By MIA FREEDMAN
Taking a selfie without make-up will not close the pay gap (Australian women earn 83.5c for every dollar men earn).
Nor will it improve life expectancy for indigenous women in Australia (72 years compared to 82 for white women).
It will also not help brave girls like Malala Yousafzai to fight against the evil Taliban who violently oppose female education in Afghanistan.
WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME THIS SOONER?
Because I thought photos like this would fix all of that shit:
Since we launched our Mamamia Body Positive Project last week, the response has been overwhelming. Overwhelmingly positive. It’s something we’ve been planning for a long time as part of our ongoing campaigns around body image and it’s a broad, long-term project of which last week’s make-up free selfie challenge is merely one aspect.
Not everyone is a fan of our body positive initiative, though. Which is to be expected and in many ways encouraged. Debate is good. Here’s a sample:
HELEN RAZER: Fuck the shit that you are writing. Fuck your fucking assumption that most of us are as intellectually sluggish as you and are so fixated by the pain of Not Feeling Pretty that we cannot identify what needs to be done: radical change to our labour conditions. We do not make change by asking for praise about our twats, mams or makeup-free faces. To pretend that there is ANY benefit—even at the cultural level—in appeasing our own vanity is hypocrisy of the worst order. All I see, in the case of the Body Positive campaign is the desire of silly women to commodify themselves.
CLEMENTINE FORD: I’m at a loss to understand how a body image campaign, however well intentioned it might be, can tackle the complex issue of women’s relationships with their appearance by asking women to focus on their appearance – particularly when it just creates another standard of comparison between those participating.
There has to be a better, sounder, more intelligent way to move beyond these essentially vanity driven, privilege ridden exercises and prioritise a value in ourselves that has nothing at all to do with how we look. ….The exhaustion of thinking about ourselves all the time cannot be solved by hosting make-up free days or campaigns that focus on rejecting beauty regimes.
LANA HIRSCHOWITZ: I look at the galleries of makeup free woman and find the whole thing a little sad. It’s like a beauty contest but instead of the swimsuit competition it’s like some kind of “freak show”.
BRONWEN CLUNE: What lesson is this sending to anyone other than what we already know – that a women’s value is defined by her appearance, a value we derive at from an accepted set of norms? Is taking a photo without make-up and posting it on Twitter really an act of bravery for women, as many have suggested it is? Try telling that to Malala Yousafzai.
Three of these women I know and like. Bronwen, I’ve never met, but I read her post with interest too. No hard feelings. Conversations like this are good and an important part of trying to shake things up.
After two decades of working on the issue of body image, I’m very familiar with the perverse way you attract the most strident criticism when you do something proactive and swim against the tide.
Whether it’s the government appointing a National Body Image Advisory Group, Sarah Murdoch refusing to be airbrushed on the cover of the Women’s Weekly, Dove using women of different shapes and sizes in their advertising, Lena Dunham baring her body on her TV show Girls, Deborah Hutton posing for a magazine cover aged 50 or the launch of our Body Positive Project, the criticism is always the same: you’re not doing body image RIGHT. In fact, you’re probably making it WORSE.
How very DARE you.
Women are more than just our faces and our bodies and the way we look! Isn’t it hypocritical to try to improve the body image of women with images of women? Isn’t that the whole PROBLEM HERE?
Well, sure. I guess we could remove people’s eyes. That would prevent anyone making judgements about appearances. Would that work? Or we could encourage women to send in photos of their brains. Or their hearts. Or their CVs.
Because we need to stop judging women by the way they look and start focusing instead on what’s inside.
Except that’s a different – valid, important but different – conversation.