Feministe has an article (and comment thread) [since removed] which touches on something that’s been on my mind lately: how do you criticize insane beauty standards without criticizing the women who fit them, or work to? And is it ever appropriate to criticize women who engage in patriarchy-approved beauty rituals?
I’ve spent a lot of time over the years pointing out that the famine-starved look is not sexy to everyone, despite Hollywood’s insistence that it is. It’s important to point out that hypocrisy and question it. But is that what a woman suffering from an under-eating disorder needs to hear? Maybe I’m part of why women who intentionally pursue extreme low weight are trying to shift perception of their eating habits from health issue to alternative lifestyle.
And… I don’t know. Maybe they’re right. We can’t cure the cold. Do we know for certain what’s healthy?
And when we talk about how uncomfortable it is to watch an actress whose 207 bones are all clearly visible, and how our boyfriends or husbands find her gross too, are we just continuing the objectification that led the producers to hire her in the first place? Is it any better to sit there speculating about how creepy her body would feel if you were having sex with her than it is to speculate about whether she gives a good blow job?
I’m looking for a better way to discuss these issues. Sometimes counter-arguments to the status quo have the unfortunate side-effect of affirming the original argument’s right to exist: instead of saying “Who cares how skinny or fat she is?” I’ve been retorting “Skinny sucks” to their claim that “Fat sucks”. What sucks is judging people.