What if bedtime stories could get with the feminist program? (A review of Bedtime Stories)

I should have known better, especially given it was an Adam Sandler movie. But, the optimist in me thought there might be some re-visioning of ‘bedtime stories’ rather than a tired re-hashing of all their sexist mores. So much for optimism.

The film drips with delimiting gender stereotypes.  The evil mom (ala Hansel and Gretel and umpteen other fairy tales) is replaced by the over-controlling, health-food-obsessed Courtney Cox. Life with her is no fun – she is the purveyor of wheat-grass cakes, the destroyer of kid-fun. At least she has a job – a principal no less – but, even this career is played on to further the over-controlling, mean meme. Here, she is a descendent in a long line of evil female school marms, from Miss Trunchbull in Matilda to Miss Umbridge of Harry Potter.

Thankfully, cool bro (in the form of Adam Sandler) comes in to save the day. He plays a number of positive (read: male) roles – savior, deliverer of fun, bringer of adventure, giver of roasted marshmallows.

Of course, it wouldn’t suffice to only put the story in motion with one evil female; we need an entire cast of second-tier xx types.  To fulfill this sexist media imperative, we have Violet, the empty-headed fashionista (who must be saved by Sandler’s character on various occasions and who, of course, rewards him with a kiss – what else do women have to offer but their sexuality?) Then, we have the goody-two shoes babysitter/friend who tries to ruin all the fun with her rule-bound boringness. Thankfully, her saving grace is she is “skinny,” as one fat-hating scene emphasizes. In the scene, a number of women who used to bully Adam Sandler’s character when he was in high school are put in their place when he parades this skinny arm-candy in front of them. So the fat-is-ugly stick can beat the audience a little more, Sandler’s character verbally attacks a woman who – how dare she – is enjoying a plate of pasta even though she is not an acceptable size zero.

To ice this sexist cake, we have the little girl who, though her masculine name Bobby tries to trick us, plays typical second fiddle to her brother. At first we are led to believe that she controls the stories that end up becoming reality, but, no, that would be just too much power in the hands of one without penis privilege. It is, of course, the brother that controls the stories.

And, for the grand finale, said brother is left with a kiss from the older “hot” girl at the movie’s close – because even the pre-ten-year-old-set needs to learn that the main purpose of female existence is their hottitude.

To summarize, this ‘new’ take on  bedtime stories offers the same savior boy/hot damsel in distress paradigm. Sigh.

What year is it again?

What century?

And Ms. Cox – what were you thinking? You have a daughter for goddess sake!

To be fair, the movie did have its funny moments. But, why can’t we have humor, fun, and adventure sans the sexism? Why can’t we have more movies that don’t drill negative stereotypes into girls and boys heads?

Films are showing some signs of improvement, but still have a long ways to go. This last weekend being a case in point, we had the release of Up. Though I have not seen it yet, from the previews it looks like once again all the main characters are male. And, in the recent Monsters vs Aliens we had only ONE female lead. For more adult fair, take the Star Trek previews – though Uhura plays a significant role in the film, she is sidelined or absent in every preview I have seen. As for Land of the Lost, must the preview feature a boob-grabbing Chaka? Please – Jodie Foster, Camryn Manheim, Tina Fey, Ashley Judd – someone with feminist sensibilities – can you produce a few  family flicks?

What if fat is no better (or worse) than thin? (Reflections on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Surgery, Part 2)

Over the past several years, the characterization of weight loss surgery (WLS) as effortless, coupled with tabloid type coverage of surgery gone wrong, fails to offer any in-depth consideration of WLS as a cultural phenomenon brought about by a collision of factors. The healthcare industry’s limited approach to body size, the practices of loading food with high fructose corn syrup and offering super size portions as the norm, the failure to promote health, nutrition and exercise rather than diet, diet, diet, and, most pertinently, the sanctioning of prejudice enacted upon fat bodies (and especially fat female bodies) in the news, the workplace, and the public arena are just a few of the causes contributing to the growth of WLS.

Not only has the thin-loving media condemned WLS, so have fat acceptance groups and fat activists. Paul McAleer claims such surgeries are done “in the name of fucking vanity” while Kelly Bliss predicts that in the future we will look back on WLS as “comparable to lobotomies.” It is surprising fat activists such as these suggest those opting for surgery only do so for aesthetic reasons on the one hand, and that ‘stupid fat people’ are being duped into surgery on the other. Comments comparing WLS to “fat genocide” or framing WLS as a moral outrage similarly construct the debate in very stark terms – namely, WLS bad, fat good.

