So, So Good

Despite the unfortunate headline (which she almost certainly did not write herself) and the use of an ablist term in the final paragraph, this piece by actor Ashley Judd about the public speculation about her appearance is amazing.
This abnormal obsession with women's faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.

...News outlets with whom I do serious work, such as publishing op-eds about preventing HIV, empowering poor youth worldwide, and conflict mineral mining in Democratic Republic of Congo, all ran this "story" without checking with my office first for verification, or offering me the dignity of the opportunity to comment. It's an indictment of them that they would even consider the content printable, and that they, too, without using time-honored journalistic standards, would perpetuate with un-edifying delight such blatantly gendered, ageist, and mean-spirited content.

I hope the sharing of my thoughts can generate a new conversation: Why was a puffy face cause for such a conversation in the first place? How, and why, did people participate? [...] I ask especially how we can leverage strong female-to-female alliances to confront and change that there is no winning here as women. It doesn't actually matter if we are aging naturally, or resorting to surgical assistance. We experience brutal criticism. The dialogue is constructed so that our bodies are a source of speculation, ridicule, and invalidation, as if they belong to others—and in my case, to the actual public. (I am also aware that inevitably some will comment that because I am a creative person, I have abdicated my right to a distinction between my public and private selves, an additional, albeit related, track of highly distorted thinking that will have to be addressed at another time).

If this conversation about me is going to be had, I will do my part to insist that it is a feminist one, because it has been misogynistic from the start.
Go read the whole thing.

In our profoundly sick culture of judgment, one of the most important—so simple, so difficult—bits of social justice teaspooning we can all do is simply refuse to judge other people's appearance, which has ramifications both culturally and personally.

Judgment is, at its roots, projection—evaluating people's deviations from a standard we endorse. We are thus quick to see our own "flaws" in others. Judgment reinforces our own shortcomings, reflects our perceived failures back to us, makes it difficult to love ourselves when we see our own supposed defects everywhere we look.

Loving ourselves, "flaws" and all, is an integral part of dismantling the rigid tyranny of the Beauty Standard, because by embracing our Less Than Perfectness, we refute the obligation to conform to any standard that purports to be universally attainable and demand we be judged by a measure of our own making.

And we grant ourselves the right to be happy in who we are.

It's funny how much easier it is to grant that right to everyone else having once gifted it to yourself.

Letting go of the culturally-imposed compulsion to judge everyone is hugely freeing—a gift to ourselves that makes self-acceptance a helluva lot easier, and a gift to everyone else who steps into our gazes, to whom we can extend the same generosity and esteem.

The most important thing I have ever done for my own sense of value, the most profound kindness I have ever offered to myself, is to take a long look at the deeply unreasonable, inherently condemnatory, nakedly cruel, worth-suberverting, kyriarchy-entrenching, target-moving, can't-fucking-win Beauty Standard in its impossibly unachievable face and tell it to fuck off.

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