Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wham Bam, Thank You Ma'am

Ashley Judd
As a model to make a living, I had to be rail thin. So tedious trying to maintain the perfect weight. When I got old and 'fat', I was tossed to the curb. A twenty year career gone, with no benefits package. Fat meaning I was a size 10, not obese. I still try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, while enjoying the occasional hot fudge sundae. Through no fault of my own, other than time, health issues and age, my metabolism slowed down. Cut me some slack, will ya? We are not setting a healthy example for the young girls of the world. The machine turns and, Reality TV sucks. Fashion sucks. Media sucks. Celebrities suck. Editors can be cruel, especially the 'Entertainment kind.' Yet, we remain glued to the tabloids, the rags. Celebrity bad news, the best kind. People LOVE to see someone fail, the sick fascination  with failure somehow makes our lives look better. The cruelty, name calling comes from a sense of self- hatred, jealously and the desire to be a STAR. People are mean- spirited by nature. It's sad and shallow, such an empty existence, when all that matters are looks. Superficiality has risen to new lows, out of control levels. I admit I've done my fair share of judging. Guilty as charged. Tonight I'll grab a book, instead of hopping some Social network for the latest scandals. 

Ashley Judd rarely justifies public scrutiny. She has been in the limelight her whole life. When she wrote this rebuttal, regarding 'her puffy face,' and all the media buzz, I was thrilled. She is razor, edge smart. She is an accomplished actor (her film Helen had a huge impact on me), author, wife, scholar, humanitarian and family person. That's what should be talked about. I applaud her for her courage and bravado. Women deserve a break. A paunchy, middle-aged, male actor, artist, writer, or musician's looks are often overlooked. He is praised on sheer talent, instead. Don't we girls deserve the same respect? 

Here is Ms. Judd's piece as it appears In The Daily Beast.
It is worth the read and a slap on the wrist. Give It To 'Em, Ashley.
You're gorgeous and they're just jealous.

Ashley Judd Slaps Media in the Face for Speculation Over Her ‘Puffy’ Appearance

Ashley Judd’s 'puffy' appearance sparked a viral media frenzy. But, the actress writes, the conversation is really a misogynistic assault on all women.

The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.

People Ashley Judd
Richard Drew

As an actor and woman who, at times, avails herself of the media, I am painfully aware of the conversation about women’s bodies, and it frequently migrates to my own body. I know this, even though my personal practice is to ignore what is written about me. I do not, for example, read interviews I do with news outlets. I hold that it is none of my business what people think of me. I arrived at this belief after first, when I began working as an actor 18 years ago, reading everything. I evolved into selecting only the “good” pieces to read. Over time, I matured into the understanding that good and bad are equally fanciful interpretations. I do not want to give my power, my self-esteem, or my autonomy, to any person, place, or thing outside myself. I thus abstain from all media about myself. The only thing that matters is how I feel about myself, my personal integrity, and my relationship with my Creator. Of course, it’s wonderful to be held in esteem and fond regard by family, friends, and community, but a central part of my spiritual practice is letting go of otheration. And casting one’s lot with the public is dangerous and self-destructive, and I value myself too much to do that.

However, the recent speculation and accusations in March feel different, and my colleagues and friends encouraged me to know what was being said. Consequently, I choose to address it because the conversation was pointedly nasty, gendered, and misogynistic and embodies what all girls and women in our culture, to a greater or lesser degree, endure every day, in ways both outrageous and subtle. The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about.

A brief analysis demonstrates that the following “conclusions” were all made on the exact same day, March 20, about the exact same woman (me), looking the exact same way, based on the exact same television appearance. The following examples are real, and come from a variety of (so-called!) legitimate news outlets (such as HuffPo, MSNBC, etc.), tabloid press, and social media:

One: When I am sick for more than a month and on medication (multiple rounds of steroids), the accusation is that because my face looks puffy, I have “clearly had work done,” with otherwise credible reporters with great bravo “identifying” precisely the procedures I allegedly have had done.


Three: When my 2012 face looks different than it did when I filmed Double Jeopardy in 1998, I am accused of having “messed up” my face (polite language here, the F word is being used more often), with a passionate lament that “Ashley has lost her familiar beauty audiences loved her for.”

Four: When I have gained weight, going from my usual size two/four to a six/eight after a lazy six months of not exercising, and that weight gain shows in my face and arms, I am a “cow” and a “pig” and I “better watch out” because my husband “is looking for his second wife.” (Did you catch how this one engenders competition and fear between women? How it also suggests that my husband values me based only on my physical appearance? Classic sexism. We won’t even address how extraordinary it is that a size eight would be heckled as “fat.”)