ali_wildgoose: (Default)
[personal profile] ali_wildgoose
I've been surprised by the degree to which Tumblr has carved out a distinctive internet niche for itself. Different users no doubt have very different experiences, but my dashboard is largely a never-ending parade of pretty pictures, collections of stills from beloved TV shows, quotes from awesome people and the occasional miniature essay. It seems to be an "all joy all the time" place for the most part, and I think that's fantastic. I love that it's been a haven of sort for several friends of mine, who appreciate having a virtual fountain of positivity and beauty in their internet routine.

But I've noticed something recently about the content that's been making the rounds. Not a bad thing, I would stress -- not something I'd ever ask my friends not to do. A large part of why I'm making this post is that I'm not entirely sure how I personally feel about it.

Briefly put: there are a great many photos of very thin, conventionally beautiful women on my Tumblr dashboard, often with very little in the way of clothing. And nearly all of them are posted by other women. And I have got to say, it's starting to wear me down a little.

I'm going to talk about this primarily through the lens of fandom and genre fiction, because that's the perspective I spend the most time in myself and the one most relevant to my friends and the community I'm a part of. I'd point out that while Tumblr was what lead me to think about this, I'm talking about a larger phenomenon that just happens to manifest on that service in particularly explicit way. And I would stress, again, that I'm not complaining about anyone's behavior (even a little bit!) or asking anyone to change what they post on their blogs. I'm just trying to process my own reactions to the media I'm presented with, and hoping that some of you may have thoughts to share as well.

So.

I've noticed, in recent years, a tremendous push by women in fannish spaces to take ownership of the way genre fiction portrays female characters, as well as how fandom itself processes the media we consume. Tired of watching "the girl" (because there's so rarely more than one) be ignored or vilified, these fannish women grabbed hold of the ladies in their fiction and appreciated them in every way they could think of -- meta, fanfiction, icons, picspams, vids, the entire nerd arsenal at their disposal.

Of course, this is fantastic! I'm thrilled that so many people I know adored Cameron and Sarah Connor. I love that ATLA is jam-packed full of girls, and that my friends in fandom always fought to make sure they weren't ignored. I enjoyed the hell of Reboot!Uhura and get a little thrill of happiness for my Trek-fandom friends as Zoe continues to do so well in her career. It's been great to see so much love for the Liz Lemons and Brittas and Parkers and Karens of broadcast television. I'm a lady myself, obviously, and I agree that it's important to celebrate the representation of women in fiction, however far we may yet have to go in that regard.

But....

See, there's the thing.

We have a really, really long way to go.

Because (as you all know) film and television -- particularly genre film and television -- is still a realm where women nearly always have to be very thin and very pretty in a very specific and narrowly-defined way (and usually white, although that's a whole other essay) to even be included. And so, in our desire to love and support and appreciate the ladies of visual media, we're given very little choice but to indirectly reinforce a system in which you have to be skinny and beautiful to be worth taking note of. We end up blogging huge collections of photos of ballerinas-turned-actresses, because that's who GETS those photoshoots. For every Christina Hendricks (who is, incidentally, GORGEOUS, and the fact that she even counts as "unconventionally beautiful" for the purposes of what I'm writing is kind of horrifying) there are countless Summer Glaus, and the Summer Glaus end up with a lot more gigs.

And that's not the fault of my lady fandom friends. Nor do I in any way disagree with their desire to create enormous picspams of awesome women. Nor do I have a problem with very thin people or appreciating them! But this is all undeniably a Thing -- an astonishing lack of variety in (and celebration of) certain standards of beauty -- and one we all have to decide how to interact with.

There's another, perhaps parallel trend that I find myself characterizing as "taking back" the pinup and the eroticization of women. The idea that instead of being objectified by the usual male-gaze perspective, women are celebrating their own bodies on their own terms, reveling in the beauty of the feminine in a way that reflects what they love about themselves and each other. Sometimes this means soft, adorable photoshoots of half-naked ladies cuddling. Sometimes it means dressing up in a suit and pretending to be a singing android auctioneer. Sometimes it's lady prison guards and high-heeled brawls and being wrapped in caution tape.

