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readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Monday, October 5, 2009

October: Post of Awesome in which Libba rips it up!













Oh, my! I can't let anyone miss this POST OF AWESOME by Libba. Seriously! Here's her first, which cracks me up, followed by her second. Let it rip, LIBBA!

My website

Hello, ReaderGirlz! I am technologically unsound. It took me two hours to figure out how to post. It is a wonder I am allowed out in public. So this is a test comment. If it works, the real comment will follow. If it doesn't work, I'll cry. Wish me luck!

October 4, 2009 6:07 AM

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Blogger Libba Bray said...

Awesome sauce! It worked! Okay. My comment. Obviously, we've come a long way, baby, as the ad used to say. But...(there's always one of those, isn't there?) I think there are still many issues with which we are grappling in 2009. Certainly, a woman in Saudi Arabia doesn't have the same rights as a woman in America. Women in the Congo are the victims of horrific war crimes. And when people talk about the "feminization of poverty," it's more than a catch phrase. An inequity in wealth distribution certainly hits women and children hardest. That's the global picture.

But I always think, to quote the feminists (I believe it was Gloria Steinem?), that "the personal is political." I think it's important to be aware of and think about the way messages are conveyed to women, through magazines, advertisements, commercials, politicians, etc. Have you ever noticed that all the commercials about cleaning feature women and are aimed directly at women? So no matter what, in our culture, we take it for granted that the women will do all the housework. Same with ads for Children's Tylenol or kids' cereals. They are aimed at women. Then think about fashion magazines (and hey, I'm a shoe addict--I look at them). But the body messages are so mixed up: On the one hand, every magazine has some article about "loving yourself" and "accepting yourself," along with scads of articles about losing weight and getting in shape. You juxtapose that with pictures of extremely thin, tall women who represent about 1% of the population, and you've got a sort of crazy-making scenario. No wonder we're so confused!

The thing to keep in mind is that this is big business: weight loss, fashion, self-help, the "idealization" and objectification of women and their bodies and lifestyles. By keeping women in a perpetual state of feeling that they are not "okay" that they must constantly "fix" something about themselves, many businesses stay in business. Many people who hold power over women continue to hold power over women by making them feel inherently "not okay," or at least doubtful. And it's doubly so for women of color who don't see themselves represented on the covers of fashion magazines or on TV shows (how many WOC are on "The Hills"? Just wondering...) or in commercials supposedly featuring "average Americans."
Anyway...

Yesterday, I was at Target. I needed some moisturizer for my face. No joke--there were eight whole shelves devoted to a gazillion different products, all of them couched in crazy language like "correcting" and "lifting" and "sculpting," like the moisturizers were strict nuns trying to whip our naughty skin into shape. I was totally cracking up. And I was completely overwhelmed. Then, in one corner, was the only moisturizer targeted at men that I could see. It said, "heals dry, chapped skin." That's it. Men apparently do not need to have their skin reprimanded. Their skin needs healing. So did mine. So I bought that.

Anyway, I have loads of thoughts about this, but mostly, I encourage you to be aware of the way that society and industry shape the world's perceptions of women and the ways in which we buy into that. You don't have to do anything but be aware, keep your eyes and ears open. But my guess is that once you are aware, you will start rejecting the standards imposed by others and start feeling freer to love yourself as you are. And then you can spend time thinking about things like how to stop global warming or end poverty or champion the rights of those who need champions or write amazing songs or books or make art or learn to surf or travel to Iceland or read philosophy, all of which sound much more interesting than worrying about the calories in a cookie.

Ah. That felt SO GOOD. Now I'm going to eat a bagel. With cream cheese. And I'm going to enjoy every bite. Also, my skin is very moisturized. Thank you, Vaseline for Men.

17 comments:

Shelley/Book Fanatic said...

LOL! That was brilliant!!

Leslie said...

Your post made my day. You said a lot of things I've been thinking...thank you.

Melissa Walker said...

Totally amazing--thanks for highlighting this one, Lorie Ann.

LIBBA RULES.

Robin L said...

Brilliantly said! A much needed Reality Check for worried women everywhere!

Little Willow said...

Rock on, Libba. I'm glad that your comment went through, and I hope you enjoyed that bagel. Most of all, though, I applaud you for this post.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Woohoo, LIBBA!

Marlene Carvell said...

Well, Libba, I thought I was the only person in the world to be blog-challenged. You are an inspiration. I must confess I have not finished reading The Sweet Far Thing but I am enjoying both your characters and your creativity . . and your commentary. If I actually manage to get my comment posted, I think I shall celebrate by making cookies. Well, Libba, I thought I was the only person in the world to be blog-challenged. You are an inspiration. I must confess I have not finished reading The Sweet Far Thing but I am enjoying both your characters and your creativity . . and your commentary. If I actually manage to get my comment posted, I think I shall celebrate by making cookies.

Marlene Carvell said...

Hmmm.... apparently I am still technologically challenged.

readergirlz said...

Blessings on all the technologically challenged among us--and welcome, Marlene!

millymarie said...

I extremely really love this post. I am always overwhelmed I guess as you stated above when I go shopping myself. I think that's why I loath it so much. Most excellent! *applauds*

Mrs. Southard said...

What a wonderful commentary for young and old women! I too was shopping for facial products - why do I try to get rid of those dark circles anyway? So I can identify with that for sure! I have some wonderful young women readers in my classes and will direct them to this website and your blog! Keep up the great writing!

Libba Bray said...

Thanks for all the love, peeps. And Marlene, thanks for being of my "technically challenged" tribe. That bagel was delish, by the way. So was the smoothie I washed it down with. ;-)

MissAttitude said...

What an awesome post, Libba!
As a teen I get so tired of always having to watch what I eat and count calories, not for health reasons but because I'm afraid of what people (let's be honest, especially guys)will say about me. "she looks fat." or "she eats unhealthly or way too much food." I'm so sick of girls hating on their bodies (myself uncluded) and I'm not particularly sure how that negative image can be stopped.
Also you mae an excellent point about women being the main targets/people of/in commericals and ads featuring food, cleaning products and most medicine for children. Why is that? A father can be in a Tylenol commercial giving Tylenol! Or vacumming, etc.
Finally (whew long comment!), where are all the WOC on the TV shows? I'm not a fan of the show, but where's the black/latino/asian/native american versions of GG, 90210, Melrose Place, etc.? Or at least why aren't there more major characters of color on the shows? *sigh* so much to be done.

Little Willow said...

Welcome, Marlene Carvell! Nice to meet you.

Hi there, missymarie. Glad to see you here.

Erin said...

YAY Libba!! This was a WONDERFUL post. Thank you thank you thank you.

Libba Bray said...

Hey Miss Attitude,
Thanks for your honesty here. When I was a teen, I was also obsessed with counting calories and being some unattainable ideal. I was actually a distance runner and had a lot of muscle mass in my legs, and I remember being embarrassed by that rather than proud that I was strong and fast. Crazy!

But I really want to talk about the underrepresentation of WOC on TV. It's terrible. It's like if there's a show which features POC prominently, they're relegated to the non-big-three networks. And even if there are ensemble shows, the characters of color are never the leads. I really love "Glee," but I am getting increasingly frustrated that we don't hear more from Mercedes and Tina.

I really hope that in the next generation there are people who will be able to change this, because we do not live in a one-size-fits-all world, and I, for one, want to see the world on TV mirror the world I see outside my window.

Little Willow said...

Libba: What did you think of the discussion of minority in last night's episode of Glee?

Everyone:
Padma Venkatraman just posted a guest blog at readergirlz in which she referenced this post of Libba's.