I’m in a ranty sort of mood tonight, internet.
The subject of today’s rant is contouring.
Have you heard of this crap? If you are a lady person under the age of 30, it’s quite probable you have. For others of you, possibly not. I’ll fill you in.
Contouring is basically like shading your face so it looks more 3-D. You put dark makeup on some bits and light makeup on other bits and apparently it’s supposed to make your face less fat. Because I guess now we need to be concerned about our faces looking fat. What next, our fingernails?
Skipping over the complication of faces already being 3-D, I’m a little concerned about this contouring thing.
Let me walk you through the process.
First, you moisturize your face to keep your skin fresh and young and healthy. Then you prime your face with a primer, which is like another moisturizer but not, to make your skin smooth. Then you put skin-colored foundation on your face, because nobody wants to actually see your real skin. Put that shit away.
Then you highlight and darken certain areas of your face, as shown above. Then you blend it out so it looks “natural”, and then you powder it.
After all that, you can start putting your makeup on. The entire process only takes about the lifespan of a star to complete.
This does not make you look more beautiful. It makes you look Photoshopped.
What happened to fresh, clean, dewy skin? Why do we have to put on a clown mask just to go out nowadays?
I’ve been hoarding a lot of links lately to articles that I wanted to send you to, internet, and instead of trying to condense these beautifully written, poignant pieces into my own words, I figured it’d be best to offer them whole and try to explain why I think they are important.
Feminism wasn’t meant to become a hard, angry word. It was intended, originally, to inspire people to fight for women’s rights, to acknowledge that men and women are equals, and to give a name to the people who wanted a powerful movement to succeed.
To a certain extent, feminism succeeded.
And then, somewhere down the line, the word itself got twisted and bend and sharpened into something ugly that people did not want to associate themselves with.
Let us be crystal clear.
If you believe that woman deserve to live good lives with opportunities for success equal to men, you are a feminist.
If you believe that woman do not deserve to be bullied, abused, criticized or belittled for being women, you are a feminist.
There are bare-breasted dread-lock wearing hippie protestor feminists, and there are lesbian porn-star feminists, and there are gun-toting vegan feminists who don’t believe in abortion but do believe in rape clinics, and even *gasp* male feminists.
The bottom line is, you are probably a feminist.
You, reading this, right now.
“But wait!” you may be saying. “I enjoy making sexual jokes and watching porn and I have never once been to a rally or even signed a petition!”
If you believe women are awesome and deserve to not be treated like shit, you are a feminist.
“Oh,” you’re probably thinking, “that does sound pretty good, but is feminism even still relevant?”
Feminism is still relevant because there are still women all over the world being mistreated, and because there are still jerks around who think that that’s okay.
Here’s the bottom line.
You don’t need to go to a rally if you don’t want to. You don’t need to run around yelling at non-feminists if that doesn’t float your boat.
What you need to do, dear reader, at bare minimum, is try to be less of a jerk everyday.
Notice that I didn’t imply that you were a jerk, because you’re already a feminist, so you’re heading in the right direction.
No, when I say be less of a jerk, I mean when it next occurs to you to spew some ill-intentioned comment about a woman, re-evaluate your need to say that thing. When your friend says something mean about a woman, re-evaluate your need to validate that remark. When life offers you an opportunity to do something positive, think about doing that thing.
That’s the goodness we’re spreading today, internet.
It’s as easy as opening a door for a stranger, and you don’t have to feel awkward if they’re a little too far away and they have to jog for it.
Think about it.
Hello internet. We meet again.
I was on Pinterest recently (Follow me! Link in the sidebar!) and I found two absolutely amazing pins I’d like to write about. The first was a quote attributed to Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women:
“A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.”
The second was a picture of Kristen Stewart that linked to an article on Deeply Problematic which discusses how Kstew doesn’t often smile for photographs on the red carpet. The author of the article, who goes by RMJ, attributes this quote to Kristen Stewart regarding her experiences on the red carpet:
“People say that I’m miserable all the time. It’s not that I’m miserable, it’s just that somebody’s yelling at me…I literally, sometimes, have to keep myself from crying…It’s a physical reaction to the energy that’s thrown at you.”
Both of these pins are an example of body policing- the act of trying to inform someone of how they should look, or more specifically, how they should change they way they look to become more “appropriate” for the situation at hand. Body policing takes many forms. It can be as dangerous and insidious as a modeling agency telling their models they need to fit a certain standard of size and dress, and as seemingly harmless as telling someone to smile.
