Would anyone like a thread to talk about feminism and body image?

(68 Posts)

I am thinking about body image a lot, what with all the 'January diets' and so on. And fastidia's brilliant thread about pregnancy and childbirth also made me think about bodies a lot.

So I ended up re-reading bits of 'Beauty and Misogyny' (Sheila Jeffries) and trying to think through some of the issues again. I was really struck (more than the first time around) by what she's saying about shoes. This is a very minor thing, but I realized I've worn high heels maybe 20-30 times last year. I used to live in them. It got me wondering if this year I'll give up on them altogether?

So, I was wondering if anyone else had things they're moving away form as 'beauty' practices? Sort of like feminist 'diets', except what we're losing is a few patriarchial hang-ups?

MMMarmite Tue 15-Jan-13 17:09:32

"I actually ended up having an operation to remove my gall bladder. The surgeon told me it was because i lost the weight too quickly."

That's shocking! I'm really sorry sad

"Now im a size 20 and trying to look at things differently and want to be healthy rather than worry about my size."

That seems sensible to me. Have you come across the Health At Every Size movement? It's a philosophy and community that thinks people should aim for healthy behavior at any size, rather than aiming for specific weight.

Darkesteyes Tue 15-Jan-13 17:21:20

Thankyou MMM. I hadnt heard of Health At Every Size but thanks to you i have now. I will check it out. thanks thanks

TeiTetua Tue 15-Jan-13 17:31:35

Oh good grief. On a site that tells you on its first page that it's about "Expert health and beauty" you aren't going to be told that it's OK to leave any body part in its natural state, nor will you hear stories of how anyone's friends/partners say "I see you're not shaving/waxing/applying cosmetics--good for you".

It would actually be very interesting to read something on a site where the topic is fashion in some form (supposing that any part of it is worth hearing about) and a writer talks about "Stuff you don't need to do and you'll be happier without".

MMMarmite Tue 15-Jan-13 17:37:25

Are you saying I shouldn't find it depressing since it's a piece from a fashion site, TeiTetua? Can't I find fashion advice depressing and unfeminist?

alexpolismum Tue 15-Jan-13 18:16:16

I didn't notice this thread when I came on yesterday, but haveing just read through it, I thought I would share my experience.

I am dark haired, think Mediterranean looking, extremely hairy all over, with thick eyebrows.

I also live in Greece, where the pressure on women to look groomed is intense.

And my bare limbs are visible for a fairly long portion of the year, because of the heat.

Despite this, I have not removed any body hair at all for years. At first I worried about it and was self conscious, and avoided going to the beach. This was quite easy, as I am not a beach sort of person in any case. But as time went on, I realised there was no reason for me to worry. Anyone staring at me was obviously lacking in interesting things to do with their time - their problem, not mine. But in the main, people don't stare. They don't care. Why would they?? They're too busy with their own lives. I mean, do you spend all day staring at other women's legs? Personally, I barely notice them.

And now that I have children who want to play at the beach, I take them quite happily. And you know what? No one cares. No one gives me a second glance. I was worrying about nothing. (Or perhaps they do notice, but I don't notice them noticing. Or something. Because I don't care any more!)

My DH loves my thick eyebrows. He's always telling me it makes my eyes look so expressive.

Some time back, there was a thread on here about not conforming to the beauty stereotype. I can't remember the title exactly, but it was to do with not shaving/ wearing heels/ etc. It was very supportive, I recall.

TeiTetua Tue 15-Jan-13 18:17:16

Of course you can (find it depressing). It's just that it's totally predictable that writers on fashion will deliver material that's depressing and unfeminist. Imagine if they suggested something implying the female body was pretty much complete in an unmodified undecorated form, now that would really be innovative.

alexpolismum Tue 15-Jan-13 18:26:36

and it would bring them no revenue, because who would want to advertise with them? Imagine the headline: Embrace the Natural You! opposite a full page advert for anti-ageing face cream

marzipananimal Tue 15-Jan-13 18:58:56

I may have dreamt this, but I think I heard that underarm hair only became viewed as unfeminine after an advertising campaign by Wilkinson Sword. Sadly plausible. Has anyone else heard that?
I think a major reason why there's likely to be no going back is that there's much more money in excessive grooming than in the 'natural' look.

I rarely shave my legs but I'm afraid I couldn't bring myself to go out in public with bare, hairy legs. Fortunately I'm very rarely warm enough to wear a skirt or shorts!
I'm glad that DS at least gets to see me in my full hairy glory (he's 2 so thinks nothing of wandering in when i'm in the shower or wanting a cuddle while I'm doing a poo hmm ) It's important to me that he grows up knowing what a woman naturally looks like.

MMMarmite Tue 15-Jan-13 19:02:43

Ah sorry TeiTetua, think I misinterpreted what you were saying. I agree with you smile

MMMarmite Tue 15-Jan-13 19:04:48

That's pretty inspiring alexpolis. I'll try to remember it when spring arrives.

Trills Tue 15-Jan-13 20:37:33

A few months ago the front page headline of Stylist (one of the more sensible magazines actually) was about "why are we scared of growing old?" but they still had adverts for anti-ageing moisturisers etc.

Trills Tue 15-Jan-13 20:38:01

The reason I say Stylist are more sensible is that they have a policy never t do features on diets and not to carry any adverts for plastic surgery.

Trills Tue 15-Jan-13 20:42:04

Mucho apologies for joking about "feminist points". Especially for then buggering off.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to look nice. There is nothing wrong with your idea of "looking nice" being aligned with society's views on looking nice. What would be wrong would be to suggest that that is the only way to look nice, or to suggest that "looking how other people want you to look" is a compulsory part of being a woman.

alex - it was about 'resisting femininity'. I am a shameless plagiarist. Except, I'm rather more wussy than that and aware I'm more conflicted than some of the women who posted on it.

trills - well, I thought it was funny.

Though, I think there is some issue with society's idea of 'looking nice' when it is also expensive and not very healthy (as much of it is). There's no issue (that I can see) with loving the colour blue and the colour blue being in fashion. There's a lot more of an issue with feeling you look best after 20k of painful surgery that might, among other things, leave you dead on the table.

alexpolismum Tue 15-Jan-13 20:51:48

LRD "I am a shameless plagiarist" it must be academia affecting you wink

I agree, it depends on what "looking nice" means, and what you have to do to achieve it. And how narrow the definition is.

Thanks, alex.

Soon I shall be oppressing the Julie Burchill with the power of my textbooks. We can only await the day.

GunsAndRoses Wed 16-Jan-13 00:06:55

I used to wear heels all the time and would not leave the house without plastering my face with make up. Now I just wear flat shoes all the time and the only make up I wear is a bit of mascara.
These days I cannot be bothered to shave my legs, no-one sees them and I wear trousers all year round. I don't go in for bikini waxes or brazillian hollywood vagazzles either. I have turned into a lazy cow who just cannot be arsed.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 19-Jan-13 01:53:37

MMM, that's really good thinking on how you are reframing body and eating points.

Darkest, the make up thread was actually heartening - lots of posters who didn't wear make up and as I rarely do but almost every woman I know always does, I liked the thread.

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