Sexism sells. Are YOU buying it?

I am so mind-blowingly horrified right now that I’m having a hard time stringing together a coherent sentence.  So bear with me, please.

As an American woman living in the UK, I will be the first one to admit that I’m way out of touch with the American media.  I see snippets of it here and there, but not enough to get a real feel of what’s going on.  What I’ve seen in that video horrifies and sickens me.  How could they – in 2008 – say those types of things and still think it’s okay?  How could they possibly think that talking about Hillary Clinton on television and equating her with the stereotype of the “nagging, bitchy wife” would be acceptable?  And I don’t say this just because it’s Hillary Clinton.  Take her out of the picture and substitute ANY woman – you, your mother, your sister, your friend, your spouse – and the result would be the same.  Narcissistic, misogynistic men completely ignoring the woman as a person and simply bringing out every stereotype in their arsenal and equating said woman with that.  It’s disgusting to think that it would even happen in the modern age.

But obviously, it does.

It sickens me.  It sickens me to think that the women close to me that still live in the U.S. have been subject to this kind of indirect abuse from the media.  Because it doesn’t matter which woman they happen to be talking about at a particular time – when they say things like that, it affects all women.

I guess I’ve been spoiled.  The British media aren’t nearly as bad.  That’s not to say that sexism has been completely eradicated from the British media, but it isn’t nearly as rampant as what the above video shows.  More often than not, when talking about women – and especially women politicians – the media treats them just the same as they would treat a man.  I don’t ever remember a woman politician here (at least in the last five years) being criticized on what makeup she’s wearing.  Maybe it’s because Britain has already had one woman leader.  Whatever the reason, it just seems to me that the American media could learn something from that.

Because I live here in the UK, I don’t know that there’s much of anything I can do to make a difference.  But I thought that spreading the word – even if it’s just a few paragraphs on my personal blog – would be better than sitting here, furious and horrified, doing absolutely nothing.

Found via Shakesville, and pointed to The Women’s Media Center and their blog.

Channel 4: How to Look Good Naked

I hadn’t actually meant to do a running commentary on British television shows, but I’m noticing more and more shows that really speak to me as a Fat Woman and a Woman Seeking Self Acceptance that I just can’t help it.

So class, today’s topic is Channel 4‘s series How To Look Good Naked.  I have to admit, I missed about 2/3 of the first season, but as soon as I saw it for the first time, I was in awe.  Gok Wan – whom I have to admit I’m crushing on a little bit – is absolutely A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  And he doesn’t just take thin women on the show – there have even been… *gasp*… women as big as ME on that show!  I have to admit that the majority of the women who go on the show are thin, but the fact that he actually does take the Fat Girls and teaches them confidence is really a radical move in today’s society.

And that’s what it’s all about.  Gok isn’t about simply sexualizing women – hell, he’s gay – he’s all about giving women their self-confidence back.  And THAT is what’s TRULY sexy.  He wants to give women the confidence to be naked – alone or with someone else – regardless of their size.

And as a Fat Woman who has only inched her way along the road to self-acceptance, watching the butterflies emerge from their cocoons is truly heartwarming.  I keep finding myself thinking “I wish I could go on that show” when I watch it.  The reality is, I would never do that in a million years.  Because even with the Fat Girls he’s put on the show, I can see so much more beauty in them than I could ever find in myself right now.  Even the mothers that have appeared on the show look better to me than I do.  They didn’t have 9-lb. babies.  They didn’t have pre-eclampsia that caused them to gain 70 lbs. of water weight.  They don’t have stomachs made of almost nothing but loose skin that hang past their vaginas.  Even if I do get to the point of accepting myself (and particularly those things), I’m not naive enough to think that the producers of this show would ever get over the shape of my body.

You’re not as big as you think you are
The media bombard us all with unrealistic airbrushed images of women every day. These images of the stick thin, surgically enhanced women aren’t very realistic but these images portray women as beautiful and successful so it’s hard for normal women not to want to be like them. However, most normal women do not look like them so these pictures enforce feelings of negativity and encourage low self esteem.

So, the second stage of looking good naked is to start waking up to the way the media works and stop comparing these images to the way you look. Wake up to the fact that you actually look pretty ok, that you aren’t as big as you think you are AND look at all the women around you – I bet most of them are the same as you.

It’s so refreshing to hear someone who actually works with these ‘plastic people’ (as I like to call them) say something like that.  He may be in ‘the business,’ but he’s obviously not so into it that he’s unaware of how unrealistic an image they portray.  And the fact that he wants to get that message across… that’s part of why I’m crushing on him right now.

