Sometimes as a feminist who’s been around for awhile and has watched feminism diversify, become more intersectional, and strive for a kind of inclusivity that may or may not be possible, I (wrongly) think that some of the “old faithful” issues have fallen away. I think here of issues like normative femininity and the feminine beauty ideal. The imperative that women should be thin, lean, and small.
These issues are really old hat. We’ve been talking about the oppressive nature of the aesthetic of normative femininity for decades. But sadly, that doesn’t mean they’ve been resolved.
A stark reminder that body-shaming and the thin-lean-small ideal are still alive and well in the fashion and beauty industries came across my newsfeed in the form of two different stories this week.
First, there was Jameela Jamil against Avon. In case you missed it, Avon had an ad with copy that read: “dimples are cute on your face (not on your thighs).” Even as I read it I can hardly believe this would get through whatever approvals process an ad needs to get through before it goes public. I mean, if Avon is trying to win over women and sell products, shaming them in this manner is hardly a winning strategy.
Jamil called the company out on Twitter:
Jamil has a lot of influence and her tweet made the rounds, with over 10,000 retweets. That made Avon respond with an apology and a decision to pull the offending ad:
Jameela Jamil is great at calling out body-shaming and inequities without mincing words. She calls it as she sees it. That’s an admirable use of her social position and fame.
The other incident involved the fashion industry. For years feminists have been pointing out the unrealistic ideal represented by runway models and magazine models in high fashion circles. This week I read that Bebe Rexha reported that several designers declined to dress her for the Grammy’s because she’s too big. She’s a size 6-8. TOO BIG?!
Her response was spot on. She said:
“If a size 6-8 is too big, then I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t want to wear your f**king dresses. Cause that’s crazy. You’re saying all the women in the world that are size 8 and up are not beautiful and they cannot wear your dresses…So all the people who said I’m thick and I can’t wear dresses, f**k you and I don’t want to wear your f**king dresses,”
I love how these guys on ET Canada are saying how they don’t believe it’s still a thing. Right? I agree: why is this still a thing? Here’s a video of the ET Canada guys and how perplexed they are, and also of Bebe Rexha telling the designers who don’t want to dress her, “fuck you!”