To me, the message CoverGirl is sending is perfectly clear. It is not “#GirlsCan do anything.” The message is “I want your money and I am prepared to say and sell anything to get it.”
CoverGirl is not unique in the slightest by sending this message. Any company with something to sell wants you to buy it, and the majority are prepared to do anything in the name of marketing. The SPARKteam recently talked about the Aerie ad campaign, whose ‘body positive’ gimmick was to leave their models untouched-up. It created quite a stir, which was of course its aim, but what did it actually do for media’s unattainable standards of beauty? Not much: their untouched models were majority thin, pale and without a single physical blemish; the standards of beauty they promoted were not any less attainable. If it boosts sales, a company will say or do almost anything.
CoverGirl, as a company, is not interested in girl’s empowerment. That doesn’t mean that their campaigns (or the people who run them) don’t have good effects—some of the people behind these campaigns may even be feminists. But CoverGirl is not a person with thoughts and feelings. CoverGirl as company doesn’t care about girls being plagued by unhealthy eating and body dysmorphia because of unattainable beauty standards; CoverGirl as a company does not care how many girls don’t go into STEM subjects because of the anti-female environment; CoverGirl as a company doesn’t care how many girls end up realising their dreams to be a comedian despite being told “girls can’t be funny.” CoverGirl is a company, not a person—its first and last concern is what impacts their sales.
“Being a girl is awesome at all ages, and it’s super unfortunate that teenagers and young girls in general are so often left out of feminist conversations. Being in college doesn’t make you any better or smarter than teenagers; even being a CEO of some Fortune 500 company doesn’t make you any better or smarter than teenagers. Teenage girls don’t live in Girl World that’s contained in the hallways of high schools and in the blogosphere. They live in the Real World, they’re part of the Real World. Their perspectives are as important as those of women of all ages, if not more important because they’re among the most marginalized. Girls deserve spaces to express themselves in the Real World too.”—Ty Slobe, Why intergenerational feminism matters
“As women, we are often told that there are hundreds of things we can’t do for one reason or another. We also often end up blowing people away with how wrong they all were. If there’s something you are working hard to do, don’t stop because of what people may think or expect of you. Don’t let anybody’s judgments get in the way. You can do it. And I’m sure you will be amazing.”—Julia Bluhm, “Not “crazy,” just dedicated”
Being privileged doesn’t make you a bad person, denying your privilege does. Having privilege doesn’t mean that your life is sunshine and rainbows. It means that society favors people like you. Your personal experiences do not erase your privilege. Don’t be upset about being told you are privileged, be upset that the things systematically given to you are denied from others.
“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”—
“Because women of colour experience racism in ways not always the same as those experienced by men of color and sexism in ways not always parallel to experiences of white women, antiracism and feminism are limited, even on their own terms… The failure of feminism to interrogate race means that the resistance strategies of feminism will often replicate and reinforce the subordination of people of colour, and the failure of antiracism to interrogate patriarchy means that antiracism will frequently reproduce the subordination of women”—Kimberle Crenshaw in Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color (via ethiopienne)
"Lupita’s Oscar win adds her name to a list of only five other African American actresses who have won in that same category. Lupita’s awards were well deserved, but even with her wins, and the wins for 12 Years a Slave, the 2014 awards season followed the trend set by its predecessors: time after time, the number of people of color nominated for and winning awards is is astronomically low.
Since the Oscars started in 1929, fewer than 4% of the awards have been given to African Americans. Only three Oscars have ever been awarded to Latinos for acting roles (Jose Ferrer, Anthony Quinn and Benico del Toro). The majority of voters for Awards ceremonies like the Oscars are even less diverse than the winners list. In the highly secretive roster of 5,765 voting members of the Academy, 94% are Caucasian and 77% are male. Only 2% of the voters are black and less than 2 % are Hispanic. The median age of voters is 62 and only 14% of voters are younger than 50. Many of the white male voters don’t really see a problem with the lack of diversity on the voting panel.”
