Feministe! – Our responses to terrorism depending on its victims, Fat visibility, and Beauty labour + feminism

If you don’t already know, Feministe is an absolutely stellar feminist blog. Here are three super smart posts that went up today:

“Norway and terrorism as a daily event” – this post is about the fact that many Westerners are much more forthcoming in our sympathy and concern when terrorism occurs to ‘people like us’ than when it occurs to ‘people not like us’

[A]s someone who follows the news out of the Middle East and Southwest Asia, as someone who once-upon-a-time covered terrorism’s aftermath as a reporter, as someone who has seen up close and personal the damage that bombs can do, I couldn’t help but feel the vast difference between America’s response to the terrorism in Norway, and our response that with which the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan live on a nearly daily basis.


I don’t have any grand conclusion to draw or act of advocacy to recommend. I know that no human being can carry all the world’s pain without buckling under the weight, and if a geek like me can’t always keep all the warring parties straight in Af-Pak, I surely don’t expect anyone else to manage it.

I just think that as we mourn the losses in Oslo, as we send our prayers and our white light and our best wishes to our Norwegian sisters and brothers, it matters that we also remember those for whom the Norway attacks look horrifyingly familiar. We need to find a way to manage to bear witness to the humanity of those living and dying in Afghanistan and Pakistan, too.

“Twirling in Neon” – this one is about rebelling against the expectation that fat people try to hide themselves and their bodies.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my first taste of color, dying my hair that bright shade of red, occurred shortly after I started regaining weight from the most extreme diet that I’ve ever been on. I was devastated and I was feeling rebellious. And I was so tired of hiding in the back while wearing clothes that made me as invisible as possible.

There’s a lot of pressure, when you’re fat, to make yourself as small and unnoticeable as possible. Wear black! And grey! And navy blue! I have this habit of leaning off the edge of bus seats so as to prevent any possibility of my belligerent thighs coming into any contact with another person. But the more angry I get about the way fat people are treated, the more unapologetic I insist on being. And it’s been incredible.

“Living with Contradiction: Beauty Work and Feminism” – Exactly what it sounds like!

I do not think using makeup means you are a pawn of the patriarchy. I do not believe that using makeup means you are a bad feminist, or that you can judge a feminist by her level of active complicity to or disregard of conventional beauty standards. I do not think that feminists must have an armor about them that allows them to either disregard the immense societal pressure to look pretty, or to somehow magically be able to determine why we’re wearing makeup—that, say, we use it because it’s our choice, but those poor other nonfeminist women are just bullied into it by the patriarchy. I do not think shaming women for whatever beauty work they do is going to help any of us; I don’t think internalizing guilt is helpful either. And in general, I do not think feminist dogma helps most feminists, and probably prevents more people from joining the club.

But neither do I believe that neglecting to seriously, critically examine our engagement with the beauty privilege certain acts give us is the mark of a responsible feminist. If you’re a 21st-century feminist in western society, your beauty labor means something.
We can’t blithely claim that cosmetics use is merely our choice, or that if it makes us feel good then it’s just fine. Feeling good in general is one of the aims of feminism, sure, but getting there through questionable means without, well, asking questions—and aggrandizing our own beauty privilege without closely examining what that means for us and other women—falls short of feminist goals. If we’re going to inhabit the contradictory space of having our feminist critique of the beauty standard while engaging with and benefiting from that standard, we must scrutinize that space with an honest, level eye that gives us grace for our contradictions while not letting us lapse into convenient answers.

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

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