Celebrity, Women

Tess Munster is NOT Promoting Obesity. Shut up.

When I first heard the news that 29-year-old Tess Munster, a plus size social media queen who started the #effyourbeautystandards campaign, landed a major modeling contract, I was psyched. At 5’5″ and 260 lbs, she’s the first legit plus size model. (yeah, Calvin Klein, hate to break it to you, but size 10 is not plus sized. You can find size 10 at any store that’s not 5.7.9.)  Munster is gorgeous, and it’s refreshing to see someone closer to my body type as a mainstream model.

 

However, there are a lot of backwards minded people that take to the comments section to express outrage that Munster is “promoting obesity.” This is so frustrating on so many levels. As a woman who has spent most of her life plus sized, let me tell you–it ain’t easy. It isn’t easy for anyone, but for some reason, if you’re above a certain size, you get shit on quite a bit, even when people are trying to sing your praises. Check out this awesome comment from Sean Stephane Marin on HuffPo Canada’s piece on Munster (yeah, smart move using Facebook to comment, by the way:)

 

“So we’ve gone from the way to skinny to the Frighteningly Beyond Voluptuous.

Sorry. I’m sure she’s a perfectly nice person. But being a model is about the superficial only, and if this passes for beauty now, I weep for this society. Someone should get this woman to a gym pronto.” 

 

That’s not even the worst, check out Brea O’Keefe’s comment:

 

So glad to hear this!

Right now, only 2 out of 3 Americans are obese. We can do better. Let’s shoot for 3 out of 3 by promoting obesity even more than we do. Let’s tell everyone, “Obesity is beautiful!”.

After all, those of us who watch our weight don’t mind at all that our health insurance premiums will go up to pay for all the medical problems (diabetes, heart disease, knee and hip replacements, etc) you’ll have. ; )

 

I’m outraged. These people are ignorant and I’m so sick of the fat=instant diabetes argument. ANYONE can get type 2 diabetes, even–gasp–thin people! She is not promoting obesity. She is representing a body type that does exist. And several outlets have pointed out that she works out with a trainer. And this is promoting obesity how…?

 

The thing that really pisses me off is people think that plus sized people don’t know that they’re plus sized, and thus, have to be reminded at every  turn. I’m on the smaller end of plus size and I still get shit–I once had a customer tell me that because of my size, I was going to get type II diabetes. I raged on him and let him know that he did not have the right to talk to me like that, my health was none of his business, all while he was babbling that he was trying to help, it’s how he got type II diabetes, he was sorry. I kept my mouth shut and didn’t tell him that he was likely going to get cancer eating the heavily processed chocolate syrup he was purchasing, so why not go to the produce department and get an apple instead?

 

I think a lot of these commenters don’t realize that they’re not on Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity council and what they say is not only hurtful, but toxic. It’s annoying and it gets internalized. It’s easy to laugh off, but there’s this little voice that pops up, there must something wrong with me if people keep talking. Why am I so big? Do men only date me out of desperation? I think the people who are shitting on Tess Munster are verbalizing their own self hatred: “how dare this larger woman be prettier than me!! That’s not what society told me!! I’m ashamed that find her sexually attractive!! I’m taking my shit out on her because she’s an easy target!!” 

 

This just needs to stop. For any size, really–I’ve had friends be whispered about for having an non-existent eating disorder simply because they were thin. I once snapped at a friend trying to help me on a bad day that, because she gets stopped on the street and complimented on her beauty that she knew nothing about the difficulties of dating. Her response: “It may be easier for me to meet [guys,] but it winds up being the same in the end–they either want nothing to do with me, or to just to sleep with me.” Nobody wins. So why can’t we take Munster’s modeling contract as a victory for women of a certain size instead of a forum for obesity and health? Doesn’t it get tiring to shit on people after a while?

