Tuesday, March 24, 2015

sex symbols

A few Sunday’s ago a few gal pals and I went to brunch at a local diner called Good Morning Mama’s. At brunch it was brought to my attention that a friend of mine had never been to the Art’s District here in Indianapolis so off we went. Parking was free so we parked and since it was the Sunday before Saint Patrick’s Day we proceeded to drink our way bar to bar along Mass Ave. We even walked all the way to the WholeSale District to try a coffeehouse.

But this post however is not about the beauty of friendships with women. That is a different post that someone should write for me because I have spoken to many female friends state how easier it is to befriend women as women and not as teenagers. But as I stated this is not that post; oh no! This post is about how pop culture shows women how they are merely used to sex something up. We have no other use or function.

Now I know you are thinking, “How the hell does the barhopping with a gal pal have to do to sexualized images of women?” Well, one hold on because i’m totally getting there...Jesus! You’re so pushy. Two, here it is: While barhopping my pal and I stopped to drink at a place called Bakersfield. It was in Bakersfield when I headed to use the bathroom I saw it. A chalkboard drawing of a headless women with breasts so huge they couldn’t fit into a bikini top with hands on hips. It bothered me. I went to the restroom and walked back to my spot at the bar and asked my friend if she saw it. She said yeah and she couldn’t believe it. Upon my second trip to the restroom* I decided I couldn’t just do nothing. The words of Edmund Burke coursed through my blood
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
So I picked up the chalk and wrote this over the drawing of the headless woman
SHOW RESPECT. WOMEN ARE MORE THAN THIS.
A few women stopped to watch me but no one said anything to me. The bar was packed so I am not sure if anyone wanted me to leave or not. Not sure if anyone noticed really. My pal and I then closed out and left so I have no clue if any man going toward the mens restroom wrote anything. Or any women for that matter.

Now fast forward to this past Sunday when my husband and I went to the cinema, which for us was a huge deal because that is a firm foundation of our relationship. We had not be able to attend since Christmas so this was a huge deal for us since we used to attend weekly. Upon acquiring out tickets and finding seats we prepared for the huge thrill of the cinema for me: the trailers. I have been know to attend a later showing if I miss the trailers. I was horrified. There women were...barley in any film and when a woman was shown it was merely her ass in a shot of her swimming, or removing clothing. No stories of women or women shown as equals; oh no! It was the headless chalk drawing all over again. I was repulsed and my husband held my hand, because naturally he understands...after nine years with me how could he not understand really. He tells me constantly how being with me has made him see racial issues and women rights issues completely differently or what he really means is “I never knew it was this bad for black people and women in America!” He grew up understanding poverty and how it effects everyone, but again different post.

Then at the conclusion of our films climax** our hero is rushing to save the world and finds a missing Scandinavian Princess and she screams asking to be released. She then offers anal sex if he will release her from he Posh cell. The hero swears to return and the almost last scene is the Princess’ ass and viagina which repulsed me. As a woman I am supposed to sit in the film which is clearly meant for guys and deal with it. I am supposed to accept that instead of all the gentlemen talk throughout the entire film it ends with anal sex and a nude woman. A women who feels she has to barter to be released from a prison cell after being kidnapped.

Also why is it a huge deal in Sex and the City film we see Dante’s dick for mere flitting seconds and yet I am constantly bombarded with images of sex, women’s bodies, and women enacting sex and I am supposed to sit down shut up and take it. Hell if I demand to see more than a man’s chest. I want him nude just as nude as the women are. Either we are all sexualized images, which are so naturalized in American Culture it often goes over peoples heads, and is seen to simply being normal.

I scream no more. I want more than chalk to demand respect over these images. I do not want to be told I am not the audience the film is for because all films do it in someway. Very few stories are for women or even consider a female audience member. Everything is becoming so hyper masculine that everyone is suffering. Nothing about our culture today is okay; Nothing!

