CategoryBody Image

Three reasons #TheWizLive was amazing:

Unfortunately, I missed The Wiz Live Thursday night on NBC and had no intentions on watching it later until my best friend texted me Thursday night: “You should do a blog post on The Wiz live airing on NBC.”

When I asked her why, she proceeded to text me six paragraphs about why The Wiz airing live was a big deal. I told her she should be a guest blogger on Media Whistle and write about it. She politely declined, claiming she didn’t want to “think deeply” about the show, but that I should. So I took her up on the offer, and after further investigation (i.e. actually watching the show), I came up with three reasons why #TheWizLive was amazing and, indeed, deserved a post on Media Whistle.

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  1. An all black cast took up a three-hour slot during prime time television.

Any time an all black cast is on television during prime time, it’s a big deal because it is a rarity. My co-worker reminded me on Friday that the last time NBC had an all black cast on television during prime time was in the 90s when “Fresh Prince” aired.

And if that fact doesn’t convince you that having a mostly black cast on television during prime time is a big deal, just ask the people who complained about The Wiz’s “lack of diversity,” as if The Wizard of Oz never happened.

But all haters aside, it wasn’t until I saw this tweet, that the gravity of having The Wiz air live on NBC finally hit me: the power of representation was being broadcasted to millions of people and it was changing lives.

  1. A timeless black story received a millennial make over.

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The Wiz is a timeless black staple. And  Thursday’s live showing helped to keep a legendary story celebrating black culture relevant to today’s generation. The characters’ lines were full of today’s Black Twitter vernacular. It was hilarious hearing Dorothy refer to her friends as her “squad” and hearing the word “shade” tossed around a few times. The characters’ upgraded vocabulary, combined with iPads and subtle whipping and naeing during dance sequences, drizzled new-age sauce on a timeless storyline recipe.

  1. The Wiz Live made a big statement about today’s standard of beauty and gender.

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Dorothy gets all the snaps in the world for rocking natural hair AND for being slightly bigger than a toothpick. I applaud the show’s directors for casting women of all shapes, shades and sizes, showcasing the array of diversity within the Black community.

Then there was Queen Latifah casted as The Wiz, who Dorothy and her friends consistently referred to as a “he” until they discover that the Wiz is a fraud and a “she.” Adding this little twist to the plot challenged gender roles, allowing Latifah to act across the gender spectrum and her character to test the conners of the binary gender box we have been socialized to play in.

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If you missed #TheWizLive like I did, go to nbc.com and watch the show. I promise you won’t regret it.

 

 

Are BBWs the new Beauty Standard?

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Last week I tried to claim the term BBW (Big Beautiful Woman), and my little sister quickly corrected me.

“You are NO where close to being a BBW,” she texted, which was followed by multiple laughing emojies.

On the receiving end, I was low key offended. I wanted to be a BBW so badly, but why?

Maybe because last week I saw how Kim Kardashian’s ass flooded my timeline and broke the internet. Or was it because I now know my future husband to be, Drake, is obsessed with thick women and likes his women BBW.

Either way, I’ve noticed lately in the media an increase interest in the voluptuous woman. From add campaigns like Aerie’s (discussed in a Media Whistle post earlier this year), to songs like “All About That Bass,” by Meghan Trainor, apparently skinny photoshopped definitions of beauty are out and BBWs are in.

On the surface of things, this may sound awesome. Yes, finally the media is portraying real obtainable definitions of beauty and celebrating women’s curves. But let’s be real, is Kim Kardashian’s and Nikki Minaj’s butts real? And let’s not overlook the fact that skinny women are inevitably being ostracized by this new found interest in promoting curvy, voluptuous women.

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“I’m bringing booty back, go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that…” This line from Meghan Trainor’s song “All About That Bass,” made me cringe for all the skinny women out there. But not as much as I did when I watched Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea try to twerk in their new “Booty” music video. The whole “thick woman” facade they were trying to pull off just seemed forced in my opinion.

So here I am, at the end of the day, stuck with the horrible realization that I’m not big enough to be a BBW or  thin enough to be skinny…so where does that leave my body type?  Stuck in the limbo of thick-ish?

I’m glad big women, plus-sized, curvy, whatever you want to call them, are getting some love, but be aware of the overall message that’s being mediated to us. Skinny, Barbie doll beauty standards have been temporarily replaced by big butts and boobies, which is NOT equivalent to mediating acceptance of all body types.

Mediating Body Image

A few weeks ago, UNC’s campus rec hosted a body image campaign called Body Beautiful. It partnered with Embodydrake Carolina and Carolina Dining Services during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week to raise awareness about unhealthy body image.  To promote the campaign, the hashtag #uncbodybeautiful was used. Posters and signs conveying the following message “Love your body. Change the conversation. #uncbodybeautfiul,” were placed in gym facilities. These posters featured celebrities such as Drake, Ryan Gosling and Portia de Rossi encouraging students to love who they are.

Although these posters were meant to encourage healthy body image, something about them was unsettling. After much thought, I realized it was because these posters were using a premise that is often mediated to us: celebrities are our standard of beauty.  Therefore these posters were relying on an inherently self-judging premise to support the claim that if Drake says “Hey girl, you look good,” then it must be true. This underlying, hidden message seemed counteractive to Body Beautiful’s purpose.

Later that week, I learned about Aerie’s Spring 2014 ad campaign, which features unretouched models, meaning they are not airbrushed or photoshopped. Considering the media has played an integral role in perpetuating unrealistic standards of beauty, I thought it was great that a lingerie line was acknowledging the negative impact the media has had on society’s perception of female beauty. In an industry that profits off of promoting an unattainable image generated by computer software, here was a company standing up and saying, “we want to show our models in all their real and unretouched glory!”

aerie

Excited to share this revolutionary movement with friends, I posted an article about the Aeire campaign on Facebook. However, the response I received from one friend was unexpected, yet appreciated. She posted the following article as a response: “The Revolution Will Not Be Screen Printed on a Thong.” Although campaigns like Aerie’s begin to interrupt the monotony of mediated “skinny girl” images, it also creates a new standard of beauty. In the article my friend posted, the author questions whether this new standard, although attainable, is still “catering to female insecurity.”

Both of my experiences with the Body Beautiful and Aerie’s campaign reminded me to always stay on my toes and to question why. In the Body Beautiful campaign, why were celebrities used to tell me I’m beautiful and to love my body? In the Aerie campaign, although the models had not been retouched and were supposed to represent “the real you”, they still did not have cellulite, stretch marks or blemishes, all of which I have. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad campaigns like these are working to address issues related to unhealthy body image. Acknowledging  that beauty is constructed is the first step to deconstructing traditional ideas of beauty. However,  it is also important to  be aware of the new assumptions being made when old assumptions are being challenged. #StayWoke


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While watching the Oscars on Sunday night, I thought of the perfect blog topic when I saw a commercial for Sophia Vergara’s Rooms To Go collection. Immediately, I thought about the hypersexualization of Latinas in the media. I pointed this out to my best friend as we sat together on my futon watching the Oscars. She seemed slightly annoyed and began to explain how she thinks it’s unfair to criticize Vergara for showing off her curves and being presented as a sexy Latina.

“Women should have a right to be sexy if they want to and express their sexuality,” said my friend.

I told her I agreed, but my issue wasn’t that Vergara was presented as a sexy Latina in a short, tight dress with high heels, and literally grrr’ed to explain how she likes her furniture. My issue was the overused image of the sexy Latina; it is often the only representation of Latina women I see in the media.

Last semester I took a class called Latino/as in the Media. In class, we discussed the hypersexualization of Latinas and the affect it has on media audiences. For non-Latino/as whose only exposure to Latinas is media representations of this group, they may think that all Latina women are sexy and voluptuous. And what do these types of images do to Latina women who feel like they have to fulfill these stereotypes? Hypersexualized media images can affect their self-esteem, especially young Latinas, by confirming the old stereotype that woman’s main worth lies solely in her appearance.

Not only is the hypersexualized depiction of Latina women in the media, stereotypical, it also over-simplifies a diverse group of people. For example, Vergara mentioned in an interview that when she first started auditioning for American acting roles, they didn’t know where to put her because she was a blond Latina; directors were used to casting women that looked more Mexican. So it’s no surprise to me that she is now featured on Modern Family as a brunet. All Latinas are not brunet, Mexican, and sexy.

With all of this said, I think it is important to question the assumptions that are being made in the media when it comes to the roles minorities are casted in. With this commercial, it was assumed that because Latinas are sexy, a commercial that features a Latina should be sexy too. This was no coincidence. If we are going to be completely honest with ourselves, how often is it that you see sexy furniture commercials? Think about that for a moment, and while you do, I’ll be busy writing my next blog post. In the meantime, leave your comments below! I’d love to hear what you all have to say about this commercial!


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