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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Now THIS is a Whale of a Tale

Yesterday on a friend’s Facebook status, I saw that a local music and arts festival, called The Whaling City Festival of New Bedford, was partnering with a local radio station, WHJY, to hold a contest called “Show Us Your Whale Tale”  (Whale Tale Contest).

A “whale tale,” for those of you who did not know (like me!), is when a woman’s thong rides up her low riders so you can see it.  The contest page provides a link to examples of “whale tales.”  (This was the least offensive one I could find). 

The mission of The Whaling City Festival is, “To host the biggest and best family oriented event in the Whaling City. With 44 years experience and a new President we have fresh, innovative ideas to help grow and improve with each year.”  I guess the new President’s “fresh, innovative ideas” involve some family-oriented butt cracks. 

The Director of Tourism, from the Town of Fairhaven, was called a “Puritan” for complaining about the contest.  All the comments on the WCF’s page link, above, are incredibly negative. 

The WCF posted this on their FB page, 8 hours ago, in response to the negative criticism.

“In light of recent development, we have reconsidered our sponsorship of the Whale’s Tail contest with 94 HJY.
Ultimately, the Whaling City Festival cares more about the family oriented activities, and brand than a marketing campaign. We also do not want to alienate anyone. We apologize to those we offended, as it was not our intention to do so. It was a bad mistake and we take full responsibility for it.
This decision was made in the past hour, and 94 HJY’s offices couldn’t be reached, so there may be a delay in the mention of WCF as a sponsor. Rest assured, it will cease.
In the future, we will maintain congruency with our advertising and marketing. We will make sure the promotions reflect our core values and something families can be proud of.
As always, we genuinely consider all feedback, criticism, and comments. We hope you will continue to provide these, so that we may continually improve.

What is most appalling about this entire tale, is that 1) the organizers of the WCF thought this was a good idea to market their event; and 2) that the WCF  has a board of directors or staff that include very few women, as they most likely would have said “hey, that’s not such a good idea(WCF Contacts) and 3) that this type of contest is even considered acceptable marketing for any organization, including a rock n roll radio station.  

One of the best things about Facebook is how quickly word can spread on any issue.  But even while the WCF has decided to discontinue the sponsorship with WHJY, the radio station has not yet taken down the link connecting the contest to the WCF.  The delay alone is another 8 hours or more of bad press.  And this supposedly 42 year old festival must be struggling anyway, as their entertainment schedule includes a blank calendar, less than a month before the festival is to open.  What’s that about?  

While the WCF has taken down their sponsorship, even though it still lingers on the WHJY page, feel free to drop the President a line asking how decisions like this even get made.


BDD or Body Dysmorphic Disorder

I often write about the media’s effect on women. I rarely write about my own feelings about my body. This past week, however, I had a very interesting conversation with a group of women about their bodies. To avoid naming names, I will describe them this way.

·      Woman one I’ll call Betty. Betty is probably a size 4-6 and probably 5 feet 7 inches or more.
·      Woman two, I’ll call Jane. Jane is a size 2 and about 5 feet 4 or 5 inches.
·      I’ll call woman three Sally. Sally is probably a size 4-6 and is probably the same height as Betty. I’m not good at judging height.
·      And there’s me, woman four. I wear a size 10-12. I’m 5 feet 2 inches. In a nutshell, I’m the big-boobed girl with a belly in the room.

All of these women are smart and have very good professional jobs. One runs a large nonprofit organization, one is vice president of a financial institution, one was her college class valedictorian, and I have a doctorate.

Betty hates her body. She says it’s lumpy. She has two children who are mostly grown up. But she is very insecure about her belly. She goes out of her way to snack all day long on specific types of food in order to keep her belly from feeling bloated. What she nibbles on all day would leave me nauseous because I would be so hungry. And she is very self-conscious about the way she looks. In my eyes, she is a skinny, pretty woman.

Jane, like Betty, is very careful about what she eats. She’s a vegan, so not only does she eat very little, she only eats beans and veggies. She is also very concerned about feeling bloated. She is less “dysmorphic” than Betty but is very attuned to her body’s changes and strict with her diet.

Sally loves her body. She thinks her boobs are too small but she knows she’ll never have the “perfect” body as it is a myth. She’s cute and comfortable in her skin. And I will add, out of the four of us, she is a woman of color.

And then there’s me. So there’s a lot I love about my body. My legs. My hair. My ass is okay, while a little flat. I’m told I have great tits, but they are definitely a little too big to be lugging around my whole life and have certainly contributed to my shoulder issues as I’ve aged. My stomach is the source of my “dysmorphia,” but we have had a bad relationship since I was in high school and was what one would call skinny. It is what it is, although as I have moved into my 30s and 40s, I’ve certainly had to be more careful about WHAT I put into my body as gaining weight comes much more easily than it did in my 20s.

So what’s the point of Jane’s, Betty’s, and Sally’s body hatred you might ask? I guess what is most illuminating about this conversation is how obsessed these very smart women (particularly Betty and Jane) are about their bodies. They spend a good deal of time fretting over how they look and what they eat, and when I look at them, I see very smart, beautiful women. I just wonder how much time they could spend doing other things to change the world if a little less time was spent worrying about their body size or the size of their bellies. 

A simple search of “body dysmorphic disorder” this morning yielded three quizzes. I’ve included them below if you want to take one and see if you, too, might be spending too much brain time on your body. I had a revelation when I was in my 20s that if women spent less time thinking about how big their thighs are, what kind of radical change could happen in society? Perhaps it is a patriarchal conspiracy against women to keep us obsessed about our bodies so we have no time to run for office, question authority, demand equal pay, fight for reproductive rights, or even, maybe, take over the world???

my feminist praxis

critical reflections on my feminist praxis: activism, motherhood, and life

The Feminist Critic

Providing weekly critiques of theatre, film, books, politics and pop culture from a feminist perspective.