Thursday, May 30, 2013

it's a love/hate relationship

on my way to work this morning, i heard about five (yes, FIVE!) different rihanna songs, all on different stations. and while it's no surprise to me, it's time to confess: i have a love/hate relationship with rihanna.  

i love her music.  not all of it, but definitely more than i care to admit.  when one of her songs comes on, i find myself singing along, tapping my foot, and bopping my head--until i realize it's a rihanna song.  then i quickly change the station, because i HATE what she represents.

there is no doubt that rihanna is a powerhouse.  her voice is incredible, her beats are sick, and her songs are undeniably catchy.  she has indeed earned her superstar status.  she is a ROLE MODEL for young women everywhere, but the question is, should she be?  is she really someone i, as a young woman, want to emulate?  is she someone that we want pre-teens and teenagers to emulate?  time and time again, i find my answer to be a resounding NO.

here's a list of reasons why i think we should question and even challenge rihanna--and anyone for that matter--in her position as a role model:

1. rihanna perpetuates the objectification of women as sexual objects.  she's posed nude and nearly nude for magazines and other media. (i don't pretend that she is the only woman to do this.  on the contrary, she is just one example of too many women who allow this to continue.)  in one music video, she is practically masturbating on-screen.  it's essentially soft porn!  i get that women want to be empowered to feel sexy, and i fully support that, but attractiveness does not have to be a result of bearing it all for the world to see.  case in point:  MICHELLE OBAMA.  

2.  rihanna's romantic relationships are questionable.  no, she didn't deserve to be abused by chris brown (no woman does), but she certainly provoked him.  again, that does not excuse his behavior in any way--let me be very clear about that--but her behavior wasn't exactly innocent either.  then they broke up and years later got back together.  some may see this as a sign of forgiveness, but that's not necessarily true.  i've forgiven people who have hurt me, but i don't necessarily allow them to saunter back into my life.  sometimes it's necessary to keep people out of your life so they don't destroy it any further.  that's a sign that you're taking care of yourself.  considering the behavior she exhibits in her music videos, photos, and real life, i'm not sure rihanna is taking care of herself--physically, mentally, or spiritually.  and that's the real concern.

3.  rihanna employs adult themes that are in some instances provocative, but not necessarily in a good way.  she, like many other "artists," sings about sex, drugs, and violence.  often in photos and videos, she can be seen smoking (both cigarettes and illegal substances) or drinking.  in one video, she insinuates that she murders a man who has sexually abused her.  (evidence that perhaps she hasn't entirely forgiven chris brown, at least not at that point.)  i can't and i won't apologize for failing to see why these are behaviors that empower women, because they aren't.

rihanna may be beautiful on the outside and have a talent that many of us desire, but her behavior and her image are downright despicable, which makes her ugly in my eyes.  as i mentioned earlier, i realize that she is not the only celebrity who is a bad representation of what we should expect from women and girls.  for me, however, she is one that stands out (and NOT in a good way).  i have made a conscious decision to not support rihanna's career.  this is why i turn the station when one of her songs comes on.  this is why  i will not buy her music or her merchandise.  this is why i once warned a choreographer that i would fire him if he put a rihanna song in the music for my cheerleaders (they were middle schoolers).  i feel strongly that rihanna is not someone i want myself or the young women in my life to emulate.

in one of her newer songs entitled "pour it up," rihanna sings:  "who cares how you haters feel, i still got my money"

let me ask you this, rih-rih: how does it make you feel?  it seems that your money isn't buying you the happiness you wanted, because you wouldn't have brought up the issue otherwise.  so, honey, you can keep your money.  because you'll never get mine.