However, I don’t think it is any better to claim that fatness is ALWAYS good than to claim that thinness is always good, beautiful, etc. Fat CAN be unhealthy for certain people given their genetics, body frame, and other health factors. Fat is not INHERENTLY unhealthy in and of itself, but so-called morbid obesity (I hate that term) CAN be a health risk. Fat activists and acceptance sites often seem to deny this. But, what if fat is no better (or worse) than thin? Isn’t this notion the goal body liberation groups are trying to reach? That, we need to, as activist Marilyn Wann claims, erase the “line” between fat and thin  – and – in so doing – eradicate “skinny privilege.” If this is truly the goal, condemning the symptoms of body hatred should not be the focus – rather, the CAUSES of this cultural dis-ease with certain types of bodies must be addressed and eradicated.

Further, the insinuation that WLS is done in the main for vanity or conformity reasons fails to account for the fact that health risks are the number one reason people cite for considering (or having) WLS. While I understand that such risks are trumped up and mythologized by an anti-fat medical establishment, I also believe that fat can complicate certain health factors for CERTAIN bodies. Is WLS the answer? Not necessarily. But, acting as if it is NEVER the answer seems myopic. Further, hammering the point that it is risky and can lead to death seems like scare mongering – surgeries are inherently risky, all of them can lead to death… giving birth is risky and can lead to death – should we frame it as comparable to a lobotomy as well? (This rather overstretched analogy is prompted by McAleer’s post that frames WLS as a “moral decision” in relation to reproductive choice/abortion).

Camryn Manheim touches on an important issue related to what seems like the conditional acceptance in the fat acceptance movement. In Wake Up, I’m Fat, she notes her discovery of the plethora of fat acceptance organizations and magazines, sharing her dismay with trying to find a potential partner in the personals sections of such publications. Revealing fat as a sexual commodity in such magazines, she laments that “In this world of ‘size acceptance,’ my fat was all that mattered; the other stuff was apparently irrelevant” and bemoans that the ads are not based on “size acceptance but ‘size insistence'” (Manheim 1999, p.121 and 123). To a degree, this observation can be extended to the fat acceptance movement. If you are not fat, or not ‘fat enough,’ or have lost your fat, you are suspect to insinuations of cultural conformity and ‘giving in.’ This is why I now tend to favor “body acceptance” or “body positive” or “healthy at any size” or “body liberation” rather than the phrase “fat acceptance” as I feel ALL bodies – not only fat ones – deserve acceptance.

Protesting WLS by marketing anti-surgery products on the web and staging anti-surgery demonstrations, fat activist Marilyn Wann is in line with this view of WLS as acquiescence to cultural conformity. Noting a future issue of her zine Fat!So? will be about “how silly weight loss surgery is,” Wann says “I think the most powerful force for change in our society is public ridicule.” Wann describes her plan “to ridicule the idea that cutting off the healthy stomach of a human being is ever a good idea,” noting she will enact this plan “without ridiculing actual people” How, in fact, is such supposedly well meaning ridicule possible?  Rather than the ego-deflating practice of ridiculing, which fat people already suffer on a daily basis, how about devoting energy to examining the widespread causes that have made WLS such a widespread cultural phenomenon in the first place? For, while questioning the validity of surgery as an option is certainly laudable, condemning surgery on all counts seems narrow-minded. Such a blanket condemnation seems to go against the very message such organizations preach – namely, diversity, acceptance, cultural awareness, and extended analysis of the deep-seated causes of fat phobia.

And, while size acceptance groups roundly condemn the surgery, the very media that exhorts us to be thin at all costs, that sends us thousands of daily messages conveying only thin bodies are beautiful, also chastises those who attempt to live up to inane standards via surgical means.  Survive on liquid protein (ala Oprah), exercise so fanatically that even post-pregnancy you’re stick thin (ala Demi Moore), or opt for drugs instead of food (ala heroin chic) and you are a fat fighting hero. But, opt for surgery, well, you’re a brainless lazy schmuck with zero will.