And again...I am pleased by the idea of women owning their bodies and sexuality! I am glad to see my friends appreciating how awesome ladies can be on their own terms!

But I cannot help but notice that for all of this celebration of the female gaze....I still end up looking at a steady stream of imagery of very thin, conventionally beautiful, often athletic female bodies that bear very little resemblance to most of the women I actually know.

And I have to be honest with myself -- as a slightly-above-average-sized woman in her late twenties, it is sometimes exhausting for me to consume this particular barrage of imagery. It is disheartening and depressing to be told, over and over again, if not at all intentionally, that in order to be "awesome" I have to loose thirty pounds and go to the gym every day of the week. It is sad that these picspams are never of, say, mostly normal-looking female authors who've dolled up for a photo shoot. Not because my friends are jerks who don't care about authors, but because those photo shoots almost NEVER happen in the first place.

I will freely admit that I don't have a conclusion to draw from all of this. I still don't know how to feel about it in my own head, and what feelings I can articulate seem to change from day to day and from photo to photo. Sometimes I, too, get lost in a wave of squee, and other times I just want to shut my laptop and never eat another donut again for the rest of my life.

But I want to hear what y'all have to say.

(And incidentally, WHILE I'M HERE, more pictures of lady factory workers from WW2 would be just fine. Also pilots.)

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Date: 2010-03-15 06:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] redknot.livejournal.com
I don't have anything to say about fandom, but next time I'm in New York, we should have a good long chat about gender and culture, because I miss talking about it. I did hear an incredible, life-changing interview with one of the WASPs once... this isn't it, but here's a radio documentary on the same ladies: http://www.albany.edu/talkinghistory/radiodiaries/rd-wasps.mp3

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Date: 2010-03-15 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kittyjimjams.livejournal.com
How would you like some Hannah Dadds? She's pretty awesome.

Man, I dunno, I'm not on Tumblr a lot - I don't think I have the time to invest to get into it, although it looks really fun - but the whole thing with skinny pretty girls in heavy black eyemakeup stopped bothering me a while ago. I think when I stopped imagining that I was going to get picked up by a spaceship or transported through a wardrobe, to be honest. Those girls aren't real any more than the stories are. You know what photoshop and lighting and the right frock can do, just as you know how the wrong photo can show up horrifying expanses of gaunt ribcage or peroxide-fried hair, etc. etc.

But then, most of my days are spent in the company of other ladies, all of whom have accomplished something fucking amazing, as a result of which very few of whom are still in any way "thin". I have to admit it's a very, very nice perspective to sit in. :D

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Date: 2010-03-15 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ali-wildgoose.livejournal.com
I feel like my own vulnerability to those kinds of images tends to see-saw pretty dramatically. Sometimes it doesn't even register, and other times it's too much for me to deal with at all.

I feel like, in part, this recent wave of "cannot deal" has to do with how much emphasis there is on this being lady-friendly -- not photoshoped-within-an-inch-of-its-life unreality, but the celebration of real girls whose life choices and genes have given them very different bodies than those of most of the women I know. So I feel like I should be happy about that, right? I should be happy for them?

But instead I'm just reminded of how I should count myself lucky to be married even thought I'm not a size six?
Or something?!?!!

Seriously, brain melting out of ears. :|

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Date: 2010-03-15 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bookshop.livejournal.com

i love this post. i LOVE this post. and you've just convinced me to go back to my tumblr account (which has just been sitting there doing nothing for years, geez) and actually start using it in fannish positive ways. YAY. i love this post! i am excited!

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Date: 2010-03-15 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whirringblender.livejournal.com
I have to admit, sheepishly, that I feel MORE pressure to be rail thin now than I did even in high school, and it has a lot to do with what you've described right here. Mostly because I can't change my face to fit in more with that standard of beauty, but I have some control over my body.

