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To be the “ideal woman” one must be skinny, by American standards. Typically a woman is said to be obsessed with losing weight, getting into a smaller jean size and making sure she looks attractive for everyone else. However some women, like me, are okay with being bigger. Not obese, but being healthy and being a size 14, 16 or even 18. Other women may look down on us, the “fat” and happy women, and ask “does she not want to lose weight?” “Does she know how big she is?” “Why is she not in the gym?” We are okay with being the size that we are; we are ok with being “fat” and happy. If you are in this category, embrace it, healthy looks different on everyone. Not everyone is destined to be a size 4. If you are a size 12 and you are healthy, do not work yourself to death to get smaller, embrace your curves, being “fat” and happy is okay.

This directly relates to me, many others I love, and maybe even you. Studies done by Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders show that 86% of women say that they have had an eating disorder by age 20. Another shocking fact is 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of becoming fat. I was one of those girls. I have been a bigger girl all my life, and if any of you have been through the same thing, you know it is not fun. I have been through the teasing and ridicule by middle school girls. I have even been through the “if you don’t lose weight you won’t have a boyfriend” stage with my mom.  Even as a child in elementary school, I was well aware of my weight and asking if I looked okay in my clothes. No one ever told me that it was okay to be bigger. No one told me that my body would never let me be the ideal “small” girl because of the way my body was. I went through life thinking I was not trying hard enough, and I was a failure.

Kristie Ally was one of my favorite people on television. She showed me you could be bigger and be beautiful, and famous, and desirable. However, in 2004 I saw in People Magazine that she was on a big mission to lose weight. During this time she was chosen to play on a show called Fat Actress, where she is playing a woman who struggles to lose weight to become popular again in Hollywood. The People article said ““But once she began filming the show earlier this fall, Alley, 53, found herself confronting her own moment of truth. “I thought when everyone sees me they’ll go, yeah, she’s a little chubby, but no big deal,” says Alley. “Then I watched the first cut of the show and I went ‘Oh my God.’ To tell you the truth—and this is how sick it is—I didn’t really realize I was fat until I saw the first show.”” She was beautiful and curvy but because of the way she thought she looked she decided to lose weight. This clip shows Kirstie during “Fat Actress” trying to fit into pants, while looking for her “fat” pants. She looks beautiful, but after she saw herself on the show, she decided she was “too fat”.

There are many reasons why women believe that they must be a certain size to be happy. One of them is described in Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender and Culture. In this text, Julia Wood talks about the Social Learning Theory. This theory explains that when children are younger they learn how to be either masculine or feminine from watching and copying their family and friends. Not only are they watching and learning but they are being rewarded and punished for doing “right” or “wrong” acts of femininity or masculinity. So, if a young girl sees her mother obsessed with being thin, and she hears her mother tell her “don’t eat that cookie, you don’t want to be fat do you” she will grow up with a fear and knowledge that being “fat” is a bad thing.

Another way women are conditioned to want to be thin is found in the non-verbal chapter. Artifacts, which are personal objects like what people wear, clothing, make-up, shoes, or toys that expresses the identity we want for ourselves. Clothing stores make it very difficult to be bigger and feel beautiful, or even find clothes to fit.

In the article “The Short, Happy Life of Plus-size Women’s Fashion Magazines” the author talks about how in the 70s and early 80s there were no real plus sized clothing, this is size 14 and up. The only option was the misses department, which did not house the most flattering or attractive clothing, and certainly not for a younger woman. There were two magazines exclusively catering to plus-sized women and clothing for them in the late 80s and early 90s, but they were very short lived. Due to the lack of attractive clothing available for women my size, it makes us feel unwanted and ugly. We have every right to feel as beautiful and sexy as any size 4 woman.

I am happy to say that there have been major strides in plus-sized fashion. Stores like Old Navy and Forever 21 now have the cutest cloths in the plus sized section. Also, there is a new show in TLC for plus sized brides. They deserve to be regarded as beautiful as the smaller brides. This clip is for the new show for plus sized brides, Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss.

Yet another tie to why women seek to be skinny is found in the verbal communication chapter in Gendered Lives. During verbal communication language defines men and women differently. It defines women with an emphasis on appearance and relationships and men are associated with activities and awards. This may be obvious but the verbal consequences for being bigger are enormous. Not only are these women doing it to themselves; “I am so huge”, “I could never wear that, have you seen my thighs”, or “I wish I had your body, you are perfect”. Women also do it to each other. Mostly to make themselves feel better about the way they look and feel about themselves.

There was a study done by the authors of the article “If You’re Fat, Then I am Humongous”, surveying 168 college females about “fat talk”, fat talk being talking about one’s size or the size of another in a demeaning fashion. The results were that most women thought they had less fat talk than other women, when in fact they had the same. Also, the more they engaged in fat talk, the lower their body satisfaction was. Lastly, their idea of the perfect body had nothing to do with BMI and their body type but the “thin ideal”.

The fact that beautiful, healthy women do not feel as such due to society telling them they should always want to be thinner is horrendous and measures need to be taken to end it. Some campaigns have already been enacted. An article in TIME magazine states, the Delta Delta Delta chapter at UNC has reportedly started a revolutionary campaign called “Fat Talk Free Week.” This week is meant to lower the dependence on the “thin ideal” by ending the demeaning and harmful fat talk that girls engage in everyday. Universities all over the country have been jumping on this campaign and bringing it to their campuses. They have had rallies and even taken all of the scales out of the dorms to help girls and guys to focus less on their weight.

