Friday, May 20, 2011

A Round Up of New Links to Explore

I've been getting a lot of topics to post lately, so before I forget, here are some interesting links I've found. 

1. AOL Music interviewed Jordan Sparks about her recent body transformation and new song. While at first I was skeptical since so many celebrities have come out lately with dramatic weight loss news, I think Jordan Sparks offers a positive message, saying that she wanted to become active and get more energy for herself. Even if she had good intentions and feels better about herself, she cannot control the language that the media uses to discuss her weight loss. The article focuses on her new svelte figure and evolved image, manipulating Jordan's reasons for losing weight.

2. Is Beyonce becoming more "white"? Check out this image of her fourth album cover. When I first looked at it, I didn't recognize her. This is a common trend with female singers. For more information, look at this image of Shakira before fame and after fame.

3. Continuing with the topic of Beyonce, she's decided to fight childhood obesity with Michelle Obama through her song "Move Your Body." Click the link to see her music video. It frustrates me that childhood obesity is framed as a problem that needs fighting and that exercise seems to be the only "solution" discussed in conversations about body image.

4. In recent studies about "Why Women Have Sex", researchers found that sex is more complicated for women, and that 1 in 3 women report feeling sad after having sex. The author considers the reasons why women have sex. For example, if a woman is having "revenge" sex, then maybe it explains why she is sad afterwards. Reading the comments below this article was enlightening because many of the readers feel the same way I do. One reader wrote, "Is it possible that women have the same sexual desires as any other species on the planet?" I agree. Can't a woman enjoy sex because of the same reasons as a man? Why are men allowed to have limitless desires while women must have reasons for having sex? 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Differences Between a 'Homance' and a 'Bromance'

While reading reviews for the film Bridesmaids, I encountered the term “homance.” My immediate response was to google a “homance”, and the results were scarce. Urban dictionary offers two diverse definitions. It may mean a relationship between a pimp and his “ho”, but in the context of that article, it is supposed to be the female equivalent of a “bromance” or relationship between two straight males, that is “closer than friendship but less than a dating relationship.” Yet, a homance has different connotations than a bromance. 

When thinking about a bromance, the films, I Love You, Man, Pineapple Express, and The Hangover, come to mind. These characters are goofy, funny, and lovable. I think one reason why the term bromance is so popular is because it is an acceptable form of male friendship. These films have made bromances cool and funny as compared to a situation where two men are just hanging out together in regular friendship. Why? Well, there is still a stigma against two men being called gay if they spend too much time together. I would love a male perspective on this because I don't want to make generalizations.

When I think about a homance, I get stuck on the use of the term "ho" because I would never want to be called that. Why do women and men need to declare that they are in homances and bromances? My worry is that "homance" will become another word feminists need to reclaim after the media has used it to harm women and increase female competition. My inquiry about homances led me to a few articles about the current state of female relationships in films. While men bond through bromances in smash hits, women are tearing each other apart in films. For an example, take a look at Kate Hudson's new film, Something Borrowed. Could Bridesmaids be an exception or is it reinforcing a rule that women need to compete over beauty and men? I'll tell you what I think when I see it!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Can A Woman Be a Silver Fox?

A supermodel, Kristen McMenamy, has been popping up a lot in the news over the last couple of years for her return to the modeling industry. She is making headlines because she is 46-years-old and has long gray hair. Many articles have praised McMenamy for widening what the modeling industry views as beautiful. She is proud of her gray hair and wants to show it off, yet I'm not sold on her goal to empower women to flaunt their gray locks.
There are a few troubling aspects of this image of McMenamy in Italian Vogue that need to be addressed. First, her hair looks blond in this image. Her look has striking similarities to another famous idol. There is something unnerving about McMenamy's expression. She looks doll-like and lifeless. Is this the ideal woman men want? Her body also makes me uncomfortable because while she is 46-years-old, she looks like she is 20-years-old. This is a trend where women in their 40s have become the new 20s. A show that perpetuates that idea is Desperate Housewives. I remember when the show first aired how Teri Hatcher was hailed for being "sexy over 40." Their is not an embracing of the aging process, but a complete denial that it takes place. A woman cannot age gracefully because well, she is not allowed to age... at all.

While McMenamy may have broken a "rule" that women cannot have gray hair, she is still caught in society's obsession with a youthful look. This image of McMenamy makes that point. Another contradiction to McMenamy's appearance is her declaration that she dyes her hair. In an article on, she shared that there is one stubborn streak of black that she must dye to give her the "natural" gray look. This is an obvious contradiction to me because she does not fully embrace her gray hair when she dyes it. 

Instead of starting a movement toward aging gracefully, McMenamy's gray hair has started a trend. Socialites and models, such as Pixie Geldof in the image below, are mimicking McMenamy's gray look, and I think losing a message that could be powerful.

A young woman shared in an online blog that she learned to love her gray hair when she began noticing it at 14-years-old. She writes, "These days, most who comment on my hair compare me to the sexy, leather-clad character Rogue of the “X-Men” movies, and I never disabuse anyone of the notion that I am a superhero. My bad-ass world-saving name? Silver Fox, of course." It is possible for a woman to be a sexy, silver fox. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Breaking Down the Barrier that Emotions Are 'Feminine'

One gender stereotype that I witness frequently is the belief that women are overly emotional. This stereotype is thriving in popular culture. The opening of Bridget Jones’s Diary is a perfect example where Bridget longingly sings to the camera that she is ‘All By Herself’ without a mate. There is also a scene from Glee where Rachel Berry asks guidance counselor, Emma, if ‘she’s ever liked someone so much that you’ve just wanted to lock yourself in your room, listen to sad music and cry.’ The screen quickly flashes to Emma crying in her car singing ‘All By Myself.’

The act of being emotional is synonymous with being a woman or being ‘feminine.’ The type of emotions a woman is allowed to have is limited since she can express sadness but not anger or aggressions. Those feelings are reserved for men. This begins at a young age when boys are told they should not cry while girls are encouraged to share their emotions. Those stereotypes have detrimental effects on career opportunities for women. When a woman is seen as ‘overly emotional’, how can she be respected to make difficult decisions on behalf of others at a company?

Not only are emotions seen as ‘feminine’, they are also viewed as ‘bad’ or ‘inappropriate.’ Throughout this semester, I have felt pressured to be strong and keep pushing through the difficult moments with advice such as ‘You’re almost done’ and ‘It will be over soon.’ While those words of encouragement help, to be honest, I’m still very sad, frustrated, and angry about many of the circumstances that were forced onto me this semester. While I will be ‘fine’, I’m not right now, yet, I feel the pressure to put a smile on my face and carry on. I imagine a better world where men and women are more comfortable sharing their emotions and less willing to put on shows for the people in front of them. Yes, the truth hurts sometimes, but I’ve learned this semester that I want to know the truth about people. I’d rather have genuine, strong people surrounding me that like the ‘real’ me.