Now I am by no way shaming anyones preferred sexual positions and whatever. You do you homie. But that was completely misplaced for that film so it bothered me even more because it was completely unnecessary. Also the women in the trailer already had me on edge when one considers the fraternities who took photos of nude women without their consent and everything else that is happening to women in todays culture and here we are...sexualized objects and nothing more. It makes Kerry Washington’s speech at the GLAAD awards so important
In the real world, being an "other" is the norm." In the real world, the only norm is uniqueness, and our media must reflect that.
Our “media”, our “Pop Culture”,  must reflect us. Not all black men fighting during World War II were cooks. Not all female stories are overly emotional and only for fellow female audiences. I want to live in a world where black and female stories are told as something other than sex and poverty.

One of my life-long hero is Geena Davis and she once said something that has since stuck with me and had a massive effect on how I view media

*We drank there for like two hours.
** We saw The Kingsmen by the way.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Patricia Arquette Problem

It all starts with an actress winning an award on a stage televised to millions. Just a simple golden statue measuring 13½ inches tall and weighs in at a robust 8½ pounds. What is said on stage causes the actress Meryl Streep and actress/singer/dancer Jennifer Lopez to jump from their seats cheering. What happens backstage however, causes an outrage of millions.

Patricia Arquette’s Oscar Speech on stage:
"Okay, Jesus. Thank you to the Academy, to my beautiful, powerful nominees. To IFC, Jonathan Sehring, John Sloss, Cathleen Sutherland, Molly Madden, David DeCamillo, our whole cast and our crew. My Boyhood family, who I love and admire. Our brilliant director Richard Linklater. The impeccable Ethan Hawke. My lovelies, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater. Thomas and Paul, thank you for giving me my beautiful children. Enzo and Harlow, you’re the deepest people that I know. 
My friends who all work so hard to make this world a better place. To my parents, Rosanna, Richmond, Alexis and David. To my favorite painter in the world, Eric White, for the inspiration of living with a genius. To my heroes, volunteers and experts who have helped me bring ecological sanitation to the developing world with GiveLove.org. 
To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
Patricia Arquette’s backstage Oscar comment:
"So the truth is, even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are applied that really do affect women. And it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”
Patricia went from brilliant trailblazer to old white second wave feminist stereotype very quickly but that is why Dr Roxane Gay said in Bad Feminist to not place people on pedestals. For no quicker did we stand up on her shoulders and praise her then we began to distance ourselves from her and shame her. Gloria Steinem, the brilliant feminist icon from the second wave of feminism who founded Ms. Magazine said,
“A pedestal is as much prison as any small, confined space."
However the line “...all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.” That is the hurdle I cannot condone no matter how much I want to make excuses for her, because it sounds as if she means White Feminist and not Feminist or Women’s Rights in general. I am sure she meant, ‘just as Jane Fonda marched for Civil Rights and for all who are heterosexual and spoke for gay rights we now need everyone to speak up for women no matter whether they are a woman or not.’ See in America white people did not need to stand up and march or go on freedom rides but many did. Straight people could ignore the inequality that effects gay citizens but many of us shout out about how wrong it is.

Naturally as feminist we want some of that love reflected back in our fight so it is not just a white middle class second wave feminist fight. However, she is forgetting that women like myself have to fight a fight of racism and sexism. Neither of my fights are over. They are on going. I think she meant well and if she could speak again she would realize anti-racist feminism from the third wave of feminism.

I sure she also meant that more women of color need to identify as feminist and speak out on feminism. As I comment here in America we [black community] generally do not self identify as feminist, though we are basically a matrilineal community due to slavery. Also I think she [Patricia] desperately wants people of all groupings to unite for equality for women and not their own groups fight. It's a complex system we wade through here in America daily but we are naturalized to it. We have to wake up and fight the good fight, which means, for me, racism and sexism. And, to be honest, it should be your fight too.

This all caused me to remember the great quote by the legend June Jordan:
“I am a feminist, and what that means to me is much the same as the meaning of the fact that I am Black: it means that I must undertake to love myself and to respect myself as though my very life depends upon self-love and self-respect.” 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The F-Word

What is sad yet hilarious to me is that women would view feminism and, as a side effect themselves, in such limited terms as to think there is only one kind. The F-Word is as diverse as we are and yet we [women] constantly try to force ourselves to conform to this monolithic idea of what feminism is and if we do not or cannot fit that polarizing image of what a feminist is then we are not a feminist. No dear, that is wrong and a false way of thinking. You are in fact a feminist. We just have to figure out what kind of feminist you are. Here come all the beautiful ‘ism’s’!

