Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Beauty and Weight

I had the following conversation on a message board recently:

Me: I am in love with Queen Latifah. She's my hero.
Anon: I like her too, very genuine and pretty, beautiful skin and smile.
Me: So comfortable with herself, great head on her shoulders and a great role model. Doesn't take crap from anybody.
Anon: A great personality always wins hands down.

And this conversation has been running through my head ever since. I find it interesting that when people (usually women) want to say something nice about women who are anything over a size 6 (when they're feeling generous), they single out particular features: pretty face; nice smile; beautiful skin.

But the most disturbing part of this conversation is the last sentence which I was completely unable to respond to, because I didn't want to get nasty. "A great personality always wins hands down."

What the flying fuck is that supposed to mean?

Well, I know what it means. It means that women of size, voluptuous women, overweight women, however you want to say it, are not supposed to be beautiful. We are not allowed to use the word "beautiful" when we speak of a woman who does not starve herself. Pretty face, if only she wasn't a freaking pig, is what they're really saying.

And don't tell me that Marilyn Monroe was a size 16, cause she wasn't.

So...why does this bug me? Because I am nowhere near a size 6? I guess I take it personally, a little, but more than that, it's the fact that I don't think she realizes how horrible "compliments" like that sound. I think it's so ingrained in our culture that you have to be thin - even skinny - to be beautiful, that many women don't even realize they have these prejudices. Forget black, you know we can't talk about that, so let's just say that since Queen Latifah has an ASS...she has great skin. Her personality WINS over what? The size of her body? Why should her personality have to WIN? Why can't it complement the rest of her? I'll say it: Queen Latifah is beautiful and an inspiration to women of any size or color.

There's a line in the movie Beauty Shop where she asks her daughter "Do these pants make my butt look big?" Daughter responds "Yes." She says "Good."

This is a woman who is comfortable with herself. She is no size 6, but she is BEAUTIFUL. Not only that, this is a woman who raps about using birth control, not allowing men to hit women, demanding to be treated with respect... Her music and words are empowering to all people of all backgrounds, and especially black women. She grew up in Newark, NJ - I know Newark, NJ and let me tell you, it's no treat; especially when she was growing up there. She is now a household name. She has overcome unbelievable personal obstacles and presents herself with dignity, respect for others and respect for herself. She believes in herself so we do too.

And the best thing Anonymous can say about her is "Pretty smile?"

Please, people. Think twice. The next time somebody tells me I have a pretty face they won't be able to say my personality wins.


Blogger Kate said...

I love her too and I agree about her beauty. I'm with you 100% on this stuff. :-) Thanks for making me smile.

12:01 PM, October 11, 2005  
Blogger Trina said...

ITA with everything you said! Latifah is just a gorgeous, gorgeous woman. Period. And you ain't so bad yourself, missy! ;~D

12:12 PM, October 11, 2005  
Blogger WriterChick said...

THANK YOU ringing some truth into this image-obsessed world. Does anyone remember a few decades ago the phrase "a perfect size 10"? It was ludicrous even then - no such thing as a perfect anything. I'm guessing if we didn't have movies, tv, or MTV for that matter, we'd be singing a different tune. Just check out the art of the renaissance...now there are some fine pieces of ass floating around those paintings, and rumor has it that even some of those women were too skinny. And I don't recall any art critics pondering about how to describe anyone's personality or smile (except perhaps the Mona Lisa). Apparently, I need to blog on this one to, CJBlue. :)

8:46 AM, October 12, 2005  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

You said it, sister!

But you forgot to mention Latifah's magnificent RACK. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch Chicago again. (You have my permission to FF through all the scenes with Renee Zellweger.)

A few weeks ago I checked in at the endocrinologist's office. The intake nurse weighed me, looked at the number on the scale, looked me up and down, and said, "Hmm. You hide it well." How's that for a backhanded compliment? I wanted to slap her.

3:03 PM, October 12, 2005  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Ruth, you're bang on. She's beautiful, period.
I first saw her in that goofy movie with Steve Martin (where she's the ex con). IT was so funny.
And Kris is right-when I saw her in Chicago I thought, 'what a gorgeous, bodacious chest on that woman!'

You know what is interesting? When you meet and grow to care for people on the internet, you kind of get past that body thing, don't you think? I knew we were destined to be friends and I knew how lovely you were, long before we met. I think it was when we bought the Creeds together. Then we connected on the kids, the music, and on and on.

love ya Ruth!

4:34 PM, October 12, 2005  
Blogger mireille said...

oh man, I love this post. FLYING FUCK, indeed! ♥ Ruth ♥

5:54 PM, October 12, 2005  
Blogger katiedid said...

Mr. katiedid and I just discussed her the other day when I saw the latest Covergirl ad and squeeeed! with happiness that they're still using her in the commercials. We've talked about her in their ads before, and I think one thought worth mentioning that he brought up is that a lot of times, guys are weirdly embarassed to admit they find a "fat chick" attractive. It's like
people pick up on these unconscious cues that there is only one acceptable form of beauty, and all deviations from that standard are undesirable. Also, if you ask me, and you didn't, personality always wins over looks no matter what the person looks like anyhow. Which can be a postive or a negative, depending on the personality.

4:01 PM, October 13, 2005  
Blogger cjblue said...

Winterwheat, I *bought* that movie because of her. "They say that life is tit for tat, and that's the way I live. So, I deserve a lot of tat for what I've got to give." Brilliant. And when I was like 2 weeks shy of my delivery date, somebody said the same thing to me "You hide it well." Um, yeah. Cause that's my goal, right? To have an ass so big that nobody notices this 9+ pound baby kicking around in here.

Katiedid, I totally agree.

Kate, Trina, Writerchick, Kyahgirl, Mireille...Love you all. ♥♥

11:26 AM, October 14, 2005  
Blogger Sali said...

Hiya, Ruth! Thanks for letting me know about this crazy, fabulous place. Ya, Newark can be rough...although there is culture there, too--I used to sing Sunday jazz there with a drummer named Victor Jones--loved working in Newark. Anyway, I applaud anyone who makes it with real talent and wit, without torturing herself into a size 0 and thereby keeping her dignity. She is so obviously beautiful--very photogenic and has a beautiful plus size figure--she also happens to be a beauty icon. I'm sure many people might feel a little envious of that fact, especialy if they want to continue feeling that their weight is what holds them back. As for the "personality wins" comment, I think many people say things like that out of their own insecurities, sort of like making judgment calls with which they can be hardest on themselves.

10:35 PM, October 19, 2005  

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