You know what I would do if I won the lottery tonight?  I’d book Gok for a private consultation.  I bet he’d do wonders for my self-esteem.

BBC: What’s Really in our Food?

The BBC has started a week-long series of shows entitled “What’s Really in our Food?”  Ironically, they have been shown from 9:15-10 a.m., the time I usually have my breakfast, after walking the girls to school.

On the one hand, it’s been a bit of a learning experience.  Even though I’ve lived out here for nearly 5 years, I still can’t quite get a grip on the whole food labelling practices out here.  Until I moved here, I was used to having easy labels to read: everything you could possibly want to know about a particular food product, broken up into serving size portions.  X calories per X gram/ounce serving.  I always knew what I was eating.  Here?  They either break it up into 100 g portions or they just tell you how much is in the whole damned thing – if they even tell you at all.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve bought something to find out that there’s no nutritional information whatsoever on the packaging.  Just a list of ingredients, and that’s it.

Recently, there’s been a bit of a political movement to get the labels changed – into what is considered a ‘traffic light’ type label.  What they want to do is put the label on the front of the food package, with color-coded segments (green = ‘good’ for you, eat it all you want; red = ‘bad’ for you, only eat it sometimes, etc.).  A lot of stores, like Sainsbury’s and ASDA have already done this, but yesterday they showed an exec from Tesco saying that they had surveyed their customers and found that they didn’t want them.  However, the producers of the show randomly surveyed customers in a particular Tesco store and found that over 80% of them actually did want the ‘traffic light’ labels.  So I truly have to wonder: who’s lying?  It’s got to be ONE of them.  And as much as I really distrust MSM when it comes to all things related to obesity, weight, and food, it just seems odd that people who shop at practically every other supermarket in the UK would want the ‘traffic light’ labels but the people who shop at Tesco wouldn’t. 

The one thing that I have to say I DO like about this whole series, though, is the host (presenter) – Gregg Wallace.  He starts out the whole thing admitting to a love of ‘junk food.’  And you can actually tell in his attitude – he approaches the whole thing with an air of curiosity, not one of disdain.  He’s got this whole ‘Oh wow, you’ll never guess what I found out!’ attitude, and considering the way people view food nowadays, I find it really refreshing.

What I don’t like, however, is the fact that it’s yet another way to perpetuate the myths surrounding this whole ‘obesity crisis’ bullshit.  Today’s show, for example, showed a fitness instructor go on a 9-day long diet change, going from eating primarily healthy food to all junk, all the time.  Chocolate cereal for breakfast, kebabs for lunch, chinese takeaways for dinner, etc.  She gained 5 lbs. during that time (and she continued to exercise, obviously, since it was actually her job) and her fitness level went down a bit – she had done a fitness test beforehand, and lasted 12 minutes; afterwards she only lasted 10.  Okay, I can believe all of that – after all, it was a very drastic change she went through.

But then they get this ‘expert in sports medicine’ to say that if she continued like that, she would get fatter and fatter and fatter and her fitness level would go down and down and down.  Those weren’t her exact words, obviously, but that was the general idea.

And there was that thinly veiled undertone of ‘all you fatties, listen up: you’re just going to get fatter and fatter until you die.’  And as we all know, just because a person is fat doesn’t mean they eat like that.  Hell, just because a person is thin doesn’t mean they don’t.  Take my husband, for example.  He COULD eat like that and he’d never gain a pound.  Me?  I swear, I so much as LOOK at food and I could gain weight.  (But then again, before I got my tubes tied, he so much as looked at me and I got pregnant, too! 😆 )  I must be the embodiment of osmosis or something.  😉

And Mr. Wallace went into great detail, trying to figure out whether we could trust the labels to be accurate.

I don’t know… I guess it all evens out, really.  There are good points to this series, but there are bad points too.  But I do think it was a good idea to make the show, regardless.  It was really eye opening to find out that by Gregg Wallace reading the list of ingredients out to people, they couldn’t tell if he was talking about a Lime-based soap or Lemon & Lime squash (American readers: squash is kind of like concentrated liquid kool-aid – you add water to it and !voila! you have drinkage).  Education is always a good thing — I guess I just wish they were a little more objective about it.

Edit Update: edited because I found a better link for the show, and I realized that one of my sentences just looked really out of place where I had it, so I moved it.  That is all.