Liberalism Feminism

        A form of feminism that fights for women’s equality to men under the law and social policy.

Radical Feminism

        A form of feminism that focuses on liberation from current patriarchal structures (such as marriage) to free women from bondage.

Cultural Feminism

        A form of feminism which suggests that women and men have different needs and thus must have separate cultural, including religious, spaces.

Socialist Feminism

        A form of feminism that emphasizes the connections between class and gender divisions.

Anti-Racist Feminism

        A branch of feminism that highlights and theorizes about the intersectionality of different types of oppression such as (but not limited to) racialization, gender, and class. Further, it takes issue with the gender blindness of traditional anti-racist work. 

Transnational Feminism

        A form of feminism that acknowledges the differing experiences and needs of women in the various cultural and geographical contexts of the world. Transnational feminist focus on global support and interaction while emphasizing local needs and voices.


DIY Feminism

        Is an umbrella term fusing together different types of feminism. Drawing on genealogies of punk cultures, grassroots movements, and the technologies of late capitalism, this movement meshes lifestyle politics with counter-cultural networking. It takes as its focus everyday acts of resistance and power.     

Post Feminism Feminism

        Is a reaction against some perceived contradictions and absences of second-wave feminism. The term post-feminism is ill-defined and is used in inconsistent ways. It was historically used to pose a contrast with a prevailing or preceding feminism.


And there you have it...oh but once again you were about to limit yourself! Please stop with that! Seriously! STOP! This is by no means an exhaustive listing. These are but a few types of feminism placed here and defined to wake you up. To show you that Feminism is not a dirty word. It is positive and it is as diverse as we are. You may find that you are a Transnational-Anti-Racist-Socialist Feminist and you know what? That’s awesome! You may find a piece of yourself in each type of f-word you discover. You may find that you are fine working within the established system and are a Liberalism Feminist through and through. Awesome!

The point of this post was to awaken you and myself to the box we place every piece of ourselves into. You do not have to place yourself into such tight confines unless you want to. I am the type of person who doesn’t need everything about me in a box but I like them to be labeled. If that makes sense? I enjoy being labeled Catholic. I enjoy being labeled American. I enjoy being labeled a Woman. I enjoy being labeled Sister/Aunt/Friend. I enjoy discovering where I stand on key and not key issues/ideologies/political theories. I enjoy labels for myself but I by no means force myself into small boxes. Some of my labels contradict one another and thats fine. I am perfectly comfortable with making up labels for myself that the world does not acknowledge such as Catholic-Communist-Militant-Transnational-Anti-Racist-Socialist Feminist (and more) to explain myself to the world. And that’s awesome!

Now to hear from you! Did you know there are so many types of feminism? Which do you think you fall into? Do you fall into any of them? Is there a type not mentioned that we all need to know about? Do you find yourself over labeled or too boxed in? 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Music Monday

Purity Ring are a Canadian electronic music duo originally from Edmonton, formed in 2010. The band consists of Megan James (vocals) and Corin Roddick (instrumentals). (via Wikipedia)

I first found Purity Ring via the blog Trop Rouge who was playing their song Obedear and I loved it. So please enjoy! And yes I am aware that this band features a man but like a little under half of the worlds population men are present and as long as they are not misogynistic pigs they are completely welcome here. 


Hey! Know any talented female artist you think we all should have on our radar? Drop her name in the comments and we'll feature her! 

Friday, March 13, 2015

feminist literature

Whether you think it was Lean-In or BossyPants one must admit to the beauty that is the neo fem-lit movement right now. I mean why doesn’t ever bookstore simply start a shelf because by the looks of Instagram we are all reading the same books! Be them memoirs, essays or humor women are writing and reading books about the lives of women. Scare us, make us laugh, cause us to think and/or feel. We can’t get enough!

