Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bridalplasty: Wedding Competition Takes Reality TV to a New Level

Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy my share of trashy “reality” TV shows just as much as the next person. I know, I know, it’s blatantly ignorant, often horribly offensive, and just makes people look ridiculous. However, it’s also full of schadenfreude, (I mean, how bad can one really feel for someone when they agree to be on reality tv and shock: things end up not going well), and it’s pretty good mindless entertainment. Another pro? It’s always the same storyline, so you don’t have to actually watch the series to understand what is going on, usually just a single episode will do it.

Unfortunately(or perhaps fortunately), I do not have cable in my apartment right now, and actually taking the time to watch a reality TV show online every week is a level of dedication that I just do not have, but I will admit that in the past I have been known to watch Keeping up With the Kardashians, Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, Rock of Love (I know-WHY?!), and Big Brother on a fairly regular basis. I even watched The Hills back in the day. However, when it comes to my defense of the abomination that is reality TV, please disregard all of the above when it comes to the following show.

Bridalplasty. That’s right. Bridalplasty. The show where brides-to-be compete to win a full-body plastic surgery makeover in time for the big day.

This show premiered on Sunday night, and there has been a ton of backlash about it. Check out this article on Jezebel, it does a great job of outlining some of the problems associated with the show in general, wedding culture in the United States, and the dangers of the plastic surgery cult.

I think that it’s really important to note the unhealthy nature of this show, and the fact that even though it may be a joke to a lot of us, for the women on the show, this is not a joke. This is the realization of some hope to “perfect” their bodies in order to fit the role of the “beautiful bride” on their wedding. Isn’t it scary that this type of behavior is normalized in such a mainstream way?

We need to stop this plastic surgery obsession train, and we need to stop supporting the crazy monster that weddings have become. When women are willing to jump through all the hoops and obstacles of the television show just to have a chance at undergoing all of this plastic surgery in order to fit into what society tells them they need to be for their wedding, then this is an indication of a serious problem.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Look Better Naked, Feel Better Naked

Look Better Naked, Feel Better Naked
By Guest Blogger, Erika

“Look Better Naked!” an article I found on womenshealthmag.com, by Michele Promaulayko, discusses her new book entitled The Naked Truth. The article intrigued me because, as a woman, I could completely relate and find truth in most of what she said. Michele exclaims, “When we’re naked, it’s not just our bodies that are on exhibit—it’s our hearts, our souls, our very self-worth that feels exposed and ripe for criticism.” This sentence, right off the bat to me, perfectly hit the definition of what it feels like to be naked. Once unclothed, we are enabled to pinpoint every exact little tiny fleck of an issue that we have with ourselves and then magnify it in our minds. No problem spot is left unseen or unknown to anyone and that rather blatantly terrifies most women. She then goes on to discuss her personal struggle with this issue and how she feels that the book can help woman regain their high self-esteem.

According to research done by Michele, “One recent medical survey revealed that a mere 19 percent of women are happy with their bodies. In other words, of your five closest friends, only one of them thinks her physique deserves a thumbs-up.” This statement is completely saddening, yet it seems to hold true. Back home, I have a small group of five girlfriends including myself. During high school, it almost seemed as if none of us were proud of our bodies, let alone comfortable in them, with or without clothes. Anytime anyone one of us is together, the weight topic is still brought up some way or another. Every time a compliment is given, the girl just denies it and changes the topic.

Is that what we have come to with out bodies in modern day? Are we so embarrassed about our weight and appearance that we cannot even accept a compliment from a close friend? How horrible I think it is that many girls look in the mirror constantly to degrade and remind themselves of all the things that they believe are wrong with them. Unfortunately, it seems as though we have been socialized into a society that promotes the ideal woman to have a small waist, large breasts, and a tight behind.

Therefore, from the time we are little girls into the years of are adulthood, we are constantly trying to force our bodies to appear as the ideal woman and end up dissatisfied when we do not reach such high expectations that we and society hold for ourselves. A new proposed goal would be, instead of being concerned with how we look, why don’t we try to be concerned with how we feel? How we feel when we are healthier, staying active and eating nutritive foods. Everyone has fat; it has a purpose, to protect the body. It is nothing to be ashamed of. We should be concerned about our over all health. If we feel better, we are more likely to think we look better.

From what I read in the article, I think that The Naked Truth would be an uplifting read and may even change some people’s perspectives of their body. I might decide to read it over Christmas break and I’ll try to let you know more about it. If anyone has already read it, please feel free to comment.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Privilege?

Jezebel.com turned me towards this hilarious tumblr blog called “Privilege Denying Dude.” This blog is full of submitted messages about privilege on the image of a smug 20-something white hipster.

The blog satirically handles privilege of all kinds; race, gender, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, ability, etc.Whoever created the blog, gives this tongue-in-cheek explanation: “Look, I wasn't around when all that bad stuff happened. All I know is I got to where I am solely by hard work. Discrimination? I'm not going to listen to this. You obviously can't hear me: my reality is the only reality.”

