Friday Feminist Funtimes – All About That Bass

Today my friend Megan posted this video on the book of faces, and it’s about as Fun as FFF gets. The song is catchy, the video is totes adorbs, and it’s had me tappin’ my feet and chair dancin’ all day.

Now I’m getting used to all the naysayers and the nays that they say, so before you shake fists and wave placards, allow me to address the lyrics that are sure to irk some folks out there…

“I got that boom boom that all the boys chase, and all the right junk in all the right places…”

“I’m bringin’ booty back, go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that…”

She also references “stick figure silicone barbie doll”s, and how “boys like a little more booty to hold at night…” I know, I know. This reopens wounds incurred by slogans like Real Women Have Curves and Healthy is the New Skinny. But before you decry the indignities of how ‘skinny girls are people, too!!’, there are a few things we need to acknowledge.

1. Yes, all women are real women, regardless of shape or size. We here at Beauty Coup do not support body shaming of any kind.

2. Yes, skinny women can also be healthy women. So can large women, muscular women, not muscular women, young women, old women, and so on and so forth. Let’s also remember that there are sick people in the world who are no less beautiful for their illness.

3. When it comes to media and entertainment, there is a crucial truth that is often ignored or overlooked. This truth can be summarized by a concept known as othering. 

If you’ve ever taken a media studies class, odds are good that you know what this means. If not, here’s the short, short version in non-academic language:

Othering is when we as a collective culture have distaste for that which is not like us. That distaste can run the gamut from disdain to fear to outright hostility. Othering happens when we judge another person or group of people who are not like us simply because they are not like us, without any understanding of their individual and/or collective humanity.

It is these marginalized groups, these victims of othering, who need to be put in the spotlight when it comes to supporting broader definitions of beauty, and creating a greater understanding of what it means to have value and worth as a human being.

In light of that, I have some tough news for some of you:

If you are thin, you are privileged.
If you are white, you are privileged.
If you are young, you are privileged.
If you are straight, you are privileged.
If you are wealthy, you are privileged.
If you are a man, you are privileged.

I started that list, by the by, with the two (and a half) ways in which I am privileged. As I see it, it isn’t enough to rouse the rabble only concerning the privileges denied to us, we also have a responsibility to celebrate all kinds of beauty – regardless of the shape, size, color, age, gender, economic standing, or sexuality that it comes packaged in.

So if you find yourself feeling slighted because you’re thin and this cute video is celebrating girls with ‘bass’, remember this: just because she says ‘skinny bitches,’ it doesn’t mean she thinks skinny people suck. Odds are really, really good that the skinny bitch in the video is one of her BFFs.

Take the time to acknowledge your privileges. When someone steps up to holler about and celebrate something that is usually diminished, ignored, slighted, or feared, and you find you have the urge to yell back, “but what about me???” I encourage you to pause and think about all that your privileges have already afforded you.

Now shake that money maker, whatever its size!

Thigh Gap Schmigh Schmap

Hey there, Beauty Coup d’etat Darlings! It’s Friday Feminist Funtimes!

Combing through the bookmarks I’ve made on Potential Blog Topics, I stumbled on this ridiculous phenomenon from last summer. I have two thoughts here.

One: Why would you want your legs to resemble hot dogs?
Two: WHY WOULD YOU WANT YOUR LEGS TO RESEMBLE HOT DOGS??

This icky tumblr is a side-effect of the aggravating Thigh Gap obsession that has been sweeping the Internets for some time. Thigh Gap is also responsible for the obnoxious, twee, red carpet pose known as Pigeon Toed. **No One Stands Like This In Real Life**

Thigh Gap, for the blessedly uninitiated, is when you put your legs together and your thighs don’t touch. Most supermodels have it, and as we know, looking like a supermodel is a completely reasonable and attainable goal for the average woman.

good-luck

Sidebar: if you want to be a supermodel, you better have a Thigh Gap or you are totes fatty fat fat.

Take this Pintrest board, for example. Some of these gals look perfectly healthy and probably always have had/will have that lil’ space between their thighs. Other photos here scream only one word at me: HUNGRY.

Now I’m no stranger to coveting the Gap. When I was a roly-poly 10-year-old, I told my grandma that I was fat. When she asked me why I thought that, I told her that my thighs touched. My older sister was skinny, I explained to grandma, and her thighs didn’t touch. My chubby thighs smooshed right up against each other.

My grandma, one of the best people who has ever lived, turned to my wee, impressionable self and said “Oh darling, that just means when you grow up you’ll have shapely legs, and men will adore them.”

Not only was my grandma an amazing woman who drank whiskey out of teacups, she was totally f*cking right. My legs are kind of incredible, if I may humbly say so myself. They’re a star attraction of my curvy frame. And I have never not once in my entire life had a Thigh Gap. Because the truth is that some bodies are not built for Thigh Gaps. I have a decent dip in my waist, some visible ab muscles (she works hard for the money!), delicate bones, a sizable JLo, and thighs that touch.

Of course I want to start an Anti-Thigh Gap Revolution, involving pictures of sexy thighs that touch. But, curious fact, if you don’t have a Thigh Gap obsession, odds are good you don’t have that many pictures of your thighs. All of my burlesque-era photos are on a different computer, so I’ve done a little improvising.