I have read Lean In, BossyPants, Bad Feminist, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, Man Repeller,  and Brain on Fire. I am currently reading Full Frontal Feminism. Then I will conquer my ever growing stack of Feminist works: GirlBoss, Seriously...I’m Kidding, Not That Kind Of Girl, The End of Men, and Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History. I’m all Women’s Studies and Social Sciences over here, but why shouldn’t I be?

Sure reading those young adult dystopian sagas are fun and quick and open us to discussions; but it isn’t enough. And I am not the only one who seems to agree. I mean look at all the reading being done and money being spent to obtain and devour these Feminist writings. I hope these books are being read and are not simply being props to photos of Instagram. That would be the ultimate travesty because these books are as brilliant as the women who have written them.

But none of me listening my current reading situation is discussing or even attempting to answer the question of what is happening right now in feminism? Seriously WHAT THE FUCK is happening? Is it social peer pressure of wanting to be included on social networking sites? Do you feel that if Man Repeller is reading something so should you? Is it [social networking] simply a tool in spreading books to the masses who may not obsess over Oprah or the New York Times Book Review/Best-Sellers Listing? What is going on here? How are all these books all being published at the same time? Are we now in a fourth wave of feminism? Are we Millennials doing something different but extremely right?

Sure we Millennials are all very educated college graduates who cannot find jobs thus take crappy part-time jobs which gives us plenty of time to read and become urban explores on Instagram. Sure this is a huge over generalization but there is plenty of truth to it. Sure our grandmothers  had the Feminine Mystique and The Second Sex but our mothers had anti-Vietnam protest and bra burnings. The women of the 1980s-1990s America were dominating in business* but what are we?

This reading generation of women who grew up with Emma Watson and who obsess over anything and everything MK and Ash. I guess it is far to say that we are watching videos and dominating social media [social networking, youtube, blogs, etc...] with information but is still small. We need to do so much more and more in real life. You posting that Huffington Post Women’s article is fantastic, but how do you carry it into the coffeehouse or job or instameet? How are going out into the world as well read and educated women to change its misogynistic ways?

I have no answers! I really don’t so do not think this post or blog is magical and can fix the world or even your mind. I think of questions constantly. I have a friend who once was my Fine Arts teacher sophomore year of high school and Heather wrote in my senior book that she loves that I question everything. I question authority. I question myself. I question the world. I question constantly. That may be why I love to read, write, and obsess over film. It is all a method or attempt at answering a question or a set of questions. When we try to understand the world we are filled with questions and that is a very good thing. We should never observe the status quo. We should never allow the world to pressure us into becoming the polarizing figures they deem suitable.

That being said there is something going on. My copy of Full Frontal Feminism is a second edition and the introduction is very fascinating. Jessica Valenti states how far women have come in the last five years and by “how far” she is talking about these books we are reading and discussing over social media. She is talking about all the Emma Watson’s of this new age standing up and proclaiming ourselves feminist. She is talking about us choosing to have amazing sex with our partners and simultaneously picking up the torch and running full speed ahead. Of us taking back the ‘f-word’ and loving it.

All of this being said I would love to hear from you...yes you reading this. What books by women authors have you been reading or Instagramming or seen on your social networks?

Sidenote: Here on le blog we will feature a book review a month on First Friday. I’m calling it Fem-Lit Friday. Call me lame but I think that sounds so cool! These book reviews for the most part will be written by other women and not myself. I think that will be so much fun. If you would like to share a book review you have written please email me at tsswedish@me.com.

*At least in comparison to early women work place ratios. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Gender Trouble

“Gender ought not to be constructed as a stable identity or locus of agency from which various acts follow; rather, gender is an identity tenuously constituted in time, instituted in an exterior space though a stylized repetition of acts. The effect of gender is produced through the stylized of the body and, hence, must be understood as the mundane way in which bodily gestures, movements, and styles of various kinds of constitute the illusion of an abiding gendered self.” Gender Trouble by Judith Butler*
Performing ones gender is actually very interesting and is something every single person on this planet male and female does. Believer it or not there is no such thing as feminine or masculine so you can stop teaching your sons to act like men and not cry when they fall off their bicycles and stop calling your daughters princess and pushing pink on them.

