You Can’t Objectify Me or My Leggings

By: Christina Terrell

Over the years women have always been told what they should and should not wear. Even in the current year of 2019 women are still held to a stigma that they should not wear things that show their “curviest” assets or skin. The impression has been that when women are body shamed for what they wear and how their body is built, it is men who are doing the scolding. This is far from the case of Maryann White and how she expressed her feelings about young ladies wearing leggings.

Maryann White is a mother of two boys who one day when she was at Notre Dame’s church for mass service, noticed a group of young ladies dressed in “black painted on leggings”, with short shirts that did not cover their backsides. This was a distraction in Maryann’s eyes, not only for her but also her children. She responded by writing a letter to the Notre Dame student newspaper, expressing her concerns with the wearing of leggings and how young ladies should not be allowed to do so in mass or on campus.

However, after Notre Dame received this letter, it was quickly published in the student newspaper by request of the female students in question. The female students of Notre Dame decided that the best way to respond to this through awareness and peaceful protest. One of the outcomes of their actions included the women of Notre Dame starting a #leggingdayND. During this day, which later turned into a full week, encouraged the women of the Notre Dame campus to wear their leggings and then to post a video or picture to social media, expressing that there is no one or nothing that should be allowed to tell a female what they should and should not be able to wear on their campus and religious spaces.

In my opinion women should not be objectified to having to look a certain way in a place of religion but they should instead be able to freely practice their religion in their own skin or what makes them comfortable. It is important that we engage in the conversation that no one wants to have, women are not the issue, and neither is what we decide to put on our bodies, after all, it is our body!

Becoming Barbie

By: Caitlin Easter

From a very young age we are exposed to Barbie. From this early age we learn—and in turn internalize— the values and lessons of “health” as displayed by what we are exposed to. Barbie is the epitome of what children, especially little girls, are taught to want to be—thin yet disproportionately curvy, with blonde hair and a consistently perfect life. And even once we are grown, the ideologies instilled in us via Barbie never quite fade.  The society we live in is heavily influenced by consumer culture, and we are taught that we can also achieve what Barbie has if we are willing to spend the money to get there. If we don’t like our face shape we can invest in plastic surgery or even contouring products in order to change our face shape, if we have a problem with our bodies, we have millions of options of plans and regimes we can buy into in order to achieve the ideal Barbie physique.

However, Barbie’s shape has its own issues.. The South Shore Eating Disorders Collaborative affirms the unrealistic body expectations put forth by Barbie, stating that “if Barbie was an actual woman, she would be 5’9” tall and would weigh “110 lbs.” Due to this, “Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the criteria for anorexia.” They also assert that due to her extremely unhealthy figure, she would “likely not menstruate” and that “she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.” We are, however, never told that Barbie’s shape is unrealistic and unachievable, we just go our whole lives wondering why we can’t reach this idealized standard.

Past the inherently subliminal messages that were passed on through Barbie, in 1963 a group of Barbie dolls—including most famously, Slumber Party Barbie—came with a scale permanently set to 110 pounds along with a book named How To Lose Weight that included a single page with the words “DON’T EAT!” displayed in capital letters. How did Mattel, the toy company that manufactures Barbie, think that this was a good message to feed to their young audience? With such a platform comes a social obligation to do good, or more simply, to not destroy the body image of young children all across the world. Barbie was literally teaching little girls that starving themselves was the proper way to reach their goal weight, and we wonder why most members of society have such deeply-rooted issues with their body’s appearance.

As long as we live in a culture where it is okay not to address these issues, they will never be fixed.  As of late we have seen the appearance of bigger Barbies, but the fact that they need to be advertised as being “bigger Barbies” instead of just “Barbies” highlights the fact that there is something inherently better about being unachievably skinny. There is nothing inherently healthy about Barbie and her lifestyle, and if we let our children continue to play with these toys without at least teaching them positive body image first, we will never see an end to these issues.

Yes, Barbie has a reputable image, but when Barbie is teaching children not to eat in order to maintain her “ideal” figure, is she really the role model we want to give our extremely malleable children?

To Bra, or Not to Bra: That is My Choice

By Ann Varner

About a year ago, I was sunburned so badly I had second degree burns on my back. The burns were so bad that I had to wrap my back in gauze to cover the open wounds from the blisters, and could not wear a bra due to the area where the burns were. At first, I was horrified that I would have to go without a bra. I still had to work and not wearing a bra made me terribly self-conscious. The entire time I was working, I was crossing my arms trying to cover up my unsupported chest. But after a few weeks of freedom from my bra, I found I was infinitely more comfortable without a bra. I really started to love being braless and couldn’t care less about what people were thinking.