Even more ironic is the MSMs relative approval of the fat sucking procedure know as liposuction (as extolled on shows such as Extreme Makeover and The Swan). If this surgical option is ok, why isn’t WLS?  Hmmm, could it be that those who opt for liposuction are usually only curvaceous with plump thighs or tummies that they must get rid of in order to morph into Kate Moss? In contrast, the bodies who undergo weight loss surgery are for the most part upwards of 250 pounds. They are the bodies paraded on talk shows as freakish, the ones inspiring bumper stickers like No Fat Chicks!, the ones no one wants to sit next to on an airplane, the ones constantly exhorted by ‘well-meaning’ friends, family, and strangers to diet. Often, they do, creating a cycle of loss and gain and ending up with far more health and esteem problems than if they had accepted themselves in the first place. These bodies, rejected by culture, mocked by the media, and scorned by the general public now have yet another burden to add to their vilified existence if they opt for WLS – now they are also too lazy to do it the hard way (as Oprah suggests), too weak to exercise self control (as Maher jokes, characterizing the surgery as “willpower bypass”), too cowardly to refuse conformity (as fat activists propose).

The many before and after shots lauding post-surgical success stories may make it seem the media have embraced this phenomenon. But a closer look reveals an emphasis on extreme risk, deprivation, pain, and, horror of horrors, post-op saggy skin. And, predictably, the stories focus on female bodies. As with shows such as The Swan, where ‘ugly duckling’ female contestants undergo extensive surgical and diet procedures to become ‘beautiful swans,’ it is still the female body that is under strict cultural surveillance to be attractive (read thin) at any cost. These stories are told not to celebrate let alone analyze this latest trend in our never-ending futile fight against fat – rather, they are the newest form of the fat body as freak show entertainment, proclaiming: “Come one, come all! Feast your eyes on a former fatty!” Oddly enough, the fat acceptance movement seems in league with the media in that it also frames those opting for WLS as freaks – or, as lobotomized morons with amputated stomachs… What if instead, we saw fat as no better or worse than thin?

What if you lose weight the “easy way”? (Reflections on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Surgery, Part 1)

In Germany, the show Big Diet locked contestants into a house to lose X number of pounds.  In New Zealand, an official proposal to tax food based on fat content was put forward in order to ‘cure’ fatties. In England, a child was sent home from school with a “You’re too fat” note while a couple was told they are “too fat” to adopt. In America, shows such The Biggest Loser suggest if you are big (re: fat) you ARE a LOSER and The Swan surgically removed fat from the bodies of already relatively thin contestants, revealing liposuction as (female) necessity.

These examples are only a minute offering of the continued abhorrence of fat in many (most?) cultures around the world. While many societal institutions and beliefs contribute to the ‘thin-is-in’ aesthetic, the media and the multi-billion-dollar ‘diet industrial complex’ are two of the greatest perpetrators of this fat-hating vitriol. Bombarding us with the equation that thin equals beauty, will-power, and success and fat equals failure, gluttony, and ill-health, the media consistently projects negative attributes onto fat bodies. Fat hatred and its ugly sister, anorexic approval, abounds not only in reality television, but in EVERY form of media. Seen any fat news anchors? Been encouraged to admire any flabulous films? Listened to any fat-positive songs? Not likely (unless, that is, you are an active fat acceptance person and purposefully seek out fat positive media – and, even then, it ain’t that easy to find).

Judging by this widespread fat-hatred, it seems the thin-loving media would have embraced the relatively new “cure” for fatness – weight loss surgery (WLS). Yet, coverage of such surgery has been largely negative.  Broadcasting surgical horror stories and framing those who opt for surgery as cop-outs, the media suggests  that being thin takes hard work, sacrifice, and will-power – that surgery is ‘the easy way out’. The now thin post-surgical body may be hailed for its newly acceptable appearance, but the words used to describe WLS from ‘drastic’ to ‘draconian’, from ‘last resort’ to ‘effortless,’ from ‘quick fix’ to ‘surgically induced self-control’ all connote WLS as cheating.

Perhaps the most-outspoken celebrity mouthpiece of this media doctrine is Bill Maher. In the following, he blasts WLS, suggesting that fatties are food addicts:

No more celebrating gastric bypass.  Carnie Wilson, Al Roker and now Starr Jones are all being heralded by the media for stapling their stomachs shut. They shouldn’t be.  They’re not making a brave choice to change. They’re giving money to doctors to reroute their ability to turn food into crap. It’s like kicking cocaine by crazy gluing your nostrils shut.

Drawing on the widely held erroneous belief that fat people are gluttonous, Maher makes it clear that he believes if you’re fat, it’s your own damn fault. However, despite his claims to the contrary, WLS is hardly praised in the media. Rather, typical before and after shots celebrate newly attained thinness while guffawing at former fat grotesquerie. They frame the pre-WLS body as out of control and GROSS. The post body is then dissected for evidence of quick weight loss – saggy skin, chin folds, upper arm sags – with an implicit message that if these fatties had done it right – or the ‘hard way’ – they wouldn’t have to suffer the post-op baggy-body-syndrome.

