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Ashley Judd

Women’s bodies have been made fair game by the media and at this point, we’re pretty much out there for everyone to comment on. 

Our thighs, our butts, our bellies, our faces. Then there’s the movie, TV, and music stars. There is a whole industry invested in the way celebrities look and it models for the rest of us what to worry about or be aware about. I still remember the comment made about some star wearing “mom” jeans. I’m a mom. I’m proud to be a mom, but I don’t want to wear “mom jeans.” They said she looked horrible. And who wants to look horrible? The media slander about women’s bodies and what we wear or put on those bodies affects us. It just does.

Ashley Judd, who was just media slammed for having a puffy face, came back with an awesome feminist argument that can’t be denied– women’s bodies are picked apart so much that the real people inside them can’t be seen. She says:

“The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.”

This critique of women’s bodies turns us to objects that can be commented on like art or like garbage. Look at the line here it is exquisic or look at this mark here, awful, get rid of this trash.

This also makes it easier for the larger society to believe that they have the right to make women’s bodies and choices about their bodies talk of the town, political fodder, and up for debate.

So, women are objectified, talked about, and critiqued all over the place. If it’s not the clothes we wear, it’s our butts or our faces. Then the conversation is about the right to choose for women about what they need, whether they should have an abortion or not, whether women can say no to sex (rape), whether they can decide what to wear, whether they have the ability to say no to being sold into marriage or sex slavery, whether they want to be burned with acid.

Who wants to be burned with acid- right? No one, but the choice isn’t there when you are seen as inferior, inhuman, and non-compliant. Women don’t have that choice when choices are made for them.

Commentary on our bodies is also harmful to our self esteem and can cause depression. It becomes a way women relate to each other. It becomes the conversations we know how to have, the ways we know how to connect.

So, “let’s go walking together on our lunch break” isn’t about feeling good and getting healthy, it’s about losing weight because “I’m so fat” and then the other person says something about their weight or eating habits being worse to try to make the other person feel better by putting down themselves. It’s a cycle of relating about feeling bad about ourselves as women.

Anya Strzmien from Huffington Post right now has a campaign where, if you put a complement about your body in a tip jar (say something nice about your body in the comment section), they donate a dollar to Girls Inc. It’s only going on for another week, so hurry. Read the article. Read some of the comments- they’re great. Write a comment. Yes, we’re still talking about women’s bodies, but this is talking about your own body and saying something good about it. Here’s the tip jar.

Stop the body slander cycle. Women are so much more than just bodies. It is essential to equality that we relish that fact.

Grrl Code: Work to relate to women in other ways that don’t include negative comments about your bodies. We are more than that. Our bodies are strong and powerful. They carry us around every day in this tough world, but we are so much more than just our bodies.