Thanks to that sunburn, I have been liberated from my bra and the pressure to always wear one.  I have made the choice to go braless or at least only wear a simple bralette with no underwire and no padding. It’s enough to hold up the girls when I need the extra support, but that’s it. It’s comfortable, it’s what works for me, and it’s my choice.

Some women prefer bras for various reasons. And that’s okay. For instance, if you have a large chest, wearing a bra can help relieve back pain. Wearing a bra can also hold things in place while exercising. Those are fine reasons for wearing a bra. Those are also choices that a woman can make herself and that’s why I’m writing this blog. I think wearing a bra should be a choice, not a necessity.

Over the years I’ve heard comments from both men and women directed towards women that they notice who are not wearing bras. These comments are mostly critical about braless women being too “lazy” to put one on. I’ve heard people say, “She was so lazy she wouldn’t even put a bra on” and “I can’t believe she couldn’t take two seconds to put on a bra. That’s lazy.” I’ve even had my own friends direct similar comments toward me and my choice to go braless. For the record, friends: I am not too lazy to put on a bra. I am making a choice!

Being braless does not equal laziness. Choosing to wear a bra or not is a woman’s choice to make, and women should not feel ashamed or embarrassed if they make that choice. But why do people still think that they are entitled to have an opinion about a woman’s choice to wear a bra or not?

According to the online women’s health magazine, the bra wasn’t even invented until the 1900’s. Women went centuries without binding their chests in spandex and polyester. A woman named Mary Phelps Jacob came up with the first idea for a bra, which consisted of two handkerchiefs and a pink ribbon. However, it was a man named Frederick Mellinger (a.k.a. Fredericks of Hollywood) who created the first padded and push-up bra in 1947. He soon built a business of highly sexualized bras and undergarments. Mellinger’s bras helped bring focus to women’s breasts as objects covered in satin and fancy lace and coyly hiding one of the woman’s most titillating body parts – the nipple. Social rules of modesty have demanded that women must cover up their nipples, yet men have always been free to display theirs in any public setting without scrutiny. (The #freethenipple campaign is working to bring equity to the issue.) So because women’s breasts (and nipples) are seen as objects of sexual desire, the bra has become a tool to control that desire and a woman’s ability to control her own sexuality. A braless woman with her free wielding breasts and nipples sends the message that she is in control of her body and sexual desires, and that can make some people – especially men – uncomfortable.

I wholeheartedly believe that women should always be in control of their own bodies and I encourage you to make your choice to wear a bra or not based on what’s comfortable for you. After all, you were not put on this earth to make other people comfortable.

The Dress Code

By Caroline Turner

As kids, some of us dealt with school uniforms. Luckily for me, I did not. I would have hated the idea of being restricted to wear only two pairs of pants and two different colored shirts. In fact I remember writing school papers passionately siding on why kids should be able to express themselves, make their own decisions, and wear what they want without uniforms. In an institution that requires strict dress codes or uniforms, you know what you’re signing up for. But in the real world once we graduate from those institutions do we still have dress codes telling us what we can and cannot wear as grown-ups, specifically as women?

When men go shopping there are many options to choose from. Wear a bow tie, wear a tie, or no tie. Get a tight tee shirt or a loose tank top. Wear baggy pants or tight pants. Wear sneakers or dress shoes. All of these choices are ok and express one’s freedom of choice and personal style preference. Once the clothes are purchased and taken home, the man would probably not have a second thought when getting dressed in his new clothes later on.

When women go shopping, very similarly, there are also many options to choose from. Wear a bra, wear a push up bra, or no bra. Get short shorts or jeans. Wear a crop top or wear a tank top. Wear sneakers or heels. Again, all of these choices are ok and express one’s freedom of choice and personal style preferences. During the process of shopping, once the clothes are bought, or maybe both times, there is a thought that creeps into women’s minds when getting dressed. And it’s not about how the clothing will feel, or if the clothes will last a while.  It’s a thought about how others will treat her based on what she’s wearing. “Is there too much skin showing? Will people be looking at me unwantedly? Will they think of me as promiscuous, easy? Will they interpret this clothing as me wanting to make a sexual advance? Will I be respected or taken seriously?”

Sexualizing women unwantedly has largely become socially acceptable. The media and our culture works to pin-point styles and behaviors as being sexual, even if there is nothing inherently sexual about them.

The in depth report on the sexualization of girls by the American Psychological Association explains that girls can then self-objectify themselves by “(internalizing) an observer’s perspective on their physical selves and learn to treat themselves as objects to be looked at and evaluated for their appearance.” There is no clear dress code on what women can and cannot wear, but based on societal standards we monitor ourselves. For example, we may not wear shorts because they might be too revealing.