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Celebrity, Women

Fiona Apple’s Health is None of Our Business

On Thursday night, Fiona Apple was performing in Portland (OR) when a heckler decided that Apple’s set was the perfect time to air her thoughts on the singer’s health.

According to E! Online, it went down like this:

 

“Fiona! Get healthy! We want to see you in 10 years!” the female heckler yelled out, according to Stereogum. Apple was said to be visibly distraught and proceeded to yell back, “I am healthy! Who the f—k do you think you are? I want to get the f—k out of here. I want the house lights on so I watch you leave!” The lights reportedly did come on and the very vocal audience member threw out one more remark while exiting, saying, “I saw you 20 years ago and you were beautiful!”Apple subsequently began to cry and expressed her frustration to the crowd. She managed to collect herself enough to perform “Waltz (Better Than Fine),” but she sang it while slightly sobbing. She soon became very emotional again and, apologizing to the audience, walked off the stage, thereby bringing the show to an end.

 

 

This pisses me off for a myriad of reasons. Who does this heckler think she is? Is she a relative? Is she Apple’s doctor? Is she just trying to get attention? From any stand point, that’s just wrong. Going to a Fiona Apple show is not the same as going to say, a One Direction concert–Apple plays small venues, 1D plays arenas and stadiums, where if you scream anything, they will most likely not hear it as 20,000 other people are screaming things at the same time. Also, this was a personal attack under the guise of concern. It was not the time nor the place for this heckler to say anything to Apple.

 

Fiona Apple performing

 

 

While we have published posts that do talk about body types and health of women in the media, they were never to shame, they were written to critique the gossip blogs that were spinning these stories into national concern. This piece is written to critique the person who heckled a performer to the point of tears because she feels they don’t appear to be her definition of healthy. Yes, her appearance has changed over the years, but that’s still no reason to heckle someone when they are onstage in front of an audience. Even people commenting on the story on other blogs/social media sites share the sentiment of, “oh, that sucks, but Apple obviously has an eating disorder and/or heroin problem. She was skinny when she was in the “Criminal” video in ’97, but she had a youthful glow about her, so the heckler kind of has a point.”

 

 

What point? To call out someone’s appearance and then decide that they may or may not have a serious addiction/disorder? To make a singer/songwriter cry in the middle of her set? To shame her for being what they feel is too thin? To point out that her appearance has changed over the years?  It’s bullshit. It’s so rude, and unnecessary. Apple’s health is none of our concern as she has not chosen to disclose any details in regard to the matter. Was she endangering herself at the concert? Was she endangering her audience? No? Then this heckler is just being mean to get some attention (which sadly, she has succeeded in doing.) And also, I would like to point out that just because someone “looks” like they may have an eating disorder or drug addiction doesn’t always mean that they do.

 

So what’s your take? Was the heckler right to call out Apple, or is this just more shaming?

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Celebrity, Sex, Women

Lena Dunham Hates The Girls XXX Parody

Yesterday, it was announced that Hustler is releasing This Ain’t Girls XXX, a porn parody of the controversial HBO comedy. Lena Dunham is not thrilled. At all. Creator/star/writer/director/producer Dunham took to Twitter to explain why she wasn’t happy with Hustler:

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It’s refreshing to see someone take a stand against something they find offensive. In this day and age, it seems like female celebrities are just expected to follow the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” way of life, especially in regard to sexuality. Rather than be offended, laugh it off! Be like the boys! Uh, no. If you’re not comfortable, there’s a reason you’re not comfortable.

 

While I’m proud of Dunham’s response (and surprised, I thought she’d be all for it, to be honest,) I can’t help but have so many mixed feelings on the subject of porn itself. It’s odd how porn has gone from trying to be on par with mainstream films (please watch Inside Deep Throat, the documentary about the controversy behind 1972’s Deep Throat, if you can. Linda Lovelace’s story is so heartbreaking and the whole hoopla was so…odd. You just have to watch it) to protested to “empowering” and now it seems to be back again.

