Sunday, April 8, 2012

ashley judd's face.

it's practically a tale as old as time . . .
beauty vs. the beast.

actress stars in new tv show.
actress promotes new tv show.
actress' appearance seems slightly different ["puffy," according to some].
media presumes actress has had plastic surgery.
media feeding frenzy ensues.

except this time, the actress was ashley judd,
& you don't mess with ashley judd.

judd promptly penned a piece for the daily beast,
condemning the current "conversation" about women's bodies
as "the assault on our body image,
the hypersexualization of girls & women
& subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades,
& the general incessant objectification"

i.e., misogynisitc bullshit.

the whole essay is well worth reading, & you should.
but what really hit home for me was the portion in which,
as writer lindy west says,
"ashley judd just dunked on us so hard."

my dunking/aha! moment:

"that women are joining in the ongoing
disassembling of my appearance is salient.
patriarchy is not men. patriarchy is a system
in which both women & men participate.

it privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys & men
over the bodily integrity, autonomy, & dignity of girls and women.

it is subtle, insidious, & never more dangerous
than when women passionately deny that
they themselves are engaging in it.

this abnormal obsession with women’s faces & bodies
has become so normal that we
(i include myself at times — i absolutely fall for it still)
have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly.
we are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers,
or as abusing other girls & women.

a case in point is that this conversation was
initially promulgated largely by women
a sad & disturbing fact."

sad & disturbing, indeed.
& oh, so common.

in fact, if i'm truly honest, then i must confess
one of my first knee-jerk [emphasis on the jerk part] reactions to
the buzz about ms. judd's altered appearance was
something along the lines of a resigned "like mother, like daughter."
[ashley's mom, country singer naomi judd, has copped to a facelift or two.]

but like's lindy west,
i hope along with growing older, i'm also growing wiser,
deeper & much more accepting.
i hope i'm growing into a better feminist:

"i'm certainly not innocent of celebrity body-snarking ... .
but i find that the older i get the more consciously i avoid it,
& the more i reject the notion that when you profit from being a public figure
you become public property.

we've locked celebrities [female celebrities in particular]
into this impossible position —
they lose five pounds & they're anorexic;
they gain that weight back & they might as well
call maury povich to airlift them out of their trailer.
so what the fuck are they supposed to do?

there's a line between reasonable attention & unreasonable scrutiny,
&, for my part, i'd rather sacrifice a few good jokes
about the flavor-of-the-week's gaping coke nostril
than contribute any more to the commodification & dehumanization of women.

my feminism doesn't end where your celebrity begins."

dear ashley judd,
you are a beautiful woman.
a woman with a beautiful face & body, yes.
but much more importantly, a woman
with a beautifully brilliant mind.
a beautifully brave spirit.
& a beautifully open heart
[click here for more on her humanitarian work,
which includes extensive global efforts
to fight aids & poverty, & — not surprisingly —
to advocate for women's rights].

not to mention your beautifully eloquent &
hopefully moving [as in moving on, moving forward] words for all of us:

"who makes the fantastic leap from being sick,
or gaining some weight over the winter,
to a conclusion of plastic surgery?
our culture, that’s who.
the insanity has to stop, because as focused on me
as it appears to have been, it is about all girls & women.

in fact, it’s about boys & men, too,
who are equally objectified and ridiculed, according to
heteronormative definitions of masculinity that deny
the full & dynamic range of their personhood.

it affects each & every one of us,
in multiple & nefarious ways:
our self-image, how we show up in our relationships & at work,
our sense of our worth, value, & potential as human beings.

join in — and help change — the conversation."

doing my best, ms. judd. & still promising to do better.

yours, mine & ours,

image source: unknown.

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