Tuesday, August 21, 2007

And you call yourself a feminist....

Well, yes, I do. And it's therefore a bit surprising, even to me, that my current guilty pleasure is... America's Next Top Model.

I know that the modeling industry imposes arbitrary (and impossible) standards of beauty upon women and upon the models themselves. And in a climate of rampant eating disorders and financing for plastic surgery, it can be refreshing to see moves that ideally would encourage healthier eating, such as the one by Spain officials to ban models with a body-mass index of under 18 from the city's Fashion Week. And it's next to impossible to support the rampant sexualization of young girls. And we all know that the models's pictures are retouched, sometimes heavily, making the impossible standard of beauty even MORE impossible.

The list goes on and on. So why did I watch three hours of America's Next Top Model last night? Maybe because it was raining. Maybe because there's still something appealing and, dare I say, rewarding about watching young women gain an opportunity they otherwise wouldn't have received -- it is, after all, their lives and while I have issues with the industry per se, who am I to judge what other women want for themeselves?

And finally, I can't help but admire host Tyra Banks who, in addition to motivating the young women by encouraging them to be self-confident and believe in themselves, has herself challenged the standards imposed by the industry by refusing to be adhere to them! She gained some weight, she wore a bikini anyway, she was photographed galore and, in that moment, she actually inspired women to embrace themselves for who they are. Tough thing to do her line of work -- in any line of work, really -- but if she helps young women make a career, trust in themselves and maybe challenge external standards, that sounds like something darn close to feminism to me.

What do you all think?

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