Lindsay’s pro-pizza doctrine.
Maybe you were preoccupied with less important things over the holidays, but did you know that Kim Kardashian gained ten pounds? Oh, but phew, guys, no need to worry — she’s already lost those ten pounds. And provided a much-needed explanation as to why she would do something as crazy as gaining ten pounds in the first place. The culprit? That dastardly vice, mortal enemy to ladies the world over…PIZZA.
As a feminist, I feel like this kind of stuff isn’t supposed to get to me at all. We know the drill: Society puts absurd amounts of pressure on famous women to stay thin, and in turn this messes with the body image issues of “normal women.” But we are feminists! We should be exempt from such a predictable and transparently stupid cycle. We know better! We take stands against things like this! Well guess what: even self-proclaimed feminists grapple with body image issues.
I’m lucky. For my entire adult life (and even, against all odds, while I was working at a bakery) I have fallen smack-dab in the middle of the “healthy weight” range for women of my height. Completely, thoroughly average. I eat healthy, I run, I stay active — and I genuinely enjoy doing all of these things. There is nothing extreme or pathological in the way I feel about my body. Again, I’m so lucky. But even though I am constantly aware of all of this in the more reason-dominated parts of my brain, there are feelings that crop up, in a voice that doesn’t even sound like the normal one in my head, whenever I skip a run or an exercise class, whenever I eat a big meal. It’s a voice that I’ve internalized from decades of growing up in a culture that bombards healthy women with the message that beauty, happiness, and value of any sort are always at least ten pounds away.
As always, there have been some pretty troubling celebrity weight stories in the news lately. Portia de Rossi revealed on Oprah that, at the height of her success, she was struggling with an eating disorder that nearly killed her. There’s also been speculation about Natalie Portman’s stringent diet and exercise regime (not as severe as de Rossi’s story, of course) while shooting her celebrated performance in Black Swan. And in a recent interview with Health magazine, Janet Jackson confessed that for two weeks leading up to the shooting of her classic video “Love Will Never Do Without You” (linked, I must add, because it is truly one of my favorite songs and videos EVER) she ate nothing but an apple and a small bag of tortilla chips each day. Each of these stories is distressing because they follow a similar arc: a woman’s image adored and praised by millions of people, while the woman herself probably feels like absolute shit. As much as I love that Janet video, I think I’ll probably find it hard to watch in the future, thinking how miserable she probably felt during the filming.
We’re pelted with these kinds of mixed messages year-round, but it always feels particularly insidious around this time of year, as it’s usually disguised in some sort of feel-good, quasi-empowered sloganeering (This is the year. You owe it to yourself.). Losing “those extra ten pounds” seems to be the de facto resolution thrust upon us all by endless magazine covers and TV commercials. Well, this year I’m proposing a more feminist alternative: resolve to hold in higher esteem how your body feels rather than how it looks.
In support of this, I found an inspiring sentiment in the New Yorker, of all places. Karen Duffy (who has been an MTV VJ and a Victoria’s Secret model, among many other things, but I will venture to say that her greatest cultural contribution is playing the female lead in the truly classic film Blank Check) said this of New Years resolutions: “People always say they want to lose ten pounds, but I feel like that ten pounds could be where all my humanity and humor is, and if I lose it I might just be a skinny knucklehead.”
So this year may we all have the strength to define our own notions of beauty, regardless of the punishing images the media suggests we emulate. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is certainly a feminist act, but it is most so when the goal is personal and not socially defined. With that in mind, let’s raise a glass and toast to retaining our humanity and humor in 2011 — and all the Feminist Pizza Parties that our hearts desire.