“One day I decided that I was beautiful, and so I carried out my life as if I was a beautiful girl. I wear colors that I really like, I wear makeup that makes me feel pretty, and it really helps. It doesn’t have anything to do with how the world perceives you. What matters is what you see. Your body is your temple, it’s your home, and you must decorate it.”—Gabourey Sidibe (via larmoyante)
It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow *deserve* to be poor. You start believing that you’re poor because you’re stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you’re stupid and ugly because you’re Indian. And because you’re Indian you start believing that you’re destined to be poor. It’s an ugly circle and *there’s nothing you can do about it.*
Poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor.
”—Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (via badndngirl)
Step 1: Comment on a woman’s attractiveness on every single occasion in every single venue no matter how irrelevant it is. Build up a dating culture entirely dependent on a female’s beauty. Teach children that only attractive women will ever get anywhere in life, will ever be praised, will ever find love and have a family, will ever have a chance at happiness, are worth knowing, are worth being.
Step 2: Mock women for caring about how they look. Call them shallow.
“The girls are never supposed to end up together. I watched that movie with Ellen Page and Alia Shawkat, the roller-skating movie, the one where Ellen and Alia are best friends, each other’s only comforts in their podunk town. They need each other, and they hug, and they dance, and they tell each other I Love You, and Ellen meets a skinny boy who plays in a band. It doesn’t even work out with the boy, but that’s almost tangential. The girl was never a real option.
I think that’s why it’s really difficult for girls. For me. We follow narratives and our fingertips trace the contours of the stories we love and we long to escape within the confines of our own lives. Meet your boyfriend in the pouring rain and yank down his mask and kiss him upside down. Run with your boyfriend to the front of the ferry and throw your arms out to the side and scream, “I’m king of the world!” If you are a girl in love with a boy, your possibilities are infinite.
If there is a special girl in your life, you love her as a friend. You love her as a friend, but she becomes less important to you as you grow, and you leave her behind for a boy. She might even stand next to you when you marry the boy, and she might catch the bouquet of flowers that you throw to her. You’re giving her permission to move on, move away from you. It’s a ceremony of separation.
But if you should fall in love with a girl - and loving and falling in love are two very distinct things - the first kiss is the end. You’ve all seen the movie. Or the television show. Or the after-school special, or you’ve read the book that was banned from your school’s library for containing Sexual Content. The point of your story is not to fall in love. The point of your story is to struggle. Your story begins with a lie and climaxes in a truth and ends with a kiss. In the movie of your life, forty-five minutes are devoted to you figuring out how to say that you want to kiss girls, and another half-hour is devoted to people’s objections, and maybe the last fifteen minutes is you kissing the girl. Maybe you don’t even get to kiss the girl. Maybe she tells you that she’s flattered, but she doesn’t bat for your team.
The critics swoon; it’s realistic, they say, so realistic, to depict the struggle of the modern teen, the heartbreak of irresolvable incompatibility. Isn’t that always what celebrities cite in their divorces? “Irreconciliable differences.”
And so you’re lying on the floor of your bathroom, your knees curled to your chest, or you’re on your sofa with a pint of ice cream, or you’re in bed watching your favourite sad movie on Netflix, and the collective weight of all that you consume settles on your shoulders, leans in, and whispers, “You were never meant to fall in love.”
You were never meant to fall in love. Your story ends in tears or it ends in death. Jack Twist was bludgeoned to death with a tire iron and Ennis Del Mar was left alone in his closet to dance with an empty shirt. Alby Grant found Dale Tomasson swinging by a noose in the apartment that had been their safehouse, their respite, and he sank to his knees and cradled Dale’s bare feet and he cried. The Motion Picture Association of America axed Lana Tisdel and Brandon Teena’s sex scenes, but they didn’t have a problem with the extended shot of Lana cradling Brandon’s corpse in her fragile arms and falling asleep next to his body.
Love and intimacy are ours only in death, or so it would seem.
I don’t want to die. Isn’t that a very human experience? Not wanting to die? When does anyone who looks like me get to grow old and raise grandchildren and hold her wife’s hand as the skin wrinkles, turns translucent?
