Up in arms

This is not okay.

It’s not okay that a newspaper feature writer has written a piece about how untoned upper arms are repulsive.

It’s not okay that she’s couched it in terms of aging, hanging her loathing on her own over-50 frame and describing the loosening of her muscle tone as a steady drumbeat of doom that began in her young-and-lithe 20’s.

It’s not okay that she pushes away all the other equally rotten “uglies” and “lumpies” and “too bigs” and “too smalls” that ring in our ears–cheekbones, collarbones, breasts, shoulders, backs, waists, hips, buttocks, thighs, calves, ankles, toes–to inform us that having flabby triceps is really the most irredeemable offense of all.

It’s not okay that she’s calling out a famous woman whose physical trademark is her arms, writing about her in all-too-familiar words drenched with shame and loathing, insisting that, like other physically blessed women, she should shroud her enviable and hard-won assets because she’s making others jealous.

It’s not okay that her public figure of choice is Michelle Obama, whose body and fashion choices have been magnified and scrutinized and rubbed raw in the media, because she’s a sturdily built black woman in a feminine figurehead role.

It’s not okay that she’s picking on Michelle Obama, whose signature campaign–however flawed it may be–has always been couched in terms of health and physical fitness, not beauty.

And it’s not okay that this whole business is being published in one of America’s newspapers of record–the Gray Lady herself–the New York Times.

I hate that this happens. I hate that it’s profitable. I hate that it’s normal. I hate that it gets to me.


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3 responses to “Up in arms

  1. What an unbelievably stupid, petty, whining piece of tripe (the article, not your post!). It really angers me that a woman can be at the top of her damn game and people might still find how they perceive her to look, both bad and good, as a reason to invalidate them. The worst part, I have found, is, that eight times out of ten, the person doing the body-picking is another woman, not a man representative of a supposed patriarchal society and the suppression of equality, it’s another woman that has found herself justified in whining and bitching about the quality of another’s physique and how it makes them feel and how that impact alone must pretty much invalidate the subjects career.

    • That’s it, exactly. It’s women policing other women, under the guise of airing their own insecurities. It’s insidious, and it’s so toxic. The fact that the New York Times is running this as legitimate “fashion and style” journalism really grinds my gears.

  2. hikedreams

    How terrible. This reminds me of how people kept focus on the hair of the gymnast (whose name escapes me right now… Gabby?) during the Olympics rather than how much she was accomplishing. What amazes me is that women fought for suffrage, for equal rights, and yet we are so willing to throw it all away and undermine ourselves and our leading women on something as petty as physical appearance.

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