Here’s me in leggings having just hiked up a mountain in Hawaii. Lookin’ good, thighs that carried me up a mountain!
hike
Here are my thighs right now, today, mere moments ago, in a Classic Thigh Gap (CTG) position. As you can see, gap schmap.
thighs 1
Lastly, here’s the top of my gams with feet on the floor, ankles together – another CTG pose.
thighs 2
Ohmygodyouguys!!! Is that a tiny space I see between my legs?? Is that the floor we’re seeing through an infinitesimal amount of space betwixt one thigh and the other??? OMG GUESS WHAT??

I don’t fucking care.

boo-yah

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

Nina

Eleven years ago on April 21st, I was taking a jazz dance class in downtown Minneapolis. When the instructor walked in, she said we were going to do something different that day, because Nina Simone had died.

Moving to the stereo, our instructor played the tune ‘Since I Fell For You.’ The first time through, we simply listened. That voice – the clarity, the range, sultry and a touch androgynous – singing of love and loss and longing.

I was grateful. To Ms. Simone for creating such powerful music that has always affected me deeply, and to my dance instructor for taking the time to honor a great woman, wholly unique in her spirit and talent.

Today would have been Nina Simone’s 81st birthday. In her 70 years on this earth, she stirred us and moved us and inspired us to rise up. I am not a dancer, in the strictest sense of the word. But I have never felt more like a dancer than on that day eleven years ago, as my body moved in tandem with women I don’t remember and will never see again, to the seductive, haunting sounds of the masterful, soulful, divine Ms. Nina Simone.

Join us, on this day of Friday Feminist Funtimes, in thanking Nina Simone for all that she gave. And do yourself a favor – go listen to her music.

Nina+Simone

#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/

Role Modeling

On this divine Thursday afternoon, I find myself sitting on a  ridiculously comfortable couch in the heart of dear old Los Angeles. As recently as a week ago, that last bit would’ve been dripping with sarcasm. My relationship with Tinsel Town has always been contentious at best. I’ve wanted to be an actress ever since a certain red-haired orphan sang her way into my childhood, and once I dove in I was hooked. The theatre is wonderful and I will always audition for plays, but I love love love making movies. Love. If there were a stronger word than love, I would use that here.

A friend of mine recently asked Facebookland for thoughts on this article from HuffPo. The gist is that the author has declared Jennifer Lawrence to not be a viable spokesperson for body positivity because she is fit and attractive.

I have a lot of thoughts about this, and I have a blog, so that works out.

The author of that post asks the Internet, “at what percentage of body fat does a woman get to be a person?” (this in response to JLaw’s statement that she would rather “look chubby on screen and like a person in real life.”)

A few things here: Of course all women are people. Jennifer Lawrence is 22 or 23 years old, and she is far more unbridled in her statements than any ingenue I’ve ever encountered. We all say slightly misplaced things from time to time, especially in our early twenties. Even so, I don’t read this quote as “skinny women aren’t people” and maybe that’s because I lived in LA. I know the people Ms. Lawrence is talking about. The human bobble heads and the walking skeletons, the taut skin and the globular breasts. The sad, unfortunate truth of the matter is that quite often women in Hollywood starve the person right out of themselves.

The other reality to consider is that what Jennifer Lawrence says about perceptions of thinness and beauty in Hollywood is all 100% true. I know it because I lived it. One year in Lala Land was enough to turn my 26-year-old self into the kind of person who thought about her looks all the time, and not in the way Narcissus thought about that dashing reflection. Everything fell under scrutiny, from potential agents, managers, and most of all myself. Like Rikki Lindholm, I too am nothing to shake a stick at in the real world, but in the pursuit of work as a film actress, my teeth were too crooked, my face was too average, and I heard far more than once that I could stand to lose five pounds. Which I can now say with confidence was patently absurd.

So I would like to ask the Internets: Isn’t it great when any actress in Hollywood, regardless of their age, shape or size, decides to be a force for good in an industry that boasts unequivocal misogyny and hostility towards women? I think it’s really f*cking great.

As for the Melissa McCarthy question – what would the reaction be if she professed the same statements made by JL? – It’s true, the reactions probably wouldn’t be great. Our society has an obnoxious prevalence of fat-phobia, and god knows the Internets like to Judge almost as much as they like to post cat videos. But declaring that everything Melissa McCarthy says about weight and food is a veil for “I’m sorry I’m fat and you have to look at me” is reductionist, purely speculative, and frankly, unfair to Melissa McCarthy. If Jennifer Lawrence has to deal with body-shaming sh*t in Hollywood (and I guarantee she does), then it can only be worse for the Melissa McCarthys and the Rebel Wilsons. Anytime a woman is able to break barriers and open diversity doors in Hollywood (for the colors, sizes, and ages among us), we ought to be celebrating. Women in Hollywood will never have full agency over themselves and their bodies if we gripe over who is and who isn’t allowed to be a positive role-model.

And so we come to the essence of what this is all about: Agency. The film industry – and the world! – will be a much better place when we see a multitude of women represented on screen, and they all have the agency to decide what is best for themselves and their bodies. This will happen only when a vast number of women demand that it happen. And anyone – even a loud-mouthed, beautiful, talented young actress – who wants to help get us there faster is a champion in my book.

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