Caution: Woman Eating
This post is a little different from what I usually offer you. I don't normally tend to get overly political on this blog, although sometimes I can't help myself. However, I also believe that it's impossible to really extricate politics from life, so I don't really try. If you're not in the mood for a rant, you might want to move on and come back a little later when I'll have a tasty little kidney bean number waiting for you. If not, stick around...
Somehow I find myself subscribed to a whole mess of newsletters and mailing lists on the internet. I usually just delete, but lately I've been taking the time to unsubscribe. This morning, when I clicked on the link to unsubscribe from JCrew's mailing list, I was redirected to a website, presumably their last chance to make me change my mind. I could have screamed. Waiting for me at this pivotal moment, when I am supposed to decide if I really want to banish their e-mails from my inbox, was this image:
This emaciated, sickeningly thin model, with sunken eyes and arms so frail they couldn't be trusted to life a Le Creuset from the oven (wait, that sounded sexist. They couldn't be trusted to life, well, just about anything.) is supposed to convince me that I need JCrew in my life. She's also supposed to convince me, I suppose, that the fact that I do not practice self-starvation makes me less desirable. A condition JCrew just might be able to ameliorate, if only I would take them back.
My stomach turns just looking at her razor-sharp collar bones and rubber band-sized wrists. I want to grab her, sit her down at my kitchen table, and, well, feed the crap out of her. I want to tell her that her body, and presumably her spirit, would be better served if she took care of them with an eye toward her own well-being rather than punishing herself for the sake of advanced capitalism's insistence on her own objecthood. I've always had a sneaking suspicion that our society's obsession with the sickly woman as object of desire (as that's how I'd describe her) has a whole lot to do with punishment. With putting a women in her place by depicting all women as something less than human. With forcing the burden of guilt on her if she dares to give in to her own desires, rather than literally starving her body into submission for the desiring gaze of others. I can think of few things more repulsively violent.
And for some strange, inexplicable reason, JCrew is trying to shove this guilt down its unsubscribers' throats. JCrew feels the need to align themselves with this kind of damaging imagery, proving that we just have not come all that far.
So to JCrew and all others of its ilk: yes, I want you out of my inbox. In fact, I want you out of my magazines, off of my television, away from my billboards, extricated from my subway ads. I want to see real women who refuse to punish their own bodies, who are capable of individuality, health, independent thought, and enjoying a nice plate of food.