sohotrightnow: the top of a swimming young woman's torso. ([etc] morally illiterate)
This is all pretty old news to the HAES folks on my flist, I think, but I've seen a couple of posts/comments pop up that have really infuriated me, and I just need to let off some steam.

Here is the thing. Saying things like "oh, I just want to give that poor girl a sandwich" of ultra-skinny models is really fucking offensive to me on a lot of levels. Here are the big ones:
  1. Some people are naturally skinny. Do I think all, or even most, models just happen to look like that, and that they all look completely healthy and natural? No (and in fact, I think that generally you can tell when someone is just naturally skinny and when they've crossed into "getting that skinny in ways that are damaging to their health"). But...
  2. ...that kind of phrasing is really fucking offensive because it is incredibly condescending. A lot of the women you're cooing over like they're particularly unintelligent two-year-olds are legal adults who are competent to make their own decisions. Yes, there's a lot of exploitation going on in the fashion industry (and I'm not touching on child exploitation for the moment, because that's not really what I want to focus on), but by infantilizing these women further, guess what, you're just doing the same damn thing. How about you respect them as adults and if you want to complain about something, you discuss the system that's exploiting them instead of treating them like wayward children who need Real Women to save them?
Like, okay, I'll admit that I take this kind of personally: I am slender. Cut for a bit of weight/size talk and references to my ED experiences, which might be triggery for some. ) That's just how my body is shaped. Hence why the "real women have curves" meme is really fucking offensive to me, as well, I admit, because guess what, all it does is the same damn thing: it assigns a specific standard of beauty that everyone has to conform to in order to be X (where X can be "beautiful", "a real woman", or just about anything). The implication being that because I'm not particularly curvy, I'm not a "real woman", and, you know, fuck you. I really love that the folks over at Shapely Prose will bring the hammer down on people for skinny-bashing as quickly as they will for fat-bashing.*

And, okay, maybe this comes off as "wah wah poor ~oppressed~ skinny girl, ml;sh" but it's not so much about size in particular, because I see this come up in a lot of discussion of photoshoots and movies on things like costumes and a lot of things besides the weight of the models/actresses in question. What this is really about, I guess, is the fact that nothing gets my hackles up faster than condescension. Like, guess what, that model in that awful exploitative costume is a grown-ass woman who is competent to make her own decisions!

Edit: Better example as a response to [livejournal.com profile] rhipowered here:
Another example would be the cooing of "oh, I just want to wrap her up in a towel" as a response to women in bikinis/greased-up and mostly-naked in men's magazines. Guess what, that lady's arms are not broken, she is perfectly capable of getting herself a towel. If you want to talk about exploitation and the male gaze, we can do that, but how about we do that without further robbing these women of agency?
(It can also start to get a victim-blaming feel to it, sometimes, but that is another issue and one that probably needs another post because I keep editing this as I think of more already. /o\)

IDK. It just feels like another form of that particularly nasty, condescending manner that certain stripes of feminism can get. Which is not news to a lot of my flist, who have dealt with being women of color and/or women of anything less than upper-middle-class in the feminist movement, and/or who have examined the failings of the feminist movement wrt race and class, but, again, I needed to rant. :\

* "But there are a whole lot of fat (or even just not skinny) women out there who don’t yet have the self-esteem to say, “lots of different body types, including mine, are just fine” — many feel the need to put down skinny people the way they’ve been put down for being fat their whole lives. And I fucking hate that, even if I understand it and empathize with it, so I kinda just didn’t want to open the door to that whole conversation on my blog." (source)

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