 

Is porn itself sexist? No. The core of porn is that it’s two (and sometimes more) people engaging in sexual acts. That is not sexist. What is sexist, however, is the porn industry. I remember watching a porn clip with some of my guy friends in college, and while they were all for it, I looked at and thought–really? This is what gets you guys going? I found myself very uncomfortable with an often “faceless” penis going at a very busty young woman, who looked like she was having an orgasm just looking at a bald middle aged man. It irritated me then and it irritates me now.

 

While you do hear the stories of people from broken lives entering the business, you also seem to hear stories of people doing it just to do it. While Farrah Abraham denies that her “sex tape” was actually a porno, you have to admit that it’s kind of awesome that she took control, hiring her co-star (James Deen, who is something of a teen idol despite his profession) and using a professional studio to create the scene. Jenna Jameson made a pretty penny with making her own line of sex toys and being one of the first to start a pay site. And there is the rise of feminist porn, porn made for and by women.

 

But that doesn’t really change that porn is still problematic for many, and it’s not just about the way women are presented. Even in gay porn, there’s still issues, especially when it comes to barebacking and the question of whether or not it objectifies men–I can’t help but notice that some gay porn studios like to take risks with scenes–coaches and baseball players that look disturbingly young, for example.  And there are some scenes from certain studios that look very close to non-consensual, presenting one performer as being intoxicated and the popular jailbird and security guard scenario. That isn’t all pornography, but there seems to be a lot of it.

 

But if you indulge in porn, should you be ashamed? Isn’t shame part of the reason pornography exists, as our society is so backwards when it comes to sexuality? What’s your take on this very loaded issue, LivLunatics?

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News, Women

MMA Fighters With Breast Implants Can’t Fight In Louisiana

Last Wednesday, the Louisiana State Boxing and Wrestling Commission passed an emergency ruling prohibiting female fighters with breast implants from competing in MMA tournaments unless they have permission from the doctor who performed the surgery. Why? A few weeks ago, a fighter was forced to withdraw from a match after her implant ruptured.  Okay, they’re worried about the safety of the fighters, that’s actually kind of nice. That’s not what concerned the commission–apparently, this issue was so serious, it warranted a hearing at the Louisiana state capitol where commissioner Harold Williams decided that “if [women] want to look good, then they don’t have to be in the ring.”

 

If that weren’t bad enough, the meeting didn’t come about of concern for women’s health, it came because apparently, not only is it expensive to fix boob jobs, but “I don’t know of a single plastic surgeon who is going to allow his artistic work to be messed up,” says Dr. Thomas Ferguson, a member of the commission.

 

 

Are you serious? While we’ve discussed the darker side of plastic surgery, ultimately, it is a personal choice. So what if someone wants to compete in MMA matches and get breast implants? Women in sports have it rough–they have to be camera ready, yet if they’re too pretty, they’re just models with a bit of athletic ability. That being said, if they’re too “unattractive,” they’re butch punchlines. It’s really not fair, and this ruling isn’t helping. It’s also infuriating that it seems the doctors aren’t concerned about the fighters, but about their work–that the fighters are just sculptures, not human beings. I understand that it takes time, but come on, at least acknowledge that these women are humans.

 

This seems to have started from a place of concern–a fighter had a breast implant ruptured. But now, thanks to sexist comments, it’s turned into something else. But you have to admit, there is definitely some sexism behind the whole thing–one ruptured implant causes a moratorium while severe head injuries continue to happen left and right? It’s not like implants rupture every day–and yes, there can be serious health risks if one does, but there are women who have had ruptured implants that weren’t MMA fighters.

 

What’s your take, LivLunatics? Is the Louisiana State Boxing and Wrestling Commission right, or is this just another way to keep female athletes down?

