Mmm hmmm. You read that right.
And here’s how I know it's true:
See, I’m the author of a book on celebrity culture and how the beauty ideals it helped create impact girls and women. (It's called All Made Up: A Girl's Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty). And on November 20th, I’m speaking at an important forum called Children and Hypersexaulization, which is being hosted by the Canadian Federation of University Women. So I’m updating my presentation (which incidentally is called “Don’t Believe the Hype: The Impact of Celebrity Culture on Girls, Women...and Everybody”).
THIS is the cultural beauty standard that Vogue claims it's out to change. Really? Okay then. GO!In In this month’s Letter from the Editor, Vogue’s Anna Wintour expounds on her magazine’s recent promise to stop using underage (meaning under 16 years old) and ultra thin models. She calls Vogue’s partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America an example of their “renewed efforts to make our ideal of beauty a healthy one,” and everyone’s on board from Tyra Banks to Sarah Ziff, founder of the Model Alliance a not-for-profit group that provides a platform for models in the American fashion industry to organize for better workplace standards
Nearly every girl I spoke to while researching my book expressed a wish to be a model/celebrity in some way. Even the girls who excel in school, sports and activities. *That's* how strong the cultural messages are about the importance and benefits of having the right look.Over the course of my career, I have interned/worked/edited/freelanced at and for teen magazines like Sassy, YM, Jump, Teen People, Seventeen, Elle Girl, Cosmo Girl, Girls Life and others...and I can't tell you how many emails and letters I've seen asking the same question:
"Do you think I could model?"
This may be old news, but a January 3, 2011 copy of Life & Style featuring Heidi's confessions has been sitting on my desk for over a month...and I've got a few related thoughts I need to get off my (non-surgically enhanced chest).
Why is no one talking about Heidi's recantations? As a culture, we couldn't shut up last year about the number of surgeries she elected to have, her cup size, her relationship with her mother, the shade of her bleached blonde hair, her failed pop album, her PR seeking stunts etc etc.
And now she's admitted that we were right. That "surgery made her look worse." That she regrets having gone under the knife. That there have been major repercussions (she can't jog due to the size of her G-cup breasts; she can't wash her face because she's afraid to bump her fragile nose; she has visible dimpling and scars on the back of her legs).
The Spark (Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge) Summit is happening in NYC on October 22nd.
Oh, how I wish I could be there...because so many important thinkers, activists and educators are going to be convening to inspire and create change in our culture.
So please go to the summit if you can...
Right around the time my book All Made Up: A Girl’s Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty was published, a former Elite model named Nicole Clark contacted me about a new DVD documentary she was creating. She told me it was going to explore the impact of today’s beauty standards on teens and young women. She told me she was going to take aim at the media created for young women for offering so little to girls by way of role models and definitions of beauty. She told me it was going to be BIG—and basically, she had me at Hello.
An interesting post appeared a few days ago about Lizzie Miller, the plus-sized model who appeared in Glamour last year with a flabby tummy. Now before you get mad at me for saying it like that, let me say that I loved the picture and hope that all women’s magazines follow suit. But there’s something going on with the way our culture has come to use the word “curvy”…and I mean to get to the bottom of it right here.
What I’m trying to pinpoint is the discrepancy between the use of the word “curvy” and the women held up as curvy personified.
For instance, when a fashion mag runs a feature on how to choose the best jeans for your body, they refer to body types like “boyish,” “inverted triangle” and “curvy—“ with curvy supposedly encompassing rounder, more voluptuous, fleshier bodies. Great. I get it so far. What upsets me then is the “curvy” ideal that illustrates the definition. Because while Beyonce has fuller hips than some, her curves are in all the right (read: acceptable) places. Her stomach is just about as flat as Kate Moss’s ever was, her arms are toned, she’s got great legs etc. In other words, she has no flab. Same goes for J. Lo, Scarlett Johannson and other celebs celebrated for their curvy figures.
But there’s something off, in my opinion, about our culture praising curviness and acting like we’re all about embracing it when it’s really just Kim Kardashian’s butt that’s okay. What about when the curves aren’t perfect? When it’s more than just boobs and hips? What about when there’s (gasp) flab involved? Because while it’s great that our beauty ideal has (literally and figuratively) expanded just a bit—it’s still pretty rigid.
That’s why I like the Lizzie Miller photo, and think it’s way more ground-breaking than even something like plus-sized pioneer Lane Bryant, which promulgates the same limited definition of curvy as most media outlets (just check out the undies page on their website.)
And I like Lizzie’s use of the phrase “realistic-looking body types.” It’s not as copy-ready and neat as “curvy,” but then neither are women’s bodies.
The Huffington Post is running a piece on Padma, her bod and how she feels about the universe now that she has a bebeh.
"I was 25 pounds heavier than people are used to seeing me. There was nothing I could do about it, so I just accepted it. I just thought, I had a baby, that's way more important. Women are beautiful in all shapes and sizes and I wanted to show women that you can dress well, that you can still feel sexy, that you can still feel confident, and it was OK if my boobs were big because I was feeding another human being."
O, where to begin?
So these eight and nine-year-old girls danced their hearts out at a World of Dance contest in Pomona, California earlier this month. And by all accounts, they were great. Amazing even. In fact, the Web is now chock-a-block (note my use of such a kick-ass expression) with professional dancers saying that they can't believe the dexterity and precision demonstrated by these girls.