie Real campaign. I can already hear some of your feathers ruffling, and that’s perfectly okay. We are all entitled to our opinions, and here is mine:

First, the skinny (was that pun in bad taste?): The lingerie line from American Eagle has started a new campaign called Aerie Real, wherein their models are not photoshopped or retouched. Their tagline is “the real you is sexy”.

I wasn’t even sure I was going to write about this, since it’s a subject we here at RLB have covered somewhat extensively. Then I read this post, from an irate writer over at PolicyMic. Let me start by saying she has some valid points. Let me also say that it was harder to connect to them because of the glaringly egregious claim in her headline: “This Isn’t ‘What Girls Really Look Like.'”

Excuse the shouting, but YES IT IS.

This is exactly what these girls really look like. Counting them out because they’re thin or fit is akin to the erroneous phrase (yet charming film) “real women have curves.” Real women come in all shapes and sizes, which is, I understand, the fundamental point of the PolicyMic article. Aerie could and should do more to represent more types of girls and young women. I agree! But I do not think it’s helpful to snark away the steps that are being taken toward that kind of representation. My point of view is more aligned with this writer over at a site I’d never heard of called Neon Tommy.

Here’s where I disagree with Neon Tommy: Yes, these models are still made up and styled by professionals. Because they’re models. Styling ones subjects is the standard for anyone being photographed for any ad/article/feature anywhere ever – even for feminist tomes such as BUST and Curve magazine.

Here’s the whole truth: I believe these are the seeds of a revolution. Seriously. When have we ever, as a collective culture, talked this much about how women are represented in the media, how unrealistic beauty standards are, and how women need to be valued for more than how they look? As far as I can recall, these questions have gone unasked because their answers were taken for granted as part of the status quo. Challenging the status quo, even in small ways, is how we provoke change. Have you ever, really, seen a girl like this in a lingerie ad? A lingerie ad that isn’t for “plus size” women?

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 8.42.18 AM

If you think it’s egregious for me to claim that this girl could be considered plus size, it isn’t me. It’s the industry that we’re fighting against. There are many companies that will use models who are size 10-12 as “plus size,” and casting directors who even claim that “plus size” equals a size 8.

Every revolution starts with a spark. The 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, and many agree that the suffragist movement leading to that moment began with an 1848 conversation in Seneca Falls. People point to Stonewall and Brown vs. The Board of Education as pivotal moments in history, but anyone who has ever been part of a movement knows – there were countless conversations that built up to and fueled those confrontations. There were small steps and quiet steps and virtually unnoticed steps. And they all led to major shifts in our culture.

Do you think it’s pretentious hyperbole for me to equate body positivity with women’s suffrage, the fight for queer equality, or the civil rights movement? Then let me leave you with some not so fun facts (all emphasis is mine):

  • Girls between ages 11-14 see, on average, 500 ads a day.
  • 53% of 13-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies.  That number increases to 78% by age 17.
  • The number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed on youth under age 19 more than tripled from 1997 to 2007.
  • 42% percent of first to third-grade girls want to be thinner, while 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of getting fat.
  • 80% of 10-year-old American girls say they have been on a diet. The number one magic wish for young girls age 11-17 is to be thinner.
  • It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men.
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
  • Adolescents with negative body image concerns are more likely to be depressed, anxious, and suicidal than those without intense dissatisfaction over their appearance, even when compared to adolescents with other psychiatric illnesses.

When I had the honor of meeting Bella Abzug back in 1996, I asked her if she had any advice for a young upstart like myself. “Choose your battles,” she said. “Women want to fix everything, but you’ll spread yourself too thin that way. Choose your battles, and fight for what matters most to you.”

So I choose body positivity as one of my battles. I choose to celebrate all victories, small and large, as necessary steps to winning the revolution of cultural change.

There is still a lot of work to do, in order to create a world for our daughters and nieces and granddaughters where they will be valued for who they are and what they have to contribute. These feminist ads aren’t a magical solution, and they aren’t the only answer; and right now most of them could push even harder and further toward change.

It doesn’t feel like enough because it isn’t enough, but it is a beginning.

Statistics gathered from:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060606224541.htm
http://therepresentationproject.org/statistics
http://www.state.sc.us/dmh/anorexia/statistics.htm
http://justthink.org/

I’ll See Your Feminist Ad, and Raise You a Make It Even Better

Greetings, RLB readers. Today we’re going to examine the controversial practice of Feminism in Advertising.

This post was inspired by (not to be confused with sponsored by), what Business Insider is calling an Overtly Feminist ad from Pantene. I agree with that assessment. This ad is overtly feminist.

It is in fact so overtly feminist that it won’t air in the United States. Okay, no one has said that’s why it won’t be airing here, but I think we can all agree that isn’t much of a leap. The ad is for Pantene in the Philippines (shout out, S!), so it also features a refreshing cast of non-white women. Yes, they almost all look like models. This is a shampoo commercial, after all. The beautiful shiny shine shine hair is unavoidable.

Unsurprisingly, there are feminists who want advertisers to “stop using feminism” to sell things. Which is a viewpoint I can understand – taking an ideology that means so much to so many people and turning it into a tool for selling beauty products is a contentious move.

Here’s where we come to my However.

However, as a lifelong student of feminism and media literacy, I can’t help but see the good in ads like these. So is it right to draw a line, to say feminism is okay if you’re advertising a school, but not if you’re advertising shampoo?* What if you’re advertising Catholic school, when Catholicism isn’t exactly known for its progressive views on women?

Sidebar: One of my favorite jokes as a feminist, Catholic child was “What’s the highest rank a woman can have in the Catholic church?” Answer: “Nun.”

cymbals

We live in a world that runs on capitalism. It isn’t my favorite thing about our world, and I will renounce corporate excess with the best of them. (Oh, look! Another However.) However, with this world of capitalism comes advertising. Quite often, with advertising comes raging sexism.

Challenging the negative and amplifying the positive.”

Capitalism is a flawed system, but it can’t be denied that women are the driving force behind the global economy. Yet for a very long time we have been marginalized by the companies trying to sell us things. And let’s be honest. All of us (yes, even you) like having our things. According to the Harvard Business Review, their 2008 study found that women as consumers felt vastly underserved:

Although women control spending in most categories of consumer goods, too many businesses behave as if they had no say over purchasing decisions. Companies continue to offer them poorly conceived products and services and outdated marketing narratives that promote female stereotypes.

If that narrative is changing, and female stereotypes are being turned on their head by advertisers, why should it matter if the progress comes from advertising schools or shampoo or sports equipment or body lotion?

Advertising isn’t going away, and as Bloomberg contends:

The drum is beating ever-louder from economists, development experts and advocates who insist that women and girls are the key to nearly everything needed for a sustainable future, from global health to food security to economic growth.

Forbes is reporting, based on a McKinsey & Co. study, that “economies where women participate are more successful.” This is not a theory, but a reality supported by incontrovertible facts. The evidence is even hard to ignore in the eternal sausage-fest known as Hollywood.

So of course companies that are paying attention will be targeting women. If those companies can pander to us (and pander they will) with fewer of these ads and more of these ads, then I’m all for it.

My point of view isn’t new, and the naysayers provide a much-needed debate for how feminist ads can continue to improve. We will all benefit from more visible diversity in age, size, and color. (There are of course, the ones who do it really f*cking right.)

As advertisements continue to evolve and more of an effort is made to recognize the crucial role that women play in the international economy, I stand by the companies that shun this, and instead choose this or this or this.

Bey Bey

*ps, is shampoo really a “beauty product”? isn’t it more about hygiene?

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