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Celebrity, Women

Let Miley Cyrus Grow Up, Please

Miley Cyrus’ performance at last night’s MTV VMA awards have people up in arms–not because the performance was bizarre, but people are shocked–SHOCKED–that a twenty-year-old former Disney star is trying to be sexy. The Parents Television Council is upset by the former Hannah Montana star’s “provocative” performance, releasing the following statement:

 

 

“MTV has once again succeeded in marketing sexually charged messages to young children using former child stars and condom commercials — while falsely rating this program as appropriate for kids as young as 14. This is unacceptable. This much is absolutely clear: MTV marketed adults-only material to children while falsely manipulating the content rating to make parents think the content was safe for their children. MTV continues to sexually exploit young women by promoting acts that incorporate ‘twerking’ in a nude-colored bikini. How is this image of former child star Miley Cyrus appropriate for 14-year-olds? How is it appropriate for children to watch Lady Gaga strip down to a bikini in the opening act? How is it appropriate for 14-year-olds to see a condom commercial and a promo for an R-rated movie during the first commercial break?”

“This content would likely not be given a forum if it were on a broadcast network,” the statement continued. “Yet MTV continues to push limits because it’s a cable network. But that does not mean MTV’s decisions have no consequences, especially for the millions of children who were targeted by MTV. We urge Congress to pass the Television Consumer Freedom Act which will give parents and consumers a real solution for future MTV VMA programs – the ability to choose and pay for cable networks that they want vs. having to pay for networks they don’t want. After MTV’s display last night, it’s time to give control back to consumers.”

 

While the PTC does have the right to be offended, they’re clearly using this performance to push their act, and to keep their name in the news. It’s not just them, either–many morning news programs were also horrified that the young adult wasn’t wearing a lot of clothes and dancing in a provocative way with Robin Thicke. But I don’t think the real problem is her performance–the problem is that people are used to seeing her in a particular way. They’re used to seeing her as Billy Ray Cyrus’ little girl who was the live action version of Jem for five years on the Disney Channel.

 

It’s kind of like with Amanda Bynes–although Cyrus isn’t showing symptoms of mental illness, people are fascinated with her scandals as they can’t get past the fact that she isn’t a tween anymore. What she’s doing isn’t really new. Many former female teen stars either have a provocative film (Disney girl Selena Gomez in Spring Breakers) magazine cover (too many to list, although Jessica “Mary Camden” Biel’s topless Gear cover shoot at age 17 comes to mind,) or performance (remember Britney Spears’ “racy” VMA performance in 2000?) to help say “I’m not a little girl anymore! Nickelodeon/Disney can’t hold me down!”

 

Cyrus is doing the same thing–the haircut, the dancing, the songs–she’s announcing that she’s no longer a child. Although she’s going about it in a not-so-great way (many are unhappy with her appropriation of black culture and her denial of it) she’s still a human being. She’s growing up. Not all of us make the right choices, but it’s a part of the growing up experience. Cyrus’ is just on blast for the world to see/hear. Come on, when you were in between being a teen and an adult, did you make the best decisions? I know I didn’t–5’3″ me tried to out drink a 6’3″ guy when I was 19 (he was cute, I wanted to impress him. I know, I know…) He got drunk off several beers. I vomited two double vodka/Red Bulls with a Jack Daniels chaser in my purse during the cab ride back to campus. Yeah, not my finest moment. But it was a growth experience, and I’m not the only person with a story like that. The performance also provides news outlets something to talk about, to help rile up parents. Cyrus isn’t the first starlet to go through this, and she certainly won’t be the last.

 

We do, however, need to slow down the talk. How about focusing less on the lack of clothes and more on how bad the actual performance was (what are her dancers wearing? Why did she need Robin Thicke and his Beetlejuice suit?) How she’s using black cultural appropriation to stay in the limelight and lashing out against her critics instead of being more aware of her privilege? About how we need to just say “Oh, her performance was weird. Let’s move on” instead of freaking out about her dance moves and wardrobe. She wants to look like an ass, let her. But don’t shame her. If people would just let her grow up, perhaps she wouldn’t have to resort to ripping off a teddy bear swimsuit thing to announce her womanhood.

