Links Lundi

A message for JJ Abrams as the new “Star Wars” approaches:

(Enjoy having that stuck in your head for days. Sorry!)

If you’re not totally burned out on GamerGate yet, check out this amazing makeup tutorial, with tips like “line the waterline of your eyes so feminists can’t drink your tears.”

Speaking of feminism, I’m not all that thrilled with Joss Whedon’s depiction as the king of male feminists, and this piece explains why. It was printed before “Avengers” came out, so here’s my addition: Black Widow is another “strong female character” who’s threatened with brutal sexual violence by a powerful male character. It turns out she was prepared for (sort of) an attack like this, but why does a female character need to prove herself immune to sexual violence (or even the threat of it) to be considered “strong?”

Adam Savage nails it, though, in an interview question about GamerGate: “I could be a little girl’s role model, but I’m not going to be her ideal role model. She needs a woman to do that. We need to find that balance.”

15 things to start doing by the time you’re 30. They’re not even that painful!

Plus-Size Marketing: An Interview

A long time ago in a recently-post-college world far far away, my friend Jessica and I endeavored to write a body-image blog. We didn’t have time to keep it up, so it’s been closed, but I realized a lot of good material got hidden away when we did that. Here’s one of those pieces.

Jessica wrote the intro and located Lili for us. This particular post is from August 2011, and at this point, I can’t even find the issue of Vogue that inspired this whole conversation because, to be honest, none of these covers look likely.

Still, the discussion itself was important, and I loved talking with Lili because she delved way beyond the usual discussions of self-esteem and media portrayals into the psychology of marketing and effective ad campaigns. Enjoy!

The other day I was browsing Reddit (a site with content aggregated by its users) and came across a discussion about the recent issue of Vogue.  Vogue had recently had an issue where they trumpeted their use of plus-size models.  “Look!” cried the cover.  “We’re using a fat girl!  Isn’t she beautiful?  Isn’t she lovely?  Aren’t we just so progressive?” 

While I appreciated the sentiment, that yes, big girls are just as lovely as toothpick girls and all the girls in between, Vogue’s tone smacked of condescension, as though it was the hot girl at school who deigned to help all those poor ugly girls at school, because they would just be so pretty if they knew how to properly apply their lipstick.

I was curious about how plus-size women would react to Vogue’s pandering, whether they would appreciate the acknowledgement or be irritated by a perceived lack of sincerity, so I dove into Reddit’s comments, and that’s where I found Lili Plotkin.

Lili has recently completed a study that analyzes the responses that plus-size women have to directed advertising.  It was totally fascinating, and this is coming from a girl who can’t handle anything more scientific than “drop thing, thing fall down.”  I wasted no time in getting in touch with the budding sociologist and Laura and I assaulted her with our questions.

Hello, Lili!  Your name is fantastic.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?  Give us the rundown on your job, your loves, how you do your hair, all the basics. 
Well, I guess I could start by saying that I’m 21, an avid lover of horses, the Internet, and figuring out how things work. Unrelatedly, I also enjoy Law & Order, which I tend to call “Solving Crimes: The Show.” I just graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a B.S. degree in Advertising/Public Relations. It’s a fantastic school, and I’ve really enjoyed my time there!

Currently, I am poised to start work at a local advertising agency. I’ll be an account coordinator for the agency’s Xerox account, and I’m incredibly excited! It’s great to see your education and school’s reputation working for you, especially when you’re like me and will probably have to scrimp for many years to afford loan payments. ;)

My loves are many: work wise, I’m pursuing a career in Account Planning or consumer research, so I really enjoy talking to people, reading psychology journals, and just generally trying to “get inside the head” of consumers. Personal life wise, I enjoy anything from a delicious chunk of salami with beer to petting all the neighborhood’s outdoor kitties. All of them.

I live with my wonderful boyfriend, Stuart, and we are the caretakers of a tiny cat named Lola, whose favorite thing to do is chase me around and jump on me to hear me scream. I also had fish once upon a time, which Lola frightened to death–gruesome, I know! As far as my hair goes…well…it’s a work in progress. Usually for classes I toss it into a pony, but sometimes I will flat iron it in order to look like a Real Adult. I figure now that I’m starting this job I’ll have to look like a Real Adult every day, so I guess that means I’ll have to tame my wild curls into something presentable. And wear cardigans. Right? Isn’t that what adults do?