Thus, while our culture wants us to be thin it wants us to suffer to do so. Moreover, it wants us to be thin at all costs – with the emphasis on cost – to buy diet pills, exercise machines, diet food, etc, etc. Apparently the cost of surgery (which was for several years covered by various health insurance companies) was not generating enough profits for the weight loss industrial complex.

Oprah Winfrey, like Maher, is in line with the media’s message that WLS is the easy way out. Her mantra seems to be, “I did it the hard way, so can you” – yes, the ‘hard’ way with a personal trainer and full-time chef. Embracing her new thin self, and famously espousing that losing weight is her greatest achievement, she still supposedly wants to teach us to love the bodies we are in. Oprah seems to have fallen victim to the idea that the female body must be disciplined into proper shape. Relentlessly shedding her former fat self, she emerged as a new and improved cultural icon of female will-power. Yet, this shedding was, as it is for the vast majority of bodies that are not born to thinness, temporary. Now Oprah is “embarrassed” about her lack of discipline, embarrassed her body is back at the 200+ mark.

Oprah’s sidekick, Dr. Phil, also characterizes weigh loss surgery as the easy option, advising members of his “Weight Loss Challenge” group “If you want a quick fix, get your stomach stapled.” This idea that surgery is easy (and that in order to count, weight loss has to be a challenge) has been widely adopted by the media. Fat people are not supposed to have a cheaters way out, damnit! They should be made to suffer for their self indulgence, laziness, and constant eating! Never mind the fact that many thin people eat as much or more than their fat counterparts, many exercise less or not at all, many have just as many or more health problems. Never mind that such surgeries are hardly ‘easy’ (nor do they work for everyone) and YET they are more successful than yo-yo dieting, pills etc. This is not an endorsement of WLS (nor is it a condemnation) – rather, I ask, WHY does the media only champion certain types of weight loss? Why pick on people who have “chosen” – either for health reasons or for aesthetic reasons – to opt for surgery while celebrating others who make the very same “choices” but do so with pills, extreme exercise regimens, or starvation diets?*  Seems like a double standard… Does it perhaps come from the fact that the diet industrial complex’s main goal is for people to FAIL and that, as of yet, WLS has been one of the most successful ways in which fatties become skinnies? A drastic way – to be sure – but a way that has a much higher ‘success’ rate than obsessive colon-cleansing or chomping down acai berry pills…

While I am all for loving the bodies we are in – and loving all types and sizes of bodies – I understand we live in a world that force feeds us the message we must NOT be fat. As such, many, many people are constantly trying to lose weight. THIS is the problem – yet, too often I have seen people who have been brainwashed into believing they must be thin to be happy/healthy baring the brunt of attack from all sorts of places – including from fat positive activists. Shouldn’t we, as body lovers, be attacking the system and NOT the people who are its victims?

Up next, part 2, in which I consider the fat acceptance movement and condemnation of WLS…

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*I put chosen and choices in scare quotes to indicate the idea of free choice is a bit of an oxymoron given the level of fat-hating cultural indoctrination.

What if O stands for “Overwhelming body hatred”? (Reflections on the January cover of O: The Oprah Magazine)

O January Cover
O January Cover

As you can see above, the January 2009 cover of O features two different pictures of Oprah. On the left, Oprah is aglow. Dressed all in white, she exudes confident joy. On the right, a more quizzical, frustrated, and fuller Oprah dons a purple tracksuit. With her right hand, she indicates her “better” self, with her left,  she points to the question emblazoned across the cover “How did I let this happen again?”

A close-reading of this cover might question how the use of color perpetuates the notion that white is superior. The good white Oprah (or the thin Oprah, all in white with pearly whites blazing) is contrasted to the bad purple Oprah – that color Alice Walker so famously associates with womanism AND with blackness.*

The copy is telling as well, noting that “Oprah on her battle with weight” is “a must-read for anyone who’s ever fallen off the wagon.” Wow, weight as a battle and eating as an addiction akin to alcoholism all in one subtitle! And, in the left corner, “MAKING WEIGHT LOSS STICK” uses capital letters, indicating this is a directive, a must, something VERY important…

I admit to subscribing to the O magazine on and off since its launch. I like many aspects of the magazine- the book reviews, the emphasis on meaty copy rather than fluff, the coverage of global issues. Others I am not so fond of. For example, the “O List,” or those “must -haves,” many of which you would have to be a millionaire to purchase.  As this list indicates, the magazine suffers from rather pervasive class-blindness. Another aspect of the magazine I don’t like is its continual perpetuation of body hating messages that are all prettily wrapped up in a “love yourself” disguise.

