Julie Klausner ridicules Zendaya’s naturally thin frame and labels her as a celebrity who “perpetuates dangerous beauty standards” for young girls, but insists she’s only trying to promote the celebration of healthy body images for women. Beyonce says giving birth to her daughter was her most proud accomplishment and faces a slew of backlash from “feminists,” as well as many in the general public, who feel the pride in her other accomplishments should supersede that of being a mother because “women are so much more than just that.” Pink subliminally thrashes Kim Kardashian for consistently flaunting her nude or barely-clothed body as a basis for encouraging women to use their brains or their talent instead of their bodies to showcase their value. A top female entertainer releases a new album and is instantly criticized to no end (mostly from the female fanbases of other women in music) for supposedly not measuring up to the talent level of her former peers by society’s standards. Former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Cheryl Tiegs voices her disapproval of full-figured model Ashley Graham being celebrated for her shape because it “promotes unhealthiness.”
Examples of women tearing down women they disapprove of for one reason or another in a supposed effort to uplift the women they do support are all around us and while this trend is by no means one that’s confined to the female community, it is one that’s slowly stifling our progress as women.
Let’s face it, we’ve all been guilty of it in some shape or form. Whether for a few quick laughs or in a serious attempt to assert our own self-proclaimed superiority, the birth of social media has made publicly pointing out the current “flaws” or past mistakes of women deemed either less-than perfect or nearly perfect by society an increasingly common practice. Criticizing teenage mothers, former or current strippers, “good girls,” unwed mothers, those without college degrees, promiscuous women, notoriously private women and many others who have opted out or been forced out of taking the conventional roads to success has become a disgraceful norm. In the case of celebrity women who have found themselves in these life situations or similar, we’re even more eager to put their shortcomings or personal life choices on the chopping block and compare them to those we feel are better.
But in reality, most women are a little bit of Michelle Obama, Kim Kardashian, Lauryn Hill, Hilary Clinton and Beyonce all rolled into one. Some days we want to show it all off in heels and short skirts, some days we want to cover up in sweats and sneakers. Some days we do our part to try and change the world for the better and other days we’re only focused on the well being and personal gain of ourselves and our families. Some days we know just what to say and others we say exactly what we shouldn’t. Like each of us, all of these public figures represent women using their platforms to show strength, power, perseverance, hard work, confidence and the ability to put their best foot forward no matter how heavy the opposition is against them, which are all qualities that lie in every woman from the fearless single mother to the millionaire movie star. While it’s true that core principles are vital to the success of any movement or attempts at progressive change, pitting women against each other to show who is and who isn’t an acceptable standard for what a women should be is one of the very “principles” that birthed the idea of women as an inferior gender in the first place. Isn’t that what we’ve been tirelessly working to change?
Apparently, the message that celebrating, uplifting or advocating for one type of woman doesn’t go hand-in-hand with tearing down their polar opposite has gotten lost…..but that doesn’t mean we should stop striving to bring it back. See a certain actress on a television show that you’re not particularly fond of? Instead of voicing your hate throughout the program, turn the channel and live-tweet one of the dozen other shows starring women who could surely use your support. Not feeling Kim’s naked pics or Beyonce’s new song or Hilary’s debate comments? Start a discussion about other interesting, progressive things women are doing in and outside of the arts and you’ll find that there’s plenty to fill the conversation with to balance out your likes with our dislikes.
Women should certainly continue to be bold and unapologetic when speaking out for or speaking against what we don’t agree with, but if you use your voice to spew constant criticism of another woman more than you do to support a woman you do find inspiring, you’re doing it all wrong. We’re all human, so it’s unrealistic to expect that every woman will always agree with or support what the next woman does, says or represents, but spending more time criticizing your opposition than you do advocating for the thing you do believe in is the epitome of counterproductive and a surefire recipe for stagnant disaster.
You may not be able to see yourself reflected in the lifestyle choices of the next woman and that’s OK, but at minimum, learn to respect and appreciate the fact that she’s somehow still managed to stay afloat with flying colors while facing the very same challenging 24 hours that you do. Am I suggesting that we as women accept, embrace and celebrate everything just because it’s attached to a fellow woman? Not in the least. But spending more time being, supporting or advocating for the type of women you believe in will get us much further collectively than investing energy into tearing down those who haven’t quite gotten it all figured out just yet.
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