Dr. Judith Butler argues that not only is gender constructed, but it is constructed through the very anticipation of gender. This anticipation is related to compulsory heterosexuality which is the expectation that everyone is naturally heterosexual or that everyone must live a heterosexual life.** This is interesting because no one today would say when they think of sex they think of reproduction. They think of pleasure. The thought of reproduction forces us into two groups: Male and Female. If we are only concerned with pleasure then the local characteristics of masculine and feminine do not matter. Butler states that we performing our gender repetitively and we become naturalized to it. This causes us to perform our sex as well.***

In The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvior states, “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” This is social constructionism at its base level. This “becoming” is tied to the way men see themselves as human selves and see women as “Other”. The expectations of how this “Other” is, in contradiction to how men should be, become socialized realities for female humans; as they adopt these socialized expectation, they become women.****

Now this may sound insane but when we look at drag...and I mean seriously consider drag. For anyone out there reading this that is unfamiliar with drag it is an act when males dress up as women or when women dress up as men and act out those gender roles. Now this is different from what many comedians do because they are simply out of a laugh and seem to think keeping the body hair and etc help remind us that they are in fact a dude in a dress. Drag is serious and the those who perform it are performing the gender. When we look at it from that point of view we can analyze exactly how we perform our genders daily: from prep (hair removal, etc.) to clothing choices, to how we walk. It is all there and all there naturally and yet on purpose. If in that dress and high heels the man does not walk a certain way then he is not performing that gender accurately. This may turn his performance into a joke or cause some to be offended, as if their gender is being made fun of.

We are so naturalized to our performance that I do not even think of swaying my hips when I walk because that is how I was taught to walk. I clearly remember being four or five walking around in my eldest sisters high heels and her and my mother teaching me how to walk in them because I refused to take them off. They taught me how to walk the walk if you will. I still walk this way. I do not think twice about applying makeup before I leave the house. In my family that is simply what women do...so it is what I do. Now I also am drawn to mens clothing and have a semi-androgynous style to me but against my better mind I still perform my gender without thought.

This is an interesting slop to slide because it rings true also for men and many men and women cannot handle the roles society thinks they should still be filling. Most people are not feminine or masculine. We are our own unique mixup or thoughts and preferences and the denying those to strive an external pressure of conformity is dangerous. Telling a little boy men do not cry is dangerous. Telling a girl women should never be smarter than a man and if she is to lie about it is dangerous. To suggest as a woman I have to wear skintight dresses and high heels when I want to wear denim and a flannel is dangerous...for you not for me. I’m going to dress as I damn well please, but you may receive a black eye.

We polarize men so harshly and when they crack we shame them for behaving weirdly or for not be strong enough. We call women lesbians because they prefer mens clothing or haircuts. We are pushing the polarization past the 1950s American elitist threshold and soon we will pay the consequences. One cannot view men showing what is otherwise considered human emotions and call them gay but when a woman does it is normal or she is overly emotional. This is a dangerous game we play daily without consent because it is normal to us. We might even fight to continue to engage in this horrible system of oppression and control. Instead of dealing in an outdated world on an outdated system because seriously we update iTunes more than our archaic attitudes on sexuality in America we need to begin a process of accepting people as people.



*Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay pg. 70.
**Religion and Pop Culture pg. 78.
***Religion and Pop Culture pg. 80.
****Religion and Pop Culture pg. 96.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Music Monday

"Tori Amos (born Myra Ellen Amos; August 22, 1963) is an American singer-songwriter, pianist and composer. She is a classically-trained musician and has a mezzo-soprano vocal range. She has been nominated eight times for a Grammy Award.