This month’s cover, though, is perhaps the first one I will have to hide from my children’s eyes. I do not want them viewing this image, which screams that the “fat Oprah” is a failure. I don’t want them reading the copy that indicates one MUST be “Making Weight Loss Stick” by following a “simple plan.” I do not want them associating the color purple (Oprah, how could you?!?!?) with regret.

One thing I have liked about O in the past is that each month a black woman is on the cover – yes, it is Oprah, and yes, she is the magazine proprietor – but I still like the fact that a powerful, successful, brilliant, radiant black woman is on the cover each month. Having O decorating our coffee table along with Ms., New Moon, and The Nation conveys to my kids (I hope) that magazine covers are not only for thin white sexually objectified women.

Alas, this month’s issue of O will not be given a place on the table- it will hide away in a drawer, to be furtively read in preparation for further posts on Oprah’s “failure” to escape the body hating industrial complex, that prison house in which MOST of us dwell…

(As an aside, my nine-year-old daughter did see this cover and immediately tsked-tsked “That is so stupid mom. Why does she care so much about what she weighs?” Ah, these are the moments that melt a feminist mother’s heart.)

* See In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens: Womanist Prose (1983).

(For an excellent post addressing  Oprah’s failure to make peace with her body, read Kate Harding’s “Dear Oprah” piece here. )

What if Bush has morphed into an incurable STI?

(The “What if you could buy social justice” series will continue after the New Year. For your holiday pleasure, there will be some more “festive” posts for the next few weeks.)

While you might have thought you could rid yourself of Bush this January, it seems that he cannot be gotten rid of easily. Rather, like an incurable STI, he cannot be completely eliminated but keeps causing different symptoms in the body politic, symptoms that will continue once he vacates the oval office, symptoms that will effect  the US body for years to come, unless, that is, Obama and co. can “cure” the festering sores left by GW…

The most recent flare-up of the Bush Virus will cause all sorts of symptoms in the reproductive organs of the populace.  Allowing ANYONE employed in the arena of healthcare to refuse services based on a “right of conscience,” this ruling will lead to more unplanned pregnancies, more STI’s, less prenatal care, less healthcare for society’s ‘others’ – those with STIs, those in poverty, those who are not of the ‘idealized norm’ and may have, gasp, HIV and non-white skin.

Work at Wal-Mart but don’t like people doing the nasty? Refuse to dispense birth control! Work as a receptionist making appointments for patients but think “every child is a gift from God”? Refuse to give appointments to those abortion-seeking heathens! Work as a nurse at a school and don’t think kids should learn ANYTHING about sex except to ABSTAIN? Refuse to give reproductive health information to students!

The great thing about this 127-page ruling is that it will GIVE to everyone – not just women. While much commentary rightly focuses on how this is another knife in the back to the female populace, it is also a knife in the back (or groin) to ALL peoples as it will exacerbate STIs, unplanned pregnancies, and, yeah! it can even spread the virus of poverty further! Ensuring that those who can’t “shop around” for needed healthcare, it also ensures that those who already have the shit end of the stick will be given even more crap to deal with. Can’t afford healthcare or groceries? Well, guess what, now you can’t get your birth control prescription filled either, so hear is another glorious mouth to feed to help you and your future generations stay down in the poverty quicksand.

As Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL pro-choice America, puts it, “This horrible eleventh-hour rule is a reminder that even though Bush is on his way out the door, his anti-choice legacy will continue to harm women’s health and privacy.” Yes, even though he is on his way out the door, he is leaving women (and men) with a gift that will keep on giving, kind of like herpes.

P.S. For coverage of this issue on the Rachel Maddow show, see the video link at Blog for Choice here: http://www.blogforchoice.com/archives/2008/12/rachel-maddow-o.html

What if F-words (fat and feminist) were stripped of their negativity? A review of Bolt

My daughter and I went to see Bolt last night. Probably my favorite thing about the film was the representation of Penny’s mother. She was fat. But, her fatness was not focused on, it was not used to characterize her, it was not used as code for “she is dumb.” Rather, it was represented as normal, as average, as not having anything to do with what type of woman or parent she was. She was a nice character who played a very small role in the film, yet this representation of fatness as something NORMAL, as just another body type, is HUGE as it so rarely happens.

