"I don't have enough for a lawsuit, but I do have enough for a broken heart/spirit."

[Content Note: Rape culture; misogyny; objectification; body policing; fat hatred; diet talk.]

This essay by Ally Sheedy, "Stasis," from the new book Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture, a collection of essays edited by Roxane Gay, is a must-read. Following is just a brief excerpt:
It did not matter that I did a good job on auditions, that I was smart, that I had natural ability. My thighs were the "thing."

So I dieted. All. The. Time. I learned that whatever I might contribute to a role through talent would be instantly marginalized by my physical appearance. I learned that my success would be dependent on what the men in charge thought about my face and my body. Everything I had learned back home had to go out the window as I adapted to these new requirements: what I looked like was paramount.

It wasn't even just whether I was pretty or thin; it was that I wasn't sexy. When I managed to land my first part in a big movie, I was given a ThighMaster as a welcome present and told to squeeze it between my legs at least a hundred times a day. A director of photography told me he couldn't shoot me "looking like that" when I walked on set one day. He said it in front of the whole crew. I was too wide, I guess, in the skirt they had given me to wear.

A few years later, I was told point-blank that my career was moving slowly because "nobody wants to fuck you."

...I'm still navigating the sexual appearance standard in professional work. When I am called to consider a role or audition for a role in TV/Hollywood Land, my talent is never in question. The "studio" or the "network" wants me on tape to see what I look like now.

I was never alone in a hotel room with Harvey Weinstein, but I've been at "dinners" that felt like come-ons and I've walked into rooms where I've been sized up and then received phone calls or "date" requests that I've turned down.

Today, if the producer or executive or male director in charge finds me sexually attractive, then I'm on the list. This is how it goes. This is how it IS. If the Harvey Weinstein disaster illustrates anything at all, it illustrates the entirety of the power structure. The lurid details of his rapes are disgusting and yet a shield, in a way, for the greater toxicity of that power structure.
There is so, so much more at the link, and I highly recommend heading over to read the whole thing.

What did I care how sexy Ally Sheedy was when I was watching her be cool and tough and weird and sweet? It didn't escape my notice that she was frequently cast as the girlfriend of the person who got to be the star, and it didn't escape my understanding, even as a child, that that was not a choice she could control. Virtually all the girls I liked were the girlfriend.

But if the Men Who Make Movies were casting her for her thighs, Sheedy imbued her characters with a complex humanity that captivated me. Not that it matters. Girls being captivated by other girls and women onscreen has never been the reason that men make movies.

Which is the cost of objectification to us all — the girls and women who act in movies, and the girls and women who watch them.

We all deserve better.

We all deserve to live in a world in which girls and women are genuine equals of men, in screen-time and complexity and pay and respect; where they are given characters of consequence to play; where they are cast in those roles for their talents alone; where they have equal opportunity to create and write and direct characters of consequence; where we are given abundant chances to watch them; where we all get to see ourselves represented onscreen, in characters who are more than objects or plot devices or sidekicks or tokens.

We all deserve to live in a world where girls and women feel safe participating in any industry that utilizes our labor.

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