Telling Kristen Stewart to smile when she feels uncomfortable doing so not only implies that she’s doing something wrong because she isn’t smiling, it’s telling her that she has an obligation to smile and feel gratitude for the position that she’s in. Worst of all, it invalids her discomfort. By telling her to smile, we are telling her that her personal feelings are secondary to the need to cover them up. She must be happy. She must be pretty. She must perform at all times.
That’s the scary part, folks. Body policing is a subtle way of telling us that we can’t ever step off the stage or let someone else see through the cracks in our shiny, perfect veneers, and that’s how the mental disorders creep in – anorexia, bulimia, depression, and dis-morphism.
I was at the library looking up a few anatomy questions I got asked during yoga class and stumbled across an absolute gem of a book called Women’s Strength Training Anatomy by French author Frédéric Delavier. I picked it up hoping for a quick and easy refresher on proper wrist alignment and modifications in plank, which is a ridiculously common exercise used by pretty much every exercise trainer on the face of the planet. What I ended up with was half an hour of stifling giggles in the library as I kept flipping back to the title page thinking There is NO way this book wasn’t published in the 1980’s. This CANNOT be a real thing.
Oh yes, internet. It’s a real thing. I present to you Women’s Strength Training Anatomy, published in 2002, a real life guide for women who like their workouts sprinkled with a dash of Misogyny and a sprinkle of Racism.
Now before I continue, I will admit that Delavier’s book has some incredibly good information in it, and does make some accurate points regarding the differences between male and female anatomy. The exercises he lists are good ones, well described and accompanied with detailed, fantastically rendered drawings of what to look for. However, as many to the Amazon reviews for this book point out, you may as well just get the original Strength Training Anatomy (for men) by Delavier, because the praise for this book ends here.
The author starts the ball rolling with a brief chapter on fat deposits in women. He points out that women tend to have more fat deposits than men because our bodies are geared towards pregnancy and the extra fat reserves serve as an energy source for Baby. Sure. Fine. Okay. Then he says:
“For various reasons, different fat distributions occur in women according to climate. In hot countries, the fat is localized on the buttocks (black Africans), on the hips (Mediterraneans), and around the navel (certain Asians). This distribution avoids covering the woman with a hot coat of fat that would be difficult to bear and inefficient for thermoregulation during hot periods. In cold countries, the distribution of fat is more uniform, which provides for better protection during rigorous winters. However the fat is distributed, its main function is for the survival of the species as it provides for survival of the woman and her offspring during times of scarcity.” (8)
Wait. Stop yourself, Delavier. This seems cray cray. This seems like one of those statements that you read and at first you think, huh, okay and then you think about it and go waittt a second, no. I tried to find another source on this and I couldn’t come up with anything, but if someone finds a legitimate study on this published any time in the past decade, please let me know and I will retract my statement. Otherwise I’m calling shenanigans, D, because you then go on to point out that the fat between the thighs “plays an important aesthetic role in that it fills the space between the two thighs” (10) and that is just a super unnecessary thing to say.
Another thing, D. I get that all of your illustrations show perfect, beautifully in shape women with perfect hair, smoldering bedroom eyes, and huge, perky breasts, because let’s face it, modern workout photos and videos do exactly the same thing. I very much appreciate the extremely detailed drawings of musculature and the highlighting of the working muscles. Fabulous. But will someone explain to me, please, why the model’s clothing just gets smaller and then completely see-through and then it just falls off? Honestly, about halfway through the book, the drawings are just naked. Is this an artistic touch of some sort, Delavier? I get that you’re French, but was showing me the aureola on the lady demonstrating cycling obliques really necessary? Your target audience is women, D, I’m pretty sure we know what boobs look like, and contrary to popular belief, we rarely do our abs section au naturale.
I’m not even going to touch on the mysterious lack of upper body exercises in this book, because my delicate feminine sensibilities can’t handle the mere mention of arm exercises. I just get my harem of tough, dependable manly men to do all my heavy lifting for me, which is fine, because I’m stuck in the 1920’s and there isn’t anything heavy in the kitchen anyways.
As a helpful workout guide, I’ll give Women’s Strength Training Anatomy 3.5 out of 5 for having pretty good alignment cues and descriptions for the abs, back, seat, and legs. I omitted a full point for the lack of upper body exercises.
As a female athlete, however, I award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul.