A Quick Note on Misogynistic Body Standards

by Cara on May 19, 2009

in assholes, beauty myths, fat-shaming, media, misogyny, objectification, patriarchy, pop culture


I know way, way, way better than to waste my time analyzing tabloid magazines.  Which is why I pretty much never do it, and I’m not going to bother saying much very now.  Because of course, we pretty much see the same shit above every fucking year around this time.

But I saw this magazine in the checkout line in the grocery store, and masochist that I am I had to see who was cruelly and ridiculously shamed on the cover this year with a “worst” label.  And upon seeing Uma Thurman there with the phrase “Saggy Boobs” emblazoned underneath her, it just hit me in the gut like nobody’s business. Because I’m at least used to butts similar to mine getting sneered at.

I’d say “way to go telling women that the way their bodies naturally look is repulsive,” but of course I know that’s the point of virtually everything in this magazine.  But. There is a little fucking thing in this world called gravity, and strangely enough, boobs are subject to it.  Especially big ones. (You know, the same kind women are supposed to feel bad about not having.)

It’s incredibly past the point of bad enough when we’re mocking the “lumpy butt” of a woman who is already thinner than most (while simultaneously mocking a woman for being too thin), as if bodies exist for judging and ones that carry an ounce of fat are hideous and shouldn’t be let out the house.  Can it get any worse when we’re mocking a body “flaw” that is not only shared by huge portions of the population, but that we also can’t even pretend can be “fixed” by spending every waking hour of your life in the gym?

Finally, they’re at least acknowledging the truth that it’s not about getting women to “take pride” in their bodies or “work harder” at them. It’s just about reminding us that close to all women’s bodies, no matter how much “pride” you take or how hard you “work,” will ever be considered good enough.


1 amandaw May 19, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Two dudes, four chicks shown. Three BEST labels, three WORST. Guess how it breaks down? Yep:

BEST: man, man, woman
WORST: woman, woman, woman

And the “BEST” woman would have gotten the opposite label if her pic had been taken from the side like Lohan’s was.

Fickle might be the best word here.

2 Renee May 19, 2009 at 2:49 pm

I hate the way that spring and summer become open season on women. They dangle the bikini as though it is some sort of prize. It’s don’t eat that and you can wear a bikini, join this gym and you can wear a bikini. It is no accident that the women were wearing on when the rag decided to trash their bodies.

3 amandaw May 19, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Oops, I take it back. One BEST for a woman too. Who looks the same as Lohan from an almost-same angle.

There is literally no way for a woman to win.

4 Kat May 19, 2009 at 10:22 pm

I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed that the only men shown were in the “best” category….

Have you seen the recent Walmart ad on TV about great savings for summer? It portrays a woman who looks at the bikini in her underwear drawer. Then it shows the “great prices” on diet food and laxatives.


seriously repulsive.

5 supersoygrrrl May 20, 2009 at 1:17 am

great post!

i love the last line.

6 Ashley May 20, 2009 at 11:23 am

I noticed the exact same thing when I saw this on the newsstand… Uma Thurman is a mother, and that’s how your boobs look if you’re a mother, or if you’ve got big breasts, or if you’re over 35 or so. That’s just how women look, unless they don’t have breasts, or have implants.

We’re really at a crazy level of cognitive dissonance/misogyny when the culture starts saying that something that is essentially universal when it comes to women’s appearance is unacceptable and worthy of contempt.

7 depresso May 20, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Rawr! Some women’s breasts are naturally ‘saggy’! Mine have had a distinct downward bias since they started growing! I clearly remember being 18 and wishing they were more pert. It still bothers me now, though far less so, but why should I care? My husband loves me anyway, I have no lumps or bumps in them and they are how they should be. And I have a mole next to one nipple, so I can say that they have chatacter!

8 Marissa May 20, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Honestly they all looked the same to me. Yay for popular culture further encouraging open season on women’s bodies…


9 Jenn May 20, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Two seconds ago Kim’s ass was too lumpy. Now she’s curvy. Oh, the cognitive dissonance. I second Kat on that repulsive Walmart commercial. I hate how summer and bathing suits are both used to demonize every single woman who isn’t perfectly airbrushed and faked tanned into CGI-perfection. No wonder I got panic attacks from the idea of swimming, and still do. Thanks society, for turning an activity I would otherwise love into a body-hating fest of depression.

10 Kristen May 20, 2009 at 11:50 pm

I’m shocked…SHOCKED…that a magazine that makes a living alternately idolizing and destroying celebrities would engage in sexist behavior. I mean its not as if the cult of celebrity is about projecting our unrealistic and sometimes contradictory societal expectations on an actual, living, breathing human.

Next you’ll tell me that they shame women for not taking “appropriate” care of their children and having an unfaithful husband.


11 Rachael May 24, 2009 at 6:22 pm

I hate the whole breast standard–they have to be big, but they can’t be saggy, the nipples have to be cute and pink, the areolae can’t be too big, and they have to be natural.

I get pissed off at the whole “natural” thing because it’s just more entitlement bullshit. It’s never out of concern for the woman’s well-being that men rag on breast implants. No, it’s that they don’t “look” as good, or that they don’t “feel” as good, or that “Dammit, I deserve a woman with naturally perfect breasts!” And why do they think most women get breast implants, anyway? It’s because they’re constantly being told (either directly or through ads and beauty standards) that theirs aren’t big enough, or “perky” enough, or symmetrical enough, or whatever.

Kind of went off on a rant there. This just pisses me off so much.

12 wiggles May 25, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Wow, Kat, seriously? Laxatives? Seriously???

Walmart! Your one-stop center for bulimia supplies! Dehydration! Electrolyte imbalance! Spastic colon! Crap in your pants! Get it all here!

I don’t watch TV much anymore and I don’t think we have Walmarts around here, so I’ve been spared I guess. But that’s really irresponsible. Reminds me of those 1950s Lucky Strikes ads that encouraged pregnant women to smoke cigarettes to keep their weight down.

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