Sometimes I get tired of the endless parade of celebrities we’re supposed to be like.
They are tall, blonde, and impossibly thin. Or they are short, fiery-tressed, and impossibly thin. Or they are raven-haired, sultry, and impossibly thin. Every once in awhile, the great Hollywood machine will feature someone who doesn’t exactly fit into one of those aforementioned cookie cutters, who might be curvy or not a size triple zero or not white, but that’s more exception than rule.
These Hollywood ladies are pretty much everywhere, selling all sorts of things: hair dye, lip stain, jewelry, bikini wax. Sometimes the message is subtle and sometimes it’s direct, but it’s always the same: they tell us if we buy these things, we can look just like them. And if we look like them, we can be happy, because we’ll be better than we are right now.
After awhile, I start to hate them. I hate to admit that to myself, and to you, but it’s true.
I, for example, have never met Jessica Simpson. I’m sure she’s probably a perfectly nice person. Having never met her, and because I know relatively nothing about her or what makes her tick, I have no right to judge or hate or experience the schadenfreude (aka pleasure derived from the misery of others) that I feel when I read about something unfortunate in the lives of the whole Simpson clan, and particularly Jessica herself.
But I do. I can’t help myself. Whenever I see the latest beautiful, photo-shopped Hollywood girl of the moment on the cover of a magazine, newly named as America’s sexiest woman and proclaiming that “long walks in fresh air and lots of fruit and vegetables” are what keep her looking so tight and toned, I want to bare my teeth and then bite something. Hard.
The saddest thing to me is that I don’t think any of these women actually believe in, or even say for that matter, these messages. I think that’s where marketing and PR and advertising comes in. But it’s hard to be angry at those intangibles, even though they are the very things that make us cry when we look in the mirror or try on skinny jeans that don’t fit (seriously, do they actually fit on anyone out there?) or crave an extra scoop of ice cream on a Friday night.
So instead, we get mad at the sales ladies. We get mad at each other. We get mad at our sisters. Isn’t that what we’re all supposed to be – sisters? You wouldn’t know it from the squabbles and cat fights that go on in your average, all-female based reality show. You wouldn’t know it from the glee I see on the face of your average American female at the grocery store when she reads about the some celebutante’s divorce, drug addiction, or cheating boyfriend. (Ahem, that would be me.) You wouldn’t know it from the way girls will look someone over at the bar and then whisper, a little too loudly, about how bad she looks in those jeans.
The relentless pedestals these goddesses are put on, and the un-ending pressure to fit into that mold, is turning us ladies against one another. I’m sure I’m not the first one to say it.
But I will add this: I don’t want it to be like this. I don’t want to feel this simultaneous anger and envy and helplessness every time I’m bombarded by another ad that features another beautiful woman telling me what’s wrong with me and how to fix it. I don’t want women to look at each other as rivals. I want us all to talk about something other than calories and fat and little black dresses and thighmasters.
But this is what I have found: to beat it, this mindset, you have to find a community of women out there (in addition to your friends and family, who are no doubt amazing), who will support you and challenge you and help you grow. Who will add to you, instead of subtract. Who maybe know things about what you do, what your calling in life is, and can help you reach whatever is next for you.
And it’s more than possible; I found one at the end of 2010, a community of amazing women thinkers and artists and dreamers and writers, who want to think and dream and write together and see what we can make.
That community is #reverb10.
Note: This is not to say that there weren’t plenty of amazing guy writers participating in #reverb10, because there were! And they contributed posts and comments and thoughts that were every bit as great as the ladies’. I’m just particularly pleased with the little corner of the web where I see women reaching out and holding each other up, rather than pushing each other down.