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Links Lundi

Thank you, Lily.

Thank you, Lily.

Um, in case you missed it, CAPTAIN MARVEL MOVIE. She’ll be the first Marvel superheroine to get her own movie. Maybe now we can finally get her jacket…

Famous writers’ sleep habits and productivity. Of course F. Scott Fitzgerald was one of the late risers.

Girls dressing up as their favorite superhero(in)es for Halloween can share them on #iamaheroicgirl! Remind the world that girls can be heroes and yeah, they read comics, too.

You probably saw that video of a woman walking around NYC for ten hours and getting harassed by over 100 men, mostly black and Latino. Thing is…most of the white male harassers were edited out. Check out Jessica Williams’ video at the end of that piece for another take on street harassment.


The Rare Quality Female Protagonist

A long time ago in a recently-post-college world far far away, my friend Jessica and I endeavored to write a body-image blog. We didn’t have time to keep it up, so it’s been closed, but I realized a lot of good material got hidden away when we did that. Here’s one of those pieces, with some updates.

Director Elena Rossini had an interesting guest post over at The Beheld about women in movies and how their characters so often relate to their relationships instead of their individual accomplishments.  She challenged herself and her readers to find a character who met all of these criteria:

  • Protagonist of the TV show/film
  • Over the age of 30
  • Holds an important job and is successful at it
  • Liked/likeable
  • Her physical appearance is peripheral to the story (and she can’t use her sex appeal to get what she wants)
  • Her romantic/personal relationships are peripheral to the story
  • The TV show/film takes place in “the real world” (not a sci-fi universe)
  • She has to be alive by the end of the film

It was, sadly, a difficult challenge.  Some great characters, like Captain Janeway from “Voyager” and Rita Vrataski from “Edge of Tomorrow,” don’t count because their shows/movies are sci-fi. There’s “Alphas,” which has two well-developed female characters whose relationships are side plots, but neither of them are over 30 and their jobs are not very clearly defined. And there’s Donna Noble – over 30, likeable (usually), with minimal romance and an unconventional physical appearance – but who doesn’t have an important job, isn’t the protagonist, and (spoilers?) basically dies. Oh, and sci-fi.

I fully support her inclusion of CJ from “The West Wing,” though, for obvious reasons:

Commenters brought up lots of interesting ideas, like which formats allow for more rounded female protagonists (ie. plot-driven shows like “Fringe”) and the subjectivity over the role a female character’s relationship plays in her life.  Some viewers may think a character values a relationship more highly that other viewers do, and it all depends on their own personal experience.

Also? I have a major problem with her exclusion of sci-fi. Science fiction has always served as a commentary on our culture, whether it’s to criticize it or show it where it could go. Does that make Uhura, Zoe from “Firefly,” Ripley, or Sarah-Jane Smith from all eras of “Doctor Who” any less valid or inspiring?

With that in mind, I’m adding Ellie Sattler from “Jurassic Park.”  She’s a talented grad student personally invited to give her scientific opinion on the very science-fictiony park. By the third movie (did anyone else even see that? because I kind of love it), she’s reduced to the background, married with a child and presumably through with her archaeology career. But she talks to Sam Neill about dinosaurs, not boys, so at least that holds up.

The gals at Beauty Redefined have a related post in which Geena Davis talks about research she’s supporting regarding the way women are portrayed in G-rated films and its impact on young girls.  Some of the figures are pretty scary, like the fact that for every female character, there are three male characters. There’s been progress, like Pixar’s first female-led movie (“Brave”), groundbreaking comedies like “Bridesmaids,” and the upcoming all-female remake of “Ghostbusters,” but all it takes is a quick scan of upcoming trailers to know that there’s still much work to be done.

Who else can you guys think of to meet Rossini’s criteria? And what’s the deal with women in kid’s movies/shows? Is their portrayal as damaging as everyone says, and if so, how do we reverse it?