Consider the career of Rachel Dratch compared to her "more attractive" former SNL cast-mates. She's all but disappeared! Which is not to say that Amy Poehler and Tina Fey don't deserve their success: they 110% DO. But would they have lead roles in network sitcoms if they were funny looking? Dratch's story shows us that they would not.

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Date: 2010-03-15 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kickthebeat.livejournal.com
high five. :( i won't lie to you, i like pictures of mostly naked women and i don't like being made to feel like i'm an unattractive chubster, but i follow retrodoll because there are actual thighs and imperfect boobs and stuff and hey! i can relate to that. oh, society.


i'm adding you on tumblr! teensniper, baby.

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Date: 2010-03-15 07:43 pm (UTC)
ext_6866: (Sigh.  Monet.)
From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com
This makes me happy that I just rarely have that much interest in that kind of picspam anyway! Because yes...I see totally what you're saying. I love the love for Uhura (new and old), Parker, Joan--everybody. But when people post pictures of course they're going to be pictures that have first gone through the vetting process that gets people put in national magazines to begin with and...what's that going to look like? And I just rarely have any interest in looking at that anyway. I don't even know if it makes me feel badly because my eyes kind of glaze over. It's kind of like looking at rock formations--nothing to do with me here.

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Date: 2010-03-15 07:46 pm (UTC)
ext_6866: (Hmmmm..)
From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com
Also since I keep hearing about it, I have joined tumblr. I still don't understand it. Is that yours that you linked to? Should I follow it?

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Date: 2010-03-15 08:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jlh.livejournal.com
It's funny because I'm so divorced from all these images that I don't even process them as having anything to do with me or what I look like or what I should look like. When I was younger and first looking at magazines I couldn't do that 80s hair, and had to work out something else. (Note that at the time I didn't have access to black media or black people for that matter, and other than The Cosby Show and Soul Train mostly had no idea what they were doing with their hair, but that seemed like such a removed culture from me that I didn't think about that either.) When I feel like I want to eat better and get slimmer it's a personal decision, one I can't really discuss with other people (or listen to because unfortunately it will send me into very unhealthy patterns of behavior, which makes me feel badly as of course I want to support my friends in what they're doing). And it's usually motivated by seeing clothes I'd like to wear, but not by seeing a body I'd like to have or feel like I should have.

Which isn't to say that when I read the beginning of this I didn't go to my tumblr and do an inventory of what I've been posting, but what I post is mostly alternative movie posters anyway. And I do think it depends on the circles you're in. My dashboard is full of songs and, right now, people complaining about how crowded SXSW is, because I follow a lot of music critics. It's also full of feminist discussion. I do follow fuckyeahblackbeauties but that's an entirely different thing, that I don't often reblog.

Mostly, though, it's pictures of food.

I can see the reblogging of the Lady Gaga video in some of your references and that's certainly caused a stir. But hrm, I dunno. Other than what filters in from R, I don't think I'm seeing very much of what you're seeing.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-15 08:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ali-wildgoose.livejournal.com
Well, of course it hinges on who we choose to pay attention to -- for whatever reason, I just happen to have a much higher incidence of "blogging photos of ladies" on my feed. That just happens to be what my friends are interested in and blogging about, and I certainly don't fault them for it or want them to change their behavior. And this is a phenomenon I've been slowly registering for a very long time in a wide variety of contexts -- this idea of OMG FIERCE LADIES and our appreciation of them and celebration of their kickassness. It's a boat that I've spent a lot of time on myself. I think it's just that, all of the sudden, it started to become exhausting, and my participation in Tumblr happened to coincide with that breaking point.

But anyway.

I don't know. Part of me loves the idea that we are what we decide we want to be, to some extent -- that if we work hard and really dedicate ourselves, we can be OMG ANYTHING. But of course, in many cases, that isn't actually true at all. Which leads to problems in the opposite direction -- resignation to the idea that we will NEVER be awesome, NEVER be hot and great and cool, and should just sit back and let the pretty girls be pretty and the sporty girls be sporty and learn to be content with our lot in life.