 

What’s your take, LivLunatics? Is the press focusing on the wrong things? How do we let female tween stars grow up? Does the PTC have a case of Helen Lovejoy-itis?

 

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Celebrity, Women

The Women of The Wolverine

I went to see The Wolverine last night, and was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t that I thought the film was going to be bad, I was just surprised to see that women played such a big role–and not just as a sexy villain or damsel in distress.I’ve mentioned before that women in comic book movies are kind of a mixed bag. While they’ve come a long way from just being the love interest/damsel in distress and are also the heroes or love interests with awesome careers, there’s still an element that comic book movies are meant for men.

While I’m not going to call The Wolverine a feminist film by any means, it was a nice surprise to see that women were such a major part of the story, and not just as a prize of sorts. Before reading further, here’s a quick summary of The Wolverine for those not familiar with the X-Men/Wolverinefilms as I can’t write one myself without giving too much away and pointing out differences between the comics and the movies the way my inner Comic Book Guy wants to.  If you’ve seen the film, you’re good to go.

The Wolverine has four major women: Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Mariko (Tao Okamodo), Yukio (Rila Fukushima), and Dr. Green/Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova). Now, I know there may be some people who are confused as to why I’m celebrating these choices when Jean Grey haunts Wolverine and spends her time in the film in a lacy white nightie, Mariko is a damsel in distress and gets kidnapped more than once, and Viper’s powers are sexualized (she uses her tongue a lot, I’ll leave it at that.) Again, I’m not saying that The Wolverine is a feminist film by any means, but without these women, there would be no story.  And the women put twists on the tropes.

Jean in a nightie is more than just serving as eye candy to the men in the audience–it’s a symbolic choice, as she is dead. She is at peace, and the white suggests a rebirth as she was downright evil in the last X-Men movie she appeared in. Mariko, while initially presented as a docile, innocent woman, is not a typical damsel in distress. Unlike when Rogue (a mutant with the ability to really mess people up by stealing their memories/powers, mind you) got kidnapped in the first X-Menfilm and screamed her head off while waiting for Cyclops and Wolverine to save her, Mariko fights back. She’s not afraid to stand up to Wolverine, either. She is proficient in knife throwing, and is super important to the climax of the film, which I’m not about to give away as the film just opened last weekend.

While Viper is sexy, she is not one to be messed with. She is a mutant who is immune to every poison known to man, and is responsible for infecting Wolverine, who is supposed to be an immortal quick healer, making him invincible. She is also a brilliant biochemist, not just a woman who uses sex to get what she wants. She is cold, she is uncaring and doesn’t have a change of heart at the end, which is refreshing. I was also impressed with her final fight scene, after expecting to be disappointed (again, the film just opened last weekend, I can’t give too much away!)

rsz_yhdfjsfuyohiI haven’t even touched on Yukio, who may be my new favorite character. A mutant who is able to foresee death, she is also an assassin who is very proficient with a sword. While it’s easy to dismiss her as an anime character come to life, she is not a stereotypical giggly school girl meant to annoy Wolverine–she’s a serious warrior meant to assist him, yet is not cold and heartless, she has personality, which is rare–female sidekicks either have to be stone cold bitches or goofy cartoon characters. Yukio hits the balance.  At one point in the film, she tells Wolverine that she is his bodyguard, and is also a decent part of the climax, which I loved. She’s also featured on the Russian theatrical poster (pictured, left) along with Viper–however, unlike Viper, who appears to be modeling the latest in green raincoats, Yukio is ready for a fight, not gazing adoringly at Wolverine.