All of the pictures are from the same template, so any one with a humorous caption of privilege is welcome to submit one.

The majority of the posts are hilarious and will give you the giggles, but a few are just priceless:
- “I can’t be a homophobe – I love lesbian porn!”
- “My neighbor is black, and she seems nice enough, so I can’t be racist.”
- “Why do women complain about being approached on the streets ? – I’m a man, and would love to be harassed on the streets by random women.”
- “If racism still exists – How come the President is black?”
- “Poor people are just lazy – my dad worked hard to pay for my college education.”
- “Deep down we’re all bisexual – especially lesbians.”
- “I wore black-face on Halloween – We live in a post-racial society.”
- “I can’t be ableist – I was on crutches for 3 months.”

This is a perfect teaching tool to have (privileged) people who deny or have never questioned their own privilege to really think about not only their privilege, but those who have unearned disadvantage because of that privilege. It’s a good teaching tool, and it’s so simple!

Women Athletes + ESPN= Nudity?

I came across this footage earlier today and am in two minds about the women’s water polo team posing nude on ESPN in order to gain potential sponsors attention. … On the one hand, the team was paid well for their shot, which was their motivation. On the other hand, would we expect men to do the same thing to receive sponsorship?

After watching the video and thinking about how male athletes are regarded in our society, I have come to the conclusion that this is not alright with me. Call me old school, but I thought sports were about the competition and the sport, not about the sexualization of our athletes…

Maybe someday (obviously not today, thank you very much) men and women who are talented can play their respective sports instead of having to sell their body to be able to continue their craft.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I happened across this website called hollaback!, a “movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology.” It’s a website committed to stopping street harassment of LGBTQ individuals and women by having those who have been harassed share their stories. Street harassment happens on such a regular basis, I know I can count on being barked at, or aggresively chatted up by male strangers at least once a month.

Hollaback questions the socially accepted idea that being harassed by men just comes with being a woman or LGBTQ. Hollaback believes that street harassment is a “gateway crime” and because it is almost universally accepted across the US, that acceptance creates an environment of other gender-based violence.

Hollaback points out the clear lack of legislation that protects individuals from street harassment. This is due to the lack of solutions to stopping street harassment. Hollaback has stepped up to be that answer. Because of the explosion of smart phones, this enables Hollaback to be even more accessible. Hollaback encourages those who have been street harassed to share their stories and to support the statistics of how pervasive street harassment is, with real-life stories.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stirrups and Stories: Reclaiming the OBGYN Patient Experience Through Imagery and Words

This last week, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the National Women’s Studies Association Conference in Denver, Colorado. While there, I spent three wonderful days hearing about research, meeting people and seeing some of the amazing things that others are doing in the name of gender, social justice and empowerment.
One person that I happened to meet shared one of her projects, Stirrups and Stories, with me. Stirrups and Stories exists to allow women to share their stories, suggestions, and frustrations regarding OBGYN care. The goal is to empower women to talk about their OBGYN care (after all, who really takes the time to ask you how it is?) and to better understand women’s experiences with OBGYN care, from patients to practitioners.

The stories are reflective of a variety of different experiences, and range from notes of gratitude (“Thank you for being gentle”), to humorous (“Sooo…wanna meet for drinks later?”), to comments about consent (“If you’re going to bring 4 residents in to observe an exam, make sure you have CONSENT from the scared, pregnant 17-year-old who is in stirrups for the first time.”)

I absolutely LOVE this project. The OBGYN experience is often scary, uncomfortable, impersonal, and it is not something that we talk about. This project makes a great statement: women’s health matters and we need to talk about it. I encourage you to check out this project and maybe even consider sharing your experiences!

Friday, November 12, 2010

PAVE the Way

This week I’m going to do something new. It will be wild, and you may get a little scared at times through out this blog…. (just hang with me here)… I’m going to be POSITIVE! I know that it sounds like a crazy idea, but I’m kind of tired only blogging about all of the negative things in the world. While there are a LOT of negative things happening, why not take the time to highlight something that is going on that is positive?
I’m choosing to highlight one of our many campus partners, PAVE. PAVE is an organization that promotes the rights of survivors of sexual assault and works towards a day when we, as a society, don’t have survivors of sexual assault, because that type of violence won’t happen. Period.

Recently, I came into contact with PAVE because the local coordinator was in the center shooting an advertisement about male victims of sexual assault. The commercial was meant to highlight the need for both acceptance and realization that men can be sexually assaulted and serve as a call for more men to be allies of sexual assault survivors.

My part in all of this was minimal, to say the least. I simply read a few lines off a piece of paper (about support male survivors) in front of a camera and was done. But, it was so much more than that…. As I was reading and thinking about all of the people (both men and women) who choose not to report their sexual assault out of fear or shame, I realized I proud I am to be a vocal ally. I’m thrilled that PAVE is out attempting to make a difference in the lives of survivors as we make strides in ending interpersonal violence, especially sexual assault.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Should Men Cry In Front of Their Girlfriends?