I wish I could hear "put some skates on and be your own hero" and not feel like they could NEVER POSSIBLY be talking to ME because I'll never be THAT GIRL. But I also wish that certain people in my life (no one here on LJ obviously) didn't make me feel like all that's keeping me from being that girl is discipline, because obviously if I gave a shit I'd be 120lbs of solid muscle.

Obviously.

=_____=;;;

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Date: 2010-03-15 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] robowolf.livejournal.com
YES TO EVERYTHING IN THIS and one small thing: Toph has always seemed to be as a stocky-set girl and I love that. I don't know if she was meant to be that way, if it's how the clothes fit on her or because she's only twelve and therefore growing, but she always looks stocky to me and that's awesome.

Also, that means my short, stocky self can cosplay her and not feel weird.

Unrelated to Toph but related to the subject at hand: I might lose some of my loathing for Seth Rogen if he started starring in movies where his love interest wasn't a thing, super-beautiful woman for damn once. I'd lose a lot more of that loathing if these women had actually personality, too, but I guess we can't get everything.
Edited Date: 2010-03-15 08:22 pm (UTC)

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Date: 2010-03-15 08:27 pm (UTC)
ext_6866: (I'm as yet undecided.)
From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com
I agree. If I were casting Toph I would totally choose a girl that was a little heavy set. Connected to the earth, ya know.

Also, she'd be Asian. Just sayin'.

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Date: 2010-03-15 08:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ali-wildgoose.livejournal.com
I have a Fandom Pet Peeve regarding Toph, actually. When folks age her up they tend to make her this huge-breasted fighting game character it drives me CRAZY. Whereas....well, I mean, as you can see in my very old and bad drawing, I preferred to think that she could stay kind of short and stocky and solidly built and still be GODDAMN AWESOME.

And I hear you with regards to Seth Rogen. I AM SO TIRED OF DUMPY GUYS WITH SUPER-HOT GIRLS. UGH. SO DONE. D:

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Date: 2010-03-15 09:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ikyoto.livejournal.com
Argh! Remember when that stupid "Shallow Hal" movie came out? That was so many levels of wanting to stab my eyes out when it came to media portrayal of the importance of "inner beauty" between men and women in romantic relationships. So far off the mark!

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Date: 2010-03-15 08:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erikamoen.livejournal.com
I encourage you to take these feelings and be proactive with them!

Create the images you want to see and you'll be surprised at how they act like a magnet and bring in like images from others.

A little side story that I think is kind related:
Growing up, I was told directly by my mother that sex is not something that women enjoy, it is an unpleasant chore you have to go through to prove that you really love your man. I grew up thinking that sex was basically rape.

When I learned otherwise, I knew I had to try and portray sex as positive, silly and fun in case there's any other Little Erikas out there who could benefit from seeing that kind of depiction. I know that's something I could really have used back in the day.
I know that the language and experiences I put into my comics don't apply to everyone, but they do resonate with some people, and those people are so appreciative to see their views and feelings drawn into comics that they can share with others.

So set up photoshoots with the women you want to see pictures of! Or draw them! Make it happen :)

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Date: 2010-03-15 08:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ali-wildgoose.livejournal.com
I was sitting here thinking a very similar thing!

My friends and I did a "geek girls pinup calendar" last year, which was a lot of fun. I can't really distribute the images because they weren't meant for anyone but us and our friends to see, but it was a good time and I'd like to do something similar again.

And I wholeheartedly agree that positive portrayals of sex and sexuality are fantastic and important. :)

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Date: 2010-03-15 10:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ikyoto.livejournal.com
I totally understand your righteous anger about the predominance of a very narrow sort of acceptable beauty standard in the media, and people talking about it is important!