For women it seems there is a dress code, albeit one that is more clearly read between the lines. Some of us may be more aware of it than others, but it is one that is created by us, our sisters and brothers. This dress code is based on sexualizing women and teaching us how to monitor ourselves in the process. I never was a fan of dress codes, and this woman’s code is an especially sneaky one that has got to go.

Woman with the Pencil, Not the Pencil Skirt

By: Caroline Turner

Why do we notice women in the news for what they are wearing, and men in the news for what they are doing? Why are we more inclined to point out what a women has on than we are a man?

Source: Wiki-images

On Snapchat, pretty much daily, you will see story lines about what various female celebrities are wearing. Do women just dominate the fashion world? No. But why then is what they are wearing what makes them newsworthy? Men are rarely seen in Snapchat stories and media for what they are wearing. Rather, they are mostly mentioned for who they are with or what they are doing. So why is it that we are so focused on capturing, celebrating, and criticizing women for what they wear?

I did a Google search of “media’s focus on female fashion,” and many articles came up that illustrate why focusing on what a woman wears above all else, creates problems in the way they are perceived. The whole first page was full of articles about media coverage on female politicians and scientists. Attention for these women should focus on what they are doing in leadership and research, not on their fashion choices.  But that’s often where the attention goes and what makes the headline or story. The media never treats men this way. Part of the reason there are fewer women than men in these fields is because of this constant focus on what women are wearing, rather than what they are doing. This sends the wrong message to young girls and may discourage them from considering those careers. Focusing on a woman’s appearance devalues her professionally, and can , often to no avail.

When I changed “female” to “male,” in my Google search, what I found confirmed that this was largely a female issue. However, my searches did find that the media pays disproportionate attention to men with regard to sports and their athletic physique, which creates body image issues among young boys.  So maybe men are not being portrayed fairly in the media either; however, the specific focus that the media places on how women look and what they are wearing can be damaging to them professionally and can affect to how they see themselves and assess their own .

So why does the media focus so much on what women are wearing? How did this come to be?

The male gaze, coined by feminist film critic Laura Mulvey in 1975 describes the way in which the visual arts and literature depict the world and women from a masculine point of view, presenting women as objects of male pleasure. An object does not do anything, it is to be looked at. An object is something that we do things to or do things with, but it does not act on its own. Perhaps media outlets have become like Mulvey’s man behind camera. The male gaze through the lens of the media can objectify women and distort how we value them, and this can have dangerous effects.

As media evolves and grows, pictures become stories and videos become GIFs. These narratives that we create in order to understand ourselves and others are becoming more and more embedded into our everyday lives. As media becomes more connected to us through social media, it is important to  become vigilant in recognizing the male gaze in the media so we can rise above its influence and decide for ourselves what is truly newsworthy.

Chivalrous or Sexist? What’s the difference?

by Thea Voutiritsas

Standing between two barstools, I pushed myself up on my tiptoes to give the bartender my order.  I’m 5″1′, and for some reason I believe that standing on my tiptoes helps people hear me. She took my order and walked away. Then my male friend came up and paid the tab before I had a chance to protest. I tried to argue that it was my turn to pay, but he said not to worry about it.

“Sure,” I gave up. “Next time.”

I spent the rest of the evening in, what felt like, the passenger’s seat. I never lit my own cigarette, or opened a door, or paid for a drink. Someone even walked in on me in the bathroom. He quickly left; it was an accident! No big deal. But he apologized to who he believed to be my boyfriend. Not me. I bumped into someone. I apologized. He told me that a “pretty lil’ thing never ought to apologize for anything.”  All night, people asked who my boyfriend was, as if I wouldn’t have come there on my own accord.

I aired my frustrations the next day, and the only response I could get was,

“Why do you care that people are being nice to you?”

Because people are being nice to me in the way they are nice to children and babies. I may be small in stature. I may be a woman. I may even wear big pink dress, god forbid. At the end of the day, I’m an adult. What I hate is not being treated like one. I don’t need advice, I don’t need a chaperone, and I don’t need someone else’s money. I know how to use a lighter, and a door, and a toilet. I’m a woman, with a job, and a big fat loan, and an OBG/YN with whom I am on a first-name basis. I think I know my way around a half-size bic lighter.

The problem with chivalry is that it requires the chivalrous person to treat women differently, and in some cases, to treat women like they’re incapable of accomplishing simple tasks. I never felt so infantilized, outnumbered, and powerless. Maybe we should trade the world “chivalrous” in for “courteous,” and remind each other that the kindest thing to do is give the people around you a choice in how they are treated. Nice behavior isn’t so nice if it’s unwarranted.

