Celebrity and Focusing on Women’s Appearance rather than Achievement

“Is fat really the worst thing a human being can be? Is fat worse than vindictive, jealous, shallow, vain, boring, evil or cruel? Not to me.” J.K. Rowling (Author, Philanthropist, President of Gingerbread)

There can be no denying that celebrities heavily influence our culture. They often define for us, especially younger people, what is in fashion, what are important political and social causes, and even what appropriate interactions with others are. In recent years with the development of Twitter and Instagram, non-celebrities can interact with celebrities, and often female celebrities are harassed for their appearance. While there is some expected loss of privacy that goes along with celebrity, negative criticism of appearance seems to be especially prevalent with female celebrities, which, in turn, influences the broader culture’s treatment toward women’s bodies.

This morning while putting on my makeup and listening to the Today Show (one of my guilty pleasures, although I have been known to shout at Matt Lauer for asking yet another successful female how she balances work and home life and at Hoda Kotb for defending catcallers), they presented a story how P!nk responded to body shaming on Twitter after she appeared at an award ceremony for Dr. Maggie DiNome, Chief of General Surgery at Saint John’s Hospital. Instead of lauding Dr. DiNome for her contributions to stopping cancer, or acknowledging P!nk’s support of her, people instead commented that on her weight, even calling her fat. P!nk’s response was awesome:

“I can see that some of you are concerned about me from your comments about my weight. You’re referring to the pictures of me from last night’s cancer benefit that I attended to support my dear friend Dr. Maggie DiNome. She was given the Duke Award for her tireless efforts and stellar contributions to the eradication of cancer. But unfortunately, my weight seems much more important to some of you. While I admit that that dress didn’t photograph as well as it did in my kitchen, I will also admit that I felt very pretty. In fact, I feel beautiful. So, my good and concerned peoples, please don’t worry about me. I’m not worried about me. And I’m not worried about you either:)… I am perfectly fine, perfectly happy, and my healthy, voluptuous and crazy strong body is having some much deserved time off. Thanks for your concern. Love, cheesecake.” P!nk (Singer, Songwriter, Actor, PETA spokesperson, Philanthropist for multiple charities)

If P!nk, who is known for her incredibly athletic and acrobatic feats during her concerts, can be degraded as fat, than anyone one can. The ideal is to be very thin, but not too thin, since Giuliana Rancic recently felt that she had to reveal her health issue to the public because people were harassing her online for being too skinny. This is just a couple of thousands of messages women are bombarded with every week .

“Young women are bombarded by images of perfection which no human being can really achieve”. Emma Watson (Actor, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, spokesperson for HeForShe)

Women are taught by our culture that to be valued, one must be pretty and thin. The highest a female can aspire to is to be beautiful. We are taught that hard work, education, ambition, kindness, generosity, and courage can be dismissed if one is “fat”. This puts most women in a no win situation. While I can always be kind, have many opportunities to be generous, can read more, or strive harder for that promotion, our appearance is extremely difficult to change and as we age, will be, by our culture’s standards, progressively worse. If our ambition is to fit our culture’s standards of beauty we will be fighting a battle we are guaranteed to eventually lose.

“The conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted. The insanity has to stop.” Ashley Judd (Actor, Global Ambassador for YouthAids, Leadership Council of the International Center for Research on Women)

If instead, we focused on our accomplishments as women, what we do and say, instead of how we looked, we could strive to be progressively better. As I age, I learn more patience, I am less judgmental, I have accomplished more in my career and in my hobbies, and have deepened my relationships.

“You may not agree with a woman, but to criticize her appearance- as opposed to her idea or actions- isn’t doing anyone any favors, least of all you. Insulting a woman’s looks when they have nothing to do with the issue at hand implies a lack of comprehension on your part, and inability to engage with high level thinking. You may think she’s ugly, but everyone thinks you’re an idiot.” – Hilary Clinton, (Attorney, Senator, Secretary of state)

This week, I am challenging myself and my readers, when you find yourself being critical of someone’s appearance, including your own, make conscious effort to instead focus on the person’s accomplishments instead and when you feel the drive to change your own appearance remember you always have the option to be kind, you always have the option to be loving, you always can do something good for someone else. Isn’t that what makes you beautiful?

“Who taught you that the value of a woman is the ratio of her waist to her hips and the circumference of her buttocks and the volume of her lips? Your math is dangerously wrong; her value is nothing less than infinite.” Della Hicks-Wilson (Poet).

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One thought on “Celebrity and Focusing on Women’s Appearance rather than Achievement

  1. Pingback: Katie Hopkins and the Just-World Fallacy | Jessica Veldstra

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