Discussion.

While brainstorming everyday texts for this project, I felt that the ones I actually chose and analyzed successfully captured the variety of how women are sexualized in today’s world through Body Policing, Body Shaming and [Sexual] Harassment, which all have similar definitions. Some people might see one of these three terms as worse than another, but when they’re broken down, they all serve as a purpose of intentionally making someone (in this specific case, women) feel uncomfortable in terms of sexuality.

According to StopStreetHarassment.com (2015), Street Harassment, a specific form of Sexual Harassment (displayed in Bliss’s YouTube video), and is defined as, “Unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation”.

Take a few seconds to read that definition to yourself, and wonder… have you ever been a victim of street harassment? I have been a victim and I wasn’t even aware of it.

In my specific incident, I was walking in West Humboldt Park where I am a Research Assistant through DePaul University, and two men walked past me and said, “Damn!” and started giggling. Exactly like in the video. I have had a few other minor incidents like that we’re I’ve been whistled at as well. What I don’t understand about the people who make the unnecessary and inappropriate gesture, is that, did I ever ask to be whistled at or have a comment thrown at me? No. No one ever asks for that, but it still occurs.

Having said that, anyone can be a victim of any sort of harassment, weather it’d be shaming, policing, or anything else; White people, Black people, Purple people, Green people, Male, Female, big people, skinny people, short people, pear-shaped people, apple-shaped people, hour-glass shaped people, muscular people, anyone. There is only one person that is in control of your body, and that is you; not your boyfriend, girlfriend, or the person who whistled at you on the street, or the advertisement you see that urges you to lose weight. It’s you, and only you in control. Lets keep it that way.

“What you allow, is what will continue.” –Unknown.

***** If you or anyone you know has been harassed there are resources available. RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization, which offers confidential, and free services.

They can be reached at 1-800-656- HOPE (4673). *****

Kendrawcandraw and Catcalling.

Going into this project, not once did I think that there would be a trend in with what types of images I’ve chose to analyze i.e., body policing, body shaming, and the weather/what types of clothes are appropriate for that specific season. All my texts thus far have dealt with some sort of summer-related fashion like wearing bathing suits in different settings. Changing up the subject matter slightly, but still sticking with the summer climate, I found this image after Google image searching, “body policing”.

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(Kendrawcandraw, 2014).

With further research I had found that the artist of this comic strip is 24-year-old Kendra, from New York City. Her Tumblr page can be found here. After browsing through her work, I noticed there wasn’t a specific theme to her illustrations; she doesn’t only create pieces that portray the double standards of women verses men, although she does state that, “I’m am an aggressive feminist killjoy” on her Tumblr about section (Kendrawcandraw, 2014).

For starters it seems that this text is two separate comics represented horizontally as what is acceptable for men and not acceptable for women. As far as the format, the large text of “Why.” at the top draws the reader in for further investigation. The mirrored images of the motions of both men (on the left) and women (on the right) are also intriguing, especially because the woman on the top-right is naked. Personally, I think this illustration would have made more sense if Kendra just included the bottom piece, and eliminated the top piece. No matter how much of a feminist a person thinks they are, I think that exposing a woman’s breasts is considered indecent, and mind you, I am a woman. I say that because if I were to do that at the beach, I would likely be arrested. I know, I know…that’s the whole part of a feminist and this text, but to me, I think this is too much. I’m not looking to successfully be able to walk around naked in public. I can do that in my home if I wanted to and that’s good enough for me. I believe that if we want gender equality, we should start with baby steps, i.e., the comics on the bottom of Kendra’s text. These are perfect. These are my cup of feminism. On Kendra’s blog, she originally posted this illustration below the one that was just explored. These images were posted on June 1st of last year, and generated a whopping 646,338 notes, or shares. She also added a caption to these illustrations that read,

Stop sexualizing my body stop shaming my body stop policing my body

~*~*~Summertime~*~*~“,

And added the tags of, “#streetharassment #bodypolicing #itwasreallyhotoday #feminism #lookidrewsomething” (Kendrawcandraw, 2014).

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I can whole-heartedly agree with this illustration above. This specific text absolutely challenges the current social order in many ways. One being, that it subconsciously influences a woman’s decision to wear specific clothing in order to feel comfortable in a hot climate. Note that she is JUST wearing a tank top and shorts. And because of this, she gets catcalled. The next time she is seen, she is covered from head to toe in order to avoid getting harassed, and it is not clear to the man why she is dressed like that. This scenario certainly is something that happens in real life. In fact, dressing a woman from head to toe doesn’t protect them from being catcalled, and a man named Robert Bliss from Rob Bliss Creative (Sieczkowski, 2014) has illustrated that below (StreetHarassmentVideo, 2014).

I should mention that this video later received tons of criticism because the actor in the video only traveled through predominantly Black neighborhoods. I’m not going to get into that debate because I don’t know if that was intended, or if the neighborhood she chose to walk though (Manhattan) might’ve been where she lives, or an area she wanted to explore just because. What’s important here is that Kendra’s texts illustrated a level of harassment to where the harassment was eliminated once the cartoon character was clothed, and Bliss’s video challenged Kendra’s text because the woman is clothed, and harassment is still present.

Protein World: “Are You Beach Body Ready?”

Two months ago and nearly 4,000 miles away, a United Kingdom weight loss company called Protein World produced an extensive amount of controversy over their newest advertisement when posted in the city’s public transit area.