It is funny though that I have been feeling the opposite way lately. December(?) Vogue came out and there were 4 images of different women portrayed as beautiful with crows feet in close-ups. There have been more fleshed out women characters in shows that I have been following. Queen Latifah, continues to be one of the classiest ladies at the Oscars. Though to be fair, there has been a little more leeway all along for performers who sing, but I haven't heard any rumblings about things similar to Milli Vanilli or C&C Music factory recently. In fact, Jill Scott, Jennifer Hudson, Beth Ditto have had great career trajetories. NYC's plus-size fashion week has gotten a lot higher profile. There are more romances and romantic comedies coming out (aimed at Baby Boomers) that have age-appropriate pairings.

This is not the say that there isn't still volumes more of the same old (male or internalized male gaze) shit, and that this has been changing at a glacial pace, but I've been heartened by some glimmers of hope.

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Date: 2010-03-15 10:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] goawayplease.livejournal.com
I like my skinny size 2 body, but if I had to work at keeping it size 2, I probably would be liking my size 12 body, y'know? It's just where I landed, genetically. It's not a choice.

I have to look at a lot of young celebrities at work and they all look very replaceable to me. There's rarely anything interesting about their faces or personalities. The only people who fit that mold that I find interesting despite it are Lady Gaga and Beyoncé -- look at how much work it takes to get them past "replaceable" for me.

The only commonly proffered body type that really bugs me is the tall/skinny/giant boobs/low body fat percentage one, especially if it's something someone drew or photoshopped into place. I just look at it and go "stripper!" and it makes me think badly of the person/people who created it... I don't think artists who draw that body as their standard woman realize what they're saying to women when they do that. To them, it's just "sexy". To me, it's unobserved and sexist.

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Date: 2010-03-16 12:22 am (UTC)
ext_9289: (☄ mommy complex)
From: [identity profile] sainfoin-fields.livejournal.com
Hmmmmmmm.

It's hard to know what to say in response to this, because I know I certainly fall under that category and I don't feel particularly defensive and I know you don't want me to, but I also do think about this stuff. I post (well, mostly reblog) lots of pictures of white thin ladies and I also love to post pictures of larger ladies, and darker ladies, and ladies who are doing important things like flying planes in wars, and ladies who are just going about their business around the world and ended up on my dashboard. I like to post pictures of all kinds of ladies.

But when pursuing ladies in/as art, the bias towards the thin white ones is hard to avoid. And in acknowledging the idea of "ladies as art" one must also acknowledge that there is an inherent objectification in that, and in those photos. I think that might be an aspect of what you call taking back that imagery. Finding a way for these women not to be objects that are acted upon by us looking at them, but subjects that are performing art of their own volition. I don't normally put it like this of course -- but there are certainly many pictures on Tumblr that make me uncomfortable because the objectifying gaze is very visible (to me).

And the thing about that gaze is that it doesn't have to be male, and it doesn't have to be thin-focused, to be objectifying/problematic. I mean, I'm queer. At least 90% of the time I get more out of a picture of a lady than of a dude. I post pictures of pretty ladies not just out of some feminist reclaiming act but because I think they're hot. A lot of the tumblrs I follow are also run by queer women. But I had to unfollow one because although the poster was a lesbian, her tumblr's gaze tended to be objectifying in a way that made me uncomfortable and felt intrusive, much the same way male gaze can, to me. And to follow up on your Christina Hendricks example -- it's funny you mention her specifically because the conversation that centers around her makes me VERY uncomfortable. She is one of the most aggressively objectified women in visible culture today, because the conversation about her centers almost exclusively on her body. Even reactions to her character are always filtered through this lens of fetishization for her body type. And while I am entirely glad that she's found success and that people like her -- as a plump hourglass-shaped, big-boobed redhead myself -- it's, well, gross and upsetting to see her essentialized into some cultural wet dream about fertility goddesses and curve puns. Just as it's probably gross and upsetting for very thin girls to be essentialized into Lolita fantasies and heroin jokes.