Having already begun composing instrumental pieces on piano, Amos won a full scholarship to the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, the youngest person ever to have been admitted, at age five. She was expelled at age eleven for, in her own words, insisting on playing by ear and because of her interest in popular rock music. Amos originally served as the lead singer of short-lived 1980s pop group Y Kant Tori Read before achieving her breakthrough as a solo artist at the forefront of a number of female singer-songwriters in the early 1990s. She has since become one of the world’s most prominent female singer-songwriters whose songs have discussed a broad range of topics from sexuality, feminism, politics and religion. She was also noteworthy early in her solo career as one of the few alternative rock performers to use a piano as her primary instrument. Some of her charting singles include "Crucify", "Silent All These Years", "God", "Cornflake Girl", "Caught a Lite Sneeze", "Professional Widow", "Spark", "1000 Oceans", "Flavor", and "A Sorta Fairytale", her most commercially successful single in the U.S. to date. Amos has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide. She has been nominated for and won several awards in different genres, ranging from MTV VMAs to classical music with an Echo award in 2012.” (via Wikipedia)

Just as a random: I love Tori’s song “Winter”! It is fabulous and really speaks to me for reasons I don’t even want to think of. Enjoy the playlist! It should keep y’all busy for a few hours...I mean it features 249(ish) songs.


Hey! Know any talented female artist you think we all should have on our radar? Drop her name in the comments and we'll feature her!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Fem-Lit Fridays

{This is a new feature. Book reviews of books written by women, which will featured on the First Friday monthly. Some will be fiction...other non. Enjoy! Also if you know of a book written by a female  author you love please drop me a message in the comments. I would love to have various book reviews once a month written by different women on books they enjoy.}

A Review of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan 
written by Nicole Mathew 

On a rainy summer Saturday afternoon, I was cruising the shelves at our local bookstore and stumbled upon Susannah Cahalan’s memoir, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. I admit I was drawn to it by the haunting image of the author and the book’s title on the front cover, but once I read the summary on the back, I was sold. I took it home and I couldn’t put it down.
Cahalan is a young, twenty-something woman with a bright career ahead of her as a journalist with one of New York’s most famous publications. She has a wonderful boyfriend, with whom she recently entered a serious relationship. She’s healthy and ready to take on the world. Life is great. Not much later, she wakes up in a hospital unsure why she is strapped down with wires hooked to her body that are traced back to monitors and machines.
While the precise point of when her illness began is hard to pin down, she realized in the time leading up to her diagnosis some of her symptoms: migraines, light/color sensitivity, difficulty controlling emotion, seizures, numbness in her left hand, hallucinations, and intense paranoia.
With her paranoia, it started with a bug bite that prompted her to fumigate her apartment to rid it of the bed bugs she thought she saw. She suddenly had the urge to read through her boyfriend’s emails – something she never would normally do. She started to feel like she was slipping into a deep darkness.
Doctors continually asked her how much she drank or smoked, if she was taking drugs and partying, as her symptoms raised suspicions toward that direction. Conversations with friends and family turned into her hearing things they weren’t really saying. Cahalan knew there was something else wrong – this couldn’t be the cause of her decent into madness.
After her stay in the hospital, visiting with various doctors/medical professionals, and receiving multiple scans and tests, she finally found a neurologist (who was also an epileptologist/neuropathologist) who helped her get closer to finding the cause of her breakdown. After conducting a simple pencil and paper test on Cahalan, which lead him to the diagnosis.
“Her brain is on fire…
her brain is under attack
by her own body.”
In her attempt to recollect the events leading up to her diagnosis, Cahalan uses her exceptional journalistic skill to carefully craft her story while she puts the puzzle back together. She was lucky to have hospital records, interviews, notes from journals she and her family members kept during the time she was in the dark, videos from when she was in the hospital, and wonderful doctors who were dedicated to finding the cause of ailment.
Calahan’s memoir provides readers a brave account of how a very rare illness took part of her life away and left her scrambling to put the pieces back together, without any recollection of how it started or how she ended up in the hospital with an illness with the cause basically unknown. Her boyfriend and parents never gave up hope that she would find herself again, and fought hard to make sure she had the best treatment possible.

