Best selling author Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook page is dedicated almost entirely to spreading positive messages and wise words, as well as sharing requests for help from her readers. Yesterday she wrote a note encouraging women to be kind to each other and to remember: “You look terrific”.
Dear Ones –
Can we talk about something?
For the last few months, I’ve been growing uneasy about a phenomenon I’ve seen playing out in the media over women’s bodies and women’s appearance.
And no, this is not about the USUAL thing that makes me uneasy in the media (the exploitation and hyper-sexualisation of women’s bodies, etc. etc…) That hasn’t changed, and I’m not tackling that today.
This is about something new.
This is about prominent women publicly criticising other prominent women about body image questions, and about each other’s private beauty decisions.
I don’t want to see this anymore.
The history of women’s bodies and women’s beauty is a battlefield of epic (and sometimes violent) proportions. The last thing any of us need to be doing is judging each other and turning on each other.
What really frustrates me is the patronising tone that is sometimes adopted, when a woman who has made a certain set of decisions about her own face and her own body criticises another woman who has made an entirely different set of decisions about HER own face and HER own body.
You know the tone. It goes like this: “I just think it’s so sad that she felt she needed to do that…”
This is a tone of voice that fills me with ire, because: REALLY? Does it make you feel “sad”? Are sure you’re using the word “sad” correctly? Does your neighbor’s boob job really make you feel “sad”? Does that movie star’s plastic surgery genuinely make you feel “sad”? Are you honestly crying into your pillow at night about somebody’s Brazilian butt lift — the way you would cry about a death in the family? Honestly?
Or are you just judging a sister, and hiding your judgment behind a screen of moral appropriation?
No decision that any of us make about our appearance makes us morally better or morally worse than any other woman.