I don't seem to have a conclusion either! But here are some Tumblrs which you might like, and which I might too:

http://fuckyeahchubbygirls.tumblr.com/
http://ilovefat.tumblr.com/
http://fuckyeahplussize.tumblr.com/
http://thesizeissue.tumblr.com/
http://pluseyes.tumblr.com/
http://fyfatbitch.tumblr.com/

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Date: 2010-03-16 04:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] goawayplease.livejournal.com
> Just as it's probably gross and upsetting for very thin girls to be essentialized into Lolita fantasies and heroin jokes.

Yep, it sure is! I don't like people asking me if I need a sandwich or generally suggesting that I don't treat myself well, but people started worrying if I was anorexic in middle school. At the time all I knew was that it made my mom really mad really fast. I was thinking about this the other day because someone had written something mean about Beth Ditto along the lines of "she's promoting obesity". She's not "promoting obesity", she's enjoying herself and rocking out. I was able to really put my finger on it when I thought about all the weird/mean things people had said about thin folks and eating disorders.

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Date: 2010-03-16 03:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaina.livejournal.com
I want to comment on this, but....um. Hi, here's where I admit to being terminally unhip. What IS Tumblr? Is it just a blog, but for images sort of thing? I've visited a few Tumblrs but never looked into it otherwise.

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Date: 2010-03-16 03:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] junglefowl26.livejournal.com
You know, I often wonder about the tastes of Hollywood. I remember thinking the other day how so many actresses and stuff all looked the same to me...and that personally, I found the many of the women at my college to be much more attractive.

If I may briefly objectify women here (sorry): variety is the spice of life anyway. While I certainty have my favorite body type (bifauxnen), I have found myself attracted to women of a variety of appearances at one point or another.

But I am more interested in discussing women pilots! In addition to the WASPS, it is also important to know about the Soviet Night Witches unit. Women pilots flying obsolete biplanes (only intended as crop dusters and training aircraft) in dangerous bombing missions, often having to go up against German aces in advanced aircraft...and still coming out on top.

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Date: 2010-03-16 06:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erinfinnegan.livejournal.com
> as a slightly-above-average-sized woman

Hmmmm... really? What's your BMI? Because I think it's normal. This one has charts.

Here, look at some charts and stuff.

Now that I work for Weight Watchers... I weigh in a lot of people each week, and I see people on the street a bit differently than before.

I know you consume a lot of media, and media imagery... but basing your self-image in reality is important.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-16 07:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ali-wildgoose.livejournal.com
I'm very slightly overweight -- right now I'm trying to get down to 155, which is less than I've weighed since middle school, probably, but not by a giant amount. It wouldn't kill me to aim for lower than that, but I'll see how long it takes to reach that goal (if I can) and how I feel about it once I do. As seems to be typical, the first 5 lbs went relatively quickly, but I suspect it'll be a lot tougher to manage the last 5.

I think the biggest thing will be making myself continue to track calories AFTER I'm at my target weight, at least for a few months, so I can get a feel for how much I should be eating.

It's funny....I avoided doing calorie counting for years because the idea of it sent me into a giant anxiety attack. But it turns out that after the initial waves of panic, it's had sort of the opposite effect. Before I would eat a slice of cake and feel awfully guilty about it. Now I just budget the thing into my day, and then I feel completely guilt-free about scarfing it down when the time comes. It's not a feeling I would have anticipated, but it's been pretty great. Although I suspect the food-filled holidays will be super-tough, like they are for anyone else.

Anyway.

I'd be curious to hear more about what you mean about seeing people differently on the street. How so?

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From: [identity profile] erinfinnegan.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-03-16 08:22 pm (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] ali-wildgoose.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-03-16 10:21 pm (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] erinfinnegan.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-03-17 08:09 pm (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] ali-wildgoose.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-03-17 08:22 pm (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] erinfinnegan.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-03-17 09:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
From: [identity profile] meredyd.livejournal.com
I liked this post so much and I've been trying to think of something to say in response to it besides WORD.

