[Image: A GIF of a black and white patched cat in front of an electronic piggy bank that features a white cat that reaches out a paw to take a coin you place on the bank. The real cat paws at the box, only to flinch and raise one paw as if about to run when the toy cat reaches its paw out. The real cat then looks toward the camera in confusion.]
“Here’s the thing. Men in our culture have been socialized to believe that their opinions on women’s appearance matter a lot. Not all men buy into this, of course, but many do. Some seem incapable of entertaining the notion that not everything women do with their appearance is for men to look at. This is why men’s response to women discussing stifling beauty norms is so often something like “But I actually like small boobs!” and “But I actually like my women on the heavier side, if you know what I mean!” They don’t realize that their individual opinion on women’s appearance doesn’t matter in this context, and that while it might be reassuring for some women to know that there are indeed men who find them fuckable, that’s not the point of the discussion.
Women, too, have been socialized to believe that the ultimate arbiters of their appearance are men, that anything they do with their appearance is or should be “for men.” That’s why women’s magazines trip over themselves to offer up advice on “what he wants to see you wearing” and “what men think of these current fashion trends” and “wow him with these new hairstyles.” While women can and do judge each other’s appearance harshly, many of us grew up being told by mothers, sisters, and female strangers that we’ll never “get a man” or “keep a man” unless we do X or lose some fat from Y, unless we moisturize//trim/shave/push up/hide/show/”flatter”/paint/dye/exfoliate/pierce/surgically alter this or that.
That’s also why when a woman wears revealing clothes, it’s okay, in our society, to assume that she’s “looking for attention” or that she’s a slut and wants to sleep with a bunch of guys. Because why else would a woman wear revealing clothes if not for the benefit of men and to communicate her sexual availability to them, right? It can’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that it’s hot out or it’s more comfortable or she likes how she looks in it or everything else is in the laundry or she wants to get a tan or maybe she likes women and wants attention from them, not from men?
The result of all this is that many men, even kind and well-meaning men, believe, however subconsciously, that women’s bodies are for them. They are for them to look at, for them to pass judgment on, for them to bless with a compliment if they deign to do so. They are not for women to enjoy, take pride in, love, accept, explore, show off, or hide as they please. They are for men and their pleasure.”
[Image: A two-GIF set of a longhaired black and white cat sitting in a box. In the first picture, a hand reaches into the frame holding a hazelnut and sets it down next to the box, with the caption, “Gizmo, whatever you do, don’t touch this hazelnut. Don’t touch it.” In the second, Gizmo hesitates for a moment, reaches his paw out, touches the hazelnut, and retracts his paw.]
i’m quitting again tomorrow. SEND ME LUCKS AND LOVE Y’ALL. also remind me not to smoke if i decide i’m going to and remind me that it fucks my already asthmatic prone lungs and also makes me hate myself.
“Here at Debenhams we believe that anyone can look fabulous in our range- which is why we’ve decided to break with Convention…
“Our Customers are not the same shape or size so our latest look book celebrates this diversity. We would be delighted if others followed our lead. Hopefully these shots will be a step, albeit a small one, towards more people feeing more comfortable about their boidies,’” said Ed Watson, Director of PR, Debenhams”
This operates in the same way as woman-on-woman conflict or “cattiness”, for that matter. How often do you see dudes, called on their misogyny, try to deflect criticism with “well, women are shitty to each other, too”? Placing the blame on women for that competitiveness and such. Except, when you’re raised in a society that tells you from day 1 that women are icky and women suck and you quickly learn that the only way to make headway against that is to side with dudes against other women, and then the vast bulk of narratives around relationships between women depict at least *some* level of competition…what the hell else do you expect? We’re working within the rules y’all set, and then we’re to blame for following those rules?
Just like if women *aren’t* “our own worst critics” about beauty and appearance, we’re slobs, unloveable, unfuckable, useless, probably dykes, etc. Self-critical about your appearance? Vain and/or low self-esteem. Refuse to participate in culturally-mandated self-criticism around your appearance? You either don’t care enough to take care of yourself, or you’re just a stuck-up bitch, depending on how the situation plays out.