Free the Nips!

File courtesy of Google Images.By Zaquoya Rogers

Before the 1930s, going topless was illegal for both men and women. It was seen as indecent up until the 1930s when men were permitted to be without garment from the waist up. Women on the oth http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/nipple-double-standard r hand, still had to keep their areolas covered.

Even today, the media is very stern on keeping female areolas off of their platform. Artist and professor, Micol Hebron said of her censored Instagram photo, “The fetishization and censorship of female nipples gets to the point where the body is being seen only as a sexual object.”  Instagram is one social media network that has been adamant and persistent in removing any photo that exposes feminine nips. Their justification states that it’s for “safety reasons.” But really, how harmful can a pair of female nipples be? This goes back to Hebron’s statement about how society sexualize the female anatomy and that’s really the underlying motive Instagram is acting on. Covering female nipples in public and on social media is completely unfair. Especially when the difference between male and female areolas is non-existent. In fact, male areolas and female areolas are EXACTLY the same. According to LiveScience.com, the first few weeks inside the womb, every developing embryo follows a “female blueprint”, which is why men even have nipples. The #FreetheNipple movement have provoked peaceful protests, celebrity support and conversation. This is helping to make more people aware of why we should free the nips

Hollaback or Nah?

Photo Source: Google Images Through Creative Commons

Photo Source: Google Images Through Creative Commons

By DeDe Jones

When I browse through different feminist websites, I see countless articles on street harassment. Is this a new issue or is it just now being addressed for the first time? I used to think I was the only one who thought it was ridiculous how men would try to talk to every woman that passed them by. I’m glad I’m not alone.

I recently watched the video “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman,” and I have to admit I didn’t have the best response to it. Yes, I get the message they are trying to say and the reasoning behind the making of the video. But, I feel that it cuts out a lot of reality and truth.

In the video, the woman, Shoshana B., is not allowed to respond to the comments for the sake of the video. But in reality, I feel like some of those comments being made by the men she passed could have been responded to. Throughout the video Shoshana was looking like she was not happy, once again, probably for the sake of the video. To me she seemed rude, and I wonder if it took away from the purpose of the video.

The video also “just captured” comments only from Black and Latino men. The video only features a white woman walking alone. So what about harassment from men of other races? After watching this video, I wondered, “What if Shoshana was walking in a white, privileged neighborhood and received the same harassment from white men. Viewers might think differently of the video.

I then found another video that responds to the previous one, “A Hollaback Response Video: Women of Color on Street Harassment.” And this video said everything I was thinking. Again, I’m glad I’m not alone. This video shows viewers that it is not just white women getting street harassed by only black and Latino men. It’s ALL types of women getting harassed by ALL types of men. And it doesn’t just happen to women who are alone. So please be careful! It’s okay to carry a little pepper spray with you or develop a plan of action in case it does go further than just words. These videos on street harassment are not meant to bash men, it’s meant to inform women that they are not alone. Men need tobe held accountable and stop harassing women on the street.  These articles are also meant to let those street harassers know, we notice you and we want you to STOP!

A Glimpse at the Media of 2013 – We Still Have So Much to Fight For

[youtube]http://youtu.be/NswJ4kO9uHc[/youtube]

By Amber Charleville

Some of you may know that one of my passions is female representation in the media. Media is powerful, and it is not only a reflection of us in the now but also influences how we move forward. This video, made by the same folks who did Miss Representation, shows the highs and lows of the year for women in the media.

It’s a powerful glimpse at how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

You are Beautiful, and so is Your Vagina

By Maritza Gordillo

While browsing through Jezebel.com, I came across this interesting article titled: “Your Vagina Isn’t Too Big, Too Floppy, and Too Hairy-It’s Also Too Brown.” This article caught my attention because the title itself is demeaning towards women, but after reading through you realize it’s said in a sarcastic way.  This article talks about a commercial of a new product that lightens up the color of your vagina with one simple wash. The woman in the commercial is showing sadness because a guy wants nothing to do with her unless she fixes her “problem.” What is disgusting is the idea of the product and it wanting to help lighten up a “brown vagina.” The concept that lighter is better, the skin tone hierarchy, and that we should be the ones changing because the man is unsatisfied is absurd. The many products that have been invented for women are ridiculous because again, it portrays a constant unsatisfactory appearance of women. Media is constantly telling us that our vaginas are too big, too hairy, too dark, and that our appearance isn’t quite perfect yet, and therefore, we should change it now. Be happy with your own body and don’t let media tell you anything different. Love your body!

To see the commercial, view the video below.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Tx9vVVMWw0[/youtube]