Though heavy with medical jargon, this book is very informative; Cahalan shares her experience in the hopes of regaining her memory and helping others who find themselves in a similar situation. Don’t let the terminology discourage you from reading her story; she has the unique advantage of explaining these terms to her audience as she learned them, making it easy to comprehend. She’s become an advocate for the sufferers of this illness, prompting people suffering to ask more questions and explore all possible causes and solutions in trying to get their lives (and memories) back.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Beauty Standards

Beauty, like most American’s my views on exactly what this word means varies, likewise, so does how I recognize it over time. You guys know the story of how media and hundreds of years programming our views on beauty emerges with this single version of a curvy or stick thin white woman. We look to Marilyn Monroe, Halle Berry and Jennifer Lopez and are told they are perfect, we are ugly and we need to look as close to them as possible. 

How sad is that? Well, as a black woman in America, it is pretty damn sad. I cannot look like Sienna Miller. Genetically I just cannot. I also cannot find peace within my own ethnic community because we do not all have the perfect blend of white and black features such as Halle Berry, Beyonce and Tyra Banks. Some of us (and all women in-general) have their own unique look and I don’t think that is a bad thing per se. 

I bring up questioning exactly what beauty is because growing up for years and years I became rather obsessed with Alek (the African model) for various reasons. See, here in America, when I was young, most female images I saw were darker then me, yet degrees lighter then Alek. She was one of the darkest faces I had see in the media, and she was everywhere! I would look at her and ask myself “Is she pretty? I don’t think so.”

That attitude changed with the years of seeing her face. I began to fall in love with her smooth skin, the illumination of her smile and her head shape accentuated by her closely chopped hair. I began to reevaluate what I thought beauty was. I began to question the entire system and media culture. Alek does not have a “black girl body” per se. Not as American culture tells us to identify one*. Alek, for me in my formidable years, was a game changer. Just by being famous she taught me so much.

Now I am not saying I do not find Jessica White beautiful. Actually, I find her very lovely, however, I no longer look at women for what American culture and the world tells me to focus on. I look at the type of women they are instead of the price tag on their flesh and false promises of beauty. 

False promise of beauty? Like what? Well, I don’t care how long your hair is. I care if it is healthy. I do not care how white your teeth are. Are your teeth healthy? Your body, is it naturally thin like that or do you obsess over your eating and workouts or are you just plain anorexic?  There are very clear messages being sent there. That who you really are do not matter. Only the external. Only the easiest means for us to judge each other without having to scarify our own obsession with ourselves. 

This American sense of beauty is interesting because nine out of ten American women want to be French. The effortless style of the French woman who is messy with her hair and simplistic with her makeup is the picture of perfection. A model for American women to emulate and more often than not we fail. 

Why exactly? Because we are taught that we need to hide our bodies and faces. We need surgeries to alter our bodies**. We wear so much make up, push up bras, have eating disorders and more while that French woman simply accepts herself and works with what she has. That is something mentioned in ever How to be French” fashion/beauty article states. To work with what we have. Recently my self love has flourished and it is thanks to many ‘plus-sized’ models like Tara Lynn however it is also that French motto sinking into my being. To work with what I have, that means accepting my body for how it is shaped and accept my skin and hair and everything about myself. To love the body that has given me so much and to stop hating her.

*Example on how to spot a black woman: long weave and a big ass
**Which can we talk about how extreme and frightening that is? I heard an ad on the radio yesterday for a local plastic surgeon saying how he could fix women’s problems and etc. I was throughly disgusted with him, our culture and the fact that parts of me thought that sounded like a great idea. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Music Monday

"Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins; January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012) was an American singer. Her style spanned a variety of music genres including blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz and gospel. Starting her career in 1954, she gained fame with hits such as "The Wallflower", "At Last", "Tell Mama", "Something's Got a Hold on Me", and "I'd Rather Go Blind" for which she wrote the lyrics. She faced a number of personal problems, including drug addiction, before making a musical resurgence in the late 1980s with the album Seven Year Itch.

James is regarded as having bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll, and was the winner of six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008. Rolling Stone ranked James number 22 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and number 62 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.” (via Wikipedia)


Hey! Know any talented female artist you think we all should have on our radar? Drop her name in the comments and we'll feature her!
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