Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Body Positivity Movement

Anything to get women to strip.

Perhaps  you have heard of it: the body acceptance or body positivity movement. It wants all women to feel proud of their bodies.

To accomplish this absurd goal, the movement requires some women, women who do not look like Kate Upton or Kate Moss or Twiggy, to prance around in their underwear, declaring that they are proud of their bodies.

Ashley McGuire, for one, is sick of it. She described one scene:

Ten years later, I read the story of Jae West, a woman who likewise stood in her undies ready for a body mark-up. Except that West stood in Piccadilly Circus, London, not a dank frat house basement, and she offered passersby pens to draw supportive hearts on her body, not critical X’s. West, a member of The Liberators International, a group that promotes “body acceptance,” held a sign that read, “I’m standing for anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder or self-esteem issue like me . . .  To support self-acceptance, draw a [heart] on my body.”

Got the picture. If not, here it is.

West is standing there in her underwear in public, asking people to draw hearts on her semi-naked body. For the record, there is nothing strange or  peculiar about her body… beyond the fact that she is exposing it in public. Does she not understand that such exposure is not going to enhance her self-esteem,  because it is frankly embarrassing? At least, strippers work in clubs, not in the public square.

If you are asking why these women have such low self-esteem, you might begin by asking yourself how many of them have exhibited their naked or semi-naked bodies to strangers. With hooking up having become acceptable and with sexting being a normal rite of adolescent passage, we would be more surprised if women were not self-conscious about their bodies. If they want to feel better about how they look they might begin by saving their intimacy for more private occasions with people they are involved with.

Keep in mind that there is an immense fashion industry out there, coupled with an immense cosmetics industry… whose sole purpose is to help women to look their best, regardless of their body type.

But, some women of the feminist persuasion believe that the fashion industry is a patriarchal plot designed to repress their sexuality and to deny who they really, really are. Or else, that it is a vast conspiracy designed to cover up the truth. Because, don’t you know it, who you really are is how you look naked. This seems to be an article of faith even though all human beings cover their bodies in some form. Shame is a universal human emotion.

Feminists are so allergic to the notion that women might want to appeal to male attention, that they have left women with the naked truth. Thus, they are suggesting that a woman who exhibits her body in a state of semi-undress, who demeans her body by compromising its intimacy and privacy… should feel good about her body.

Here, the naked truth is stripped of its eroticism.

Of course, the body positivity movement refuses to allow women to care about how they look to men.

One does not feel that one should have to say it, but “naked” is not the body’s sexiest posture. If it were, there would be no lingerie, and we know that women prefer to wear lingerie in their more intimate moments and that men are more than happy to support the decision.

McGuire should know better than to lather the issue with a layer of feminist theory, but, alas, she seems to suggest that body positivity is anti-feminist:

In other words, body-positivity is just another way we objectify the female body by myopically focusing on the correlation of its size to sex appeal. Don’t get me wrong; the intention behind the movement is a good one. Sixty percent of girls report comparing their bodies to those of fashion models. More than half of women are unhappy with their body in some way. A survey conducted by Glamour found that the average woman has at least 13 negative thoughts about their body in a given day. Today’s girls and women have, on average, serious body image issues.

The problem is real. It is certainly serious. It does suggest that today’s liberated woman is not entirely comfortable being a woman. Ever since feminists started complaining about the objectification of the female body, whether on their or on McGuire’s terms, lo and behold, women started to have body image issues.

McGuire continues with an absurd suggestion:

If we really wanted to stop negative assessments of female bodies of any size, though, we could simply stop talking about female bodies. As Weiss put it, “I’m tired of talking about women’s sex appeal. If this is what celebrating women’s bodies means, I could stand to see my body go unsung.”

Doesn’t this suggest that women dislike their bodies for their sex appeal?

I will mention in passing that those who have learned how to think like feminists are also happy to complain that no one makes an issue of the male body. Apparently, they are unaware of the biological differences between male and female bodies and how the two types of bodies have different reproductive functions.

Might it be that feminism, with its relentless assault on the female body’s reproductive potential, much of which is made manifest in the shape of the female body, has done women a serious disservice?

Might it be that feminism, with its relentless assault on the erotic beauty of the female body has done women yet another disservice?

Might it be that feminists-- who cry out in anguish when a group of sorority girls from the University of Alabama show that they are happy to be girls and happier to be becoming women-- are teaching women to have negative thoughts about their bodies, about their hips, about their butts, about their breasts… especially to the extent that these attract the dread male gaze.

