Response to The Swimsuit Edition, Where Sexism Knows No Size, by Melissaverse. (Please read!)
As mentioned in my previous piece, Just Another Porn Opinion, I’m a fairly strong advocate against it, and the obsession we’ve created.
Despite persistent whining from many men (and some women), porn is not natural and healthy. Studies have shown that porn can rewire the brain and have devastating effects on men and women in relationships and sex. (Look it up if you don’t believe me.) In fact, brain scans indicate that watching too much porn can shrink actually the brain. Scientists believe that pornography can even reduce mental abilities.
To believe that it is a win for women that Sports Illustrated is featuring a “plus-size model” (in an ad!) is an unfortunately representative view on the degrading nature of porn. America, true to our puritan roots, often shames nudity. Topless sunbathing and a child sees you? You could risk joining the growing list of sex offenders. Revealing dress? Slut. Supporter of the FreeTheNipple campaign? Impure. So, when nudity, or pretty darn close to it, appears, it is drooled over and obsessed about. Yet, it is largely misrepresentative of the human body.
Women (and men, too) aren’t perfect. We have scars, stretch-marks, birth marks, and lopsided features. There is so much beauty woven into the human body. We’ve all had different experiences, hardships, and triumphs, and they can be seen written in our skin. We shouldn’t be ashamed, we should be proud. So why are people paid heaps of money to heavily edit the bodies of women in published works?
What are we telling young girls about themselves when all they see in the media are women with deep tans, perfect skin, long legs, proportionate curves, and tiny waists to accompany high cheek bones, big eyes, and full lips? What are we suggesting to them when they look in the mirror and don’t see that? What are we expecting from men when they see an untouched body that isn’t anything like what they were bombarded with?
This current sex culture is ridiculous. Every time I go to pick up some groceries, I am faced with revolting tabloids of celebrities in swimwear under headlines such as “GUESS WHO THIS IS” “GUESS WHO HAS GAINED 40 POUNDS” “HOW DID SHE LET HERSELF GO?” “THAT BABY WEIGHT IS STILL THERE!” All the while, I stare down at the cheesecake I had to have.
Are we really surprised that nearly 20 million girls and women in the United States suffer from eating disorders?!
After the media called Tyra Banks, one of the most successful models of all time, fat, she stood in front of the audience (on her own tv show, mind you) in the same bathing suit and said with ferocity, “Kiss my ass!” as the crowd went wild. And good for her, because if that’s fat, we are all screwed. But Tyra, unlike most of us, has had years of career success and confidence building moments that she could take the potential blow to her self-esteem with grace. Many of us who are already struggling with confidence issues might find it harder to stick up to the world.
Go to Google and type in “sports illustrated best selling issue”. You will get pages of swimsuit edition links, with maybe a sprinkling of a sports story. There are calendars of tall, thin models in little to no clothing just lounging around. There are pictures of women hanging around the house in scandalous lingerie. I personally don’t know too many girls like this. The ones I know wear oversized sweats with holes in them and a matching old, stained hoodie. (Sorry to disappoint.)
This culture encourages unhealthy body expectations and self-loathing. How could it not? These guys just reassure each other that this behavior is alright. So how do you tell women that it’s okay to be disgusted, and that it’s okay to be pissed that after 52 editions of woman in impractical swimwear there is ONE ad featuring a larger model. I say larger because she’s bigger than the cover girl, but she’s by no means large. How do we tell women that it’s okay to be upset that their boyfriends engage in demeaning porn-viewing behavior? That it’s okay confront your significant other about masturbating at the expense of an airbrushed, posed model that looks nothing like you?
Why is “scandalous nudity” all that we seem capable of talking about? Below are pictures of Heidi Klum rescuing her family from a Hawaiian rip tide, and the author has the audacity to peg the act a mere occurrence of an “unfortunate nip slip”! I’m not sure that having your nipple show is truly suffering, nor that it warrants enough merit to possibly describe the remarkable event.
Melissa makes great points. Women need to stand up against this ridiculous attitude and men need to refrain from engaging in such temptations. It isn’t healthy. We shouldn’t be excited that it’s a big deal for one plus-sized model to be featured in a sexist magazine. We should be furious that it is a big deal. We shouldn’t be ashamed, we should be proud.