Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Real women

Take a good look at the picture, don't you think you might know some of those women? Okay, maybe not those women but women who look like them. This picture came from a Dove soap campaign featuring 'Real Women", as defined by their marketing department. Depending on whom you speak to, this is either a good thing or a bad thing....Dove says their sales went up because women saw themselves; a study by some university, who incidentally surveyed their female students (in other words a particular demographic vs Dove's sales tracking) said it hurt because it lowered women's self esteem. It would appear, among American College students who attend the particular university, curvy women are equated with things like being unfit, unhealthy, plus sized etc.

Eh? Look Dove marketing can call them whatever they want but I would say Real Women come in all shapes and sizes; big, little, tall, short, angular, bony, lush curves, top/bottom heavy....that's what makes us oh so special. We're different! But to refer to women who are a size 8 and over as "Plus Sized" and therefore "Real" is just plain condescending in my book. Clearly society is saying it does not matter if you are tall, short, big or fine boned. It's whether you can squeeze yourself into a size six or less that makes you not a "real woman', because real women are all over a certain size, but desirable. If I were a smaller woman I'd be pretty pissed because how does my dress size or lack thereof decide whether I am real or not. WTF.

How come no one types men that way? I've never, ever heard a man referred to as "Plus Sized"...big and tall yes, the other, no. The irony is that women have fought long and hard to overcome all kinds of gender bias and yet, we still subscribe to this nonsense about body types. Am I less smart, accomplished etc because I am a size 12? It would seem yes because according to the "pundits" I am too dumb to lose weight and conform to the norm. Size is also equated with healthy or fit. Guess what, you can be a skinny size 4 and still have high cholesterol. Does that make either of us less real?

Look, we honestly have enough other crap to deal with than to subscribe to some magazines idea of what our bodies should look like. I for one have no real desire to be so exercised that my arms look like twigs (like many Hollywood starlets). Exercise is good for making you feel good, endorphins and all that, but do you really want to look like an gym bunny. If the answer is yes, then go for it but if you're happy to be you, wobbly bits and all do not let anyone make you feel badly about yourself. I say be whomever you want to be, you are not the sum total of your dress size.

As for the Dove campaign, I really wish they had used more diverse women in all shapes and sizes, then maybe they would have been real. But hats off to them for trying something different and also, recognising that not only one demographic spends money on their product.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Alice, you're back!

You know sometimes you hear a song on the radio and it immediately transports you back in time to a particular moment? You remember what you were doing, how you were feeling...first kisses, dances, breaking up, breaking out, breaking down as the case might be. While driving to work, windows firmly up against the early morning heat of a country in the throes of drought, an eighties flashback, AC/DC's Back in Black on the radio. The opening guitar riff familiar to headbangers everywhere, my fourteen year old self immediately turned up the radio and even though I know it's stupid, there I was singing along and modified headbanging ensued. I am and have always been an equal opportunity music lover so no conclusions please. Fortunately it was early enough that there was no traffic so the red mobile whizzed along without the disapproving stares of fellow road users. It was a great little walk down memory lane as is Level 42's "Something About You".

Two weeks spent luxuriating in the unfamiliar experience of having two whole undiluted weeks of flip flops, my brother's company and the ever present sea in the background and no ever present Crackberry left me unprepared for the intrusion of real life. But surely, I know what Lewis Carroll was experiencing with Alice in Wonderland. Carroll wrote his novels under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs and surely, there are days when I pick up the newspaper and swear that the Mad Hatter, who happens to look oddly like Johnny Depp, has made an appearance. Or is it wishful thinking. I'll leave it to you to decide.

Now while it may seem that I'm being all mysterious and oblique that's not the case. I'm practising my new outlook, no obsessing about the things I cannot change or more to the point, focus on those things that make me happy like Klondike (ice cream) Bars, the Hound, a perfect Dirty Martini, the stack of books next to the bed.....

And what was the point of this post you might wonder. Like many other things Trinidadian, does it matter and does it really need to make sense? Perhaps not.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Once upon a time

Isn't that how all good stories begin? The one's that made you want to curl up with the book and lose yourself in the magical words on the page. After what feels like a lifetime of one path, it's time for a new journey. I don't know where this is going to take me, only that I must. It's not mysterious, or sinister, or even that exciting, simply new. Different; a shedding of one skin, renewal, or maybe even rediscovery at what is at the heart. And finally, after a long period of indecision, knowing feels good, right.