If these small changes can catch on, then people will realize that weight and size are not that big of a deal. If you turn them into one it leads to low self-esteem, and eating disorders. The size 4 ideal is not right for everyone and it is ok to be big, HEALTHY, and happy. I would really love to end this with one of the most influential YouTube videos about fat talk. It was made by Tri Delta and it is their viral campaign to end fat talk. The short video really shows the problem of women putting each other down about their weight. It puts it into the perspective of “what if it was your daughter, friend, or girlfriend?” It shows that it does not matter who it is, no one should be made to feel inferior for the size they are.

 

 

As I walk down stairs early in the morning to go to yet another day of high school I hear my mom “Are you really wearing that right now?” I have a test and a softball game today, I am wearing sweat pants and a t-shirt, yes this is what I am wearing. Of coarse I could not say that to her. For the longest time I could not understand why what I wore mattered to anyone else and why it would matter so much to my mother. She would say “you are a representation of me” or “people will think you are homeless” but until I got older I know that she meant, even though it make not be right, people judge you on the way you look; not only your body type, but what you choose to put on your body is so important.

Even though not I understand I will be judged for what I wear on a daily basis, I still do not understand why it matters so much. For women especially what you wears means so much. If you wear sweats you may be lazy, or a lesbian, but if you choose the short dress and heels you are a slut. Why do we as a society put so much importance into clothing? Why can’y women just wear what they want, what makes them feel comfortable, or pretty without the fear of being labeled or judged?

Looking at the book Gendered Lives written by Julia Wood, an artifact is a personal object that influences how we see ourselves and express the identity we create for ourselves. This is basically what you wear, clothes, jewelry, hats, shoes, anything you decide to put on, you use it to define who you are and express your identity. So if I decided to wear sweats and a t-shirt that is how I am deciding to express myself that day. It does not mean that I have decided to become a lesbian or that all of a sudden I do not care about my appearance, it simply mean that that is how I have decided to express myself that day. Artifacts, especially for women hold such a power in our culture. It has to be the right top with the right shirt and shoes and the right hairs style and the perfect jewelry; an if its not “perfect” my gendered norms, social norms or any other, you are judged. The National Museum of American History even has an exhibit for the dresses of the First Ladies. The entire focus is what they wore, when they wore it and what accessories they had with it. There is nothing about what contributions they gave to the country during their rein, or any other facts about them. They were defined by their dresses.

One of the best examples I could give is Brittney Spears. (google images) When she was younger she wore cute little outfits, the best make up and she was loves by everyone. Everyone wanted to be her and most woman we jealous of her. now later in life when she began to look like this  (google images) fans were so quick to judge the woman they had loved and admired for so long, just because she was not expressing her identity in the “right way”. She was not the ultimate picture of femininity, and there for undesirable.

I think the entire idea of putting so much thought and judgement into what people wear is ridiculous and should be stopped. What people wear has nothing to do with how they are as a person, how educated they are, or their sexual orientation. Yes, there is some opposition to this; there are some times when certain dress is appropriate, but generally speaking people, anyone of any gender, race, socio-economic class should be able to dress in a way that suits them without fear of persecution by others. So the next time you see someone walking across campus wearing something out of the ordinary, or you are deciding what to wear in the morning, remember you are the only one you should have to worry about. Clothing is for your own personal expression, no one else.

The more we learn in class the more I realize I did not grow up in the “typical” home. Or maybe I did, but I did not act like a “typical” girl. I suppose I am basing all of this on the mommy myth; which is the stereotypical perfect mother of happy all the time and holds down a job and a spotless house. When I was growing up, I had both parents that worked. My mom was an elementary school teacher and my dad was working shift work in factory. So they were not home all of the time. After a long day of dealing with kids my mom did not want to come home and deal with 3 more kids. She did not come home and immediately start dinner, or have a craft for us to do or clean the house. Most of the time she did not even want to talk to us, all she wanted was some peace and quiet. On the weekends, I spent a lot of time with my dad. He would be cutting the grass or making something outside, and I may not have been able to help, but I was outside watching. The typical girl is suppose to spend more time with mom than dad, and if you don’t you will end up a tom-boy, and you will never have a boyfriends or girlfriends for that matter. Well I spent much more quality time with my dad and my grandpa  than i did with my mom and I did not end up like Marla Hooch  who almost did not make in into the girls baseball league, due to being raised by her father, was not pretty enough.

It think I mom is amazing, even if she did not embody the typical mommy myth. I may have hated pink until I was 13 and I may still enjoy getting Dirty much more than a girl should, but I think I turned out alright.

 

Well hello all, My name is Kae Poe I am currently a senior at Longwood University. I come from a small town in Virginia called Disputanta and I come from a very large family. Being one of six children has helped me in the field of communications more than I could know. Hearing things in a class room, especially how male and females communicate and how they relate to each other I could defiantly relate to. Until I was 13 it was just me and my two brothers, Ryan and Ben. Ryan is older and Ben younger. Boys was all I knew, so most of my younger experiences with gender were kinda of skewed in the typical male direction. I liked to cut the grass, play outside, get dirty and wrestle. As far as communicating with them I did it the way boys would understand, or at least how my brothers communicated. I yelled, screamed and physically asserted myself until my point had gotten across. However, when my 3 step sisters came along, it was a complete shock for me. I had not grown up with girls and really did not know how to act around them. They were not like me, they liked pink and went to dance class, while I hated pink and played softball. It was rocky for a little while, as i adjusted to the style of communicating they were used to. Long conversations and soft words. It was a big change from the yelling and screaming I was used to with my brothers. This difference in communication never really crossed my mind until that one day in class when we discussed how men and women communicate with each other, and suddenly everything became clear. All this time I had just thought that my sisters were just weird or Different for not understanding me or getting upset when I yelled at them. I then understood that there were many different ways in which to communicate, and that day I wanted to become a master of them all. In this course specifically I would like to learn what are some of the struggles for males that are not really talked about in the stereotypical male “box”, but that still pose as a hurtle to get over in their lives.

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