While women still have a ways to go in terms of comic book movies, I feel that The Wolverine is a step in the right direction, perhaps taking a cue from the Joss Whedon directed The Avengers, where the women actually fought instead of just being eye candy princess-y types. While the audience for comic book movies will always be largely men, it’s nice to see that they’re realizing that women like comics and comic book movies too. (I’m pretty sure they included a scene of Wolverine getting a bath and haircut to appeal to women, not gonna lie.) Maybe soon, we will get that Black Widow or Wonder Woman movie!

So, LivLunatics, what’s your take on the women of The Wolverine? Are they a step in the right direction in terms of women in comic book movies?

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Women

Holy Sexism, Batman! What is up With Geek Culture?

I’m seeing a disturbing trend in geek culture, true believers. I see many blog posts and news stories posts calling out the sexism and misogyny within the culture. Don’t get me wrong, I like that it’s being called out. It needs to be called out. I just don’t like there’s this awful attitude towards women in geek culture in the first place. This awful attitude goes beyond the trouble with the roles of women in comic book movies–I’ve seen posts asking a photography company to stop using cosplay images on body pillows, reposts of angry tweets directed at Feminist Frequency‘s Anita Sarkeesian and her vlogs on video games, and posts documenting sexual harassment at various sci-fi/comic book conventions.

 

What the hell is going on?Aren’t geek guys supposed to be shy and nice and excited whenever a girl shows interest in something the mainstream considers “lame?” you may be thinking. Oh wait, I see the problem. Geek culture has become mainstream. CBS airs The Big Bang Theory (pictured at left), a sitcom where two physicists are the lead and not only do they talk about science, they talk about comic books, sci-fi movies and tv shows, video games, computer parts, conventions, so on and so forth without any shame. San Diego Comic-Con is no longer just about comic books, it’s more of a pop culture convention if anything–I just read that the cast of How I Met Your Mother will be going this year. Last I checked, HIMYM was about a man searching for his soul mate, not about a superhero or captain of a futuristic space command center.  I feel that a lot of these geeks see this as an invasion, and are fiercely trying to hold on to things that are no longer considered quirky or unique to their subculture.

 

When women get involved, it’s tricky. I feel there’s a sense of “women are trying to take over, trying to make it PC, change everything we love and grew up with.” It doesn’t help if the woman in question is considered “hot” or “attractive,” more mainstream. The vicious attacks against Sarkeesian to me are partially these guys saying “Hey, you’re a hot girl, I’m supposed to show you what video games are, you can’t know this already, who are you to say that there’s sexism in Super Mario Bros.? I hate you! You’re taking away my special thing.” If the women aren’t discussing these games, they get accused of not being a part of the fandom, they’re just seen as women who like to dress as sexy versions of Princess Peach, The Pink Power Ranger, Wonder Woman, etc. They’re not real geeks, they’re not welcome–so what are they supposed to do?

 

I feel a lot of this is tied into the “nice guy” thing–that certain guys feel that these women, who, if it weren’t for the popularization of geek culture, would have no interest in it, owe them something. “I’m a nice guy, I’m sweet, we both like Power Rangers, but you’re still going after a guy I think is a jerk because he looks like a guy who gave me a swirly in 6th grade? Fuck you, bitch, you probably don’t actually like the show, you just think the costumes are cute, you’re not a real fan!” It’s ridiculous, and has actually made me wary of “geeky guys” for that reason. Just because they’re not “meatheads” does not mean that they’re exempt from being jerks.

 

So what can we do to change this? Keep calling it out. If women want to do cosplay, they can be whomever they damn well please–they’re not dressing up to impress the men in attendance, they’re dressing up because they love a character and want to show their appreciation, get into the spirit of the convention. They didn’t ask to be body pillows, and they certainly didn’t ask for you to grab their ass while being photographed with you. Anita Sarkeesian isn’t shunning video games, she’s just letting people know that they can be problematic with character design and the roles of women within the stories. That’s all.

 

What’s your take, LivLunatics? The the mainstreaming of geek culture a fad, or is there no such thing? Are people being too protective of their favorite superheroes and sci-fi icons? Why the hate towards women?

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