Hmm…it seems as though the general consensus from his viewers is no, or rather “hell no”. But like Cleo, I can attest to the fact that many girls would really appreciate it if their boyfriends would open up, and cry damn it! Although this video is meant to be humorous and not taken too seriously, I know that most men and some women feel as if tears should be left for the ladies. Crying is a natural reaction to something painful and distressing, so why should males suppress such a reaction? People’s feelings, whether male or female, should not be invalidated, by calling them “weak” or through teasing. And frankly, using crying as a way to get out of things should be left to toddlers and young children, not grown adults. So come on people, let’s accept the fact that crying is human, and not gender specific.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Something Positive

The following video is awesome. It’s a Sesame Street clip of an African-American puppet singing about how much she loves her hair. For the most part black girls receive negative messages about their natural hair. They learn pretty quickly that longer, straighter hair is superior to shorter, kinkier hair. It’s important to reinforce to young black girls as early as possible the beautiful and positive attributes of their hair, regardless of length and texture. Kudos to Sesame Street for embracing diversity and explicitly addressing a self-esteem issue that affects black girls.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Late Night Talk Shows

Data was gathered over a six week period that looked at the demographic of guests on late night talk shows. The shows examined are: The Tonight Show, The Late Show, The Late Late Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night, The Daily Show, Chelsea Lately, and Lopez Tonight. The resulting numbers from each demographic featured on late-night TV were then compared to the 2008 census information.

The data would imply that women aren’t incapable of being funny. As all of the Late Night Talk Shows are comedic, the absence of women as guests (and hosts, might I add) would indicate TV Networks believe women can’t make a funny. Women dominate daytime talk shows, and with Ellen leading the daytime primetime with a comedic show, what is implied? That women are only funny before the 5:00 news? Women are funny only to other women?

No show was on par with the 2008 census information, or even came close. Some shows receive failing grades: The Late Late Show, Lopez Tonight, and the most surprising: The Daily Show. The Daily Show was under fire earlier in the year when Jezebel.com wrote an open letter to the show, accusing the show of institutionalized sexism and not having many female writers. The female workers of The Daily Show responded.

The only race that was above 2008 Census information was white people. Surprise! White people –as both hosts and guests—are overrepresented! George Lopez’s show is the only show to have fewer white guests than the census data expectation. Chelsea Handler and Lopez Tonight get passing grades for having more black guests than the census prediction. All other races on all other shows were under the expectation of the census.

However, the data is not perfect, as the data only reflects a six week period. It’s especially flawed in regards to shows that only have one guest a night, such as The Daily Show. The data might be slightly different if it was gathered during a different six week period. This graph is only meant to give people an idea of representation in late night tv.

It gives me pause that shows are still favoring white men, over any other demographic. This is just one more example of subtle, institutionalized sexism and racism that is generally accepted, especially by the untrained eye. I would be interested to see if any data comes out about a larger period, as more data would reflect more accurately. It might also be interesting to see similar types of data from 10 years ago, to see if there has been any substantial progress made. That might give me hope to think of what data might look like in the next 10 years, as far as representation in the media.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Healthy Media for Youth Act

Popular culture has infiltrated the lives of many, but it has most definitely made an influence on society’s youth. With pressure from the media to look and act a certain way, it is no wonder that so many young girls are now concerned with their weight, dieting, and have a negative self image. It is for those reasons that the Healthy Media for Youth Act, if passed, would help in changing the negative effects that mainstream media has placed upon our youth. This act would provide money for educational programs about media literacy, youth empowerment, and even fund research on how female images in the media affect girls and women alike.

According to Change.org, those who are against this act accuse it of being controlling, complain of too much censorship, and even compare it to the Soviet Union. Although I can see where people are coming from in regards to the government controlling what is being fed to us, to me, it doesn’t really make a difference, since there will always be someone who is controlling what we watch, or what is being released to the public. At least with this act, the girls who watch TV, movies, or read magazines, will have less of a complex, and understand that what they see is not a standard.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Tragic Loss ...

On October 14th one of our fellow huskies went missing. Her name was Antinette “Toni” Keller, and she was a first year art student.

I didn’t know her personally but her story affected me deeply. I kept picturing what her parents must be going through, what her friends must be feeling.

Tragically her case has been re-classified as a murder investigation.

Students are being advised to travel in groups of three or more. That’s not really practical for me. My step-mother warns me not to go anywhere alone. She encourages me to hang with my male cousin as often as possible. I’ve heard people say, “Why did Toni go to the park alone?”

I say, why shouldn’t a woman be able to go to the park alone? One student commented that he wouldn’t let any of his female friends go anywhere alone because of Toni’s disappearance. It’s not fair to women! Why is it that we can’t feel safe in public spaces? Why should we require an escort?

Violence happens to men also. If Toni were a man, would people say, “Why did he go to the park alone?” I don’t think so. No one would blame a man for taking a walk in the park.