This very morning the Daily Mail reported that some women have chosen to stop their periods because they believe that their menstrual cycle is a handicap, preventing them from advancing their careers. It recalls a line from Shakespeare: “… unsex me here….”

Wherever did these women get the idea that it was bad to be women?

Here are the words of one Alanna Allen, quoted in the Daily Mail:

'I've not had a period for seven years now, and I've never looked back,' says Alanna, who lives with husband Daniel, 32, in Chertsey, Surrey. 'The best thing for me is the convenience. When you're with a client, you want to focus entirely on them.

'Stopping my periods has allowed me to 'man up' and get on with things. I'm not only in charge of my own staff but I oversee the managers of our other salons and I have very little sympathy for any of the young female apprentices who say they are suffering from period pains. There's no need for any woman to have to put up with that.'

I need not mention that if any man had ever suggested that the female menstrual cycle made women less desirable employees, he would quickly be labeled a sexist and run out of town. The article does mention that there are health hazards and fertility risks when a woman suppresses her cycle.

Dr Susan Rako, author of No More Periods?, is convinced that there's a risk. 'Tampering with the menstrual cycle for the purpose of doing away with periods is, in a word, reckless,' she says. 'Manipulating women's hormonal chemistry for the purpose of menstrual suppression threatens to be the largest uncontrolled experiment in the history of medical science.'
Women’s sense of their bodies concerns how well they attract the attention of men. As I have occasionally mentioned, many older women recall vividly the moment when they were walking down the street and they were aware of the fact that men did not notice.

How a woman feels about her body’s erotic appeal depends in very large part on how it is seen by men. Even if all of her girlfriends get together and declare her the hottest thing since  French toast, she will not feel very womanly or very proud of her body if men do not notice.

The body positivity movement insists that it should not be about how men see women’s bodies, but about how women feel about their bodies.  And yet, a woman who chooses not to appeal to the male gaze will also feel that she has failed to attract said gaze and thus that her femininity has been invalidated.


Ares Olympus said...

The body-image issue is mental mush to me, intractably subjective, although reminds me of a recent visual game of photoshopped ideals of women in their undies by country. Here's a copy:

On the other hand, health effects has a chance of containing objective truths to consider.

So the suppressed periods is a more interesting and apparently unknown scientific consensus. I only learned about it recently when a woman I know who is a doctor confessed she's taken birth control for more than a decade after her two kids were born, while skipping the placebo week to completely suppress her period. I should have asked more details but I was surprised, so I don't know if it was 100% suppression or what, but she claimed it was safe.

As well, many young women athletes train so intensely that they lose their period, and some consider this a problem, and others an advantage.

The question of hormones is also interesting, like post-menopause estrogen treatments. Obviously there are wide individual natural variations of hormones, and variations during a lifetime, and probably divergent advantages and disadvantages to higher or lower or average levels for different purposes, and you don't have to question whether someone is more or less feminine (or masculine) based on these levels.

But the problem is as soon as we give a sense of "control" over "natural levels", whatever they are, there is responsibility and igorance involved, and no right answers. But there are "wrong" answers when there are KNOWN health effects (like steroids) that are done purely for sexual appeal. People are easily made stupid and people with low-self esteem (whatever that means) are made stupid much easier.

Anonymous said...

The fields of Psycho Cybernetics and Neurolinguistic Programming have said much on the subject of self image, goals, and motivation:

However at times negative emotions are much more powerful than positive thoughts. The words "negative" and "positive" really are dodges: negative means feelings of pain and positive means feelings of pleasure. If my body generates persistent pain then I am not going to be satisfied with myself, others, or the world of human affairs. Therapy, NLP, etc. are part of the world of human affairs so I don't really trust any of that shit either!

Sam L. said...

"McGuire should know better than to lather the issue with a layer of feminist theory, but, alas, she seems to suggest that body positivity is anti-feminist:" She can't know better; everything must (MUST) be lathered with thick swathes of feminist theory. She doesn't women to find their bodies attractive any more than she wants men to find them attractive.

She will always be disappointed.

Sam L. said...

See also Alabama Sorority Caper.

priss rules said...

It used to be called exhibitionism.

KCFleming said...

Narcissism isn't as much fun as you'd think.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Please identify a woman who identifies her body positively. Please. This is a mad movement to bolster mediocrity as an answer to the "ideal" bodies they can neither identify, nor secure.

Unknown said...

I'm a woman and I'm sick of the body positive movement. They blame the media and keep pushing for 'diversity'. Oh please. What we see in the media is what is gorgeous and it's because people work so darned hard on their physiques. We want to see what is aesthetically appealing.

If these activists want to have good body image, then work on what they have instead of whining.