AUSA and body image

First off, AUSA, thanks for brightening an otherwise dull and mucus-filled day.* With $5000 going to any Auckland Uni student gutsy enough to perform a citizen’s arrest on Condoleezza Rice, I expect hilarity and/or impassioned debate on the powers given to police under our “anti-terrorism” legislation.

But from that to something rather more annoying: the current mongoosefight** between various feminists/”feminists”/avowed-non-feminists over that most high-school of topics, personal fucking appearance.

Natalia Antonova has a damn good analysis of the original*** catalyst for all this. In short, I just don’t get how it’s a feminist act to tell other women how they should look. Kinda goes against the grain.

Let me assure you, ain’t going to be any naked, semi-naked, or even fully-clothed-and-shopped photos of QoT popping up here any time soon. And a big part of that, far beyond the personal-identification issue, is a whopping great dollop of body-hate. And FeministAnonymous? Thanks for making dealing with that a shitload harder.

I’m not “conventionally pretty”. I never have been. I’ve spent a lot of time**** hating my body in general, specific areas of it in particular, missing out on social events because I did not want to be seen by anyone. On the other hand, I’m hardly the Creature from the Black Lagoon, so there’s never been a shortage of friends, family, partners around to tell me that I look fine, that I’m pretty, that I’m being silly.*****

Whinging aside, I’ve gotten better at dealing with this rubbish as the years have passed. It’s certainly helped to have a lot of stroppy feminist friends and allies out there who I know won’t pass judgement on me, or at least not openly – it’s programmed into a lot of us to judge other women’s appearances, usually negatively, and acknowledging that and trying to change is part of being a feminist, far as I’m concerned.

Long story short, I’ve become accustomed to the idea that I’m not totally hideous. That I can wear nice clothes and have good hair or long nails and feel good about how I look. No, not because it makes my SO happy. Not because it gets approval from my boss. Not because it’ll garner me any more attention from men, or women, in my day-to-day life.

Until now, of course. Because now, apparently, without being “pretty”, without working in any kind of appearance-focused industry or posting photos of myself looking good, just by overcoming patriarchal, society-imprinted, sexually-objectifying notions of what gives me value as a woman, and learning to love myself as I am and view myself as good-looking and attractive, I am apparently betraying feminism.

Well, fan-fucking tastic.

Shit, I guess my copy of Fat Is A Feminist Issue must be a patriarchy-pleasing instrument as well, because by examining our relationships with food and attaining a more positive body image (and possibly, but by no means automatically, *gasp* smaller-waist-size) women are obviously just trying to look better for men. And let’s not even get started on The Beauty Myth, though possibly I was just interrogating it from the wrong perspective when the message I took from it was “I can be beautiful and body-loving as I am, armed with an analysis of the pressures on me to conform to a certain ideal.”

I mean, clearly just feeling better about myself and secure in the idea that I could wear a figure-hugging top in public without concern for other people’s opinions – because I like the damn top – is a crime against feminism and I should – what was it, FA? “Put some clothes on if I care about women at all.” Score 1 for the patriarchy, QoT wears shirts with a V-neck.

*WHERE DOES IT ALL COME FROM? My sinuses = the TARDIS, people.
**Well, catfight and bitchfight being too obviously gendered, and never let it be said I shirk from creating hilarious neologisms.
***In this instance
****Any commenters who want to inform me that I “shouldn’t put so much thought into something so trivial” etc, or make judgements about how “feminist” can I really be while wasting so much effort thinking about my looks? Fuck off.
*****Word to the wise: telling depressed people they’re being silly is redundant. They know.
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One comment

  1. belledame222

    yeah, no kidding, right? I still think FA is an epic troll, no more no less, but it’s still depressingly familiar, the general theme, if not in quite such extreme terms.