So, I've been out for a while (again), the spammers are starting to heat up the comments section with their thinly-disguised, misspelled, pathetic attempts to sell their latest dose of snakeoil, and I was thinking it was time to do a "why I've hardly blogged for the past four weeks" post. Don't worry (I know you were waiting with bated breath), I'll get to that. But first, there will be some ranting, because there is something I am REALLY pissed off about.
The Olympics. And specifically, what some people are saying about the women athletes. You know, the women athletes like the US Women's Gymnastics Team, who took the gold with top scores in three out of four events (floor, vault, and beam) and yet are being sniped at for their hairstyles, their uniforms, and --- probably the worst yet --- being "mean girls". Or how about the focus on the beach volleyball players' magnificently toned T&A? There are entire websites dedicated to this. Bravo to Nate Jones for calling the photogs on their ass-obsession.
Possibly the most egregious criticism of women athletes comes from a Turkish journalist --- not exactly a prime specimen of beautiful manhood himself --- who saw fit to complain in print about how the Olympics are "killing womanhood" by forcing female athletes to make themselves look like men in order to be successful. Because, of course, women are supposed to be soft and round and big-boobed; muscules are for men. Because, of course, this backward idjit has never heard of a sports bra and is unfamiliar with the concept that a woman might not look like a Hollywood starlet when she's running a marathon or lifting weights or WINNING A FUCKING GOLD MEDAL. 'Scuse my French.
Because, of course, how a woman looks always, ALWAYS is more important than her achievements. And if she doesn't measure up to ANY other human being's personal ideal of beauty and femininity, she is, on some level, a failure. A woman's appearance is ALWAYS a valid topic of conversation.
And there is no doubt in my mind that this attitude contributes to our personal feelings about our bodies, about our own self-directed fat hate and unrealistic self-criticism. There's no doubt that it gets in the way of our success. Part of it is simple reality --- I won't be hired to play certain roles, because I don't physically fit the conventional idea of what those roles embody --- and part of it is the kind of reality that deserves to be called out, each and every time it happens.
I can't control what kinds of roles I'm marketable for, but I can call out sexism when I hear it and see it. I can refuse to dis other women's bodies or even to let seemingly harmless statements such as, "Wow! You look great!" be the first thing that comes out of my mouth when I greet a female friend. It's not easy. We're so conditioned to do it, and yet we MUST struggle against these insidious forms of sexism for the sake of our daughters, nieces, young friends, and all the women who come after us, so they can live in a world where they are NOT judged first and foremost on their appearances. Where their own personal gold medals count more than what their hair looked like the day they won them.
On a personal level, relating back to my own health and fitness, part of the daily struggle is learning to be kinder to myself and to find the important balance between what I can and should be doing for myself, and pushing so hard that it becomes impossible to achieve that. But that's a topic for another day.
So, as much as I applaud Gabby Douglas for the hard work and discipline and long hours that led her her gold medals, I applaud her even more for telling the media, "I'm like, `I just made history and people are focused on my hair?' ... Nothing is going to change. You might as well just stop talking about it."
You go, young lady. You just go.