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Thursday, 7 November 2013

Confidence - women in the media

Last night on Facebook, there was a photo of an over-weight woman in her underwear posted on a site run by women saying 'This sort of strength and self-love should be celebrated not derided'. It was obviously click bait to make us say she looked fat, or had huge health issues. My issue is not even with the cheap tactics used to insult women. My issue, is that it reinforces the idea that women are to be objectified on their looks. Not only that, women should see their self worth in their ability to post naked or semi-naked photos of themselves on the internet. Way to go, female empowerment!

If you are a site for women, perhaps a good way to promote confidence in women, is to tell the stories of confident women that actually DO something. There's a thought. A confident woman who can play with the big boys, not just send them sexy photos in her underwear.

I hope this site understands they can never criticise politicians for condescending to women in the workplace, or rappers for objectifying women, if they themselves encourage the same condescension and objectification, encouraging confidence by saying 'Strong women are ok with naked photos of themselves'. You can not have it both ways.

To paraphrase Tina Fey, I would say strong women get things done.

Here's a little story of a confident woman and action that I would celebrate. Elizabeth Blackburn is a scientist, she won the Nobel Prize for her discoveries in cell research (short version, she discovered 2 things that are integral in understanding genetic diseases and cancer, and thus aiding eventually finding cures). That, however, is not the bit that we're celebrating in this story. She was on the Bush panel for Council for Bioethics. When he took a stand on stem cell research, she didn't agree. She walked in and had the confidence to tell him to shove it. I'm pretty sure she wasn't in her underwear or naked at the time. She didn't actually tell him to shove it, she argued her beliefs, and was subsequently let go, as a result. She publicly told the media why she believed she was let go, and why she believed it was the wrong course of action for the Bush Government to take. That is strength and confidence that should be celebrated. Standing for your beliefs, even if it's at your own detriment, or by achieving great things, that's what we should using as our yardstick for celebrating confident women.

I understand that body image is a huge issue for women. I would prefer if the women in the media encouraged women to look at action and achievement, not the outer casing.

Can the merit of a woman not be her ability to parade around in her underwear, pandering to men? If women reinforce that, how can we then get annoyed with men that objectify women?



18 comments:

  1. I love this! We need more stories being told about the awesome achievements that women every where are achieving. Yes body image is an issue but I always fail to see how posting a photo of yourself in your underwear achieves anything. I always feel that all of the positive comments while they come from a good place, they are made because that is what is expected. If a woman is 'brave' enough to post her photo then good for her, but I don't see how 100's of women and men then commenting on it saying how awesome she is or brave or whatever is helping the issue. If she felt awesome about her body, then she wouldn't have needed to post it in the first place is my thought. Or even why is a woman who is overweight brave for posting a photo of herself in her underwear? It's kind of an insult wrapped in a compliment. Models get around in photo shoots for lingerie everyday and no one tells them they are brave.

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    1. All women should stop posting photos of themselves in their underwear. If they are confident, they wouldn't need to!!

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  2. I am totally with you and Tegan. The focus is all wrong, it is all about making a difference in the world. I can't see how someone looks has anything to do with anything really.

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    1. It's not even their looks, it's naked - or underwear. It's like their only value is in their sexual attraction. YAY US!!

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  3. Needs to be said, they reposted the photo series but changed the editorial - that they are challenging our notions of conventional beauty. That's an improvement, thankfully.

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  4. Great post Lydia - love Elizabeth Blackburn's story - and I so agree that it the notion of modelling naked should never be promoted as empowering women. It may be brave, but it is not empowering.

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  5. Completely fantastic post Lydia! Day after the day the mainstream media gives as articles about body image and empowerment. We need to change the focus by not clicking on these stories and concentrate on the awesome things that women are achieving. Western society will be happier for it.
    Thanks

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  6. What a great post and so very true !!! If only more women realised that it's about what we do not how we look that makes us strong.
    Have the best day and an even better weekend !
    Me

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  7. True. The less focus on appearance, and the more focus on achievement the better. I rarely see 'brave' males focused on self love. Not to just simply compare the difference between genders but the less ado we make on the visual the better.

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  8. Brilliant post Lydia. I hate seeing images like this. I'm a personal trainer and promote a healthy lifestyle rather than body image. I never talk to women about heir body shape or size but more their ability set and reach their goals.

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  9. This is why I get antsy about talented women posing in bikinis for FHM. My teen argues that they should be allowed to do whatever they want, and of course, they are. But when women are so rarely celebrated for what they do, I want to see more of that! And less t&a.

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  10. Great post, this is the message we should be giving our young women at school. It's so hard being recognised for your achievements as it is when you're a women in a man's world.

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  11. Can I say I cannot stand that particular site - the articles are linkbait and the crap they perpetuate is really disappointing for a "women's site". Great post Lydia and right on the money!

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  12. I love your last paragraph. Says it all really ....
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

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  13. I didn't see the article/pic, but I've got a fairly good idea which site you're talking about. And I completely agree with you, and will all the commenters before me - we should ALL be judged by the sum of our achievements, not our gender, our clothing size or our social standing. Getting paid to stand in your undies doesn't embody confidence, in fact it's almost the opposite - to me it smacks of a cry for reassurance!

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  14. Nicely composed. A story like that of Elizabeth Blackburn is what I would most definetly would like to hear more of especially from the male dominated scientific world. Like so much of our sociology we have it all wrong, our young girls idolise the wrong people.

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  15. Nicely written. While I think sometimes the posting in different levels of clothing is a personal battle and choice for some women (and if they want to, then go for it), it does seem that the mainstream is still ridiculously focused on looks vs brains.

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