April 16, 2010

Add this to your list of unacceptable body parts: your armpits

Rachel O:

The media, in a series of editing moves, has now deemed them unacceptable and unfit for public consumption.

I’ve wanted to write this piece for awhile and, in light of Britney Spears releasing unretouched photos of herself for the Candie’s campaign, decided it was time.  Unfortunately I wasn’t very surprised by the things “enhanced” on Spears’ body – the usual suspects: cellulite, tattoos, blemishes, bruises, slimming of hips, thighs, waist, etc.  But lately there’s been a new body part deemed unacceptable by the photo editors at magazines, record labels, etc. – armpits.  That’s right ladies, the area under your arm, even when clean shaven has been deemed far too hideous for general public consumption.

I first noticed the trend, while reading Jezebel, as is usually the case with these kinds of things.  They posted the cover of British GQ where Anne Hathaway seems to be missing something.  Her armpit isn’t just hairless and smoothed by some moisturizing deodorant – it’s not there at all.  Just completely gone, just torso side and…arm, with nothing in between.  Since then, I’ve come to notice it in other places as well:

Photo stills of Lady Gaga’s music video Telephone:

A Kim Kardashian exercise line campaign:

A photoshoot for Harper’s Bazaar with Megan Fox:

and finally a Sports Illustrated spread:

Apparently that pesky underarm area hinders exercising, dancing, posing, and uh, swimming.

Now it’s just another thing that’s been added to a list of things for the resident photoshopper at any magazine, PR firm, etc. to check off their list, but I think the issue is much bigger than that.   Men don’t have to deal with the same “image enhance everything” that is so prevalent when it comes to actresses and pop stars.  For example, when Leonardo DiCaprio appeared on the cover of Esquire Magazine, all his stubble, lines, and wrinkles were left intact.  For women, this new underarm thing is another flaw that someone in a board room somewhere has decided is not worthy of publication – it must be fixed.  It is another issue for women to worry about – another thing for girls to look at and wonder “why don’t I look like that?” and “what can I do to fix it?”  These images eventually become the norm, what we think women really look like, or are supposed to.

Anyone who thinks it’s not a big deal? We’re living in a world where  Jessica Simpson going without make-up is a big deal.  And Glamour publishing a picture of a woman with a belly roll is considered a revolution.   So, yeah it’s a problem.  We’re in a publishing age, where someone in charge somewhere, looked at a Jennifer Lopez magazine cover, a Ralph Lauren ad, and an image in Maxim Mexico and said “perfect, send that to the printer!”

We need a lot less this:

And a lot more this:

April 12, 2010

Ellen Page on Feminism, Abortion, Hollywood, and the Media

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Melanie @ 5:14 pm

Guest post by Rachel O (yeah, she’ll be a regular contributor very, very soon):

Despite the fact that’s she been acting since the age of 10, Ellen Page’s career didn’t take off until 2007, when she starred in Juno. Juno was an indie film that got huge, and Ellen Page became a well-known name.  Her roles both pre- and post- Juno, have proven good women’s roles aren’t just as “hookers, victims, and doormats” as Shirley McClaine once said.  She’s played everything from a young girl who turns the tables on an online perv in Hard Candy, to a kick-ass high school roller derby girl in Whip It.

While Juno raised some questions about its message, and inspired a lot of pro-choice/pro-life debates, I found the film undeniably Pro-Choice.  It showed pro-choice isn’t just about having abortions – it’s about having options – whether it’s to have a baby, give it up for adoption, or get an abortion.  When asked about the two opposing interpretations of the film, Ellen said in an interview just a week ago,

“I am a feminist and I am totally pro-choice, but what’s funny is when you say that people assume that you are pro-abortion. I don’t love abortion but I want women to be able to choose and I don’t want white dudes in an office being able to make laws on things like this. I mean what are we going to do – go back to clothes hangers?”

Page doesn’t just speak about women’s issues in terms of politics, she addresses the way women are handled in her business – Hollywood.  It made headlines last year when the head of Warner Bros. announced they would no longer allow women to be the lead of their films, because women couldn’t bring in box office bucks.  Whenever a woman-dominated cast does less-than-stellar at the box office, it is usually dissectedWhat happened?  What went wrong?  What does this mean for women in Hollywood and the roles actresses will get? Page has experienced this first hand.  Whip It was a huge hit with critics, but only managed to bring in $4 million opening weekend.  As if the above quote isn’t enough to make you love her instantly, when asked about what Hollywood is like for women,

“I think it’s a total drag. I’ve been lucky to get interesting parts but there are still not that many out there for women. And everybody is so critical of women. If there’s a movie starring a man that tanks, then I don’t see an article about the fact that the movie starred a man and that must be why it bombed. Then a film comes out where a woman is in the lead, or a movie comes out where a bunch of girls are roller derbying, and it doesn’t make much money and you see articles about how women can’t carry a film.”

As if that’s not bad enough, women in the media business are expected to look a certain way, and shamed, ridiculed, denigrated when they don’t.  Even women who promise to be beyond the pressure give in and sell out.  Personally, I think Page is gorgeous, but tabloids and gossip blogs aren’t about embracing beauty and making women feel good about themselves.  Page admits she’s not beyond this pressure herself.

“I hate to admit it but, yeah. I definitely feel more of a sense of personal insecurity. I really try and smarten up when I feel that way but sometimes it does get to me. The fact is, young girls are bombarded by advertisements and magazines full of delusional expectations that encourage people to like themselves less and then they want to buy more things. It is really sad and it encourages the consumerist cycle. Boys used to have it slightly easier but I think they are now getting more of the same kind of pressure. Look at all the guys in junior high who think they should have a six-pack.”

It’s a little sad that reading an interview like this is such a big deal, because so few people in Hollywood are willing to express themselves in this way, and say these things in a public forum.  Having just recently become media literate myself, it’s awesome to hear an actress I admire speak about such widespread but underreported issues.  This summer, Ellen will be starring in Christopher Nolan’s new film, Inception.  I feel confident the film, and her role in it, will be nothing short of amazing.

Ellen Page: ‘I’m totally pro-choice.  I mean what are we going to do – go back to clothes hangers?’ (Guardian UK) via Jezebel