Saturday, September 25, 2010

Last Month's Irritation

I'm finally ready to write about my original provocation. I thought this would be my first post, but Dear Biker crashed and I got moon cakes.

Last month I was flipping through a free parenting magazine when I saw this ad:

Where do I start? Perhaps I should begin my acknowledging this copyright-protected image does not belong to me. As my husband saw me taking a picture of the magazine he said, "I'm pretty sure that's copyrighted." I'm most certainly not trying to claim it as my own, I give Motherhood Maternity full credit. But I'm not too worried about that. I'm making no money from this. I am also confident that all four of you, my loyal readers, won't tattle on me.
So. . . ugh. This ad is almost indescribably wrong. It's precisely because I find myself speechless that I feel compelled to write. I've had time to think about it and distill my jumble of thoughts down to something manageable. Really my question is: Are we ever allowed to just be?

Why must women always be sexy? Merriam Webster defines sexy as, "sexually suggestive or stimulating: erotic, generally attractive or interesting: appealing" I find the examples listed by the dictionary fascinating, "1. She wore a sexy skirt. 2. Her legs are long and sexy." The she screams at me. Even the editors of the dictionary can't imagine the word sexy being anything other than female. When did sexy become our identity? (1925, according to the dictionary) The synonyms and antonyms are a bit telling, also, "Synonyms: bodacious, desirable, dishy, hot, luscious, toothsome. Antonyms: nonerotic, unerotic, unsexy." If we are not sexy, we become non and un.

I hope I'm not coming across as a male-bashing, world-hating, I-am-woman-hear-me-roar crazy head. I don't feel like one. I'm really just a girl who is sad. I feel weighed down when I see pictures like this. And it's not because I'm jealous. I know that the model's thighs are as big as my arms, but this isn't about body comparisons.

The exact same woman in the exact same ensemble would not be offensive if the editors had employed these changes: ditch the fan, use the buttons, close the distance between her legs. The heels are a bit ridiculous to me, but that is because I am jealous. I would love my feet to have arches that allowed some kickin' shoes now and again.

My despondency comes from imagining all the women who are pregnant looking at the ad and feeling condemned. I am troubled that others will flip by and think nothing of it, because they've seen it so much. Different girl, different company, same message. I am really horrified, though, that little girls will grow up to believe that their value is measured not only by their appearance, but also by their ability to satisfy others.

So I repeat my question (with a few extra): Will we ever be allowed to just be? Must we always be sexy? And what does being look like?

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Liz, not disagreeing with anything you said, but just want to chime in that being sexy is not just a physical word. Sexy is/can be an attitude. So, just because you may not think you are physically sexy, you can still feel sexy. Make sense?



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