Sometimes my father asks me if I’ll ever date a man. Sometimes he doesn’t ask. “You are attracted to men, and you dream about falling in love with men,” he says, as if he can will his imaginary daughter into existence merely by speaking about her. Or maybe he is just looking out for my safety.
He’s seen the movies, too.
He loves me.
He doesn’t want me to die.”—
When my best friend and I were in high school, trying desperately (and usually failing) to either not be gay or at least not hate ourselves for being gay, she once confessed to me, crying, that one of the reasons she didn’t want to be a lesbian is that lesbians aren’t happy in love, that their relationships can’t last, that she’d never seen happy lesbians in stable relationships. This shit matters so hard y’all.
To all the clueless assholes who say it doesn’t matter when lesbian characters are mistreated, abused, hurt and left alone and heartbroken, never getting to have happy relationships
And to all the asshole writers who think it doesn’t matter if they show lesbian characters being abused and suffering and not being able to have happy relationships with the women they love…or who think that it doesn’t matter if they don’t portray lesbian characters and relationships at all
IT FUCKING MATTERS
We’re sick and tired of having to make do with ‘subtext’ and ‘hints’ and teasing…and sick of the only lesbian representation we DO get always having things end horribly for them
Most girls are relentlessly told that we will be treated how we demand to be treated. If we want respect, we must respect ourselves.
This does three things. Firstly, it gets men off the hook for being held accountable for how they treat women. And secondly, it makes women feel that the mistreatment and sometimes outright violence they face due to their gender is primarily their fault. And thirdly, it positions women to be unable to speak out against sexism because we are made to believe any sexism we experience would not have happened if we had done something differently.
I cannot demand a man to respect me. No more than I can demand that anybody do anything. I can ask men to be nice to me. But chances are if I even have to ask he does not care to be nice. I can express displeasure when I’m not being respected. But that doesn’t solve the issue that I was disrespected in the first place.
I can choose to not deal with a man once he proves to be disrespectful and/or sexist. But even that does not solve the initial problem of the fact that I had to experience being disrespected in the first place.
As a young girl, I wish that instead of being told that I needed to demand respect from men that I had been told that when I am not respected by men that it’s his fault and not mine. But that would require that we quit having numerous arbitrary standards for what it means to be a “respectable” woman. It would mean that I am not judged as deserving violence based on how I speak, what I wear, what I do, and who I am.
“Idolizing someone is not the same as valuing or understanding them. I appreciate your candor in sharing how you feel about Lupita’s looks, but I can’t pretend not to find a description like “a natural Alek Wek-esque beauty” or “painting in a museum” disturbing. I don’t get the sense that we observe Jennifer Lawrence like she’s a painting. When fashion editors write about Cate Blanchett, they don’t describe the looks of other Australian women in order to describe her. So, what’s different? I’d argue that Hollywood — which is really just America with better makeup — doesn’t have a vocabulary for discussing black beauty in a way that doesn’t obsess over the exotic, the Other, the fucking sexy. No one says this on record, of course. But I can’t help but feel like Hollywood is just dying to say that Lupita’s beauty is as dark as “the Dark Continent.””—Saeed Jones, We Can’t Eat Lupita Nyong’o’s Black Beauty—Try As We Might
my friends sister was telling me about how in highschool a guy tried to take a picture up her skirt as she was walking up stairs and she saw, grabbed his phone, broke it in half, and handed it back to him and said “you can tell your mom why your phones broken”
A young black girl decided to not bleach her skin after seeing the success of Lupita Nyong’o.
Lupita Nyong’o was inspired to be an actress after seeing Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple.
Whoopi Goldberg realized she could BE an actress after seeing Nichelle Nichols in Star Trek
YES!! This is why we are so super stoked on our new blog series, Black Women Create! We’re highlighting Black women in film, TV, & other media every month—so far we’ve talked to Tchaiko Omawale and Lena Waithe, who were both so incredible and inspiring.