Wednesday, 10 August 2011

I'm a free bitch, baby (part 2), or HELLO AGAIN!

So. While I’ve been away, supposedly writing my PhD and moving house (but actually going to G-A-Y Late and watching Glee obsessively), I have discovered, thanks to the very brilliant blogger Lesley Kinzel is run by Jane Pratt, who invented Sassy and Jane. It is a very cool website with articles by a whole range of women, different ages, sizes, races, sexualities… etc. etc. etc it’s basically a feminist space of coolness tackling everything from shoes to sexual harassment.

The one thing all the writers have in common is that they are all ADDICTED. Addicted to painkillers, addicted to cookies, to coke, to credit cards, to affirmation from strangers, to throwing up,to buying dresses, to booze. They write about these things with wit and self-deprecation while informing you of the latest Asian beauty trend. Yes. It’s cool. (I’m addicted to Cat Marnell’s beauty column in particular at the moment. She is very funny, and very sad. Check out her “HUSTLER MAGAZINE’S DIRTY LITTLE BEAUTY SECRET: The Amazing Drugstore Skincare Product They Drizzle All Over Girls’ Faces On Photoshoots”. I bought three.) They don't always get it right, but I love reading about it.

And they all have big problems with their bodies.

Now, God forbid I would ever essentialize gender, but these sort of addictions and these sort of body-dysmorphias are, I think, peculiar to women, and they’re totally interrelated.* Not all the writers are full-on “X”-Anonymous addicts (some are), but they all pretty much use something or other to quell the difficulties they have with their bodies.

And reading about it is immensely cathartic.

I honestly don’t think I know one woman who doesn’t have at least a problematic relationship with food. I got mine partly from my mother, partly from all the other shit that goes on in our society. Hadley Freeman wrote a very good, unusually personal, column on her eating disorder recently: she made a good point about pictures not causing anorexia; but this stuff doesn’t happen in a void. Everything adds up, from Heat magazine to the cat-calls you get when you go for a jog (you don’t own my body, douchebag. It’s called the rape culture, look it up). And some of it I get from all the internalized stuff about perfection I have inside me. That’s me; it’s my responsibility. But everything (whatever that is) adds up, we don’t feel worth it, our bodies aren’t really ours; we are always policed, always wrong.

Most women do it. We count the calories. We feel the guilt. We don’t look at our reflections in the mirror. We exercise too much, or not at all if we feel bad, and then we beat ourselves up about it. And we know better. I’m doing a fucking PhD on the body and feminist theology. I know this is stupid. For every step forward, for every nice thing I say to myself, I’ve already said about a hundred hateful things I would lamp someone for if they said it to a friend.

So I am really enjoying reading the women on be honest about what they’re doing, because I don’t feel so alone. Women don’t talk about this shit enough. We are always pretending. I had a conversation with a friend a while ago where we both admitted to doing the DIPE (documented instance of public eating) thing. It was amazing, and funnily enough it’s helped me do it less (less cutting back, post-pizza-days, I mean). Usually women are complimenting each other, but we’re not actually telling each other what it costs, how we feel about it, what’s really going on.

Because we’re ok. You’re ok. I’m ok. And the reality is, growing up is about accepting what we look like and loving it, because we are loved and held by others and by God. That’s what being anti-dualistic is all about, dude. If I tell my body it’s useless, my soul will feel it too. That’s the complete opposite of holistic and awesome.

I found  through Lesley Kinzel’s blog. She’s really into fat acceptance and she’s about the only xojane writer that seems to have some semblance of peace about what she looks like, and therefore, who she is. She writes:
Fat acceptance doesn’t simply advocate in favor of fatness. Fat acceptance is also about rejecting a culture that encourages us to rage and lash out at our bodies, even to hate them, for looking a certain way. It’s about setting our own boundaries and knowing ourselves, and making smart decisions about how we live and treat ourselves, and ferociously defending the privacy of those choices. It’s about promoting the idea that anything you do with your body should come from a place of self-care and self-love, not from guilt and judgment and punishment. It’s about demanding that all bodies, no matter their appearance or age or ability, be treated with basic human respect and dignity. That’s the world I’d like to build. For all of us.
So, because I have a date with Mr Schuester, I will leave you with, who did you think, Lady Gaga. What, did you think I would write a post without mentioning Gaga? You’re so weird.

What are you? That’s right, you’re a free bitch, baby.

*I know this is an increasingly a problem for guys, but as a woman, that's what I know about directly. And this is a BIG problem that intersects with lots of other things for women.

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