In the past, I’ve shied away from opinionated posts, simply because a lot of topics aren’t worth getting fired up about, however, ones in which women bash women tend to infuriate me.
I recently read an enlightening article describing what “real men” truly think about high-waisted shorts and the women who wear them. The article describes the author’s feelings about this fashion trend, interspersed with condescending tones and euphemisms about “bohemian women” or, “try-hards in flower crowns” while routinely referring to women exclusively as, “females.” She goes on to quote her male friend’s opinions of how the shorts look on women, which are overwhelmingly negative, as her further confirmation and justification of her position on why they shouldn’t be worn. She closes off the article with her disclaimer, “And like I always say, you should never dress/act a certain way to please men…”
Wait, really? Because it seems like you just assembled an entire article based around why women shouldn’t wear what they want because men hate it. This isn’t about the shorts though, it’s about something much bigger.
Everyone has the right to their own opinion, I respect that. Each woman also has the right to feel comfortable and beautiful in her own skin, free from harsh judgements and the unrealistic expectations and promotions of the beauty industry, mainstream media, and remarks of people from behind keyboards, criticisms hidden within an article’s content. I think it’s important to note how this particular article promotes rejection, body shame, and entitlement. Articles such as this one are damaging because they take a deeper issue and bury it in normalization and sarcastic humor allowing the author to hide behind it, claiming that any retort is a gross overreaction.
Women are confronted with the “shoulds” of their bodies enough. Advertising ensures that I never forget what would make me leaner, younger, taller, more beautiful, etc. Fashion reminds me that it’s only tailored for certain body types and despite my love for long maxi dresses, short girls aren’t allowed in that club, or that my muscular legs can’t “pull off” skinny jeans as well as someone thinner. To shame someone’s body is to tell them that they are somehow wrong, that they are not good enough. Hearing this message continually erodes self-esteem and establishes buried inadequacy. Our parents, friends, and partners remind us of this truth with a harmless joke here or a quip there about what we chose to eat, our physique, our decision to get married or not, to have children or not, our weight gain/loss. It’s ubiquitous and to be honest, really fucking unfair. I don’t want to feel guilty that I ate that second piece of cake. I don’t want to feel frustrated every single time I try on jeans. This isn’t one specific person’s fault, as it is ultimately up to me how I choose to view my body, yet this strategic rhetoric constructs a body-hate-minefield that is incredibly problematic. I should not have to deal with that pressure and judgement and neither should anyone else.
Shitting on other women sends the message that it’s okay for men to do it as well. To critique how women “should” look creates this idea that others are somehow “owed” a specific type of woman. This hollow illusion that we are some how deserving of someone else’s body or entitled to making comments about how they need to carry themselves is one of the fundamental components underlying rape cases and the resulting victim-blaming. I’m not insinuating that every person who feels entitlement is going to become a rapist, although it’s important to recognize what this attitude has the potential to become. My body is my vessel, it protects and nurtures my very personhood and individuality. My creativity, passion, pain, and pleasure. I want to be loved simply for being me, with all of my imperfections and quirks. Yet sadly, a lot of women still conform and subscribe to the ideology of fitting into someone else’s beauty truth because it’s so routinely ingrained in us that we aren’t lovable any other way. This isn’t the view of every man, and its perpetuation affects them too.
Everyone is struggling with self-rejection and criticism. It’s something unavoidable that none of us are free from. Why would it be a good idea then to promote an article that bashes something some women love? Why add to the fire of criticism and rejection by using opinions of others to shame them into no longer wearing something that they like and feel beautiful in? What happened to tolerating, accepting, embracing? I don’t particularly want to eat McDonald’s all the time, (mostly because I’d never leave the bathroom) but if someone else does, then that’s fine! Eat your McDonald’s, in your high-waisted shorts, with your stretch marks, in front of everyone…because….fucking freedom of feminine form and expression.
So to the woman who wrote this article, remember that you also face the pressure and stigmas, carry the scars and shame, guilt and double-standards that the rest of us do. It would be nice for you to remember that when you seek out men to validate your points about what women should and shouldn’t do, then wield the opinions of others as a way to disempower and reject other women in an effort to be, “just one of the guys.”