Friday, May 10, 2013

a & f disses curvy girls everywhere

recently, multiple articles have been posted about abercrombie and fitch's ceo mike jeffries and his outrageously disgusting comments about "fat" people.  here's the most cited quotation:

"in every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. candidly, we go after the cool kids. we go after the attractive all-american kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. a lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. are we exclusionary? absolutely. the companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. but then you become totally vanilla. you don't alienate anybody, but you don't excite anybody either."

as a former teacher, i was trained to list the positive first and then talk about how to improve.  well, the only positive thing here is that mike jeffries knows what he wants for his brand.  and when you're trying to sell a product, that's important.

now, let me jump emphatically on my soapbox and talk about what needs improvement--EVERYTHING ELSE!!!

for someone who wants to target "attractive" kids, mike jeffries should really consider how to define "attractive."  if we're talking about physical appearances, mikey didn't exactly win the jackpot.  to save you some time, here's a picture of his ugly mug:

sure, for a 68-year-old man, he's in good shape.  but "attractive all-american" are certainly not words i would use to describe him.  on the other hand, words like "douchebag," "bully," and "overcompensating" seem to sing like morning birds when describing this hideous creature.  at this point, i'm not just talking physical appearances--i'm talking personality too.  

beauty isn't just skin deep, and often the people who are outright GORGEOUS on the outside, are straight up UGLY on the inside.  as a result, their outer beauty is diminished by their inner awfulness.  i'd say the reverse is true, too.  people who aren't drop-dead gorgeous on the outside, but have amazing hearts, are some of the most BEAUTIFUL people on this planet.

i have been a curvy girl ALL of my life.  in fifth grade, we were measured for new cheerleading uniforms; all the other girls laughed at me when i was measured.  in high school, there was one boy who was particularly mean to me in regards to my weight.  i wore guys' clothes and clothes that were too big for me because i was overly self-conscious about my size.  more than once, my mother would tell me that i just needed to lose ten pounds and my clothes would look much better.  

when i look back at pictures of when i was in high school, i realize how SMOKING HOT i was.  even at my skinniest, i never fit into a size 10 (which is the smallest size sold at a & f).  i fit into a size large for like six months.  the world taught me that i was fat and ugly, and i believed the lies.  had i been taught to love myself as i was, then maybe i would've taken better care of myself then so i wouldn't be the size i am now.  and maybe i'd have more confidence.

but despite my weight then or now, i am beautiful and i am freaking AWESOME.  don't believe me?  here's a whole laundry list of the COOL and AMAZING things i've done since i was a kid, in no particular order:

1.  played softball for TEN years
     a.  broke FIVE school records
     b.  taught chilean players how to pitch windmill style
2.  cheered for TEN years; coached cheerleading for THREE years
     a.  my girls came home with trophies from EVERY competition they attended
     b.  worked with the drill team for 1 year
3.  learned to play multiple instruments including flute, piccolo, tenor sax, piano, drums/percussion
     a.  participated in marching band, concert band, county bands, and honors band
4.  acquired TWO foreign languages--spanish and french
5.  traveled to SIX countries that speak another language: venezuela, spain, chile, argentina, puerto rico
6.  obtained a bachelor's degree, graduating magna cum laude
7.  was selected as a teach for america corps member (only 10% of applicants were offered a position the year that i applied)
     a.  completed my two-year commitment
     b.  stayed in my placement school for a third year
8.  completed half of a master's program (i should be done completely by next may)
9.  met multiple celebrities, including olly murs, isabel allende, juan falcon, our lady peace, and michelle branch
10.  created art (mainly wooden trinkets and simple canvas paintings; i'm really good at towel and diaper cakes too), just because

my point here is that you don't have to fit into a specific mold to be beautiful or amazing.  and mike jeffries has NO right to decide that there is a mold and that it has a specific appearance.  i'm half tempted to walk into abercrombie, buy some men's clothes (the ladies' stuff will NOT fit me unless i buy multiples and reconstruct them--and ain't nobody got time for that), and stage a protest.  who's with me!

in the meantime, i encourage you to sign this petition or this one and check out this blog post about mike jeffries.  the author, emily, takes a much more humorous approach then i do!

finally, let's talk about what really makes people beautiful!  leave your comments here or post them on facebook or twitter or simply have a conversation with a friend or family member about what makes them beautiful.  be the antidote to the poison!