The company’s newest line of weight loss supplements includes a protein powder that is supposed to be mixed with liquid beverages, a multivitamin, and general weight loss capsules. This three-product package which retails for $99.99 claims to, “help you lose weight, fast”, “boost metabolism”, “encourage lean and tones muscles” and is a “nutritious meal replacement”. In addition, this product is vegetarian, gluten free, soy free, Kosher, Halal and is Diabetic suited (Protein World, n.d.).

v2-proteinworld

In the actual advertisement of the product below, the bright yellow background is particularly eye-catching, especially considering that the color of the bathing suit blends in with the background, and the image of the women’s body is in contrast. The woman’s body is also seen as a barrier between the texts “are you” and “beach body ready” implying an attempted comparison to that specific image, i.e., “are you” this body, or do you have this body. This text serves the audience of anyone who will, or would be using the city’s public transit. It appeals to people who might not be “beach body ready”, and urges those who aren’t to lose weight by taking this supplement. It also is persuasive enough to its audience by saying IF you take these pills, you will look like THIS model, i.e., it encourages people to look like this rather than what they currently look like.

Having said that, this advertisement generated very negative responses from the people of the United Kingdom, in which various reactions are listed below.

VagendaMagazine,Twitter

(Stambouli, 2015).

beach_body effoff

(Warren, 2015).

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(Warren, 2015).
282D228E00000578-3062882-image-a-9_1430418983103(Morgan, M., & Willgress, L., 2015).

The Social Conscience.

With the warm weather approaching people feel particularly compelled to body shame. Body shaming, similar to Body Policing, is merely judging, or putting someone down because of his or her body type (Body Shaming, 2014). Writer Whitney Yip (n.d.) from The Social Conscience posted an advice column titled, “Body Safety Education: Healing Your Own Story”, in which she included this image below. The Social Conscience is a website that explores topics of injustice and current social issues.

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I am unsure if this is an original image by Yip, or if she was in my position and came across it by searching on the web. Either way this text says something. With a particularly comedic digital format, this image draws the reader in by the large bold font, which is informative on how to obtain a “beach bod”. Slightly under the subject line, are two instructional lines, which are very straightforward to earing a “beach body”; that being to (1) obtain a body, then (2) travel/place oneself on the beach. The image itself is very asymmetrical, which I think is done on purpose; it portrays a very unrealistic, nearly unnatural body shape that is not typically seen in real life i.e., a square torso. In addition, the torso’s proportion to the legs are also unnatural, the breasts are different sizes and not perky, and it seems to be that the legs are exposed as unshaven. In specific, this text speaks to not only people who are frequently visiting the page, but also the population who has been body shamed before. Because this is a fictional image, I actually believe it challenges the social order more than Hollis’ because it offers more area of critique; that being unshaven legs, and asymmetrical breasts.

Rachel Hollis and “The Mombod”.

Before I get into the analysis of Body Policing texts themselves, I find it appropriate to review a positive reaction, or a failed attempt at Body Policing. In recent news, blogger Rachel Hollis from The Chic Site (2015) nearly broke the Internet with her bikini-post on March 21st of this year.

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Since then, she has largely adapted the popular movement, Mombod. According to a variety of resources like Buzzfeed (Parker, 2015) and Huffington (Bahadur, 2015) Post, Mombod is learning to embrace yourself, and having confidence in yourself especially after a women has given birth, whether recently or in the past. The Mombod movement shows women that their bodies might not convert back to “normal” before pregnancy, but that is still more than acceptable. A Mombod shows pride in being able to be responsible for another form of life, and most importantly, a Mombod has variety; there is no single correct body shape-reference for a Mombod. If you carried a child, you have a Mombod, whether you choose to flaunt it or not. However, it is people like Rachael who have significantly influenced how women feel about their post pregnancy bodies.

Rachel ‘s post is beautifully written. It includes enough of personal experience and detail, as well as encouragement and influence. Her repetitive language of “I wear a bikini” after almost every sentence shows her personal confidence in addition to the tasks she encounters (as being very general) yet still allowing her to… wear a bikini. At first I would argue that this text targets those who are Mothers, whether new or old, and also targets those who may struggle with low self-esteem. However, I see how this text might be applied to any woman, even one whom isn’t a mother and is perhaps battling with being overweight or have recently lost weight and still have similar body features to a woman who has just given birth. Within reading the very first sentence of Rachel’s post, I can agree that this text certainly challenges the current social order. This is represented through again, the repetitive language of what she does that allows her to wear a bikini (i.e., anything and everything). All in all, if not said already, the purpose of this text is to inform; to boost confidence, and to let women know that there is no reason why she can’t wear a bikini.

The Evolving Human and Defining “Body Policing”.

Science has shown us that the world is evolving, and the people who create the world are evolving too (Shute, 2008). Whether it’d be through body types/sizes, to fashion and jewelry, there is a large variety of people who make up the human population. For some further insight on the evolving body shape throughout history, take a brief look at the YouTube video below posted by Buzzfeed (2015).

I try to keep a positive attitude when I think about the general life occurrences, even if it happens to be some of those terrible things I mentioned earlier that I see on the news. However, if it weren’t for an inappropriate person(s) to critique another person so much (or a woman, in this case), in order to generate a specific name like Body Policing, then I wouldn’t be here writing this. According to Urban Dictionary (Body Policing, 2012), Body Policing is defined, as, “the informal practice of policing one’s physical appearance because it does not conform to social norms, or is not deemed appropriate for a particular setting Personal preference and attraction do not necessarily qualify as body policing”.