Usually fat is used to indicate a character is dumb, funny, evil, lazy, gluttonous, and/or diseased. Often the fatness of the character becomes the primary focus – they are seen as fat first, and as human second, it at all. Fat is used as a sight gag in many movies – so much so that fat bodies themselves create an expectation of humor. If you are fat and not funny, you are breaking expectations.

Many films have done “fat-face” (akin to black-face and yellow-face). Fat face is like the ‘lookist’ equivalent of the racist tradition of black/yellow-face. Yet, when actors like Gwyneth Paltrow, Edie Murphy, and Tyler Perry don fat suits for laughs, it is seen as funny – rather than discriminatory.

Thus, Bolt broke relatively un-trod ground in its depiction of fat as normal. Imagine if the majority of films and television shows gave us this “fat is normal” message; imagine how this could change the body hatred that has become widespread in the US. Imagine too how it would hurt the sales of the multi-billion dollar diet/fitness/surgical industry that seeks to make us all – fat, thin, short, tall, hairy, bald – find fault with our bodies.

This “love yourself as your are” message fit in with the grander narrative of the film – Bolt learns to like himself despite the fact he is not the super-dog he though he was. We would do well as a culture to learn this same lesson.

My second favorite thing about the film was the representation of Penny. She is brave, heroic, independent, and caring, or, as one review refers to her, she is “fully equipped with the habitual spunk of a Disney New Feminist.” Her lightening speed scooter riding skills are Bond-worthy and, for once, we have a chase scene where the female is neither sexualized nor incompetent.

While in the TV show she and Bolt star in, he is her repeated savior, in real-life, the two are equally heroic – Penny for her refusal to give up when Bolt is lost as well as for standing up to her evil studio boss, and Bolt for his refusal to give up the hope of returning home to Penny. While the end of the film involves Bolt saving Penny from a burning building (in typical male must save female narrative style), it is ultimately Penny’s mother who saves them both by realizing that the Hollywood life is not a good place for dogs or girls.

Thus, while the film does not shout it’s pro-feminist, pro-fat message loud and proud, it certainly goes a lot further than the likes of Wall-e or Kung Fu Panda in putting strong females front and center, and, in the case of Penny’s mother, stripping the fat body of its negativity. For these reasons, as well as for the wise female feline Mittens and the sly debunking of masculinized fan-culture in the character of Rhino the hamster, the film is worth a watch. And, as someone who has never managed to stay awake through a Bond movie (so repetitive, so yawningly macho, so tediously sexist), I would recommend it over Quantum of Solace any day

What if every day was “Love Your Body Day”?

 

Can you remember a time when you felt completely at home in your body? When you looked at your reflection and saw no ‘imperfections’ or areas that needed ‘fixing’? When you loved each and every inch of your mortal coil? When you frolicked around with not a body care in the world – perhaps say, on the beach with no concern for whether your bathing suit was ‘flattering’ to your figure? When you felt confident and beautiful completely naked (with the lights on)? When you didn’t have a body policing voice in your head?

Can you also remember when the policing voice kicked in? Maybe it began when a classmate told you your nose was too big, your dad suggested your thighs were chunky, your grandma noted how her hair was always straight… Maybe the policing voice grew slowly as you watched television and read magazines that constantly told you your body was not ok, that it did not deserve love.

Ten years ago, the National Organization for Women inaugurated national Love Your Body Day to mitigate this policing voice. While this day has spurred lots of activism and awareness surrounding beauty and body image issues on college campuses and among feminist groups, the love your body message has sadly not spread to wider US culture. If anything, the past ten years has seen further entrenchment of body policing and body hatred. Cosmetic surgeries of every type are on the rise while new body policing practices, such as teeth whitening and anal bleaching, continue to proliferate.

Yet, while cultural indictments to hate and police our bodies are ubiquitous, we can resist. In so doing, we are body loving activists. As the popular t-shirt saying “Start a Revolution: Stop Hating Your Body” suggests, we all can be part of this crucial revolution. We can, as Eve Ensler suggests in her wonderful play The Good Body, begin by “stepping off the capitalist treadmill” and “stop trying to be anything, anyone other than who you are,” to realize “we live in a good body.”

So dear readers, today and everyday from here on out, please love your body, turn off the body policing voice, and start a body revolution!

Happy Love Your Body Day!