Being, up until recently, in an enviornment in which I was almost constantly surrounded by other women, and being someone who consumes a whole lot of media that's about women or from the viewpoint of women because that's what I tend to seek out...It's so startling to step back and see the constrast, and I know for sure I don't do that nearly enough. I certainly do it more than I used to, though. And when I do it's like -- I want the chubby butch rugby players who everyone worships to be up on my fucking dashboard. I want the nerdy scientist ladies with super long hair and sensible shoes there too. And it sucks, it sucks so much, that there's only so much to take from what the media dishes out to serve those purposes. It just sucks. It's so weird to equate tumblr of all things with social responsibility, and I'm not sure if that's what I want to do...but yeah. Reblogging more pictures of lady pilots for justice!!

Also, what [livejournal.com profile] jlh said above - as far as fictional ladies go, my greatest and most fervent desire is for more nice girls, and scholars, and non-kick-ass people who are glorified for their skills as much as the warrior types. When I first go into fandom, I found myself defending those women and then backing down and staying down - and in turn it made me feel like shit about myself. Because, you know, I AM one of those women. I'm a short nerd who can't throw a punch. And for a long-ass time it felt like there was some standard I'd never live up to, that I could never be as cool as these characters I was internalizing.

We take our Ellies where we can find them, I guess.

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Date: 2010-03-17 02:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flawney.livejournal.com
This is an interesting post.

Personally, I feel bad for a lot of these celebrities. Think of the pressure *they* feel to keep their body images static and perfect. How actors gain or lose twenty pounds for a certain shoot. Or how the tabloids JUMP at a shot of a little fat bulge around the mid-section of some actress taking a morning jog with her coffee. They do not live healthy lifestyles, I would wager.

There is something wrong with what is perceived as "beautiful" in media, and a LOT wrong with how those results are achieved.

BUT. That doesn't affect me negatively, really. I look at it this way when concerning my own body image: I was once thinner than I am now--and think I would like to get back to that state someday because I was more active and had an easier time finding pants that fit. Nothing more, nothing less.

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Date: 2010-03-17 12:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bribitribbit.livejournal.com
I don't know how to feel about it either--I mean, I went out of my way to follow a lot of blogs that celebrate average-sized (and bigger) women as well as thinner ones, but I still don't know how to feel about the fact that any time I put up a picture of Ellen Page, it's always going to get more attention from strangers even than a picture of Gabby Sidibe. But at the same time, every woman deserves to be celebrated for one reason or another, regardless of their size or level of conventional beauty or whatever. I mean, I'm lucky because I currently go to a women's college and we talk about women all day long and I'm surrounded by a lot of people who sometimes do go out of their way to celebrate those who wouldn't get as much attention. That doesn't mean, of course, that we don't all fall into the same trap. I don't know, I am clearly indecisive in my reply! But I give a thumbs-up to this post because it is a lot of thoughts that I have been thinking and unable to say!

I got here, by the way, through one of my favorite tumblr blogs (http://ilovefat.tumblr.com/) (plus you are friends with a couple of my favorite people and every time you've ended up on my friendsfriends you've seemed really great! :D)

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Date: 2010-03-21 03:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] softestbullet (from livejournal.com)
It's hard, because I'm working on overcoming my resentment & femmephobia towards said conventionally pretty-glossy-skinny-blonde-cis-young-white girls (like it took me way longer to warm up to Buffy Summers than it should've; she's AWESOME and it's not her fault she has to look that way to be a tv character) at the same time that I'm trying to de-brainwash myself of kyriarchical beauty standards...

Personally, the best place I've found for finding non-conventional visuals is Flickr. There are definitely the same forces at work (and you also have to look out for creepy exotifying "photojournalists"), but there's a lot of good stuff. Here's my favorites: http://www.flickr.com/photos/22915286@N00/favorites/ :) (It's still kind of thin-pretty-young, but that's my bad.)

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