Monday, July 25, 2011

A Thousand Words...

Unlike Scott Schumann (one of my favorite bloggers), I'm not tight with the editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, Franca Sozzani... so I can only speculate as to her particular motivation in including these three lovely young women on the cover of the June edition. And I actually and sincerely appreciate that a publication as prestigious as Vogue - and in one of the major global hubs of fashion - would openly declare that women with curves are beautiful and fashion forward.

We're on a slippery slope indeed, however, when the standard of success of modern (post-post modern?) feminism is set by the further objectification of women: congratulations! Women of all shapes and sizes can now be viewed as sex objects! I know, I know: sexy people are desirable, desirable people are envied, the happiness of being envied is glamour, and glamour sells magazines.... We've come a long way, baby?

Last summer I read a really amazing book by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn called Half the Sky. It is truly "a passionate call to arms against the oppression of women around the globe - "the central moral challenge" of our time" (I totally took that from the book's jacket - but it's completely true). As a woman, I felt the lives of those interviewed - theirexperiences - cut into my heart, grab a hold, and rock me with the power of their story and the strength of their character. As a western woman, I couldn't help but feel slightly detached. This isn't to say that I wasn't still moved, very often to tears, by what I read - but I had no mechanism or concept of how to process my thoughts and feelings into something concrete and conducive to the betterment of the whole of society. Which is exactly what these myriad heroes were doing: working through their experiences and changing the discourse and reality of their society in positive, meaningful ways.

And then I had the opportunity to study a small, humble, yet infinitely profound document prepared by the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity (ISGP) called "Advancing Toward the Equality of Women and Men". I knew while reading Half the Sky that the inequality of women and men is as much a problem in developed nations as it is in developing nations....

Addressing the importance that a fundamental knowledge of our selves and of the purpose behind our creation can have in overcoming oppression, the ISGP states that "even in societies where women have been granted certain political and economic rights and are legally empowered, both men and women are denied knowledge of their true selves. Women are objectified and sexuality is made the core of their identity. Their aims and aspirations are set in terms of pleasing men. Attraction to beauty [...] is deliberately perverted to the point where women and men are seen as no more than means for the gratification of material desires."

It is true, the human body is a wonderful, beautiful thing. It has been uniquely designed as the receptacle of the human soul - and it is capable of tremendous things. Let us celebrate our appreciation of the 'body beautiful' for its achievements and for the service it renders the soul - and not because a small number of them have been used as a marketing tool in the advertising of culture.

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